Archive for August, 2017

Hunting for Hunters

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Today’s mission:
mini-horizontal (I was corrected that it is NOT a vertical) of 18th Street Brewing’s milk stout series known as Hunter: regular, vanilla, and coffee.

Before I get into it, I want to provide a bit of personal history regarding this beer series.

At the beginning of the year, in order to get them, I would, like ever since I went to their brewery in 2014, have had to go over into Indiana or find a store that in Chicago that got them, like Capone’s. Then one day, my favorite beer store in Oswego had 18th Street beers, and I thought “holy crap!” Then they started getting the Hunter series, and I thought “holy shit!” And now, at least three months later, I’m thinking “When will they bring back them back again?”

Today, we will go with first impressions first.

REGULAR – canned 3/24 or 5/24, the labeling is a bit smudged. Straight up dark color, least carbonated of the three with a minimal amount of lacing. Roasty notes on the smell, some chocolate. Taste is a little off, like there might be some sort of infection on it. I’m getting a little roast and some chocolate, but the strong tang is making me think this one might be bad.

VANILLA – canned 3/18. Not as dark as the regular, with some tanning on the edges and a bit more foam and lacing. Not as roasty, a little vanilla to the smell. Taste hits with a vanilla roast. Mildly sweet. Very tasty.

COFFEE – canned 4/27. Seems to be as dark as the vanilla, but the one with the most foam and lacing. Strong coffee notes on the smell, definitely the most prevalent part. Taste hits with a sweet vanilla, then a slight bitterness comes on the back end.

After trying all three and then going back to the regular, it doesn’t seem as bad, in that the tang seems to have gone away. Either it isn’t infected, or I’ve killed off the part of my taste buds that would detect a bad beer. If I had a 2015 Bourbon County Coffee or Barleywine on hand, I could open one of those and test said area of that sense.

Anyway, we will now plunge into more in depth thoughts.

The REGULAR has plenty strong roastiness on the smell. It’s a straight up milk stout. Lots of sweetness that plays well with the roasty malt. It’s got a good balance of flavors. There’s a slight oiliness to it, but it’s not overpowering. I personally don’t like stouts that are too oily. A little oiliness is good, and this has just the right amount. It’s a pretty good milk stout.

I’m still trying to figure out which of the two adjuncts has a stronger scent. The VANILLA is pretty strong, but it’s a milder strength, if that makes sense. For taste, it’s stronger than the coffee in terms of initial flavor on taste. The vanilla is more in the forefront, while the coffee seems to be mixed in with the roasty malt of the base beer. So far, I’m thinking this may be my favorite of the three.

NOTE added later in this blog: I ended up doing my review for this one on another site that will remain nameless last, and that was because I initially thought this was the best of the three, and with some time it still was. While all three of them were very well balanced in terms of taste and feel, there was a depth that this one had that the others didn’t. The exact description I would give is “velvety, plush, and soft”. Great description for a pillow, but honestly, the VANILLA felt like a beer pillow for the tongue.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that COFFEE is normally a stronger scent than vanilla, but I have now determined the smell is definitely the strongest of the three. The flavor of the coffee isn’t as strong as the vanilla and is well balanced, but I’m finding it to be slightly too bitter on the back end.

NOTE added later in this blog: I was reviewing these on that other site that will remain nameless. and the coffee came in really underrated, in my opinion, like my rating was over 15% higher than the median.

NOW for something a little fun. I took the last parts of each can and mixed them. Probably not much more than five or six ounces, but I’m going to try a COFFEE VANILLA HUNTER, with impressions typed live while watching a live (via YouTube) performance of one of my favorite songs, Born Slippy by Underworld.

OOOH, I know you’re thinking. He’s so cutting edge.

Definitely has a stronger sweet (vanilla) scent over the usual sweetness and roastiness of a milk stout, and I’m detecting coffee on it for sure. I probably shouldn’t have flash chilled the last of the cans, because the taste is definitely in need of some warming up to really come through effectively, so we’re going to let it sit for a bit longer in the glass. There’s presence of all three beers, though. It’s got roasty malt, bitter coffee, sweet vanilla, and all of the flavors are playing well together.

