Brewed: Kate the Great Clone

October 21st, 2016 by scot

brewing water heating for mash

Kate the Great is a legendary American craft beer in my book. It was a big, robust stout, released annually by Portsmouth Brewery. The only access I had to the beer was via trades. Matt, a great trading for years, was kind enough to send me back-to-back years of the beer. I had cellared them until recently. I am glad I waited as it was great to get reacquainted with such a fine lady.

I have been fortunate enough to taste Kate the Great on two different occasions:

  • The first, a Tuesday night beer club bottle share in February 2010.
  • The second, a Thursday night beer club get together in the last few months when I attempted to do a mini vertical of the last two years the beer was released.

That first time was magical and I set out to get at least a bottle of my own. Eventually I stored up three bottles; one of those is still in the cellar. Maybe a treat if the Cubs win the World Series.

Formulating a Kate the Great Recipe

After having the beer the last time, I decided there was only one way to potentially taste the beer again: home brewing. Per typical, I turned to for a clone recipe. Something this good had to have been sought out by the large home brewing community.

The huge thread still lingers on today with tons of great feedback. I decided to take the percentages in the first post as the gospel, creating a recipe to those specifications. The amount of dark malt, almost 3 pounds, is an absurd amount in home brewing career.

Home Brewing Kate the Great

Once again, just as I have been and, most recently with Baller IPA, my grain mill was pretty much useless. I had to dump grain at least 10 times to reset the mill as the non-driven roller continues to have a mind of it’s own, moving any which way it desires in spite of being locked down. Many of those times it bound up against the grain hopper, stopping the milling process completely. Frustrating, almost to the point of infuriating. My nine year old’s help was the only thing keeping me from blowing my stack. My efficiency suffered immensely, possibly the lowest percentage wise ever.

The gravity ended up some 20+ points lower than my brewing software predicted.

Outside of the milling process, the brew day went well. I am really taking to the Friday after work brew day. It leaves the rest of the weekend open for family time. Enjoy!

Note: I have reached out the the manufacturer of the mill. He has been very helpful in explaining what I should be able to do to stop my issues. More on this next brew day.

Recipe for Kate the Great

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, October 21, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05 (1.8 – since the gravity was so low, should have been over 2), not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.090
IBU: 69.9
Color: 63.9 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 11.8% (probably will be in the 10 range?)
Primary Fermentation: 30 days @68*F, condition at ambient basement temperature for two months

Grain Bill:
19.00# Maris Otter
1.00# Roasted Barley
1.00# Special B
14.0 ounces Red Wheat
12.0 ounces Black Patent
12.0 ounces Carafa III
8.00 ounces Flaked Oats
8.00 ounces Caramel 40L
8.00 ounces Aromatic
4.00 ounces Chocolate (Malt)
4.00 ounces Caramel 120L

Saccharification @156.2*F

Hop Bill:
2.00 ounce 2014 Magnum @75 minutes
1.00 ounce 2015 Cascade @20 minutes
1.00 ounce 2015 Cascade @5 minutes

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 minute of pure oxygen after racking to carboy
8 quarts of rice hulls


  • 2016-10-22: slowly fermenting at 65.8*F.
  • 2016-10-23: morning – medium fermentation @68.1*F.
  • 2016-10-23: afternoon – hard fermentation @72.1*F.
  • 2016-10-24: morning – hard fermentation @72.6*F.
  • 2016-10-24: evening – medium fermentation @67.7*F. Added heat blanket set to 70.0*F.
  • 2016-10-26: reduced heat blanket temperature to 68.0*F.

Useless Fact: Ants can accidentally misinterpret the chemical trails left by other ants and start walking in circles. If too many members of the colony join in, it can kill the whole colony in what is sometimes known as the “Death Spiral”.

Tasted: Smiles IPA

October 16th, 2016 by scot

I continue to stand by my claim that my sense of taste and aroma evolve as more potent version of India Pale Ales (IPAs) hit the craft beer market. This causes my perception of beers gone by to no longer have the same quality of impact. My home brewing is affected by these changed perceptions: I need to increase the hop profile, keeping my senses appetite satiated.

