Archive for July, 2010

Seattle-Portland-OBF

Well, back  from our vacation to the Pacific Northwest for a family reunion and beer tour.  It all started at Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee with a New Glarus Spotted Cow…In Seattle we visited Pike Brewing, as well as Elysian’s Capital Hill Brewpub.  Pike was pretty good with a decent IPA but the main attraction for me was the Red Barn Firebarrel Bourbon Barrel Aged Cider.  I liked it quite a bit…a nice dry, tart cider with hints of vanilla and oak from the bourbon barrel.  Might be something to experiment with in the future.  Elysian was great.  Their dry-hopped IPA was delicious, the ESB was nice,  and the food was quite good as well.  I wish we had more time to spend there and try a few other beers.  I also need to mention that it was GREAT to attend a baseball game and have quality craft beer available…I wish the White Sox would follow suit with at least some Goose Island beers.   Hard to beat an Alaskan Amber while watching a White Sox win though.

We also got to sample some homebrew at our family reunion as Betsy brought a few for everyone to try.  I really liked the IPA (all centennial hops) and the Rye (pale ale?).  A lot of rye beers I have had are done with too much rye, but this was a nice blend with enough rye to give it a spicy flavor but not so much that it is all you could taste.

**Note to self – send Betsy a package closer to Oktoberfest with some of what will be served.

In Portland, we were able to go to the Rogue brewpub, as well as the Deschutes brewpub.  Rogue was nice, a bit pricey, and not very busy when we were there.   That might have been due to it being opening day of OBF.  I tried the 200 Meter IPA, a 90 IBU IPA with Horizon, Amarillo, Centennial, and Simcoe hops.  It was delicious, very aromatic and flavorful, while not being too harsh/bitter.  We also sampled the Northwestern Ale, Shakespeare Stout, and took home a growler of Mom Hefeweizen.  Additionally, I tried the Dead Guy Whiskey and the Hazelnut Spice Rum.  Normally, I am not a “spirits” guy, but the Hazelnut Rum was really quite good.

Deschutes was great, I liked it better than Rogue, even though it seemed like a more “sanitized” version of a brewpub.  Very clean/modern/new looking as opposed to Rogue looking more like a watering hole that has been there a while.  Here I had their Green IPA, Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale, and Quadsimoto (barrel aged quad with Brettanomyces) and they were all really good.  I was surprised I liked the Hop in the Dark so much as I have had some “Black IPAs” that I really didn’t like – the clashing of roast and hops was unappealing….this one is great though – far more hoppy than roasty.  The food at both brewpubs was good as we stuck with our pattern of all seafood on this trip.

OBF was everything I expected and more.   Great crowd, great beer, and a lot of fun…the only disappointment was that we didn’t realize what the “Buzz Tent” was until some real treats were already gone.  Regardless, we certainly had our fill and enjoyed every minute of it.  Here’s what we notched our belt with:

Cascade Summer Gose
Maui Coconut Porter
Bayern Brewing Dumptruck Bock
Upright Reggae Junkie Gruit
Rock Bottom Oud Heverlee
Kona Big Island Brown
Moylans Pomegranate Wheat
Alaskan Pale Ale
Rogue 21
Surly Bitter Brewer
Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
Lompoc Son of C Note
Bridgeport Stumptown Tart
Caldera Hibiscus Ginger Beer
Fearless Scotch Ale
Boulevard Tank 7
Deschutes Quadsimoto
Flying Fish Exit 4
Maui Brewing Heaven and Hell
Bruery 7 Grain Saison

Highlights were Cascade, Maui, and Boulevard.   Disappointments were Fearless, Moylans, and Rock Bottom.

All in all, Portland is a great town.   OBF is a great fest.   We definitely need to go back when we have more time to sight-see (we arrived Wednesday night and left Friday morning and spent most of Thursday at OBF).   On our way out of town, we stopped at Belmont Station to grab some things to bring home.  I was more than happy to pick up Russian River Consecration and Supplication, Cascade Apricot, Cascade The Vine, Boulevard Saison Brett, and a 4 pack of Coconut Porter.

