Tuesday, December 28, 2010

21st Amendment Brewery Fireside Chat

This is the second beer that I have had by 21st Amendment, so I am anxious for a taste.   Like the last beer that I have reviewed by them (Back in Black), this one comes in a can.  This is a winter spiced ale and it is a seasonal brew only available October through November.  What makes this can interesting is the sketching of FDR on the can, with a cigar and a drink.  The odd thing is who he is chatting with...an Elf, a gnome?  I'll leave that up to you to interpret.

According to their web site "Like FDR's Depression-era radio addresses, which were like a kick in the butt and a hug at the same time, our Fireside Chat is a subtle twist on the traditional seasonal brew. We begin with a rich, dark, English-style ale and then we improvise with spices until we know we have a beer worth sharing with the nation."  It is a winter season beer that has a ABV of 7.9%.  They use malts of Pale, Munich, Wheat, Aroma Chocolate and De-Bitter Black.  Hops used are Magnum and Golding that gives it a 45 IBUs.  Added spices are a generic term of "spices" and cocoa nibs.

Appearance:  Pours a deep ruby brown with a light tan head that sits on top of the beer like bread.  Initial pour give a 2-cm head that dies down to an uneven head that sits on the beer.  With each sip a thick and sticky rim sticks to the glass.

Aroma:  Smells of Christmas spices and Belgium style yeast is the first thing that hits the nose.  Then caramelized malts, but no hops is what is left in the nose.  I don't smell the chocolate, even though it is said that it has nibs added.   The Christmas spices are a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and molasses. 

Taste:  The first sip brings a lot of spice and a little bit of sour notes to the tongue.  As the the beer washes back across the palate, rich malts and spices coats the tongue.  Still, hops are relatively minor, which is strange with a high alpha acid hop as Magnum in the beer.  At the back of the palate, a warm winter alcohol is sensed.

Mouthfeel:  The spices and malts definitely coats the mouth and tongue.  The warmness of the alcohol is felt as it is washed down the throat. 

Overall:  This is the second beer by 21 Amendment that had some sourness to it.  I was pleased that more breweries are moving to Belgium style yeasts.  I'm glad that Mr J traded me this beer for some homebrew.  The first time I tried it a few weeks ago, it had a metallic, almost coppery taste to it, but no more.  It is strange on how one beer taste different than others from the same 12-pack.

I'm intrigued with what else 21st Amendment has!  This was another enjoyable beer by them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Stone-BrewDog Collaboration Bashah

In January of 2009, brewers from Stone Brewery from Escondido, CA and BrewDog from Scotland, England got together to collaborate on a beer. From this collaboration, Bashah was born.

Bashah is a Double Black Belgium IPA that comes in a 11.2 oz. bottle.  On the bottle, it tells a little of the meaning of the beer:
Bashah. What does it mean?…Since meaning is a mere illusion, perhaps we shouldn’t let it have any influence on our destiny. This particular beer has refused to succumb to the illusion of meaning or allow capricious parameters to have any influence on its own fermented fate…
This beer sat for over a year in my cellar to get a bit of aging to it. 

Appearance:  Pour opaque black with a one-finger frothy white head.  The white head sticks out on top of the jet black beer.  The head dissipates slowly and is sticky against the glass.

Aroma:  I get a lot of earthy hops from the nose and a bit pine and fruits.  I get a lot of roasted malts and a hint of chocolate.  From the yeast I get some fruits and a little bit of sour.

Taste:  From the front of the tongue, I get a lot of earthy hops and roasted malts.  As the beer washes back over the tongue and palate, hints of chocolate and fruits come out.  The beer finishes a little sour and hoppy.

Mouthfeel:  The mouth is creamy and full of rich malts with a medium body.  The earthy hops and sour lingers in the mouth for a while.

Overall:  It is overall well balanced with the esters, sour, rich malts, and hops.  The slight dry finish go along well with the sweet stickiness of the beer.

