Archive for August, 2016

Brewed: Smiles IPA

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

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!

Smiles

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

Mash:
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

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

Updates:

  • 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)

Friday, August 26th, 2016

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

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

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.

Brewed: Used IPA

Sunday, August 14th, 2016
Year old, 2014, Amarillo hops for the boil and whirlpool.

Year old, 2014, Amarillo hops for the boil and whirlpool.

Sometimes the hardest thing about brew day is coming up with a recipe. This time around I was focused on brewing up a second batch of Three Tooth Joe. The first batch had a fermentation issue: blew the air lock from a crazy ass hard fermentation. After bottling, Three Tooth Joe quickly reared it’s ugly contaminated head. I needed to see if the beer would turn out as good as I expected.

After printing out the recipe, I headed to the basement to check that I had the necessary supplies: malt, hops and yeast. The hop freezer had a cornucopia of 2014 Amarillo hops (sound of turn table needle racing across the record). I love Amarillo. Quick recipe switch to use up the hop residuals.

Three Tooth Joe had a solid base malt IPA recipe. But I wanted to tweak it, it was not needed. I had passed up Vienna malt many times. Vienna to replace Munich. Enough. K.I.S.S.

Now onto the name of the beer: Used. Growing up, I had a next door neighbor that was the same age that I was, school wise. We went to two different schools, making different friends outside of neighborly meetups as supposed friends. Once our worlds expanded, allowing us to go longer distances on our bikes, his friendship to me was that of opportunity. If he had nothing better to do, I was a friend. My parents knew it, they told me, but I didn’t want to hear it. This went on for a year or two before I woke up and moved on to much better friends that I still have today. Looking back to those days I realize that I had been used.

The third day of fermentation found me wandering into the basement to check progress. Floral Amarillo bouquet met the nose, making me thirst for a taste. Enjoy!

Starz

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, August 14, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Lallemand BRY-97
Yeast Starter: N/A
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.056
Final Gravity: 1.014
IBU: 42.3
Color: 4.5 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.51%
Primary Fermentation: start @66*F

Grain Bill:
11.00# Pilsner
1.00# Vienna
8.0oz Oats
4.0oz Crystal 20L

Mash:
Saccharification @151.4*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce Amarillo @20 minutes
1.00 ounce Amarillo @15 minutes
1.00 ounce Amarillo @10 minutes
1.00 ounce Amarillo @5 minutes
4.00 ounce Amarillo @whirlpool 20 minutes @145*
6.00 ounce Amarillo @dry hop 4 days

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

Updates:

  • 2016-08-15: @66*F, slow fermentation.
  • 2016-08-16: @68*F, fermentation taking off.
  • 2016-08-17: @70*F, strong fermentation.
  • 2016-08-18: @71*F, strong fermentation.
  • 2016-08-19: @67*F, raised to 69*F.
  • 2016-08-20: Took off heat.
  • 2016-08-27: Dry hopped, 7.0 ounces 2014 Amarillo.
  • 2016-08-30: Bottled with 4.0 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 25, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: USED.
  • 2016-11-10: Tasted Used IPA.

Useless Fact: If you eat a teaspoon of sugar after eating something spicy, it will completely neutralize the heat.

2016 Family Vacation – Beercation

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

It’s that time of year again: family vacation. Destination Florida. As always my wife allows me to plan many American craft beer stops. This year I stacked up, hitting all the two heavy hitters that I had planned: Cigar City and Funky Buddha.

Since the last time I was in Florida, many new American craft breweries have opened. I had 12 or so on the list. I hit 7: St. Pete Brewing, Green Bench Brewing, Cycle Brewing, Bury Me Brewing, Point Ybel Brewing, 26 Degree Brewing and Riptide Brewing. We also stopped at Chattahoochee Brewing Company in Phenix City, Alabama.

Instead of telling a long story intermixed with pictures, I have decided to tell the story with pictures with a few words attached to each image.

The time off from work was well needed. Rest, stress release and, most importantly, time to regroup with the family was most appreciated. Enjoy.

Useless Fact: All numbers from one through nine hundred ninety-nine does not have the letter “a” in it.

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