Smiles IPA was my second attempt at a Northeastern style IPA. I used a bit more varied malt profile and multiple type of hops as compared to Used. The hope was to push the hops to 11, allowing my lack of location to the Norther east, to not inhibit my ability to enjoy juicy, ripe IPAs.

The result…

Pours cloudy with a half finger of white, loosely packed bubbled foam. Retention is meager for an IPA. Mildly effervescent.

Big, juicy tropical hops abound.

Taste isn’t as big as the aroma. Tropical fruit is there, less instense. A little of the base malt comes through. Citrus.

A little on the thin side, only carried by the carbonation. Not oily in spite of the amount of oats. Dry finish.

The aroma outshines the taste and, be far, is the best part of this beer. If I was to brew again, I would add more late kettle hops and probably some type of speciality grain to give it more malt character. Too neutral for me.

A better attempt at a Northeastern style IPA than Used. Getting closer but still missing something. Yeast? Hop process? Water profile? Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 93% of the Great Barrier Reef is now damaged by coral bleaching.

New Glarus Brewing Company Visit

October 9th, 2016 by scot

A visit to New Glarus Brewing Company is always a welcome event. Before the kids got active, we made multiple 2+ hour trips to the brewery each year. Typically our weekends are abuzz with trips to the gym, soccer field and/or basketball tournament.

This past Sunday was special: it was my birthday.

The wife asked me multiple times what I wanted to do for my birthday. I gave little input. Finally she mentioned New Glarus but only because she really wanted to go and has been talking about it for a month ago. She is a Spotted Cow super fan.

In the four or more since we have visited New Glarus, the drive hasn’t changed but the brewery has. It is bigger, with multiple additions: one on the west side, one on the south-west and possibly more. One of which is near the bottling/kegging area that includes the ability to can their beers. Probably the biggest change: the common area on the north-east side of the brewery. Now there is more and nicer seating, there are trails in the woods, there are a bunch of partially built structures surrounding the area that look more like bombed out Germany during World War II. Tons of new and interesting sites and places for the kids to play. There was live entertainment, see video above. Sausage on wheels was served from a food chuck. The man serving food had a mustache worthy of 20th century Germany.

They still only have four beers on tap for tasting. The price for the tasting has increased while the serving size has not. My only complaint of the day.

The brewery was crowded with people and dogs but the improved family feel made us feel welcome for a lazy October afternoon. We will be back again, just hopefully not for so long. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: If you go blind in one eye you only lose about one fifth of your vision but all your sense of depth.

Brewed: Baller IPA

October 6th, 2016 by scot
Over an 1.5 inches of trub after my first go around with dry hopping while active fermentation.

Over an 1.5 inches of trub after my first go around with dry hopping while active fermentation.

Home brewing beers that are named after family members has created an issue: now all my kids want a beer named after them. When the first kid (that I named a home brew after) brags to the other kids, a battle for Dad’s attention ensues. Since my oldest was the most exuberant, Baller IPA was named after her. As I mentioned before, when naming a beer I don’t typically give it the name of the real person but something that reminds me of that person. Thus, Baller IPA, is named due to my oldest child’s affinity for basketball. She plays hard, tough and with a determination that continues to soar in recent months.

Formulating Baller IPA Recipe

Baller IPA is another attempt at a Northeast style IPA (earlier attempts: Smiles and Used). The beer actually started out with intentions of being a double IPA, using some Northeast style hopping processes, while resuscitating an old, friendly on. Alas, it did not end up that way from the standpoint of gravity.

Cracking grain for me can be an adventure at times. The drill that drives my grinder doesn’t allow me to crack the grain as finely as I would like; the grinder binds as the drill doesn’t have the stones to push through the grain to the powdery mist I prefer. Instead, I back off a bit, cutting down on efficiency. The drill, mill and myself did not see eye-to-eye on brew day, more so than usual. The drill/mill bound up, multiple times, making me dump out the grain and clean out any traces before “working” again. Half-dozen times later, I was a bit miffed. I opened the mill spacing to allow for a more coarse grind, alleviating pressure on the drill. 45 minutes after starting the milling process, I was done and hating the mill, drill and anything within eyesight.

I knew my efficiency was shot but I did not change the process I was going to use in terms of the hops. I felt that the way I was going to use the hops, the drop in efficiency shouldn’t raise the bitterness to an obnoxious level.

