Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hop, hop, hop

The "Hops on the Ohio" fest has come and gone. It was quite an interesting fest too! Not only was being on the bridge unique, the warm temperatures and the direct sunlight played havoc on trying to get the beer (and cider) cool. Ice became a commodity, but those who attended enjoyed themselves.

Though I came being assigned to hand out beer, I did have my camera with me. I was first assigned to the Stone booth, but was soon switched to the cider booth next to the Hoperatives. I was able to sneak off from time to time to take some pictures. My brother also volunteered with me and after our shift was over, we walked the bridge and enjoyed some more samples. This also meant more pictures.

Due to my brother's surprise birthday party (yes, I was, in part, the much needed diversion), we had to leave at 7pm. At that point, the turnout had been light, too light. This also means we missed the tapping of Stone's 10-10-10 vertical keg at midnight. Oh how much fun that would have been.

All in all it was an enjoyable time. Perhaps had it been a little cooler the crowd would have been better. It was also a college football Saturday, so the crowd was getting larger once OSU's game was over. I've not yet heard on final figures, but I am hopeful for a good outcome.

Also see my Examiner articles.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Bad Penny

When I started this blog I had all manner of crazy ideas running through my head. Surely this would lead to great glory and homebrew Nirvana. Over the first few months, my postings were timely and regular, but over time, that grew away. Not too long ago I started writing for as the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner. There too I started with abandon, but eventually events in real life caught up.

One of these events was a virus that took out my Windows machine. It now runs Ubuntu 64 Linux and I've switched to Mac, but for whatever reason I did not get my recipes from BeerSmith recovered. I have spent a few weeks wallowing in sorrow when I remembered I may have shared these recipes with the masses via my blog. Sure enough, the earlier ones are here. I don't recall if I made any changes off-line, but at least I have the starting recipes. Now it is time to brew Cluster-Fuggles Ale again.

So thanks, kind reader. You are the reason I shared some of my recipes and you are the reason I can get some of them back. I should endeavor to share more often should I need to call of this blog as a backup again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Barley wine and Bombers

Racked the barley wine to secondary today. Took measurements with refractometer, but did not believe the Brix of 11.5%. Dug out the floating hydrometer and thief, sanitized them and took a reading. The SG came out to 1.016 give yielded an ABV of 11.8%. That is more inline with what I would expect at this point and went with the noticeable alcohol on the nose. The beer is still quite sticky, so there is still room for more. I may need to get a 6.5 gallon carboy, make a champagne yeast starter and rack over it. I will monitor first.

This week's first article for is a review of Rivertown Brewing's Hop Bomber. This brewery is one of Cincinnati's latest. While nothing really spectacular, the beer is nice and would go well with food. I will definitely have it again.

In a step to make my position at a little more official, I have ordered business cards from them. At least I'll have something to hand out when I meet folks. Yeah, I really do this, no its not a living.

The Jungle Jim's International Beer Fest is June 18th. If you don't have tickets, get them now. There is a very good chance of a sell out this year. I will be there with camera in hand. I'll be easy to find though as I'll probably be around @GooseLindsey. James Bonaminio Junior has asked me to take pictures in a more official capacity, so hopefully this year I'll have better access for shots. I will have my new SB-600 as well.

In case you are wondering, many of the images seen on their website from last year are mine. Just check out their site and compare against my gallery. Nice, ain't it?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The latest of developments

Several weeks ago I noticed that did not have a Craft Beer Examiner for Cincinnati. I asked Charlie Papazian via Twitter about it and he sent my a link by which to apply. After a few rounds, I was accepted and now I have published my first two articles. Check it out, please.

I tested the latest stout. It is still a bit flat, but the flavor is getting better. I did have a moment when I thought perhaps I didn't use priming sugar, but I remember going to Jungle Jim's for it, so I'm sure it was just a paranoid moment. I shook some of the bottles up and I'll give it another week.

Friday is the Bell's Brewery tasting at Jungle Jim's. I'll be there, with homebrew in tow. The scuttlebutt is that Larry Bell will be in attendance. So, call and get on the list.

