Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A watched pot never boils.....

...but if you turn your back it will always boil over!!

I brewed my American IPA yesterday out in the fridgid cold, and stepped inside to warm up a bit and had a boil over. It was so cold that the bolied over wort froze as soon as it hit the ground. Other than that, it was a succesful day.

I've been very lucky these past few months. Things at work were slow.....very slow. So slow that I had a lot of time on my hinds. Time to do things like plan out 6 brew sessions....Belgian Tripel (3 seperate batches), Munich Dunkel, Winter Spiced Ale 2009 and recently American IPA. I also had the time to look for a new job....which I accepted a few weeks ago and start on January 4th! :-) While this new job won't give me access to great homebrew shops like my old one did, it will put me right next to my favorite beer bar in Boston (Bukowski's) and give me a 45 minute shorter commute.....each way!!!

Anyway...enough rambling. My Winter Spiced Ale turned out ok, but had no carbination. So in order to fix this issue, I sanatized a keg, and dumped them all into the keg and I'm in the process of force carbinating it. My sister-in-law helped me make an AWESOME label (which I'll post when I can get it off my thumb drive which I don't have now) and I think everythin will be saved, just not in time for Christmas. Oh well.

I brought my Munich Dunkel today to a meeting I had at Cape Cod Beer. I was lucky enough ot have the opportunity to meet with Todd and Beth Marcus, Owners of Cape Cod beer, for some insight into the business and starting out as a brewer! It was awesome. And, in edition, he tried my Munich Dunkel and had some good feed back. They're going to serve a few of them at his next homebrew meeting and send me some additional feedback as well. SWEET!!!!!!

Other than that, my wife and I are getting ready to welcome our first child in March. I'm trying to get a few more brew sessions in before then, for two reasons. One, so I'll have enough home brew to last me through the summer, and two because I don't want to assume I'll have enough time to brew much at first.

I hope you all have a happy and safe New Year!!

Cheers,
Jason

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm a winner!!!!!


So, Alan who writes at "A Good Beer Blog" holds a yearly yuletide photo contest. He gets a lot of amazing photo's from around the world (I use one from last year as my desktop photo). So this year I decided to enter a few of my pictures that I took while at Magnolia's in San Fran.

To my excitement, I received an email from Alan this morning informing me that I was one of the winners. I won a copy of 33 Bottles of Beer. It's a beer diary sort of that allows you to review beers on a flavor wheel so you can visually see how your beers tasted. Very cool. Hell, you could have given me a free bottle opener and I would have been psyched. Anyway, check out what Alan had to say here. Thanks Alan!!!

Back to shoveling snow!!

Cheers,
Jason

Monday, December 7, 2009

Spam Comments

I've had to turn on the comment moderation recently.  I've been getting a TON of spam comments (15-20 per day) so I turned it on so people didn't have to see them all.  Has anyone else had problems with this?  It's really annoying!
 
Cheers,
Jason

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Magnolia's Pub & Brewery




Last week I was in San Francisco for a conference. The conference didn't start until Tuesday night, so my wife and I decided to travel out there early and take a few days to see the city. It was my first time there, so there were a lot of things I wanted to see like Alcatraz, Fishermans Wharf, Ghiradeli's Chocolate, Lombard Street and most of all the Haight Ashbury district.

I don't consider myself, nor have I ever, a Dead Head. I do like the Dead and even saw them when I was in high school down at Madison Square Garden. (Great show by the way). But this is a place where you can trace the historical significance back to specific period of time where an event or events happened. The 60's San Francisco music was that period of time, and the Dead where that "Thing" that makes this place famous!

About a year ago, there was an article I read inside All About Beer and a brewpub called Magnolia's Pub & Brewery. It talked about the great vibe, great beers and great location! Being that I was in that location, I had to stop by and check it out! We arrived a little early that day since we had a bunch of places to see. We killed some time by walking Haight street and grabbed a seat at the bar when it opened.

November was deemed "Belgian" month in the San Fran beer scene. Both Magnolia's and the 21st Amendment had predominantly Belgian beers available, with of course others. I started with their newest beer at the suggestion of the bartender, Destiny Unblonde. It was a Belgian Pale Ale and was very tastey. Unfortunately I didn't write anything down so no official review (until I go back and get more). The beer was a beutiful straw gold color and had a fruity taste and aroma to it. Very drinkable!

Next was the Deep Elem Dubbel. Again, no notes but it was a darker amber color with some raisony aroma and flavor! This was everything I'd imagined a Dubbel should taste like! Those, unfortunately, were the only two beers I had. We had to depart and get through the rest of the sites we wanted to see. I thought about trying to come back later in the week, but being with work folks and being at a work conference made it very difficult.

I will definitely make it back to San Fran and I know that this will be a place I spend some more time at. If you're ever in San Francisco, I highly recomend that you check out Magnolia's!!

Cheers,
Jason

Thursday, November 19, 2009

San Francisco

So I'm out in San Francisco for a work conference this week. Salesforce.com runs a user conference every year and it is an amazing show. Tonight they had a concert which featured the Black Crowes. Yeah, that's right.......the Black Crowe!! And.....it was free......AND, it was open bar!!! Wow!!

So, what does this have to do with beer? Well, they had a great selection. I mean, we're in San Fran so naturally there is some good beer locally. Anchor brewery, Magnolia's, 21st Amendment are some big names here in town. And, about 3.5 hrs away is Sierra Nevada. So, needless to say, they had some good beer served at the show.

My wife and I decided to come out a few days early and she was a trooper. She obliged as we went down to Haight Ashbury and scoped out the "scene" there. I'm a Dead fan so this is like Mecca!! Then we went to Magnolia's. A GREAT brewery restaurant right on Haight street. Its been writen about in All About Beer magazine so I felt I had to go.

I only had two beers. My wife had their Root Beer, which in her words was "AWESOME", and I had a sip or two and had to agree. They make a Root Beer and another fruit soda that escapes me at the moment (hey, I just left a crowes show...throw me a bone).

This week at Magnolias was Belgian week so they featured Belgian beers. I started with there Unblonde. Light colored, spicy/fruity aroma and taste. It reminded me of a mix between a german hefe and a belgian woit. Very good beer!!

Second waas the Dubbel. Cramel colpor and taste. Some alcohol warmth although I'm not sure why as it only came in under 7% (I think....hey, I'm foing this from memory).

Overall, it was awesome. We also got an order of fries (Pom Frittes as Jay Brookes calls them) and they were out of thid world. If your ever in San Fran, I highly recomend Magnolia's.

Cheers....here's to hpping the rest of this conference is as good as the first day!!!

Jason

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Odds and Ends

Boy, do I need to brew some beer!!!! My last batch was back in September. I brewed my Winter Spiced ale for this year. I'm changing it up. For starters, I brew it will all grain. Second, I'm not going to dry spice it this year with cinnamon sticks. I thought the cinnamon in last years batch was very overpowering and I really want to make sure the beer is what stands out, not the cinnamon. I still have 4 bottles from last years batch, so I'll do a side-by-side when this years batch is bottled and ready!

