Sunday, November 30, 2008

In a world of Beer, is there room for other Libations?

But of course there is!
We love to drink some beer! I enjoy it for what it is, and what it may become. I try to find something to appreciate about EVERY beer. Even if it's not particularly enjoyable, it's an experience that not everyone is willing or able to enjoy. I do love the malt and hops, so it's easier for me to enjoy the tasks of identifying flavors, or examining the balance (or lack of balance) in beer. I think that I am gaining a more refined palate every day, and am able to enjoy things that some people don't.
Just as a full bodied full flavored big red wine just tastes muddy and hot to an unrefined drinker, big beer can surely confuse and offend the scenes of a novice drinker. I say novice with the utmost respect, as we were all there once. The only shame for a BMC drinker comes from an unwillingness to learn to appreciate the rest of the beer world.

On this note, I am as much a fan of mead as I am a fan of beer. The possibilities of honey and water and yeast are simply endless. I was drug swiftly into the mead world by the Meadery of the Rockies. They are located in Palisade Colorado, and they produce a very nice mead. It is a grand example of simple complexity. They use California Orange Blossom honey exclusively, and masterfully convert it into several variations. They produce 4 standard "SHOW" mead variations:
King Arthur (Dry) Lancelot (medium dry) Guinevere (semi-sweet) Camelot (sweet) as well as a host of fruit blended mead and even a Honey Sheré.
The show mead is what hooked me. It is simple enough that the inexperienced mead drinker can simply say "Oh That's good" but complex enough that you will eventually fall in love with the complexity of the bouquet and the flavor that screams honey from every corner of the glass!
Mead is hard to find, easy to make, and wonderful to drink. It goes with EVERYTHING, and can be as simple as a show mead, containing only honey, water, and yeast, or as complex as a braggot, blurring the line between wine and beer!
Either way, I would encourage every beer drinker out there to expand your tastes. Learn to appreciate other beer. Don't limit yourself to what corporate beer giants like InBev think you should drink. There is a world to be seen....just look through the glass!
If you've expanded your view, look to mead! It is the drink of the Greek gods, and my wine of choice for any occasion. Not unlike beer, if you find one you don't like, don't abandon your quest. There are many variations, some good, some NOT, but all worth giving a try!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Breaking the rules!

Some times, I'd say that rules prevent chaos and enable civilized life to continue without significant interruption of that very life. Today, however, I'm sick of the rules. I was bottling some Irish Red this evening, and I caught a whiff of it. It smells very nice and caramel/malty, and just plain nice.
I have been working on re-sealing an Oak Barrel that I have left over from a previous project. It dried out when left empty in good old DRY Colorado, and would not hold liquid. I have had it soaking for 3 days now. The barrel is small, 3 liters, and has a medium char. It even makes the water smell good.
WAIT a Darn Minute! Why not put some of this here malty goodness in that there barrel? It's only 3 liters, and it might be great!

Having gathered a funnel and a clean glass, I gave the barrel a quick swish with some Whiskey to sanitize, and used StarSan on everything else. It seems a bit odd to be filling a barrel with cold and carbonated beer, but I gotta admit that one whiff of that oak and malt, and any odd feelings about the order of things gos away!
Now I don't know if this is going to be inspiration or suck, but either way, you've got to admit that it's a step in the right direction.
I've always been in whole life long. Not like Criminal Behavior or anything, but I tend to do things with total abandon for logic and reason. I just do things sometimes for no other reason than "cause I want to!"
This has caused others frustration since the day I decided to put my desk at the front of the class in the first grade....The Teacher didn't want to let me leave it there, but it was soon clear that I'd behave (For the most part) if my desk was beside I left it there.
I believe that if you're living in the main stream, you're probabaly bored to tears. If you always drive on the right side of the road, or always get the salad instead of the fried cheese, If you only oak traditional beer, you are missing out on what could be great! Get off your butt, put it in 4 wheel drive, and venture off the beaten path before it makes you the beaten one!

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Just Happened to Me?

A Quick and innocent trip to the liquor store while the wife was doing some clothes shopping...that's all I was after. I didn't intend to fill the bed of the pickup with goodies. I didn't intend to buy 2 of everything I got....but I did!

