12.27.2007

Pulls from the Cask

Pick it, pack it, fire it up. Come along, and take a pull from the cask. Bonus points for calling me out on my strange reference there.

I just love having access to this little cask of Little Bear's Brown Beer available. Not only can I sample beer that isn't really ready yet, but I can sample it in small doses. I pulled like two ounces tonight, and just savored every drop of it. It took me 20 minutes to drink those two ounces of 4.3% session mild/American Brown Ale. Sometimes I can down a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot in 20 minutes.

I guess it's just fascinating to me to witness day by day the subtly changing and improving character of the beer as it conditions. Part of it might be just getting rid of those residual sugars meant to be turned into bubbles. Part of it might just be the act of aging and mellowing with age, though I would think that happens on a longer time scale than day-by-day, but you never know.

I'm getting closer every batch to a kegging system.

12.25.2007

Water Dispenser "Cask"

First of all - Merry Christmas!

I brewed a small Brown Ale to be used as a starter for my big Imperial Stout. It was bottled Saturday night. As an experiment, I bottled part of it in a little one-gallon water dispenser. I thought of it as a self-introduction to kegging with only $5 of equipment needed - the dispenser. It would save bottling time by taking a relatively large volume of liquid into one vessel, and it would be a fun way to dispense the beer, enabling me to take just a few ounces if I want. Plus it would be sort of like cask-conditioned - fed by gravity with no CO2 needed at all

The dispenser looks something like the one above - except that one in the picture is two gallons, and mine is more like one gallon.

One of my main concerns about this is whether or not this vessel is capable of holding the pressure that will be in there with the carbonation and all, but I'll never know if I don't try. OK, I just realized I should post photos of the actual thing I have: first, in my temperature controlled fermenting/conditioning fridge, then from the front, and then from the side.


So with this recently bottled batch of Little Bear's Brown Beer, my "barometer" PET plastic bottle is getting firm, and this rubbermaid dispenser is bulging out quite a bit, so I could no longer resist taking a little sample. After all, sampling a small amount is so easy with this dispenser! That's part of the benefit I hope to gain.

Imagine my delight as the beer came out with a bubbly blast from the dispenser! It was pushed out with the fury of a driving snowfall! Wow! Cool!! I am always pleased with the marked improvement in taste that CO2 bubbles give beer. And this proves that the concept works so far. I will keep drawing samples each day, and when it seems right, I'll move it over to the cold fridge to stabilize it. Maybe I'll use it as a serving device on poker night next week. If it lasts that long.

12.19.2007

Big Slick and Absinthe Beer


BeerSmith Recipe Printout - www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Big Slick
Brewer: Keith Brainard
Style: Imperial IPA

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Estimated OG: 1.095 SG
Estimated Color: 8.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 80.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 63.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item
10.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
10.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
0.20 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
1.00 oz Chinook [11.60%] (60 min)
1.00 oz Cascade [7.00%] (60 min)
1.00 oz Centennial [9.90%] (30 min)
0.50 oz Cascade [7.00%] (30 min)
1.00 oz Cascade [5.80%] (0 min)
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 min)
2L Starter California Ale (White Labs #WLP001)


Mash-In with 1 qt/lb at 153F for 60 min.
Mash Out with 0.5 qt/lb at 170F for 10 min.
------------------------------------------------------------------



Added 0.25 oz to about 2 gallons of about 1.035 wort, boiled for about a half hour. Very bitter.

12.18.2007

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Holy shit, I have just tasted the best Imperial Stout ever! Sure, Smuttynose is good. Brooklyn is good. Haven't had the Dogfish Head World Wide yet (although that is more Double Imperial at 20% ABV). But this is awesome!

As the devout will know, I have been going out of my way to find Barley Wines and other big seasonal beers (that is, high alcohol) to sample, take notes on, think about, and ultimately write about here on my blog life (and on my other blog life at www.brainardbrewing.com/blog/). So I am used to the fruity esters in aroma and flavor and the warming burn that high alcohol beers bring to the table. I like it a lot of times, but sometimes I wish it weren't that way.

I have finally found a high alcohol commercial beer without a lot of alcohol burn. In fact, if you didn't tell me the alcohol content (which is in the 9% area) I would guess it could even be a regular stout, or maybe a slightly big 7% stout. But no, it is a full 9%. Big as any beer, but the beauty is that the flavors of the base style come through in a big way. There's no overdose of hops. No alcohol bomb waiting for you. Just an awesome stout that seems to anticipate the flavor of alcohol and be made just to accompany that flavor.

The best part is that you don't even have to be able to get this stuff at your local beer store. You can buy it online from one of the coolest web sites I've found lately: Liquid Solutions. I like the place so much that I am in the process of becoming an affiliate over at Brainard Brewing. Personally, I am going to get at least another case of this stuff. I don't want to ever run out.

12.17.2007

BeerAdvocate Server Upgrade!

I might suppose that many visitors to this site are also fans of BeerAdvocate. Great news from Friday that they got their server upgraded! To the layperson, this means that the computer that controls their web site has been changed to a more powerful machine. In practical terms, last week it was hit-or-miss most of the time when you would try to visit any page. Often googling was a more direct and efficient link into the site. But now, it practically brings up the page before you click "Search". Just awesome how a hardware upgrade can make the experience so much more fluid.

12.16.2007

BrainardBrewing.com

If you like this blog, you might also like my main blog at BrainardBrewing.com. It is updated a lot more often - every week day, and some weekend days - and it has really useful content. If you are reading this, then it is very likely that you'll find something interesting over there.

Beer Pr0n

I have put up a bunch of photos on Flickr. There is a photo of each of the beers that I've tasted and photographed there. It is pretty cool.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/21975831@N08/tags/beer/

You should check it out!

12.14.2007

Flanders Red


Earlier this year I had a Rodenbach Grand Cru. I was just learning about Belgians and I think I was expecting something a bit more like a Dubbel than a sour beer. I was surprised, and not that enthralled with the Rodenbach.

Since that time, I have stayed pretty far away from sour beers. Though they have been calling to me. More and more I have been reading about how the pros use oak barrells to sour their beers, and thinking about giving oak and Brett a shot in my own brewing. Then earlier in the week, Garrett Oliver inspired me to buy some real Lambic Gueuze, which is wild and probably a bit sour.

While buying Barley Wines, I bought a few bottles of Jolly Pumpkin La Roja. I knew it is aged in oak and blended. I knew it was a Flanders Red style. I expected wild, funk, and a bit of sour. I became very excited to try it.

Tonight is the night. I am drinking it right now. I think this is going to take some getting used to. It drinks more like champagne. Even though it looks like a beer. But it does look like a bit of a sick beer - sort of cloudy, even musty looking. Very interesting new experience.

Unfortunately, due to schedules of children, I ate dinner at like 4 PM today, which was a bit unexpected and sudden. So I am not eating right now. Garrett Oliver says that I should enjoy this with pretty much any fish, or anything to which you might think you should add a spritz of lemon juice. I think that food would buffer the sour dry beer a bit, and I think I might just go look for a snack to accompany this beer.

I bet that by the time I have had those other two bottles of Gueuze, I will feel like beer that is not somewhat sour and bone dry will taste like unfermented wort to me. Hopefully I will be able to incorporate appreciation for this style while not losing the love for Barley Wines I've been working on.

Peace

12.12.2007

Avery Hog Heaven


Yesterday I got my hands on a few bottles of Avery's Hog Heaven (I almost wrote "instances" instead of bottles - guess I am still not fully detached from my old computer programming job).
I got a chance to taste Avery's Old Jubilation a few weeks ago. Their winter warmer has (to me) an alcohol presence that is stronger than the actual alcohol in the beer. I've written about it somewhere - either here or at Brainard Brewing.com or both. Not that it wasn't good, it was just strongly alcohol flavored at a modest 8.something ABV.
The Barley Wine is 9%, but it is not as highly alcohol flavored. In fact, it is very much IPA flavored, with plenty of Cascade hop citrus aroma and flavor emerging. Of course, it has all the Barley Wine malt character and a subtle, complementary, alcohol presence, but it was more hops than anything else really.
It isn't often that you can find a big beer that tilts towards the hops, but this one does so in a masterful way. I can't wait to try Fourteen in the coming days!

12.11.2007

Brew Day: Little Bear's Brown Beer











Today I brew, tomorrow I bake, the next day the young queen's child I'll take.
Soon far and wide shall spread the fame that Rumplestiltskin is my name!

Today I brew, but I probably won't bake tomorrow. But this is a cool line to have in a childrens' book.

I am making a full-size starter for next week's Imperial Stout. Not done yet, but everything is smooth so far.

Here's the recipe:
BeerSmith Recipe Printout - www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Little Bear's Brown Beer
Brewer: Keith Brainard
Style: American Brown Ale
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.042 SG
Estimated Color: 23.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 31.0 IBU
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item
7.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM)
0.30 oz Cascade [6.00%] (First Wort Hop)
0.35 oz Magnum [13.00%] (60 min)
0.30 oz Liberty [4.10%] (30 min)
0.25 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40%] (0 min)
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 min)
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 min)
1 Pkgs Safale US-05


Total Grain Weight: 8.00 lb
Grain ratio 1.25 qts/lb
----------------------------
Name Description Step Temp Step Time
Mash In Add 10.00 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min

12.07.2007

Christmas Presence Recipe

BeerSmith Recipe Printout - www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Christmas Presence Holiday Ale
Brewer: Keith Brainard
Style: Christmas/Winter Specialty Spice Beer

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
OG: 1.080
FG: 1.013
ABV: 8.8%
363 Calories/pint
Color: 17.7 SRM
IBU: 35.1 IBU

Ingredients:
------------
2.00 lb Amber Dry Extract
10.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US
1.00 lb Caravienne Malt
1.00 lb Munich Malt
0.50 lb Caramunich Malt
0.50 lb Special B Malt
0.50 oz Pearle [6.70%] (First Wort Hop)
1.50 oz Pearle [6.70%] (30 min)
3.00 oz Liberty [4.10%] (0 min)
1 Pkgs Safale US-05

Mash at 150 for 60 minutes at 1 qt./lb.
Ferment at 70F for 14 days

12.05.2007

SABMiller Taps Australian Craft Beer Market

Or so they say.