A little off topic, but a cause of why I have not been brewing, I just renovated my bathroom! This was a full renovstion, down to the studs and I did the vast majority my self, with the exception of the plumbing and electrical work. It is almost 100% complete which will be nice. We have a 110 year old home, so when you do these types of projects, there are always issues. We had many....which caused all the delays. I was planning on being done this past sunday, and then I was going to have 2 brew sessions this week after work, but this delays/issues keep piling up!! So, I'll brew soon enough!

Next up is 2 batches of Belgian Tripel. It was a big hit, so I'm going to brew a lot of it and trade it with some friends for some random things. This should be fun! I also think I'm going to brew up my brown session ale. I've been really craving some session beers lately, but all I have are the belgian tripels and some bigger IPA's. This isn't neccesarily an issue, but when you swill 4-5 of them you definitely feel it in the morning, which IS an issue!!

With the renovation of the bathroom, we rented a dunpster for all the demo. This allowed us to clean out the basement, which was long overdue. It was clutered with things we bought or collected over the years and have no use for. With this new found space, I'm going to try and carve out a space so I can brew down there in the winter. I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not to brew with a propane burner indoors, but I think if I do it by the door and have the door open, I'll have the proper ventilation I need to make everything ok. Besides, I've seen plenty of people in BYO or Zymurgy who have propane setups in their basements and it seems to be fine. We shall see!

Cheers,
Jason

Monday, October 26, 2009

Belgian Tripel


Things have been a little busy which has forced a lack of posting on my end. But there are some good things to talk about, so onwards!


I brewed a Belgian Tripel back in July from an Allagash clone recipe I got from BYO. It's been bottled for a while now, and I'm almost all the way through the batch. The company I work for is based in France and we have a lot of ex-pat's from France here in the US that I work with. Some of them are big beer fans. I decided to bring some in and gave them each a few bottles from the batch. other co-workers saw this and wanted some as well. Needless to say, I gave most of this batch away. But, all is not lost. They LOVED it!!! And they now want me to brew whole batches for them. Of course, I can't accept any payment or profit from this, as that would be illegal, but the beer is going to be brewed again next weekend in hopes to get it to them after Thanksgiving!


I was really happy with how the beer came out. I had a wonderful frothy white head, a nice tan color and powerful aroma. Some hints of alcohol were present in the aroma, and packed a powerful punch when sipping. I am no doubt going to continue to brew this. My next task it to tweak the recipe a little so I can call it my own. Now that I have a strong base recipe, it will be fun to figure out how to make this beer a little different without making it worse!!


Also, the final design for the label was done. Thanks to my sister-in-law for helping out with this. I've printed them on Avery address label paper, which makes it really easy to stick it to the bottle.


Cheers,

Jason

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Overdue

Sorry for the long pause in between posts. I have many updates to write about, but no time right now. I'll get these posts up this weekend hopefully.

Upcoming Posts:
  • Belgian Tripel tasting and label update (Allagash clone)
  • Christmas Spiced Ale Brew Session
  • Munich Dunkel Update
  • Big Beer Idea

Cheers,

Jason

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fermentation Friday Round Up

Sorry for the delay in getting the wrap-up posted. Thanks to everyone who participated this month. I have to apologize because I kind of picked this topic at the last minute without realizing it had been covered in the Session previously. But, I tried to relate it to homebrewing, and thankfully I think it worked out. On the the wrap up.


For GISBREWMASTER, it all started in Germany. Spaten Octoberfest was the magic potion. He's been trying as many new beers as he can since. And, as I suspected, this love of good beer brought him to Homebrewing!


Over at Brew Dudes, John and Mike came to craft beer very similiarly. For Mike it was his first Guinness. While John started with locally made Sam Adams, but his first real epiphony was also with a Guinness. The "magic of the nitrogen push" mystified him and kept him thinking about Craft Beer ever since.


Thomas over at Geistbear Brewing got hooked in Germany. At his fathers suggestion, he tried a authentic dunkelweizen and was hooked (You must have a smart father). After returning to the states, he found a bar/home brew shop and started brewing. Luckily for him, homebrewing has given him a job of late!

Jimmy, over at HopWild started out with a Pete's Strawberry Blonde but mostly developed his love of craft beer from experimenting and going through a "I'd like to be German" phase. But his real love and appreciation started when he started homebrewing and visiting breweries and festivals.

Thanks to everyone who participated this month. I promise next time I host, I'll get a better topic out there.

Cheers,
Jason

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fermentation Friday - Where It All Began


For many people, craft beer is a luxury. For others, it's a necessity!! For me, it's both! It's a reward for long day at work, or a great workout or race one weekend. It's also the only option for me because when I want to reward myself, I want something special. Something that makes me feel like it was made specifically for me. Not some mass marketed product that is made to please the majority. A good craft beer is the only thing that will do.

It wasn't always that way though. I can remember back to my youth when I'd be sitting with my dad watching the Patriots, Bruins or Red Sox and seeing my dad crack open a few Michelob's or Coors. I remember that first sip he gave me. I remember thinking, "really, I can have a sip?" and cherishing that sip like it was the blood of Christ. I didn't like it, but it wasn't the quality I was looking for, it was the feeling that I had started to grow up and be "a man" because I had some of my dads beer.

As I got older my drinking habits, and reason's, changed. I no longer had a few sips so I could feel more mature and like a man, I drank because I wasn't allowed to! I drank to be a rebel! And, coincidentally, I drank whatever I could get my hands on which was always cheap macro lager.

This continued into and through college (yes I drank in high school once or twice) as the normal keger was flowing with Milwaukee's best, "The Beast" as we called it. It was no where near tasty, but it was cheap and it did the job. Most of all though, I didn't know any better. I didn't know that I could drink beer and actually enjoy it for the taste too, not just for how much fun I had while drinking it.

It was my sophomore year in college when I had my first taste of craft beer. We were having a small get together and he brought some Saranac Adirondack Lager. I couldn't believe how good it was. I mean, beer wasn't supposed to taste good, it was supposed to get you drunk. I remember staring at the bottle reading every word trying to figure out why it was so different. I must have asked him 100 times where he got it. The next day, I was at the beer store buying more, and was baffled to see they had even more varieties than just Saranac Adirondack Lager.

Throughout the remainder of my tenure at Hartwick College, I did continue to drink macro lagers and craft beers. Mainly because the macro's were cheap and I didn't have a lot of money as a college kid, and because that's what was being served at party's.

So how does this tie into home brewing? Well, my senior year I was in the beer store staring at the craft section trying to figure out what I wanted. A man came in and went right to the craft section and grabbed some Saranac Black Forest. As he was paying, the cashier asked him how the brewing was going. Was he a brewer? I needed to know. I quickly paid and followed him out and asked where he brewed. He told me he wasn't a professional brewer, he brewed at home. We chatted, and then he told me to come down to his store to chat some more and he would explain all he could about home brewing.

