Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer Revisited

I have abandoned my beer drinking and reading audience!  Not to fret!  I will be returning very shortly.  Perhaps tonight if I feel up to it.  Before I do so, I feel like I need to explain...

Summer happened.  The season brought on LOTS of work at my employer with many an hour of overtime and just when it looked like things would slow up a huge fire breaks out at their main distribution center and our production has to ramp up to 7 days a week and then some!  It's not an excuse though!

Truthfully, I have had a bunch of different beers at my local pub The Grey Lodge and logged them in on Untappd where I have 48 badges now!  But at home I have only really had my homebrew here and there.

Other than an intense hot dog season there were little highlights to my summer.  I have been quasi helping my father work on the sailboat that we obtained last Xmas.  It is slow going.  Mostly I have been sleeping late on Saturday and putzing around out in the shop with him.

I threw a successful homebrew party where I showcased 4 of my brews in early summer.  The party was a success and It seemed that everyone liked at least one of my beers.  The most popular being Eddie's Small Bier which was a second running of the grain that I used for my Chocolate Stout.  I managed to squeeze a bit more sugar from that grain and made a tasty light ale with an ABV of about 3%.  I'm currently drinking in my apartment another second runnings beer that I reused from a Wee Heavy that I brewed for that party.  This one is about the same ABV and pretty flavorful.  The Scotch Ale grains are pretty appealing to my palate.  

I managed to see Furthur this summer with my brother, his friends, and my buddy Pat and his friends.  That was a really cool experience!  I had never seen Bob Weir or Phil Lesh play and was really happy to finally do so!

There was one HUGE event this summer.  One that I plan for all year and one that I brought everything, including the kitchen sink, to except my sleeping bag with the first night of this event dropping into the 50's.  The Philadelphia Folk Fest is what I speak about!  If you haven't been, then you haven't been.  It is very difficult to sum up.  I posted on FB when I got there that it was like I instantly had 3000 friends.  To sum up this years experience... Carolina Chocolate Drops were an incredible band amoungst a ton of incredible music both on stage and after the shows in the campground to whom I listened to until 6AM each night.  Todd Rundgren was kind of a d!ckhe@d on stage.  I don't know if he meant to come off sounding as such, but he did.

So alas, I lead up to the future of this Year of Craft Beer.  Tomorrow I will start off with a variety of pumpkin beer!  I know, it's too early, but they are in the stores now and they usually sell out by time I want them.  I snuck a few in before I blog about them and am glad that I had bought them!  All that I have to say is that Weyerbacher RULES!

In fact,  I may partake one now as I eat my dinner.  Have a great night and remember NOT to drink crappy beer!  Life is too short!


Monday, July 22, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 142, Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale

Hi everyone!

Yeah, it's been a while, but summer happened.  The highlight so far was seeing Furthur at the Mann Music Center!  But anyway it's been a tough time getting to the blog.  Of course, Untappd is loaded with new beers for me!  I have close to 50 badges now!

Tonight's beer is called a Farmhouse Ale (from France) but is actually classified as an American Blond Ale which is basically lager like, or Kolsch like, or even, like in this case, Farmhouse like.  It can be lightly malty with subdued fruitiness and medium hopped and should be very drinkable just as this one is.
One pic was too dark, one too light, I could not get the true colour of this beer.

The beer poured a clear and light gold in colour with a typical lager like thin white head and faint lacing.

The aromas are of sweet pale malt, biscuity and mildly fruity (pear and some lemon) yeast, some light notes of honey and maybe some grassy hops albeit very light just as the lemon is.

It's a pretty well balance between earthy hoppiness and pale malt sweetness aided by lemon and honey.  It's delicious and very well done.  The finish borders on dry with a mild lingering hop bitterness with faint notes of pepper.  This is a good beer!

The mouthfeel is smooth and the body light, but not watery like I have read.  The carbonation is medium or just over, but not hot in the least.

