Sunday, March 27, 2011

466. Ommegang Tripel Perfection

It looks like that whole hiding beer in the basement is paying dividends again. This is our latest from Brewery Ommegang. We’ve been sitting on it for a while, although it would appear that we didn’t sit on it quite enough. Alas, alas, with that 20/15 hindsight. Previous exercises in libation consumption include Zuur, Three Philosophers, Hennepin, Bière de Mars, and Witte. Ah, the tasty, tasty solace...

Tripel Perfection, a limited release from Ommegang, pours a hazy golden orange with a spritzy white head that doesn’t have much volume but does have good staying power along with plentiful small white bubbles. The nose consists of juicy fruit esters, spices, and a delicate floral perfume-y character. Elli adds “it also smells like bananas that someone needs to throw away.” Flavors start with light malt and Belgian candy sweetness before moving into a fruity middle that features hints of banana, apple, and apricot. There is also some stickiness in the middle and finish, although as the beer warms, the overly sweet components drop off. The finish is sweet but dry, and there is a slight metallic tinge at the back of the tongue. There is also a touch of alcohol in the finish, both in flavor and in warmth; it . The mouthfeel is sweet, doughy, and sticky—it tastes not quite finished; while the flavors are good, it is still a bit uneven in regards to the malt stickiness and the alcohol warmth. We probably should have waited longer before drinking this—the bottle says best by 2013—but we figured we should give it a run. And, after all, any beer from Ommegang is pretty much worth drinking.

From the bottle: “The tripel is among the most popular of Belgian ales. Brewed with simple ingredients and fierce attention to detail, there is little room for error—but lots of opportunity. Perfection isn’t easily achieved—but once achieved it is always memorable.”

Bottled: 3/15/2010
ABV: 8.9%

Where can I find me some of that Gnomegang?


Saturday, March 26, 2011

465. Kevin & Andrew Lolli English Brown

Kevin told me that his brother, Andrew, helped him make this beer over the holidays. Since I know Andrew as well, I asked Kevin for a bottle so that I could include Andrew in on the reviewing fun. After all, nothing says fun like mockery. Kevin not only agreed, he passed along the photos you see below. Because nothing says “real American” like bleached spiked hair. You go Andrew. Oh, and when I asked Kevin if this was a Southern or a Northern English Brown, he responded with a “Yes,” followed by a “I think it is a Northern.” Gotta love that certainty. This is el numero tres from my favorite Columbus family, following up the Pumpkin Stout and the Imperial IPA.

Two men enter, one man leave!

K & A’s English Brown has a grainy and nutty brown malt nose; there’s a slight touch of sweetness, but not much more. Color-wise, it’s dark amber brown, although you can still see through it, and it has the classic Lolli head—tan colored, rich and creamy, leaving abundant lacing on the glass. Flavors start creamy and nutty with light caramel malt sweetness; the middle dries out and has a touch of graininess with gentle biscuit and bread flavors. The biscuit lingers into the finish, as does just a touch of bitterness. The carbonation is slightly sharp—I might dial it back a notch—but the beer has good balance in the body and is certainly dry in the finish. Despite the slight sharpness of the carbonation, the body of the beer is smooth, gentle, and rounded. I would like a bit more residual malt character to enhance the mouthfeel, but an easy-drinkin’ beer—flavors are simple, clean, and good. Nice job, Kevin and Andrew. So when’s the next time you’ll be sporting that blue mohawk again, Andrew? Or are the corporate law offices just to square for that?

Seriously, how do you get that sick sick head retention? You’re three for three now. And does it all go in old Sierra Nevada bottles?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

464. G. Schneider & Sohn Aventinus

Aventinus is from Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn in Kelheim, Germany. Now there’s a name, hmmm? Private and a Weissbierbrauerei? Hot damn! Described on the bottle as “Germany’s Original Wheat-Doppelbock,” otherwise known as a weizenbock, Aventinus has a rich and bready malt nose with banana esters and clove phenols—there is no vanilla in the nose, but I can taste it in the finish. The creaminess along with the raisin and dark fruit aromas make me wish that I could find some form of banana bread that smelled anything remotely like this. That would strengthen my breakfast experience. And no, there is no need for some sort of liquid bread joke here. Flavors start rich and bready with a soft gentle wheat character on the palate. The banana, clove, and dark fruit flavors are all there too, balanced with the slight candy-like sweetness found in the middle. The finish is rather clean; most flavors drop away, allowing the dark fruit and gentle creaminess to linger lightly on the palate along with a hint of vanilla and clove. Strengths are the creamy soft, rich wheat malt character; it is gentle and rounded on the palate with a slight bite from the carbonation, which helps clean and close the beer, leaving just a touch of the sweet vanilla and clove lingering. This beer is also undoubtedly German; if it were a state, it would be North Dakota: solid and stolid, no-nonsense, eminently Midwestern, practical, and very good for what it is. Certainly not Minnesota—that’s too fancy-pants. And Wisconsin? Save your cheese-heads and saunas for the Green Bay Packers. More like nothing experimental or risky or out of character. That’s it precisely.