I went to his store, we chatted for about an hour, and I left with my first home brewing kit and ingredients for an Amber Ale. From that day on, I never looked at beer the same. I drank each beer and always though, "Can I make this?". I tried a few batches, and each one failed miserably. Poor sanitation was usually the cause, but mostly it was my lack of ability to follow instructions. I just threw some stuff in the pot, cooked it, added yeast and thought I'd get some beer. Not the case!

After college, I took about a 7 year hiatus from brewing and focused on drinking! It was fun, and I tried every craft beer I could, started reading about how they were made and finally decided to give it a go again....this time with much better success. I've been brewing now frequently for the past two and a half years and have tried to learn with each session. What can I do better? What other styles can I try? What would happen if I used this ingredient? There is a ton more brewing I need to do in order to considered advanced, but I think I'm getting pretty close. Just think, I might have never gotten here if it were not for that Adirondack Lager I had back in college!!

Cheers and happy Fermentation Friday!
Jason

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fermentation Friday - Where it all began

This is just a reminder that tomorrow is Fermentation Friday.  I will be doing my post tomorrow at some point.  Please either post a link to your blog or email me your post tomorrow.  I'll try and get a wrap up posted by the end of the weekend.
 
Cheers,
Jason

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Food Magazine Promotes Beer

Brilliant Brews
A colleague of mine is a little bit of a foodie and she subscribes to a few different food magazines.  One of these is called Saveur.  It's very similar to Beer Advocate, but it's about food.  It's a really nice magazine.  One of the really cool things I saw was that in the current issue that she brought in for us to check out, there were a few articles talking about craft beer!!!
 
So, after seeing the magazine, I thought I should check out their website, and to my delight, they have a "Wine & Drink" section with a whole subsection for beer.  There are beer articles from previous issues, reviews, and other general writing about brewery's and brewers!!  So, because I was so impressed, I thought I'd pass it on.  For those interested in pairing beers and food and have a general interest in both beer and food, here is the link! 
 
Cheers, and Bon Appétit!!!
 
Jason

Monday, September 14, 2009

September Fermentation Friday - Topic Announced

I'm excited to announce that this months Fermentation Friday will be hosted by me. After much deliberating, I've finally chosen a topic. "What turned you on to Craft Beer"

As homebrewers, we all enjoy quality brewed Craft beer. But, if you grew up like I did, there wasn't any craft beer around the house. My father, uncle's and cousins all drank Coors, Bud, Michelob and so naturally that's what I started drinking when I first drank beer. But something made me stray from the swill. So, this month tell me a story. How did you find your way to craft beer? Were you one of the lucky one's who parents drank good beer early one, or did you need to find it on your own??

I'll post a reminder when the date gets closer, but hopefully this will give you some time to reminisce some.

Cheers!
Jason

Monday, September 7, 2009

2009 Hop Harvest


Happy Labor day!! I harvested my hops today. I got 2.45 oz. (wet) from the cascade and about 6 cones from the centennial. They are now drying. I'm hoping to get at least and oz. to use, which I'm sure I will.


Cheers,

Jason

Friday, September 4, 2009

Label Help!




I'm bottling my Belgian Tripel tonight (Allagash Clone) and I need your help. I have two labels I made but I can't decide which label to use so I turn to you, my readers! Which do you like better? The bottle caps, or the Roman numerals? Leave a comment and make a choice on the poll to your left!!!

Cheers,
Jason

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Almost Harvest Time!!!!











Hops are almost ready to harvest for this year. I'm estimating that I'll get between 1.5-2 oz from the cascade and only 5 hop cones from the centennial. Hey, it's 5 more than last year. I'll be harvesting on Monday most likely. I'll be bottling my Allagash Tripel clone tomorrow night. Can't wait to see how it turned out!!

Cheers,
Jason

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fermentation Friday - Breaking Away From The Norm

Thanks to Matt over at World of Brews for hosting this months Fermentation Friday. His topic this month, "Breaking Away From the Norm".
"Most home brewers I know and read about use the standard 2 row base malt and the 3 big C's for the hops and maybe a nice 1056 or 05 for the yeast. In my book that is kind of boring even though I do it myself. I want to know if and why you break away from the norm. Do you use Maris Otter for your base and Tettenger as the hop. Or have you ever tried using a specialty malt as a base (can this even be done)? Do you like to mix up the yeast or do you always stay the same. So bust out your out of the norm recipes and tell me why you chose what you did."
This months topic is relatively pertinent to me since just last month I did just that. I brewed my Allagash Triple Clone using Pilsner malt as the base. I am almost always using 2-row for my base malts in all my beers. It's cheap and it works well, but for some beers you need to use something different. This beer being one of them. Unfortunately, the beer is still in the secondary so I don't have an update yet as to how it turn out, but I'm going to be bottling next week so in a few weeks it will be drinkable.

Over the past few months I've been reading a lot of my old issues of Zymurgy and BYO and online homebrew forums like Tastybrew and lots of people are "breaking away from the norm" and using things like MO (Maris Otter) and other types of base grains. But in this economy and seeing that I don't have a ton of extra cash laying around, I like to use 2-row. It might not give you the same powerful flavor as MO but it's a great grain to use and it's cheap!!!

With hops, it's a little different for me. I rarely use the 3 C's (even though I grow Cascade and Centennial) and I am always on the lookout for the newest, and most pungent hops available. Currently, I've been trying to use a lot of Glacier Hops. They're not the easiest to find, but they have a wonderful citrusy aroma and pack a nice hop punch. For me, I like to use hops for the Aroma and Flavor they can produce. I tend to do a lot of 30 minute and under additions and those work the best there. I do like to big alpha hops, but I feel that when you're trying to put that many IBU's in through a bittering hop, the flavor and aroma get lost from that hop. So, I make sure the late addition hops I use pack a good punch for the nose!!

Make sure you tune in to next months Fermentation Friday as I'll be hosting (I think) here on Brewing the Perfect Beer!!!

Cheers,
Jason

Monday, August 17, 2009

Craft Brewing Statistics















The Brewers Association released it's mid-year numbers today. The press release is located on their web site, click here to view the full release.

Some highlights:
  • Dollar growth from craft brewers during the first half of 2009 increased 9%, down from 11% growth during the same period in 2008.
  • Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew 5% for the first six months in 2009, compared to 6.5% growth in the first half of 2008.
  • The U.S. now boasts 1,525 breweries, the highest number in 100 years when consolidation and the run up to Prohibition reduced the number of breweries to 1,498 in 1910
The last point has me thinking a lot. First, for the craft beer industry this is fantastic! The US has more breweries than any other nation. The American Craft beer movement has taken hold and clearly doing well!! But from my side of the fence, I start to re-think my plans for my future. Is the market becoming saturated? Right now, I would say no but in a few years with the growth rate we're seeing, it will be very tough, even tougher than it is now, to open a new brewery. Now, that's not to say I'm giving up, but it just means I need to really focus on providing a product that stands out from the rest!