The changes to the hopping process was threefold:

  • No whirlpool hops. Happy with the aroma this adds but, perception is, not enough flavor. Also, was to be a DIPA to start.
  • Add a first wort hop. It has been a long time but feel this process adds a nice flavor profile to the beer with a minimal impact on bitterness.
  • Add the dry hops towards the end of active fermentation. I have been wanting to use this technique for a while. After my mediocre success with Smiles and Used, I thought that trying this technique might up the perceived aroma (never enough).

The aroma jetting out of the carboy, while racking to the bottling, was impressive. I hope that my milling blunder allows this beer to shine through once I begin tasting. Enjoy!

Recipe for Baller IPA

General Information:
Brew Date: Thursday, October 06, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.070
IBU: 136.7
Color: 6.3 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 7.6% (due to poor milling)
Primary Fermentation: 10 days @66*F

Grain Bill:
7.00# Maris Otter
7.00# Pilsner
2.00# Munich
8.00 ounces CaraPils
1.00# Table sugar

Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
3.00 ounce 2014 Simcoe first wort
1.50 ounce 2014 Citra @20 minutes
1.50 ounce 2014 Simcoe @15 minutes
1.50 ounce 2014 Citra @10 minutes
1.50 ounce 2014 Simcoe @5 minutes
4.00 ounce 2014 Citra dry hops 4 days in primary
2.00 ounce 2014 Simcoe dry hops 4 days in primary

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
30 seconds of pure oxygen after racking to carboy
4 quarts of rice hulls


  • 2016-10-09: Hard fermentation @67.8*F.
  • 2016-10-10: Slowing fermentation @66.3*F. Added dry hops to primary: 4.00 ounce 2014 Citra, 2.00 ounce 2014 Simcoe.
  • 2016-10-15: Cold condition @39.0*F.
  • 2016-10-16: Bottled with 3.6 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 28, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: LN.

Useless Fact: Spain leads the world in cork production.

Three Floyds Dark Lord Vertical – 7 years

October 1st, 2016 by scot
Dark Lord lineup for the vertical: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.  Yes, that is my wife in the background with a Dark Lord shirt on.

Dark Lord lineup for the vertical: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Yes, that is my wife in the background with a Dark Lord shirt on.

2010 was my first Dark Lord Day. It was an unbelievable experience. Mayhem ruled the day. Pushing, shoving, and trickery were all on hand to help an individual get beers. In that day gone by, one person could use two tickets and each ticket warranted eight bottles of Dark Lord at $15 each; as long as there was enough beer in the first-come, first-serve process. I remember people showing up without tickets in case there was still Dark Lord left after a certain time as it was opened up to walk ups. I ended up with 16 bottles of green waxed Dark Lord, trading many of those bottles away for beers long forgotten.

Fast forward to 2016. The event is bigger: more bands, more people, short release barrel variants, and more drunks, but, the chaos and my love for the event (I didn’t bitch about 2016, I was too tired) has faded.

Needless to say, I haven’t traded nor drank many of the Dark Lords in the last 2 to 3 years. But, I have wanted to do a vertical with the Thursday Night Beer Club (TNBC) for quite some time. The biggest challenge was getting the guys together, with the beer and designated drivers for everyone. No sleeping at my house.

Participant 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Rich 6 7 2 3 1 5 4
Steve 5 7 6 2 1 3 4
Pat 6 4 3 1 2 5 7
Miles 6 5 3 1 2 4 7
Drew 4 7 6 1 2 3 5
Andy 7 5 2 1 4 3 6
Scot 6 4 2 1 3 5 7
John 7 4 3 1 2 6 5
Totals 47 (7) 43 (5) 27 (3) 11 (1) 17 (2) 34 (4) 45 (6)
Average 5.873 5.375 3.375 1.375 2.125 4.250 5.625

I came up with the idea of a midday get together, on a Saturday, with food shared by everyone, including the wife, mistresses and kids. We also needed to get at least seven guys. Chuck and Matt, TNBC guys, couldn’t make it, that means we needed three other participants besides Rich, Steve, Pat and myself. Ask thy friends and neighbors. We landed Miles, Drew and Andy. John, Rich’s middle son, decided to join us as well. The main course was brawts from the local meat market. The appetizers, side dishes and desserts were supplied by everyone that attended.

three floyd dark lord 2 ounce vertical pours

Pat brought along some two ounce plastic cups that I will dub the brightest idea of the evening. It made the seven pours easy, no over pours. It made clean-up a cinch, throw them out. And, it made tastings for others and other beers flow smoothly, no need to clean glasses.

