Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

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!

Trade, North Carolina edition

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Thanks to another beer site that I won’t mention here, I have made a number of Internet friends over the last two years who I will regularly trade beers with. Scot constantly tells me that I do that blog on this site enough. And since he is right, I got inspiration for a couple of blogs to do with my latest trades, thus serving two masters, I guess.

The first one will be of a beer sent to me this week in a box from Ryan, a guy who lives in the Atlanta area. He and I first started trading because he was offering Creature Comfort’s Tropicalia in exchange for Three Floyd’s Zombiedust, and I was the first one to jump on it. He and I have been trading for a couple of months, as I t get him Floyd’s and other Chicago area beers for anything he can get me Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas (he got me my first Burial beer, which was amazing).

Anyway, to the beer!

El Paraiso by Wicked Weed out of Asheville North Carolina is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Coffee Stout with caocao nibs and coffee beans. It’s a terrific barrel aged flavored stout. As way of comparison, I had a Southern Tier Creme Brûlée last night, and that’s an example of a beer that’s too sweet. This one is a good example of how to balance flavors, but maybe the barrel helps.

It was bottled 2/17/17, and I drank it in a spiegelau.

Poured a lot of foam, still has a good amount of lacing after a while. One of the better looking stouts I’ve had in a while.

Smell is strongly sweet with plenty of chocolate and a slight presence of coffee and barrel.

The taste is the best part of this beer. I’d imagine there might have been a bit more barrel heat when it was fresher, but I think if the chocolate has faded by now, it may have been too sweet then. It’s got nice roastiness with plenty of chocolate and a mild barrel burn. Only weakness is a lack of coffee flavor, especially for a coffee stout. There’s a slight bitterness on the back end from the coffee, but if it was stronger, this beer would have been extremely well balanced instead of just well balanced.

Feeling on this is great. It’s not too heavy, maybe slightly too thin, but there’s very little oiliness to it. There’s a definite alcohol presence, but it’s not too strong. It’s very sippable, really flavorful, and quite enjoyable.

One of the best barrel aged I’ve had in a while (to note, the best recently was Three Floyds French Vanilla Militia 2017, but that’s on a whole other level).

Trade, Virginia edition

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Next on today’s list of beers from people I have traded with is Dreamless from The Veil Brewing Company out of Richmond VA. It was sent to me in the first trade I have done with a gentleman named Mike, a nice guy who lives in Richmond and is one of the biggest Springsteen fans I have ever encountered.

It was canned 7/7, and, since it’s a witbier, I drank it from my witbier glass. It’s pretty straightforward for the style, so  I won’t be writing as much about it as the El Paraiso BA stout from earlier.

It pours hazy with an almost cloudy darker straw color. Smell has strong lemon and orange peel notes with a slight funk. Taste is just what I want from this style – it’s got some breadiness, some funk, and a good amount of citrus, with plenty of lemony and orange peel zestiness. For a low ABV, it’s got a mildly strong body. Very full mouth filling, although slightly dry. Very easy to drink, and really enjoyable for a warm day.

Brewed: Schlapp!

Friday, May 26th, 2017

What did the five fingers say to the face? Schlapp!

It is amazing how funny something can become when you spend a ton of time driving to and from basketball practices and games. My eldest and I found it hysterical a few years ago while driving on Schlapp Road while threatening each other that our five fingers would slap them. It is easy to see how others wouldn’t find this amusing but, in the moment and, even today, this is still funny to my daughter and I. We still drive past the road, bringing up the saying, still bringing a smile to my face, thinking back to those days gone by and all the good times, no matter how corny.

My daughter recently told me that I should name a home brew Schlapp! How could I refuse.

Formulating the recipe for Schlapp!

I ran through some 30 bottles of home brew at a recent party, depleting any IPAs that I had laying around. I needed hops. Determining a good blend of hops seemed to be the toughest decision for this recipe.

The 10 or so pounds of hops in the basement freezer provided a cornucopia of possibilities. I decided that I wanted to use what I had left of Hallterau Blank and Mandarina Bavaria with the touch of Belma. I have brewed with Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria, with Mandarina providing a profile that I really like. I used the Belma to understand what the hop can add, making it the largest portion of the hopping schedule. Enjoy!

Recipe for Schlapp!