Upon further investigation, this so-called craft brewer "in American parlance" doesn't seem to be making compelling beers. As if you couldn't tell by the names of the beers that Miller found them to be making - "Premium Lager", "Premium Light", "Traditional Pilsner", and "Blonde". All the types of beers that Bud Miller Coors (I guess this is just MillerCoors) can relate to. Now to be fair, the Traditional Pilsner gets a bit of love from the BeerAdvocates, but the rest are as highly rated as a B-movie being reviewed by a dozen stodgy grandmothers.

It is just funny what Miller considers to be a premium brand. I guess they must be referring to "premium" in the sense of an elevated cost or profit margin, not "premium" meaning of a higher than average quality.

One more note on the concept of premium: they note at the end of the story that this Pacific Beverages (are they a distributor or what?) has a bunch of "premium" spirits brands such as: Jim Beam, Canadian Club, Remy Martin, Cointreau, The Famous Grouse, and Absolut. I don't know about The Famous Grouse, and I don't know much about Cointreau or Remy Martin, but I can say for certain that Canadian Club, Absolut, and Jim Beam are not exactly premium brands. To me, they are the Bud Miller Coors of the spirits world. Especially CC - that stuff is really bad. Absolut isn't much better (although they have much better marketing). Jim Beam at least has a few premium lines, I think, like aged or special reserve blends or something like that.

Man from reading this Brew Blog, it just seems like the kind folks over at Miller are just living in a totally different reality than I am.

So which reality are you living in? Give me a comment and let me know - do you think a "Premium Light" sounds like a craft brand?

Repeal Day - A Reason To Celebrate

I guess I should have known this was coming, but I have to admit I was clueless. Sure, I know that at one dark period in the US history, beer and other alcohol were illegal, and then one day it wasn't any more. I appreciate the huge effect this had on the beer industry in this country, effectively destroying most small brewers and ultimately causing Bud Miller Coors to rule the country to this very day. Even still there remain new-prohibitionists who believe that beer is evil.

I never really knew exactly when this all started or stopped. I think it was in the late teens, early twenties, but I am not positive about that. Honestly, I was never much of a date-memorizing history student.

Nonetheless, thanks to just about every other beer blogger in the land, I have come to realize via RSS that today is the day that prohibition was repealed. Apparently there's some beer-related technicality, but hey repeal day it is!

So in the spirit of the repeal of prohibition (would you call this allowance? that would make this toast the Art of Allowing) crack a special bottle from your beer cellar and enjoy. I am going to have something fresh from this year - Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.

12.03.2007

Wheat Wine vs. Barley Wine...FIGHT!

First of all, I better explain the image. If you never played Street Fighter (and I'm talking about a really old one, like for Super Nintendo) then you won't get it, and just skip to the next paragraph. At the start of a match, it would say the names of the guys and then fight. Like in this example "Ryu vs. Ken...FIGHT!" So that was the inspiration for the name of this post. Add on to that, we used to make up stupid names for the guys. Since you could have a guy fight himself, they were just in different colors, we decided it made no sense for them both to have the same name. Hey, we were in like eigth grade. Especially remembered for me is "Balrog vs. Sog...FIGHT!" (BTW Balrog was the real guy. Sog was the joke name.)

I have been sampling and reviewing a lot of Barley Wines lately. To me they are great winter ales, so I went ahead and skipped the rest of the winters in favor of seeking out barley wines. I even wrote a style profile article on the old BW. Along the way, I came across a Wheat Wine from Smuttynose. Good stuff.

It just made me think about the differences between the two. They aren't as pronounced as you might expect. The Barley Wine is generally darker and a bit more nutty and pruney, but the Wheat Wine is surprisingly dark and also quite robust in flavor. Both are somewhat dominated by alcohol flavor (who can help themselves at over 10%?), and both are awesome. If you can, get any barley wine or wheat wine you can find. If you find a Wheat Wine that's not the Smuttynose, then let me know - I want to try it!

12.02.2007

WTF Chill Haze

My CornucopIPA and Christmas Presence Winter Ale both seem to have a bad case of chill haze. I can clearly see that they are quite clear when I look at them warm. Then after they are cooled in the fridge, they are hazy.

The CornucopIPA has some wheat and oats in it, but is mainly extracts. The Christmas Presence is mainly malts with just a small amount of DME. From what I can tell, everyone says the only way that you get chill haze is from inadequate cooling, and the recommendation is always "get an immersion chiller".

Well I have an immersion chiller. I haven't noticed this problem before, and in fact I've noticed lately that my non-opaque beers are clear until I pour the inevitable small amount of yeast into the glass. I would have thought that with colder weather would come colder water and thus more quickly cooled wort, which would facilitate cold break and eschew chill haze.

Any ideas on fighting the chill haze?

Starter for Imperial Stout

I am going to be making for my next beer an Imperial Stout. I am shooting for 1.100 OG, and although I have been pretty happy with the performance of US-05 in my last two beers, the most recent of which was OG 1.080, I think I would be better off making a starter for this Stout.

I just can't decide if I want to make a normal one-gallon starter, or go for a full-blown five-gallon "starter". I did a bunch of two and three-quart starters this summer, but I think it would be fun to have a whole extra beer made. Especially a small beer to sort of compensate for the hugeness of the Stout.

Any thoughts?

11.27.2007

Christmas Presence Bottled


Ever since I got my temperature controller for my fridge, I’ve had bottled CornucopIPA in there, and fermenting Christmas Presence, as well as the old mead and cider that may or may not end up viable.

Each day, I’ve been checking on the CornucopIPA bottles to see if they’re ready yet. By and large, they are ready, but I still only take one at a time, since I like to let them condition for two full weeks at a warm temperature before fridging them all. I have been noticing that Christmas Presence continues to bubble through the airlock.

Activity had stopped, I thought, before I put the beer in the warm temperature controlled fridge. It is set to 70, while the basement it sits in varies between 60 and 65 these days. I guess the stable temp re-invigorated the yeast in the fermenter. This US-05 is good stuff!
So bottling time anyway – I am sick of waiting for it, besides, it must be done by now. When I popped off the lid, sure enough, there were many little clusters of bubbles on the surface of the beer – signs of activity that I would tell a newbie to wait to be gone before bottling. But not me – I am boldly defying intelligence and bottling anyway.

I took a gravity reading, first, to be on the safe side, and it reads 1.013! In case you missed it, my OG was 1.080. This makes my beer 8.8% ABV! Wow! Plus the FG is so low, it MUST be done dropping – how much more fermentable sugar could be in there? So I bottled it. I think it will be fine. I will monitor the plastic bottle, and fridge it when it is time, and probably drink it all before the yeast gets a chance to wake back up and get back to work. So I am not worried.

Nervous due to past bad experiences getting beers 8.5% ABV and up to condition properly, I used the technique that I used last time with CornucopIPA, where I took a generous portion of the yeast from the bottom of the fermenter into my bottling bucket. Since CornucopIPA was drinkably carbonated in about two days, I think there might be something to this strategy. Time will tell if it worked as well for Presence.

So as I bottle, I always taste the hydrometer sample. This is great! It is a little harsh on the alcohol, which should mellow a bit with time, cold, and carbonation, but even if it doesn’t it is a winter warmer for sure! The flavor and aroma are burnt, almost smoky. As I labeled the bottles, all I could smell was something like milk chocolate. I am super excited to have this one ready to go.

11.24.2007

CornucopIPA Tasting

Just over two weeks ago, I brewed an ale of all the leftovers in my brewing ingredients storage. It was some LME, some DME, a few random specialty grains, and plenty of Magnum and Cascade hops. It ended up as an IPA, and I called it CornucopIPA, like Cornucopia IPA, since it was like harvesting my ingredients store.

I tasted it when I dry hopped it, and I was nervous. It seemed overly dry, and reminded me of my Maple Syrup Wine, which ended at gravity 1.000, and I might use to strip some paint off my mouldings. But I crossed my fingers and hoped it would mature a bit. A few days later, when I bottled it, I tasted it again. It was still pretty unsatisfying.

I bottled it on Wednesday. Now less than three days later (I actually put this one in the fridge this morning) it is nearly ready to drink. My barometer plastic bottle is getting very firm in my temperature controlled 70 degree fridge. When cold, the beer is barely carbed, but could be done if needed. I will let most of them condition for the full two weeks for the full effect.

The great news is that something about it has improved 100%! I don't know if it is the cold temperature. Or maybe it is the bit of fizz that's in there. Or maybe the dry hop Cascades had a chance to act in the bottle. But whatever it is, this is a really good IPA. Not to pat myself on the back, but it is reminding me of the Sierra Nevada Celebration 2007 Ale. Now I didn't really intend to make a Cascade grapefruit hop bomb (although if you looked at my recipe you might wonder why I wouldn't think that) but that's what it came out to be, and that's what American IPAs are these days.