This is an interesting and complex beer that I would have love to compare with what it was a year ago.  If you can still find it, I would grab one!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Brewing of Barleywine

Brewing of this beer took place on 7 Dec. 2010.  The morning was cold (around 25 °F), but calm with a dusting of snow on the ground.  This blog is a little later than anticipated.

I started brewing at 7 a.m. with boiling of water for storage in the hot water tank (modified 48-qt cooler) and crushing of grain.  The water was brought to almost a boil for storage (approximately 190 °F). It took me a total of 2 hours to crush all 26.00 lbs of grain (2 lbs at a time).  During this time I cracked open a bottle of Bashah, a collaborative brew by Stone and Brewdog.

The grain bill is as followed:

24.50 lbs. Munich Malt(2-row)
1.75 lbs. CaraMunich 80
0.75 lbs. Crystal 60L

Around 10:30, the grain was pored into the mashtun (modified 70-qt cooler), which was pre-heated with some of the already heated water.  The excess water was then poured off before the grain was poured in.  I mashed in 26-qts of water at 180 °F.  After checking the temperature of the mash, which was at 154 °F, I closed the lid, covered with a blanket, and let steep for 60 minutes.

During this time I boiled excess water for storage in the hot water tank for the sparge.  Also, during this time I opened a few bottle of homebrew to share between my friends.  After the hour was up, I drained the grain and ran a common Vorlauf to clear the wort.  I drained 7 gallons of wort off into the boil kettle (with the addition of the first wort hops), checked the pre-boil gravity (1.056), and started the boil.  The hop additions were as followed:

2.00 oz. Columbus Pellet 18.30% AA First Wort Hopping
3.00 oz. Hallertaur Magnum 14.50% AA 60 min.
1.00 oz. Centennial Whole 7.80% AA 2 min.
1.00 Tsp Irish Moss Fining 15 Min.
1.00 Tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient

After boiling was complete, the wort was super-cooled.  For cooling, I used 4-2 L soda bottles that I add water and froze over-night.  Before dunking the bottles into the wort, they were sanitized with Iodiphor.  When the temperature reach optimal temperature of 90 °F, the wort was transferred to a sanitized food grade bucket (primary fermenter).  This is when the only mishap occured.  While transferring the cooled wort, a small flake of something fell from the towel into the wort.  Perhaps nothing will happened because of this...lets hope!  Tasting in a month will tell if the whole batch will be dumped because of infection.  A packege of Wyeast 1056 yeast (American Yeast) was pitched into the wort and was covered.  An airlock was inserted into the lid and set into the back room for fermenting.

I would like to thank a few people for showing up to participate in the brewing of this beer.  Dr. Alfredo Huerta, Marlo Jefferies and Mr. J.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Beer Blog: The Greatest Beer of All Time

In the past year or so, blogs have became ever-popular.  Blogs can be found on many different aspects of daily life (e.g., food, books, environmental and government issues [my other blog called Third Eye Wide Open], other random things people like to write about, etc.).  Blogs have even been talked about in television show (i.e., an episode of House) and made fun of in movies (i.e., Dr. Horrible Sing-A-Long Blog). 

There are also many different blogs on beer out there.  These blogs range from reviews, brewing techniques, and beer chemistry.  One, in-particular, The Greatest Beer of All Time, is by far my favorite on reviewing beer.

The Greatest Beer of All Time is a blog built by a couple of guys near Chicago, IL (50 miles west).  There are 6 people that review and write about beer.  There are 3 main guys that review beer (Jason, Wes, and Steve).  What I find unique for this blog, is that you they review beers that are hard to find and beers can search for reviews by Brewer or Style.  They even have posts on homebrews.

A recent e-mail, Jason told me that the site was built "last December when I got tired of the snobbish BS found on websites like Beer Advocate & Ratebeer.  I love craft beer and want to spread the gospel, bring more people into the movement and make them realize that there are better choices in beer.  I chose the name Greatest Beer Of All Time because I am a person of extremes and the website is about finding your own personal Greatest Beer Of All Time."

What I find on this blog are reviews from beer that I hardly hear of or styles from breweries that I know that I never get to taste.  It makes me want to go out and find these beers or go on a beer expedition to the brewery.  They even have a Facebook and Twitter pages at which you can read exerts from there blogs.