ADDITIONAL MUSIC NOTE: If you’ve ever seen Silence of the Lambs, you know Q Lazarus’ song “Goodbye Horses”. I just watched the “original video” on YouTube, and the singing is done by a black woman (or a really effective drag queen. Shit, I’ve seen the movie, and YOU NEVER KNOW). Either way, I think there’s a bit of soul music there that the one we all know is missing.

BACK TO THE BEER.

As it warms, the bitterness of the coffee pushes itself forward to battle it out with the sweetness the vanilla and what a milk stout usually brings. It’s a very smooth tasting beer, and I like how the qualities from all three seem to blend rather well into a balanced taste and feel. I just wish it wasn’t accompanied by that “shit, I drank three 8+% abv beers together in less than two hours feeling” in the back of my throat.

I will have to say I had a fun morning with this experiment, but in response to Scot asking me “When are you going to blog again, Matt?”, I have to say “You better break out something good tonight, bitch!”

 

Trade, Mississippi edition

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Today’s offering is from Ryan in Atlanta. He sent me a twenty pound box that I should be able to get a couple blogs from. This one is Devil’s Harvest from Southern Prohibition Brewing out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I don’t think I’ve had anything from that state before, but I could be wrong. Either way, this was a lot better than I was expecting it to be.

There are two real cool things I liked about this beer before even opening it:
1) it’s labeled as a “breakfast IPA”.
2) the bottom of the can does not only provide the Canned on date of 07/18/17, but it also says “Canned by Nick”, and there’s something funny about that to me.

It poured a thick foamy head with lasting lacing and looked like a breakfast juice – cloudy and a kind of pineapple/orange juice mix color. Smell is danky citrusy, with a pretty good grapefruit presence. It’s got a pleasant hoppy taste – kind of lemony and some tangy grapefruit notes. At 4.9% abv, it’s got a mild and smooth feel, and is very easily sippable. After only a few drinks, I was wishing he had sent more than one.

Brewed: If you can read this, you don’t need glasses

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

2017 is turning into the year of tough to find time to home brew. Outside of brewing If you can read this, you don’t need glasses five days after Honey Pot Pale Ale with wet hops, second annual, it has been three months since I brewed up Schlap!.

Busy life and falling back to old hobby, fishing, has taken up a bunch of my time an enthusiasm. Jotting over to the local pound or river takes minutes, while the time duration of the act of fishing takes minutes to hours and anywhere in between. I don’t have to plan to go fishing. Hell, it can be a knee jerk reaction. Perfect for aforementioned craziness of life.

Formulating the recipe for If you can read this, you don’t need glasses

If you have been following along, Northeast India pale ales have been my obsession over the past year, if not longer. If you can read this, you don’t need glasses tries to quell the obsession.

The recipe is inspired by a recent article in Zymurgy magazine on the home brew winners. I looked through them all, multiple times, but the IPA section kept pulling me in (back). I noticed that the winner used two pounds of oats in his recipe, over 15% of the grist, something I have wondered about but never attempted.

As for the hops, I was shooting for fruity while attempting to use up more of the cheap 2015 hops I purchased at the beginning of 2017. I wanted to use up the Eureka and Equinox as I never liked the hops on their own but found them better in support and as late additions. The Mosaic is quickly becoming a NIEPA classic, while Galaxy packs a wonderful tropical punch.

I still have not graduated to treating my water (although I have picked up some small vials of chemicals at the local home brew shop). When making an IPA, or similar, I use about 60+% reverse osmosis water with tap water. My tap water is very hard. I have felt it has helped with the perceived bitterness of the beer. That could be the way I am adding the hops as well. Enjoy!