Cheers,
Jason

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I am......AN IDIOT!!!!!!


This is not meant to be one of those rants where I say "I thought of it first", BUT I REALLY DID!!!! And I have proof!!! (See picture) I had the idea for the "I am a Homebrewer" too, and I balked at the chance to do it!! DAMN IT!!!! As you can see by my post, I thought of this back in April. Chances are these guys did too, and it just took a while to get it out there. Kudos to them for actually going through with it!!!

Why bring this up now you say? Well, because I'm slightly jealous and I feel like an idiot. I should have gone ahead with the idea then I could be the one everyone is talking about! Ehh, oh well! Anyway, I hope you have seen the clip and enjoyed it. It's pretty good.....BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN US! :-)

Cheers,
Jason

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Trappistes Rochefort 8 Review


I took a trip to Julio's Liquor's, aka the candy store, and made the decision to get some beers I had wanted to try, but have yet to. The first of these beers is Trappistes Rochefort 8 from the Brasserie de Rochefort (Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy). I have been on a Belgian Beer kick lately, not only drinking them but brewing them as well, and this is one that is highly rated on BA both from the bro's and the readers.


Appearence - Pours a dark amber color with a frothy tan colored head. Lace marks the glass as I drink it down.


Aroma - Some fruity aroma's are preasent, maybe raisons or figs. Alcohol is noticable with slight hints of oak.


Taste/Mouthfeel - Velvety creaminess and alcohol come through instantly. Some oaky flavors are apparent but alcohol is the star. Fruityness is evident as well, maybe raisons or figs.


Drinkability - At 9% ABV, drinkability is somewhat limited. That being said, hang up the car keys and settle down. I could drink these all night....although that might not last as long as I want. This beer is very drinkable. The alcohol warmth and aroma with fruity fig/raison background make this a delicious beer. I can see why this is one of the top 75 beers on BA.


Cheers,

Jason

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fermentation Friday - Homebrew Clones

For this months installment of Fermentation Friday, Rob over at PFIFF! asks:
"What beers have you attempted to duplicate in your own homes, or which ones have you always wanted to reproduce, but have been wary of attempting?"
This is the perfect topic for me this month, since just last Sunday I brewed a clone recipe of Allagash Tripel that I got from Brew Your Own magazine.  This is my first real "Clone" brew having used the recipe that was calibrated by Rob Todd for us 5 gallon weekend warriors!  So far, so good.  The beer had a massive fermentation in the first few days.  I had foam in the blow off tube as well as the blow off  bucket within 12 hours!!!  I also did a first for this brew, I made a yeast starter which I think contributed greatly to this vigorous and healthy start to primary fermentation.
 
I have really high hopes for this beer.  In the past I was never a huge fan of big Belgian beers but recently I have been drinking more and more of them and really developing a love for these expertly crafted brews.  The big alcohol and wonderful esters that come from these pushed me to try my hand at my own, and there is no better way to start than with a clone recipe that is proven!  Now, I definitely don't expect this beer to be as good as the real Allagash Tripel, but I think it will be very good and very drinkable.  And with homebrewing.....that's all you can ask for.
 
While the Allagash is the only beer I've "properly" cloned, I have tried to clone another beer.  That beer is Sixpoint's Sweet Action.  I didn't have any recipes from magazines, just a few glasses of this amazing beer and my imagination.  I did try to get the recipe from Shane, the owner/brewer but was only able to get the hop varieties that were used.  So, I did my best, from memory, to try and clone it.  While the beer did not come out like a clone of Sweet Action, it took on a life of it's own and became a great beer that I served at my friends wedding with great reviews.  I am definitely going to go back to the drawing board and take another stab at Sweet Action, but for now I'm going to focus on some new beers this summer.
 
Cheers!
Jason

Thursday, July 30, 2009

F.X. Matt Brewery Tour



Last week on the way home from my Triathlon in Geneva, NY my wife and I decided to take a quick detour through the F.X. Matt Brewery. It's kind of funny since Charlie Papazian just wrote about it this week, here. His post made me realize I needed to post this. The tour was great. You start out in a room that has a lot of antique's and old stuff from the Utica Club Days. P.T. Barnums desk is in this room and there is a grandfather clock which is worth over a million dollars......and it doesn't even work!!!

Next came the presidents room. This room/hallway was filled with portraits of all of F.X. Matt's former and current presidents. Basically it's the entire Matt family. Still, very cool. Next a room which basically had all their products on display. The tour guide talked about the Saranac Brands, their Saranac Soda and how they use barley and hops to brew there beer. Boring stuff for the homebrewer. The final room before we got to see the actual brewery was the prohibition room. It was a small room designed in the speakeasy fashion. He talked about how Utica Club survived prohibition and that they were the first brewery to sell beer after the 21st amendment was signed. They had beer on the trucks ready to ship 1 hour after the amendment was penned! Hmmm.....how'd they get that beer made in 1 hour????



Now to thew brewery. The first room housed the two large brew kettles. All 100% copper kettles which were a thing of beauty. The amount of equipment that was in this room was amazing. The picture below is only half the room. The other half to the right was the cereal cooker and the filter, which was about the size of a yellow school bus. Very cool!



After seeing the brewhouse, we took a quick trip through the grain storage tanks.....actually, just the top floor. It wasn't much because of the massive size, they were more than 2 stories high and so wide we could barely walk by them. Next we went to a room which had a view of the fermentation tanks. They would not allow us to go into the fermentation room because there are pipes and hoses all over the floor and they do not want to liability of someone tripping and hurting themselves. I understand....no biggie.

And finally, we finished in their pub! We were given 2 drink tickets each. I was the first to the bar, and I grabbed my favorite Saranac beer ( and probably one of my top 5 beers) Saranac Black Forest!! WOW, what an amazing beer. Great malty bite to it slight hop presence. My wife, since she was the best and offered to drive, had thier Root Beer. IT WAS AWESOME!!! It was so good, we bought a 6 pack. I also bought a 6 pack of the Black Forest and went through it the night I got home! SO GOOD!



As we Left, I snapped the above picture. It's the grain "dump" or whatever you call it. This is where the spent grain is put after brewing and local farmers come by with a truck, has the grain dumped in the back, and they take it away and use the grains for cattle feed. Very cool and easy way to dispose of spent grain!

If you're ever out near Utica, I highly recomend taking this tour. It's very easy to get too and it's a lot fo fun to see one of the oldest working breweries in the country!