So in the end I have made a quintessential American IPA that I'll be proud to share with everyone. I'll probably be so proud that it will be gone in a week, but it feels good to make a great beer, after so many challenges in some of my latest batches.

11.20.2007

How to Save a Bad Homebrew

I must admit - every now and then I make a beer that doesn't exactly come out as planned. A prime example of this is my attempt at a Duvel clone, which I called, with high hopes, Dorée Forte (that's French for Strong Gold). I got astounding mash efficiency, so the alcohol was way high. But the recipe called for dosing with corn sugar in secondary, so I did it. That was a mistake. I bottled a sample at transfer to secondary, and it was AWESOME! But the yeast just couldn't handle the extra corn sugar I dosed it with, and couldn't consume it all. I ended up 0.3% ABV short, which doesn't sound like much, but that's a lot of sugar! So it was sweet as a lollipop and flat as water. Even adding yeast to every bottle didn't save this one. If anything, it made it taste more infected.

Well earlier in the year, I made a second attempt at a recipe that was wildly successful in terms of crowd appeal. It was called Stonington Memorial Summer Ale, and it was an American Wheat Ale, with a nice tangy taste, light color, and highly carbonated. My second attempt had some sort of weird thing, where it ended up tasting like Blue Moon - with that Belgian taste. Maybe I transferred it on the same day I did the Doree Forte, and got a bunch of the Belgian yeast in there - who knows? But this SMSA2 came out dry and fizzy.

Finally, with about two SMSA left and 5 Doree Forte, I realized: dry and fizzy + sweet and flat = perfect! Turns out to be totally true. With SMSA2 at 4.4%, and Doree Forte at 11.3%, that makes a half-and-half blend of the two 7.85% - pretty strong. And with SMSA being absurdly fizzy (many bottles foam over) and Doree Forte being flat, they make an averagely carbonated beverage. Finally, the Belgian flavor in the SMSA is perfect for Doree Forte, which is where it belonged in the first place.

I feel inspired to blend other beers. For example, my IPA and Holiday Ales are both likely to have a low finishing gravity, and as such, a somewhat thin body. I could brew up a high-bodied ale to blend with them to perhaps round them out. Blending is like the perfect way to compensate for deficiencies in one brew by making the inverse of that deficiency in another brew.

Ever blended homebrews? I'd love to hear about it.

Top Beers For The Past Twelve Weeks

I get emails periodically from "Brew Blog", which is this thing put out by Miller, and which I've made fun of in the past. But it seems with today's entry, that they're starting to get it a little bit. OK, well they're still trying to downplay the importance and significance of craft beer in the marketplace, with their focus on fragmentation in that segment of the industry. But they are noticing the great performance of that segment at the same time.

The thing that I wanted to comment on is their top ten list at the end of the article. These are the "top ten craft beers by velocity for the twelve weeks ending November tenth", which I take to mean that they have either sold the most or grown the most. But the thing is I don't really know what most of them are. In fact, I did some cursory research on the "Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale" and I guess they mean Punk'n Ale from Four +, but it's hard to say. Hmmm...now I wonder how many in this list are of the "macro in craft's clothing" category, a la Blue Moon...

I have heard of New Glarus, and I know they're resepcted. Great Lakes Christmas Ale looks like it checks out. Capital Garten Brau is a little suspect - maybe it is from Capital Brewery in Middleton, WI? I can find info on a Tuckerman Headwall Alt... and it doesn't look that amazing... Anderson Valley makes a Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema (Cream Ale), which I guess is what they mean... Abita is well known. I guess they mean Squatters Captain Bastard's Oatmeal Stout - maybe they just didn't want to include the word Bastard in their blog? Wow, Great Lakes again - they must be growing their distribution network! Maybe I can get them here in CT!! And Acme I can get here, and I like a lot of their stuff (but I never had the Pale Ale, and it doesn't sound tempting).

So most of the list checks out, but some of the entries are hard to identify, and some are not really that highly regarded in the beer review community of BeerAdvocate (which is normally a pretty good barometer for quality).

11.18.2007

CornucopIPA Dry Hopped

I was torn - I planned to dry hop CornucopIPA, but then when the time came (that's today) I got scared to mess with the beer, for fear of infecting it. In the end, I decided I could handle sanitizing the bag, weight, and thief to get the job done. Plus it would allow me to measure the finishing gravity of the beer and taste a sample. My infant son fell asleep and I was ready to get to work.

My original gravity was 1.065. I used US-05 dry yeast, and was BeerSmith predicted a terminal gravity of 1.016. I was expecting maybe even 1.018 or so. To my astonishment, my finishing gravity is 1.014! That makes it 6.7% ABV - cool! But on the other hand, it is really not full bodied enough for me.

The good news is that I have the cause known. I noticed that my brewing thermometer was reading 70 degrees when sitting in my hydrometer sampling jar. The jar is empty, and it has a stick-on LCD thermometer, which is always on target. The LCD said 65 degrees. Thinking back, my boiling wort registered 220 degrees on the thermometer. At the time, I figured it was just a low pressure day or something, and I'm so close to sea level, or maybe wort boils hotter. But now it makes sense. I adjusted the nut on the thermometer down five degrees. Now boiling water today on my stove was 213 degrees (close enough). An ice bath was a nice 32 degrees.

So turns out I have been mashing five degrees cooler than I thought. That means CornucopIPA was mashed in at 147 degrees. No wonder it finished so low in the gravity department. That also means my Presence Holiday Ale mashed at 146 degrees. That one's probably going to end up pretty dry, too. Hey that also explains the overattenuation of Oatquake - it mashed at 145!


I wonder if I could steep some grains and add them at bottling time to add some body... I'll go ask on Northern Brewer's forum.

11.17.2007

Winter Ales

For the longest time, I was not much of a follower of seasonal releases. I was more the one who was disappointed when the season was up and the beer I had grown to love was gone. Magic Hat's Roxy Rolles was just that for me last year.

I think I am starting to get it now. For example, last night I had a Victory Pilsner, and it just seemed sort of out of place on a cold Connecticut night. It was still good, but I was wondering why I passed over a darker brew.

I just the other day picked up a sixer of Ipswich Winter Ale and one of Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. OK maybe the DFH isn't exactly "seasonal" but hey it is dark and hearty. I posted complete tasting notes over at BeerAdvocate, but here's the rundown:

Ipswich is solid. It has a nice dark malt and fruit aroma, with a hint of chocolate and caramel. The flavor is right in line, with a nice dose of hops and even evident alcohol. It was a very enjoyable drink. The only thing that I would really change is the alcohol presence. It is only around 6.4%, but drank more like a 7%'er. But lucky for them I like the alcohol taste. To me it is sort of like the caffeine in coffee - without it, the drink is just lacking substance.

Dogfish Head is a thing of beauty. I nearly shed a tear as I took the last sip from the glass. It also has a nice dark malt and fruit aroma, but the chocolate and caramel are more pronounced. The flavor was in line, with extra help from hops and alcohol, but it was more intense, yet smooth and balanced. The only thing I wasn't impressed with was the head. I understand a brown ale should be lightly carbonated, but I still like to see some head, and have it last while I drink it.

Both are highly recommended, and both are cheaper (at least here at my local A&P liquor store) than Sam Adams. Maybe next I'll have to bite the bullet and try the Sam Adams Winter Ale (or is it a lager?) this year.

11.16.2007

Pilgrims and Beer

Joe Six Pack, a contributor to Philly.com has written a well informed article on Pilgrims and Beer. In it, he has the famous clip of a journal entry basically saying "we have to land, we're out of beer" (the real quote appears twice in the original post, so why repeat it here?) The problem with that quote, which Joe points out is that the entry was from a month after they made landfall, so it is just generally taken out of context. And of course they were concerned with more essential items like food and shelter and not dying. I would just balance this with the fact (or at least the reported fact - I wasn't there) that they thought beer to be healthful food, so running out of beer would be akin to us running out of water. Nothing to ignore.

But Joe goes on to say that since the barley crop that year was unremarkable, they wouldn't have been drinking beer on Thanksgiving, but rather would have been drinking wine from wild grapes. While I won't deny that they could have had wild grape wine there, I will say that they probably also had their beer there. Since barley was hard to come by in the colonies, they made beer from other fermentables (such as pumpkin, molasses, and things - which Joe notes in the end of his article). To them, that was beer. Might sound questionable to us, but their beer was often made from things besides malted barley - they were English, not German. I think that to them beer was anything sort of brown and lower alcohol, or at least anything clearly not wine.

Furthermore, I would think that for a special occasion like Thanksgiving (assuming that all the folklore around the actual Thanksgiving holiday is correct), they would have had special beer for it. They were still part of the British Empire, and could import beer from England. They may have saved some of their fine British beer just for such an occasion. They must have had a beer geek or two with an extensive beer cellar just waiting to help out in just such a time of need. Perhaps they employed the currently still practiced activity of brewing special harvest beers. A whole field of barley - surely we can spare a few hundred pounds for a few barrels of real beer.

One final thought - to those who say "yuck" to the pumpkin, or molasses, or whatever in their beer: the pilgrims also had plenty of corn, which is commonly used today as a fermentable sugar in some of the most esteemed beers of the world. And who among us hasn't had a seasonal pumpking ale?

So when Thanksgiving comes next week, please drink beer. But only if you like beer. Drink wine if you want. Or even water. But since none of us were there, none of us can really tell what they would have all been drinking on that first Thanksgiving. So just drink what you like, not what you think you should like.

11.14.2007

Widmer and Redhook Unite...yawn

Unless you don't read any other beer news outlets, you already know that Widmer and Redhook are teaming up to become the third largest craft brewer, and break into the top ten overall, with about 600,000 bbl annual production. All I have to say is "yawn".

