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!!


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.

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!!!