Archive for the ‘Lounge’ Category

Craft Beer Pricing By Beer Store?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

American craft beer prices

American craft beer prices is the one constant that Rich and I discuss when getting together. I have also brought up American craft beer prices on the blog before (hard to believe it has been that long).

For some five years or more it seems to me that the local beer store chain charges more for all their beers than any of the other stores. I am not talking a quarter or fifty cents more, but typically couple of bucks more on bombers over $10 and the same for six packs. Their prices are more on par (and sometimes still higher) with the Mom-and-Pop one-off beer stores.

I went to high school and college. I had to take the introductory level macro- and micro-economics classes. I thought I understood the basics of supply, demand, buying power, etc.

Logic suggests that the large chain should buy cheaper, passing along those savings as lower prices to consumers. Why should my bottle/can of beer cost 20, 30% or more at the chain than other stores? Greed and lack of respect for the consumer (and, from talking to employees, lack of respect for them as well).

Recently my wife stopped at a beer store in southern Indiana. She purchased a couple of beers that I could get locally. The bomber was $8.48 for FFF. I pay $10 or $11 at the chain (I don’t anymore as it is too expensive). The other thing: if you buy six or more bombers, you get a 10% discount on purchases. Go figure: buy in bulk, save money.

Unfortunately, said chain is the only decent American craft beer store within 60 minutes. I home brew more than I buy and, when I buy, I buy reluctantly, choosing do it yourself six packs for $10 (still over priced). Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 51% of people think stormy weather affects cloud computing.

Purchased: American Sour Beers

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

I have been asking Michael Tonsmeire (The Mad Fermentationist) questions for at least three or four years: probably six months before I brewed my first foray into sour/wild home brewing. I wanted to know how I could work with Brett and how this magical yeast would be different from Sacch. Keeping it from contaminating my other beers and gear was a huge concern. I also learned that Brett does truly sour the way that the bacteria lacto does.

Since those early days my home brewery has lived harmoniously in the sour and normal beer realm. I feel like I have graduated to middle school. I have a miniscule amount of knowledge compared to Mike on the topic. Mike has had articles in BYO magazine for years but the first time I can remember him bringing up the idea of a book was via a poll on his blog.

I know that books aren’t easy to write so I had no idea if he would ever pull together his thoughts in one place. I was hopeful. Fortunately for the home brewing community Mike has a much more positive outlook on things than I do. 🙂

The book has been out a couple of months. Brando, the owner of the local home brewing store, Chicago Brew Werks, asked if I had read the book yet. He raved about the book. I had been intending to purchase but that was the last straw. I had to show my appreciation for all the hard work that Mike has put into helping funky home brewers and the book.

I am looking forward to the read. I am sure I won’t be able to put it down once I start. Friday night into the weekend will find me with book in one hand and a sour saison (review forthcoming) in the other. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital suspended workers for betting on when patients would die.

Das Boot

Friday, January 31st, 2014

walking-boot

Not the boot from Beer Fest but the one I received from my doctor a couple of weeks back, has placed a huge damper on my home brewing.

I hurt my foot while playing basketball. I didn’t roll but had some bad pain in both of my calf muscles. I woke up the next morning with a sore (a bit worse than that but painful seems too harsh) right foot. The arch, ball, ankle, just about the whole thing hurt. I limped to work and home. The following morning I woke up and had pain. Enough pain that I couldn’t walk on the foot. To the doctor.

I am entering my third week with the boot. The foot has slightly recovered. When I walk around without the boot, which is very limited, I can’t go fast, far or for long without good old pain creeping in to remind me that I am old and too fat to play basketball anymore.

Yeah, don’t cry for me. I will live but my home brewing has gone south. I can’t stand long enough to brew a batch. I am hoping to be back up and around in a few weeks. I have yeast wasting away that wants to have a smile put on its’ face while sinking into some sugary wort. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Approximately half the money paid out by fire-insurance companies in the United States is paid for fire loss due to arson.

Freezer for Temperature Control Part II

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

running electric for feezer

Back in August I picked up a used freezer that I had plans on using for temperature controlled fermentation. The problem that I was facing: it sits at the opposite end of an unfinished basement from the electric panel. No current for juice.

Running conduit and wire has been something I had done in the past. That didn’t worry me. I had two empty 20 amp circuit breakers in the panel (remnants of a salt water tank), half the conduit already hung (once again from the salt water tank) and I had two spools of 12 gauge wire. I even had all the necessary connectors, plates, etc.

What was the issue? I didn’t have a pipe bender.