The only Widmer I've had is the hefeweizen, which was fine, but not really spectacularly memorable. Based on their ads, I thought they were less micro and more macro, sort of like a Blue Moon, or even whatever Micheolb calls their beers in different styles. And while Widmer is owned by Anheuser-Busch, they apparently maintain some craft cred overall.

Back in the day, like mid-90's, Red Hook was cool. They were one of a few, and I got a lot out of them in those days. To me, they sort of remained in my past, and perhaps I now take them for granted. To me they are just unexciting and verging on mild. I group them with Harpoon, Sam Adams, Otter Creek, etc. I would drink them if offered them, but for the most part, I am not likely to buy them. Although at least Otter Creek has their big beer series, which is commendable.

In fact, today at the local liquor store (not any sort of special beer store, but above average), I was going to buy a Sam Adams Winter Ale just to try it again. I found Sam Adams to be $8.29 for any style. Then I noticed Dogfish Head was $7.99. I just could not resist my first six pack of Indian Brown Ale at 7.2% ABV for less than a plain ol' Sam Adams Winter. What ever happened to economy of scale? Shouldn't Sam Adams' beer, which is made probably at tenfold the volumes of DFH, be at least the same price? And I always felt DFH had a reputation as being overpriced.

So what are we to do when two "boring" micros merge? Nothing. This is really about the same as Miller and Coors joining forces. It just seems somehow pointless. Consolidation helps them run their businesses at a better profit margin perhaps, and could widen their customer bases. But it is a fact in this country today that people like new beers that taste exceptional. Until Widmer-Redhook do something new and interesting in the product department, it won't make a difference.

11.13.2007

Brewery Lineup

So naturally as a beer blogger, I am dreaming of the day (coming 2010) when I control my own brewery. I have figured out the beer styles I intend to keep on constant supply, and I thought I could take an opinion poll of sorts.

These are the beers I will have available all the time (in no particular order):
  1. IPA
  2. Belgian Dubbel
  3. Belgian Tripel
  4. Oatmeal Stout
  5. American Wheat

I think that this really gives something for everyone. Wheat for Bud Miller Coors fans. Pus Oatmeal Stout is very accessible, thanks to Guinness. IPA is always the beer geek's favorite. That is, unless the beer geek likes the Belgians, then Dubbels and Tripels are sure to conquer.

Any feedback on the beer list is welcome! Including what other or additional beers should I plan on. And also including great marketable brand names for the above styles.

Raising Alcohol Taxes

I just read on BBC that they want to increase taxes on alcohol. This always sounds like a good idea at first, but when analyzed, turns out to be highly misguided. At first, you think "sure, why not increase taxes to make more money on alcohol. Then they might not raise my income or property taxes." I just want to highlight a few of the flaws that I see in a strategy like this.

First, the government is out one side of their mouths saying "alcohol is bad, don't do it" but then at the same time they have a stake in alcohol sales, since they get tax money from it. We have the same question here in the US about gambling, smoking, and other legal vices. To me it undermines the credibility of the anyone that says something is bad and then profits from it.

Second, it is based on a false notion. I highly disagree that the low cost of some alcohols are what lead to drinking and in turn alcohol-related deaths. The BBC article says, "The Alliance says increasing the price of alcohol by 10% could cut all alcohol-related deaths by between 10% and 30%." But without any evidence sited that I noticed. Probably because it is a statement of opinion. The BBC article also frames this as a child-related issue, which is really just a way for the story to evoke more of a response from the neo-prohibitionists. So I'll rebut with my own opinion: "Kids drink to get drunk, and because they believe it will make them cool. Even adults have the same motivations to a certain extent. Price is one factor, but an increase of ten percent is not going to change anything, except maybe the people will have less money to spend on other things."

Now it is hard to argue against the problems that come from excessive drinking, but increasing the government's rake off the sales of booze doesn't even really indirectly address the problem. I'll broadly suggest the same things that countless of other anti-neo-prohibitionists have said: let's try setting good examples for our children at home, modeling appropriate appreciation and enjoyment of alcohol, and responsible behavior around alcohol.

11.09.2007

Extract Brewing Tutorial

Hey readers. I have been working on an extract brewing tutorial over at my main web site www.brainardbrewing.com, and you can find a few entries on equipment and the process over there. Check them out. I will be posting soon to finish up the extract series, and then after that, is the all-grain series. Don't miss it!

11.07.2007

Brew Day!

Today I ended up with no dryer vents to clean, so I got to brew my kitchen sink IPA. This is made with all the leftovers from my past batches. But it ends up to be just about right for an IPA. I decided to call it "CornucopIPA" - like "Cornucopia IPA" sort of as a conjunction. Seems fitting, for the time of year.



There was one difficult aspect to the day. Of 3.5 lbs of grain in this partial mash batch, I had 0.75 lbs flaked oats, and 0.69 lbs wheat malt. This made for quite a tricky vorlauf and sparge. Same thing happened when I brewed my Belgian Trippel IPA, which had a less severe proportion of wheat and oats. But I just could not remember how I got past it last time.

I tried stirring the mash, and blowing on the drain, and altering the flow rate, and a few similar things, but nothing worked. I ended up dumping the whole mash into the brew kettle, and then scooping in just the liquid (to the extent possible) until I could get that to flow. Then I started slowly adding in the grains. Once I figured I had enough in there, I dumped the rest of the grains in there. All the while, I kept vorlauf going so I wouldn't risk getting it stuck again. I just hope I don't have to worry about oxidation from all the blowing and dumping. Guess I'll just have to drink it fast!

I'm looking forward to making a full sized all-grain batch again. The Oatquake didn't get stuck in vorlauf. I wonder what I'll make next. I have a vial of Brett B sitting here. But I might want to make something like a winter warmer very soon. Maybe I could even have one ready for XMas if I hurry.

11.05.2007

Pils and Stout (edit: and IPA)

Two notes:

I got another real Pilsner. It is Victory Prima Pils. I had heard at my local beer store that Victory wasn't distributed in Connecticut any more, but they had it up at Manchester Wine and Liquor (the greatest beer store in Connecticut) anyway. It has a grainy nose, and a typical medium body, but the hops are subtle compared to the Lagunitas. It is very good nonetheless, and probably a bit more accessible than the Lagunitas which may verge on obsessively hopped.

I brought my stout, Oatquake, to poker on Saturday, and it was well received. I always find it interesting that Stouts are well received, because it isn't exacly the easiest style to drink. But I guess I can thank the likes of Guinness for mainstreaming stouts. Mine is more like Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (or whatever it's called - the stuff that is just in a 22-oz. bomber sans nitrogen). The more I have it, I don't feel is is overattenuated as I had pontificated before. I think it may have been still a bit young before. It is really getting enjoyable now. Sadly, just in time for it to be almost half gone :(

OK, I know I said two, but... third thought. Up next for me to brew is the "kitchen sink" IPA made from all the leftover stuff. I am still looking for a good name. Something that means like "all that is" or something. Kind of like Namaste (which I don't know what that means (OK Wikipedia says it means "I bow to you", and is a general greeting and departure, so I guess it is sort of like "Aloha")). Just a cool word that means something to the effect of "this beer includes everything". Maybe Cornucopia IPA in honor of Thanksgiving, since it will be brewed around that time of the month. It will be brewed this week if I am lucky, but even if I made it last week, it probably wouldn't really be ready for turkey day anyway.

10.29.2007

Miller Brews Sam Adams?!

Well that explains a few things!!

I just learned that Miller has been contract brewing Sam Adams for Boston Beer Co. for a while I guess, and it is apparently going to keep on going.

I distinctly remember drinking a Sam Adams earlier this year for the first time in a while, and feeling like it somehow lacked a bit of what I remember in Sam Adams. Notably, it was somehow more harsh in the hops department then what I had remembered. I figured it was just because I was now used to American IPAs, made with citrusy American hops, and Sam Adams is famously brewed with European Noble Hops.

But maybe, just maybe, it is something about the process at Miller that makes beer worse, no matter what the recipe. OK that was mean. But still they could ferment the stuff differently or something such that the beer is a little less smooth and rounded than it used to be. Especially since all the other Miller brands don't really need to be fermented in such a way as to mellow a hops edge.

But of course, above all, I still love the way that Sam Adams has introduced millions of consumers to higher quality beer. In fact, I am one of those whose first good beer was a Sam Adams. So as long as they continue to convert Bud Miller Coors drinkers into craft beer drinkers, let them brew wherever they want.

10.28.2007

Battle of the Pales

Last week I had Battle of the Pils. But it included a Kolsch/Alt cross. Oops.

OK, So now I see that Beer of the Gods isn't a Pilsner at all, in fact it isn't even a Lager. Boy do I feel foolish. But the profile of it is so much like a Pilsner, that I naively grouped it into the category for my Battle of the Pils. Since I was originally looking for a pale beer with a solid malt backing and plenty of hops, I can see how I went wrong here. But the fact is I went wrong. Consider this a correction.

Sorry for any confusion!

10.27.2007

Oatquake Oatmeal Stout is Overattenuated

I know I've written a lot here today. But here's one last thought.

I have been tasting my Oatquake 2 Oatmeal Stout the past few days. It is bottled and almost fully carbed and ready to go. Tonight I put it head-to-head with Sammy Smith's Oatmeal Stout. And I understand the problem I've got.

