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

Brew Dog Tasting

The Jug Shop had a Brew Dog tasting Friday, as they had just started carrying their line. Brew Dog is a craft brewery from scotland, and they finally have gotten their production of their award winning beers up to capacity to ship to the states. They have a lineup of three rather pale ales, and a robust imperial stout, which they love to age in scotch casks. I couldn't expect any less from Scots, would you?

The lineup started with the Physics, a lightly complex amber ale that won at the 2007 World Beer awards for best strong pale ale. Nice start. The Punk IPA was next. They explained it as "not being west coast style", but it nonetheless showcased the hops more than any other beer, had a nice light body and lingering bitterness, and was my favorite of the lightest ales. The hardcore was next, which was much too sweet and had a crisis in hop identity. The Rip Tide was definitely delicious, roasty, very nutty, smooth and warm, I can see why they used this as their base beer in the casks: it has enough to stand on its own, but not so much flavor and complexity to fight with the barrel. It was also a 2007 World Beer awards for best imperial stout.

Now, about those barrels? Thats what we're all after, isn't? We've had pale ales and stouts. We've even had beers on wine and bourbon barrels - but scotch barrels? The Pardox line does just that. They had two from the Pardox line, which takes the Rip Tide stout and lays them on casks for 6 months. The ones they had this time were on Glen Moray 1991 Speyside Casks and on Ardbeg 1991 Islay Cask. They also used the Islay cask to make a Storm IPA. The Storm was very distinct, possibly more suited for the name Pardox, as the Peat and the thin, hoppy IPA are really a dichotomy. The Pardox Islay was incredibly unique, and the flavor were much more melded together, the peat and the chocolate. The Pardox Speyside was hands down the winner for the night, and the only one on sale, at $13 a 12oz bottle (yeouch!). It is very deep, complex, almost port-like, but smoother and less sweet, and brandy like, but richer and thicker. The Speyside will soon be gone, on to different casks, looking forward to seeing what cask they can throw at us next.

The Physics
American Amber
Nose of toffee, biscuit, light earthy hops. Medium to light orange, dry, light body. Light toffee and caramel, but mostly bread, grain and fruity esters, plum and pear, with light earthy, pine and citrus in the end. Very nice take on a bitter with an American slant. 3.9

Punk IPA
American IPA
Earthy-pine-citrus nose, light yeast esters. Really resinous. Light amber color. Very dry mouthfeel. Flavor very resinous, similar to the nose, with more orange and light grapefruit. Light biscuit, grainy background. Lingering bitter finish. 3.8

Hardcore IPA
Imperial IPA
Overt resin and fruity nose, grapefruit, banana, caramel, orange, biscuit. Deep orange color with rouge highlights. Medium bodied. Very carmel, biscuit flavor, with strong bubblegum, orange and tropical fruits. Light warming, with a rather sweet finish. Really to intese and confused. 2.8

Rip Tide Stout
Imperial Stout
Chocolate, roast, cream and light cherry flavors in the nose. Deep chocolate color, almost black. Creamy, silky mouthfeel, very nice. Flavor is very nutty, toffe, chocolate, cream, espresso, toast and light cherry. Light bitter finish. 3.9

Storm IPA
Barrel Aged IPA
Complex nose, peat, toast, vanilla, grain and cistrus hops. Pale amber color with gold highlights. Very dry mouthfeel, slightly puckering, with strong peat flavors, followed by toast, oak, vanilla and citrus. Lingering bitter and puckering finish. Couldn't drink a lot of this, but one of a kind. 4.1

Paradox Islay

Barrel Aged Stout
Rich nose, chocolate, roast, peat, toast, vanilla, molasses, light cherry. Deep chocolate color, ruby highlights. Rich yet dry mouthfeel. Strong chocolate, molasses, peat and toast flavors, with hints of cherry, vanilla. Medium to dry finish. Really adds an edge to the rich, creamy stout, and some complexity, but not entirely sold. 3.7

Paradox Speyside

Barrel Aged Stout
Almost a brandy like nose, with sweet caramel, dried fruits, cherries, grapes, spice, licorice, tannins, and light bread, toast and peat. Deep chocolate color with an amber hue. Medium mouthfeel, very rich. Flavors of chocolate, dried fruits, cherry, grapes, pepper, clove, peat and vanilla. Warming, bitter and medium to dry finish. Stellar. 4.4

Knockshock Brewing Collaborative - Brew Day

Jobless and pinching pennies, what better idea, as six packs of craft beer are reaching $7 ON SALE, than to take up the DIY spirit and brew your own? I've been homebrewing for almost 5 years now, and doing all-grain batches for 4, and at roughly 50 cents a beer, what better to do on a weekday afternoon than a couple of 5 gallon batches? My Knockshock Brewing companion Greg and I have moved on to additional money saving measures, including doing low hop beers or using increased alpha acid hops, using simple grain bills with mostly affordable, American 2-row malt, and reusing yeast by pitching off slurries (up to 6 times or so.)