Each person started with their seven pours, one for each year, deciding on the best way that suited them to taste the vertical. Most either started at ’10 and went up or started at ’16 and went down. I chose the latter.

Tasting in such a manner gave me the ability to see how the beer has developed as it has aged. It also allowed me to see how the sweetness really mellows. Dark fruits develop by the middle years, first raisins then changing over to prunes. Coffee was most prevalent in the 2015 bottle, while disappearing in the 2014 and later.

Based on the ratings, see table above, I would say to not drink Dark Lord young, giving it at least two years. I would also say to not go past five years of aging too: the sweet spot, for the group, was by far, the 2012 – 2014 versions. With 2013 and 2014 way out ahead as the favorites. My word of advice: don’t trade away the cellar or, if you are into purchasing, don’t waste large sums of cash on really old (6+ years) Dark Lord.

By the end of the evening, the process of killing a bottle got applause for whomever bit the bullet, with the lowest rated bottles drawing the biggest praises.

Overall, the company, catching up with old friends, and the typical guy banter was more enjoyable than the Dark Lord. I would do it again, especially if the entire TNBC crew could be there. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: A nepheligenous is someone filling a room with tobacco smoke.

Brewed: LaLa Barleywine

September 4th, 2016 by scot
Preparing to add 60 seconds of oxygen to LaLa wort, post boil.

Preparing to add 60 seconds of oxygen to LaLa wort, post boil.

Requests for a new home brew don’t happen often. Heck, even my wife only requests for the same two beers over and over: Honey Pot Pale Ale and Grass Cutter. Maybe that should tell me something about how my home brews are perceived and/or my home brewing abilities.

Nonetheless, a request did come in the shape of my cousin Ron while chatting at this summers’ family reunion. He heard me say “La”. He asked me to say it again, mentioning that it had been a long time since he had heard someone call his Mother “La”. Of course she is my aunt and my Dad’s twin sister. Her real name is Catheline. “La” came about when my Dad was little and did not have the ability to say Catheline. Instead, he could say “La La”. Somehow it stuck. Ever since I am able to remember, we referred to Ron’s mom as Aunt La.

I not going to bore with more family details but let’s just say Aunt La, a damn hip and cool lady, has had a large helping of misfortune in her life. Ronny asked if I could make a beer for the 2nd annual New Year’s day get together, at my house, to honor his Mom. Of course I couldn’t say no, nor did I want to.

Now I had to determine the beer style and recipe that is fitting of Aunt La. A strong beer with the potential for multiple ways (bourbon soaked oak chips, large dry hop and possibly some with a combination of both) of changing the final product seemed to be the best route to go.

In order to brew up a large beer I had to get one more piece of brewing equipment that I have wanted for a long time and has held me back from brewing high gravity beers: pure oxygen. It has been at least a couple of years since I brewed a high gravity beer for the simple reason of my hyper-sensitivity to alcohol flavors in beer. The process of shaking the carboy only has lead me to believe that mine have that off-flavor. I was waiting for a time that I could get the necessary equipment and the wife wouldn’t bat an eye. Paying homage to my Aunt was an easy win.

Researching award winning barleywines and professional clone recipes, I ended up with what is below. The hope is there that everyone will taste and enjoy this beer that is truly created to represent Aunt La in liquid form. Enjoy!

LaLa Barleywine

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, September 04, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05 (2), not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.088
IBU: 31.5
Color: 6.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 180
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.2%
Primary Fermentation: 30 days @68*F, condition at ambient basement temperature for two months

Grain Bill:
10.50# 2 Row
9.50# Pilsner
0.50# Caramel 60L
0.50# Caramel 80L
0.50# Dextrapils

Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
3.00 ounce 2014 Magnum @90 minutes
1.00 ounce 2015 Cascade @5 minutes

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 minute of pure oxygen after racking to carboy


  • 2016-09-04: @1600 the temperature was @83.8*F, placed on concrete basement floor.
  • 2016-09-05: @0800 the temperature was @68*F, pitched yeast
  • 2016-09-05: @2100, fermentation showing good signs.
  • 2016-09-06: @71.3*F, strong fermentation.
  • 2016-09-06: @67.2*F, added heat @69*F.
  • 2016-09-14: Took of heat. Left at ambient basement temperature.