But first, to explain mine. The smell is roasty and dark. The appearance is black and opaque, with a sort of small head (it is still conditioning) that pretty quickly dissipates. The taste is bitter and roasty. Bitterness comes from hops, which are strong, and also from malts, which are dark. It doesn't really have that rich smooth feeling I was expecting the oats to give me, and that I had last time I used a similar recipe to this. The mouthfeel is a bit watery but sharp, combined with a prickly hops sensation. Overall it has a pretty low body, perhaps less than the pilsners I've been drinking lately.

Sammy's is so much richer smelling and fuller in the mouth. The basic flavor is pretty much the same, and the hops are pretty close. The problem is that I mashed my Oatmeal stout at too low a temperature. Until now, I've been confusing low mash temp with high efficiency. I can still get a good high efficiency mash at a higher temp, it's just that I might not hit a low FG with a higher mash temp. Which in this case would have been better. Mine is just too watery in the mouthfeel department. It has a mild body to say the least. I guess that's what happens when you finish at 1.015 on a stout. Well live and learn. I guess that's why the first Oatquake, which finished at 1.028 (for a whopping 1.8% ABV) was so tasty.

So this one is overattenuated. Normally you talk about beers being underattenuated. That normally means there are too many residual sugars and the resultant beer is too sweet. Well mine had the opposite problem. I made too many fermentable sugars, and didn't leave enough residuals there to make a substantial body that a stout needs.

What is a Pilsner?

After the Battle of the Pils last week, and in keeping with my series on style profiles, I am going to discuss what makes a Pilsner today.

Pilsner was originally made in the Bohemain Czech town of Plzen, and so it was called Pilsner. It is light colored, but has plenty of hops and a strong malt flavor in there. These may take some by surprise, since it can easily look like it would taste like Bud Miller Coors. In fact, Miller Lite claims to be a "True Pilsner Beer", and maybe the others do, too. But Bud Miller Coors are about as authentic Pilsner as Taco Bell is authentic Mexican food.

German Pilsners are found to be more hoppy and a bit more rough around the edges. American Pilsners may lean on American hops more than the noble hops favored by their European cousins. And there is, of course, Imperial Pilsner. Some good domestic Pilsners are Live Oak Brewery’s Live Oak Pilz, Buzzard’s Bay Brewing Co.’s Buzzards Bay Pilsner, and New Glarus Brewing Company’s Home Town Blonde. Go out and try a Pilsner today!

Increasing Cost of Goods

It is no secret in the brewing world that the cost of malted barley and hops are going up. Some brewers can't even get enough hops to make their beers. Other brewers are OK for now, but can feel the impending pressure for their raw materials.

Barley is going up because of many global market conditions. Partly, it is corn being used for ethanol that is increasing the need for feed grains, which barley can be used for. Partly, it is the weak US dollar making it attractive for foreign brewers to buy American grains. And partly, it is a low crop yield for barley caused by weather problems (perhaps from global climate change).

Hops are having similar weather problems, but more to the point is the upsurge in hops demand these days. For a while there were a lot of extra hops at the end of each season, so the hop growers grew less to maximize their efficiency of operations. But now everyone is really into hops, and the hop growers need to rebuild their crop sizes. This could take a while.

Now more than ever, your local brewery needs your support. All craft beer in general needs your support (everyone knows that Bud Miller Coors use less barley and hops than craft brewers). So if you notice the price of your favorite craft beer going up a bit, it is because the beer is more expensive to make.

10.26.2007

Sam Adams, You're OK

So Sam Adams wants to make good with the folks in Oregon.

They made half an apology. They're sorry they didn't research more to make sure the Sam Adams registering a web site was valid. OK. But they aren't sorry they'll let the guy use it for only the election season. Sure, after that time, the subject will have died down, but at least act like you'll let the dude use it forever. After all, it is his name.

Anyway...all's well that ends well. Let www.samadamsgov.com or whatever live on. Boston Beer Co. stop being so paranoid. Everyone already knows who you are. Any other sucker trying to pretend they're you will lose. You don't need to defend your turf like you're a crack dealer.

Beer Track Voters?

I just learned of such a thing as "beer track" and "wine track" voters. Apparently politicians view "wine track" voters as rich educated people who think about larger things like global policies, while "beer track" voters are poor people who only care about how they can pay their bills.

I bristle heavily regarding this differentiation. This over-simplification is just another part of the seeming mass conspiracy to keep beer a Budweiser thing. I know I should just let it go, but I have to let it out first. There's plenty of crappy wine that comes in boxes, and is really on par with Bud Miller Coors. There's plenty of great beer that comes in elegant bottles, and is really on par with fine wines. There are plenty of wine drinkers who booze away each day from their low rent living that don't care about global politics. There are plenty of beer drinkers who thoughtfully follow the news and are committed to making a real difference in this world.

This reminds me of the whole "NASCAR Dads" thing from last time around. I am a NASCAR fan, but a Democrat. Their whole "NASCAR Dads" thing just didn't fit me at all. But this is more of a topic for one of my other blogs: A Liberal Perspective.

10.25.2007

Will The Real Sam Adams Please Stand Up?

Apparently there's a politician named Sam Adams running for Mayor in Portland Oregon (or some office in some town of some state - the specifics aren't that important.)

So these radio guys register a couple of domains, samadamsformayor.com and mayorsamadams.com (or something like that, point is they contain "samadams".) Then the Boston Beer Company (that's really the name of Sam Adams' company) lawyers send an angry letter to the radio guys saying "you can't use that name, it's our name."

Wah. Sorry, Boston Beer Co., it is actually that guy's name. You can't stop him from using his name. In fact, he could probably stop you from using his name if you want to play like that. Once Boston Beer's lawyers found out that Sam Adams is a real guy actually running for Mayor, they will now consider if it is okay with them for him to use those web sites for the duration of the election season. That's bull. There's no way you can reasonably prevent a person from using a web site that has their name in it.

If my name was Michael Jordan, even if I wasn't a basketball player, if the site wasn't already registered, I should be allowed to take something like www.michaeljordanbasketball.com, or anything else I felt like. Then I could sell it to the real MJ if it was such a problem.

Now Sam Adams is not my favorite beer - not by a long shot - but it is still better than whatever else gets 95% of the sales in this country. But this kind of thing makes them seem a lot more like a Bud Miller Coors than what we like to think of as a craft brewer. On the other hand it is publicity. But then again it is highly negative publicity from a place that is really hip to great beer.

Boston Beer Company, please just back off and be reasonable about this. Some real guy named Sam Adams running for mayor is not competing with you.

10.23.2007

What is IPA?

This series of postings will mirror postings at www.brainardbrewing.com, my main business web site. I am doing a series on beer styles. I intend to give overviews of all the major styles as much as seems relevant or possible or I have the endurance for. I am starting with IPA.

IPA=India Pale Ale. It was strong beer made for the long trip from England to India. High alcohol preserves the beer. High hops preserve the beer too. Thus is the fingerprint of the IPA - high alcohol, low to moderate malt profile, and high to absurd hops. American versions tend to be a little more insane than British versions, but we're somewhat less refined than them anyway. There are even Belgian versions popping up, such as Piraat Ale (which is awesome). And I thought I invented it with my American Beauty Belgian Trippel IPA, but alas, someone else already thought of it at the same time as me, or in a separate thread as I did.

Commercial examples include Lagunitas IPA, Harpoon IPA, Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA, and Victory HopDevil Ale. There are also about a thousand (actually 1,325 or so according to BeerAdvocate) others out there. If you never had an IPA, go buy one today! Or if your liquor stores are closed like mine will be in an hour or so, then go buy one tomorrow. Get one soon! They are not to be missed.

10.22.2007

Sierra Nevada Harvest 2007

This is one of the beers that I got the other day while buying up the "Battle of the Pils" beers, dicussed in the last post.

It came in a 22 oz. bottle, like a little Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (SNPA) bottle, but in a big size, and with a pop cap, not a screw top. I had checked it out after buying it but before tasting it, on BeerAdvocate and it has perhaps the ONLY 100% approval rating I've ever seen on there. Needless to say, my expectations were high.

This has an outrageous hop aroma. Monstrously grapefruit and piney. Classic American Hops. In great abundance. The flavor pretty much matches it. The hops are so strong here, that they practically taste like thier cousin, Cannabis, in this concoction. I don't know how close Chico is to Humboldt, but I wouldn't even be surprised if the crops were cross contaminated. This is just SO HOPPY! The malt is detectable beneath the hops, and I wouldn't say it's balanced, but I also wouldn't say it's one-dimensional. I think it is a great celebration of the hop harvest.

It is funny in a way, because I see several times a week all sorts of small brewers looking for a hundred pounds of hops here and there, and these guys as Sierra Nevada bravely dump 8000 pounds of hops into one batch of sweet nectar. I guess they aren't living hop harvest to hop harvest. I'd like to see their hops storage facitlity, it must be awesome!

What's also great about this single-time limited-edition beer is that it was only four bucks for a bomber. A great deal for the special nature of this brew.

All that praise aside, I am still surprised this has the unanimous support of those in the BeerAdvocate community. I guess everyone who bought it is a hophead, because I think you'd have to be to love it. I am sort of a recovering hophead - I used to drink nothing but IPA, but now I appreciate almost every style (still working on a few, such as smoked beers or really sour beer). Fortunately, a bit of the old alpha acids is good for the system.

10.21.2007

Battle of the Pils!

I was never much of a Pils popper, but I have been taking an active role in expanding my horizons. I figure if I can't enjoy a few good pils, I am not really well rounded as a beer drinker. Plus, I am practicing beer pairing for the holidays, and I think a good bitter pale Pilsner will match with one or more parts of thanksgiving or christmas.