There is nothing better than reading about beer and from reading blogs, it makes your mouth water.  These guys do a perfect job at that!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I am a craft beer drinker.

I am currently doing a photo cataloging of my collection of beer that I have drank.  I currently have a collection of over 400 empty bottles, plus probably 2 dozen in my cellar.  My hopes is, when I have a house, to have a place to display them.  Most likely it will be in the basement (might be reasoning that is out of my hands), where I will have a "man cave."  This will also have a places to sit and probably a dart board, a beer refrigerator (glass front), no television, maybe a place to brew beer at, and the like.  

I was looking through what I have drank, and it reminds me of the styles that I like and how my tastes have changed.  I do love craft beer.  And yes, when I am absolutely broke, I will drink Pabst, but that is merely for nostalgic reasons (that I will not go into explanation right now). Top styles on my list are always: IPA and Barleywines.

I am a craft beer drinker.  I have been am avid craft beer enthusiast for years now.  In college, when my friends would just drink to get drunk, I would go to Sicilianos Market to make a 6-pack of my favorite beer.  Call me a snob, but I drink for the enjoyment and the taste.

Craft beer has grown in popularity now.  There are videos and television shows over craft beer.  Discover Channel is coming out with a new show called Brew Masters and there is a weekly show called New Brew Thursday on the Internet that I thoroughly enjoy.  There are also quite a variety of blogs and videos throughout the Internet universe.

This makes me happy, as a craft beer drinker and as a homebrewer!  I currently added in to my beer making a gig in helping out brewing for a local bar in Oxford, OH called Quarter Barrel Brewery and Pub.  Though they don't have a web site as of yet, they do have a facebook page (and that is what counts....right?).  I am only helping out and am not the brewer, but it is fun to do on a bigger scale. 

I am a craft beer drinker, and I want to leave you with these couple of youtube videos to explain it all (plus, it always makes me smile!):

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brewing the Imperial Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

On 7 Nov. 2010 I brewed a Imperial Oatmeal Stout that I bittered with cacao nibs.  Brewing commenced at 8 a.m. with boiling water for storage in a the hot water tank (i.e., modified 40-qt cooler).  The grain bill is as follows:

15.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 72.29 %
1.25 lb Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 6.02 %
1.25 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6.02 %
1.25 lb Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 6.02 %
0.50 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 2.41 %
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 2.41 %
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2.41 %
0.50 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 2.41 %

It took me around 2 hours to crush the grain and get all the water heated for the mash.  After I added the grain to the mashtun (i.e. modified 70-qt. cooler), I added 180 °F water to the grain and kept the grain at 158 °F for approximately 90 min.

The temperature was a little higher than called for, but I wanted somewhat of a sweeter beer that had more sugary malts extracted from the grains. After draining the mash, the grains were sparged with 180 °F water to get approximately 8-gallons of wort.


By this time I opened a bottle of Avery Brewing Company's "The Czar" Imperial Stout (review is the previous blog). The boil lasted 90-minutes.  I added the following to the boil:

1.00 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (45 min) Hops 26.4 IBU
1.00 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (20 min) Hops 22.7 IBU
8.00 oz Cacao nibs (15 min.)
1 tsp. Irish Moss (15 Min.)
1 Capsule Yeast Fuel (10 Min.)

After super cooling for 30 min. to about 80 degrees I transferred to my primary fermenting bucket.  Pouring the wort from the boiling kettle to the bucket, to ensure proper oxygenation for the yeast.  I added the following yeast to the wort:

1 Vial Super High Gravity Ale (White Labs #WLP099) Yeast-Ale 
1 Vial Irish Ale (White Labs #WLP004) Yeast-Ale  

Total cost was around $20 for the specialty grains.  I already had a ample supply of base malt thanks to my friend Scott and a harvest of hops from the hop vines that was planted this past spring at my parents up in Michigan.