I've decided I will make my barley wine again this Saturday. I've converted the recipe to a partial mash. Picked up 10 pounds of pale 2 row today at Listermann's, along with 2 pounds of Crystal. My brother is stopping by Saturday to help. Maybe I'll be able to get some good pics of the event. Made the yeast starter tonight. I can't wait.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sam, I am

On the evening of the 16th of April, the beer tasting at Jungle Jim's was for Samuel Adams. Somewhat of a local brewery via Boston, Sam Adams is a popular tasting. My first beer tasting at Jungle Jim's was on October the 10th, 2008. This too was for Sam Adams, though that one was not nearly as well attended. The latest tasting had about 180 people in attendance.

Arriving early, I acquired a good seat and met Jennifer Winkler, the District Manager. She was quite friendly and chatted with us a bit as we await more guests and Eric Beck and Megan Jones, also from the brewery. The largest brewery Sam Adams owns is in Cincinnati, about two blocks from where I park on workdays. When they are making beer, the aromas in the air are wonderful.

For the last Sam Adams tasting, ten regular beers were brought, plus two leftovers from the summer's taste testing and two others brought from the brewmaster's own cellar. This time round there was no disappointment with nine from Sam Adams (including three from the imperial line), plus three from their Longshot Homebrew competition. Of these thirteen, five were of 9% ABV or greater. Nice, let's get to the line up.

Boston Lager
The first beer they made, the only beer in every seasonal pack and the first one out of the gate. Ironically, it is one of my least favorite of their line. Hop on nose, clean mid-mouth with some bitterness on the finish. Quite clean and non-descript, it pairs well with nearly any main course. 7

Samuel Adams Light
Having enough fewer calories than the Boston Lager to be called a Light, but don't let that full you. It has the same caramel coloring and flavor, but lacks the bitter aftertaste. Fruity and hops on the nose, with hints of pine. It is sweet mid-mouth and finishes clean. 8

Pale Ale
A good standard ale, it is hoppy on the nose, with a good blend of malt sweetness and hops mid-mouth. It has a nice, clean finish. 8

Latitude 48
Now we are talking. Lots of pine and citrus hop aromas on nose, hops and malt mid-mouth and hops on the finish. Notice a pattern? This is the kind of beer that is stereotypical for craft beers. We are talking hints of Stone here. Very nice and a table favorite. Too bad it only comes in a seasonal mixer pack. Make 6ers, please Jim. 9

Summer Ale
Not being a fan of wheat beers, I wasn't expecting much from this one. Wheat is detectable on the nose and Grains of Paradise mid. As it gets warmer, lemon is noticeable. 7

Blackberry Witbier
Highly fizzy and sweet, this wit is quite refreshing and blackberry laden. Blackberry greats one on the nose and wheat says hello mid. The finish is clean. 7

Coastal Wheat
Three wheat beers in a row, well ok. How is this one different? Hops blend with the wheat on the nose and there are hints of citrus mid. The beer finishes with much lemon. 6

Imperial White
Yes, four in a row, but this one is 10.3% ABV. Alcohol and hints of wheat are on the nose. Warm and sweet mid-mouth, the alcohol makes its presence known. It finishes smooth. Now this is a wheat beer. 9+

Imperial Stout
I had this one last year at the Spring Beer Fest and was looked forward to this one. Roasted malt and alcohol are on the nose. Mid to finish, it is a blend of smokey and chocolate. 9+

Double Bock
Starting with malt on the nose, there is a nutty flavor and a Crystal malt presence mid-mouth. Late mid there is an alcohol bite and the finish is smooth. 10

Longshot - Mile High Barley Wine

Like many barley wines, this one is over hopped for preservation. This is Ben Miller's entry. It is citrus on the nose from the hops, mixed with hints of alcohol and malt. Malt is also present mid-mouth and the sweetness lingers to the finish. Very nice entry. 9+

Longshot - Old Ben Ale
Michael Robinson entered this recipe. Malt and raisins greet the nose and stay throughout. This one had all of us reaching for more. It was quite the "Ok, this is the last one" beer. 10

Longshot - Lemon Pepper Saison

Homebrewers typically do all manner of odd things and this one speaks to that adventurous spirit. Jeremy White's entry starts with lemon and pepper on the nose and it stays all the want to the finish. There is also a hint of clove mid-mouth. The writeup states vanilla and citrus notes. Perhaps as it was the last beer and several high gravs had come before, but I noticed no such notes. Overall, not bad. 8

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A check on the new stout

After 15 days in primary, I was finally able to move the stout into secondary. The aroma coming from the ferminator was very nice. So far, it seems my choice in beans was correct. A quick check of the specific gravity revealed 1.020 giving just shy of 9% ABV. I am getting good fermination with just rigorous stirring. I cannot wait to see how low they go when the pump and air stone are finally purchased.