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, May 26, 2017
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-04, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.065
Finishing Gravity: 1.008
IBU: 68.9
Color: 6.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Alcohol by Volume: 7.48%
Primary Fermentation: 8 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
13.00 pounds 2-row
1.00 pounds Oats
1.00 pounds Melanoiden

Mash:
Saccharification @148.3*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces 2016 Belma @20 minutes
2.00 ounces 2016 Belma @15 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Belma @10 minutes
1.00 ounces 2016 Belma @5 minutes
2.00 ounces 2016 Belma @whirlpool for 25 minutes
1.00 ounces 2016 Mandarina Bavaria @whirlpool for 25 minutes
1.00 ounces 2016 Hallertau Blanc @whirlpool for 25 minutes
3.00 ounces 2016 Mandarina Bavaria @4 day dry hop
3.00 ounces 2016 Hallertau Blanc @4 day dry hop

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

Updates:

  • 2017-06-04: Bottled with 3.50 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 25, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: Sch.

Useless Fact: Walt Disney created multiple fake companies (like M.T. Lott Real Estate) to buy Florida land in the 1960s. This let him acquire what is now Disney World while avoiding suspicion and keeping prices low. The stores on Main Street shop windows are the names of those original companies.

Tasted: She Doesn’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Looking “fat” in the glass.

She Doesn’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl is the latest stab at a North East India Pale Ale (NEIPA). Since I missed the original gravity but such a large amount, I was worried how the bitterness would be perceived. I was also worried about the potential for booziness. That one is a bit more difficult to explain; how would missing gravity on the low side create alcoholic flavors/aromas. I have used the hops in this beer in the past, even when they had different names, but never in this quantity or together. Therefore the aroma and flavor will be a new and, hopefully, welcomed experience.

Look: Typical NEIPA that I have been brewing over the past year: brilliant, light gold color. Slight haze, less than normal since I took the beer down to 37*F for 24+ hours. An inch of white foam. Slightly rocky as it begins to recede. Great retention and sticky lace.

Aroma: Huge banana. It jumps out before the glass comes to the nose. Mango, apricot, orange, and papaya. Hints of resin, floral and lime. Completely hop forward, minimal malt sweetness.

Taste: Banana is once again the star. Lots of mango, orange and papaya. As it has aged a taste of berries has began. Light malt for balance. Minimal to no bitterness.

Body: Light body. Medium carbonation. Dry and crisp.

Overall: Probably the best nose of any beer I have ever brewed. The banana mixed with other tropical fruits are over the top, making for an enticing aroma. In spite of the huge hop aroma and taste, bitterness is subdued. Easy to drink. Aroma is the star.

My worries were split: one came true, one could be ignored. The bitterness wasn’t an issue at all. The beer was hop forward without a hint of bitterness, still the beer was balanced. I did feel that there was a late bite of alcohol in the taste. Hypersensitivity, real perception or I wanted to find alcohol. Something to continue to think about. The banana hop aroma and flavor was quite surprising based on the profiles of the individual hops. The surprise was appreciated. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Astronauts aboard the ISS change clothes near a filter that sucks up the skin particles that would otherwise float around.

Tasted: Black Doug

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

This is the first beer I have ever dedicated to a movie. I might have to come up with one for each of the main characters in the Hangover series. It gives me more reason to have to watch one, two or all three of the movies again. Nothing for me to balk at.

Look: Pitch black. Opaque. Heaped helping of thick, tan foam covers. Froths as it recedes gently, leaving traces of past glory.

Aroma: A pleasant balance of maltiness and hops. Sweet caramel with traces of chocolate and rye. Orange, grapefruit, and pineapple aromas from the hops. Not overly hopped but pleasant and easy on the nose.

Taste: Like the nose, there is a good balance to the malt and hops. Generic base malt sweetness, chocolate and rye coexist. Orange and pineapple hops start in the middle, adding great balance and fullness to the beer. Minimal to no bitterness, possibly some from the touch of chocolate rye.

Body: Medium body. Tending towards the high end of carbonation. Clean but not crisp. Dries.

Overall: The most well balanced beer I brewed in a while, especially with the amount of hops used. Would brew this again without any changes. Solid beer.

