Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 31, Dark Horse Brewing Co. One Oatmeal Stout

Now that is One Oatmeal Stout for sure!

This is also a pretty good choice made by Scoats for his 24 beers of Christmas Case.  Thanks for all the hard work on that by the way dude!

I served it at a perfect 55 degrees.  I had it in the fridge for about 15 to 20 minutes tops.

The beer poured almost syrupy and black as night with a beautiful brown head of tiny bubbles that capped the beer but fades to a nice ring and Friar Tuck in the center.  The lacing of it is awesome on the side of the glass.  At first the foam completely covers the glass like good heads do, but this one stays around a while (so you get a bigger sip while you watch it) and then breaks up into ever expanding circles.  Very nice!

The beer smells just as good!  Roasted coffee and malts with dark chocolate are most pronounced. Oats are discernible if you look hard.  There is a fruity smell that I can't pinpoint too well almost like raisins and vinegar.  strange... but good!  Truthfully, and I apologize if this offends anyone, but there was a large pop when I opened it and when I poured it, it initially had a rotten fruit smell and then there was a LOT of mud in the bottom and I was worried that it may have spoiled.  But then all those smells went away and the stout came out.

It tastes roasty, dark chocolatey, with a mild vanilla oatmeal taste in the background and at the end with the hops.  It starts off a good balance of malt and coffee with a little chocolate and then the hops come half way through and stay for the rest of the ride.  At the end of the ride you hang around for some bitters and notes of vanilla.  In fact, as I take a while writing and in between sips I taste coffee, hops and definitely vanilla.

Mouthfeel is pretty heavy, I have had heavier, and really creamy.  I freaking love it!

Carbonation is perfect with this beer.  Maybe a little high?  Not sure.  I totally can't taste any alcohol but can feel it!

I like this beer a lot, but can't put my finger on that smell.  I'm still getting a little of it.  Very very faint vinegar like which might be a function of the oats and some other variable.  I'll have to take a point off for that and give this puppy a 9!

9 out of 10.  Good beer, really enjoyable and creamy enough to drink all night.  Quite pleasant!

Happy Friday folks!  I outta here!

-Fish



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 30, Stoudts Revel Red

Take a gander at the color of this beer as well.
It is almost as red as Sammie's Winter Lager and just as clear, there is a lot of humidity tonight so the glass has condensation on it.

It's an American Amber Ale that was included in Scoats's 24 Beers of Christmas Case.  It's an ale that is not quite as dark as a brown, porter, etc...

The bottle is a WIN!  Thanks Stoudts for helping out the homebrewer!

The beer pours a definite reddish amber is crystal clear.  I poured it at 45 degrees so condensation formed on the glass.  The head is an amber white with a thin cap and ring around the glass.  The lacing from the foam is nice, not super nice, but nice for being so thin.

Aromas that come through are a bready malt and very mellow citrus hop.

The flavor is about the same.  Malt is most prominent and balanced well with a mild to medium hoppy bitter finishing hoppy, then sweet, then dry hoppy.  It's pretty straightforward and nice.

I'd have to say the mouthfeel is light to mid range with a sweet malty body and well carbonated to keep it crisp and hoppy, but not overly so.  Well balanced and very drinkable.

I like this beer a lot!  It's something that I could session with and not get over malted or over hopped.  It's refreshing and somewhat light.

I'm going to give it an 8 just because it seems like the finish leaves me wanting something.  Another sip!  It's just a little light, but I really like it that way, so 8.5!  

I love it!  I hope you get to try it and find out for yourself!  I would definitely seek this one out again!

Thanks everyone!  Have a great night!

-Fish

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 29, Samuel Adams Winter Lager

I'm kinda anal about my glassware being clean.  I worked in a lab starting out as a glassware cleaner and I kind of take pride in the fact that I'm not tainting my beverages with soap scum.  I read a bunch of articles on beer critiquing when I do this blog.  Not always, but when I am curious about a beer like I am tonight, I read and try not to plagiarize. 

Tonight I read up on Samuel Adams because I drank their "seasonal" tonight at dinner with my family at Famous Dave's (although a chain, the quality never varies) and swore it was their Octoberfest.  So, when I got home from dinner, I unexpectedly grabbed the Winter Lager from Scoats's 24 beers of Christmas case and figured it was a good idea.  

To melt those two paragraphs together, I will get to the point.  I was astounded at the similarity.  Although the waitress didn't know what "seasonal" this was, I assumed it was the Octoberfest as it is common in NE Philly and rather tasty and my fall go to when at a place that doesn't offer other craft beer.  In reading about this beer, I stumble across an article that says they just change the label!  LOL  I know this seems on the verge of stupid, it does hold some merit with me, but I am not sure what I was actually drinking beforehand.  Either way, it's weird.  But I digress much past the point of your interest and gotta get to the point before you think that I am inebriated.  I'm reading a lot of people losing their heads much like Marie Antoinette did all of a sudden and kind of in a hurry like.  That and they don't get much smell out of their beer, this one in particular and I kind of became aware of a trend.  People are serving their beer too cold (not as much aroma at cold temps) and that the head is going flatter than what I observe probably because they don't rinse their glasses well enough.  It's just an assumption, but on almost a dozen cases I have come across critiques that have said the head was lame and there was no lacing when in my glass it was brilliant.  Just a guess.

Dayum this beer screams RED!  This picture is awesome and captures the beauty of this beer perfectly!  It is truly rediculously red not to be rediculed.

So she pours one of the crispiest clear reds that I have ever seen with a rosy white to tan head that lingers throughout most of the drink and fades to a halo by the end.  As you tilt your glass a solid wall of lacing eventually breaks up into tiny little diamonds that look like the most intricate of lace.  Truly beautiful to see.