From the bottle: “Aventinus, the world’s classic top-fermenting wheat-dopplebock, has received accolades for the perfect balance of fruity spiciness (banana, clove, vanilla) and notes of chocolate (crystal & dark malts). Unfiltered, unpasteurized, bottle-conditioned. Enjoy Aventinus, the massive twin of Schneider Weisse.”

ABV: 8.2%


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Standard/Ordinary Bitter Brewday

In an effort to build our knowledge about the effects of process on brewing, several of us in my local homebrew club, DRAFT, decided to brew the same beer using the same recipe, and compare the results. Since Jeffrey and I came up with the idea, we decided to start small, and pulled the recipe for a Standard/Ordinary Bitter from Jamil Zainasheff’s and John Palmer’s Brewing Classic Styles. Jeff (not to be confused with Jeffrey) decided to call his version an OSB. I, on the other hand, stuck with the acronym as currently configured in the book, and am dubbing my version of the beer Kevin Lolli SOB. I know, I know. Cold. Funny, but cold.

86. Standard/Ordinary Bitter
8 lbs. Muntons 2-row Pale
½ lb. Breiss Crystal 120°
¼ lb. Breiss Special Roast

Mashed @ 150° F w/ 3 gallons of RO water for 60 minutes (@ 165° F)
Sparged @ 168° F with 2 ½ gallons RO water for 15 minutes (@ 180° F)

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (60 minute) and added:
w/60 to go: 1.2 oz. Sonnet Goldings Leaf 4.1% AA

w/30 to go: ½ oz. Sonnet Goldings Leaf 4.1% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

w/1 to go: ½ oz. Sonnet Goldings Leaf 4.1% AA

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched Wyeast 1968 London ESB

Brewed: 3/20/2011 @ 70° F
Secondary: ———
Bottled: 3/30/2011 @ 62° F; 1.3 gallons into min-keg w/ .4 oz. table sugar; bottled the rest w/ 1.6 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.040
FG: 1.015

Tasting Notes: 4/25/2011: Since this is an easy drinkin’ light beer, I want to take notes on it while it is still fresh and yummy. Plus, it is almost all gone. Kevin Lolli SOB pours a clear rusty copper—the clarity is impressive, but from what I’ve read, that’s pretty normal with Wyeast 1968. The head is a creamy off-white that offers solid staying power and lacing—it’s no Kevin Lolli lacing, but it will do. The nose is toast and biscuit with light fruitiness and minimal hop aroma, while flavors open with bready caramel and biscuit coupled with light fruitiness in the front before giving way to a drier middle with only a slight touch of bitterness—it is there, but this is most certainly a more malt forward version. The finish is dry and crackery with light lingering bitterness and biscuit. When I remake this, I will up the bittering hop charge to create a better balance between the malt and hops; although it is currently pleasant and very drinkable, it could use a bit more bitterness to better suit the style. The mouthfeel and light carbonation help round the overall beer—the mouthfeel because there is still some substance in the body and the carbonation because it is light and unobtrusive. I’m looking forward to cracking the mini-keg of this and seeing how that goes. Oh, and my version won the inaugural Rockit Cup, hence the sweet ribbon. Glitter & Glory, baby.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Elderberry Mead Brewday

I found the elderberries last fall at my local farmer’s market; since then, I’ve been intending to use them in my first attempt at mead. Well, it looks like Captain Lazy finally got off his ass and decided to do something with them. I threw in the mulberrries because they’d been cluttering up the freezer as well. Don’t worry, I’m sure Tim will chastize me for mixing my fruit.

Elderberry Mead
7 lbs. Robert Irvin & Sons raw honey
2 lbs. frozen elderberries
12 oz. frozen mulberries
2 ¼ gallons RO water

Combined and heated to 140° F; removed from heat and chilled overnight. Racked into bucket, and pitched Red Star Côte des Blancs yeast.