Useless Fact: The $99 Now watch, made by designer Micah Davis, doesn’t have a clock face that tells time, it literally just says “NOW.”

Brewed: Honey Pot Pale Ale – Cascade Wet Hop

September 2nd, 2016 by scot
2016 Cascade hop harvest.

2016 Cascade hop harvest.

I have brewed with home grown hops in the past. I didn’t really care for the finished product, so much so that I didn’t even make an entry into the blog. I recall heaps of vegetal taste that had been extracted into the beer. Unpleasant at best.

That first, and only attempt, I used the hops as late kettle additions: 20, 10 and 1 minute. I wanted to extract cascade flavor and aroma. Unfortunately, I only remember the greenness. That one brew has scared me away from using my home grown hops since.

In the meantime, I have dug up two of the plants (Mt. Hood and Centennial) leaving me with Cascade and Willamette. The two plants I dug up were do to low yield due to poor yard placement. The remaining two have produced okay crops but I have always come up with a reason or three, to the wife and quietly to myself, on why I didn’t have time and/or couldn’t use the hops in a particular season.

This season I noticed that I was getting a good crop of both Cascade and Willamette. I had to do something with those hops. I needed to gain merit with my wife for not wanting to dig up the last two plants. She would replace them with flowers in a heart beat.

What to brew and how to use the hops were my biggest and only questions. Trying to coordinate an optimal time to pick and have time to brew was up there as well.

Countless of hours of thinking about brewing while on one of my two daily walks yielded:

  1. Brew a beer my wife likes: honey pot pale ale.
  2. Incorporate the hops as a whirlpool addition to the wife beer: whirlpool hops.
  3. Need time: Labor day weekend.

I had come up with the perfect plan. Now I only had to perform. Never an issue.

2016 Willamette hop harvest.

2016 Willamette hop harvest.

On brew day, I picked the Cascade and Willamette hops. The amount of Cascade filled a 6 gallon bucket half way. I have no idea how much it weighed but I know it was a shit-ton of hops. The Cascade was full of hop oils and huge on aroma: my hands were green but had the aroma of fresh cascade hops. Better than any crop previously. Knowing that wet hopping with that amount of hops would soak up huge amounts of wort, I decided to not use the Willamette. RIP Willamette. It was discarded. Next year I will plan Labor day weekend as a double brew weekend to use up all the home grown hops. The second beer I would brew: a saison, using the Willamette hops late in the boil and/or as a whirlpool hop.

If the beer tastes half as good as it smelled while brewing, this will be a winner, even with the wife. Enjoy!

Honey Pot Pale Ale

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, September 02, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.050
IBU: 31.5
Color: 6.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.2%
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
6.50# 2 Row
0.50# Caramel 40L
0.50# Honey Malt
2.50# Virginia Orange Blossom Honey

Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce 2014 Magnum @60 minutes
1.00 ounce 2015 Cascade @10 minutes

1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2016-09-03: @0700 the temperature was at 68*F, pitched yeast
  • 2016-09-04: @69*F, fermenting well.
  • 2016-09-06: Fermentation slowing, @67*F, add heat @ 68*F.
  • 2016-09-08: Took of heat. Left at ambient basement temperature.
  • 2016-09-17: Bottled with 3.5 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 24, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: HPW.

Useless Fact: Trees “talk” by exchanging chemicals. They communicate through underground fungi, and when they can recognize their relatives, they share nutrients. Basically, tree “families” help each other out.

Brewed: Smiles IPA

August 27th, 2016 by scot

smiles ipa grain bed

Home brewing brings a smile to my face. It is a great way to relax, taking my mind off my job and other normal life issues. I get consumed by the process. I need to make sure that everything is set before starting, while trying to clean and put away throughout to unsure a neat and clean working space.

Therefore, that should be enough to want to make an India Pale Ale (IPA) named Smiles IPA. I have another and much more important reason. Kaila.

