Archive for June, 2010

Project Finished – Time for Beer Again!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

It is hard for me to believe that it has been two weeks since I said how busy I have been and that I would be writing on a regular basis. So much for that idea. I will not apologize as life brings us all the unexpected; learning to deal with it is part of life.

This past Friday, while speaking to Rich, I told him that I was done with this huge project, so I stopped by to discuss beers and he went and did it: grabbed a bottle of 2010 Three Floyds Dark Lord from the cellar. Unfortunately, my wife gave a call and we had to put the tasting aside for another day. Just so the wife doesn’t get a bad name, she didn’t ask me to come home, I wanted to.

I guess when you finish a tough project, luck is on your side. The wife and I found our way over to Rich’s house around 10:00pm on Saturday night. This time the total and complete intent of the visit was to have Dark Lord. And have Dark Lord we did.

Outstanding is the easiest way to describe it. The aroma and flavors are deep and complex: dark fruits (raisin, plums, cherry), roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, some booze, and even smoke. It is thick, heavy, and a meal in a bottle. I will have to have another soon as I didn’t review the beer, I just wanted to savor the beer.

Now that that episode of my life is over, I can get back to more home brewing and American craft beer reviews. I think I might still be on target for 365 reviews this year. If not, it is catch up time. This weekend will find me in Minnesota for a Surly tour and a visit to Flat Earth, Town Hall, and Summit. Enjoy!

Summer Beer Daze

Monday, June 14th, 2010

My blogging has really taken a hit in the last month. The weather is much nicer so the outdoor chores have begun as well as the desire to just be outside. Being shut-in for three to four months a year, at least, makes one long for the fresh air of the outdoors. Don’t worry my beer tasting and reviewing have both been top notch. 😉

So what’s next? I plan on taking a trip, with the family, out to the St. Louis area. As usual the family trip will include some beer stops. From what I can see it seems like there is a good 10 or so breweries and brew pubs in St. Louis with a nice supply of beer stores. How many stops we make might well be another story, but I am sure the wife will be up for several. 🙂

Unfortunately that is about the only beer plans in the works for the foreseeable future. Unexpected car repairs and the dying of the dishwasher are squandering the other plans we had. Enjoy!

Two Bros 2nd “For the Love of Hops” Fest

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Two Brothers Love of Hops Fest 2010

I did a drive-by of Two Brother Brewing’s Second Annual “For the Love of Hops” Fest (Sat, 6/12) on their brewery property in Warrenville, IL. While the official rationale was for the release of their Double IPA “Hop Juice”, like many craft brewers it was a loyal follower’s party with food, bands, and of course their brews…and some cool guest taps. My reason for just a quick stop was to get a couple of bombers of Hop Juice, and I was still in the dog house with the wifey from the previous day’s excursion to Chicago for the Hawks Stanley Cup celebration and an afternoon at Wrigley watching the Sox – Cubs…but I digress.

So my report on the event is admittedly based on a short stay, but I think I caught enough to provide a broad overview. First off, the Two Brothers Brewery/Pub is tucked at the back of a non-descript business park, so you need to pay attention driving in to the joint. For the Fest, there were directional signs which definately helped. The overall setup was somewhat reminiscent of Three Floyds Dark Lord Days, although on a smaller scale. Food tents, draft beer stations, portapottys all setup in the brewery’s parking lots. Although nice area of tables/chairs and a tented band stage built on top of kegs was a nice touch. Food selection was good with the standard homemade brats and burgers, but also freshly made fish tacos and pulled pork on tortillia.

Two Brothers beer station

The guest beer list looked very awesome, a different keg was tapped the top of each hour. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to wait for some selections I’d really would have liked to try. Standouts on the list included Jolly Pumpkin, The Bruery, Lost Abbey, and Pizza Port…all which are tough to find on tap around Chicago.

Oh yeah, the guest of honor Hop Juice 2010 was great. Without doing a full blown review, it’s a great version of a Double IPA. This is a style that gets beer geeks going, and there are some legendary brews in this category like Pliny, 90 Minute, Hopslam, Ruination…to name a few. Hop Juice is a very respectable execution, is no copycat of the West Coast brews, in that it has it’s own personality. At 9.9% abv and 100 ibus it is very well balanced.

