Archive for July, 2012

Duck Hook IPA Tasting (Citra and Nelson Sauvin)

Saturday, July 28th, 2012
duck hook - citra and nelson sauvin

Duck Hook with Nelson Sauvin

I brewed Duck Hook with Chuck back in late May (time goes by too fast). We did two batches of beer: one with Citra as the main hop and the other with Nelson Sauvin as the sparkling guest star. Everything has gone well with these two version. It has been a great experience to understand how these two hops can affect a beer.

I adore the hop, which easily leads to me stating that American IPAs are a great group of beers. I would say that IPAs are my go to style of beer. I have been brewing IPAs since the early days of my foray into home brewing. I am driven to make an IPA that is well balanced; too much unbalanced bitterness kills the beer. I think the Duck Hook series of beers is proving quickly that I have kept to my mantra.

The review will be for both beers: Citra and Nelson Sauvin

Look: Quite possibly the clearest beer I have ever presented. Golden in color and topped on the pour by a fluffy, white foam that has typical staying power for the style as well as beautiful lacing.

Aroma: This depends on the hop. The base beer is a touch of grain, caramel, and toast. Getting me “closer” to the perfect IPA base that I am seeking. Citra is tropical, mango, citrus, and just glorious. Nelson Sauvin bring blackberry to a new level. Strawberry (maybe raspberry) add a nice complexity.

Taste: More of the same form the nose. The base beer has enough back bone to hold up the flavor and bitterness of the hops; definitely not the corner stone of the beer. Citra version brings on the typical aspects of the hop, especially since I have some experience here. Blackberry and to a minor roll, strawberry create a unique flavor I have not experienced from a hop before.

Drinkability: Medium to light-medium body with medium carbonation that allows for a slight bitter bite.

Overall: The Citra beer really turns heads no matter where I bring. Nelson Sauvin lags a bit behind. The base beer has some good malt characteristics while I think the body might be a bit too thin for my liking.

How do the two differ? I think the Citra is much more noticeable and is possibly my favorite hop at the moment. Citra is great to drink as soon as bottle priming gave me enough carbonation to drink. Nelson Sauvin seemed to bring it strong after about 4 weeks or more on the bottle, with aromas and flavors intensify after that point. Citra stands on it own: citrus, mango, tropical, and, at times, a kattiness. I like Nelson but think that it would be a better compliment hop for me in the future.

Now I have to wrangle Chuck to get another dual batch day in August. HBC 342 and Rakau are next. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Barbie’s measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33.

Albatross Saison Tasting

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

home brew albatros saison

This has been a long time coming: a review of Albatross Saison. I brewed it back in February, yet have never found the time to give this beer the respect I owe it.

This was one of my early attempts at Belgians, more specifically Saisons, one of my favorite styles of craft beer. The first time I tasted this beer I was disappointed. It was only 10 days in the bottle but I assumed that was the final product. I was wrong. Thankfully. Ten days or say later this beer rounded into a great drinking beer, much more than I expected.

Look: Straw color with a couple of inches of pristine white, thick, tightly packed, small bubbled foam. Retention lasts as should be expected with a Saison. Effervescent. Lacing thick, coating the sides sporadically.

Aroma: Pepper and fruity esters are the focus from the yeast (pear and banana). The esters are a touch bigger than the pepper, which is joined by a slight spicy scent.

Taste: More of the same form the nose. Touches of vegetal can be found from the Fuggle hop but I am a hop fan, maybe others might find a distraction (although this went over well at the brew club). Clean bitterness in the finish that is just enough to let you know it is there.

Drinkability: This a really nice drinking beer. Great for the summer. The alcohol level makes it a tough sell for sessioning but is ridiculously well hidden.

Overall: From a beer that was almost dumped after the first taste due to frustration to one of my favorite beers I have brewed; not bad. This will be in my normal summer lineup. The fact that it isn’t hoppy, can age, and get better make this the perfect fit.

I am very happy with this beer and will be having this again (after I try a bunch of different Saison combinations). I have a rye Saison and a rye Saison on brett coming up soon. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: There are 1,525,000,000 miles of telephone wire strung across America.

American Craft Beer In Ohio

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

the four horsemen brewing company

The annual family summer trip. The best time each year. A time in which we find a new state or three to visit, meandering around different breweries, beer stores, and brewpubs along the way. This year: destination Ohio. Originally our sights were set on Colorado but the long, complex story of how that morphed into Ohio is duly explained behind a few shared home brews on the back patio. Besides, I have never been to Ohio, at least that I can remember, so why not.

