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.


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.


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.