Monday, June 8, 2009

May 2009

This month's Motto

May took me to a few new places, mostly, the Seattle Beer Scene. Although I only tried a smattering from Elysian and Pike Brewing Co, both with some really exceptional stouts and solid IPAs. I did hit one of the most amazing beers store: Bottleworks. The selection was phenomenal, the prices were just right, and the ambiance ... well, lets just say, I hope they get a few more lights in there soon (or the lights in the Chilled Beer Case fixed). It took me a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to see WTF I was looking at, but once I did, oh boy. It made me wish I lived in Seattle.

In addition, tried a smattering of Aaron's Homebrews while brewing some new Knockshock with Aaron and Greg: an additional round of Flanders Red, plus Liquid Gold, a cherry bourbon barrel quadrupel ... at over $100 a batch in raw materials, easily our most expensive beer yet.

Lagunitas Brewery tour, Iron Springs tasting, and a tasting of some of Moylans Finest Eats and drinks were also in the books. Couldn't think of a better tour (with complementary tastings) anywhere in Northern California ... well, except for the Anchor Tour, which is really unparalleled.

Throw in the legendary Bell's Two Headed, a Full Sail take on a hopped up Scottish Ale, a couple of De Proef offerings for under $3 each (BOTTLEWORKS!), and an organic beer called Initial Attack: Wildfire IPA, well, thats a wrap ... oh, except for the Mikkeller single hop beers: I tried one, the Cascade, and was quite disappointed, so I couldn't stomach the $5-6 per 12 oz for another, but I love the idea!

I'll keep the reviews brief, only non-brewpub beers, but the photos will be plentiful.

Wonderful Chandelier at Laugnitas Tasting Room
Cask Action
Line em Up!
More Maximus
Bottling Cage
And conveyor

Iron Springs Lineup ... Respect the Paddle!

Bells Two-Hearted IPA
Floral, Resiny nose, light grass, more pine that orange, slight smoothness in the background. Light medium gold to orange, thick off white head. Flavor loaded with hops, orange, zest, slight warmth, smooth finish, not too lingering.

Full Sail Reserve - Keelhauler
Scottish Ale
Strong nose of malt: caramel, toffee, slight chocolate and butterscotch, slight warmth-phenolic and light citrus. Color is ruby with chocolate highlights, huge off-white head. Medium to full bodied. Flavor of butterscotch, caramel, toffee, chocolate, biscuit, orange, and light phenols (apple) with a very slight medicinal taste. Smooth finish. A little neither here (scottish ale) or there (hoppy beer).

Angelik Blond
Belgian Sour-Blond Ale
Nose of apple, lemon and lactic tanw, with a light horseblanket and tart cherries. Medium to light gold in color with burnt amber highlights. Huge rocky, frothy head with lace. Rather smooth flavor, pils-toast, apple, and slight lemon and lactic tang. Slightly bitter-puckering finish.

Van den Vera Grand Cru
Flemish Red
Nose of strong toffee, butterscotch, figs, cherries and raisins. Musk and tang. Deep amber color with ruby-chocolate highlights, medium off white head. Medium to light body, with quite a bit of sediment. Flavor of toffee, chocolate, cherries, raisin, and light chalk and bannana. Good deal for $2.50, but not a winner.

Mikkeller Cascade Single Hop
Medium malty, caramel, light musty aroma with light orange and grapefruit. Light amber with golden highlights, huge off-white head. Medium to full body. Flavor of caramel, toffee, biscuit, orange and grapefruit. Finish is quite bitter, but the full mouth reduces the impact. Muddled overall, malt dominates, and light oxidized character.

Butte Creek Initial Attack Fresh Hop IPA
Organic IPA
Nose very floral, lightly resinous, and high in orange and grapefruit constituents. Light toffee and biscuit, delicate pear esters in the finish. Thick, rocky tan head. Light amber in color, chocolate and ruby highlights. Medium to light bodied. Rich, resinous taster. Slight grapefruit, very flora, definte caramel and light burnt toffee. Slightly yeasty aspect, pretty smooth finish, great for an organic.

