Posts Tagged ‘american craft beer’

New Glarus Brewing Company Visit

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

A visit to New Glarus Brewing Company is always a welcome event. Before the kids got active, we made multiple 2+ hour trips to the brewery each year. Typically our weekends are abuzz with trips to the gym, soccer field and/or basketball tournament.

This past Sunday was special: it was my birthday.

The wife asked me multiple times what I wanted to do for my birthday. I gave little input. Finally she mentioned New Glarus but only because she really wanted to go and has been talking about it for a month ago. She is a Spotted Cow super fan.

In the four or more since we have visited New Glarus, the drive hasn’t changed but the brewery has. It is bigger, with multiple additions: one on the west side, one on the south-west and possibly more. One of which is near the bottling/kegging area that includes the ability to can their beers. Probably the biggest change: the common area on the north-east side of the brewery. Now there is more and nicer seating, there are trails in the woods, there are a bunch of partially built structures surrounding the area that look more like bombed out Germany during World War II. Tons of new and interesting sites and places for the kids to play. There was live entertainment, see video above. Sausage on wheels was served from a food chuck. The man serving food had a mustache worthy of 20th century Germany.

They still only have four beers on tap for tasting. The price for the tasting has increased while the serving size has not. My only complaint of the day.

The brewery was crowded with people and dogs but the improved family feel made us feel welcome for a lazy October afternoon. We will be back again, just hopefully not for so long. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: If you go blind in one eye you only lose about one fifth of your vision but all your sense of depth.

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.

a tale of three beers

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Hey all. Had three fantastic beers recently (and a lot of good or average ones as well). Two of them were East Coast newbies for me and the third was the return of a Midwest beer, under a new name, and also one of my top five favorite beers.

  1. I got three different beers from Trillium from a new trading partner out of Connecticut. Haven’t drank the FREE RISE saison yet, and SCALED didn’t do much for me, but VICINITY was freaking insane. Cloudiest IPA I have ever had. It had very healthy foam and lacing, but it was so cloudy I couldn’t tell if there was any carbonation. Of course, I didn’t give a rat’s hindquarters, because I so rarely get to try beers like this. It presents with a big bitter hop nose which follows through on the taste. There was a slight citrus flavor and malt notes underneath everything, but the overall feel was light for a DIPA. The alcohol was very well disguised, and that helps make it feel very well balanced. Midwest beer folks, I have to tell you you should find a friend out East who could help you this one.
  2. But if you can get your butt to BJ’s in Oswego, keep an eye out for the next time Maine Beer Company LUNCH comes back around and you won’t have to pay for postage. Had a two week old bottle of it about two hours after picking it up on Monday. I couldn’t wait, as I’ve been wanting to try this one for almost as long as I’ve been into craft beer. I like the idea of an East Coast brewery doing a West Coast style. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and at first taste, I thought “Is THAT all there is?” But once I started getting used to it and met it on its own terms, it really impressed me. It was a very good looking beer, golden orange with healthy foam/lacing and an amazing amount or particulates for an IPA (at least in my limited experience). It had a strong and well balanced hop and malt smell with a mild funk behind it. The malt was more forward on the taste than the hops, which presented as a bitter background. It was very refreshing and tasty, and if I can get more of it, I will. I am dying to try DINNER even more now, if it’s anywhere near as good as this.
  3. We’re now at the returning local favorite: EMERALD GROUPER, aka SQUARE GROUPER renamed. I’ve had this on the previous two releases. The second time, it seemed to disappoint me. The first time, I gave it a five star review. This time was more like the first. It was the cloudiest Midwestern DIPA I’ve ever had, almost like an East Coast style. There wasn’t strong foam to it, and like the VICINITY, I couldn’t tell if there was carbonation due to the cloudiness, but the lacing was pretty healthy. The nose is super strongly bitter-it’s one of those beers that I don’t have to ask my wife to drink to know she wouldn’t like-she smelled it, made a completely disgusted face, and handed the glass back to me. When that happens, I figure there’s a 75 percent chance or more that I’m going to love the beer. The bitter hop scent is accompanied by sweetness from the honey, and both the hops and sweetness present themselves strongly on the taste, backed up by slight bitterness. Absolutely one of the best tasting beers I’ve ever had. For a DIPA with honey, I’d say it’s as good as HOPSLAM.

Anyways, just some thoughts that I wanted to share. Thanks all. Going to get back to my FOUNDERS DEVIL DANCER before turning in.

Cheers!

Reacquainting: Three Floyds Dreadnaught

Friday, February 19th, 2016
Three Floyds Brewing Dreadnaught.

Three Floyds Brewing Dreadnaught.

I reviewed Dreadnaught on the site over six ago. I had Dreadnaught as part of the 365 days of American craft beer back in 2011; almost five years ago.

