Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap Year Mead

A post 4 years in the making.
A few years ago... well 4 to be more specific, some people over at Homebrewtalk.com got together and decided to do something special for leap year.

This nutty holiday just calls for something to be done in it’s honor, so we decided to make mead!

BigKahuna 2-29-2008
We have talked mead here on BKB before, and we will again, but perhaps none will ever be as charismatic as the one we have today. Not unlike people, this mead does not rely so much on depth of character or overall complexity for it’s charm. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It’s fairly one sided and shallow... again, like most people. But also like most people, it’s got that certain something that makes it unique and and exciting.

The fact that a lot of people made this drink...all on the same day, is unique enough, but the recipe called for using the best honey YOU could get. For many of us, that meant artisan honey from local apiaries, but for some it meant clover honey from the grocery store. The honey I used was 12 pounds of local wildflower honey and 3 pounds of “Ambrosia” honey, also made in Colorado.

If I had it to do again, I’d have used Tupelo or Orange Blossom for this project, but I’m not unhappy with my choice. And again, I’ve got 4 years more experience in mead making since we made this batch of golden nectar.

My notes indicate that I fermented a must with a starting gravity of 1.100 with Pasteur yeast for three months. On June 7, this mead was racked for the first time, and had 10 split and scraped Madagascar vanilla beans added to it.

The honey concoction sat on those vanilla beans, extracting color, flavor and aroma for one month, and was racked again on July 6, 2008.

The mead was clear, and didn’t drop any lees after that, so it sat, right in the basement, in a glass carboy with an airlock that went dry only once, for four years.

Fast Forward through miserable winter blizzards, the tornado that came less than 100 yards from our house, three basement floods, our son’s first day of school, my wife and I BOTH quitting our jobs, purchasing a business and countless other life events that this mead has seen since it’s brew day, and we bottled it on January 27, 2012. Success that was 4 years in the making.

I would love to share the tasting notes with you from this post, but unlike SOME of the people who participated, I held true to the original orders that this mead was only to be drank on Leap Year Day.

So I can honestly say that with all of the time and effort that has gone into making this batch of mead, I have not tasted it.

I will share my secret with you all, because you are such great peeps. ***Dim Lights and add spooky smoke. And a cape. I was definitely wearing a cape.*** I made a sister batch. The next day, on March 1, I secretly made my way to the darkest corners of the Kahuna layer where I mixed identical ingredients and set the air lock. Yes folks, there was in fact, a second batch made.

Ok, turn the lights back on, that’s creeping me out.

Anyway, tomorrow is Leap Year. I will be opening a bottle of Leap Year Mead and tasting it for the first time. I suppose I could share with you the notes, just for posterity... It will, after all, be another 4 years before we open another bottle.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

DownSlope Distilling, Centennial Colo.

It seems like everyone really enjoys the posts I do regarding distillation and spirits so when I got the opportunity to hit up a semi-local distillery, I jumped.

The whole thing was really not planned, so I apologize for not having the best pictures in the world.

A few months ago I brought you the Double Diamond Whiskey from DownSlope distilling in Centennial Colorado. It was smooth, unique and well rounded.

Mitch shows us the aging barrels
On the tour I leaned that it is because the Double Diamond is made with Marris Otter malt. A favorite of homebrewers. To that golden grain of my dreams, they add a touch of Rye and then age it in used oak barrels. The finished product is then blended and bottled right on site.

I should mention that DownSlope is one of very few Colorado companies that actually distills their own product. Some of the “Colorado” spirits on the shelves are actually spirits purchased from a large distillery and bottled in Colorado. These products can be good, but in my limited experience, tend to be a bit inferior.

Mitch, the still master at DownSlope had just finished pumping 220 gallons of the fermented wort into the custom built copper still when I arrived.

The copper still at DownSlope has a 220 gallon capacity
The still, unlike some smaller units that you find, is neither electric nor fire powered. This still has steam coils built into the boil pot that allow for very quick and precise temperature adjustments.

As we continued past the fermentors we arrived at a second still.

This one was nothing like the large copper monster in the corner. It was a small 45 gallon drum with something I recognized on top.