Pikes Double IPA
Imperial IPA
Strong orange nose, with hints of toast and biscuit, slight resinous quality. Medium orange with ruby highlights, nice tall off-white head. Medium to light bodied. Flavor is toward the hops, surprisingly spicy, zesty, with light orange and malt undertone, light warming. Bitter finish, but not lingering.

Pikes Extra Stout
Strong roast and chocolate nose, with hints of currant, licorice and toffee. Medium off white head. Deep chocolate color with espresso highlights. Very thick mouthfeel and body. Rich, roast-chocolate forward stout, with hints of toffee, coffee, almonds, raisins and rum. Medium to dry finish.

Elysian Promethus IPA
Strong grassy nose, with nice herbal, floral and zesty lemon-orange with light grapefruit. Large off-white head, deep golden-yellow with orange highlights. Medium bodied. Zesty orange-pine, a little spicy with some grapefruit in there. Delicious, lightly dry finish. On tap at Tangletown!

Elysian Perseus Porter
Coffee, roast and chocolate all very prominent, with hints of toast, biscuit and toffee. Deep chocolate color with espresso highlights. Light tan head. Medium bodied, but a little dry. Flavor similar to nose, but more caramel and stronger chocolate. Smooth rounded finish, but again, quite dry. Could use an edge one way or the other.

Elysian Dragonstooth Stout
Roasty, chocolately and warm nose, slight currants, berries and coffee. Deep espresso color, nice large tan head. Medium to full bodied. Flavors of chocolate, roast, coffee, currants, with light fig, toast and caramel. Really robust, slight warmth, mouthfilling and smooth, well rounded finish. Leaves you wanting another sip.

Elysian Immortal IPA
Lemony-orange zest, slightly resinous, with light spicy hop notes, toffee, caramel, and slight yeast-apple esters. Light orange with golden highlights, medium off white head. Light to medium body. Flavor similar to nose, but more caramel and orange, less esters, more creamy. Decent IPA, nothing to write home about.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Session #28: Think/Drink Globally Story

Here is my first posting for The Session, a monthly, interactive group activity/posting for Beer Bloggers. The theme is Think/Drink Globally for this month, and the description is as follows per Brian at Red White and Brew, this month's host:

So, in honor of Global Craft Beer Forever, I pose everyone writes about the farthest brewery (including brewpubs) you have visited and specifically the best beer you had there. Again, not your favorite or any old brewery you've been to, but the one that is the longest haul away, be it by airplane, car, ferry, rickshaw, whatever. (If you blog about beer but have never been to a House of Brewing, get on it!)

Then, the last part, since this exercise gives us an excuse to drink beer, do one of the following:if you brought home a bottle while visiting the brewery and have it secreted away, crack it open.if you don't have any left from that visit but the particular beer is available where you live (or if not your fave from said brewery, another brand from it), go get one.otherwise, find a local beer of the same style and do a little compare and contrast

And my account:

The furthest away from home I have been for freshly crafted beer would Brasserie St. Georges in Lyon, France.. I was there 3 years ago while visiting friends. It dates back to 1836 and is the place is amazing. Very old time feel, and the restaurant is enormous, with a great art-deco style. It also hold the world record for the world's largest sauerkraut and largest baked alaska ever served! It is definitely an institution, it gets mobbed every year for the Fesitval of Lights, Lyons Joie de Vivre, in December (pulling in 2,500 people!).

They had 3 beers on tap, a blonde, an ambree and a brune, which were all delicious. I was upset they didn't have a blanche, which many of the places in the region featured, but in any case, the beer profile in the region was quite simple and generally pretty solid. The ambree was hands down my favorite, slightly malty, lightly tart and biscutty, a slightly phenolic and spicy quality, and a very smooth finish.

