Archive for January, 2012

Zombie Dust Overload

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Zombie Dust has quickly gained a following as most American craft beers from Three Floyds Brewing Company. I don’t remember the exact timing of the original release but it only became available in bottle format six months or so ago.

The original release in bottles made it to local stores but the subsequent releases, if they made it to beer stores, have been short lived, gobbled up like turkey on Thanksgiving Day. The last release or two has only been at the brewery (to my knowledge) only.

The one that occurred this week was no different. The release started on Thursday and ran into Friday. We called the brewery on Thursday evening and we were told they sold out for the day but more would be available on Friday. How could I get some on a day I was scheduled to work?

In comes the wife. She quickly offered to go to the brewery, drive the hour, wait in line, and bring back a case of the beverage. Hours later, she was on her way back with six cases. From the various stories that others had that she spoke to, it seems like people use many different excuses to not be at work so they could get “their” share of Zombie Dust.

I have no need for that much ZD. I sold a case to Rich, now I only have to find buyers for a few more. I figure two cases for me will be plenty. Anyone want some? Enjoy!

Useless Fact: There are more beetles on Earth than any other living creature. The number of species alone is nearly a quarter-million (the United States has 28,000 species)

American Craft Beer Tug-O-War

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

american craft beer tug-o-war

An American Craft Beer Tug-O-War has begun. I think it touches just about every facet of the industry: brewers, distributors, retailers, and, of course, consumers. I don’t know if I will ever touch every aspect of this topic but I want to look at it from the consumer side with retailers and maybe distributors coming another time.

The number of consumers of American craft beer is growing exponentially. It is the “official” thing to do as wine was a while back. All the hipsters have to be hip, so they need to ride on the coat tales.

I was recently talking to the beer buyer at a local store, Eric. He mentioned that he has people walk in, stating they are just getting into American craft beer and want to pick up Dark Lord, Bourbon County Brand Stout, Pliny, etc. WTF! Are you kidding me. Obviously they are clueless. This goes beyond the point that you can’t pick up Dark Lord at a retail store, that Bourbon County Brand Stout no longer sits on the shelves (because of the damn hipsters), or that Pliny isn’t even distributed to Illinois.

How do you start your craft beer endeavors with the biggest, boldest beers that are out there? That’s like saying give me Devil Dancer as my first American IPA.

Now here is the bad part, the hipsters aren’t even the bad guys here. It is the jackasses (this is how I will refer to them the rest of the way) that buy the beer for no other reason than trying to pull a profit in the second-hand market (I won’t even mention that devil of a bidding site). Since, it seems, these people just sit on their asses all day trying to figure out how to make a buck and don’t have a job, they make phone calls to any place they feel they can drive to, scouring for tips, lists, and beers that they can turn a profit.

This screws us all, even the hipsters. So even on a beer that is limited to one per person, they might travel around all afternoon, from store to store, picking up a case of bombers. This limits the amount of beer for everyone that actually wants to appreciate the beer for the reason it was made: to be drank. So the tug-o-war begins. American craft beer connoisseurs pulling the rope to get what they believe they deserve, hipsters pulling the rope to get beers that they have no idea of what they are asking, and the jackasses pulling on the rope to make sure they screw everyone to the means of their end: trying to turn a profit.

All this tugging leads us down the path of distributors and retailers restricting beer allotments further, possibly increasing margins by charging higher prices since the Internet seems to afford them quite easily. I long for the days when I could find Bourbon County Brand Stout on the shelf year round so I could get my fix anytime. Instead, now, I haven’t found the damn beer on a shelf in a year or more. Sad times.

For those of you that have played along, yes, I have broken my New Year’s resolution of not swearing in my posts. Some of these topics get me fired up. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The deer botfly can fly faster than a jet plane. It has been clocked at a speed of 818 miles per hour. It crosses 400 yards in one second and moves 13 miles in a minute. The deer botfly flies so fast that it is almost invisible to the human eye.

Note: No matter how good the above sounds, there is no way it is true. Wikipedia on the deer botfly: "To maintain a velocity of 800 miles per hour, the 0.3-gram fly would have had to consume more than 150% of its body weight in food every second, the fly would have produced an audible sonic boom, the supersonic fly would have been invisible to the naked eye, and the impact trauma of such a fly colliding with a human body would resemble that of a gunshot wound."

Moral of the Story: Don’t believe the shit you read on the Internet.

New Hops Changing Hop Profiles

Friday, January 20th, 2012

hops_cones

I remember the days when Bell’s Hopslam was a beer I could never get enough of. I remember when every citrus hop bomb was a beer I sought out. I couldn’t get enough Cascade and/or Centennial in my American Craft Beer. I am not disappointed in the latest Hopslam, it just doesn’t seem to hold the same luster it used to. I want more from it.