45 gallons of Rum Production

There was a two plate “Flute” section on the bottom with a large Mile High reflux column on top of that. The reflux column is packed with alternating layers of copper mesh and unglazed ceramic pellets called rasching rings.

This column packing allows some of the steam to condense and trickle back down the packing. As the droplets travel down, the hot steam headed up, pulls the alcohol out of the droplets, and the droplets collect water from the steam.  This system produces a very pure distillate.

This smaller electric fired still is used to produce their vodka and rum.

The rum is made from 100% Hawaiian Cain Juice, it’s just evaporated before shipping. This sugar source looks very raw and has some of the characteristics of “Turbanado” sugar that you get at the grocery store. It’s just far less processed.

After the rum wash has fermented and been transferred into the little still, a second product is made.

In the USA, Vodka can be made from anything. Heck, there is even a guy making it from day-old donuts. But at DownSlope they are making it from RUM!

As the still heats up and the alcohol starts to flow, the very pure alcohol is kept and bottled as Cane Vodka. When the proof drops below 190, the Rum production begins.

By the time we finished our tour, the copper pot still had heated up and began to flow.

The “stripping run” is the first run of the alcohol just to get it concentrated down a bit, and that was what was happening when I was there. I got to sample a taste of the fresh whiskey right off the still, and it was actually very good, but it will be distilled again to purify the flavors and then aged before bottling and shipping.

The line of rums that I sampled at the distillery were all wonderful with two shining standouts. The Wine barrel aged rum is aged in used wine barrels that are individually numbered. That number is then had written on every bottle that leaves the door. These are one-off batches and really caught my attention.

The second rum that was a very pleasant surprise was the Vanilla. Spending only hours “On the bean” as they say, this rum is neither sweet nor overwhelming. With just enough vanilla to be distinct, the rum flavors are not hidden by the addition. The very light golden hue is as pleasing to look at in the bottle as it is to sip from a glass.

I ended up leaving with a bottle of white rum and a bottle of the wine barrel aged rum that I look forward to  sharing with you at a later date.

With the varied line of spirits that Downslope produces, and the fact that some of their products are ever changing, I suspect I will be stopping in from time to time and picking up a few bottles to keep the Rum Collection stocked with a little something local!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Belgian Yeti

This time, it has an accent?

That’s right, the Belgian Yeti has a noticeably new character.

This, being the last of my bottles of Yeti makes for a bitter sweet story about a beer. While it has been a lot of fun exploring my way around the Great Divide lineup of Imperial Stouts, I am ready for a new project.

One thing that I must say about Yeti Thursday, is that it’s been nice to have a structure for tasting these big brews. Not that I need a form to fill out or a list to tell me how, but it’s been nice to be able to spread this experience out a bit. I normally would have tried one or two a night for a few day and been done.

Enough jabbering... Let’s drink some beer!

This final Yeti has, as expected, the thick black pour and caramel head that I have come to love about these brews. The retention on this one seems a bit better, but I did leave this beer out for over an hour before pouring, so it wasn’t really warming up in the glass. That seems to have some effect on retention.

This beer smells so nice I can’t believe it. Gone is the hoppy floral notes of the Oak Aged, some of the chocolate and coffee is still present from the Espresso Oaked version, but front and center is that funky Belgian sourness that makes my mouth water just to think about it.

Some beer judges and bloggers use descriptors like “Horse Blanket” and “Earthy” to describe belgian beers. Well, I don’t like that. I’m going to say that this smells like the drip tray and a great beer bar. This is a good thing though. With the bitterness of the coffee aroma paired with the Brett-like sour aroma, I can’t wait to taste this thing!

So... Have you ever been totally unimpressed with something that is truly great? That’s kinda what happened to me here. This is a fantastic variation of Yeti. It’s thick. It’s rich. It’s creamy, flavorful malt and hops are in zen-like harmony. There is nothing bad to be said about this beer. Except I just wasn’t awestruck.

As I try to deconstruct and figure out what it is that’s not jiving here, I realize that the first problem I have is that it isn’t sour enough. With a nose like this, I was perhaps expecting a Flanders style sour, and it’s just not there.

Another odd character of this brew is the body and texture. A good number of sour beers are very dry and have a thin mouthfeel, but this is neither. It’s an assault on your senses and nothing like I expected.