I unfortunately have no beer remaining from the establishment, but I do have a glass with St. George on it slaying a dragon. Which is completely awesome.

I could find a few available comparisions to the Ambree at a local shop, but they would most likely be from Belgium or France in any case. Maybe Ommegang Rare Vos would really be the closest thing I could find commercially available to me that is made in the States. The only way to get something even close local without waiting for a brewpub to have it as a season offering would be to BYO, Brew Your Own, so I have a recipe at the bottom of this post.

One of the great things we found in Geneva and eventually Lyon was a brilliant style for serving beer: the column. I've heard the refered to as La Girafe as well, but more frequently La Colonne. They come in several sizes, but in general, are about a 48" high column of beer a little wider than the mouth of a pint glass. The column is clear and has a tap handle with a wide base at the bottom for stability (this is beer, after all!) Now, the place we went to in Geneva, it was much more of a party, drink a bunch of lager sort of place, so many tables had the Colonne set up. Brasserie St. Georges, however, probably had more wine drinkers in the house than beer. So when the column came out, some serious heads turned! We were without a doubt the white elephant in the room. Thank god we order the small one.

It is still so very interesting that so many places tout themselves as Brasseries in France that it is synonymous with "Cafe", and the brewing part has all but been forgotten. It was nice to be at a Brasserie for once that actually was one!


St. George Ambree
5 Gallon Batch

7 lbs Belgian Pilsner
1.75 lbs Malted Wheat (red if available)
1.5 lbs Honey Malt
1 lb Belgian Aromatic
10 oz Belgian Carvienne
4 oz Belgian Special B

Mash at 140 Degrees for 50 Minutes
Protien Rest at 120 Degrees for 20 Minutes

1 oz Hallertau (5% AA) at 60 Minutes
1 oz Hallertau (5% AA) at 15 Minutes

Ferment with Belgian Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP 550) at 72 Degrees for 1 week, rack to secondary, bottle at two weeks

Mash Efficency, 70%:

1.069 OG, 1.010 FG
IBU: 25
SRM: 13
ABV: 6.0

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Prescription May 2009: Bourbon and Porter and Chicken

 ... oh my.

This month, a recipe for a Bourbon Barrel Smoked Porter to go with some Bourbon Honey Chicken. This recipe is a little heavier than last month, but is a good summer recipe for the grill. An ode to the grillmaster in all of us, if chicken isn't your thing, this could easily work well with pork, steak or even veggies (hobo style in a large foil packet on the grill?  why not).  In any case, mixing the marinade correctly and getting a good char on the food is key.  I used a wok for mine.  The BB Porter really serves as a good base for barbecue, already containing smoked malt, toasty oak, chocolate flavors, and a small amount of bourbon.  What you won't get are the bitter, roasty, and warming aspects of the beer, which I've chosen to pair with sweet and spicy notes in the marinade and glaze.

Bourbon Honey Chicken
Serves One. Adjust accordingly for more. 

Large Chicken Breast (I had a 3/4 lb boneless breast, adjust recipe accordingly)

1/4 Cup Bourbon Barrel Stout.  See recipe below, or find your own at the local store.
1 tbsp hot sauce (I chose to use the ubiquitous Cholula)
1 tbsp worchester sauce2 tbsp honey (any kind should work, I just used Grade A Wildflower found in the "honey bear")

Set aside 1/3rd of the marinade for the glaze. Marinade breast for 45 minutes to 2 hours. Cook chicken thoroughly and develop a good char.  Add 3 tbsp of honey to the rest of the marinade and top the chicken once cooked as a glaze.

Knockshock Bourbon Barrel Porter
5 Gallon Batch

9 lbs American 2-row
2.25 lbs Wyermann Smoked Malt
1.25 lbs Carafa
12 oz Munich
8 oz American Crystal 60L
10 oz American Chocolate
4 oz Amercian Black Patent
.25 Aromatic Malt

Mash at 143 Degrees for 50 minutes. Bring to boil.