Most of the articles that I read said that they had a hard time smelling any aroma for the beer so I decided to try and warm it up:

When it was fresh out of the fridge and about 40 degrees, there weren't many aromas.  I could smell some light bready malt and that was it.  This beer is supposed to have some ginger citrus, and cinnamon in it so I wanted to warm it up and see if it came out.  It became more apparent of the bready malt nose and only the tiniest hint of the spices, but they were more apparent after warming and some swirling.

Like bocks, the taste is strongly malty and sweet with some spiciness along the way, but hardly noticeable.  The finish is very slightly dry and sweet at the same time.  Dryness from the hops which struggle to negate all the sweet of the beer.

Some people say the mouthfeel is watery.  I don't get that at all, but it is refreshingly lighter than medium.  It's also sweet bodied with a small dry bitter aftertaste from the hops which while during the drink they are mellowing the sweetness unnoticed become evident at the end in the aftertaste.  Medium to high carbonation with excellent head retention.

Beer Advocate has this as their highest rated bock beer.  I can see why!  Even though it's a truly superb beer, I give it only a 9.  why?  Well, I don't know really.  It should have a 10, but if you are expecting the spice to come out, you'd give it only a 9.  In reality, a bock doesn't require those winter warmer or belgian style spices so it may just be a perfect 10.

OK.  9.5  Happy?

Thanks everyone!  Have a great day tomorrow!

-Fish



Monday, January 28, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 28, Weyerbacher Merry Monks' Ale

I'm going to have to say that this is a world class beer!  This is a Belgian Trippel.  Basically, three times the normal amount of malt are used making this a high % alcohol beer.

Look at how clear that is when poured at 57 degrees F!  You can see the individual bubbles rising.

Weyerbacher gets points for the bottle and the cap is wicked cool too (no picture, sorry).

The beer poured a golden straw color with a thin white head that is lasting throughout my drink leaving a beautiful diamond lacing pattern on the glass.  Phenominal!

The Belgian yeast being used gives the beer a prominent banana aroma and what they call ester-like.  Ester is a difficult smell to describe to you.  Imagine a bubble gum smelling Witch Hazel or nail polish remover, but don't imagine it anywhere near that strong!  It's a thousand times more mild than that, but similar in that it is aromatic (when the molecules come in contact with air, they disperse vigorously and expand).  Being that I served this beer on the warm side, the aromatic tendencies are increased and so is the flavor!

The banana flavor is most prominent amoungst the malty sweetness (this is a beer after all, it's not like a banana milkshake or anything, its a really fine beer with a hint of banana).  There are hops in this beer, but they are definitely hiding in the sweetness and the slight alcohol zing.  The alcohol is noticeable and the hops are as well, but only very slightly and the beer finishes with an almost grassy sweetness (ever chewed on a sweet stalk of grass that you picked alongside a road or trail?).  This beer is that good!

Cabonation is delightfully mellow yet noticeable.  Mouthfeel is mellow and sweet and the finish very slightly dry from the hops and sweet from the malts.  Well done!

I haven't had La Fin Du Monde in quite some time, but this is what I remember about it and I have to tell Weyerbacher that they have turned this one up to 11!  (Guess that allusion and get a free Wiss Brau T-Shirt)

I will definitely seek this beer out as it is one of my favorite styles and it is just out of this world.  You gotta try it.  To those who aren't craft beer drinkers yet, I recommend Belgians as a great intro into the craft beer world

Weyerbacher, 11!

-Fish


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 27, Bells Winter White Ale

Now this is a beer style that I find myself attracted to.  Belgian wheats, wits, whites, crand crux, etc... are all very palatable to most crowds and I do believe that this is the flavor profile that will work best with some gluten free extracts like sorghum.  Just a hunch.

Bells  pretty much has a top notch beer here.  It fits exactly as to what I think a Belgian wheat beer should be AND is exactly the flavors that I desire for the sorghum beers.

The bottle is great for reusing and pretty cool looking, so that is a plus!

The beer pours a golden straw color which I bet will darken by next year.  I will take my cellared one next year and compare colors.

The head is thin and whispy and dissappears half way through.  I personally would like some lacing.  My glass was pretty clean so I don't think any detergents effected it.  I don't think they are supposed to be overly carbonated or heady, so it's probaby cool in that respect.  I'd like more though.

The aroma is banana bread and citrus!  There is some malty sweetness in there for sure.

The taste is just the same.  Malty and mild banana bread-like with some orange peel.  The hop flavor is really mild from the start to the finish and only barely noticeble at the end.  Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a medium body sweetness.  The alcohol content is 5% yet there is a trace of it.  Sometimes I get confused on this issue especially with banana flavors.  There is also a light peppery finish, very faint.  Very light carbonation.

I will definitely drink this beer again and it is yet another high ranker on my list getting a 9 out of 10 only because I like a bit more head and carbonation.

Rock On Bells Brewery!

-Fish


Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 26, Goose Island Christmas Ale

Check out this pint glass!

Points for a crimp top bottle!

I poured this beer at about 58 degrees into this pint glass.  I don't know what kind of pint glass it's called.  The color is a red and super clear!  I read a bunch of reviews all saying theirs was cloudy from the bottle.  Chill haze?  Did they pour in the mud?  I don't know.  I'm thinking their beer was much colder and had the chill haze to it.

The head was thin and a light reddish tan that stayed throughout the drink.

It is classified as a brown ale and is apparently more!  There has to be cherry in here as it is quite apparent in the nose which is also malty mixed with caramel.  It's also described as bready.  I wouldn't have picked that up unless I read it, but I do catch a little of that as well.