As I drink, I am beginning to like this more and more. I think that the unusual combination of smells and flavors initially turned me off, but it’s coming around. And I’m almost certain it’s not due to the 9.5% abv.

This beer is really unexpected for me. It’s been an adventure, having gone from excited to let down to basically happy and back to excited.

Excited for what? Well, I am picturing pairing this with about 10 oz of Ribeye, a big ‘ol scoop of potatoes and a fist of Roasted Garlic. I think that this hearty beer, brewed with character in the tradition of hearty people, could compliment a Kahuna style hearty meal just fine.

Now that I know what I’m in for with the Belgian Yeti, this beast is welcome at my dinner table any time!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Quest for Younger!

“For once per year the beer travelers of the world shall make a pilgrimage to the chosen dispensaries, and there will be beer!”

Ok, so we gather all the time, I’m not a prophet, and even though Pliny the Younger is limited, it’s still an attainable brew. Mysterious as it may be, Pliny the Younger is not impossible to get in your glass, you’ve just got to be willing to work for it.

Wakin’ with the rooster, our day started as the sun cracked the horizon. With things to do and beer to drink, there was no time to waste.

Unfortunately, real life takes it’s toll, and we hadn’t even packed yet.

As I headed outside to take care of chores, Jessica feverishly packed bags and finished up the last of the inside chores. By 9:30, we were turning dollars into exhaust and headed down the highway! It’s the weekend and nothing can stop us now!

Arriving at the Falling Rock Taphouse somewhere around 11:30 a.m. we were pleased to see the place not yet packed! We might even get a stab at a table... but first things first! We must figure out how we get that beer that we’ve traveled so many miles to sample!

Greeted at the door by an angle; a real life hoppy goddess who, with her fist full of golden tickets, ensures orderly conduct on our quest for the Younger!  We were told to get in line when called, “You’ve got your beer!”

WOOOHOOOOO! That’s what I wanted to hear!

You don't often see a lineup like that!
But CRAP! What are the wife and I going to do for 2 hours in a bar where we don’t know anyone?

Well.... Drink beer of course!

Starting off with a Tank 7, perhaps SWMBO’s favorite “Not La Folie” beer, and I with a fine chocolate flavored sampling from Crooked Stave, we made our way to the basement and found an empty table behind the last pool table.

It didn’t take long to learn that we had eaten too little too late for breakfast, and decided on a pile of the fried mushrooms for a lunch time snack.

I am sorry (Happy) to say that you’ll never find better bar food than at the Falling Rock! It’s simply the best beer paired with the best bar food you’ll find.

When I went to order our little snack, they had served the final Tank 7! Great! Now what?
This is the Falling Rock, and I’d expect nothing less that Craft Beer Mecca! And  I wasn’t disappointed.

Boulevard Brewing Chocolate Ale came on to replace the Tank 7.

Not my favorite beer in town, but the Chocolate Ale has been hard to get and caused a frenzy in Kansas City where friends of ours waited for over 2 hours to purchase 1 bottle.

While I was up... I figured I should get a Cocoa Mole from New Belgium as well. I know that I’ve got one at home, but this will be a good comparison between tap and bottle.

A secondary migration.

Pliny the Younger In Glass!
Just as fermentation doesn’t really change chemically after racking to secondary fermentation, the relaxed mood stayed pleasantly calm as we lined up for our Pliny!

The Yellow ticketed patrons were guaranteed a beer and were first in line, and then the Red tickets. These are the folks that showed up late but still might have a chance.

With this system, there was no pushing or shoving, and the beer flowed at a controlled pace.
Not long after the Pliny was gone, there was a second prize for Russian River fans.

We bid adieu fair Younger! Till next year!

We just happened to be lucky enough to get a heads up that Supplication would be coming on soon.

As luck would have it, I got the opportunity to stick my head into the cave of high hopes.... that is to say the beer cooler, and grab a picture of Chris changing out the Pliny the Younger for the Supplication. I swear I heard angles singing in there!

Never failing to impress, Chris taps the Supplication

This gem of sour mystery took about 15 minutes to kick... OK. MAYBE 20 minutes, but I’m not sure I ever saw the tap close. I certainly wouldn’t say that it out-shined the Pliny tapping, but I would take a Supplication over nearly any beer on the market most days, so I was fully happy!