Overall, I feel this beer meets all the criteria of an American Blond Ale and many of a Farmhouse Ale as well as they seem similar and in that respect I am going to give it high marks.  To add to that, the extreme pleasantness of this beer is also going to get it a great score and I don't see why it has gotten lower scores on Beer Advocate but I am going to give it a solid 4 out of 5.

Hey, if you like that lager that you have been drinking your whole life, this is a perfect beer for you to change it up and live a little!  Life is too short to drink crappy beer!


Monday, July 8, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 142, Flying Fish Extra Pale Ale

Yo!  Tonight I'm drinking yet another American Pale Ale.  Does everyone have one of these in their line-up?  This is a style taken from the India Pale Ale style of Britain and made, more or less, with American ingredients and hops.  Sometimes taken to the extreme, but this one is "Extra Pale" so it should be a bit lighter.  Let's check it out!
This beer pours crystal clear and straw to gold colour with a thin but lasting head in the form of just a ring and very little lacing.

Upon agitation biscuity yeast aromas come out along with some light malt sweetness and some floral hop notes.

The beer tastes very lightly malt sweet mixed evenly with hop bitter throughout the sip which then takes over mildly at the finish along with some peppery notes.

The mouthfeel is smooth, fairly thin, but not watery, and on the dry side with a fair bit of carbonation over moderate.

Overall, I think this is an excellent beer for summer events (cans would be great if offered).  As an American Pale Ale I believe it is too thin, but this is supposed to be extra pale and taylored made as such and when judging that needs to be considered.  Would I buy this again?  Yes!  As an extra pale ale I think this deserves a 4 out of 5!

You guys should try this beer!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 141, Flying Fish Hopfish IPA

Hey Beerophiles,

I have been away!  It's been a busy week and I have about 20 more beers under my belt on Untappd, but unfortunately I haven't been able to get to the blog.  My bad.  I'm up to 141 posts and I think there are about 170 days gone in the year so far so I am about 30 days off.  At this rate I will get ten full months of posts in before new years.  Not too bad.  I have found out that to do this every single day is just unrealistic for me.  I hope that you understand!

Also I am in the throws of Flying Fish Brewery week on here starting off tonight with an IPA, but it is Oregon beer month and I may focus upon some of the Oregon breweries that have beer available here in PA.

So the story of the traditional English IPA is that in order to get Ale to the colonies in India in the 18th century that they had to hop it heavy to allow it to keep from spoiling on the almost year long voyage.  Hops, as you may know, are a great preservative for beer as they have a high acid content and keep bacteria from growing.  This Flying Fish representation is their version of a traditional IPA.  Let's have a look!
This beer pours an amber/light brown colour and is quite clear with a nice two finger head that lasts as very interesting dinosaur patterns on the glass.

The aroma of sweet amber malts is the most obvious of aromas and then as you agitate the beer aromas of bread and citrus tantalize your nose as well as some mild buttery notes.  Yum!  Fairly English in aroma for sure.

Tastes very English in malts and quite malt forward moving towards a bit of tart grapefruit and other mild fruits while blending with some earthy hop bitterness.  Not overly bitter and ending slightly dry, mildly bitter and peppery.

The mouthfeel is creamy with light to moderate body and fairly playful carbonation.

Overall I like this beer and it has a definite English feel to it, but the yeast and the hops seem to be a bit off.  The yeast seems to impart a biscuity and almost Belgian taste to it and the hops seem to be more on the lines of Pacific Northwest in format.  I don't know what they use.  It's a good beer and very drinkable!  I like it!  It's not incredible or awesome, but very satisfying on a warm evening!  3.5 out of 5!

Thanks for reading and I hope that this encourages someone out there to get into craft beer because really, it's the only kind of beer to drink.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 140, Lancaster Brewing Pale Ale

Hi Aleophiles!