Kaila is my 12 year old daughter that is full of smiles, 24/7. When she greets you, when she tying her shoe or while playing sports, she always has the most friendly and inviting smiles to share with one and all. Her smile is addicting, always helping me through a tough day or even leaving the source of the bad day behind.

She deserved a beer named after her. Smiles IPA was born.

In using Galaxy, Simcoe and Cascade hops, my goal was to capture the essence of how Kaila makes everyone feel; each of these hops has always struck me as a inviting and enjoyable.

I hope I do Kaila justice with this beer. If I do, I will be brewing it again and will have some ready for the day that that 12 turns into a 21. Crap, don’t rush life. Enjoy!


General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, August 27, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-04
Yeast Starter: N/A
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.045
Final Gravity: ?
IBU: 43.2
Color: 4.2 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.7%
Primary Fermentation: start @66*F

Grain Bill:
9.00# Maris Otter
1.50# Oats

Saccharification @152.6*F

Hop Bill:
0.75 ounce Magnum @60 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Simcoe @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Cascade @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @whirlpool 20 minutes @160*
1.00 ounce Simcoe @whirlpool 20 minutes @160*
1.00 ounce Cascade @whirlpool 20 minutes @160*
2.00 ounce Galaxy @dry hop 4 days
2.00 ounce Simcoe @dry hop 4 days
2.00 ounce Cascade @dry hop 4 days

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
4.0 quarts rice hulls


  • 2016-08-28: @62*F, slow start to fermentation.
  • 2016-08-29: @69.1*F, good fermentation.
  • 2016-08-30: @67.8*F, put on heat at 69*F to finish fermentation.
  • 2016-09-03: Took off heat.
  • 2016-09-10: Dry hopped, 3.0 ounces 2014 Galaxy, 2.0 ounces 2014 Simcoe.
  • 2016-09-14: Bottled with 4.0 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 26, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: K.
  • 2016-10-16: Tasted.

Useless Fact: If Micheal Phelps were a country, he’d rank no. 35 on the all-time Olympic gold medal list, ahead of 97 other nations.

Tasted: Leaner Saison (c)

August 26th, 2016 by scot

leaner saison c pour

Look: Pours clear. Pale straw to pale gold in color. Half a glass of pristine, white foam. Retention is average; bubbles become quite large. Lacing exists but all falls back to liquid level.

Aroma: A good mix of scents meet the nose. Ripe tropical fruits, light spice with pear and gentle banana, seemingly from the yeast. Light grainy sweetness.

Taste: Spice, sweet grain and yeast characteristics up front. The middle to the end builds the tropical fruit element, lingering into the finish. No real bitterness but lingering pepper.

Drinkability: Medium body. Big carbonation. Crisp. Clean. Dry.

Overall: I don’t why I have gone so long without brewing a saison. Reminds me that it is one of my favorite styles. I have been blinded by the hop. Easy to drink. Will make again.

I might step this one up with a bit more hops: dry hop? I will have to brew saisons on a more regular basis. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: An average person’s yearly fast food intake will contain 12 pubic hairs.

A Barrel Odyssey

August 24th, 2016 by Matt Schreiner

So I decided a few weeks ago to try to drink as many barrel aged beers that I had in my collection as I could. I think I got about nine days in a row drinking at least one before I punked out, but I had another two a few days after that, and the last one was drank today.

I enjoy quite a number of barrel aged beers for many of the same reasons most of us do: the barrel imparts interesting flavors to some of our favorite base beers, they have higher ABVs than a lot of other beers, and there’s the feeling that you’re drinking something special, especially if it’s a beer that only comes out once a year and thus has more of a collector’s appeal.

However, I worry that a lot of these barrel aged beers are just a gimmick, and they’re really not contributing anything to the beer world. But that’s a topic that can be debated at another time.

Anyways, here’s my thoughts on the ones I have drunk recently, in order of consumption, with the brewer’s description in quotes.