As you drink it, you are hit with the bittering hops that melt away to malty cherries, then hops again, then a great Black Cherry Wishniak Franks soda!  It may also be a bit hot with alcohol.  The beer is fairly carbonated which makes the cherry stand out and maybe gives it a little peppery end.  The beer finishes slightly bitter dry over top of sweet.  It's kind of weird, like they are fighting each other.

Full bodied and a smooth mouthfeel with a bit of carbonation overload with some noticeable alcohol.

All in all, I really super like this beer!  I don't like the brewery, but this is a good beer.

Personally I would give this beer an 8.  To be professional about it, I would give it the same or slightly higher...  8.75 or so.

I would totally recommend this beer to most everyone as it is not over the top hoppy, but they have to like some hop to like this beer as it is balanced but not mixed like sometimes when you are using taps from an old sink and you want warm water so you turn on the hot and the cold faucets and out the spout comes hot and cold water that hasn't mixed and you feel both the hot and the cold but it's not really warm?  Let me know if you have ever experienced that.  It's pretty cool actually and so is this beer.

I would call that complex!  OK, 9!

-Fish




Friday, January 25, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 25, PBC Shackamaximum Imperial Stout

Here lie an Ebony Goddess! 
(I'm tempted to post something from Round and Brown)  (( I already contacted them about a beer collaboration, I call dibs!!! ))  Bagsies!



So like, here is one hell of a stout.  I'm so tired of giving out freaking tens!  Will I ever encounter a bad beer again?  I need to purchase something bad so I can guage this whole thing.  Like zero-ing out a calibration instrument, I need a baseline.

Actually, I think that I have just been getting lucky with my choices AND I also do a little reading about beer, but damn there are sooooo many really good beers out there!  I read a post from a local brewer recently about a scalding critique on a certain beer and how there are some super beer geeks (Beeks) out there who can't just let a beer be a beer.  If it's not something extraordinary, then it's worthless.  That is a beer snob.  And I totally agree with said craftsman.  Fuck, let me tell you.  I had that lager from Czechvar last week and that was wicked simple and super good!  As a beginner, I find complexity difficult.  Perhaps that is a reflection on myself in general, but I don't always want to work at a beer!  Many times it is just a means to an end!  And hopefully that end arrives pretty quick!  Sometimes.  Not all the time.  Sometimes there is no end necessary and that is the perfect time to chill, analyze and enjoy the ride.

Shackamaximum from Philadelphia Brewing Co. is just that beer.  I'm in no hurry.  I am having this beer before dinner on an empty stomach.  Life is good.  I didn't even bother to put this in the fridge, I just got it out of the cupboard.  I knew that would be OK with this beer and I am glad that I did.  This beer is like a dark chocolate truffle.  Chocolate truffles are supposed to mimic a cooling sensation when you eat them, even the dark chocolate ones, but especially the milk chocolate truffles.  This is like a dark chocolate truffle from Lindt!  Lindt is the best chocolate available to me, so that is what I am sticking with.

The review:

Bottlegasm!  Huge and can be used over and over again.  Innuendo?  NOoooo.

Also, the label reflects who the beer is dedicated to, the local Lenape's.  I can respect that.  Wissinoming is the Lenape word for "Where the grapes grow well".  Pretty cool, eh?

The beer pours thick and black.  Innuendo not intended there, you pervs. Guys and Gals alike.

The head was a full 3 fingers thick, well, baby fingers, not even really.  In the real world it was 3/4 of an inch, maybe.  In "Beek" world, it's 3 fingers.  It's a light brown color and thins out as you drink the beer, but stays in tact across the top.  And the lacing is quite good!


The aroma is of roasted malts and chocolate with some vanilla.  I'm not sure about the vanilla.  I haven't read any other reviews on this and don't know what goes into it, but I smell vanilla.  Nice.

She's bitter, but not angry.  That comes through about half way through the sip which starts off creamy malty roasty chocolatey.  Then the end is super bitter and dry, not overly dry, but it happens with hops, so,  not overly dry.  All the more reason to take another sip!

The body is full and the mouthfeel really smooth.  Carbonation is mellow and I think that is the key to the creamy feel.

If you don't like a bitter finish, then this won't be your favorite.  But damn, I think this beer is wicked true to the form! 

I'm going to say that this beer is a true classic and that if you like a stout, especially Russian Imperial Stouts, then this beer goes on your bucket list.

10 points awarded to PBC -indore!  I can't believe this hasn't won the house cup!

Grey Lodge bound.  

-Fish out!



Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 24, Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout

Yarr!  This be a stout that walked the oak plank and was so balanced they had to keel haul it!

Avast me lubbers!  It's a screw top!  Woe and torment to the scallywag who robbed me of this fine booty!  Saved a shilling for this black jewel of a beer!

Black as tar this beer pours with only a tan halyard ring upon her head.  Aromas of vanilla and malt pour from her sails.  Smooth as the backing wind on a calm sea she sails. A roasted malt and smokey oak powderkeg of a bang she has after which she raises her vanilla frock showing you her sweet medium body and then lets you sample her smooth mouthfeel.  Light carbonation lifts your wallet from your slops (pants) and leaves only the mildest of bitterness in your gullet.

Don't spend all your money on shore leave and save some for this black beauty in which I give a 9 out of only because I give out too many 10's and this has a screw top bottle!  Their Chandler must be a Quaker!

Swim with The Fish and imbibe this Grog!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 23, Full Pint Brewing Co. FESTIVUS

It's no feat of strength to power down one of these tasty holiday treats!

