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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ;)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.