Cheers,
Jason

The Obama Beer Summit

There is a lot of conversation about this whole "beer summit" situation at the white house.  There are articles and posts on major news sites and blogs around the country (here, here, here, here, here and here)  Most of the beer world has a beef with the type of beer that was chosen (Bud Light for Obama, Red Stripe for Gates and Blue Moon for Crowley) while it seems that the news world is concerned with...well, I have no clue.  Partially about the beer that has been chosen and partially happy because they think this makes Obama look like he's a down to earth American!!  I think the choice of beer here was in poor taste (pun intended)!!!  The home of the President of the United States of America should serve American beer!
 
Regardless if you are a supporter of Obama or not, I think this is a great opportunity for the Craft Beer industry to gain some notoriety.  I also think that the choice of beers were sub-par.  The industry has been given free press and EVERYONE in the media is talking about beer now!  This could help spark a larger debate on the "sin" tax that is placed on beer, or the rising excise tax on brewers.  This is an opportunity the industry can't afford to miss.  It is definitely made harder by the fact that swill that the 3 men have chosen are not made by American Companies.  I could go on and on about this, but I won't.  Everyone else has said enough.  But I will leave you with my suggested substitutions for them:
 
Obama = Bud light (replace with Sam Adams Light)
Gates = Red Stripe (replace with Yuengling Traditional Lager)
Crowley = Blue Moon (replace with Allagash White)
 
Cheers,
Jason
 

Local MA brewer to expand distribution

I just got to reading this piece of news on BA about a local Massachusetts brewer Sherwood Forest. They will now be distributed by Stawski Distributing Co. based in Chicago and will now be available in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Colorado and Iowa.

Sherwood Forest is a small brewery located in Marlborough, MA. I've never been a huge fan of there beers. I would much rather have a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale over their Archers Pale ale, but then again I think I would have a SNPA over most beers! By the looks of their web site, they re-branded most of their beers and have spent some money upgrading the site. I'll have to grab some and see if their beers have improved as well!

This looks to be an exciting deal for them. Be on the lookout for there beers if you live in these markets!

Cheers,
Jason

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Yeast Starter

Tonight I made my yeast starter for the Allagash Tripel I'm brewing tomorow.  I usually don't make yeast starters and I tend to just trust the Wyeast smack packs and the cell counts they advertise.  But because of the high gravity of the Tripel, and this being my first Belgian beer, I thought I should do it right and make sure I had a proper fermentation with good cell counts, so I made a starter.  Hopefully it works out well.  We shall see.
 
So with this, I have a question for you all.  When I made the starter, I didn't smack the smack pack and just poured the yeast in the jug.  I decided to pull the smack pack out and see what it looks like.  It's basically a small package of wort.  You can see it in the picture just next to the starter.  On to the question.....would it be feasable to save this and over time as I mack starters, keep them until I have enough Wyeast wort to make a starter with that wort instead of buying DME and using that?  Also, if it would work, am I really cheap by trying to save $6?  Let me know your thoughts, but I think I'm on to something.

Cheers,
Jason

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Allagash Tripel Clone recipe

Although I only got 7 of you to vote, it looks like the Allagash Tripel clone is the winner. I'll be brewing this on Sunday so I'll post a full report on Monday with stats and how the brew day went. For those of you who want the recipe, it is below. It is in the July-August 2008 issue of Brew Your Own Magazine along with recipes for Ommegang Witte Clone, Lost Abbey Devotion Ale Clone, Two Brothers Domaine DuPage Clone and Red Rock Brewing Pecome Blonde Clone. This is a great magazine that always has great recipes and articles about technique and ingredients. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for some home brewing magazines to read/subscribe to.

Allagash Tripel Clone:

Fermentables:
12.8 lbs (5.8 kg) Pilsner malt
1.6 lbs (.73 kg) sucrose

Hops:
2 oz (57 g) German Tettnang hops (4% AA, 60 minutes)
.4 oz (11 g) Hallertau Mittelfruh hops (whirlpool)

Yeast:
Wyeast 1762 (Belgian Abbey Ale II) or Wyeast 3787 (Trappist High Gravity) or White Labs WLP510 (Belgian Bastogne Ale)

Instructions:
Mash at 153 F (67 C). Boil for 90 minutes. Add sugar for final 15 minutes. Add whirlpool hops at end of boil. Ferment at high end of yeast strain's recommended range.


Cheers,
Jason

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What to brew next?

For the past 4 months I've been training very hard in order to complete in my first half-ironman triathlon. For those not familiar with triathlons, the race consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run. The weekend is finally upon me, and on Sunday I will be swimming, biking and running my way to the finish line in under 5 hours and 30 minutes....I hope!! I'm really excited that the race is finally here. I get to see all that training that I did put to good use. The weather outlook looks great for race day, so I'm looking forward to a great day!!

Another reason I'm excited about the race being here is that all that time I spent training......can now be spent brewing!!! I haven't brewed since early May and I am in desperate need of a brew session. But, I'm having a small problem. I don't know what I should brew. Part of me is thinking I should brew the batch I brewed for the wedding, and try to incorporate some of the suggestions I had into the beer and attempt to perfect it. But the creative side of me wants to try something new. These past few months, I've been indulging in some Belgian beers. Mostly from Allagash and Ommegang, but I've made a list of some of the beers I'm going to try and track down from some of the trappist breweries in Belgium and try those. I've given up drinking for the past two weeks (which was not easy) so after Sunday, I'm going to get back on the wagon with an Allagash Curieux and either a Brooklyn Local 1 or Local 2. (The decision between Local 1 and Local 2 will be made by who wins the race....me, or my friend Shaun who is also competing).

Which brings me to the reason for this post. I can't decide what to brew....so I'm leaving it up to you, my readers. I'll post a poll for this and you can vote over on the left side. Brew day is going to be Sunday, July 26th and it can't come soon enough!! If you have a suggestion that isn't in the poll, leave a comment and I'll consider it!!

Cheers,
Jason

Sunday, June 21, 2009

ACBF Recap


ACBF 2009 was a success! Being the second year of it's existance (I think) I was impressed. It has definitely gotten more crowded as people get word of how good it is and how fun beer festivals are. The crowd was definitely tame and the beers were excellent. I had originally set out with my list of beers that I didn't want to leave without trying. Unfortunately, I only ended up having 7 of the 13. 3 of them were not even on tap on Friday night (that was upseting) so I only missed 3 really. The line at Allagash was huge. It went from their booth all the way accross the middle of the venue, so I thought I would skip it. I'll just have to trust that it's good and buy it!!


One thing I did notice that was different this year was the lack of head brewers. No Sam Calagione, Garrett Oliver, Drew Brosseau (Mayflower and local favorite beer of mine). I did spot Hugh Sisson (Clipper City) walking around grabbing some samples himself which was pretty cool. Not that I base my experience on celebrity brewer sightings, but it's always cool.