This is the long way to say that Falling Rock puts on one hell of a show, and I couldn’t be happier with my “Birthday Present” from Vinnie, Chris and every person who had a hand in my glass of Pliny the Younger... and that is not to mention my wonderful wife who made the whole trip possible!

And to top it all off, I got a lot of Birthday wishes from Twitter pals and fans of the blog. THANK YOU! One and all, I sure appreciate your friendship!

Don't forget to check out the Video below!

Great Times!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Plans in the works.

So what does a Kahuna do for his birthday?

Today, I’ll be getting up early and doing chores and getting the farm ready to take care of itself for 2 days.

Why would I do such a thing?

Yeah, That was Eric's on tap!
Released in super limited quantities, and only to the elite of beer service establishments, this beer draws crowds, long lines and legions of  #Craftbeer fans.

The Falling Rock Taphouse in Denver will be tapping the younger today at 1 p.m. and I intend to be there! Not because I’m a huge fan of Russian River beers, which I am. And not because I love blow your palate for a week not that you’ll need it cause it blows the back of your skull off first hop bombs, which I do.... But I’ll be there for you. My small but growing group of fans that humor me by checking in here and seeing what I’m up to.

Yup, That's me! GABF 2008! (Wasn't I thin!)
Falling Rock always promises a good time, and hosting events like this is why it's one of the best beer bars in the country.

A ritual stop for us during GABF week in Denver, you never know what's going to come on tap. Matter of fact, you never know what... or who you'll see at the Falling Rock.

As anyone who has ever been to the Rock on Saturday at GABF will attest, the stars come out at the Falling Rock.

Not being one to get star struck, I came damn close the night that we met Garrett Oliver from Brooklin Brewery, Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River,  Sam Calagione from Dog Fish and the man himself, CHARLIE PAPAZIAN... ALL IN ONE NIGHT! And they weren't being rock stars and pompous asses, they were hanging out and drinking some great craft beers... Just like the rest of us.

Add to that mix Mrs. Kahuna, Rob Fullmer, a genuine craft beer ambassador from Phoenix and the one and only Ashley Rouston, self proclaimed Craft Beer Evangelist and "Beer Wench" and you've got yourself a party!

I hope that the scene at Falling Rock doesn't turn out like GABF night, but I am sure all of your favorite Denver Area Beer Bloggers will be there. I hope to catch up with a few!

In the words of the late-great Billy Mays, "But wait! There's more!"

Pants off Dance Off! #Thatisall
The weekend will likely progress to some gambling in Colorado’s high country and maybe dinner somewhere... it’s been a while since we’ve had any food around here no?

A shopping trip to the big liquor store may be in order and perhaps a pub or two and a homebrew store? Who knows, we will play it by ear and see what happens when the Kahunas hit the town sans kids!

Stay safe this weekend and drink responsibly!

See ya on Tuesday.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Espresso Oak Yeti

I feel a bit like Drew Carrey as I share this brew with you guys.

I can remember that show with their brewery in the garage was a partial inspiration for me to learn to brew... and Buzz Beer was certainly my inspiration to add Coffee to my second ever batch of homebrew.

That was some 13 years ago, but I’m pretty sure that what I made was no where near as great as the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti from Great Divide Brewing.

This is the third and likely next to last Yeti Thursday here at Big Kahuna Brew. Typing that fact actually makes me a little sad. These things are getting better and better!

I have shared enough beers with you that you know that I’m not exactly “Reviewing” the beers. I think that’s a misleading term. I’m not being paid by anyone, I’m not trying to sway your judgement in either direction, and I’m not really qualified to judge a beer for anyone other than myself.

What I am doing is sharing these beers with you. Hoping to help you experience the wonders of a great beer that you may not be able to get. If we are having a beer that you’ve had before, perhaps I can give you a new perspective on it or remind you of your own thoughts.

Anyway, I don’t need to tell you about the Yeti’s dark black pour or the cocoa powder colored head. But an interesting thing about this one is that the foam has been brought back under control from the last one that poured all over the snow. (Which made for very happy dogs!) In fact, after about four sips, the head has receded to a velvet layer just thick enough to cover the shiny black surface.