Add 1 oz East Kent Goldings (6 AA) at 60 minutes.

Chill to 80 Degrees, pitch any "neutral yeast", aka, dry yeast or Calfornia Ale Yeast 

Ferment for 5 Days, Transfer; at 2 weeks add 2 oz of American Medium Toast Oak chips, soaked in 4 oz of Jim Beam for 2-3 Weeks.  Let sit in beer for 3 days, then bottle.  Ready to drink at 1 month to let the oak-beam flavor meld.  Also, before adding to the Beam, I would highly suggest boiling the chips 3-4 times (removing the water after each) to remove the tannins, and to toast them lightly in addition at the end to remove the water and add a nice, heavier toast to them. A good 20-40 minutes on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven should work nicely.

65% efficency
1.075 OG, 1.020 FG
27 IBU
36 SRM

Thursday, May 7, 2009

April 2009

Lots of great beer events in April, including Belgian Beer month at the Toronado and Moylans and Deschutes at the Jug Shop . Pliny the Elder ... an old favorite, now in bottles and receiving pretty nice distribution.  Napsmith coming out with some great stuff, light delicate ales, that harken back to a simpler time (you can catch them at the Jug Shop May 8th).  Lots of Knockshock too, the simulated barrel beers are finished: Bourbon Barrel Smoked Porter, Barrel Aged Saison and Barrel Aged Blond.

Pliny the Elder
russian river brewery, IPA

Nose of fresh hops and resin, and bitterness. Hops have some pine but mostly grapefruit, orange and slight apple. Huge off white head. Light orange color with auburn highlights. Has some light legs.  Mouthfeel is light.  Fresh, strong pine and grapefruit flavors, pleasant background sweetness.  Quite bitter but not lingeringly.  Great fresh hop aspect for a bottled IPA.  4.6

Pikes IPA
pike place brewing

Nose of light esters, apple, more malt and toast balanced, with light toffee.  Light orange zest in the background. Light to medium orange in color, with amber highlights. Light bodied. Delicious, balanced well between the hops and malt.  Apple esters merge with orange, grapefruit hops well. Has a light lingering biterness in the finish. Nice version of a more British IPA, malt sweet esters balance well with the hops. 4.1

Alaskan IPA
alaskan brewery

Grassy nose, grapefruit, orange and definite lemon, with light resin quality.  Full off-white head, light lace, medium to deep gold in color with orange highlights. Light bodied. Flavor more subdued, less grassiness, more orange and light malt-caramel sweetness, toffee residue.  Medium to sweet finish, light bitterness.  3.7

Napasmith Pale Ale
napasmith brewery

Nose of light toast, biscuit, and esters, mostly apple and pear, with light pine-earthy hop in the background.  Low off white head.  Light gold in color with auburn highlights. Light body, rather dry. Lightly nutty flavor, with toast, caramel, biscuit and light hops, followed by apple and pear esters. Light finish, crisp but lightly creamy, with a light bitterness. Almost like a nice english bitter. Harkens to another era.  3.9

Herren Pils
braueri keesman

Nose of strong pilsner malt: biscuit and toast.  Deep yellow color with golden highlights, bubbly off white head that disappears quickly.  Light to medium body with a slight creaminess.  Rather sweet beer up front, light malt, toast, bread, but is quickly followed by a harsh bitterness, hops in finish are really earthy.  Lightly crisp, but bitter, finish. 3.3

Keyte Double Trippel
belgian dark strong ale, brouwerij strubbe

Soft malty nose: caramel, raisin, cherries, figs, with light banana and toffee. Deep tan, long lasting head; a little lace, but no legs. Slight haze, deep ruby color with chocolate highlights. A little slick on the palate, medium bodied. Sweet up front, with raisins, plums, soft malt and caramel, leading into a tart cherry finish.  Nice complexity to this beer, a "musty" one with still really strong character. 4.3

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Prescription: April 2009

I've decided to begin a month post focusing on beer and food recipes that pair together as a meal. Lets call it the Prescription.