What? How can I say that? Next I will be saying that Pliny The Elder by Russian River Brewing Company is merely an average American Imperial IPA.

I will never go that far, but…

Our senses change over time. The simple reason is this is due to age and the senses tend to dull over time; more of a certain stimulation is needed to create the same sensory response. I think the more logical is the amount of hop laden American craft beer and home brew that I consume. All of the beers I brew are usually over hopped for the single reason that I love hops.

But, I don’t think I can easily stop here as I think there is something else contributing and, quite possibly, the major factor in my shifting desire in hopped up beers: new hop varieties. Yeah, I dared to say it.

Every year new hop varieties are showing up on the market. They quickly become the rage of the industry and everyone is clamoring for them, even myself. The new, shiny ones always catch our attention. What the hell, they are new, that is just human nature.

A few years back Simcoe and Amarillo where the big new comers on the block. Simcoe with pine flavor and aroma while Amarillo with big citrus and highlighted fruit and floral profile both burst onto the scene. In the last year or two Citra has gained a lot of momentum, becoming the focus of some American craft beers which have becoming ridiculously popular. HBC 342 is in it’s infancy, as it doesn’t even have a name, but is being lauded for a citrus and watermelon profile. New Zealand is starting to bring some outstanding hops to market too. Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, and Rakau to name a few, are high on the list of home brewers as well as professionals.

All these hops have two things in common: high alpha acids and out of this world bold aromas/flavors: Nelson Sauvin is so potent that minimal amounts are needed to create grand aromas.

This hop boldness is the perfect blend for what American craft beer and home brew drinkers desire: the bolder the better in IPAs (I am at the front of the line). Tropical, fruits, wine, and other aroma/flavor combinations come through in these hops, imparting newness and shininess to these beers. Everyone is jumping on American craft beer, therefore, by association, people want to be the first to report on a new, way out hop.

Rounding back, Hopslam and Pliny are still top notch and the heads of their classes. They might seem “tamer” because of the brash new comers, nonetheless they are solid brews that will stand the test of time. Will these new hops and hopped beers do the same or will they fall to the way side as newer hop varieties continue to hit the lucrative market? I am going to be happy to be part of this hoppy ride. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The caterpillar has more than 2,000 muscles.

Tyranena Brewing Company Scurvy

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
tyranena brewing company scurvy

Tyranena Scurvy

It has been a while since I had a bottle of Scurvy by Tyranena Brewing Company. It was released as part of Tyranena’s “Brewer’s Gone Wild!” series back in 2009. I have tried to pick up as many in that series as possible and have seen those beers as one off’s. I know a few have been repeated but guess I never knew that they decided to go year round. Obviously they don’t run their release schedule through me. Before I continue, is it me or has Tyranena slowed on the releases of aforementioned series?

The aroma is king and hop forward. Lots of citrus/grapefruit that straightens out the hairs of my nose. A caramel backbone holds up ever so slightly. The taste follows, heaping on the bitterness in the finish. According to my notes that because I had the beer too cold. I can see that as I had it outside for an hour in 20 degree temperatures; it was damn cold. The one thing I don’t remember in the beer is the amount of debris free floating in the glass.

Scurvy still satisfies the hop desires in me. Now that I know it is year round, I will partake more often. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8 (25%), Taste: 8 (25%), Look: 8 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 8.0

Useless Fact: Cockroaches have lived on Earth for 250 million years without changing in any way whatsoever.

Caddy Tan Brown Ale

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

caddy tan

It has been a while since I have come forth with thoughts on a brewing day. Rich recently mentioned his first brew day with me, which I affectionately named Rich’s Bitch. Since one of my New Year’s resolutions is to brew more and talk about it here, here we go!

Whenever I decide to brew a new style of beer, I do my homework. I check out BJCP guidelines and then scour the web for recipes. I decided that I needed some type of brown ale in repertoire. After reading the style guidelines for an American Brown Ale, I knew it was my type of beer: lots of hops.

After a week or so of screwing around, I settled on the following recipe:

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05 (was lazy)
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.058
Final Gravity: 1.014 (estimate)
IBU: 48.8
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 21 @70*F
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 7 @70*F dry hopped

Grain Bill:
10.0# 2-Row
0.5# Crystal 60L
0.5# Crystal 40L
0.5# Wheat Malt
0.5# Chocolate Malt
0.25# Cara-Pils
0.25# Victory

Mash 152*F for 60 minutes.

