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.