Time for a phone call to my Dad, the man with all the tools (and basically the one that has given my tools for my birthday every year for the past 20, but no bender). I convinced that my birthday gift would be him coming over with the pipe bender to spend some quality time in the basement, wiring up my fermentation freezer.

After three hours of work my freezer was plugged in, cooling away. Next up: temperature control for the freezer. Cleaning the house one weekend will probably be the edge I need to convince the wife I “need” such a device. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 160 cars can drive side by side on the Monumental Axis in Brazil, the world’s widest road.

2013 American Craft Beer Resolutions

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

new-years-resolutions

Time seems to be at full warp speed anymore. Days, week, months seem to last no longer than a blink of an eye with my memory being about the same. Last year I made a few resolutions that I would like to revisit while making a few more predictions for the year ahead, 2013.

My focus for 2012 was to increase and improve my home brewing while trying to stick to an American craft beer budget. I also wanted to hit up five new breweries. For once I hit all of my goals:

  • I brewed 20 times. During the year I tried new tips and tricks to get better mash efficiency, get acquainted with Brett, better fermentation temperatures, etc. Myself and my friends get a win from better brewing.
  • Outside of some nuttiness late in 2012, I spent $30 or less in eight of the months on American craft beer. The cellar is still large but there was a small dent placed in its’ side.
  • Most of the breweries I visited in 2012 were on the Ohio trip. I got my five in, barely.

My 2013 resolutions aren’t going to be that much different but maybe a bit more precise.

  • 20 brews is a nice round number. I don’t have to hit that many or I could go over throughout the course of the year. That isn’t the goal. I want to finish getting the last few pieces to my home brewery that will allow me to be a better and more self reliant home brewer.
    • Grain mill
    • 15 gallon brewing pot
    • Freezer to control fermentation temperature and possibly my first lager
  • Keep American craft beer expenditures to near or lower than 2012 levels. Use the saved money to help achieve number one.
  • Visit five new breweries in my home state of Illinois. I have been to very few locally, time to expand the breadth of Illinois craft beer appreciation.

I hope everyone has a healthy 2013 aided along the path by a dose of American craft and/or home brew. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In a very early draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones carried brass knuckles instead of a bullwhip.

2012 Great Taste of the Midwest

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

It has been two years since I had a chance to attend the Great Taste of the Midwest. This was a “date” for the wife and I. Perfect.

American craft beer festivals in Wisconsin are different in one major way than their Illinois equivalent: no drink tickets. Yep, the beer fests in Cheese head land have no drink limit (or at least the ones I have been to). By comparison, I have never had my fingers wrapped around more than 15 tickets at one time in Illinois.

Below is the list that I tried (some I had more than once) and in the order tasted:

  • Hopthesis IPA
  • Ommegang Hennepin
  • Bell’s Two Hearted
  • Tighthead Irie IPA
  • Vintage Hibiscus Saison
  • Big Bay Boatilla
  • O’so Hop Whoopin
  • Tallgrass Velvet Rooster
  • Stillwater Exsistant
  • Founders Breakfast Stout
  • Founders Curmudgeon
  • Alaskan Summer
  • Three Floyds Robert the Bruce

I would say the most surprising beer of the day was O’so Hop Whoopin. Nice resinous and tropical fruit hop mix that was easy to drink. I had three heaping helpings. A half glass pour of Breakfast Stout reassured me that it was my favorite beer of the day. Vintage Hibiscus Saison was probably Sue’s favorite, which means I might be trying to brew something similar.

Some breweries were already out of beer by 5:15PM, barely more than two hours after the fest began. This was a hang up for Sue. We were in line for Bourbon County Stout when the keg ran dry and the crowd dispersed. Overall I was happy with the beers I tried but don’t think we will be back for a while. The wife mentioned she prefers the American craft beer at FOWBAB much more: rare, short release, and big. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The Sun burns 600 million tons of Hydrogen every second.

Baby Shower = Dark Lord!?!?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

2007 and 2008 three floyds dark lord

How does Three Floyds Brewing Company Dark Lord and a baby shower come about? Easily when Chuck is the soon to be first time father. He has been planning the shower from the standpoint of beer for a long time (uncanny how differently men and women look at a baby shower).

Prodding from his wife made him brew four beers for the event. I am horrible with names of people let alone beers, so I will briefly describe each:

  • Fuggli – A Belgian style beer made with all Fuggles hops. Light.
  • Pink (I think as he is having a daughter) – A light beer that was infused with hibiscus, to give it a pink color, and aged on oak. My favorite out of the group.
  • A porter
  • A DIPA that had been infused with an apricot liquor

I knew Chuck had a plan to bring some older Dark Lord bottles to share with the worthy. Glad I am worthy. He opened up a bottle of 2007 and 2008 Dark Lord. His friend Michael and I were responsible for splitting a bomber equally between ten pours of each: the worthy were to get 2 ounces of joy from each bottle. Luckily the plastic cups had a line that I determined to be the 2 ounce marker; amazingly it was.