It has easily been 4 years since I have been able to lay my hands on a bottle. In spite of my proximity to the brewery (about an hour), I don’t find my way to the brewery all that often, I can’t find Three Floyds on the local beer shelves, and I can’t stand standing in line for an hour on a weekend just to purchase beer to go from the brewery.

My attitude towards chasing beer is apathetic at best.

Matt, a new addition to Thursday night beer club, has an in with the local beer store. He was kind enough to get a bottle on hold for me. Upon bringing it over, squaring up on the cash, I promptly opened and shared with Matt.

This was a treat to the senses. Better than I remember, possibly due to the long time since I was able to land an example.

This isn’t a review but a testament to how this beer has stood up to the test of time. I have found that some beers that I rated highly at one point, don’t have the staying power to my senses. As time, new ingredients and brewing techniques evolve, so have my senses, especially with hopped up beers. The new, bold hops have conquered my ability to enjoy lightly hopped pale ale and india pale ales. I crave more.

Wish I could lay my hands on this more often but not too much; I want to keep it being a beer that I fondly regard. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: There is a town in Newfoundland, Canada called Dildo.

Family Trip to Iowa, South Dakota and Colorado Yields American Craft Beer Score!

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

2015 trip for American craft beer booty

The family trip took out west, at least of where we live. Our main stopping points were South Dakota and Colorado with stops in Iowa, Minnesota and Wyoming. Per usual the wife was kind enough to allow me to stop at breweries, beer stores and brewpubs along the way.

The first stop was in northeast Iowa at Toppling Goliath Brewing Company in Decorah. I had a few beers on tap, excellent. The family was restless, time to move on. I picked up a few beers, highlighted in the beer haul section.

More to come…

Beer Haul

4 packs
  • Surly Furious (2)
  • Surly Doomtree
  • Surly Blakkr
  • Goose Island BCBS
  • Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue (2)
  • Avery Liliko’i Kepolo (2)
  • Telluride Fishwater IIPA
6 pack
  • Squatters Off Duty IPA
  • Indeed Let it Ride IPA
  • Telluride Bridal Veil
  • Toppling Goliath Dorothy’s New World Lager
Miscellaneous
  • Bull & Rush 4.0 GPA
  • Bull & Rush Man Beer
  • Avery Tectum et Elix (2)
  • Avery Insuln mulfos Callibus
  • Toppling Goliat Zeelander (2)
  • Avery Raspberry Sour
  • Sulry 2015 Pentagram (2)
  • Victory Sour Monkey
  • Topppling Goliath 1492 IPA (2)
  • Humbolt Black Xantus
  • Squatters Outer Darkness
  • Alaskan IIPA brewed with Rye
  • Dschutes 2015 Jubel (2)
  • Alaskan Double Black IPA
  • Humbolt 500 BC
Crooked Stave
  • St. Bretta (late spring)
  • Hop Savant – Citra (2)
  • Hop Savant – Amarillo (2)
  • Petite Sour – Tart Cherry
  • Colorado Wild Sage
  • Vieille
  • Surette
  • Origins (3)
  • Nightmare on Brett (4)

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.

Brewed: TNBC One

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

hops for tnbc one imperial ipa

Tuesday Night Beer Club was an invention of a few friends of mine. As each of our lives changed the club fell apart several years ago. I am by far not the reason it fell apart but my job changed, creating more travel for me. It was almost impossible to make the monthly journey a few months before it completely ended. As I dropped out, I realized I needed to have a fix.

I set up my own version of TNBC: Thursday Night Beer Club. Different night, different people but still centered around American craft beer. It didn’t exactly start out that official, it still isn’t. Rich and I were contemplating the idea of a web site, this one: twobeerdudes.com. We decided to get together on Thursday nights, occasionally. It gave my wife the ability to go work out, me a chance to watch the kids and for Rich and I to “discuss” the web site. Having a few American craft beers a couple times a month developed into most Thursdays and, at times, upwards of six guys (if our schedules can all fit). Every Thursday has been hosted at my house and most of the beer has been mine (helping to clean out the cellar from my crazy trading days in 2008 – 2009 (I still have a ton left). My kids, wife and few of her friends have joined us at times making for an interesting mix. Heck, one of my wife’s friends surprised us with her craft beer knowledge. Of course she walked home with a few home brews for her and her husband.

More and more home brew has crept in over the last couple of years as Chuck, Pat, Rich and myself have contributed malty concoctions of our own. Each memorable in some fashion. It was time to brew up an inaugural beer to commemorate this coming together of friends, family and beer. The idea of TNBC One was hatched. Something big, something hoppy (I have been craving hops lately), something memorable: Imperial IPA.