Gravity readings were as followed:

Pre-Boil: 1.064
Original Gravity: 1.090

That gave me only 58% efficiency.  I need to find a way to up my efficiency to around 75%, maybe a harder boil or change to fly sparging instead of batch sparging.  If my final gravity is around 1.023, I will have a 8% beer.  It was a  good day to brew and had a good session.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Avery Brewing Company The Czar Imperial Stout

Avery Brewing Company, brewing beers since 1993 (especially big ones), has stole my heart when it comes to what they brew.  Their eccentric brewing style is what has steered me into trying their beers again and again.  Located in Boulder Colorado, they brew beer that they like, with utter disregard to market demands.

Use of Hallertau  and Magnum hops and dark malts that give "flavors redolent of English toffee, rich mocha, sweet molasses, candied currants and a hint of anise."

Specs of the beer:  Two-row barley, black, chocolate, carafa 111, cara 8, cara 45, honey malt, Magnum and Hallertau hops, OG: 1.100, ABV: 11.03%, IBUs: 60

The Czar comes in a 22 oz. bottle

Appearance: Pour an inky black, a bit more thicker than most beers.  It starts with a 1-2 cm dark creamy head that settles down slowly to leave a very thin milky layer that is very well retained.  The head sticks to the glass while drinking.

Aroma:  Rich, syrupy, toasted malts, a little bit of vanilla and molasses. I smell floral hops, with a bit of spicyness.

Taste: On the tip of the tongue there is a spicyness that I like along with the toasted malts.  As it moves back across the tongue, the sweetness comes out.  Caramels and molasses coats the mouth that lingers to a coffee finish.

Mouthfeel:  Medium body that does coat the mouth, a medium carbonation, alcoholic warmth and dry finish.

Overall:  This is a heavy beer, both on gravity and coating of the mouth.  The aromas and flavors are quite enjoyable making a a good beer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

21st Amendment Brewery Back in Black IPA

I sat down tonight with a brew from 21st Amendment Brewery.  That's right, this brewery is named after the amendment that overturned prohibition.  This brewery is localized in San Fransisco, but this particular beer was brewed and canned (that right, in a can) in Cold Springs, Minnesota.  Can beer has became a new thing and is growing in popularity, especially with the hipsters.  It is inspired by Paul Revere's midnight ride.  It is a classic American IPA, but only black in total rebellion against the English style IPA.  It is a "Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of the expected."

The malts that were used for brewing are: Rahr Pale Malt, Crystal 45L, Munich, and De-Bittered Black.  Bittering hop is Columbus and aroma hops are Columbus and Centennial.  They dried hopped it with Centennial and Simcoe.  It is 65 IBU at 6.5% ABV.

Aroma:  Smell of sweet roasted caramels, a coffee bitter from the malts, and a face full of hops.  I also smell a dark bitter, sort of like a porter, but with a lot more hops.

Appearance:  The pour is black as midnight with a creamy head that dies down to a creamy layer that sits on top of the beer.  It almost looks like a nitro-pour off of tap and the head stays in-tack to the glass with each sip.

Flavor:  On the tip of the tongue, have this roasted malts, that washes back across the palate.  The bitter from the malts becomes a little sour on the back of the palate.  Very complex malts characteristics, rich and bready.  With each sip, the hops comes out.  I can taste a little grapefruit from the Columbus, but very earthy and piney and not floral at all with a dry finish.

Mouthfeel:  Very full and creamy.  The sour taste sits in the mouth for a while, sort of like a porter, but even better because of all of the hops.

Overall Impression:  The taste that washes back of the palate lingers and lingers.  Very intense hops characteristics and the complex malts will lead me to be intrigued of what else that they have brewed.  I can't wait to try what other treats that they have!

A very smooth beer with a little bit of sourness (to a point that you can hardly tell what it is) that I enjoy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recipe for Sumer Saison

Here is the recipe that I used to brew the Summer Saison that had a very good performance at the Cincinnati Oktoberbest Homebrew Competition.  It was an all-grain brew that I did on 15 August 2010.  The efficiency of the brew was pretty good at 82% for the 5-gallon batch.  I want to thank Nicholas Kemper for the help with this batch.