Meadery of the Rockies King King Arthur, Evan Williams Egg Nog. 6 pk Dead Guy, Ruination x2, Double Bastard x2, Melbourne Brothers Apricot Lambic, Trappists Rochefort, Melbourne Brothers Strawberry Lambic, 12 pk of Sierra Nevada Celebration, topped with Kona Brewing Limited Release Wailua Wheat, Sierra Harvest Ale x2, Chimay Grande Reserve, Decadent Imperial IPA, and a 6 pk of Breckenridge Christmas

I have already cracked into the Dead Guy. Considerably sweeter and more malty than I expected. I guess I've been sampling the stone line lately, and forgot that not everything has to be hopped to high hell! It's good, but could have used some dry hoping. ;)

I have also tried the Christmas ales, and the Breckenridge version gave me an idea. I've got a full basement...let's just call it a cellar from now on shall we!
I suspect that the Double Bastard and the Dead Guy and the Breckenridge Christmas Ale will Age VERY well. Some of the others will not. The Sierra Nevada Celebration has a very nice hop nose that surely will fade into the background in time, and you never expect an IPA to age well, but I'm still going to stash some of that ruination for comparison in the years to come.
I will have to invest some serious money in this project, but some day will be able to offer up some astonishing vertical tastings to those Lucky enough to be around.

Anyone want to be my friend?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Equipment Malfunction.

I began the Election Evening by cracking into my 10 day old Mild.

It has been on gas for 24 hours at 30 psi. Carb level is great, just right for a mild, but a bit low for me. I have a tendency to like to start a bit over carbonated and a bit too cold, and let the flavors bloom as a beer warms and off gasses. I was very impressed with the flavor and body of this little mild. I would say that it is entirely too roasty for my taste, and I will completely cut the chocolate malt in the next batch. I again sampled the Fullers ESB, and Stone Levitation, but eventually decided that my favorite beer of the evening was the Irish Red that I have on tap. It's sweeter than it should be, it's very malty, and the WLP004 has left a touch more DMS than I thought it would, but it is very tasty, and very drinkable with a great head and an extreme red Hugh brought by the Crystal 60 and Crystal 80 in the Mash.
Fortunately, I decided to hit the basement for a check of progress and airlock levels. When checking stored kegs I found that a keg of Cream Ale had no pressure. It was kegged and carbed weeks ago, but when I unhooked it from the gas, the poppet stuck, but quickly sealed when I pushed on it with my thumb nail. I checked it a few times with a starsan solution and it did not appear to be leaking.
I drug it back upstairs, and hooked it to the gas, and again the keg is sound except the leaking poppet when I unhooked the gas.
I am glad that I purged the 02 and had it in a stable temperature environment for storage, as I am sure that the beer within is fine. I have it hooked to gas at the moment, and will leave it until the parts show up from Then if I don't have a place for it, I will swap out the poppet and gas post and we'll be good to go, I suspect that I will be nearly done with the Red by then, and be ready to step right up to the Amber Cream.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Skunked Beer!

Sunday Night.  
I do Love Sunday Night. The wife puts the kids to bed early in preparation for the week ahead, and often times I have a new beer to try. These simple pleasures of marriage are the ones to treasure.  
This particular Sunday, I had been so lucky as to visit the Powers Liquor Mart on Saturday while we were in Colorado Springs, so I have a hand full of new prospects.

Tetleys English Ale...In a can...with a widget!
I don't know how they work, but the widgets sure are fun. This one is affixed to the bottom of the can, and does a fine job, as you can see, of producing a creamy head, and nearly flat beer. I don't know why these malty gems are so thirst quenching, it would seem that they should be thick and heavy, but really, this is very light, very drinkable ale. I can't wait for the colder days of winter to crack into one of these bad boys to ward off the late afternoon Chill. Despite the 3.9% alcohol content, this gives a nice little buzz when quaffed before dinner. I can see why the English like to stop at the pub after a days work and have a few before heading home for some Kidney Pie.

Next on the list for the evening was a Fullers ESB. Seeing as how I have 10 gallons of ESB ageing in the basement, I'm thinking I should try an industry standard...just to educate my taste buds. The Fullers was a nice looking beer, and with a pint glass and only a 12 oz bottle, it affords me the luxury of a very aggressive pour for a nice looking head. Unfortunately (for me) that head dissipated very rapidly and there is minimal carbonation. The taste is pleasant, and I am sure that I 'll be an ESB fan for years to come...but then it happened.