The coffee aroma is very forward and is accompanied by only a wisp of bitter-sweet malt aroma.

That coffee flavor is right up front in the flavor too. It’s much less lonesome in the mouth tho. The coffee has a great time playing with the hop bitterness, roasty grains and an ever so slight bit of oak.

And OH HELLO and welcome back to the boozieness. The alcohol flavor is back and beautiful in this version. I will likely be grabbing a few to lay down, if for no other reason than to see how that flavor develops.

As you swallow, the coffee ends up on the back edges of the tongue and that’s when the vanilla comes through and you can certainly tell this brew spent some time with wood. (Yes Mr. Woodchuck. Yes I did say Wood!)

Having brewed a few coffee beers myself, I must say that I am very impressed with not only the aggressive flavor that this Yeti has, but also the control of the bitterness. Coffee beer, especially with a lot of hops, can become very bitter causing me a nearly instant heartburn. Not here! This thing is smooth and powerful. Everything balanced and under control!

I thoroughly enjoyed the depth and complexity of this beer for what it is, but what has really set this apart from the rest of it’s lineage, and other beer on the market, has been the balance and harmony between alcohol, malt, hop, oak and Coffee!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bud Light Platinum.

I suppose I decided to share this beer with you because everyone else is doing it. Call it peer pressure, call it a desire to fit in, or call it Big Kahuna taking one for the team. I do this crap so you don’t have to.

With a Urine yellow color and  pouring like soda water this beer is like a woman from Afghanistan... Showing no body at all. (That was a joke)

Despite the champagne like carbonation, there is nearly no head at all, and that which was there fell quite quickly.

The nose is clean with a sweet corn aroma and there is no noticeable hop presence

Flavors of cream corn dominate the first sip, although the very thin mouthfeel makes it hard to detect.
There is definitely a flavor that resembles a cream ale... just without the ale character. Still no sign of any hops.

There is a slight banana ester and a mild sulfur finish that is not very pleasant at all. I took another sip just to wash that one away. Didn’t work so well.

I suppose that I could see this beer as a winter time hit for the normal Bud Light fan... which I must admit that I am not.

I don’t consider myself to hold a bias against light American Lagers, but rather a long held distaste for Bud. I grew up on Coors original, and have consumed enough of the silver bullet to float a silver boat. There are a lot of light lagers that I very much enjoy, but Bud has never been one of them.
Many of the online beer reviews say that Platinum is nearly indiscernible from traditional Bud Light, but honestly... I don’t think that the Platinum is anywhere near as repulsive.

I could see myself choosing this beer over several of it’s direct competitors during a Barbecue or even a good O’l fashion Oyster Fry.

The corn flavor and carbonation seem to be loading up in my belly as I drink, which completely prevents me from using the adjective “Refreshing” to describe this beer.

Some fans and critics will boast that at 6% abv, this is jut a ploy to get people drunker faster, but as a Craft Beer guy that drinks some rum and whiskey, I’m over it.

For the cost and bulk in your belly of this beer, it would be faster and cheaper to drink a pint of cheap vodka and still be able to eat dinner. That argument simply doesn’t fly with me.

As this brew warms up, I’m still mystified by the beautiful blue bottle. I simply wish it was not a twist top. I could see a few of my homemade meads making their way into these babies!

I concentrate on the color of the bottle because as the ice cold shock wears off, I’m left with too many memories of stale beer soaked ashtrays cluttering the tables of the bar as the bouncers heard us out the door after closing. The flavor becomes quite metallic and the corn flavor starts to resemble a sour mash that is intended to be distilled into whiskey.

My final thought on this beer is that it is probably going to be a hit with the college crowd. It’s not going to impress Craft Beer drinkers, and I don’t think that it was intended to. I see it becoming the Zima of 2012.

The best we can hope for is that the hipsters will take Bud Platinum under their berets and wool coats and let us rednecks have our PBR back!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Running the still.

To bring us all back from that fantastic beer we had on Thursday, here is a little reminder of what’s going on.

First, I made a wine from sugar, brown sugar and molasses, talked an old codger into showing me the distillation process, took my wine to his still and collected the foreshots containing the methanol.
After collecting the poison, we began collecting the distillate in 400 ml “Cuts”  so as to be able to blend all the best parts of the run later.