The first stop was on the way to Cleveland: The Four Horsemen Brewing Company in South Bend, Indiana. The wife took the kids to the Notre Dame campus for a bookstore stop as the Four Horsemen isn’t kid friendly. This gave me enough time to try two beers: Bourbon Barrel Stout and Irish Red. The stout didn’t have much of a base stout feel while the red was a nice offering. If you are in or around South Bend it can’t hurt to stop.

great lakes brewing company

Great Lakes Brewing Company was the first stop while in Ohio. The brewery and brewpub are located in an area that is “coming back”. The pub was crowded (we passed it another time and it was crowded then as well) but we were fortunate that we mentioned we were going on the tour, so they squeezed us in. The food was quite possibly the best on the trip in terms of brewpub food. The food was priced as such as well. I had a couple Rye of the Tiger (a DIPA) with dinner and ended up taking a growler back to the hotel with me. There is a gift shop that is stacked full of goodies.

The tour was informative and typical for the brewery size. The gentlemen that was our host did a great job with a stop in the middle for a taster. The brewing takes place on the second floor of the brew house; I made sure to have my sweat towel with me. A brewery hop should be forthcoming.

The next stop landed us at Fat Heads. I originally put the wrong address into the GPS, creating a nice long drive through a bunch of neighborhoods. Once finding the brewpub I was excited as I have heard good things about Fat Heads. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to those expectations. The service was average while the kitchen was worse. Three of the five meals we had were delivered to our table and not correct. I know this isn’t a problem of the waitress but it is a bad showing for the business in general. I will not be back.

rozi's wine house

Rozi’s Wine House was the first beer store and only that I stopped at in Cleveland. It didn’t take long for a staff member to come over and give me a showing of the local beers, the fresh beers, and what he thought I couldn’t get at home. He was helpful, saving me from over purchasing beers just to try that he didn’t give good recommendations to. Rozi’s also had make your own six pack which is a big plus in my book: cheaper way to try many beers without being “stuck” with a full sixer. A great place to stop in Cleveland to fill up on American craft beer.

Buckeye Brewing Company was the site of my first chance to meet with a head brewer on a one-to-one basis. I met with Garin Wright and Ray McDonald. They shared Cleveland porter, Hippie IPA, 76, Redhead, and an Imperial Stout aged on a used French oak wine barrel. I had a time limit as the wife and kid were sitting in the van. The limit was based on the movie ending that they were watching. Of course a text from my wife ended the conversation. A brewery hop is forthcoming.

jackie o's brewery

Another day and three more stops: Jackie O’s, Marietta Brewing Company, and North End Tavern (closed on the 4th of July).

Jackie O’s was the one of a handful of breweries that I really wanted to hit on this trip. I was stoked. Being the 4th of July, I didn’t know if I would be able to talk to anyone in the actual brewery, luckily David was there and he gave me the fifty cent tour. The basement is tiny but the new brewery space should be welcomed. We had lunch with my wife having Kentucky Monk, a Tripel aged in oak bourbon barrels, while I chose a DIPA, the Matriarch. Both beers were outstanding. We took home a growler of Kentucky Monk.

We headed towards Marietta, Ohio and the Marietta Brewing Company. Why? I wanted to hit up West Virginia (never been there) and Marietta had a brewery while being right on the Ohio River. Two birds with one stone. The beer at Marietta wasn’t average or a touch higher. I didn’t feel like they did anything special. We did stop for a quick bite that was anything but quick. The waitress we had was brutal. How brutal? Bad enough that I didn’t take any notes about the experience. It had been a long, hot day that had already taken it’s toll, having disappointing service compounded the situation.

The last stop of the day and on the way back to Columbus, was North End Tavern in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It wasn’t open but it did give me the chance to step foot in West Virginia. My wife also noticed a beer store close by, so we stopped. I don’t recall the name as there was nothing but a few of the “larger” American craft beers to be had, all of which find their way to Illinois.

columbus brewing

With a night of sleep under my belt, we headed Columbus Brewing for lunch. I also had the hopes of taking a few pictures along with a conversation. I lucked out, both were had. I talked to Eric, the brewmaster and owner about the brewery, with a focus on cost, which was a pleasant twist for me. More to come on a brewery hop. Back to the lunch. The food was great as was the service. I think I enjoyed it more than Great Lakes. Of course I had a pint of Columbus IPA and Bodhi; both solid offerings. I will be back again.

Palmer’s Beverage Center was the last stop on the trip that had to deal with my American craft beer addiction. Palmer’s isn’t a big store but they pack it in. The staff is friendly, going out of there way to make sure you are pleased, answering all of my questions. I picked up a bunch of locals to round out a great haul.

The trip was awesome. I can’t thank the wife and kids enough for pretending and allowing Dad to play beer. Without them the experience wouldn’t be as fulfilling. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Over 10,000 birds a year die from smashing into windows.