This is a good local beer!  A brown ale very lightly spiced with vanilla, cinnamon and mace.  Super mild simcoe hops.

This is a great bottle to re-use!  The label is pretty festive... and coated with plastic so it may be a pain in the ass to remove, but I don't bother removing them anymore.  Although it IS nice to be able to see the sediment when pouring.  There is sediment in this beer but that is no surprise to the craft beer drinker.

This beer pours a very deep red brown.  It's a beautiful color.  The head starts out as a thin off - white to tan covering the beer at the pour and then to a nice ring as you drink it.  It laces a little on the glass and is generally nice.

The aroma is of malt and vanilla with a nice mildly floral hop note.  I love it!  And it tastes pretty much the same!  First and foremost is the malt, mildly roasted.  Mixed with the malt is the vanilla which almost produces a caramel taste.  At the end is the cinnamon if you look for it in simcoe hop bitter which is carried along for the whole ride, start to finish and then some slightly after finish where it almost becomes floral and peppery.  So very nice!  There is a lot going on in this beer!

Mouthfeel is smooth and on it's way to creamy but the body is only medium and that kind of holds the creaminess back some.  But that is OK with me.

This beer WOWs me and gets a 9 only because I thought the body was just a hair too thin. 

I freaking love this beer and is yet another excellent choice by Scoats for the 24 Beers of Christmas case that he hooked us lucky 24 people up with.  #f@ckyeahscoats#  LOL whatever that means as I see it everywhere.  I guess it's a twitter thing.  

Anyway, I hope that you get to enjoy this beer!  I will again next year as it is in the cellar just waiting for a go around next year!

Later, y'all

-Fish



At first you are going to think that this is a weird beer, then you enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 22, Czechvar Lager

Help me out here.  There are some conflicting stories about this beer.  Beer Advocate says that it is not in production anymore, while the Czechvar site says otherwise.  From what I conclude Budweiser Budvar now owns it.  Is this the case?

Further reading indicates that Anheiser Busch stole their name, fought them in court and made them settle to change their name to Czechvar.  It's vague.  Scoats?  What is your take on that?

In any case, this is probably the best lager that I have had to date.

I can reuse this bottle!  Nice!  Although green, it will do just fine, I don't expose beer to light.  

The beer pours nice with a nice thin white head that fades throughout the drink.  The color is of golden straw and the pic doesn't do it justice at all.  The aroma that I get is light malt and some mild hop.  Noble I have read.  It's a really nice balanced nose.

The beer is fantastically refreshing!  It's malty and sweet with a hint of hops at the finish which is slightly dry and peppery.  The carbonation fades somewhat, as the head does, but is still quite nice.  Mouthfeel is smooth and the body mild.  This is a beer that I could drink all year!

I really like this beer and give it a huge 10!

Scoats really has outdone himself on his 24 beers of Christmas case!  Most are tops in their categories!  I feel honored to have been clued in on this gem!  Thanks Scoats!  

If you like the fake Bud, try the real Budweiser,  you won't regret it!  Excellent with sausages!

-Fish





Monday, January 21, 2013

Bleeding Gums Murphy Belge, Take 3 Gluten Free!

I was on a wee quest to brew a new gluten free beer this MLK Jr. Day and looked around at a few recipes and decided that I had not gotten Bleeding Gums wired yet.

Bleeding Gums is a sorghum based Belgian wheat beer (Belgian White) with no barley, hops or yeast with any gluten at all.  I first researched sorghum based beers last year and their issues with flavor and tried to come up with something that not only works with the sorghum flavors, instead of trying to cover it up, but teases it into play with citrus.  I got lucky.  At first it was very brash.  Sooo many different flavors when it was young just collided into a batch of what tasted like lemon dish soap.  As it aged it got mellow.  My second batch was similar, but less strong.  This third batch I hope I get wired as I tweaked the yeast and used the freshest ingredients that I could. 

Last night I roasted millet.  I doubled the amount of millet for this batch.  Millet give an appearance and flavor wheat.  It's quite similar and smells awesome.  I only lightly browned it.  I could have had more, but I don't want to over do it.  I'm curious to what the beer looks like.  Right now it's green.

Once the millet was roasted I let it cool and this morning I blended it to break the husks.  A grain mill is needed by my operation at this stage if I am to continue this kind of stuff.  Blender grinds it too fine, but it's ok with this beer, it needs to be slightly cloudy.  So I ground it up and put it in a bag and steeped it at 165 degrees for 30 minutes.  My grain bag was tied too tight and the mesh too fine.  I dumped it into a bigger grain bag with course mesh with the help of Joan Countryman who came by to help out.  Thanks Joanie!  How are those finger burns?  LOL

I wound up steeping for 90 minutes total before I got the boil going.  Now I was doing a ten gallon batch and brewing with 6 gallons in the keggle.  So all my ingredients are doubled and the millet quadrupled!

While steeping was taking place, I cleaned my fermenters and added one pack of fermentis belgian ale yeast T-58 to them and added 1/2 gallon bottled water to each to hydrate the dry yeast.  At this time I also heated a quart of water on the stove and added my maltodextrin, lactose, molasses, sugar, and honey to get them nice and dissolved.  Maltodextrin  clumps and needs to dissolve.  This mix of fermentable and non fermentable sugars are going to give the beer body because most sorghum beers lack that.

