Archive for September, 2009

Weekly Beer Store Visit Conundrum

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

beer store

Yes, I go to the beer store every Wednesday like most people attend church on Sunday morning. It is my break in the week that I really look forward to and can’t wait to find what liquid goodness is on the docket for the current trip. But as most of us, I am feeling the tightening grip of the economy.

No, I won’t stop going and letting everyone know what new refreshments can be had each week, I just won’t be actually buying. nike zoom hyperrev Caveat: something rare or something that I have been anticipating.

With the Great Lakes Brew Fest, Two Beer Dudes Oktoberfest site kickoff party, and a trip to Surly Brewing for Darkness on the horizon, I can’t afford to waste my hard earned pennies.

What was new this week:

  • Sprecher Brewing Oktoberfest
  • Sprecher Brewing Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale
  • Sprecher Brewing Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout
  • Souther Tier Pumpking
  • Three Floyds Robert the Bruce

It was really tough not to pick up Robert the Bruce as I would really like to try that one. About as close as I think I will get to detoxing as I started to get the shakes as I left the beer store empty handed.

Only three more days until Great Lakes Brew Fest. Love that feeling of anticipation. Enjoy!

Joined Local Brewing Club

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

old time brewing scene

In my quest to brew my first beer, I have been scouring the internet for a cornucopia of brewing knowledge. No matter how many online radio shows or articles I listen to, it is nothing like actually brewing and/or talking to live people who are answering your question(s) directly. Hence my bug to brew has grown even more and my search for a local brew shop upped in precedence.

So this past weekend I decided to see what was in the area. I emailed several different stores and even brewing clubs with not much reaction. Finally, I received a quick reply from a home brewing club right out of Aurora, IL: Headhunters Brewing Club. They are close, seem super nice, and their next monthly meeting is this Friday, September 18th. The guys I talked to via email: Jason and Tom, let me know more about the club, what they are about, nike lebron 11 and even the fact that they have a mailing list for asking questions.

They invited me to the meeting on Friday and said they are more than happy to take a look at my 12 year old, hand-me-down, brewing equipment. Yes, I am very excited because, after this meeting, the only thing left for me to do will get enough bombers to fill up when I brew. My wife is getting my brew kettle today on her lunch hour. She is awesome 😀 Enjoy!

Saturday Get Together Ends In Darkness

Monday, September 14th, 2009
American craft beer lovers: Ed, me, Shawn, Mark, and Jon

American craft beer lovers: Ed, me, Shawn, Mark, and Jon

Saturday’s get together was a really good time for all: beer drinkers, spouses, and kids alike. The burgers, hot dogs, brats, and chicken on the grill hit the entire gambit of what anyone would like. The edible waffle bowls filled with ice cream was a perfect after dinner touch that kids and adults both enjoyed. The games of bags were fun, especially if you won. Thank you Mark and Carmen for opening your house to us all.

Each of the guys brought their own touch to the party in terms of beverages. West Coast IPA by Green Flash Brewing Company, Hop Whore by Tyranena Brewing Company, Marsala Mama by Townhall Brewing, and Collaborative Evil by Flossmoor Station Brewing Co. were all beers that everyone tried. There was nike kobe 9 even some Pabst Blue Ribbon. 🙂 My favorite of these beers was Hop Whore. It is a mighty good Imperial IPA that finishes smooth with no alcohol presence. Both Marsala Mama and Collaborative Evil were in bombers that had been shipped from Minnesota and sat for a good 7 to 10 days. I don’t know if this had anything to do with my experience, but neither lived up to the hype. We all agreed.

Yeah, Darkness by Surly Brewing Company is that damn good!

Yeah, Darkness by Surly Brewing Company is that damn good!

During the evening Ed went around to each of us and let us know that his wife is pregnant with their first child. A very special occasion. Congratulations! I am excited for him and his wife as he will make a great father and loves kids. In honor of the news, Mark went down into the cellar and and broke out a bottle of Darkness by Surly Brewing Company.

Darkness, oh sweet Darkness. That is one fine beer. We had 2008 at cellar temperature. So smooth, so fine, so damn wonderful to all of the senses. This beer is the best Stout I have had to date. I will be making the trek up to Minnesota in a month with Mark to get some for myself.

Mark's ginormous and awesome craft beer collection.

Mark's ginormous and awesome craft beer collection.

Speaking of Mark’s cellar: what a wonderful site for any American craft beer lover. It is truly a great collection. There easily had to be 125 bottles (mainly bombers) nike kobe 9 elite gs of hard to get and highly sought after beers. I thought I was in a beer museum or beer heaven; maybe both. He has beers that are numbered and one really rare one in which only 30 or so bottles were every created. You could easily say it was a celebrity list of beers. Next time I am over I will take my shoes off before entering the sacred cellar and never look a beer straight in the eye. The best thing about all these beers: Mark wants to share and enjoy with the group. That is awesome and greatly appreciated.

I even got an invite to the Tuesday Night Beer Club (TNBC) a once a month get together by Ed, Mark, Shawn for sharing good American craft beer. From what I understand the group is growing too. More to come as I find out the details. Enjoy!