As for my first partial mash, things went well. I was not really able to calculate efficiencies, but perhaps next time. More reading is required to understand what I am measuring and how to be sure the measure is correct. Knowing efficiencies is very important when scaling recipes or when using recipes from others.

So, what's next to be brewed? It will have to be the barley wine, this time as a partial mash as well. My brother has offered to help the next time beer is made, so the schedule coordination has become. If some kind soul out there can assist in getting my brew kettle fully converted, it would be a great help in going completely all grain. The first recipe that will be converted is Cluster Fuggles ale.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My first mashing, as it were

Today was my first foray into a partial mash, as a step to a full mash. I do not as of yet have the ability to boil a full five gallons (six actually when boiling for an hour), so a partial mash is the step I must take. A bit above the steeping of grains, a partial mash will not only induce color, but add to the fermentable sugars. So, what did I mash?

Let's step back a moment. The latest issue of Zymurgy contains several articles on the list of various types of adjuncts. Few provide fermentable sugars, but they do add to the character of the beer. Using this as a guide, and inspired a bit by things my fan club enjoys, I started to generate a recipe in my head. I started with my "Crystal My Oats" recipe, though in the end, few elements of the original recipe remained.

The first to change were the hops in play. Four ounces of Chinook were chosen over a single ounce, plus an ounce of Fuggles. The chocolate malt was also reduced and the roasted barley dropped. Into the partial mash then went 6 pounds of pale malt, 2 pounds of 120L Crystal malt, 1 pound of flaked Oats, half-pound of chocolate (350L) and one-quarter pound black patent (500L).

2.5 gallons of 170F degree water went into the mash tun, the lid placed and let sit for 10 minutes. The idea to heat the entire tun with the water came from videos I had seen of others and their mashing techniques. It did seem to help the adsorption of heat and keep the temperature constant. The cracked grains were then in placed, stirred and left to mash for 45 minutes. In the meantime, 2.5 gallons of water were heated to 170F to sparge when the mash was finished. The collection of wort ended up being 3 gallons and the specific gravity was 1.050 and adjusted to 1.058 based on temperature.

After that, it was pretty much business as usual for extract brewing. Seven pounds of pale extract were added, boiled for 60 minutes with 2.5 ounces of Chinook hops. Half ounce was added with 10 minutes to go. Half ounce more at 5 minutes and the remaining half ounce at heat off and boil stop. Other ingredients were added then as well, but they will be the subject of a future post.

Immersion chilled to proper pitching temperature, nice yeast starter pitched containing White Labs WLP004, and off it goes. With a starting gravity of 1.088, by morning it should be going quite well.

So, what did I learn after doing a partial mash? Well, here's a nice list:
  • Mashing is more work, but brings more giddiness when doing the run off.
  • Never second guess the water to grain ratio. Let it run and adjust in another batch, if necessary.
  • It is a VERY good idea to flush several gallons of cold water through the grain bed before tossing in the trash. Unless one enjoys being scalded.
  • The 10 gallon Home Depot labeled Rubbermaid cooler holds heat very well.
  • Simple is better.
Thanks for all those who followed my progress today on Twitter. May the results be well worth the efforts.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Great Night by the Lake

The Great Lakes tasting was at the Oscar Event center at Jungle Jim's on the evening of the 19th of February. It was one that I nearly didn't attend. I did not feel well that day and worked from home. In the early evening, the opportunity to attend presented itself. I arrived a few minutes late and only missed the pour of the first beer.

Eliot Ness Amber Lager

This one is clean, start to finish. Caramel sweetness mid-mouth and hints of hops through out. 7

Conway's Irish Ale

Deep golden color. Malt and fruitiness on the nose. Some hops and malt on finish. 7

Dortmunder Gold Lager

This is an award winning Dortmunder for which Great Lakes is known. It is a medium gold color. There is malt on the nose. It is smooth through out. It has a good balance of hops and malt. There is a hint of honey on the finish. 8

Burning River Pale Ale

Malt and hops on nose. It starts with bitterness with fruitiness and piney notes mid-mouth. The finish has hopey flavors and bitterness. 7

Commodore Perry IPA

Citrus and pine on the nose with a pale golden color. Bitterness and hops mid-mouth. The finish has hints and sweetness and hop bitterness. 9

