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.


The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series