Cascadian dark ale or black ale, which ever you prefer to call it, seems to have been a fad. I brewed one, since I hadn’t had one in a long time to see if I could revive the dying breed. As I mentioned, I would brew it again, but when? Friends don’t want to take it so having to hit up five gallons on my own in a timely manner is almost impossible. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The poorest 5% of people in the U.S. are still richer than 68% of the world’s inhabitants.

Tasted: MaMoo

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

MaMoo India pale ale was brewed with Vic Secret to not only try out the hop but because it is supposedly a replacement for Galaxy, which is hard to get and ridiculously expensive when it is available. I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path as Vic Secret is not cheap either. Damn southern hemisphere hops are ridiculously good but at a cost.

I have noticed that I am buying at least a pound of hops per month. At first I thought it was crazy to pick up that much hops but looking at recipes like MaMoo, I am tearing through a pound of hops, give or take, per brew day. Eventually I will have to buy multiple pounds as I will run out.

Look:Gold. Hazy, dirty cloudy. Beautiful inch of white foam covers. Above average retention while lacing is minimal.

Aroma: Hops jump from the bottle on opening, prior to the pour. Once poured, papaya, lime, orange, berry, traces of pine, and earthy. Minimal malt backbone.

Taste: Light malts up front: sweetness. Earthiness is probably the backbone of the hops, while tastes of orange, lime and pine mingle to create a pleasant flavor.

Body: Light-end of medium body. Light/Medium carbonation. Late bitterness but not sharp. Dries.

Overall: Another good beer, just not great. I need a bit more maltiness to my hoppy beers. Might have to up it a notch in the next few batches. Too bland.

Beer is really easy to drink. I was just expecting more from Vic Secret. After rereading the specs for Vic Secret seems like I would have been better off with earlier hop additions. Still the aroma, especially a couple weeks ago, was phenomenal. Beginning to think that north eastern ipas need a bit more malt to make them sexier. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: A single cigarette contains about 4,000 chemicals.

Brewed: She Doesn’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

I have a get together with friends most Thursday nights (I have mentioned this before – I even brewed TNBC One for the group). We call it the Thursday Night Beer Club (TNBC). During TNBC, especially when there is a full group and after a few beers, our conversations may cover a wide range of topics. What do you expect from a bunch of buzzed guys winding down the week. Somehow, someway the conversation went to the dark side. Rich was on a roll with part of a sentence ending in “she doesn’t sweat much for a fat girl.”

Of course we all laughed. I immediately stated that I had to make a beer with that name: She Doesn’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl. I even created a place holder in beersmith so I wouldn’t lose the name.

Coming up with a home brew recipe for a beer with that name seemed easy: make a big, juicy north east IPA. The recipe below was inspired by the vision of a bunch of morons.

Home Brewing For She Doesn’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl

There was a major mistake while brewing this beer: missing my gravity by 20 points. I figure this will come out in bitterness. When I start tasting, I will find out for sure.

While writing this blog entry, thinking through my process and rereading my notes, I realized there was another issue: raising fermentation temperatures from ~61*F t ~66*F in less than 12 hours. I think that puts a lot of stress on the yeast. I use a heat blanket made for heating plant roots. The lowest temperature is 68*F on the blanket. It might be time to look into and invest in heating options that starts in the high 50s/low 60s. allowing me to bump up it up a degree at a time. Enjoy!

Recipe for For She Doesn’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, April 15, 2017
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-04, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.070
Finishing Gravity: 1.008
IBU: 87.0
Color: 5.2 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 8.14%
Primary Fermentation: 10 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
7.00 pounds Pilsner
7.00 pounds Maris Otter
1.00 pounds Oats
1.00 pounds Red Wheat

Mash:
Saccharification @150.4*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @ first wort
1.00 ounces 2016 Mandarina Bavaria @ first wort
1.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @20 minutes
1.00 ounces 2016 Mandarina Bavaria @15 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @10 minutes
1.00 ounces 2016 Mandarina Bavaria @5 minutes
3.00 ounces 2016 Rakau @whirlpool for 25 minutes
2.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @whirlpool for 25 minutes
4.00 ounces 2016 Wakatu @4 day dry hop
1.00 ounces 2016 Rakau @4 day dry hop
1.00 ounces 2016 Mandarina Bavaria @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
3.0 quarts of rice hulls
~6.0 gallons of reverse osmosis water used

Updates:

  • 2017-04-16 (morning): @62.3*F, added S-04 yeast.
  • 2017-04-16 (evening): @62.3*F, fermentation slowly starting.
  • 2017-04-17 (morning): @61.1*F, slow fermentation, added heat blanket @68*F.
  • 2017-04-17 (evening): @66.6*F, great fermentation.
  • 2017-04-18: @66.0*F, great fermentation continues.
  • 2017-04-19: slowing fermentation, added dry hops.
  • 2017-04-22: added to freezer set @37.0*F.
  • 2017-04-23: Bottled with 3.50 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 25, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: FAT.
  • 2017-05-11: Tasted.