So the boil approaches and I add 6.6 lbs sorghum extract.  The boil starts and this is what I do:

60 min.      Add 6.6 lbs Sorghum
                  1 oz Styrian hops

45 min.      1 oz. Styrian hops

15 min.      16 oz. Lactose
                   12 oz. Maltodextrin
                   2 oz.  bitter orange peel
                   2 oz. Coriander
                   8 oz. fresh and very hot ginger
                   16 oz. baking molasses
                   16 oz. Orange blossum honey
                   20 oz.  Orange blossum, sage, and clover honey
                   1 oz Hallertau hops

5 min.         1 oz. Hallertau hops

Added 5 gallons bottled water and placed in fermenters.  Initial gravity 1.012

Fermentation tomorrow morning is going to be off the CHAIN!




A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 21, St. Stefanus

This is an incredible Belgian Strong Pale Ale that is dated 4/2012 and has been maturing 8 to 9 montsh.

The beer as it ages is supposed to go from a straw color starting out to a black ale.  As the colors change so are the flavors supposed to change with it from a light and fruity to a more dark and complex.  This is somewhere in the middle which to me, makes it even more complex because all the flavors are apparrent none more so than the other making it that much more difficult to decipher, or am I wrong here?...

This beer is probably one of the best beers that I have ever had in general.  I'm going to put it up there in my top 5 all time favorites so far!  If not number one.  I just haven't had a belgian this good yet, so my list most likely is always going to change, but WOW!

The bottle is a win.  I can reuse it for homebrew!  

The beer pours a dark straw color.  Presumably darker than when fresh.  It's darker but holding on to that straw color and looks a little lighter than what the label says it should be at 9 months.  The beer is clear with maybe a slight hint of haze and the head was a good two finger head fading to one for the entire duration of the drink.

Aromas of honey, citrus, malt and fennel.

The taste is sensational!  It almost has a champagne feel to it, perhaps from the yeast.  Flavors are numerous and well balanced with malt, honey, citrus and a peppery fennel that is enhanced by the carbonation to slightly numb the tongue, but not really.  It's mouthfeel is smooth and the body medium and alive with carbonation.  Head retention is so nice and the lacing excellent.  The finish feels peppery and dry with almost no hops, yet but a little that come out in the soft dry ending.

This flavors almost become more apparent as you drink it and the temperature falls releasing more of them!

I am so glad that I have another bottle of this to drink next year!  I can't wait!  I will definitely seek this beer out again!  I hope that you do as well!

10 Points go to St. Stefanus!

Slainte'!

-Fish

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 20, Innis & Gunn Winter Beer 2012 and Millet Roasting for Gluten Free Belgian Wit

YO!

So like it's a bit of labor of love tonight to do the blog.  It's been a funny old day, kind of busier than I really wanted.  But alas, I feel like I accomplished a lot more than I had hoped.  Tomorrow work on my gluten free recipe Beer happens while I work on the shop.  I went and bought gear for my next beer from my friend (well, he's friendly to me, I'd like to think of him as a friend) George Hummel.  He helped me out 5 years ago when I was starting.  I only knew very little about homebrewing and he made it really super easy for me to learn.  He had it all layed out.  Great guy.  Anyway, he agreed to talk at one of our next meetings so that is really cool.

OK, I'm buzzed!  This is tough with the screen spinning.  Make it stop oh Flying Spaghetti Monster make it stop!

After the visit to George with my dad, I went for a hike with him and then to whole foods to get 4 lb. millet for my steep in my wit tommorrow.  I"m roasting it now.  It's in my convection oven (perfect for this because of the fans that blow the hot air around evenly).  So the millet is rinsed first to get some of the cloudiness out.  Then I layerd the lower level with millet and the upper level.  Perfect.

As that roasts, I'll spout on about my beers that I had out for dinner with the elusive Joe Gass in Jenkintown at the Drake Tavern.  I first had a carbonated mead from Rogue called 19 Original Colonies Mead.  Gluten Free!  Hell yeah!  It was a spicy mead, I thought, that is carbonated.  There are two kinds of mead, one is a honey based drink with spices and herbs added, and the other is a honey based drink with fruits added.  This to me tasted spicy and was carbonated.  It was super duper clear and exceptionally light.  I liked it very much!  Although, it was more like wine than beer, it was still really good.  After that I had me an O'haras Stout.  It was a great stout.  Nice and creamy.  Excellent head as a Guinness has.  Great hop profile.  Fantastic in every aspect.  After that in celebration of the 49'ers win I had an Anchor Steam.  A lovely California Common.  LOL.  And to finish up I had an Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale.  It's a winter warmer and quite a good one!  

So now I am enjoying an Innis & Gunn Winter Beer as the roasted millet smell drives me crazy.  So bready like wheat!  Perfect!  Just what I want for my wit.

The Innis and Gunn is described as a porter aged for 39 days on oak barrels.  They don't say what the barrels were used for before.  OK reading up on it, it's Scottish, this makes sense.  Whiskey!  Nice...  Perfectly alligned with the malt to help balance the hops.  It's described as an English Porter.  It's different.  Sweeter, maltier, Whiskey-er! 

Color is a ruby-brown.  Head is thin to start with and fades to a thin ring but carbonation is fine.  

I instantly get a malty whiskey aroma with a few oaky notes.  The whiskey is very apparent.  Lovely.

The beer tastes similar in profile.  First is the malty sweet, then the whiskey oak takes over the helm and steers you towards a nice mild hoppy finish.

It really is like most oak whiskey barrel aged beers and it's really nice.  I can see having an aversion to this flavor, but fortunately I like it and it's mild and unoffensive in this beer.

I give this beer a 10.  I'm wowed by it.  To me, it's in a class all it's own and this is really different from most porters that I have.  Lighter in one respect.  It is like it is not like a porter but more like a bock in terms of sweetness.  All in the same, it's not.  Definitely it is worthy of a try and next year I will have one cellared!