Tow things that were vastly improved upon, and not as important as the beer but still importants, was the food and bathroom situation. Last years lines were ridiculous for both and the porto Johns inside made the whole place smell like crap...litterally! They put the porto's outside this year and they had 2 food stations and multiple cashiers which made it quick and easy to grab some grub!


On the the beers. I am becoming a huge Sixpoint Fan. I was hooked on their Hop Obama last summer, then this winter was introduced to the Sweet Action. This time around I had the Bengali Tiger and I was amazed. It is an old english style IPA with a big malty backbone and a huge hop presence. Perfectly balanced and only having 2 oz.'s made me want more.....lots more! This was by far my favorite beer of the night.


I was however not a fan of the Watermellon Wheat from 21's amendment. This is by no means a knock on 21st Amendment, but I just don't like the watermellon beer combo. Not sure why since I love both by themselves. I noticed this year there was a large amount of American Wheat beers with fruit. I'm not sure if this is the latest push to try and get more women into craft beer but it was noticable. Some of them were very good (Saranac Pomegranite Wheat) and others weren't.


I'd love to hear your experiences if you attended either of the 3 sessions. I know Brew Dudes went Friday as well and Rob went Saturday night so I'm sure he'll be posting as well. Can't wait to read them.

Cheers,

Jason

Friday, June 19, 2009

ACBF update 4

Kennebec River Brewery continues to please. I rafted there last year and enjoyed there summer ale and tonight its awesome.

ACBF update 3

Morimoto from Rogue is amazing. I will definitely buy this in the future

ACBF update 2

the beer here tonight is awesome. Just had a Hazed & Infuzed and it was great. And.....we had a pseudo Brett Michaels siting! I will try to get a pic!



Cheers,

Jason

ACBF Update

So far so good! I've noticed that this year is A LOT more crowded than last, but the beer lines are moving quick. I've been able to hit most of the brewers but some didn't bring some of the beers as advertised. Oh well, I'm still having fun and drinking some great beer. The best one yet was Sixpoints Bengali tiger! Absolutely amazing beer!


Cheers,
Jason

American Craft Beer Fest

Tonight is the first night of ACBF.  I'll be heading in with a few friends to enjoy some of the best craft brewed beers in the world!  There are 75 brewers attending pouring over 300 different beers.  I have my list of beers I'd like to get to.  I have 14 beers on my list that I don't want to leave without trying, in no particular order (but yes, I have mapped them out so I can get to them easily)!!
 
Midas Touch - Dogfish Head
Watermelon Wheat - 21st Amendment
Cuvee de Cardoz - Brooklyn Brewery
Hazed and Infused - Boulder Beer Co.
Oak Aged Never Summer - Boulder Beer Co.
Flashback Anniversary Ale - Boulder Beer Co.
Morimoto Soba Ale - Rogue
Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale - Sierra Nevada
Bengali Tiger - Sixpoint
Confluence - Allagash
Oak Aged Mad Hatter - New Holland
Toasted Brown Ale - John Harvard's Cambridge
Jack D'Or - Pretty Things Beer and Ale
 
The only one of these I've had before is the Sierra Nevada, but it's such a good beer that I want more.  I chose these because either I've never had a beer from the brewer, or had the beer.  Sixpoint is my new interest.  I've written about their Sweet Action and they continue to impress me.  We shall see!  I might try to post a few from the fest, but don't quote me on it.  I'll definitely post a recap though!
 
Cheers,
Jason

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wedding Brew and Benmarl Winery
















This weekend was the weekend where I served my Newest American Pale Ale, aka CrystALE recipe, at my friend's Kate and Shaun's wedding which was at the beautiful Benmarl Winery in Marlboro, NY. The weekend was awesome. We spent a lot of time at the winery, setting up for the wedding, the rehearsal and then for the actual ceremony and reception. We didn't get an official tour, but I took it upon myself to nose around a bit and check it out. The wine cellar was my favorite. There were stacks of full barrels, a "Vintage" room filled with bottles from the 50's and 60's and then through the barrels there was the fermentors, bottling line and label station. I could begin to see the start of my brewery with all the fermentation equipment and barrels around. I was in heaven.

My biggest excitement came on the actual wedding day. I had brewed 4 cases of my beer for the reception. All 4 cases were gone by the end of the cocktail hour (actually more like an hour 40). I was extremely happy, and slightly bummed I didn't make more. All night I had people approaching me telling how awesome my beer was. My sister-in-law, who is a graphic designer, helped to make the labels which were also a huge hit. We didn't' start making the labels until Wednesday and they had to be done on Thursday, so needless to say it was rushed......which would be why I missed spelled "bottled". Oh well, It was a gratifying experience nonetheless. One of the guests was actually a brewery at the Barrington Brewery & Restaurant in Great Barrington, MA. I spoke with him for a while about the beer, brewing as a profession and other things and the one thing I remember fondly was the constructive criticism he gave. He was very impressed with the beer and though it was a very marketable beer. He also though there was a hint of an off flavor in the finish of the beer, but couldn't detect what it was exactly. I had hoped I could have had more so I could have reviewed it again myself, but I guess I could have worse problems.

Cheers,
Jason

Self Distributing States

I was doing a little research on states that allow self distribution by brewers and I found some good information on the Brewers Association website which was very helpful.  But the list they gave wasn't enough....I wanted a cool way to display it........maybe on a map.  Then, I stumble upon this site, which allows you to make customized maps with whatever information you want!  VERY COOL!  So, as you can imagine....I created a map called "Self Distributing States".  Hopefully this is helpful to people doing research on distribution options.  If not, hopefully you can have fun playing with maps!
 
Cheers,
Jason

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beer Taxes

I've been reading a lot of blog posts and articles online lately (here, here and here) that have to do with the issue of beer excise tax and the governments proposal to raise it. Like the authors of these posts, I strongly disagree with the notion of raising the beer excise tax.

I have two views on this issue, first as a beer consumer. I think it is ludicrous that I, as a beer drinker, should be taxed strictly because I enjoy beer. This is unfair to me as a consumer and I personally think that if the government needs to raise taxes on something in order to generate additional revenue (to supplement all their spending), shouldn't all American's share this burden? A fair way to raise taxes would be for income tax to be raised which effects everyone and doesn't force beer drinkers to pay for our "sins". Although, it's my opinion that in this economy taxes shouldn't be raised in the first place.

Second, as someone who is working towards owning a brewery, I try to look at this from the brewers perspective. Lets say you were a small independent craft brewer. You have steady sales, but in this economic climate, things just haven't taken off. Then, you get hit with an additional excise tax on the beer you produce. This additional cost can not be absorbed by your business and you are forced to pass that cost on to your consumers. Some consumers see this price hike and go shopping for alternative beers to yours, thus decreasing your sales even further ultimately forcing you out of business. I have a hard time looking at this scenario and saying "it is what it is".

In the comments of Lew's post, he got into a deeper discussion on this issue and put it as plain as it can be!