2007 had a charred flavor that over whelmed, distracting from the experience. I would say it is past its’ prime. 2008 was much smoother, not having really much character compared to the first. It was hard to go back and forth without cleansing the palate. I might also just be that bad of a taster. Both beers still had hints of alcohol while leaving the lip sticky. Not quite cloying but awfully close. I would like to try them both again in a more controlled environment. I imagine that 2009 has to be drinking well at this time.

I did bring chuck a bottle of Bourbon County Bramble Rye as my baby shower gift (Yes, my wife did get real baby shower gifts). Once the baby comes, I have a special treat to open on a Thursday night when Chuck can make it out. Enjoy!

Useless Fact:Starch is used as a binder in the production of paper. It is the use of a starch coating that controls ink penetration when printing. Cheaper papers do not use as much starch, and this is why your elbows get black when you are leaning over your morning paper.

Surly Furious is Delightful

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

surly brewing company furious

It has been a while since I had the pleasure of a Furious by Surly Brewing Company. It is easily one of my favorite American IPAs. In fact it is in the team photo as one of my favorite American craft beers.

Since stopping at the brewery on the family vacation in 2010, I have only had Furious on a few select occasions. Therefore I was delighted to here that Rich had to head up to Minneapolis for business. Better yet, he was driving. Load up the car!

After sharing a Furious at Rich’s house shortly after the trip, I realized that the three 4-packs were ridiculously short sighted on my end. I think I forgot how much this beer makes my senses happy. I went through four of them in a “controlled” weekend as well as a Coffee Bender. Why didn’t I buy more? Was thinking the wife might be angry if I spent too much. Of course, after the fact, she said I should have pulled down a case. Crap, missed opportunity.

This beer is delicious no matter which new hop hits the market. I plan on having the last eight cans over the next couple of weeks; that’s as long as I can make them last. The best part about it: the beer is only 14 days fresh. Yummy. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave.

Crooked Stave Wild Wild Brett Yellow

Friday, June 1st, 2012
crooked stave artisan beer project wild wild brett yellow

Crooked Stave Wild Wild Brett Yellow

Since I enjoy home brewing, I really like finding an American craft beer that is outside the box thinking behind it. Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is in the infancy of its’ existence but they are pushing the envelope with Brett, and multiple strains at that, in each and every beer. There is a “Wild Wild Brett” series is 100% fermented with Brett along with some spices and, to this point, tries to include one “color” of ingredients.

Wild Wild Brett Yellow is part of the aforementioned series of 100% Brett beers. Yellow has turemic, corriander, mango, and spices. The spices come through in the nose as the central point of the beer. A slight tartness comes in behind, cutting through those spices. Mango, which I fine to have a subtle flavor fresh, doesn’t really hit the senses for me. The taste is a bit more balance and definitely interesting. Turemic lends a ginger, earthiness to the beer that is cut by the tartness in the finish to not allow it to build to strongly. The finish tries to dry but there is enough “juiciness” to push it aside.

With the bottle shared with Rich only six months old, I tend to believe this will age nicely, becoming more complex. The difficulty is landing more bottles (only 1408) and being able to control myself in the cellar. Definitely worth your effort in attaining. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9 (25%), Taste: 8 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 8.4

Useless Fact: A jumbo jet uses 4,000 gallons of fuel to take off.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Torpedo

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
sierra nevada brewing company torpedo

Sierra Nevada Torpedo

Torpedo by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has spent a long time being neglected by me. I purchased a bottle several weeks ago as part of a “you make your own six pack” crap. Sierra Nevada always makes good beers but, for some reason, I just find myself purchasing them all that often. Don’t know why. Could be they have been around for a while and I prefer trying to give the new kids on the block a try.

The pour brings a deep gold pour with a white foam that has above average staying power, leaving dry, sticky lacing behind. The aroma is hop forward, earth and spice are the front runners with a dash of citrus splashed in. The taste follows adding grassy hops to the mix along with a light sweetness that seems to be more of an after thought as the malts are subdued. Crisp and refreshing with only a mild build up of bitterness.

Torpedo is a crisp, refreshing, easy to drink IPA that will be especially good all summer long. I waited way to long but glad I didn’t wait any longer. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Pinocchio is Italian for “pine head.”

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