The still produces a continually changing product from beginning to end. As different compounds and alcohol turn to steam, flow to the top of the still and condenses back into liquid, the product that comes from the still changes. That is why we are collecting small portions of the product through the process.

The forshots contained the poison, but the heads contain a lot of the compounds that cause hangovers. I’m not really understanding the chemistry behind making these cuts, so I will just be happy that we are blending them later. I will say that I immediately notice that it pretty much smells like paint thinner. I was thinking... “God I hope it gets better!”

 As the process continued, the product kept smelling cleaner and cleaner, but then started to smell funny again. As the “Hearts,” or good part, began to taper off, the distillate started to smell like wet cardboard and was fairly nasty to taste.

My mentor said that if we were going to keep this process up through several batches, we would keep all of the “Tails,” or the end of the run so we could add that alcohol back to the next running of the still. The alcohol would distill out and increase the “Hearts” cut of the next run. But because this was a one-off run, we just shut down the still.

Another cool part of the recipe would include using the spent wash or “Dunder” as water in the next batch of wine. This process adds a bit of acidity to the ferment and increases flavor. Apparently, some distillers will use dunder to make up as much as 75 percent of the next fermentation. When making a “Sour Mash” whiskey as they were presumably making on “Moonshiners” it would be called backset instead of dunder.

Skip forward a few days and we blended our products. The jars that we collected during distillation have been sitting around with lids off to air out. This process lets a lot of funky flavors to evaporate away.

Starting with the middle jars from the run, we worked out in both directions. Mixing small amounts in a Brandy snifter with distilled water allows us to tastes the flavors and distinguish which jars contain the really good product and which ones contain product that would be added to the next batch for re-distillation.

When it was all said and done, we ended up with about 3/4 of a gallon of alcohol at 60% abv. This “Shine” tasted pretty clean with no distinct flavors at all.

I am told that if we let it age for several months, either on oak or in glass, the flavor of the rum will improve, mellow and become more like the rum flavor you expect.

This process was fascinating and much to my surprise, we made a passable white rum that has me very excited about the prospect of aging on oak or making a spiced rum for mixing.

To all of you reading this, I want you to ask yourself why this is illegal! Does the government really think that a handful of people distilling their own rum at home is going to cause a revenue shortage?

My guess is that very few if any hobby distillers could or would replace their purchased spirits with home made. Much like homebrewed beer and wine, the process only sparked my interest and served to increase my store purchases because I want to try all the different products out there. 

I hope I’ve inspired you to think about this a little bit, and maybe find your own “old guy” to show you the process first hand.

I have looked around a lot, shopped all the still makers and even put some time in reading the forums. I feel like since I'm trying to inspire you, I should point you toward some good info. The info found at Homedistiller and it's forum is worth it's weight in gold. They kept me from looking like a total jackass in front of my "Still Master" and for those going it alone, safety and quality products are paramount to the host and mods. If you're considering this, I suggest reading up there. They will help keep you from killing yourself! 


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Oak Aged Yeti

While packing through the freshly fallen Colorado snow, beneath the light of a nearly full moon, I heard a beastly cry from the beer fridge. When I mustered the courage to investigate, I found a creature so large and so illusive it could only be one thing... The Yeti!

An Eruption of flavor! The Yeti in it's natural habitat!
Oak aged, brewed and bottled in Denver, Colo. and yearning to fill my glass, this bottle was certainly worth the $11 price tag.

This Oak Aged Yeti is at least eight or maybe ten feet tall, with a shiny black neck and footprint that a normal man could trip over. It’s bold and powerful, there is no doubt that this one could hurt you.

As I cracked it open and poured it, the color is the same dark black with cocoa colored head that the original had.

Sticking my nose deep into the glass, I had a hard time convincing myself to drink it... I just wanted to breathe it’s wonderful aroma of oak and a floral hops for the rest of the night.

Once I did take a sip, the flavor is a very roasty malt base that compliments a hop forward oak aged beer worthy of my best glass. The flavor profile reminds me more of a barley wine than stout. It is extremely flavorful with a nice amount of carbonation. The carbonation is high enough to help break up the very thick mouthfeel, but not so much as to seem foamy in the mouth.