"Are you telling me that if the government taxed, what, bacon that would be okay as long as people kept eating it and paying the tax? A tax on beer makes no more sense than a tax on bacon. So why tax bacon or beer?"

On another note, there is a great article (pdf format) from the Tax Foundation on the effect of cross border sales of beer due to sales and beer excise tax. I got it from J's blog. It's a long read, but very interesting. Enjoy!

Cheers,
Jason

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fermentation Friday - Brewday Joy & Stress

Thanks to Ted over at Ted's Homebrew Journal for hosting this months Fermentation Friday.  This months topic is Brewday Joy & Stress.
"...for something a bit more light and fun, this month's topic revolves around the brewing activity itself.  Brewing is an extremely rewarding endeavor, especially after sipping on the end product....a delicious pint of cold carbonated beer.  But in the process of making it, it's not always 'a walk in the park'.  I'm interested to hear about what areas in the brewday brings joy and stress"
To start, I can say for sure that I'd rather be home brewing a fresh batch of beer.  I have about 4-5 potential recipes that I've created that I want to try out and also try and re-formulate and try and make my friends wedding beer (crystALE) a little better and closer to Sixpoint's Sweet Action.  But I digress....
 
I think one of the biggest and best reason I (and I'm sure almost all homebrewers) get joy from brewing is being able to drink the final product and know you made it.  But I'm not going there.....I have a feeling a lot of people will cover this well and I don't need to go any further.  So, for me the one things that brings the (second) most joy in the process is being able to re-brew a previous batch and make it better.  I've been doing a lot more of this lately trying to get more consistent with a few of my beers.  Because I hope to open my own brewery someday, this is essential to my success.  I need to be able to open the doors with high quality beers AND be able to make them consistently.
 
On the contrary, I do get very frustrated at times when I brew.  For example, BOILOVERS!!!!  I hate them!!  I know the cause, and I have found a way (heard from a friend) about a way to reduce these by using a spray bottle and spraying the foam as it rises and try's to spill out of the kettle.  I can tell you from experience that this technique works very well!!!  Another are that brings frustration, and this stems from not being the most patient person ever, is the wait from brewday to the most exciting point, the first sip!!!  I know it's something that I can't change, but it's frustrating to me.  I guess I'll need to space my brewing sessions out so I can pop open a first bottle from a previous batch on each subsequent brew day......but that's a whole other post for another day!  I need more time in my day!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brooklyn Brewery Tour




This past weekend, I was in Brooklyn for a bachelor party. Luckily, the party started at the Brooklyn Brewery! We took a tour and sat in the "tasting room" (it was more like a bar) and sampled their awesome line up of beers. I left there a very happy beer lover! I took some pictures, which are the the bottom. Sorry about the quality, but they're from my cell phone.

The tour was short. Not in time, but in distance traveled. You move from the tasting room, over to the brewery room and listen to the tour guide talk about the history of Brooklyn Brewing Co, the building and their current state. All in all, it was about 30 feet. As someone who wants to open my own brewery I thought the tour was very cool, and yes they started as home brewers!!! At the start, they did contract brewing with F.X. Matt (Saranac) up in Utica, NY. To this day, the majority of there beer is still produced at the Matt Brewery. Only a few beers (Local 1, Local 2 and others) are actually brewed in the Brooklyn Brewery.

Next we moved back to the tasting room and sat at some of the tables they had set up and began to sample their brews. I started off with the Brooklyn IPA, which they called E.IP.A. (East India Pale Ale). This was golden in color and had a great head. Huge hop aroma's and it packed a wallop of hop bitterness.

Next up was the Brooklyner Weisse. Their Bavarian yeast strain gave it lots of the traditional Banana esters and some great flavor as well. I've had some Hefe's that were just too overpowering with the banana/clove ester combo, but this was perfect. It didn't get in the way of the backbone of the beer, the wheat!

Beer 3 was just a quick sample, the Intensified Coffee Stout. Had this beer been lower in alcohol (8.5%) I probably would have had a few, but since we had a LONG day of bachelor party drinking to do, I only gave it a taste. WOW!!!! I could smell the coffee aroma before I even stuck my nose in it! The first sip was amazing. Big coffee flavor, with a great rich malty backbone. The maltiness and coffee flavor really mask the alcohol in this, which is part of the reason I shied away from it.

The Brooklyn Brown was next. I'm a huge brown ale fan and this beer did not disappoint. It poured a deep dark brown color and had hints of some roasty malt character. The chocolate malt was evident and very pleasant. The hop character was a little restrained from what I was expecting. Not a lot of bitterness, but subtle flavor and aroma. One of the main reasons I liked this beer so much was it reminded me of my American Brown. When I brewed it, the judges told me it had a roasty character that is not traditional in the style, and it was too dark. Color wise, my brown is the same. It made me smile and I know I will be back to the drawing board to figure this one out!

As we were leaving, I grabbed two bottle to take home.....famed Local 1 and Local 2. I have yet to try these but I've heard and read a lot of great reviews on them, so I'm very excited to get into them. If you're ever in Brooklyn, or NY for that matter, definitely take a trip to the brewery and check it out. You won't be disappointed!!

Cheers,
Jason























Thursday, May 7, 2009

Allagash Curieux - Review


I haven't gotten into doing reviews much, but I'm starting to explore this more so I can expand my knowledge because I think reviewing beers and thinking about how and with what these beers are brewed will help me to better understand how to brew them.


First up, Allagash Curieux.


Appearance - It comes in a "standard" Allagash 750 ml bottle. The beer pours a pale color and a champagne like fizz popped from the glass. A small bright white head formed and quickly disappeared.


Aroma - Sweet alcohol with pleasant hints of bourbon. The aging in the Jim Beam barrels certainly helps.


Taste - At first sip, bourbon flavor is evident. Warm alcohol coats the taste buds. There is a taste of something I can't pinpoint, which is nice and enjoyable. The website says hints of vanilla and coconut are evident, but I don't think that's what I was picking up. Either way, I enjoyed it a lot. I guess it will be forever a mystery.


Mouthfeel - As I suspected from the champagne like fizz when poured, the carbonation is a bit prickly at first. The tulip glass I was using has a ridge on the edge which can contribute to this fizz as it agitates the beer as it passes over the ridge. It had a nice creamy mouthfeel which became silky and soft towards the end of the sip.


Drinkabilaty - AT 11% alcohol, I'm thinking this is a very nice treat to have once in a while. I "could" definitely drink a few of these, but it would definitely have it's effect on me. This one took me about an hour plus to drink and I had a nice buzz. This beer would be a great after dinner drink and something to sip with a wonderful dinner. I'm not sure what I would pair it with for dinner, but I'll figure it out and make it one night. To be continued.....
Next up, Pike Brewing Company's Tandem.
Cheers,
Jason

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wedding Brews - Progress report

The two brews look like they have completed primary fermentation.  I had moved them to the basement one day after they were brewed because the temps in my kitchen where I usually keep the carboys got up to the 80's.  I was a little upset that I didn't plan for that because they had been fermenting very nicely and formed a nice foam krausen on top, but the agitation from moving them to the basement caused a little of that to sink back down into the beer.  As you can see from the picture, some of the chunkies are floating around.  You can also see how high the temp was from the stick on thermometer on the first carboy.
 