Fruits

Well based on the tasting the other day, I went out and purchased a bunch of fruit to add to some of the barrel aged beers.  I brought home apricots and raspberries for the lambic, and bought some blackberries to use with some of the flanders red.  I also had some cranberries in the freezer from last year to use with a portion of the lambic.  For all of these fruit additions I went with a ratio of about a pound of fruit per gallon of beer.   I held some fruit in reserve to add later as I have found this to be an effective way to make sure the yeast doesn’t completely scrub out all the fruit flavors.  I also pulled some of the flanders to age without fruit as I wanted to end up pulling 1/4 of the barrel volume out in order to keep the oak flavor in check.    Lastly, I bottled 2 cases of 750s of each of the beers straight, so that I have a bunch of the original batch preserved for later comparisons.  The only issue all night was due to some shitty crown caps that wouldn’t seal well, so I ended up having to pull and re-cap about 15 bottles.  From now on I am sticking with the oxygen barrier caps as they always seem to seat well on the 750ml champagne bottles I use.  I had planned on also bottling the kriek, however I was low on bottles and didn’t want to risk running out and losing some beer….I still may do it at some point this week….then it’s off to Seattle, Portland, and OBF!!!

Sour Sampling

Well for the 4th of July I gave all of the sours I have fermenting a taste to see how they have progressed.

Sour Blonde (aka BL)-

Really no aroma to speak of, hopefully that changes with some carbonation.   A nice light, crisp beer with obvious brettanomyces, and a little bit of lactic tartness.  I will  likely  let this one sit another month or so before bottling and repitching on the yeast.

Sour Stout -

This one was really a pleasant surprise.    Previously it had a very catty aroma, and off flavor in the finish.   Currently it has great roast/chocolate flavors with some funk once you get past that.   Really much improved, and could be ready now, but again, I want to repitch that yeast so will likely wait until August when I have some time to rebrew it.

Berliner Weiss-

The Berliner is also for sure ready to go so I am planning another Wit/Berliner partigyle  brew in the near future.  Nice tartness combined with a nice light wheat flavor.  I think this one is better than the one I brewed last year (probably partially due to using some Fantome bugs in this version.)

Barrel Lambic-

This was incredible.   VERY sour, and a hint of oak.   The oak flavor coming through this early is concerning, but not unexpected as the barrels were only used twice in their previous life as wine barrels.  There is plenty of oak character remaining.   So, the plan is to rack off a bunch of this into other vessels and then top off the barrel with fresh lambic wort in order to effectively keep the oak character to a minimum.  As it is, it might be close to out of line with the BJCP guidelines, but I like the hint of wood.

Barrel Sour Red-

This was also incredible, probably neck and neck with the lambic for my best beer yet.  This has a bit more oak character than the lambic but I think the red can stand up to it better (think Jolly Pumpkin La Roja) so I am not as worried about this one becoming over-oaked.   That said, I am following a similar plan to rack a portion (1/4 to 1/3) ou of this barrel and will replace it with fresh wort in order to dilute the oak flavor.  As it is currently though it really is a tremendous beer.

So, all in all,  it was a terrific tasting, and clearly I have some work ahead of me to keep these going on the right track.  SO, back to the brew kettle and some fresh sour red!!

Goose Island Beer Dinner

Goose Island Beer Dinner @ Allgauers

A couple weeks ago, we again had the chance to attend the Goose Island beer dinner at Allgauers, and again it was incredible.    When we got the flyer with the menu on it in the mail, I was excited because they had changed the beer lineup a bit for this year by including Sofie and Bourbon County Stout, which are my two favorite Goose Island beers.    In addition to those, they also served their IPA, 312, Summertime, and Honkers Ale.   The complete menu is posted above.  One change from the posted menu was that they substituted grouper for seabass as they were unable to source enough for the dinner.  The dish was still delicious (probably more so because grouper is so freaking tasty) so it wasn’t really a big deal.   If you ever have the chance to attend this dinner, I strongly recommend it.   If not, people familiar with the restaurant said that the food is always this good, so it might be worth just stopping in for dinner some night.