It was a nice 78F for a high, so we had all of the windows open. By November second, your days of open windows are limited in Colorado. Because of that, and even though the outside temperature had dropped into the mid 60's, the windows were still open. That is what ruined my beer drinking for the evening.

As the dogs came barking toward the house...which is an odd occurrence...usually they run from the house barking at the dark...The foul, Nose hair curling stench of freshly sprayed skunk came drifting through the windows. I jumped from my chair, and ran to the kitchen hoping to get the windows closed but it was too late....Boogy Dad Boogy Dad!  

As I tried to finish my beer, the smell kept getting worse and worse (mostly a mental thing that happens to you when skunk gets "in your Nose") but either way, the beer was totally unenjoyable, and I just had to give up and go to bed.  

Perhaps my Stone line up of Levitation, Arrogant Bastard, and Smoked Porter will fare better tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I HATE IT When That Happens.

So a friend of mine sends me this picture this afternoon...while I'm at work no less...So I've been thinking about a beer all afternoon. I received my Carbonator Cap from AHS today, so when I got home I had "OTHER" things t do than pour a pint. I carbonated some milk for the kids....Don't...Don't even ask!
When I finally get around to a beer at 10PM...I decide to try my Sour Peach. It's a Lacto soured Peach Blond ale that was made in Early September. I'm thinking it could be good by now...Maybe?
Well...Upon examining the bottle, the thing that is most apparent is that I should have given this beer 2 weeks in a secondary to finish clearing! There is so much crap in the bottle that the marginal over carbonation has roused about 60% of the crap in the bottle. It is surprising how sour it smells, somewhat like socks....NICE!
I actually have chunks of granulated yeast sediment floating in the glass, not that you can see through it with the pectin haze. I like the cloudy appearance, and will pursue that in the future, but this is a bit much.
The flavor is pretty sour, giving way to the peach, giving way to the sour again. I am a man that knows what I like...usually....but I can not put my finger on this one. It's either terrible, or fantastic! I am pretty new to sour beer, but I'm a fan for sure. I can't help but think this will get better....maybe I'll freeze the bottom of the bottles.

This brings me to the current glass.
A store brand extract Fat Tire Clone.
It's beautiful! Brewed by SWMBO...Ok, Me with her help, she refers to it as Her Beer. It came to life on Feb 17, so it's got 8 months on it. It's pretty in the glass Wiyh a nice DARK amber color. It is crystal clear, and a beautiful white head. Sofar, it's looking a bit under carbonated, that actually took a very aggressive pour to achieve.
The smell is of mild Carmel and grain husks there is a bit of simple Co2 smell providing a bitter smell.
The first taste is nice, definitely extract. The flavor is malty, but flat. The caramel undertone is nice, but very one dimensional. This is the depth that I would expect from a Coopers Can kit. There is a nice hop bitterness, but it's over powered by the Alka Seltzer flavor that I am going to attribute to "Extract Twang". The twang is much less apparent on a really big gulp of the beer, but it's still there, right on the back sides of the tongue.
WOW, That sounds like I don't like this beer. It's really very good, and I'd say that if it were not for that twang, this would be a dead on clone. I'm not an expert on Fat Tire...I've had a few dozen of them though, and this is pretty close. I would like to convert this recipe to an All Grain and see how it goes.

Plastics and the Economy!

It's no secret to those that listen to me rant about glass that my preferred carboys are glass.  I love the old time feel of glass, the connection to a time long since past.  I am a fan of the ways of our forefathers and have a ToN of respect for  the time effort and dedication that they committed to everything they did. HOWEVER, they had a lot more time to do things back in the day.  I don't think my Grandpa ever had to drive 100 miles to watch the kids play football, make it home in time to watch House, get laundry done, chores, cook supper, do dishes, homework, answer e-mail, watch the news and then bed!  WOW!  Sounds hectic Right!
I'm no able to do everything like my Grandpa did, but Glass carboys are one connection to the old days of brewing that I can still manage.  I love them.  I love the way they look, I love the way they feel, I love how easily they clean up....I love everything about them...except they are heavy, they break...VERY EASILY.... and they are getting more expensive every day!  
So Today I will order a better bottle.  Austin Home Brew supply has the 3 gallon size glass in stock for $25, so I'm hoping to find the plastic for less. I have a coupon for free shipping, so it may be glass anyway.  
I love the 3 gallon size for mead and juice wine.  I like it for experimental batches....because it affords enough end product to be useful, but not overwhelming me with bottle after bottle of failed experiment....and let's be honest...they are not all award winning!
I am lucky enough to have access to #1 PET Water Bottles that I ferment things like Apfelwein and some beer in, so I'm not that interested in the 5 gallon Better Bottles.  I do like Ale Pails, and have used them for years, and I'm not really that concerned about the oxidation factor, so I do not see any reason to be unhappy with the Better Bottles.  I guess time will have to tell!
I am not converting by any means, and I will continue to try and purchase all of the glass carboys I can find, but I'm not going to ignore the plastics solution.  They are now cheaper than glass, and with the economy the way it is, I'm very careful about what direction I throw my brewing budget! They are non breakable, do not chip, and they weigh considerably less than glass.  I suppose they are the coming of the brave new world of home brew.  I am going to be embracing the new, while honoring the past.  I will use both glass and plastic, side by side, in harmony and brewing all the crazy stuff I can think of!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Brewing of the mild.