The finish is oak on the back of the throat and continued bitterness that lingers and lingers. The beer coats the inside of your mouth and helps the flavor linger. Certainly a sipper, and a beer that I would not be embarrassed to pair with a tall glass of water if I were out for a night on the town.

My bottle was capped shut on Nov, 22, 2011. I would like to know when it was brewed because the 9.5% ABV is totally hidden with almost no alcohol presence. The boozy flavor of the original is perhaps masked by the additional bitterness, but regardless of why, I am not getting it.

As the beer warms, the bitterness forms more at the back of the tongue and hints of vanilla start to peak out as a separate tone against the oak and becomes very seductive.

This big scary creature turned out to be a very nice critter. It was just looking for someone to love it... and I’m glad it found me!

Thanks for joining me for another Yeti-Thursday!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Inspired by idiocy!

One thing that makes America great is the ability of the most ridiculous things becoming overnight TV hits.

I am as guilty as anyone, I get suckered into watching reality TV all the time. Everything from Mythbusters to Flying Wild Alaska.  As a matter of fact, as I type, Larry the Cable Guy’s show Only in America is blaring in the living room.

One thing that I discovered pretty quickly is that these shows are really interesting until they tackle a subject that you know a little something about. Think Alton Brown’s Good Eats when he tackled homebrew. Sure, it was theoretically factual, but certainly skidded over some of the finer points.
Discovery Channel recently aired a show called “Moonshiners.”
Featuring the lovable dumb hillbilly named Tim and his perpetually shloustered buddy Tickle who are just trying to feed their children by running “Shine.”

Courtesy of TV Guide
One thing that I love about the Discovery Channel is that they never let facts get in the way of a good story!

The show did one thing that I really think is a great value to our country. It has a lot of people thinking about distillation that may have never thought of it before.

In my efforts to learn more about distilled spirits and distillation, a subject I’ve been interested in since High School, I’ll give the show credit for pushing me to learn all that I can.

One of the first things I learned is that the show is nearly 100 percent BS. Everything from their “Moonshine” that is clearly NOT alcohol, to packaging in Milk Jugs, a practice that could easily kill your customers, the subject is real, but the show is quite odviously sensationalized for TV.

I did manage to muster enough of my “Journalism skills” to talk a local moonshiner into showing me the process. He is not, in my eyes, a criminal. He has been making his own whiskey and rum for years, but he is not selling it, and he is not participating in a distribution ring that resembles that of a Meth lab.

While I draw a huge distinction between home distillation and “Moonshining” the process is basically the same. And I again want to say that I’m not in favor of people evading taxes on commercial scale distillation operations. I’m interested in allowing homebrewers to run small scale distillation of their products that are NOT for sale.

I prepared the “Wash” or product to be distilled. I made a wine out of brown sugar, white sugar and molasses.

A quick phone call and a short drive after the wine had finished fermenting and cleared, and we were ready to “Run it.”

As you might expect, my mentor is more than a little reluctant to have much of a photo session with me, but as with most craftsmen, he is proud of his product and craft. That is how I convinced him to show me the process.

First we charged the boil kettle, that is to say we siphoned my wine into his keg that sits on a turkey frier. The still column clamps to the top of the keg like tri-clamp fittings on a conical fermentor, and water lines are hooked up to the condenser. The condenser is the part that takes place of the “worm” that is used on Discovery’s show.

After about 30 minutes of heating up, the line started to drip. We collected the first 100 ML in a mason jar and kept it as a solvent for use in the shop. This part is called the foreshots and contains all the methanol or “wood alcohol” that was produced during fermentation. This is the part that, if drank in sufficient quantities, makes you go blind. 

This story will be continued on Saturday.  Thursday is of course, Yeti Thursday so more distillation on Saturday.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Learn advanced brewing at CSU Pueblo

The Division of Continuing Education at Colorado State University-Pueblo will offer its sixth Zymurgy Institute with hands-on brewery experiences in the science of fermentation and advanced brewing techniques at Pikes Peak Brewing Company in Monument with 10 different style sessions this February through July.