Sun, Fun, and Some Good Brews

Saturday, September 12th, 2009
Hop Whore by Tyranena Brewing Co.

Hop Whore by Tyranena Brewing Co.

Beautiful weekends in the late summer in Chicagoland are something to be enjoyed outside, with friends, and, of course, with a few awesome American craft beers. That’s exactly what the family will be doing today, Saturday. We will be heading over to Mark’s house with appearances from Ed and Shawn. All four of us are craft beer guys with myself probably being the biggest minnow of the group. I will have to prove myself worthy.

I don’t know which beers everyone will be bringing to share but I look forward to some PA beers that Ed purchased on a recent trip out there. So I know that Ed will bringing some to share. nike cortez femmes Mark has a cellared beer collection to rival many with easily over 100 beers ageing in the depths of his cement cellar. Just witnessing the collection will be good enough for me. Shawn I don’t know that well, but if he hangs out with Ed and Mark he should be a good guy. I am sure the good weather and beer will help us get acquainted.

I plan on bringing some Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale and some Tyranena Brewing Hop Whore. I am looking forward to the other beers that will be brought over, shared, and appreciated. Enjoy!

Brewing Equipment in Hand

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Brewing equipment is essential if you want to brew beer. That simple.

question_mark_man

How do you know which kit is right for you? How do you know if you like brewing? Why should I buy the best kit if I don’t like it or am I not good at it? Glass or plastic carboys? Which type of yeast? Do I need a yeast starter? Will it help my brew to do a starter? What is the best way to sanitize? Which type of beer to brew? What is going to go wrong? What is going to go right? What will I forget? Where do I really look for the best information?

These are all questions I have asked over the past several months as I have stepped into the world of brewing beer. No, I haven’t brewed yet. I am much to anal to jump into something. nike cortez Everything has to be calculated and planned, checked and re-checked, then, and only then, will I throw all caution to the wind. 😉

I recently scored my brewing kit for a total of $0. Yes, that is right. My brothers-in-law tried some 12 years ago or so to brew beer. They only tried once, didn’t like it, so they quit and the equipment has been in my mother-in-laws basement for the duration.

A lot of the stuff is filthy to say the least. There are white marks inside the carboys from not being cleaned. The clear plastic hose to syphon beer into the bottles was never cleaned and is all sticky. If I am painting the picture correctly, everything is dirty. I have done an initial cleaning of the equipment but I have to figure out if some stuff is salvageable and if there are some missing parts. Even if there aren’t, I realize this is the one time my wife will allow me to purchase brewing equipment. I have to make use of this situation to its fullest.

I hope to continue my brewing education via a brewing book I have, listening to pod casts, and lurking in brewing forums. If all goes well, I plan on entering the fermented brotherhood sometime in October. Enjoy!

Beer Economics

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Recently I had an invite to go up to Darkness Days at Surly Brewing up in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. The event is the weekend of October 23rd and the beer is released on Saturday, October 24th. They only release the stuff at Darkness Days and it sells out quickly. Too quickly. Bombers can be purchased for $15 (unless they raised the price).

Surly Brewing Co. Darkness 2009 label.

Surly Brewing Co. Darkness 2009 label.

In order to get this beer we would have to drive some eight hours each way, get a hotel for the night, party on Friday and Saturday, eat, and purchase as many bottles as allotted. Doing some quick calculations that is about $125 for two or more bottles of Darkness. I can’t make the ends meet financially to meet those requirements. My loss or is it?

More and more beers are coming out that are low run, single batch, new jordan hyped up beers that run at least $12 for a bomber. Might not sound like a ton of money but a bomber is less than two beers. When I beer I purchase costs more in bottle form than something I would purchase on tap at a bar, I start to wonder about the financial future of specialty beers.

Rasputin XII came out earlier this year and with tax was about $24 for a bottle in my area. That is only 16.7 oz or so. Yes, I did buy it. I am currently cellaring the beer but I probably won’t buy it again in the future, no matter how good it is. I only have so much to go around.

If you make good beer it seems like people will pay the price in more than one way. The economics of the country have to play a part in the ability of these breweries to sell high end beers. Their buying public has had to shrink and I am sure there are others, like me, who will buy the beer once as a novelty.

dollar signs around the world for beer

I don’t wish anything bad on American craft beer brewers. I just hope they don’t rely on these special beers to make themselves profitable only to have sales fall off and the survivability of the brewery be in question.

Why not brew more small beers that the masses can enjoy instead of some beer geeks? I think that answer is simple. The beer geeks, despite economic conditions, are a growing fad in which the high gravity, high alcohol, and big beers are good sellers. Does anyone remember the cigar craze of the 90s?

That all said, the fad will pass and the true American craft beer drinkers will be left standing when the dust settles and breweries will concentrate on producing more “small” beers for guys with thinner wallets. Enjoy!

Wednesday, Time for Beer Store

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
Two scores for the week: Ichabod by New Holland and Hop Whore by Tyranena

Two scores for the week: Ichabod by New Holland and Hop Whore by Tyranena

Oh, how I could barely wait for another Wednesday afternoon for my weekly beer store visit. I just had a big haul on Labor Day with a road trip up to Madison, WI and spent more than I anticipated (isn’t that the way it always ends up?). I knew I had to keep things to a minimum or I would hear it from the boss later at home.