Tonight I want to discuss another American Pale Ale from Lancaster Brewing named Lancaster Pale Ale.  An American Pale Ale, if I haven't beaten this style to death, is the American take on the English IPA but Americanized and Texas sized!  Usually big hopped with American grown hops and American ingredients.  Let's see how this one stacks up!
The beer pours a hazy copper colour with a nice one finger head that lasts throughout the drink as a ring and broken cap and leaves nice archway patterns on the glass.

The aroma is biscuity and caramel malty sweet with hints of mellow fruit and some floral hops.  Kind of nice actually but more English than American.  I would expect more hop aroma.

The same goes for the taste.  It starts off malty and sweet with notes of cantaloup caramel and bread and then transitions towards earthy and slightly citrus hop bitterness but maintaining a strong malt foundation.

The mouthfeel is moderately sweet and smooth and light to medium bodied with moderate carbonation.  Very nice and drinkable!

This beer is really nice and tasty.  It's not exacty an APA and more like my favorite style of English Bitters, Ales, etc...  It is, however, exceptionally drinkable and you could have a few of these on a hot summer day with the best of the lagers!

Hey, this was a gift.  If a friend gives you a gift of a new beer, a homebrew, etc...  don't cast it aside and say that I don't like dark beers or something lame like that.  Get out there and drink something good!


Monday, June 24, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 139, Susquehanna Brewing Company 6th generation Stock Ale

Hey Y'all!

This beer has been around for a while and is considered an American Pale Ale as it uses hops from the Pacific Northwest but it also uses grain from Britain and truthfully it tastes very British and mild.  APA's are a take on the original English IPA's that were highly hopped to survive the long sea voyage to India.  Over the decades, for one reason or another,  IPA's lost much of their potency in alcohol and hoppiness.  APA's try to revive the original strength using American ingredients.  

This beer has been around for 6 generations and is reportedly the same as it was way back when which is most likely English in some characteristics.
The beer pours a beautiful rich and clear amber colour with a faint head and very little lacing until agitated and then it fades again.

The aroma is definitely English ale style.  Caramel malts, bready yeast, and light fruit aromas and very mild floral hops.  Very nice indeed!

The taste is equally as nice!  Caramel malty sweet light but sweet enough, some grainy yeast, a tiny bit of dark fruit and apple with a mild hoppy finish.  Bitterness is very light and barely noticeable between sips.

The mouthfeel is smooth and quite light in body but well balanced and highly sessionable!  The carbonation is moderate.  This is a nice beer!

Overall my only complaint is the body being a bit on the thin side and it's a bit off the mark as an APA but I love English ales!  Otherwise this would be an excellent beer getting a solid 4 out of 5!

I'm so glad that I received this as a gift and tried it!  Thanks Rich!  Fantastic style!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Patching a hole in the hull of a Catalina 22 Sailboat named TARDIS

Elaine!  I'm posting a project for you!  Ha Ha Ha!

I actually haven't posted many of the projects that I have been doing or documenting them either as time is usually short.  But today I decided to start blabbing about my sailboat that my Dad, Uncle Richie and myself procured last fall.  She was basically stripped of all of her wood by my father and uncle and revarnished, cleaned, upgrades made to some hardware, and the keel removed and the pivot bored out and re-sheathed with stainless steel.  The keel is called a swing keel and it is lowered and raised at one end and pivots on the other.  Well the keels fulcrum where it pivots from was really corroded and worn out and the keel was all wibbly wobbly sort of like time travel in the space time continuum.  That was a task!  I will document that later perhaps.  But tonight I want to talk about patching a hole in the hull forward of the keel box in which the keel retracts and pivots in.