Have a great night and give a thought to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he has done for everyone.

-Fish



Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 19, Wissinoming Brewing Eddie's Small Bier

So this one is my homebrew from a second runnings from my Mocha MaryAnn.  This was my third attempt at both and man I love it!

Now this beer is based on a beer from Anchor Steam that got their idea from a colonial American style of table beer.  It is a beer made from the grains already used in a mash for a porter or a stout and meant to be a much lower gravity beer with less alcohol and meant to be drank more frequently with dinner and meals throughout the day.  So it is generally going to have less body and be more watery.  My first attempt was just that, pretty damn watery.  The second better as I added a hair of maltodextrin, demerara sugar and lactose and hopped throughout with cascades.  This one I added a bit less of the maltodextrin, demerara, and lactose, bitter hopped with kent goldings and aromatic hopped with citra.  BINGO!

ABV 3.5%

The beer pours brown with a semi frothy head of white.  It's very brown and very clear out of my keg.  It's a bad picture, sorry.   I have been working all day on Gazela, and after there was a pot luck dinner with some drinking involved and I'm pretty tired at the moment.

So it's pretty dark brown with a white head that dissipates to a thin ring as there is little carbonation in the beer (I may have not added enough priming sugar to condition well) so there is only a little lacing of the head.

The aroma is fantastic!  The citra hops sit on top of a very mellow roasted coffee and malt aroma.  These citra smell great and taste great in this beer.  They are more apparent at the end with the Kent leading the way in the forefront, followed by roasted grain.  The body is very thin and watery.  This is where I need to work on, well that and getting carbonation in the keg better.  In bottle its fine.  The mouthfeel is light as well, but smooth enough.  At the finish is when you get the citra hop and I like it.  It was about a 7 gallon batch and I used only an ounce of Kent and an ounce of Citra and I think it was just fine.  Perfect even.  I like the balance of hops and malts.  It's just a bit watery that is all.

For what it is, I think it is pretty good.  Techically I dont think one is supposed to add body to a small beer in the way of maltodextrin, etc... but I like to juice it up just a little bit.  I will figure it out.

I'm going to give it a 6 or a 7 and be hard on myself.  Many people really like it and I really like it, but it's not quite what I am looking for.  I also used nottingham yeast and could maybe fine a better strain.  It may also have been under yeasted.  LOL

It's getting there!  See you tomorrow!

-Fish

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 18, Penn Brewery ST. Nikolaus Bock Bier

SWEET!

In fact, too sweet!

I just burped nutmeg!

This beer is a bock.  A German lager created by monks and it is typically a celebration of moving away from winter.  It therefore needed to be hearty and to be hearty it has a ton of malt in it.  This required many months of cold storage to both ferment the lager yeast and to let all the heavy malts mellow with time.  That is my synopsis of a bock.  I generally like bocks.  Salvatore being the most common to me and my standby.  This one is a bit different.  I believe that I taste some winter warmer style spices (nutmeg, etc...) in the mix and smells like a gingerbread man.

After glancing over 25 or so write ups of this beer I think that I am a minority in saying that I don't really like this beer.  Let me get to it...

Bottle:  Homebrewer points!  Thank you Pittsburg!  You gave me Straub 16 oz. bottles and now Penn offers a reusable bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown and coppery amber when backlit.  It's really pretty!  The head is thin and white and soon fades to only a ring around the glass, but for me, that is fine.  Ultimately the carbonation is a tad low for this style. 

The aroma is MEGA malty and bready like a holiday Jule Log or gingerbread.  There may be some roasted notes in there, but to me they are faint.  Some people mention chocolate notes, but I am not getting them.  

The taste is pretty much befitting of the aroma.  Generally bocks are sweet, but this one is a bit over the top.  Mouthfeel is nice and creamy.  Carbonation is a bit on the low side, but that is OK.  Lacing is almost non-existant.  Body is sweet and yet lacking something.  I don't get much in the way of hop aroma or taste.  I get some taste at the end after all the malt and spices are through.  Mild hop.  Hallertau, which are one of my favorites.  After all that the finish is very slightly dry.

I think I would get sick if I drank more than two of these.  Then again, I'm not a fan of cinnamon, nutmeg and the like.  They are mild in this beer, but too much for me.  I would, however, drink this beer again as it is growing on me.

I'm gonna have to give this beer a 7 out of 10 .  What do you think?

-Fish



Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 17, Dogfish Head Chicory Stout

10!

Here is another winner out of Scoats's 24 beers of Christmas case.  I am definitely Wow-ed by this beer!  Does the crew at Dogfish Head ever sleep?  They put out countless beers!  I would really like to put this up against Philadelphia Brewing Company's Joe Porter and see which one I preferred.

OK, excellent use of crimp top bottle.  Homebrew points!

The pour is so nice and quiet.  Like slushy New Jersey waves breaking on the beach in the middle of a blizzard.  The head takes a minute to form from the carbonation and is a tan color.  The bottle describes it as bone white,  but it's darker and thin with fine bubbles.  It leaves VERY nice lacing on the glass like a hurricane fence pattern of stacked diamonds.  

The aroma of roasted coffee soon hits your nose and sits on top of a dark malty nose.  So this beer has Chicory in it as well and it is often used as a coffee substitute so I am guessing that it is not all too prevalent in the nose of the beer, but I'm getting mild hints of vanilla.  Perhaps that comes from the chicory.

Wow, reading up on chicory has me fascinated with this plant, the leaves are the bitter red salad leaf called radicchio!  I had no idea!  Chicory has a couple of functions in beer.  The bitterness may allow you to augment your hop profile AND it adds a sweetness or body as well if used properly and I think that is where DFH is going with this.