Hop Bill:
0.75oz Warrior (15.0%) @ 60 min
1.00oz Amarillo (8.5%) @ 20 min
1.00oz Amarillo (8.5%) @ 0 min
2.00oz Amarillo (8.5%) dry hop for seven days

Looking at the recipe I think I might have too many different grains, especially with the Wheat, Cara-Pils, and Victory combination. Based on what I wanted to achieve, I think there is some over lap. Once I bottle, I will know for sure.

The brew day went smooth. I was joined at various times by Chuck and Dave, sharing some home brew with each made the time pass quite quickly. The beer was busy fermenting this morning. I should be trying this one out in about a month. Enjoy!

2012-02-12 – Bottled, ended up with 27 bombers.

2012-03-07 – Tasted and reviewed.

Useless Fact: The Mexican fishing spider attaches itself to a small leaf, floats across a pond as if on a raft, and from this vantage point hunts its prey, large tadpoles and small fish.

Updated User Stats With Beer Stats

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I worked on the site again. Did you feel the earth move? It has been a month since the last site updates and more than an year prior to that. So they are getting more frequent actually.

There was a change made sometime before the trends in which I added statistics for a user, based on their site usage: American craft beer reviews and American craft establishment reviews. After I made the change, which was prompted by Rich, he asked why I didn’t have the statistics link to the statistics behind them. Good thing I have nothing but time on my hands.

American craft beer statistics are now linked to the beers reviewed by that site member. The end page displays the name of the beer, the name of the brewery, the rating, the style, the ABV, the IBU, and the date reviewed. Of course everything within is linked to the corresponding pages within Two Beer Dudes.

I am not completely satisfied with the current state of the change because of some decisions I made coding it. I plan on fixing those shortly. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Queen termites may live for fifty years.

Little Richie’s First Homebrew

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

At Big Scot’s bright and early and ready to brew my first batch of beer. The motivation is partly due to the fact that an old friend starting growing hops and gifted me a couple pounds of Cascade and Zeus. But the biggest reason for starting my brewing apprenticeship was having a friend with knowledge (Big Scot is at approx. 30+ batches) and has a solid equipment setup. I selected a recipe from Beersmith.com as a guide. My rationale for selecting the recipe I did was that it was a style I liked and it took advantage of the hops I had. The name was “Cascade American Pale Ale” and was the ‘all-grain’ method. Then Big Scot converted my downloaded recipe into the log we’d follow today using his brewing software.

 So here’s the step by step log of my first brew day:

 9:25 Gathering equipment and ingredients (purchased grains and yeast a couple days earlier in Aurora, hops are homegrown from my friend John in Michigan).

 

 

 

 

 

9:35 Prepared bucket of sanitary water, 3 level tablespoons of Step 1 No Rinse cleansing powder.

 9:43 Heating strike water on stove in the kitchen to save time and propane, preparing for the batch sparge, heating 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain.

 9:56 Strike water (12.8 quarts) heated to 168-degrees then poured into mash tun to help get it to temperature.

9:59 Doughing in the grains into the mash tun, digital thermometer used to hit mash range of 150 – 154 degrees (higher temp results in increased sweetness). Stirred for about 5 minutes, hit temp target and closed mash tun for 60 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 10:05 Sanitized the Italian glass carboy, first time used. 

 

 

 

 

10:10 Weigh the hops, using 0.6-ounces of Zeus (bittering), 1.0 ounces of Cascade for aroma, and 1.0 ounces of Cascade for flavor, and added a small qty of cones from Big Scot’s backyard (Centennial).

 

 

 

 

10:26 Checked the mash tun temp, still at 153 degrees, could do an iodine test to tell if the starches have been converted, we are just are doing this step by timing.

 10:46 Downtime, had a Big Scot’s Cascadian IPA “Dirty Balls” (golf term).

 11:04 Doing a vorlauf (clearing the wort), then took first runnings and collected 1.75 gallons.

.

11:13 Added 3 additional gallons of water at 190-degress for the first batch sparge, waiting 10-minutes.

 11:14 First runnings into the brew kettle.

 11:25 Completed first sparge, 3-gallons more of wort into brew kettle.

 

 

 

 

11:28 Added 3 more gallons of 192-degree water into mash turn, waiting 10-minutes.

 11:44 Last sparge in brew kettle, flame on, and approx 20-minutes till it hits full boil.

11:45 Cleaning mash tun, not that interesting, giving spent grains to friend that has a compose pile (trying to be green).

 

 

 

 

11:57 Brew kettle temp now at approx 170-degrees, watching for boil (200-degrees?) and protein break.

 12:08 Brew kettle temp now at approx +195-degrees, foam starting to signal protein break is close.  

 

 

 

 

12:11 Turn propane off for a moment to prevent over-boil, waited a minute or two, then re-ignited burner.

 12:16 First 0.6-ounce of hops (Zeus) in boil.