This month, a recipe for a Belgian Red Rye to go with a Dijon Chicken Apple Salad. A nice spring dish you can easily make yourself, and an ode to Eastern France and Belgium. The pleasant fruit and estery flavors pair well with the sweet apple sausage, honey and pears, while the slightly bitter rye and bitter, citrus hops
works off of the argula, walnuts and dijon. A good substitue for the beer would be a Saison (Dupont or Foret) , or possibly a more bitter Belgian Blond.

Dijon Chicken Apple Salad

Serves One. Adjust accordingly for more.

Nice Bed of Arugula (4 cups?)

1 Chicken Apple Sausage (any local one will do). Or make your own!

1 Red Anjou Pear

1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Honey Dijon Vinagrette

-1/4 cup Olive Oil
-1/4 cup Basalmic Vinegar
-1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
-2 TBSP Honey
-1 TBSP Cracked Pepper

Pan Fry Apple Sausage, cut into 1/2" cubes.
Core Pear, slice into 1/4" thick pieces
Top Arugala with sausage, walnuts, pears, and vinagrette.

Gregors Belgian Red Rye Ale
4.5 Gallon Batch

9 lbs American 2-row
2.25 lbs Rye Malt
.75 lbs Crystal 150L
.50 lbs Cara-Pils
.5 lbs Cara-Munich Malt
.25 Aromatic Malt

Mash at 143 Degrees for 50 minutes.

.5 oz Magnum 16% AA First Wort Hop
.5 oz Magnum 16% AA at 60 Minutes
.5 oz Amarillio Gold at 10 Minutes
.5 oz Amarillio Gold at 5 Minutes

Chill to 80 Degrees, pitch WLP550 Belgian Ale Yeast

Ferment for 5 Days, Transfer, Bottle at 2 weeks.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The classic "what beer are you" quiz, with a twist

Well, I was hesitant to do it, but the dismal quality of "What beer are you" quizzes out there left me .... well, pissed. I had to at least attempt my own
, obviously focused on styles rather than beers themselves. You can find it here

note: need to be a facebook user to use this quiz, as far as I can tell.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 2009

Following the Irish Tradition, I had lots of new stouts and porters this month. Even tried a Guiness Stout Float for the first time, with Ben + Jerry's Americone Dream. And yes, everyone is right, it does taste like Dr. Pepper.

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quadrupel
Belgain Quadrupel laid over cherries and barrel aged.
Nose of cherries, vanilla, plum, oak and raisin. Light sour, tartness, funk and earth. Amber color with chocolate highligts, light tan head with definite lace and legs. Medium bodied. Flavor pronouncably bourbon and caramel, with cherries, vanilla, oak and toffee filling in between. Finish is dry, lightly bitter and light warming. The 11.2 ABV is hidden very well in this beer, I don't know how long they've aged it, but it is perfectly blended and ready to drink now. Delicious, intense yet smooth, and incredibly unique beer, my favorite so far this year. 4.6

Anchor Porter
2 Year Old Bottle, signed by Fritz Himself
Strong, sweet caramel, chocolate, definite toast and bread and yeast, light spiciness. Deep espresso color with golden highlights, and a thick, deep tan head. Rich, medium to full mouth. Really strong caramel, dried fruit and chocolate flavors. , with light and pleasant oxidized flavor in the background, adding notes of cherries and pepper. A smooth, rounded finish. A much more rounded option than the fresh, less robust flavors of chocolate and caramel, more complex. 4.7

Schlafy's Bourbon Barrel Stout
Nose of toast, oak, molasses, plums, and a definite warmth, but not really fusel. Very deep chocolate color with ruby highlights, rich, off-white head. Rich, medium to full mouth. Strong chocolate, malt and molasses flavors, with light bourbon, toast and vanilla in the background, and note of earthy hops in the finish. Definite warmth and light alcohol flavor. Medium finish, lightly creamy, not to bitter, and very warm going down. This is a solid, robust BB stout, and although they said this is ready to drink now, I would lay this down for a least a year to let the heat subside. 4.0