With that in mind and all the new selections this week, match supreme txt femmes my mind started to race as my knees were week from brew overload, I had to choose something. I hate pressure. 🙂

So with little hesitation I selected Ichabod by New Holland Brewing Company and Hop Whore by Tyranena Brewing Company.

Strangely enough, before I went to the store, I was on New Holland’s website checking out their seasonal brews. I noticed Ichabod and wondered why it wasn’t on the final list for Two Beer Dudes Oktoberfest. I thought the name was more interesting than anything and a beer with a headless man riding a horse on the label; how could I pass it up?

Hop Whore was a pseudo throw in as I have heard it is a good beer and it is only a four pack. The bright yellow, cardboard case sticks out like a sore thumb. I wanted to make it feel loved and wanted, as well as equal out the load: one package in each hand.

So another beer for Oktoberfest and another big Imperial IPA for me. Enjoy!

Oktoberfest Haul from Star Liquor

Monday, September 7th, 2009
Huge haul of Oktoberfest/Marzen and Pumpkin beers from Star Liquor in Madison, WI

Huge haul of Oktoberfest/Marzen and Pumpkin beers from Star Liquor in Madison, WI

The Inagural Two Beer Dudes Oktoberfest is still over a month away but today marked a great chance to cruise up to Madison, WI, visit Star Liquor, and pick up some Oktoberfest and Marzen brews that we don’t get in Illinois.

I had been in contact a couple of times during the week with Adam, match supreme prem the stores general manager, to make sure they would be open and that this weekend would be a good time to pick up some beers. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance and my wife would shoot me if we made the 140 minute drive up to Madison for “nothing.”

Not only did I pick up eight different Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers but some bigger breweries that I can’t get, namely Stone Brewing Company and Oskar Blues Grill & Brew. I really enjoyed Gordon and Dales Pale Ale from Oskar Blues earlier this summer, so I went for a refill on both. As for Stone, I have never had their beers but have heard some really good things, so I grabbed Arrogant Bastard Ale and Ruination IPA.

At this point, with my eight other beers, I decided it was time to clear the tab. Headed out to the car where my wife met me and asked if I had also purchased some New Glarus Brewing Company Spotted Cow. Back into the store for a few different brands for the wife and another one or two for myself. Sometimes it really helps to have a wife that enjoys American craft beer too.

Here is a list of the beers that I picked up for Oktoberfest:

After picking up this haul of beer from Star Liquor I am even more stoked for Oktoberfest Two Beer Dudes style. Enjoy!

Lazy Late Summer Days Good For Beer

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

lazy summer day

I am the first to admit that rating and reviewing beer can be fun but I sometimes cringe at the fact of drinking a new beer, knowing that I just can’t enjoy it. Sometimes it is just good fun to pull a beer out of the fridge, stare it in the face and know that you are going to enjoy it soon, no strings attached.

Today, happens to be one of those days for me. I have been reviewing beer all weekend and it is time to take a break. The wife is gone with the kids, they will be home for a friendly get together later, free run 6 v2 femmes so why not session a few beers, catch a smooth buzz, and get ready for cookout in my own way? 🙂

Five beers into my preparation my feet are midly starting to tingle (really enjoy that feeling). I have five didn’t bombers of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in the fridge to enjoy with one of the invitees that enjoys American craft beer. My only apprehension: he doesn’t like “funky” beers. If you have ever had a beer from Jolly Pumpkin you know that they brew with wild yeast strains and usually age everything in some type of oak barrel.

I personally don’t know if Jolly Pumpkin is a great brewery, I just know they make some interesting brews that ignite my interest. How will someone that doesn’t like IPAs enjoy a funky beer? I can only guess. I hope that he goes along with the ride and doesn’t ruin the cool buzz I have to this point. Enjoy!

Friday Beer Store Visit Scores Hoppin Frog Double Pumpkin Ale

Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale, some yummy, guilty, drinkable pleasure!

Hoppin' Frog Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale, some yummy, guilty, drinkable pleasure!

The beer store across the road from work is my usual Wednesday afternoon break location but I had need to stop by on Friday so that I could show Travis (beer buyer for the store) the final beer selection for Two Beer Dudes Inaugural Oktoberfest. I wanted to show Travis to make sure the beers that I thought attendees could purchase in our area, could actually be found and were produced this year.

Good news, free run 6 femmes we only had one causality from the list when the original list had some 28 beers on it. That’s a damn fine ratio.

Now the real score of the afternoon was being able to get my hands on three bombers of Double Pumpkin Ale by Hoppin Frog. Hoppin Frog is a little bitty place in Ohio and doesn’t make a ton of beer. Travis mentioned that the guy who distributes for them does so out of his car. 😀 Anywho, they only sent 25 cases of this pumpkin goodness to the Northern Illinois area. I believe the beer store only had one, so getting three bombers of the twelve is a huge score towards the beer selection at Oktoberfest. Enjoy!

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