Recipe for If you can read this, you don’t need glasses

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, August 25, 2017
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-04 and S-05, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.067
Finishing Gravity: 1.010
IBU: 47.8
Color: 4.3 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69.12%
Alcohol by Volume: 7.48%
Primary Fermentation: 8 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
7.25 pounds Pilsner
6.00 pounds 2-row
2.00 pounds Oats

Mash:
Saccharification @152.7*F

Hop Bill:
0.50 ounces 2015 Eureka @ first wort
1.00 ounces 2015 Eureka @10 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Equinox @10 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Mosiac @whirlpool for 20 minutes
2.00 ounces 2015 Equinox @whirlpool for 20 minutes
2.00 ounces 2015 Galaxy @whirlpool for 20 minutes
2.50 ounces 2015 Eureka @whirlpool for 20 minutes
2.00 ounces 2015 Galaxy @4 day dry hop
3.00 ounces 2015 Mosiac @4 day dry hop

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
1.0 pounds table sugar @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls
~5.25 gallons of reverse osmosis water used

Updates:

  • 2017-08-20 (morning): @68.5*F, added 2/3 packet, each of S-04 and S-05.
  • 2017-08-27 (morning): @67.8*F, good fermentation.
  • 2017-08-29 (morning): @69.7*F, add dry hops.
  • 2017-09-02: cold crashed to 37*F.
  • 2017-09-03: Bottled with 3.50 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 26, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: If.

Useless Fact: After the death of her husband, poet Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) kept his heart wrapped up in silk until she died.

Trade, Florida edition

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

I think I may make these a regular thing, because:

  1. I regularly make trades and get stuff from lots of other states
  2. It seems to make Scot happy, and maybe that means he’ll keep inviting me to Thursday night shares

Tonight’s beer is one called Last Days of Summer from Tampa Bay Brewing Company, and I think you can figure out where they are located. This was sent to me by a gentleman named Jeff, and what’s strange to me about this beer is that is was canned at the beginning of May. Why would a beer named Last Days of Summer be brewed in the spring?

It’s labeled a fruited sour ale, and that’s a pretty good description. It’s definitely a sour, and there is a bit of fruit flavor to it.

It pours a hazy golden straw color with a creamy head that quickly dissipated but has a slight amount of lacing. The smell has a funky kind of farmhouse quality to it, and there’s mild fruit scent underneath. I can’t quite identify what fruit it is, but there’s a crispness and tartness to it. The taste, I believe, would best be described as a mildly sour fruit punch. It’s a full mouth filling feel with an almost acidic underneath. I sometimes have difficulties drinking sours, but this one is mild enough and has enough fruit presence that it’s pretty easy to drink and worth killing off one 16 ounce can.

 

Trade, Wisconsin edition

Monday, August 14th, 2017

I still have two more of these entries for the moment, probably will do the other one tomorrow, but for now, here’s an entry for a beer from Ben, a Wisconsinite who is my source for big bottles of Toppling Goliath beers. He recently sent me Fire, Skulls, and Money (a beer I want to try mostly because of the Warren Zevon song “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”) and Sosus, a beer I have wanted to try for a long time, and yes, it was worth it. However, this blog post will be about a collaboration between a Wisconsin brewery and one only about an hour from me in Illinois.

It’s Creamsicle Ale by Untitled Art of Waunakee, WI and Mikerphone in Elk Grove Village. When I opened the box, the first thing I saw on the top label of the bottle was the Mikerphone insignia, and I thought “Why is somebody from Wisconsin sending me a beer I could get if I was motivated enough to make the drive north?” Then I saw Untitled Art on the big label and realized that it was a collaboration, and I always enjoy seeing what two breweries can do together.

To the beer!

It looks like orange juice in terms of color, that’s for sure, and I can’t see through it with all the cloudiness. There’s very little foam to it, but a slight amount of lacing. Smell is a straight up slap of citrus (mostly orange) with a very slight bit of bitter hoppiness underneath. Taste is really fun – citrus and orange is the first thing I notice, but there’s a definite presence of cream and a slight bitter tangy hop under that. It’s very easy to sip and real mild for a 7% abv. It’s a very flavorful, very well balanced beer, and it more than lives up to the name. I’d recommend it, and I have to find some stuff to send to the friendly cheesehead who sent it to me!

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