Brewed: 3/19/2011
Secondary: 4/17/2011
Bottled: 9/17/2011

Tasting Notes (2/12/2013): So I think I’ve given this enough time to age in the bottle; while I’ve tried a few bottles of this along the way, mostly it has just sat in the basement. Elderberry Mead pours the color of a thinner, lighter grape juice; it is clear and bright in the glass, with no head or discernible carbonation—I got like one bubble in the glass from the pouring. There are garnet highlights from the light through the glass, and small but perceptible legs on the glass from the mead itself. The nose is more elderberry than honey—while some residual honey sweetness is present, the main aromatic is a tannic skin bouquet from the fruit akin to red wine, albeit without some of the reciprocal red wine undertones. Fruit aromas consist of berry and grape with a soft honey under glow. Flavors start with a dry honey sweetness that is tempered by the dry tannic bite of the elderberry fruit skin—this is certainly a dry mead in terms of flavor and mouthfeel—creating a bright but puckering mouthfeel. In the middle features a depth of fruit flavor, with berry, grape, and plum the most forward. The finish is grape skin dry on the palate with a touch of alcohol warmth—it has begun evening out nicely in the last year and a half, allowing the other flavors to come more to the forefront. Still, this is a drier mead, and the addition of the elderberry further dries this on the mouth—the predominant feature is the skin character of the fruit, even more than the flavor. While I find this an interesting to the mead, it could use more depth and substance as a whole.  I’d like to make another version and increase the ratio of honey per gallon (to 9 or 10 lbs. of honey) to see if more residual sweetness creates a better overall mouthfeel and flavor profile. But isn’t that what being a home brewer—or in this case a mead maker—is all about? And honestly, as my first attempt at a mead, it is certainly better in comparison than my first couple of batches of beer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Belgian Quad Brewday

Holy mother of grain bills! Actually, this one was was pretty much the same as the last two Dubbels—the grain bill just got amped up and the water got dropped down. After all, double up on the Dubbel, and what do you get? A Quad. And yes, even I think that is a lame ass joke.

Serving due diligence...

85. Belgian Quad (brewed with Jeff Fortney)
18 lbs. Castle Pils
6 lbs. Weyerman Dark Munich
2 lbs. Dingemans Special B
2 lbs. Dingemans Cara 45 (Caramunich)
1 lb. Dingemans Biscuit
1 lb. Dingemans Aromatic
1 lb. Dingemans Cara 8 (Carapils)
2 oz. Dingemans Belgian Chocolate

Mashed w/ 10 gallons of RO water (plus chemical additions)
@130° F for 15 minutes (from 133-128° F)
@146° F for 30 minutes (from 154-146° F; extra 10 minutes)
@156° F for 35 minutes (from 158-154° F)
@166° F for 10 minutes

Batch sparged w/5 gallons of RO water (plus chemical additions) @168° F for 15 minutes

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (90 minute), and added:
w/60 to go: 3 oz. Styrian Golding pellet 5.25% AA

w/15 to go: 2 Whirlfloc tablets

w/10 to go: ½ oz. Styrian Golding pellet 5.25% AA

w/5 to go: 1.5 lb. Belgian Dark Candi Syrup & 2.5 lb. Belgian Dark 2 Candi Syrup

@ removal from heat: ½ oz. Styrian Golding pellet 5.25% AA

Chilled to 60° F and split into two 4 ½ gallons batches; I used White Labs WLP550 yeast slurry from 82. Belgian Dubbel II, while Jeff pitched on the Wyeast 3787 pancake; initial fermentation took its sweet time getting started, so I pitched a fresh vial of WLP550 Friday evening to help it along. A little extra yeast won’t hurt in a beer this size; by Saturday morning there was a decent head of krausen on the beer.

Brewed: 3/17/2011
Secondary: 3/28/2011 @ 1.024
Bottled: 5/12/2011 w/ 3 oz. table sugar (3 gallons) @ 70° F; racked one gallon onto ¾ oz. Hungarian oak cubes (house toast); bottled on 7/15/2011 w/ ¾ oz table sugar