Just forward of the box there is a noticeable hole and crack.
Before it was sanded down it was very obvious that the whole problem was caused by a bubble between the layers of fiberglass matting during manufacture and basically is a FAIL on Catalina's part!  Here you can the edges of the bubble with the dental tool in between the layers of glass.
My Dad prepped the surface with the almighty angle grinder and got it ready for filling with epoxy and fiberglass.  I chose to fill the major portions of the hole and deep gouges accompanying the cracks with Q-cell which is glass like fiberglass, but just bubbles instead of glass threads.  It's basically a filler and there were some pretty deep divits to fill.  This is what it looks like after the tape was removed as it was really difficult to try and get a shot of it while forcing it in with the tongue depressor.  The before and after pic would look the same anyway.
The Q-Cell is mixed with a batch of pre-mixed epoxy to the consistency of peanut butter (a thicker ratio may be too dry and not bond well with the surface of the prepped fiberglass.  It is also tricky because the boat was made with polyester resin and epoxy will adhere to dried and cured polyester  resin but polyester resin will not adhere to cured epoxy.  It's weird chemistry but they are two different entities.  Polyester resin does not add any structural integrity and relies purely on the fiberglass for strength and it also dissolves some of the glass as well making it adhere really well but weakening the glass some.  Whereas epoxy molecules lock together in chains forming a structure and protective coat as well as incorporating the fibers of the glass into the mix making it doubly strong as the polyester resin.  It's just a little of a gamble when working with the two.  But anyway, the hole was filled with the wet epoxy and Q-Cell and because it was only peanut butter consistency it had to be dammed in place with painters tape.
This process kept the shape of the hull and the edge of the keel box really well but as I was taping, filler seeped out around the edges of the tape so I had to make sure that I did not let this harden for two reasons;  1.  If it hardened then bits of the tape would be embedded in the filler making it weaker structurally and 2. part of the epoxying process dictates that successive coats of epoxy and fiberglass, etc... have to be within the time that the epoxy cures or there will be no chemical bond between layers and they will peel.  Being that I had planned to do at least two more coats (I actually did 6 more coats) the tape had to be removed and the filler checked for curing.  At about an hour I peeled off the tape gently and the filler still wanted to flow out a little bit so I put down a little bit of wax paper and retaped it.
Feeling that the filler needs to be in contact with air (I'm not sure if this is true, but it seems logical and my experience with these materials has led me to believe that it will cure faster exposed to the environment) I removed this tape and wax paper about 30 minutes later.  When doing this, I keep an eye on the container that the epoxy was mixed in to get an idea of how the cure is going.  On this section I learned that wax paper sticks to epoxy much more than the painters tape does and pulled a bit when removing it leaving a rough surface which was advantageous
for me.  Notice the right side of the patch.

The next step is to fill the depression with as much fiberglass as you can.  I had tons of 6 ounce fiberglass cloth around and put about 4 coats of 4 layers thick of the fabric after the filler step.  
Basically you paint on your epoxy, press down a glass patch and then wet out the glass with more epoxy on your brush.  Here you can see what the glass looks like pressed on to the surface by my vinyl gloved hands.  Where my fingers pressed on the fabric, the glass turns clear as the it wetted by the epoxy.  Then you brush on more epoxy and wet out the rest of the fabric.  I did this with four layers of the fabric and then let it almost cure all the way (chemical bonding) added an other 4 layers of glasss, let it almost cure (chemical bonding), added another layer of four pieces of fabric, etc... for four layers of four layers of fiberglass fabric.  

It is done in thin increments like that because if I were to layer out 16 layers of fabric at one time it would pose two problems:  1.  Thick layers of curing epoxy give off excessive heat as it cures, it can brown,   get extremely brittle after curing, and can delaminate and 2. all of those little spaces in between the stitching in fabric have air holes in them and the patch will not be as strong if all those patches don't get filled with epoxy from the consecutive layer of epoxy and fabric.  

That being said, when it was all finished, I had to come back an hour later before the patch was completely cured for the sake of chemical adhesion and brush on a final filler coat of epoxy to fill the air voids in the top layer of fabric.

Tomorrow it will be sanded flush removing the hill tops of the fabric and then coated with a bigger patch of 3 or 4 layers of glass.  Sanded again and then ready to be finished with the bottom paint for the boat.  WIN!