1) VLAD THE CONQUISTADOR (Hailstorm Brewing) – “bourbon barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout brewed with chiles, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, and agave”. I drank the 2015 version because I heard the 2016 version was coming out. I still have a tequila barrel aged version that I’m going to let sit another month or so. I found this one really well balanced – all the flavors came out, but nothing overpowered anything else, and the barrel presence helped add yet another layer to it. My fear with beers with peppers of any kind is that they’re going to be too spicy, but letting this one sit for almost nine months helped calm any heat down. It wasn’t oily like some stouts, and it was a very easier drinker with a cigar by the fire pit. I look forward to this year’s version.
OVERALL RATING (out of 5): 4.5

2) BLUEGRASS BILLIONARE (Clown Shoes) – “English Style Barleywine Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels”. Another one by the fire pit with a cigar (it was one of those weekends). It had the malty characteristics I’ve come to expect from a good barleywine, but the barrel asserted itself quite well. It was extremely smooth but there was a subtle alcohol burn that hid itself on the back end. I’ll probably grab another one next year, unless I happen to come across one more this year, which I would age just to see what happens. OVERALL RATING: 4.37

3) STICKEE MONKEE (Firestone Walker Brewing) – “Barrel Aged Central Coast Quad”. I shared the 2016 vintage with my sister in law’s boyfriend as a house warming drink for our first visit to their new apartment (glad I did – he shared his bottle of Last Snow from Funky Buddha with me in return). I liked this one a LOT. I’m lucky enough that my favorite beer store owner gets Firestone’s barrel aged stuff, and he always puts one of each on the side for me. I enjoy quads, and in fact one of the first beers that really excited me about craft was Boulevard’s Barrel Aged Quad, so I was looking forward to this one. It was dark brown with some sediment, strong barrel and molasses scents and flavor, accompanied by some mild boozy tanginess.  This was the first time I had this one, and I look forward to trying this again next year.                                                   OVERALL RATING: 4.59

4) FARMER’S RESERVE CITRUS (Almanac Beer Co.) – “Ale brewed with citrons and oranges and aged in wine barrels”. I had this for the first time last year and reviewed it then. As a wild ale, it had the right amount of funk, and it more than lived up to the “citrus” in the title. It was tangy and fruity with a strong zesty aftertaste. I’m not quite sure what the wine barrels added, but the overall feeling I have about this beer was summed up in one word: FUN. I’ll probably buy a bottle of this every time I see it, especially if it’s summer, as it’s a great sipper on a warm day.  Note: I actually drank it this time from a champagne flute, and I think that helped bring out a lot of the scents and flavors.   OVERALL RATING: 4.31

5) JACKIE O’S BOURBON BARREL DARK APPARITION (Jackie O’s) – “Stout brewed with brown sugar & aged in bourbon barrels”. This was the second time I tried it, and two notes regarding that –  a) Mr Webmaster Scot shared one with me the first time I had it, and as much as I loved it then, I loved it even more this time, and      b) the aforementioned sister in law’s boyfriend got this one in a trade and just gave me the bottle straight up when I mentioned how much I loved it. This is why I always try to share good stuff with him when he comes over here.                                                                 Anyway, the only thing I changed on my first rating with the second bottle was bumping up rating on the smell. It’s one of the best looking stouts I’ve ever had-mild lacing is always present, there’s healthy activity on each drink, and you can see particulates hanging out even with the extreme darkness. It’s sweet and malty smelling, but the barrel is hiding just below that. It’s a perfectly tasting beer – all the qualities of a great stout are there, and then that barrel comes in and punches it up just a notch to the point that it fills the mouth with vibrancy. The only complaint I have about it is the slight oily feel. I’ll drink this thing any chance I get, especially since Jackie O’s isn’t distributed in our area.                                                                         OVERALL RATING: 4.71

6) JAMES BEAN (Allagash Brewing Company) – “ale aged in bourbon barrels with cold brewed coffee”. I shared this one with the sister in law’s boyfriend when he came over (told you), and I’m glad I did, as I don’t think I could have handled the entire 750 ml bottle myself. It was what you’d want from a tripel (which is what it actually is categorized as), but there was too much coffee presence on it for me to think it was really good.                                                     OVERALL RATING: 4.24