I've been writing my own recipes for a few years now after taking inspiration and learning how to build a beer from Ray Daniels great book Designing Great Beers. And with a program such as the Recipator or ProMash, calculating your grain bill and results (ABV, IBU and SRM) become quite simple. Granted, there are some factors that vary, such the mash efficiency and fermentation temperature, that the limited system cannot account for. C'est la vie. I've tried replicating batches, and simply put, with an all grain system at the scale we are producing these beers, it is virtually impossible. So I've embraced this spirit and rarely make a beer twice. Generally, if it turns out so good the first time that I want to make it again, it invariably disappoints.

In any case, here are some photos of the most recent brewing activity, and recipes of those beers if you would like to try them at home yourself. I've been brewing once a week for three weeks strong, should have a nice stash showing up in a few months. I'll keep you posted of how they turn out.

A brew with a view

Knockshock Sour Brown
really a take on Russian River's Supplication. I love this beer, and couldn't find any ideas out there to base my recipe on, so this is my stab at it. It doesn't have a lot of the bugs that Supplication has, but it is really in the spirit of light, refreshing sour beers with a bit of malt complexity and depth, like of you revisit my Sours and Chocolate night.

8 lbs American 2-row
1.5 lbs Wheat Malt
1 lb Carapils
12 oz Belgain Aromatic
6 oz Belgian Biscuit
4 oz Honey Malt

Mashed at 148 degrees for 1 hour.

Added 1 oz of Hallertau Pellet Hops, 3.8 AA, at 60 minutes

Cooled to 120 degrees, added White Labs Lactobacillus Delbrukii to the wort directly into a glass primary.
Pitched White Labs Belgian Ale yeast slurry the next morning. Transferred after 7 days to glass secondary.
Add 4 oz french oak, medium toast, soaked in chardonnay for 2 weeks, after 14 days.
Bottling TBD, probably at 1 month.

Sparge: rising the sugars off the grains

Spigot controls the flow of the sweet wort

Knockshock Sour Saison x5
This is another one of our 5x experiments. The first took place three years ago, using a base wort of 5 gallons with 5 different hopping schedules. I can't say it was easy, or went off without flaw. Boiling 5 different little 1 gallon worts certainly increases some of the idiosyncrasies of homebrewing: different gravities for each running, more kettle carmelization, different hop utiliztion rates. Not to mention how much of a pain in the ass it is to boil 5 batches, then transfer them, and the bottle off of each. However, this one seemed much simpler: same wort, same hops, same primary yeast - but different secondary yeasts. Each a different sour beer contributor. We've included Brett Bruxxelis in three beers, wild bacteria in two, Ommegedon dregs in one and oak in another. The base beer was formulated to be a pretty neutral, saison like beer (honey malt = funk), with a west coast citrus blanket of Amarillo to balance the sourness, much like many of the nouveau sour beers, like Ommengang Ommegedon, de Proef Signature ales, ect.

8 lbs American 2-row
2 lbs Malted Wheat
.75 Honey Malt
.25 American Vienna
.25 Flaked Barley

50 Minute mash at 145 degrees. 20 Minute Mash out at 120 degrees.

.5 oz Amarillio 10 AA, at 60 Minutes
.75 oz Amarillo, 10 AA, at 20 Minutes
1 oz Amarillo, 10 AA, at 5 Minutes

Cooled to 80 degrees, Pitched White Labs Belgian Ale. Transferred after one week to glass secondary. One week later to 5-1 gallon tertiaries, and bottled 1/6th of it as a control group (to taste the difference between the bugs).

Added a beer of 2 lbs wheat DME beer to 5 other jugs (needed additional gravity for the bugs, the Belgian had attenuated too much):

#1 with Brett Brux
#2 with Brett Brux and Oak
#3 with Brett Brux + exposed for a night 1 week in
#4 with Ommegedon Dregs
#5 with Infected Grain Juice left out for a night.

Bottle when deemed "ready".

Wort Boil on the Propane Burner

Mmm, wort.