So I got three commercial Pilsners. 1) High and Mighty's Beer of the Gods. 2) Lagunitas Pils Czech Style Pilsner. 3) Dogfish Head Golden Era Imperial Pilsner (just couldn't resist this one, too bad I missed it previously when it was known as Golden Shower).

I checked them all out on BeerAdvocate, and I was wondering if I just wasted thirty bucks. Well actually Lagunitas was well rated, so I guess I could have just wasted twenty bucks. But not a waste at all. Each was good or different in their own way.

1) High and Mighty - "Beer of the Gods". This is a pilsner on steroids. Unfortunately, it failed the doping screening. It is a normal pilsner with like twice as much hops. Good idea: pilsner style with IPA hopping. But unfortunately, double doses of noble hops makes for grassy harsh bitterness. I learned this first hand homebrewing recently. That said, it is highly bitter, and unique. I may not buy it again, but I may try the same thing in my own brewing (but with high alpha acid bittering hops) and I will enjoy the five that I have left. Overall a C. See BeerAdvocate for more detailed reviews from many other opinions.

2) Lagunitas - "Pils" Czech Style Pilsner. Lagunitas makes a great IPA that I've had, really clean and fresh and grapefruit bitter. I even made a clone recipe of it a few times, I liked it so much. I knew that they know how to add the hops, and the label was nice enough to tell me it has almost 40 IBU. I thought this might be almost exactly what I wanted, but I might not mind a few more IBUs. I am drinking this one right now, and it is really good and solid. It is still hoppy, but it is just so much more refined than the so-called "Beer of the Gods". Really good. Overall an A-

3) Dogfish Head - "Golden Era" Imperial Pilsner. This one was not very well received on BeerAdvocate, but then again, it seems every DFH beer I look up on there has a lot of "...normally I love these guys, but this one was not my favorite..." type of talk. As for me, I think this one is exceptionally smooth and well balanced, especially for an Imperial. Maybe I need to try the 90 Minute IPA again, but from memory, that IPA was way too overboard in the super malty sweetness thickness department. I was sort of expecting the same thing, but in lager form from this one, especially consiering what I'd read. But I really like it. Overall an A-.

I have only had one each of the above beers, and not formally taken notes or scored each category as I will for my upcoming fomal BeerAdvocate reviews. But I will say I didn't waste any money, and I am happy.

Oh yeah, while I was there, I got a big bottle of Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale, which has perhaps the only 100% approval from BeerAdvocates that I've ever seen. I can not wait to drink this one. I should actually go back and buy more right now! Oh yeah, our liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Maybe tomorrow ;)

10.20.2007

No More Victory?!

I went to the packie (that's what we call a liquor store here in CT - package store)... anyway, I went there to get a great domestic pilsner. Something nice and light with a firm hop bite to it. I figured that Victory Prima Pils would be the way to go. Thier IPA's such as Hop Devil and Hop Whallop were always very pleasing to me, so their other stuff must be good too. Plus then I could pick up a pack of Golden Monkey, their Belgian Trippel.

Shocked to find that Cask 'n' Keg in Mystic no longer had Victory beers. The knowledgable beer guy working there told me that it was a distributor thing. The old Victory distributor was primarily a spirits distributor and they decided to stop carrying beer. So now we can't get Victory here until I guess victory needs to ink a deal with another distributor.

This is just more BS about the three-tier system. It is allegedly to protect consumers from underage drinking, but it is more to entrench the most powerful breweries. Since Victory is not allowed to have more than one distributor in this state, they're screwed when their distributor cuts them off. But Victory is not allowed to cut off the distributor. It is one-sided! Also, look at it this way: most folks see the distributors as either "an A-B house" or a "Miller and Coors house". That's it. No mention of any real beers that the distributor carries.

I don't know if the solution is self-distribution, or just a LOT more freedom in the way breweries, at least small ones, work with distributors. I saw something somewhere on beertown.org about laws where a brewery that was less than 5% of a distributor's sales could cut the ties to the distributor whenever they want. Sounds fair to me. A lot more fair than the way it is now.

10.19.2007

Miller's Brew Blog

A while back, as I was signing up for feeds from beer blogs and things, I got signed up on Brew Blog. They're brought to us by Miller, and it's funny to me the things that they talk about. Today was really good.

It's talking about how Miller Lite is revamping its packaging to capitalize on the positive momentum (presumably Miller Chill). Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't the focus be on the beer, not on the packaging? While I won't dispute that packaging is important, it's what's inside that counts.

I guess that's just how the big guys roll. They are marketing and advertising machines, not really innovative high-flavor product machines.

Oh yeah, too... scrolling down to the previous one, it is Miller's new "sharper, bolder, faster" thing. Well they can't be talking about the beer. That is the same bland stuff as always. No, it is their corporate attitude. It just sounds like they should be making microchips or cars or something. Talk like this reminds me of Ford. But then on the other hand, what a car looks like is a big part of the product.

Miller is funny.

10.17.2007

Life is too short to drink cheap beer!

A great blog posting over at a financial blog gives us ten ways to optimize our beer drinking value. I think it's great for a site like that to be talking about beer in a real and respectful way. Most of the advice they give is great. I might not pour strong all the time, but that's just me. Overall, I love it! It also seems to get a lot of readership, based on the volume of comments there. Even better, half the comments are about homebrewing. I just love it!

I commented over there, and I'll echo the same sentiment here. Beer in 750ml servings is a great value compared to wine. If you go for a 750ml corked beer, it will run you $10-$15 normally. When you buy wine in that price range, it can be hit or miss. While there are great wines in that price range, you have to know exactly what you're looking for or you might get plain old normal quality wine. However, when you buy beer at that price range, you are practically guaranteed an awesome experience with one of the country's best beers from one of our best brewers (or some other country's best beer and brewer). And half the time, they're really strong (in terms of alcohol %) too.

So pound for pound, or do they use the euro now? Or wait I mean ounce for ounce, or should I say millilter for milliliter? Anyway, when you put 750ml corked beers up against 750ml wines, beer knocks their socks off. No wonder wine doesn't come in 6-packs.

Craft Beer Segment is ON FIRE!

Craft Beer Segment Continues to Set the Pace for the Beer Category with Double-Digit Growth

The Brewers Association recently announced the mid-year stats for craft beer (that's industry jargon for good stuff). Craft beer is on a rampage of growth that is way outpacing the rest of the industry. This was the first quarter where we had over 5% volume of the massive beer market by dollars.

These types of figures astound me. I mean by these numbers, there must be at least 20 guys that always buy Bud-Miller-Coors (or is it now Bud-MillerCoors?) for every one of me who never buys it. But the thing is that I hardly know anyone who buys that stuff. So that means for me and my five friends who never by the stuff, there's 100 BMC chuggers. Wow - that is scary to me.

10.16.2007

Beer Styles

There is a thing called Free-Form brewing, where expert brewers reject beer styles in favor of going for a certain flavor, aroma, appearance, etc. that they want, which may or may not be defined by a "narrow" style guideline.

I am as much for innovation as anyone out there, but I think that this rejection of beer styles is not appropriate. In order for a person to be able to reject beer styles, they must first get to know beer styles. EE Cummings didn't start writing without capital letters or punctuation until after he got to know the proper rules quite thoroughly. If you don't know the beer styles, you can't rebel against them. If you don't know them and you don't follow them, you are sort of operating in chaos. If you don't know beer styles, how do you know that a beer you are making isn't part of an existing beer style.

I will keep working with beer styles, and where I feel like it, I may improvise a bit. I combined Trippel and IPA. But it was all based on beer styles. There's nothing wrong with knowing about beer styles, there's nothing wrong with using and following them, and there's nothing wrong with rejecting them.

All this gray area around beer styles highlights the need for well informed beer serving staff and thorough beer menus. If everyone starts working outside style guidelines, and even with the wide variation within a style, consumers really need to have accurate and complete descriptions of beers available for purchase at any retail establishment (bar, restaurant, or liquor store).

10.15.2007

Miller and Coors Hookup

I have just realized that I should be talking about beer news here on my beer blog, too.

The biggest news that I can think of right now is the Miller-Coors joint venture in the US. Now it isn't clear to me exactly in what ways they'll be pairing up, but they're supposed to save $500M per year by combining. I expect they'll still keep their flagship brands of each company. Maybe they will join forces to try to make higher-flavor beer. But they have been calling it a move against A-B. But yet combined, they're still maybe half the market share of our old Buddy Weiser, and their partners Busch et. al.

It seems to me that unless they are changing something about the products they make, this joint venture will just have a temporary cost savings that will probably be used up wastefully in some other area. This waste theory is just based on work I've done in the software inudstry for large companies. Let's just say that they're not normally the most efficient places to get something done.

I, for one, am happy about a joint venture between these guys. I think it weakens the mass-market beer segment, which leaves additional room for craft beer. I wonder what Coors fans who are Miller haters (and vice versa) will do now? Maybe try a nice locally produced Kölsch or Pilsner style beer?

10.14.2007

American Beauty Tasted!

American Beauty, my Belgian Trippel IPA, has been in bottles for 11 days now, and the plastic "barometer" bottle is hard as a rock, indicating that this is ready to go! I put one in the fridge this morning, and cracked it open tonight!

I was impressed by the aroma of the beer, which revealed the corn sugar used in latter fermentation, and also gave a clue as to the classic Belgian hops used for bittering and aroma. The head was not as vigorous as I wanted, so I will probably leave it warm for a few more weeks to let it fully carb (although the basement is getting colder now that it is 40° F overnight here). The flavor was a combination of strong sugar sweetness expected from a trippel, alcohol presence expected from a trippel and an IPA, and hop bite expected from an IPA. It is almost exactly what I wanted.