As you sip, the hop profile is not real apparent but the roasted coffee sweetness is.  The mild to medium carbonation almost let's you think that you have a root beer in your mouth until the bittering hops come through.  The mouthfeel is rich and creamy and the body medium heavy.  There are definitely vanilla notes in this beer and they are apparent at the end.  Also, have you ever notices a mild numbing of the tongue with root beer or birch beer?  Almost like it's medicinal?  I get a little of that as well.  It's so freaking complex and delicious!  The finish is slightly dry and bitter as it gets you prepared for the next sip.  

As the beer approaches the 55 degree mark or even 60, the flavours and aromas really start to emanate from the beer.  It truly is a remarkable beer!

As always, please, comment on this beer if you have tried it!  I am dying to get some feedback!  Have a great night and HAPPY FRIDAY!

10!  GET THIS BEER!

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 16, Flying Fish Red Fish

One fish, two fish?

Just one.

Ah the picture is not that great, but you get the idea.  Condensation on the glass makes the beer look cloudy but it is not.  It is, in fact quite clear!

Knowing nothing about this beer (I did read the informative label, is that how you spell lable?  This word tricks my dislexia) I'd probably call this an amber ale with lots of hop.  They call it a red ale as it appears a bit more red than an amber.

The bottle is great for re-use!  I bet the label comes off well if soaked.

The beer poured nice with a thin wispy off-white to tan coloured head and beautiful carbonation.  It is a very clear beer and has sediment on the bottom so take care with your pour.  The colour is a fantastic reddish amber!  It is really pretty!

Gleaning info from the label, I can smell the grapefruit of the various west coast hops.  Maybe the pine, but that may be my brain thinking that I smell it because I read it on the label.  I do, however, smell a bit of the caramel like malt.

Upon tasting, the bittering hops completely overpower any malt flavour that may be present.  Any respite from the bitter comes from a slightly watery finish and then a definite dry end to the beer.  Some malt may peek through during the watery stage of the drink.  Mouthfeel is bitter as all get out.  To me at least.  And the body a little light at the end.

I don't like this beer.  I wouldn't seek it out again, but that doesn't mean that it is not a good beer.  This is NOT my style of beer but I have to be fair in my judging.  Personally, I would give this a 6.5.  Fairly I would give this a fairly higher rating, but would deduct a few points here and there for not being exceptionally balanced and being slightly watery.  Aroma, head, color, carbonation are exquisite though.

I will give this an 8.  

If you are a west coast cascade and centennial hop head give it a try!  I would definitely love to get some feedback from all of you folks on my comments!  You might really like it.  At 7% ABV you may not want to drink these all night, but because of the body, you might be able to help a drinking establishement empty it's keg and move on to the next, hopefully, brown ale!

Good night everyone!

-Fish (as in about to be wet to the gills like one)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 15, Maine Beer Company, Mean Old Tom

Hey, welcome back!  It's cool that you could make it!  Last Sunday I had 65 page views and they weren't all my own!  Sweet!  Thanks everyone!

Tonite I am drinking another beer from Maine.  They sure know how to brew a beer up thar!  This one is called Mean Old Tom and dedicated to the brewers uncle.  It is a stout (a very good one) that has been aged on Vanilla beans.  I don't know how many or how long but it is definitely apparent in the nose and on the tongue.  YUM!  Ladies, this beer is an aphrodisiac so be aware (not beware) of the intentions of the man who purchases you this beer!  Good ol' vanilla!  Also your man is shelling out a few bucks for this beer so be generous in return!

Let's talk about the beer.  Well, the bottle first.  Its a large perfect 20 oz. bottle with a crimp top!  SCORE!

The beer pours black and there is little or no transparency like a good stout should be.  Initially there is no head, but then a thin layer of various sized bubbles form a brown cap upon this dark beauty.  It's not a Guinness head, not in the least, but that is OK.  It laces really well on the sides and stays with you for the life of the beer.

The nose is of dark chocolate and roasted coffee with the tantalizing sweetness of vanilla on top like icing on a cake.  In fact, I bet this would go well with ice cream, just like cake.

As you take your first sip your nose is flooded with vanilla and combines with the roasted dark malts and vanilla notes to truly make this a fantastic drink.  The roasty malts coat your tongue with coffee and dark chocolate then fade to a really nice vanilla sweetness.  Of course the beer is bitter and a very traditional stout bitter.  Not over the top but after the vanilla and roasted notes set in, the bitter takes over at the end and will stay with you until that next awaited sip!

The carbonation is mellow and fine and the ABV is a perfect 6.5!

I really hope that you all get to try this beer!  I know that I am giving out a lot of 10's for beer ratings but this one deserves it just as much as the others or more so.  I am totally going to seek this beer out in the future.  And at $8.50 a bottle it's a bit expensive, but I have no qualms about putting out the cash to start a night of drinking off with this fine bottle!

Thank you Maine Beer Company!  TEN!

Have a great night everyone!  See you tomorrow night!

love,

Fish

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 14, Gritty McDuff's Christmas Ale

Type various words about beer here:

Post Picture of beer here:
As a reader, before doing anything, look at the picture first.  This has to be one of the prettiest beers that I have ever seen!  It is a VERY dark amber and with light behind it, holy cripe,  I can't explain it.  It's just freaking awesome.  If I had to liken it to anything it would be a similar to a deep red agate beach stone found in Oregon if polished to a mega shine.

I'm going to go steal some ideas from Beer Advocate about this one as I am not sure of it's style.  I don't think it is a winter warmer.

OK,  I learned enough just reading what the brewer wrote about it.

