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.