I wanted to use a malt I hadn’t used in the past, combined with outstanding flavor and aromatic hops, dry, while not ruining the palate for a week. I had been playing around with first wort hopping for a while, it was time to try out whirlpool hopping without any bittering additions. I wasn’t sure that amber malt belonged in an Imperial IPA but lack of other malts and low mash temperatures should keep the profile minimal.

TNBC is a great way to welcome in the weekend, a day early, with a few beers and, most importantly, with friends. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, December 07, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05 (1.5 packets)
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.0543
IBU: 121.0
Color: 6.71 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Mash Time (Minutes): 75
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 8.53%
Fermentation: 1 day @65*F, 6 days @68*F, 14 days @65*F, 7 day dry hop @64*F

Grain Bill:
16.0# Two-Row
1.00# Amber Malt
1.00# Cara-Pils

Mash:
Saccharification @147.2*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces Amarillo first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Citra first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Amarillo whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Citra whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Citra @10 minutes
1.00 ounces Citra @5 minutes
3.00 ounces Amarillo dry hop (7 days)
2.00 ounces Citra dry hop (7 days)

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

Updates(s):

  • 2013-12-28: dry hopped with 3.0 oz Amarillo, 2.0 oz Citra
  • 2014-01-05: bottled with 2.0 cups of water, 4.0 oz priming sugar (23 22oz, 1 16oz)
  • 2014-02-04: official tasting

Useless Fact: There are 240 dots on an arcade Pac-Man game.

Saison De Pipaix – Brasserie à Vapeur

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Saison De Pipaix - Brasserie à Vapeur

I had been rereading a recent copy of BYO magazine. There is an article about saisons, one of my favorite styles of beer. The article centers on how large the style is and all the different saisons that can be brewed while fitting within. There is a picture of a bottle of Saison De Pipaix, by Brasserie à Vapeur, in the article.

This sparked flashes of seeing that same picture in another BYO article. In this earlier article the focus is on the brewery and Saison De Pipaix. The clone recipe is given. I have never brewed the clone but I have always wanted to taste the beer. I had interest because of the different spices that are used: black pepper, ginger, sweet orange peel, curaçao, star anise. I never had a saison with such a bold spice character (at least knowingly).

Lady luck was with me when I scored a bottle on a recent family trip down to Florida. The bottle had a date of April, 2013. Somewhat fresh for a saison. Obviously I drank the beer instead of cellaring (have read that people have had five year or older bottles).

Saison De Pipaix poured beautifully into a tulip, topped by at least two inches of virgin white foam. Lacing complemented the drink throughout. Pepper and ginger can be had on the nose. Orange, which is subtlety tart, joins earth, lime and pear. The taste is similar. The citrus, spice and yeast create a tart, difficult to describe (at least for me) center of flavor. A delicately complex beer that has a medium body and, surprisingly, a light end of carbonation. Interesting but not my favorite saison but definitely worth a try if you want a saison that is a bit left of center. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: A Czech man, Jan Honza Zampa, holds the record for drinking one liter of beer in 4.11 seconds.

2013 Home Grown Hops Update

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Centennial hop plant: RIP

Centennial hop plant: RIP

This year has been a stark contrast from the weather of 2012. Last year it was hot, dry and often. This year has only seen a few hot days and even fewer humidity ridden days. The plants have never been starved for water (rain barrel is always full from the frequent rains, down pours and monsoons) but they have never really hit that growth stride prodded by long days of sunlight and heat.

Each of my three plans (Centennial, Mount Hood and Cascade) have had their bouts of trouble. The Centennial and Mount Hood had all three of the main bines nipped during a wind storm a month ago. The Mount Hood has been recovering nicely while the Centennial just is sputtering. The Cascade doesn’t get the same amount of direct sun as the other two and only shot up two bines. One tip was nipped while the other continues to grow and, overall, is the tallest of any bine between the three plants.

The Centennial has had buds already form with many cones formed, some almost full size. All this in spite of being nine feet tall. The Mount Hood is getting bushy, looks really healthy, preparing me for a what I believe will be a great harvest. The Cascade is in it’s first full year in my yard (rescued from Chuck’s hard pan soil of 2012) and will produce mildly at best.

Now the sad news. While chasing a rabbit away from the garden (destroyed the broccoli), I took a quick glance at the hop plants (a daily ritual). I quickly noticed that the Centennial was limp. Crap! A few days earlier I noticed that the rope I used had been severed from an earlier storm at the base of the plant. The plant was only held to the grown via the bines. Fast forward to yesterday: another windy storm hit, cutting all three bines, cleanly, at the base. RIP 2013 Centennial. I harvested a mere 10 cones and, in frustration, through them in the compost with the bines.

Another year and another year of hop growing woes. Hopefully I will still get enough from the Mount Hood and Cascade to make a wet hop beer this harvest. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: There are 45 miles of nerves in the skin of a human being.

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.

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