The Institute began in 2009 with lecture-only sessions in the Bristol Brewing Company tasting room, then evolved through advanced brewing sessions in the University’s chemistry labs in 2011, and now will run at Pikes Peak Brewing Company for 2012. According to Dean of Continuing Education Dr. James Malm, the name of the series, Zymurgy Institute, comes from zymurgy, the branch of applied chemistry that deals with fermentation processes, as in brewing beer.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Three Months Deep

I started this blog on October 24, 2008 with no damn idea what I was doing or how to do it. I made a post or two here and there, but nothing serious until October 26, 2011. Since the renewal, I’ve been posting on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. (Who else works those days??? Can’t remember....) Yes! I am a Parrothead!
After the first annual Conched in Key West Bar Crawl, I was simply inspired by some of the bloggers that I spent the weekend with. Rum Shop Ryan, Rum Connection, Coastlines and Tan Lines and even the blog portion of Team Cocktail’s web page just set me off!
I loved what these people were doing! They were living a great life and sharing it with whoever was willing to watch.
I said to myself, “Self! You have a blog! Do something with it!”
Actually it was my wife that suggested that I put a little more effort into this thing, and I owe her a big thanks for it! Writing for the blog has made my day job a lot easier and has also been a lot of fun!
Those of you that read this thing are part of an elite group! I don’t have thousands of page hits a day, but I really appreciate every single one of you that checks in from time to time! I hope you are enjoying what you see.
Three months in and I’m already thinking that I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do for my next story or photo, but I come up with something... three times a week. That’s making me a better person and a better writer and photographer.
If I share an opinion or beer or whatever with you that you may have never thought of, that makes it all the better for me!  I dig it when I get comments on the blog, although they are few and far between. As I’m sure any blogger will tell you, it’s awesome when someone cares enough to drop you a comment on the blog.
So, to make a short story long... Thank you to everyone who is dropping by!
I appreciate you!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Yeti

I think I’m just going to call it Yeti Thursday!

As I shared on Tuesday, I’ve got a solid line of Yeti beers from Great Divide brewing, and I’ve got to share them all with you. But I don’t want to rush things, for crying out loud, this blog is all about relaxing and having a good time.

Great Divide beers have been awarded  17 medals at the GABF and 5 World Beer Cup awards. Also ranked 8th in Ratebeer.com’s 2010 “The Best Brewers in the World” and 7th in Beer Advocate’s 2010 “All-Time Top Breweries on Planet Earth,” so I would say it’s safe to say that they provide a better than average brew.

Great Divid has a special place in my heart even though Avalanche Ale was my first craft beer that I really liked, Great Divide broke me from the sad yellow bonds of Coors Light and opened the door to a new world of wonder.

Starting off with the original Yeti, I was impressed from the pour on.

Dark Black with no auburn or brown at all, the head forms with a nice dark cocoa colored foam that builds quickly but is stable and becomes rocky. During the pour it is hard not to notice that there is some viscosity to this beer.

The nose is of toasted bread, almost smokey... but not. Not really sweet, but robust with little to no hop aroma.

Flavors are thick in this brew. Roasted barley and hella-bitter. They state that it weighs in at 75 IBU and that actually seems a little low to me. A mildly sweet opening, roasty middle, and IPA style bitter finish make this beer a real treat on a cold Colorado night.

As the beer warms, the bitterness increases even more, and hints at strong coffee or very dark chocolate play with your senses but never really develop. It just stays a bitter, roasty stout.
I certainly would not call any beer that is this bitter, sweet, but there is a lot of sugar and malt there balancing a tone of hop bitterness.

9.5% alcohol? Where? Oh, yeah... RIGHT THERE! And all the way through the finish there is a omnipresent boozieness that I quite enjoy.

The full bodied mouthfeel is greatly intensified when cold, but certainly does not suffer at warmer temperatures.

Ok, I’ve always liked this beer, but never really given it this much thought! It’s a rich flavorful dark horse that keeps on trudging through the snow and pulling the cart.

Not that you need me to tell you, but this is a truly great Imperial Stout. I guess that’s why nearly every beer blogger on the interwebz has reviewed it.... and come to basically the same conclusion.

If you are into stouts, this one should certainly be on your shopping list.

The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series