7) BLACK BUTTE XVII (Deschutes Brewery) – “27th Birthday Reserve Ale brewed with rose water with 50% aged in bourbon barrels blended with apricot puree, cocoa nibs, and pomegranate molasses”. That’s a mouthful, and so is this beer. I had it when it came out last year, and I gave it a 4.3 rating. It came across as thin then, but aging one a year helped give it more body. It smelled a lot better this year – more sweetness and barrel were present. It had a roasty and sweet taste with a boozy buzz from the barrel on the back end. I get the cocoa and molasses, but I couldn’t tell you how much of the fruitiness I tasted was from apricot or pomegranate, since I really don’t know either of them. Only complaint I had was the slightly oily feel.                                                                     OVERALL RATING: 4.46

8) RODENBACH GRAND CRU (Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V.) – “Ale aged in oak foeders – approx. 1/3rd young ale and 2/3rd two year old matured ale”. I wanted to try something from Rodenbach because of their reputation, and I’m glad this was my introduction to them. It had a cloudy tannish red look with good carb and slight lacing. It smelled fruity and floral with a barrel presence. The first word that came to mind when tasting it was sharp, followed by bubbly and tangy. It was tart with mild booziness, and it kept my mouth watering between drinks. While it was very good, I’m not sure I’ll buy another one of it due to the price point, however I’ll still pick up anything this brewery makes that I haven’t tried yet.   OVERALL RATING: 4.42

9) PUMP[KY]N (Avery Brewing Company) – “Bourbon barrel aged pumpkin porter, spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, and aged in fresh Bourbon barrels for 6 months”. I bought a couple bottles of this one last year, had one then and aged the rest. My wife loves pumpkin beers, and she REALLY loves this one. I have to agree with her – it almost drinks like a brandy or a port more than a beer. It’s super sweet with big pumpkin flavor and a heavy alcohol flavor. If anything, that’s my one complaint about Avery’s barrel aged beers – the ABV is too much. Sometimes I wonder if their stuff would taste even better if they lowered the alcohol content. I mentioned when reviewing it last year that I hoped aging some would bring that booze buzz down, and it definitely did. I will buy more of this one for sure, even if the price point is, like most Avery barrel aged 12 oz bottles, way too high.                                                     OVERALL RATING: 4.5

10) BOURBON BARREL AGED CHOCOLATE BARLEYWINE (Moody Tongue) – pretty much self explanatory by the title. Simple review: too much chocolate, not enough barrel or barley wine. I’m glad I bought a second, as I’m going to let it age and see if the chocolate mellows out a bit. For that reason, I have not yet rated it.

11) TART NOIRE (Paradox Beer Company) – “Dark Farmhouse Ale brewed with grape must aged in oak wine barrels”. I’ll admit I maybe messed up the bottle because I stored it in my fridge sideways instead of straight up as instructed on the label. There was a ton of sediment stuck to the bottom which I got off by pouring some back in and giving it a good swirl. It was almost like a shake at that point. It wasn’t a bad beer, but I wasn’t quite sure what they were going for. I wasn’t impressed with the smell or feel of it. Looked and tasted okay, but I’m probably not going to pick up anything else from the brewery in the future.                                                             OVERALL RATING: 3.93

12) GOOD FIEND (Pipeworks Brewing Co. with Parce Rum) – “Imperial Stout brewed with cocao nibs, vanilla beans and raspberries aged in Parce rum barrels”. First thing I have to say is Pipeworks is my favorite brewery, bar none, so maybe I’m a bit biased. But other than the Dark Apparition, this was the best of the bunch. It’s aged in rum barrels, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a rum barrel aged beer before, so it’s different. There’s a definite boozy sense to it imparted by the barrel, very present on the smell, but not as much on the taste-for a thirteen percent, it’s hidden rather well. The beer is very nice looking – dark brown with tannish edges, and a pretty healthy and constant lacing. Like I said, the barrel nature is the first thing that pops up on the smell, but there’s also chocolate and raspberry there. Upon drinking it, you’re hit with a combination of things: the roastiness you expect from a stout, the sweet chocolate flavor, the tartness of the raspberry, and the spicy booziness of the rum barrel. It’s a little oily, but with the great balance this has, I’m willing to overlook it. I like that Pipeworks rarely barrel ages stuff, so when they do, I look forward to it a lot. And this one did NOT disappoint.                                                 OVERALL RATING: 4.67

So that’s that. Thank you for reading, and may you not drink shitty beers!

writer’s note: no barrels were harmed in the making of these beers. I hope.

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