Grain Bill:

4.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 48.48 %
3.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 36.36 %
1.00 lb Wheat Malt, White (3.3 SRM) Grain 12.12 %
0.25 lb Caravienne Malt (22.0 SRM) Grain 3.03 % 


1.00 oz Fuggle [4.50 %] (60 min) Hops 16.5 IBU
1.00 oz Saaz [4.50 %] (30 min) Hops 12.7 IBU
0.50 oz Fuggle [4.50 %] (10 min) Hops 3.0 IBU
1.00 oz Saaz [4.50 %] (10 min) Hops 6.0 IBU
0.50 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (5 min) Hops 1.5 IBU


1 Vial Belgian Saison I Ale (White Labs #WLP565) Yeast-Ale 

I mashed in 10.33 qt. of water at 160 °F water and held the mash between 145-148 °F for 75 minutes.  After draining, I sparged the grain with 165 °F water to a total of 8-gallons for the boil.  The boil was for 60 minutes, adding the appropriate at the times given.  The original gravity was measured at 1.050.  After super-cooling Belgain Saison yeast was added and the wort was closed off for approximately 4-weeks.  The final gravity came out to be 1.010, four points below the estimated to give a ABV of 5.21%.  It was bottled on 12 September 2010.

You can read the notes of the taste by the BJCP brew judges on the previous blog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cincinnati Oktoberbest Homebrew Compettion

For my first blog of this page I wanted to begin with some notes from the competition that I entered.  This year I entered the Cincinnati Malt Infuser's Oktoberbest Homebrew Competition.  It was a American Homebrew Association sponsored competition and was judged by certified judges.  I entered a Saison under category 16c.  Out of a total of 50 points, both judges scored a 35 on it, which I didn't fee was too bad.  I did not place, but at least I have some notes of what others thought.

Here are some comments:

Judge #1 (BJCP Apprentice): Aroma (10/12) - "sweetness from malt with distinct esters of orange, a light indistinct phenol bite, a light spiciness from hops, no diacetyl."  Appearance (3/3) - "deep gold, with a foam white head that dissipates to ring the glass.  Hazy in clarity."  Flavor (13/20) - Malty sweetness, with ester of sweet orange citrus, a tiny glimmer of phenolic bite from yeast and spice that I could not determine with clarity and spiciness and spiciness from hops, finish is smooth and sweet."  Mouthfeel (4/5) - "A medium light body, little creaminess, with a noted alcoholic warmth, no astrigent is noted, medium carbonation."  Overall impression (5/10) - "Some mustiness associated with glassware, no points deducted, a bit too sweet, expecting more phenols"

Judge #2 (BJCP National):  Aroma (8/12) - "subdued spice - earthy.  Little to no malt character.  Hop/spiciness is there as it warms.  Anise.  Becomes much more complex (spice and hops) as it warms."  Appearance (2/3) - "Slightly hazy, pale straw, low carbon dioxide did not create much foam, however lace lingers."  Flavor (14/20)  Rich bready - malt flavor up front and into mid-palate.  Dry/spiciness finish lasts and lasts bordering on puckering astringency .  2nd sip brings back malt and pronounced alcohol warmth.  Hop flavors moderate - spiciness and balanced.  Bitterness is strong and appropriate - contributing a long, dry finish."  Mouthfeel (4/5) - "Very full - okay, still surprising dry profile overall - not creamy or cloying - very nice.  Low carbon dioxide - but it style.  Not stringent as noted above - that was due to spice and bitterness."  Overall Impression (7/10) - Spicy quality of the beers lingers and lingers - well strong - alcohol pronounced.  Malt and wheat flavors are subdued to the intense spice and hop profile - in the style.  Would like to have had the malt flavors/sweetness last into mid-tongue (subjective).  Higher mash temperature.

So I was happy with my overall performance.  They said that it was a good show and the scoring guide showed a very good performance (generally withing style parameters, some minor flaws).  The stylistic accuracy was marked 3/5 or 4/5, Flawless 3/5 or 4/5, and Intangibles 3/5 or 5/5 by he two judges respectively.