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