So,  I was correct, it's an ESB, or Extra Special Bitter (don't let that name fool you, ESBs are not always bitter or super bitter but quite appealing, especially to those who enjoy an English Ale, like me!)

So let's get down to the nitty on Gritty.  The Bottle.  FAIL.  Dudes, you are from Maine!  You should know the usefulness of the crimp top bottle to the homebrewer!  For shame!  Well, since I love your beer, I will let you slide and maybe only take off a half a point from my personal 1 to 10 scale of beer deliciousness.  Great beard on Santa though, so you get that fraction of a point back.

The beer pours dark red and amber with a thin tan head of tiny bubbles that seductively lace as you tilt the glass to your mouth.  The head fizzles out some by the end but remains.

Nice malt aroma with a hint of corn.  Very mild hoppy spiciness. Maybe a bit of roasty.

The beer tastes fantastic!  The medium carbonation makes way to the malty sweetness of amber malts (I didn't steal that line, honest) and a light caramel/corn as it rolls over your tongue and finally to be replaced by a variety of mild hop flavors and light roasty note.  She does stay bitter on the back of your tongue, but just keep drinking and replace that with all the malty hoppy goodness!

You know, when I opened the beer and saw that it was a screw top I was apprehensive, but there is no reason to be so!  

I am giving this beer a 9.5 only because the slight corn aroma and taste stirs my conspiracy theory mind into thinking that the world of brewing is out to get me by brewing with cheap ingredients like that of the day of Schmidts.  Or it could possibly be that I am so sick of corn because of how much I eat in my diet due to mild celiacs disease.  Truthfully, I may even be misnaming this smell and taste.  

All that aside,  I was WOWED by this beer and would definitely seek this out in the future so the bottle goes on my shelf!

Have a great day tomorrow everyone!

-Fish



Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 13, Ommegang Hennepin

What a delicious beer!

So this beer is classified as a farmhouse ale or saison.  It's very Belgian in style and I would have to say I hit another one that I am going to call a 10.  My experience is limited so take that with a grain of salt but OMFG I like this beer!

Of course I like the bottle.  I can reuse it, but I will put this one aside because I love the lable!  Look ad the dudes in the native American style canoe!  Awesome.

This beer pours a carbonated golden straw color with a nice white tiny bubble foam head that laces really well and stays around the entire drink.  At first you will definitely notice the aromas of citrus, coriander, a mild hay like smell (hence ''farmhouse'') and even a bready aroma.  Maybe even a very slight peppery aroma.  After the pour the beer continues to effervesce, but the carbonation is mild. 

It drinks the same with a malty sweetness to carry it along with all those complex tastes mixed with some very mild hops.  I read they were noble hops, I can't distinguish them so well at this point even though I brew my grand crux and belgian wit's with them.  LOL  The only aftertaste that I am getting is that of malt and orange peel with the very slightest of a dry hop finish.  I'm also getting the faintest of sour apple.  It's so complex and delicious!

The mouthfeel and body are creamy and full.  For a beer of this light color you will be taken aback at the body.  It's fantastic!

I would recommend this beer for anyone who is wary about craft beer bitterness as a great transition from the usual to something of high alcohol content in the craft realm without gacking at the bitter.

There seems to be so much going on with this beer that it's almost confusing and crazy cool at the same time.  It's definitely a 10 in my book!

I hope that you get the opportunity to enjoy this beer!

-Fish



Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 12. Victory Baltic Porter

Wow!  Malty!

And that is my review.  Goodnight!

Nah, just kidding!  I'll add this: This beer is so good that I decided to cook with it!  I'm doing an omelet with spinach and a chicken jamaican jerk sausage and decided to fry the sausage with the beer!  Love glazing beer onto sausage! And man, this beer makes one hell of a glaze in the frying pan.  OMG  Beer candy!

OK, this is the second time that I have tried this beer and I am so glad that I revisited it!  Of course the huge bottle is to my liking!  (less bottles to cap when brewing)

It pours, you smell her sweet abundance, you make a double take like there are pheromones in this beer.  She is delicious!  You drink her in.  You have to.  There is no turning back.  She will treat you with respect in the morning, but she is going to make a whore out of you tonight!  She is going to make you want to come back for more.  Not because you weren't satisfied, but because she is so sweet and has a huge malty back end!  You know you like those big dark malty backsides.  Don't deny it!

Her color is somewhere between dark caramel and milk chocolate and her complexion is as clear as the wind in an Alberta Clipper.

And she wears only the finest delicate lace against her full figured dark caramel body.  Oh Black Betty!

She's not bitter, NO!  You purchased her, but she's not bitter at all!  In fact, I bet she likes the noblest of hops!  She could never leave a bad taste in your mouth!

I give her a 9 ONLY because I like my dark girls more sultry and not overly sweet!

OK, the omelet.  Well this is it in the process of being an omelet.  The engredients are:

3/4 Dietz and Watson Chicken Jamaican Jerk sausage browned and then glazed with 3 tbsp Baltic Porter on both sides.

Add 1/4 cup frozen spinach to the fry pan, fry 3 minutes on medium

Add 1/4 cup smoked gouda cheese, fry 5 minutes medium

Add 1 cup egg whites and 2tbsp Baltic porter (either to a different pan or clean this pan first, it will stick and not flip over well)

Brown to your liking, serve.

This turned out really really well.  All the engriedients seem to be at odds with each other if tasted separately but when combined all together, the smoke from the gouda, the beer, and the sausage (even though jamaican jerk) all congeal into a fantastic omelet!

Happy Saturday!  Be kind to your dark lovely tonight!

-Fish