 12:57 Added 1.0-ounce of hops (Cascade) in boil.

 

 

 

 

1:06 Putting chiller in brew kettle, to bring to temperature.

 

 

 

 

1:15 Last hops in (another 1.0-ounce of Cascade), flame off, now for chilling process.

 1:16 Cold water running through chiller, working to get to 100-degrees, when we’ll take out second bag of hops (aroma flavor). Note: cooling water into clothes washer for re-use, my aren’t we green.

 

 

 

 

1:31 Hit 100-degrees.

 1:54 Hit 72-degrees, post boil gravity check, now at 1.045. Doesn’t make sense because we boiled off 2-gallons, hell I never took chemistry what do I know about precise measurements.

 1:55 Racking.

 

 

 

 

2: 00 Pitching the yeast.

 2:11 Yeast pitched and stopper in.

 

 

 

 

3-weeks in the fermenter, then rack into another carboy and dry-hop with 2-ounces of Cascade pellets for one week, then bottles for 2-3 weeks.

 First impression of home brewing: It’s a simple process on the surface, but precision is required and math calc’s make this not such a laid-back “hobby”. I think it was definitely a huge advantage to brew with someone that has the experience. And I like the social aspect of the whole process. The thing about beer being a communal activity becomes even more apparent in the brewing process (versus the drinking process). There’s enough waiting time between steps that sets a relaxed pace to the whole experience. And the results of the one’s labor are satisfying, though that’s yet to be confirmed via tasting of the aged product. I guess you are always happy with crafting something out raw materials. Plus it provides unequal insight into how that glass of beer tastes the way it does. I’ve just taken my next step towards Jedi-level beer geekery, and I can’t wait to taste the results and brew again. The only real question I have about home-brewing is what kind of style to brew next.

COAST Brewing Company HopArt

Friday, January 13th, 2012
coast brewing company hopart ipa

COAST HopArt

The usual Thursday night get together was interrupted by the first snow storm of the season. Rich, being an American craft beer trooper, made it out in his over sized, 4-wheel drive vehicle. So we shared three American craft beers. We had:

All three beers were solid but I am choosing HopArt as today’s beer. Why? Hopslam is just coiming out in my area and I will have my fill tonight 🙂 and I picked up six of the Daly Double (not all for myself), placing my thoughts in an earlier sips entry.

HopArt has a nice compliment of citrus, fruity, and pine hops that play perfectly together in the aroma and taste. The malt sweetness is held back by the hops while allowing a bitterness that lingers without being obtrusive.

It has been a year since my first and only other HopArt tasting. The experience was equally fulfilling but hopefully I won’t have to wait another year for my third helping. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10 (25%), Taste: 9 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 8.9

Useless Fact: Flies prefer to breed in the center of a room. This is why experts advise placing flypaper away from corners.

Snow Day – New Belgium Brewing Company

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was out to dinner with my wife at a local steak house.  The beer selection was not very impressive and of all the choices of beer on tap the Snow Day from New Belgium was the most interesting. I had never had it before, and I always enjoy a chance to try a new beer.  It hit the spot that night and paired perfectly with my steak with crumbled blue cheese on top. 

Beers like this one from “main stream” micro brews are not my usual go to beers very often any more.  With that being said, I think that’s a shame.  Many of the main stream micro breweries make good beer, but they tend to get forgotten as us craft beer drinkers are always hunting down the latest new rare beer.  New Belgium Brewing Company opened in 1991 and I would bet a few bucks that they are a brewery that has started a large number of people down the road to being craft beer drinkers.

So here is a challenge for you.  The next time you are at the store picking up beer, go back to your roots and pick out a beer that you had back in the beginning of your journey down “craft beer road”.  What was your first “Micro Brew”?

Tyranena Brewing Company Chief Blackhawk Porter

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
tyranena brewing company chief blackhawk porter

Tyranena Chief Blackhawk Porter

Chief Blackhawk Porter by Tyranena Brewing Company is one of the very first American Porters that I had that hooked me on the style. I had dabbled in porters before but Chief Blackhawk really helped define the style and what it could be.

Chocolate and coffee carry this malty beer on the nose, both come through in the taste with minimal bitterness in the finish. The combination of body and carbonation perfectly fit the beer.

I will continue to frequent Chief Blackhawk each time I have a chance as it always leaves a smile on the senses. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9 (25%), Taste: 9 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 9 (35%), Overall: 9.0

Useless Fact: Only female bees work. Males remain in the hive and literally do nothing, their only mission in life being to fertilize the queen bee on her maiden flight. For this purpose literally thousands of males are hatched, out of which only one or two mate with the queen. After they have served their function, the males are not allowed back into the hive but are left outside, where they starve to death.

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