Useless Fact: Dolphins and whales squeal to express delight.

Tasted: The Dude

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

The Dude is the first NEIPA (New England India Pale Ale) that I used some reverse osmosis water. It also marks the largest number of different hops, seven, and the first time I used all 2015 hops.

I don’t know if the combination of water profile and fresh(er) hops lead to a solid home brew or the combination of both. I will say, that going forward, I will be using 50% reverse osmosis water or more when making any IPA.

Fresher hops also makes sense. I still have seven pounds of 2015 hops to blow through before I even think about 2016 hops. At the rate of hop usage that will be another 6 – 8 IPAs. My taste buds are waters. Time to get another recipe ready.

Look:Pale gold in color. Covered by full inch of snow white foam; thin but somewhat frothy on top. Great retention, leaving behind immediate and coating lacing before even titling the glass for a sip. Good looking beer in the glass.

Aroma: A light, sweet malt backbone isn’t supposed to be the center of the aroma; it isn’t. Ripe fruits abound: mango, pineapple, apricot, citrus, and pine.

Taste: The taste follows the nose. Big hops and minimal sweet malt backbone. Citrus (orange) and tropical fruits foremost. Hints of grapefruit and pine. Nary much bitterness.

Body: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Dry body.

Overall: One-upped myself as I believe this is the another quality NEIPA. The mix of hops goes well together as well as providing depth of aroma and flavor. Still trending to the high end of the carbonation profile. Might need a bit more body as well,

Used a full breath of hops in this beer. It paid. Peeking at the three week in the bottle range. Need to drink quickly. Someone has to sacrifice. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Caodaism is a Vietnamese religion that worships Joan of Arc, Shakespeare, and Muhammad.

Brewed: Winter Wheat Ale

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Winter Wheat ale was a quick zigzag when trying to brew up another batch of Grass Cutter wheat ale. In case you haven’t been following along, Grass Cutter wheat ale is a beer that I home brew up for the wife once a year or less.

I haven’t had much time to brew lately. Telling the wife that I would make a beer she likes seemed to be the best way to carve out time from our busy schedule while doing good for others. 😀

I decided on Grass Cutter. Brewing it would have to do without the Saaz hops that I normally use as I was out and a trip to the home brew store wasn’t in the schedule. Not a big deal. Once brew day arrived, I collected up my supplies, including Azacca and Cascade hops. Yes, I know, no where near Saaz. It’s what I had.

Home Brewing Winter Wheat Ale

How did I come up with a new beer? First off, asking that rhetorical question loosely. Secondly, on brew day I was missing coriander as well. Coriander adds more pronounced orange while giving off some pepper notes as well. This is a big change to a beer that usually consider to be an Americanized Belgian Wit.

I had zigged around the hops, now it was time to zag around the missing coriander. Two major changes to a single recipe make for a new recipe, thus Winter Wheat Ale.

I also decided to add the zest at one orange, soaked in vodka, at bottling. I did this in the past with Grass Cutter and it adds a huge orange boost. Cheers to hoping this one turns out somewhat decent. Enjoy!

Recipe for Winter Wheat Ale

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, January 15, 2017
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.052
Finishing Gravity: 1.005
IBU: 20.8
Color: 4.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.17%
Primary Fermentation: 10 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
6.00 pounds 2-Row
3.00 pounds Red Wheat
1.00 pounds Munich

Mash:
Saccharification @150.3*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces 2015 Cascade @20 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @5 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Orange peel, bitter @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Orange peel, sweet @15 minutes
1.0 fresh Orange zest (soaked in vodka), @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls

Updates

  • 2017-01-29: Bottled with 3.8 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 28, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: GC.

Useless Fact: This year (2017), 30-second ads for the Super Bowl will cost around $5.5M.

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