Here is some videos at the brewing of the mild. It's gonna be good...and in 10 days!

Part 1

The Day of the Kegs

Today We Keg!
I managed t get my Braggot kegged last night. It will sit in the keg at 30 psi for 24 hours...later tonight I'll drop it to around 15 then take it to the basement. I will bottle it at some point in the next month or so...depending on when I need that keg.

Both of the 2 ESB experiments are kegged and will also set in the basement for a few weeks before being tapped. I have them both hooked to the High Pressure gas. I will force carbonate them for 24 hours at 30 psi...then as with the Braggot, It goes down to 12 - 15 and then to the basement. When the time comes, I will hook them up for 3 or 4 days at serving pressure and that will allow the carbonation level to stabilize. Giving it a few days at serving pressure before tapping is in my opinion, very important to getting the most from the keg. It seems to prevent foam, and flat pours. My preferred method would be to set all new kegs at 12 - 15 psi and leave them for a week or so, unfortunately, I don't have the capacity for that right now, and I need to get 3 batches kegged and out of the way.

The ESB experiment:

These are 2 Extra Special Bitter beers that were made as an experiment using similar ingredients, and similar color, but at both ends of the bitterness spectrum for an ESB.
The one on the left is 5.6% ABV, 32.9 IBU, and 6.2 SRM. It is made with Pale, Crystal 20L and Vienna Malt, Challenger, Fuggle, and Tetenger hops.
The one on the right is 5.7% ABV, 45.1IBU, and 8.0 SRM. It is made with Pale, Munich, and Vienna Malts, Cascade, Fuggle, Tetenger and EKG hops. The picture shows it being a bit lighter in color, but that is due to the fact that is is not as well cleared as the other beer. My suspision is that it sat where the air temp was a degree or 2 warmer, and did not settle out as much. Both beers should be very clean, as they were both in Primary for 28 days. I do intend to put them on tap side by side...
My current tap list is:
1. Empty - Brittish Mild (ESB UP Next)
3. Irish Red - (ESB Up Next)
4. Apfelwein

The Brittish Mild should be a 10 day grain to Tap batch, and when it and eht Irish Red are gone, I'll hook up the ESB's so we can taste them side by side.

I have an AMBER Cream (that's a cream ale that hit in a bit too dark) that I'll throw in the mix somewhere, but it's not really tasting the way I want it to right now, so it's gone back downstairs to age a bit.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fridays plans.

Well...Reality set in.

Here is what I was hoping:

And what I really did was keg my Braggot and chat on!

Oh well. The weekend is still young....and I may still get to brew either tomorrow or Sunday.

Lunch At the Local Bar.

Southside Bar And Grill.
Southside has been a staple of my diet since I was about 7 years old.  My brothers and sisters all hung out at the Southside when I was a youngster.  My youngest sister is 11 years older than me, and back then, you could drink in the bar at there it is...I've been hanging out at Southside for 23 years.  
Today, Stuffed Peppers on the menu for Lunch.  No beer please.  They have Coors Light and Bud Light on tap, and Killian's Red.  In bottles you can get BMC, plus Corona and Heineken.  
I'll take Ice Tea.

Welcome to the Madness

Just exactly what I need!  More shit to do!  I don't know why I think that the world gives a damn what I think or am doing, but I guess it's just part of the ways of the brave new world.  
I will be cussing and discussing beer and brewing.  That it here!  NO politics, no sports, none of that....well...maybe some.

 But Seriously...I'm here for the beer!

The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series