Halfway through drinking it, I asked Aimée, my wife, who is 4 months pregnant, if she wanted to smell it. Obviously she wouldn't drink it, but she can still enjoy an aroma. She took a whiff, and then immediately said "Why did I do that?" She was so tempted by the smell of it to try it. I felt bad for her, and at the same time happy that I wasn't pregnant.

I will change next time: use American hops, probably for everything. Use very high alpha hops to get 116 IBU bitterness, and perhaps combine Styrian Goldings and Cascade for a Belgian/American fusion aroma.

10.05.2007

BrainardBrewing.com Almost Ready!

I have been working on www.BrainardBrewing.com and it is almost ready!!!!

Soon this blog will be moved mostly to that site. I may still continue some aspects of it here, but I think that for the most part, I will write about my beery adventures on the main site!

Check it out! It is awesome!

Keith

Oatquake Fermentation Update

Oatquake fermented well for several days. It is now apparently complete. The airlock on the bucket has stopped bubbling. But I know that it is not quite done yet. I will let it sit for another week or so, then check it out.

The cool thing is that I got some StarSan the other day, so now I have a simple spray sanitizer I can use. So I popped off the airlock, took a peek at the surface (noticed some small bubbles still - yeast are still working!) and hit the airlock with some starsan prior to re-inserting. Cool!

The great thing is that almost no matter what happens, Oatquake 2 (this one) will be stronger than the original Oatquake (which was 1.8% ABV). And even if it is still only 2% ABV, if it is anywhere near as tasty as the first, I'll be happy.

Next I need to make a normal IPA for daily use.

Aging Maple Cider?

I added a pound of Full Circle Organic Maple Syrup to water to make 0.40 gallons a month or so ago, and now I am wondering how long I should let it sit before I bottle it. And should I bottle it still or prime it to make is sparkling? Hmmm....decisions, decisions.

If anyone out there has made a fermented beverage out of just maple syrup and water, I'd be interested to hear your advice. My OG was about 1.072. I used Nottingham dry yeast.

Thanks!

American Beauty Bottled

I bottled American Beauty the other day. That's what I've called my Belgian Trippel IPA. It was a small all-grain batch, about a half a gallon. I had oats and wheat in it, as well as a dosage of corn sugar after primary fermentation was complete. It stood up well to the dosage, and it has gained a bit of trippel character from the sugar. And a few days later (that's today), the bottles are starting to carb up already. The plastic bottle I used is getting hard, which is great news!

The taste is a bit harsh on the hops side. I could have toned that down a bit. Fortunately, that will mellow with age. So I might have to restrain myself and age these for a few months or longer. The ABV ended up at 9.2%, which is good, especially if it carbs right up. I wish I made a bigger batch. All I can say is that I will never make a 1-gallon all-grain batch again. Unless I find myself with only the capacity to do so. But it is a lot of work for a little beer. I ended up with five and a half bottles of beer. But one bottle was 16-oz. So I guess it's about a six pack. But still... to spend like eight hours to make a six pack is silly. When I could spend like eight and a half and make two cases. Oh well... live and learn.

I can't wait to try it all carbed up and cold!

10.01.2007

Brewing Oatquake 2 Oatmeal Stout

Today I had the day off from the dryer vents, and I decided to pursue my passion and brew that otameal stout that's been waiting for me for a month or two now.

I had some initial mash temperature problems, but got them adjusted just as I ran out of space for more water. I did some sort of decoction (kind of) a few times and added some cool water a few times. But in the end I hit 150°F and let it sit for around an hour. I skipped mash out (I didn't have any room to add more water). I sparged as slowly as I could. I had the valve just barely open, and let it take a long time. Instead of continuously adding water to the top, I added it a gallon at a time. I'd let it go from 20 quarts to 16 quarts (still being above the 11.5 lbs grain bed) then gently add in a gallon from the hot liquor tank.

This all worked out great. I got just as much as I could out of it - I'm expecting a good five gallons. I also got slightly better than expected efficiency. I expected 67% eff. to give me OG of 1.055. I got OG of 1.058, which is a 70% efficiency. I am happy for now. I have also been having good FG luck lately, so I am really optimistic about it!

I will update in a few weeks when I check it out to see if it is done yet. I will skip secondary and bottle it ASAP.

9.29.2007

Southport Brewing Company, Branford

I was in West Haven working on Friday, and had the afternoon free, so I decided to head on over to SBC Branford, which is on the way home. For those of you who don't know and don't want to spend a while reading the link, SBC is a chain brewpub in CT, with four locations all along the rich western CT shoreline. Cool idea! They have a steady stable of about 9 beers with a seasonal in there, too. Normally I think of brewpubs as having a constantly rotating offering of beers, but this has the same nine all the time.

I got the sampler. I had never been there, and to get the most experience for my time, I decided the sampler was the way to go. I am glad I did, so I could get as much as possible. I will post here my opinion on the beers I tried. Keep in mind that it is easy to criticize beers, and that all the beers I had were better than anything I would expect to have at any other bar (that is, I would rather have any of them than a Sam Adams, etc.)

I had the Pilsner, IPA, English Pale Ale, Stout, and Oktoberfest. From now on in the post, I will call the English Pale Ale a "Bitter". First the pilsner. It was good. It was a bit corn-sugary, but light and smooth with a mild hop bite. A bit more of a heavy mouthfeel/body than advertised, but very solid all around. The IPA was weak to me. It had a strong floral hop aroma, as advertised, but little hop flavor (although as it warmed, or as the session went on, the hop flavor became more evident). The weird thing was the hop aroma was the same as the Oktoberfest. Now I can understand that they use the hops they have, but this just sort of left me unsettled. Anyway. The Bitter was my favorite of the batch. It was a really dry and hoppy Burton-on-Trent ESB beer, and it was great. I would recommend it to all the hopheads out there. The stout was a bit of a let down. I am used to the oatmeal stout I made, which is real smooth. This was a bit less smooth and a bit more watery. Just sort of blah, and not memorable. Finally the Oktoberfest. It was OK, but nothing spectacular. I can't really complain about it in any specific way, but it wasn't astounding. Unfortunately, it was really hard to get any aroma on any of these, since they were all served in essentially shooters - tall and narrow maybe 3-ounce glasses. I think aroma might have really helped some of the ones I didn't favor. And again, they're all more fun than what you can get at 90% of the restaurants out there. But I would still recommend the Saltonstall English Pale Ale (really an ESB, or even a British IPA) of all the ones I had. Of course when I go back there, I'll try the ones I haven't had yet: Porter, Red, Fruit, Light, Blonde, maybe something else.

Perhaps the stangest thing to me was that I saw three different guys there drinking absolute crap - Corona bottle, Bud Light bottle (or similar), and Miller Lite draft. Why would you go to a brewpub to drink that? Maybe it was because the food was awesome!

I got the turkey burger, with the fries upgrade. The fries were well worth $0.99 extra - among the best I've had - big, flat, and crispy, but still not too crisp. The burger was great too - I didn't even use ketchup on it! Reasonable burger size, nice soft roll, great caramelized onion mayo mix on top. I am almost looking more forward to the food next time rather than the beer. Hmm...

Maple Syrup Beer...or is it wine?

You might remember that I made a maple syrup beer (or wine?) a few weeks ago. It has been done fermenting for a while, but I have been waiting for bottles to be available before bottling. I want to bottle it in maple syrup bottles, for kitch sake. I think it will be cute.

I have four empty maple syrup bottles, a pint each, and made about half a gallon. So just to be sure, I want to have five bottles available, and the fifth bottle has about one waffle worth of syrup left in it. So I can bottle it soon. I am even going to prime with maple syrup when the time comes. I am thinking about a teaspoon per bottle. Should be at least carbonated.

I haven't tasted it yet, and I will update when the bottling occurs and I can taste it. I am excited!

American Beauty Update

American Beauty Belgian Trippel IPA was dosed with corn sugar a few days ago. It took a few days to get going, but then it developed a pretty serious krausen. It has now settled down, and I think that in a few days it will be ready to bottle. The aroma from the airlock is really nice, all corn sugary like a Trippel ought to be. I am optimistic that this one came out really well, and will carb right up like it should. I have Monday off and hope to bottle it then. I will update when there is an update.

9.22.2007

American Beauty Belgian Trippel IPA

I brewed an idea I had for a Belgian Trippel IPA a little over a month ago. I decided that Trippel IPA was a uniquely American idea, and named it "American Beauty", mainly after the Dead album. It has appeared done fermenting for a few weeks now, and I finally got a chance to play with it today. I measured the gravity, tasted it, and determined how much corn sugar to add to it to make it more Trippel-like.

The gravity was 1.014, which makes it 6.5% ABV. Not bad, but still more to go.

The taste was OK, but not quite what I was after. Of course, there isn't any corn sugar in it yet, so hopefully that's part of it. But the hops were a bit too much. Very grassy, and almost puckering, but not sour like bad grapes. Just harsh. I believe this will mellow with the corn sugar adding some balance and also be less upfront when cooled. This sample was about 74 degrees F.

I was originally going to add 0.60 lbs of corn sugar (this is a 0.75 gallon batch), but I didn't want to risk too much the chance that it wouldn't carbonate in the bottles, so I pulled it back to 0.25 lbs of corn sugar, for an expected end point of 8.2%ABV. Strong but not murderous.