Chiller porn

Knockshock Bourbon Barrel Smoked Porter
I've done a couple of smoked porters, one just straight up and another with figs added (which was a hot mess, but delicious). Either case, I wanted a little extra punch to this one, and have experimented with simulated barrel aging before (a peat smoked disaster ... one of my only two or three straight up awful calls in my 5 year history), I decided this was the beer to do it with. There is always a question of smoking your own, what type of smoke flavoring, and how much to use. There is certainly a wide range of opinions, but I've found that using Wyermanns Smoked Malt is a pretty safe way to go. They use beechwood, and is pretty mild, and you can use it for between 10 and 25 percent of the grist for a smoked porter, depending on your smoke tolerance and grain bill. As for the barrel aging, I would love to have the space and money for a barrel, but for now I have to go for the simulation. Once again, much debate, do you use chips, cubes, old staves? I go for the American Oak chips, which have a huge surface area, and leave them in a minimal time, probably 3 days, after boiling, toasting them, and letting them spend a week in beam. A few ounces will do. Again, if this was an Imperial Porter, I'd probably go for more chips and/or longer contact, but use caution.

9 lbs American 2-row
2.25 lbs Wyermanns Smoked Malt
1.25 lbs Carafa Malt
12 oz American Munich
10 oz American Chocolate
8 oz American Crystal 60L
4 oz Black Patent Malt

Mash at 145 Degrees for 1 hour.

Add 1 oz 9.0 Columbus Hops at 60 Minutes

Ferment for 1 week, transfer, add hops 3 days before bottling, roughly 2 weeks later.

Bourbon Barrel Porter with the Mash Tuns

Airlock: to keep the bugs out (when desired)

Monday, March 2, 2009

February 2009

Ten Fidty and Telegraph Wheat at City Beer

well, February 2009 was quite the month, Strong Ale month and SF Beer week provided a plethora of refreshing, tasty and humbling new beers. Here are a few that are new to report for the month:

Drakes Imperial Stout
Slight malt, molasses and currant, but mostly chocolate, caramel and roast. Medium to light mouthfeel, a very bronze to black color. Flavors of roast, caramel, toast, with chocolate, coffee and toffee highlights. Definite warmth. Somewhat slick and medium bitterness in the finish. 4.0

Oskar Blues Ten Fidty
Imperial Stout, in a can!
Vanilla, chocolate, malt, caramel and definite graham cracker in the nose. Medium bodied, jet black, a little slick on the tounge. Flavors of chocolate, cream, toffee, light vanilla. Slight bitterness in the middle, but overall a creamy, slightly sweet finish.

Dikke Mathile
Belgium Amber Ale
Nose of toast, pear, apple, slight banana. Light amber color, light haze, with slight gold and orange highlights. Light nutty flavor, banana, pear, light earth and citrus. Light to medium bitter finish, slightly creamy. Nice, balanced Beligum Amber.

Port Midnight Sessions
Black ale - Schwartzbier
Nose of chocolate, toast, slight roast and yeast. Medium to thick body, deep black with deep garnett highlights. Flavors of roast, toast and light chocolate. Light finish, slightly thick. 3.8

New Belgium Lips of Faith
Dark Kriek ale with Cherries

Nose of cherries, caramel, sour fruit, berries, oak and toast. Deep amber with garnett highlights, light haze, off white but quickly disappating head. Light to thin body. Flavors of sour cherries, caramel, oak, toffee, light grain and sweet-tart. Lightly puckering finish. Could use some more complexity, but a nice beginning.

Alesmith Anvil ESB
Nose of strong toffee, light malt and toast, and hints of dried fruit. Garnett color with a light orange tinge, light bodied. Flavors of toffee, toast, light vanilla and apple esters. Lightly dry and malty finish
. 3.6

Widmer 2009 Brewers Reserve
Belgium Golden Ale

Nose of toast, toffee, and strong banana and pear esters. Clear, deep gold with orange highlights, off white but disappating head. Flavors of grain, carmel, banana, pear and light citrus in the finish. Very light "band aid" flavor from the phenolics. Light sweetness to this beer that ends with a rather bitter finish

Josephbrau Winterfest
Dopplebock Nose of chocolate, roast, smoke, dried fruits. Deep brown color with golden highlights, medium to full bodied. Flavors of chocolate, roast, caramel, smoke, toast, banana, pear. Light oxidation. Finish is medium, light bitterness over the sweetness. 3.0

Lost Abbey Avant Garde
Biere de Garde

Nose of apple, caramel, toffee and cherries. Medium bodied, deep gold color with orange highlights, low head. Flavors mostly toffee, toast, caramel and slight yeast esters. Finish is sweet, mild, creamy. Really needs more farmhouse and yeast character.

Peek into the Coolers at City Beer