OG: 1.094
FG: 1.020

Tasting Notes (11/25/2011): Another beer I’ve been meaning to try; I was rather surprised that it had been in the bottle for six month already. Fleeting time, you rapscallion. The beer pours a rich, dark brown with plenty of orange in it—it certainly looks Belgian, if nothing else. The head is tan and rather ephemeral—it hangs out and slowly reduces, and while it never offers much it way of covering, the fleeting arabesques are a pleasant component of the beer. It also rouses rather easily, especially as it warms; when it was first opened, it appeared to be almost flat. The nose features toast and bread crust malt aromatics plus dark fruit and Belgian candy, with fig, plum, and date making themselves most prevalent. As it warms, it bleeds a delicious rum raisin. Flavors start sweet but restrained; there is Belgian candy, fig, and caramel in the front, followed by raisin and toast in the aftertaste. The middle features grape, fig, and plum flavors that lead into the warming finish of raisin and fig. The fruit flavors slowly rise over the course of the beer, finishing stronger and more emphatically than at the start. There is still a touch too much alcohol warmth in the finish, but the creamy dark fruit and candy covers some of it. The body is chewy, smooth, and rounded—it is good now, but I think it is on the cusp of something greater. I’d like to imagine that this beer is gonna go places, and that I’m going to be there to see it happen. Here’s hoping that this beer blows up and that I don’t become a helicopter parent. I’ll let you know how it tastes in another six months.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

463. Samuel Smith’s Organically Produced Lager Beer

From the Old Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire comes our first Samuel Smith’s beer. Or at least the first one recorded for posterity. That is, unless there is some secret intelligence branch of the government dedicated to surveying my drinking habits. We’ll just say it is the first one recorded by us for posterity, while noting that there will be more, and leave it at that. Go on, check the files.

Pouring a crystal-clear straw, Samuel Smith’s Organically Produced Lager has a thin white head that is well maintained by the prolific carbonation streaming through the beer—lots o’ bright tiny bubbles. The nose is crisp and dry, with a light grainy malt sweetness mixed with low levels of hop bitterness. Overall, the nose is clean and fresh, although as it warms, a slight corn aroma emerges. The body has more malt character than the nose, with sweet grainy maltiness that tastes like Pilsner malt. I’d say I can taste the cleanness and wholesome goodness of the organic malt, but then you might see though my charade of words. The middle dries out, giving way to assertive but restrained hop bitterness. The carbonation bite in the final third wipes the palate clean—it is a bit sharp and bracing with a touch of a carbonic bite, but leaves the palate open to enjoy the dry, clean finish that balances well with the lingering hop bitterness. While this beer is quite comparable to Bell’s Lager in the larger malt body and hop presence, Samuel Smith’s has less sweetness and a wider range of flavor with the same malt substance. As well, the higher carbonation and drier finish allows Samuel Smith’s to better showcase the gentle lingering bitterness at the end. Both, however, make use of the possessive in their respective name. Forced to choose, I’d give the nod to Samuel Smith’s, but this is certainly a win-win choice if ever there was one.

From the bottle: “A full-bodied lager with lots of malty character, a touch hoppier than many lagers yet perfectly balanced. Brewed using lightly kilned organic lager malt from barley grown in the UK, organic hops, yeast and water.”

ABV: 5.0%


Saturday, March 12, 2011

462. Christian Moerlein Emancipator

Our first beer from Christian Moerlein, and now that they are coming back to Cincinnati for real and cutting out the contract brewing thing, we hope to sample many many more of their beers in the upcoming future. I scored this as one of the sweet sweet rewards for judging beer at Bockfest. That’s right—free beer.

Emancipator pours a crystal clear copper with plenty of orange to it; the garnet highlights are bright and clear in the light that comes though the glass. The thin eggshell head is pretty minimal; it reduces to a slight ring almost immediately, and attempt to rouse it failed pretty miserably. In the nose, there is an interesting mix of dark fruit—grape, raisin, and fig—combined with a slight biscuit and grainy caramel candy sweetness that creates a rich and complex malt aroma. Flavors are initially dry and fruity before blossoming into sweet maltiness; the middle showcases fruit flavors with the same grape, raisin, and fig from the nose, plus some dried cherries and dark stone fruit flavors. The end has a slight spike of candy sweetness that borders on being Belgian, and some smooth lingering alcohol flavors—the finish is clean, but a bit sweet, without any discernable hops across the profile. The rich malt mouthfeel has a fair share of candy and fruit; the melanoidin characteristics, if they are there, are lost amongst fruit and sweetness. Smooth and rich but with a bit of residual sticky sweetness. There is a bit of chewy malt breadiness that develops in the mouthfeel as the beer warms. As doppelbocks go, Emancipator is good, but not outstanding—it needs a cleaner finish, and more of a German malt flavor profile. At the same time, this is a rather enjoyable beer.