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

A nice dark porter with hints of coffee on the nose. Starts coffee and chocolate and it continues to mid-mouth. The finish is mostly coffee, but the feel of the bitterness is a bit thin. 7

Alberta Clipper Porter

Brought directly from pub in Cleveland, this on draft only porter is made from Belgian chocolate and Raspberries. The berries are quite noticeable on the nose and mid-mouth they blend with the chocolate very well. The beer is smooth throughout and both the chocolate and raspberries are present on the finish. 8

Blackout Stout

The nose is hit with coffee and roasted malt. There are also hints of hops on the nose once the beer reaches proper serving temperature. Mid-mouth, the coffee presence becomes mixed with hints of alcohol and hops. The finish is good blend of malt and hop bitterness. 9

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Raging the Bee Yotch

I finally bought a bottle of Flying Dog's Raging Bitch. As are most of their bottles, this one is Gonzo and unique. It's all their style and nothing less. Can't wait to see what is contained inside.

From the pop of the top, you know this is something different. The citrus smell of hops is very noticeable, even before the pour. It pours golden and clear, with a nice white head. The citrus smell grows stronger as the pour continues, mixed with subtle yeast of Belgian yeast. The first sip gives delights of hops and some malt mellowness as only an IPA can. The finish is clean and again subtle hints of a Belgian yeast.

A swirl after warming a bit gives release of hops and malt. The mild tones of this Belgian style IPA make it very drinkable. This is not just an IPA with Belgian yeast thrown in. This is an IPA designed around the ideas of hops and a complimenting yeast. The planning and care can be tasted in each sampling. The hops and malt dance around the tongue in a well written waltz. The clean finish leaves one linger for the next sip. Well done, Flying Dog, well done.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Time of Craziness

Finally finishing this post...

The 2010 Cincy Winter Beer Fest is nearly 2 days behind us and my ears are still ringing. What a fun time it was! Crazy too! I'm not sure of the total official numbers, but 1,800 people bought VIP tickets and at least 800 additional people bought main session tickets. The event was sold out before hand and they ran out of volunteer t-shirts and commerative tasting glasses (including leftovers from the summer event).

The VIP session started at 5, while Rock Bottom started serving beer to waiting participants at 4. The Hyatt Regency in Cincinnati didn't know what hit them. Machinery failed. Toilets had issues. And people were everywhere.

I took pictures of the 2009 Cincy Summer Beer Fest and Craig asked me to do likewise for this event. Since I had quite a bit of fun doing so before, I was quite willing to do it again.

It was a long, hot day, but well worth it. The pictures can be found on Shutterfly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Eight Days a Week

In just a few, short days, eight actually, the 2010 Cincy Winter Beer Fest will be here. This is the third such fest and the first time it is actually in Cincinnati. Do you have your tickets yet??

As was true for the Summer fest, I will be taking pictures during the event. Being indoors, the lighting should be a bit more consistent. Over the days afterward, I will be putting them on the ShutterFly site so that people may order prints. Last year, I found it easier to publish pictures to ShutterFly than to other sites. Sure, I am giving up control over labs and don't need to fill out all the forms places like Mpix require, but if someone really wants a fancy print of a picture, I can make such arrangements. Most people just wanted to print a few of their favorites and move on. So, have fun and visit both fest photo sites.

Some may be wondering where I have gone. I'd love to say I won millions and moved to a deserted beach, but alas, such is not correct. Yes, I've been busy and I am WAY behind on tasting notes and "what I'm brewing" updates, but the simple matter is I've been a bit lazy. Though I make no promises....

The Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head tasting at Jungle Jim's on the 15th was very nice. The two year old Bigfoot and the new Life and Limb were both very excellent. I finally tasted Midas Touch and bought some afterward. I'll save more for the tasting review. It was also the first time I tweeted, with pictures, each beer, though I did not state if I liked them. I'm not sure I will do that again, but we shall see.

Currently in the secondary is a pale, hoppy ale over medium French roast chips. An ounce on Sterling hop pellets was also in secondary. As for the chips, they were placed in Mason jars and sealed last summer. Bourbon was also in the the jars. The chips turned the Bourbon quite dark and now they are imparting flavors to the ale. It has been nearly two weeks, but I will let them rest at least two more.

What will be brewed next?? No idea. A revisit and update to my Barley wine recipe? May be. Make something quite "over the top". It is a possibility. All I know for sure is that it will not be something Belgian. I'm a bit over that, for now.