Dogfish Head Chickory Stout
Nose of strong roast, toast, coffee; light molasses, licorice and chocolate. Color deep brown, almost black, with a thick tan head, seems opaque. Medium to full mouthfeel. Roast, toast, vanilla, coffee, and light toffee, chicory, earth. The finish is reather creamy, with a light lingering spiciness and bitteresss. Overall, definitely chocolate all around with a unique spiciness from the chicory, similar experience to a New Orleans Iced Coffee, but more robust. 4.2

Firestone Walker Reserve Robust Porter
Nose of toffee, caramel, light chocolate, almond and earthy hops. Dark brown with golden highlights, rather opawue, medium lasting off-whilte head, medium body. Nutty flavor, almonds, pecans, with toffee, then hints of chocolate, toast and coffee. Finish is smooth, lightly bitter but not lingering. Rather on the Brown side or Porter than Robust in my opinon, but still pretty solid. 3.6

Lagunitas Imperial Stout
Nose of caramel, bitter chocolate, roast, and a definite fusel character with a light warmth, dried fruits and plums. Jet black, fast disappating off-white head. Rather medium to light mouthfeel, but slick. Flavors of chocolate, coffee, raisins, plums, earth, molasses, allspice, and a light roastiness. Some harshness, and definite some warmth, with a earthy hop flavor at the end. Lingeringly bitter finish, slick and warm in the throat. This beer doesn't have enough complexity or robust flavors to hide the alcohol behind, I'd say cellar this a year or two and try again, but I'm not holding my breath. 3.3.

Stone Old Guardian Barleywine
Nose of caramel, citrus and earthy hops; light resins, phenols and alcohol definitely in the background. Light chocolate and toffee notes. Amber color, with ruby highlights, and a light tan head, thick and lasting, light legs. Medium to light mouthfeel. Flavor of caramel, malt, resin, citrus-orange, and pine. Very lingeringly bitter finish, zezty, with some warming going down. Good barleywine, definitely can tell Stone's signature on this with the hops (NW variety) and malts (Maris Otter) used, and the heat this packs is hidden well. Possibly a more intense hop character or unique grain used to give an edge would be great, but this is pretty solid. 3.9

Charlesville Trippel Wit
Nose of vanilla, bubblegum, pear, light malt and phenolic warmth in back, with caramel and light orange. Medium body, light creaminess. Strong malt and caramel flavor, with hints of banana, pear, honey, corainder and orange. Finish light an bitter. A little too much of a hefe-yeast character to this one, but enjoyable. 3.8

Maredsous Dubbel #8
Plum, raisin, fig, toffee, fusel and light orange. Chocolate color with amber hues, medium off white head that goes away quickly. Quite thin mouthfeel. Flavor of plums, cherries, figs, caramel and light citrus. The finish is very bitter. Seems like this is fermented to quickly, at too high of a temperature, or the yeast is too attenuative. Dryness, thin body and fusels all point to this. Citrus hops a little to much for an abbey. 2.4

Abita Abbey Ale
Nose of clove, white pepper, figs, licorice, pear. Garnett color with ruby highlights, thick, light beige rocky head. Rather dry mouthfeel. Flavors of cherries, raisins, plums, toffee, light pear and a slight funk. The finish is rather dry, and lightly bitter. Dryier and less malt forward than most abbey ales, but quite nice. 4.0

Abita Andgator
Helles Dopplebock
Nose of bubblegum, banana, soap and light grain. Light yellow with golden highlights, tiny bubbles, medium, off white rock head with some lace. Medium to full mouthfeel. Strong malt, toffee and toast flavors, light melanoidan complexity, creamy. Light to medium bitter finish. Confused beer, yeast profile of wheat but the malt complexity of a dopplebock. 2.8

Label of the Month