This week I'll transfer them to the secondary and dry hop them.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they turned out from being hot, and then chilled to the lower temps of the basement.  I can't wait for that fruity aroma from the Glacier hops!!!
 
Cheers,
Jason

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wedding Brew Weekend

As I've mentioned in previous posts (see Witbier and Two Brew Weekend) I was asked to brew some beer for my friends wedding. With the final beer being chosen in early April, I set out this weekend to brew it up for the big day......twice. Early in the week I decided to make two batches. I thought that for an entire wedding reception, 2.5 cases just wasn't going to cut it (now that I said that, I bet there will be a ton left over).

The first batch went off without a hitch. The mash settled perfectly at 152 and stayed there for the entire 60 minutes. I had a small boil over at the beginning mostly because I was paying more attention to drinking some of the last batch and watching the Red Sox. Post boil, I ended up with 6 gallons, which is what I planned. Chilled, racked and pitched. Batch one down!

The second batch went off.....but not so much without a hitch. To set the stage, it was close to 90f in Natick on Saturday, I had gone for a 7 mile run about 2 hours prior to starting the first batch, had one bowl of oatmeal to eat all day, and about 6 homebrews by the time I started batch two. Needless to say, it had it's effects on me. I didn't realize my mistake until the boil, but it turns out I used an extra gallon of water in the mash. DOH!!!! (sorry Chappy, the beer will be fine, I promise)

Sunday, after I had sobered up, I went through my notes and realized where I went wrong. In an attempt to be more efficient, I started batch 2 while batch 1 was still chilling prior to pitching the yeast, so I didn't have the availability of my Blichman boilermaker with the volume sight gauge on the side. Instead, I went back in time to my "pre-boilermaker" days and used a wooden spoon I had notched out at the gallon marks. Apparently I mistook the 5g mark for the 4g mark. Other than that slight mix up, the batch come out well. It's a little lighter in color but it's fermenting away.

Both batches have a very nice krausen on them and are vigorously fermenting away right now. I'm a little concerned that because of the ambient temp in the room, that I might get some bad esters in the beer, so I might move them to the basement. But then basement is on the cooler side of the temp spectrum. Probably in the high 50's. I did give myself a few extra weeks, so if the fermentation slows, I think I'll be ok. Recipe is below.

So here's my questions.....do you think I should blend the two batches prior to bottling to essentially make them one large batch? If you could let me know your thoughts and experiences with blending, that would be great!

Cheers,
Jason

CrystALE

OG - 1.050
Batch Size - 6 g

Fermentables:
8 lbs Two-Row
1.5 lbs Crystal 15L
1.5 lbs Crystal 40L
1 lbs Munich .25 lbs Brown Malt
.5 lbs Flaked Barley

Hops:
.5 oz Columbus (13% AA, 6.5 AAU, FWH)
.5 oz Magnum (14.5% AA, 7.3 AAU, 30 min)
.25 oz Columbus (13% AA, 3.3 AAU, 30 min)
.5 oz Glacier (5.5% AA, 2.8 AAU, 15 min)
.25 Columbus (13% AA, 3.3 AAU, 10 min)
.5 oz Glacier (5.5% AA, 2.8 AAU, DH)

Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beer Wars - The review......

Last night I spent the evening with my wife in Framingham MA attending the well talked about Beer Wars Movie. And to be honest...I'm still not sure how I feel about it. To answer the questions I posted about yesterday, Yes...I was entertained and No, I didn't learn anything new. So, if you're still planning on going to see the movie and would hate to know all about the movie before you saw it (Leah and Luke are brother and sister....wait, wrong wars) then don't read on.

The start of the movie was, to say the least, rough. I felt like I was watching a track meet and someone tripped when the gun went off. Not good. Anat Baron (Filmmaker) struggled in the opening of the the movie, which was live. Whoever was holding her cue cards probably got fired today.....and we'll leave it at that. I guess that's what you get with live production.

Once the movie actually started rolling, things went a little better. The beginning of the movie went through Anat's background working in the "beer" industry. Ahem....she worked for Mikes Hard lemonade....not quite beer, but a malternative none the less. Oh, and she is allergic to alcohol so she can't drink it. Now, I am in no way saying she's not allergic to alcohol, but to make a movie about beer....hype the crap out of it....then admit you don't drink beer seems a little hypocritical! To quote a good friend....."that's like me making a movie about dresses". It just doesn't work, and my attitude toward the movie quickly shifted to "damn, I just wasted $32 on this movie....should I make my wife stay through it all?"

She then proceeded start us through a journey of beer giving the history of beer in America and transitioned into the big 3 brewers and how they got to be so big. The rest of the movie jumped around from topic to topic, starting with Sam Calagione. She highlighted his/Dogfish Heads rise to Cult status and talked about the expansion to there brewery. The other interview subject was Rhonda Kallman, founder and CEO of New Century Brewing Co. Rhonda also happens to be the co-founder of Boston Beer Co, the makers Sam Adams. New Century is launching a new beer called Moonshot, which is a light beer made with Caffeine in it. This was probably the most interesting part of the movie personally because it highlighted the struggle that start -up craft brewers have to face with the big 3 pushing you off the shelf in stores.

The rest of the movie seemed more like a clip from a Michael Moore film. It showed clips of here trying to track down (stalk) August Busch IV. Then clips of Anat in DC discussing the Beer Lobby and the 3 tier distribution system. I started to get excited that I might learn something about the 3 tier system, but nothing. No more than 15 seconds were spent trying to explain the system, or why the lobbyist are fighting to keep it in place so hard.

Then......it was over! Time for the live panel moderated by Ben Stein. The panel consisted of Charlie Papazian (AHA), Greg Koch (Stone), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Rhonda Kallman (New Century), Maureen Ogle (Author, "Ambitious Brew"), Todd Alstrom (Beer Advocate) and Anat, and man was it awkward. Some of the questions Ben asked made it seem like he didn't watch the movie. I forget the exact wording of the question, but it was the second one he asked and the movie had touched on the same question and Greg Koch answered it in the movie.......STEIN.........STEIN.........STEIN?

All in all, I kind of wish I had waited for it to come out on DVD or better yet....You tube! I know Anat had good intentions of showing how the Big 3 are trying to push the Craft Brewers around, but it fell short of the target. Some segments should have gone deeper, some shouldn't have gone at all, but I can say I was entertained!! I'm looking forward to hearing how others felt about it. I'm sure there will be TON'S of posts on blog around the country!!

Cheers!
Jason