Love of Hops Fest guest tap list

Overall, a very laid back brew event with a more subdued and adult vibe than some brew fests. Focus is on tasing great brews, both from Two Brothers and other high quality brewers. Plus the Two Brothers pub is known for great executions of pub grub, and that seemed to be the other focus. Plus four bands for live music for the entire event. I had a couple of knocks. First is the event had a spartan look, please Bros get some signage. They’ve got some great graphics on T-Shirts, just add a little color/decor to the space. And, I was a little surprised at the price a drafts. I think each brew was $6, and I think the cup sizes were 9 or 10-oz for the Hop Juice and 12 or 14-oz for the other brews. A little price break would’ve been nice…$4 or 5 brews for a twenty spot would’ve seemed more customer appreciative. But, I’d definately hit this fest again.

Band stage on kegs

Sunday Beer Relaxing

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

It isn’t all that often that I have a day to get stuff done and actually relax besides. Luckily today is one of those days.

What exactly do I mean? Well, that is easy. I have done work around the house: picked weeds, hoed the garden, sprayed weeds, and hung up my hop plant (Centennial and more to come this week). I have also gone shopping to about three or four stores with the wife and kids to get our weekly groceries among other things. Vacuuming is still on the docket.

That’s the work, now the play. I am currently on my fourth beer and the temperature outside (about 70 with low humidity) is perfect for just about any beer. So I started the day with a New Glarus Unplugged Cranbic, which is so damn refreshing it took me about five sips to put it away. My palate still desired a refreshing beer. So I opened a bottle of Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA.

While appreciating the Union Jack, the wheels started to turn and as another front went through, with the temperature dropping into the 60s, I thought it was time for something with a little bit of size to it. Founders KBS you say, perfect! That didn’t last long but damn that is mighty tasty. What beer can out do a KBS?

Not many, but along came Pliny the Elder by Russian River. Oh, I think I am about a sliver away from heaven.

I see that Rich is doing some reviewing of his own, so after PLE, it is time for some serious reviews and a great finish to Sunday. Enjoy!

Fulton and Great Waters Releasing New Beers

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Looks like this summer will be a little more fun up in Minnesota as two of the local breweries are releasing new beers, for the summer, per their newsletters.

Fulton Beer will be releasing, tomorrow actually, Lonely Blonde. From their newsletter:

An American style blonde ale, the Lonely Blonde is so named because it is one of the only examples of the style to be found locally. Though the Blonde is American born and raised, its distinct old world roots are clear, thanks to the three German hop varieties we add during the boil. The Lonely Blonde is an exceptionally balanced beer, light enough for the hottest summer day, but complex enough to keep you company any day of the year.

Great Waters Brewing Company will be releasing a new beer for the summer also: Skip & Go Naked. From their facebook account:

Skip and Go Naked has returned! It’s a pushed seasonal made with naked oats, wheat, barley, and lemongrass. Light, clean, delicious!

Looks like some fun should be had in a little north of here. Enjoy!

Last Home Brew Beer Bottled

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

It has been a roller coaster of home brewing for me over the past three months or so. It finally came to a head yesterday with the bottling of my last five gallon batch of beer: a wheat beer.

The arduous brewing journey began with the brewing of a robust porter that was followed by bi-weekly brewing: Russian imperial stout, ipa, wheat beer with orange and coriander, and finally just plain wheat beer.

I did take a gallon of the robust porter and put it on oak and bourbon and one other gallon on vanilla. The RIS, I took one gallon on oak and bourbon. The robust porter turned out middle of the road, while the vanilla wasn’t even apparent, and the oak/bourbon one could have had either a little more of each and/or more ageing. I haven’t tasted the RIS as I am still letting it age.

The IPA turned out fairly well, while the first batch of wheat beer is ready and is probably my favorite beer to date that I have brewed. I only have the newest round of wheat beer to bottle condition after yesterday and then the fruits of my labor will completely ready to go.

I don’t mind waiting for the beer but sometimes it does seem to take a while. 🙂 I probably won’t brew much during the summer as there are so many other things that perk my interest. Enjoy!