I didn't really have a good way to transfer fluid into and out of the gallon jug. My beer thief wouldn't fit through the neck, and I didn't really want to draw five gallons of water to sanitize the siphon for this little operation. I did it all with a funnel, and probably introduced some oxygen into the mix. I also poured from the pot in which I boiled the corn sugar water, and of course it poured all down the side of the pot (which I didn't sanitize) and into the beer all splashy. So lots of procedural sloppiness (good thing I wasn't analyzing samples for the Tour deFrance) but hey Relax Don't Worry Have A HomeBrew! Done and done.

9.02.2007

Strawbeery well received

I brought a few Strawbeery bottles (that's SMSA 2 plus strawberries) to my parents' house yesterday for my Mom's birthday (I won't say how old) and my Dad and brother both liked it. This is a real success, because my brother buys Busch Light cans when he does buy beer. My Dad is more open-minded, but still not a beer geek by any means of the imagination. OK that's it.

Finally Bottled Public IPA

Well I brewed it on July 14th, over eight weeks ago. I thought I'd bottle it in about three weeks from brewing date, four if I wanted it to age for a while. Turns out things have changed a bit since I brewed it, and I have been working my other job cleaning dryer vents to make a living for the past 6 or 7 weeks. So time is a bit more limited these days. Stupid working.

But I did bottle it today! It was from a Brewer's Best IPA kit, and I also dry-hopped it with Cascade plugs. But it still doesn't taste right. I think it's the dry yeast. I believe it came with Nottingham, but I didn't rehydrate it. I was reading the web site of the Nottingham maker the other day and it said something about a sulphur byproduct (like it would make S2O or something) if it was rehydrated in the beer, as opposed to rehydrated ahead of time. My first kit didn't taste so much like this, and I attempted to rehydrate that yeast first. My second kit tasted just like this (even though it was the True Brew kit) and I am pretty sure I just poured the yeast in dry, because I believed that when I rehydrated, I had to pitch like right away or I was in trouble. I think it turns out that rehydrating and pitching after a while is still better than not rehydrating at all... Live and learn.

Anyway I pitched dry into this latest kit Public IPA (it was made at what was supposed to be a promotional event, a Public Brewing). And it tastes what I would call "kind of yucky". I guess it could be sulfury, but I guess I just never really tasted sulfur or noted its taste so much. Maybe I could go get a match and strike it and smell it to see what it smells like, and infer a taste from that. Or I suppose I could try to eat it. I might need to drink another case or so of beer tonight before I try that.

The moral of the story is threefold: 1) I don't care what those guys online say - dry yeast is not as good. 2) If you must use dry yeast, please rehydrate it, or even better, make a yeast starter after rehydrating it. 3) Um I guess there's only two. Maybe I was thinking the third was it is worth it to upgrade and splurge on a smack pack of liquid yeast when you get your kit. Plus it's so cool when they swell up.

8.31.2007

Non-Beer

I have been making some stuff that isn't beer lately. It turns out to be much easier.

I made some Mead last week. That's just mix water and honey and yeast nutrient and yeast and let it be. I made some maple syrup...um...beer? Or is it wine? Anyway, it is the same thing - syrup, water, yeast nutrient, and yeast. I actually used the rest of the Nottingham that was left after revitalizing the Big Flat Beers. Even now, a day and a half later, it is still going at about a bubble in the airlock every 4 seconds or so. I am optimistic, but out of gallon jugs.

Low Activity

So I know it has been a while since I posted too much. I am workin' now. I brew when I can, but it isn't as easy as it used to be. I hope to make it a more regular part of my life again soon.

Big Flat Beers

So I think I probably complained here about all my big beers being flat in the bottles. Just to recap, there's Big Slick - an 8.5% ABV IIPA which has been flat for a while, after having a higher than expected terminal gravity. Then there's Dorée Forte, an 11.3% ABV Duvel Clone (I know, it is a LOT higher ABV than Duvel - just had super high efficiency in a step mash). Finally GSX-R 1.104, a Double version of the Fat Tire clone recipe, clocking in at 10.0% ABV.

Well they've all been sitting there for like two months (or actually maybe more like 6 weeks) but it seems like two years! Normally my brews take like a week to carb, so I was stressin.

Yesterday I finally took care of it (or at least tried to). I had a packet of Nottingham. I rehydrated it with about 4 oz. of water (per directions on the package) and dilligently distributed about 1/4 tsp to each bottle of all three batches of flat beers. Amazingly, some of the Big Slick actually hissed and fizzed when I opened them. Then they really bubbled up when I dropped a quarter teaspoon of yeast into them. So anyway I am hoping that approximately 0.10 grams of yeast per bottle will be enough to at least have some carbonation in them, and also that I didn't mess up sanitation and contaminate every beer.

By the way, in case it wasn't obvious, I opened every beer in the three batches (which was 95 beers, since I have kept trying beers from each batch to see if they're carbed), then I added 1/4 tsp yeast/water mix to the bottle, and recapped it. You think bottling 5 gallons is tedious, forget it. Try doing 100 bottles of beer at once. I just kept thinking "100 bottles of beer on the wall, take one down, add it some yeast, 99 bottles of beer that are flat".

In case anyone reads this, please pray for my beers that they may carb up and be enjoyable to anyone other than me (I have gotten quite used to drinking them flat and even warm - I like to think of them as very very weak scotch).

Piraat Ale

OK so there already is a Belgian Trippel IPA. It is called Piraat Ale. I haven't researched it any more than that, other than drinking a 750 of it tonight. It was all I had hoped for my own Belgian Trippel IPA. It was sweet as hell, tasting very much like an adjunct-filled belgian ought to. It was also extremely hoppy throughout. Hoppy in a Euro-grassy-hop way. Just like I expect my two ounces each of Saaz and Styrian Goldings (for 0.75 gallons) to make my Belgian Trippel IPA. I can only hope to achieve such awesomeness.

8.18.2007

Beer Activist

I am so happy right now. I just read on Beer Activist that I provided him with the info he was looking for! I read his blog on a RSS feed I get through Google, and I saw him asking about info related to the drinking age law debate that is in the news lately. I was lucky enough to have the info, and I sent it to him, and he linked to me!!! That is officially the first link to my blog that I know of!!! I could hardly be happier!!! Thanks Chris!!!

Belgian Trippel IPA

I brewed today, finally!

I made a Belgian inspired IPA. I love Belgian Trippels, with their light color and body and sweet flavor, combined with high alcohol - what's not to love!

I also love IPA. All those hops, bittering up the mouth, totally inaccessible to BMC drinkers. What beer lover doesn't love IPA?

SO I thought "Belgian Trippel IPA"! I wanted to do a pilot batch (word to the wise - DON'T DO IT!) so I made a 1 gallon batch, with 3 lbs of fermentables and 2 oz of hops. For those who don't know, a standard 5 gallon batch is 10 lbs of fermentables and 2 oz of hops. So this is a monster. It should end up over 10% alcohol by volume (for comparison, Sam Adams is about 4.7%).

Unfortunately, it seems my 5 gallon system isn't quite geared for a 1 gallon batch. I normally get 60-70% efficiency, meaning I get 60-70% of the theoretical yield (in the form of fermentable sugars) from the grain. Well today I got 52% efficiency. As if that wasn't bad enough, I also got a low volume yield. I aimed for 0.75 gallons and ended up with probably 0.5 gallons - even after adding an extra quart to the brew!

:( is all I can say.

Fortunately, I plan to add corn sugar as dosage at transfer to secondary (or at least once primary fermentation is done), so all I have to do to compensate for this low mashing efficiency is to add 20% more corn sugar (0.60 lbs instead of 0.50 lbs). I think my Trappist High Gravity yeast (WY3787) can handle it.

I also managed to bottle my Strawberry Infused American Wheat Beer (which ended up being more Wit than Wheat, I guess thanks to my Duvel Clone's yeast somehow). I got 9 bottles out of what I thought was a gallon (which should be 12 bottles), but hey that's cool. Maybe tomorrow I can bottle my "Public IPA" made at my public brewing last month from an extract kit donated by Rob's.

8.14.2007

Lower Drinking Age

I just read a story on MSN about lowering the drinking age: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20249460/

It seems obvious to me that lowering the drinking age will get 18-21 year-olds drinking beer instead of liquor. The reason they drink hard liquor is because it is easier to get and more effective by volume at getting them drunk. If they could buy beer legally, then they'd be able to get some beer and drink it in a normal adult way.

OK so maybe they wouldn't drink it in an adult way, but they'd be more likely to drink beer and less so to drink spirits. As the article states, look at prohibition as an example. Did the bootleggers make beer? Hell no, they made booze. Why bother transporting beer when you could move something 5-10 times as potent in the same weight and volume.

Let's face it, making something illegal doesn't stop it. People still do drugs - all the time. Kids still smoke - unless they really understand why they shouldn't. And people will drink alcohol when they feel like it, no matter how old they are.

Legalize it, don't criticize it.

8.13.2007

News?

Sorry I haven't been posting. I have been busy trying to like actually make a living now. See http://dryerventilator.blogspot.com for more info. Also see http://www.keithbrainard.com for the same info in a different form.

Anyway. I continue to drink beer, and I have tasted many commercial beers the past few weeks. I have good notes, fit for http://beeradvocate.com but I haven't yet posted them there. Working is hard work.

Brewing is also somewhat on hold as I wait for the big beers to carb up (no they are still flat) and just don't have much time for brewing lately. With any luck, I'll brew Belgian Tripel IPA soon. Then I'll get to posting about it. And maybe I'll bottle Public IPA and Strawbeery soon. Then I'll get to posting about it. But until that time, it is fluffy posts like this one.