From the bottle: “You’ve discovered Moerlein Emancipator—a robust Doppelbock brewed to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. Six varieties of uniquely blended malts create a smooth toasted character with a deep brown color and complex hints of caramel and toffee. Celebrate the emancipation of America’s honorable brewing tradition this season by rolling out the barrels of Moerlein Emancipator Doppelbock.”

ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 27


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

461. Bell’s Lager Beer

Bell’s is back. Again. That Bell’s just keeps coming round and around. After all, as the saying goes, when you ring it, school is certainly in session. And with sixteen different Bell’s beers under our belts, knowledge has been dropped. Our curriculum includes Batch 10000, 25th Anniversary Ale, The Oracle, Oarsman, Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury Ale, Batch 9000, Hopslam, Cherry Stout, Sparkling Ale, Winter White, Christmas Ale, Third Coast, Oberon, Octoberfest, and Two Hearted. I’d offer to stick around and help clean the mash tun, but that would just make me sound like a suck-up, and I can’t keep my rep by being no suck-up, can I?

Pouring a clear golden straw, Bell’s Lager has a white head than puts in a brief appearance before disappearing to a scant ring. It does, however, have the courtesy to at least leave some marginal lacing on the glass—consider it the beer foam equivalent of the “Hey, I ain’t here, but don’t you forget about me, you hear?” comment you tangentially get from that one annoying relative who never really fully goes away like you secretly hope they will. The nose is sweet malt and graininess with just a touch of corn, along with a light Noble hop bitterness that somehow always strikes me as a slight soapiness. Now, while I understand that a sweet corn soapiness might sound somewhat unappealing—after all, I doubt the idea for a sweet corn handsoap is currently being rushed into production—the nose is actually rather pleasant and, might I add, lager-like. Flavors start sweet and lightly bready, but also crisp. The middle dries out and the bitterness comes to the front, while the finish is clean and crisp with a lingering hop bitterness; while the bitterness is a bit high for traditional lager levels, it does work with the clean finish to close and round the beer effectively. As I proceeded through the beer, there was an ever so slight taste of lingering licorice on the palate as well. A bit of graininess emerges in the middle to accompany the bitterness, and there is also a slight return of the sweetness in the finish. The body does have a bit of substance to it, although the carbonation, along with the bitterness, lightens and cleans the finish. Bell’s Lager falls on the sweeter side of the lager spectrum, although the hop bitterness does give it the dry crispness found in drier, cleaner lagers. Overall, this beer is a solid winner. Both Elli and I have been enjoying the lagers of late—I think I feel a lager kick coming on. Stranger things have happened.

From the bottle: “As refreshing as a morning swim in a Great Lake, this brew is crafted with Pils and Munich malts. The pronounced hop character of this golden lager sparks thoughts of sandy beaches and rocky islands.”

From the Bell’s website: “Nicely balanced, Bell’s Lager Beer focuses on the flavors developed in the brew house, matching a crisp bitterness & distinctive herbal hop aromas to a simple yet firm backbone built from Pils & Munich malts. Following in the tradition of Bohemian-style pilsners, this beer spends a full six weeks maturing in the fermentation vessels. This extended conditioning period refines the overall flavor, highlighting the contributions of the malts & hops.”

ABV: 5.0%
OG: 1.050
Batch Number: 10006


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bockfest Beer Judging

This marks year number two of my participation in the Bloatarian Brewing League’s Bockfest 2011 Homebrew Contest, which is a still part of the larger Cincinnati Bockfest celebrations. As with last year’s competition, entries were limited to bocks. Hence the name and all. Bockfest is intended to celebrate both the coming of Spring and Cincinnati’s German brewing heritage in the Over-the-Rhine brewery district that was originally home to a large segment of Cincinnati’s German American population as well as many of its early breweries.

Yes, I brought a beer down into the sub-basement with me. Wouldn’t you?

I judged 5B. Traditional Bocks; overall, there were sixteen beers split into two flights; Bill Lakeburg was the overall winner, and complete results can be found here. As well, like last year, Christian Moerlein Brewing Company selected an entry from the Traditional Bock category to be used as the recipe for a special 2012 Bock release; the winner here was Michael Marino.

Passageway between old buildings...

While I did enjoy the beer judging portion of the event, it was not the hightlight of the day. Judging was held in the old Kaufman Brewing Company building (1621 Moore Street), which housed the brewery from 1869 through 1919, when our old friend Prohibition—otherwise known as the 18th Amendment—closed down many fine brewing establishments both locally and nationally. I’m glad the 21st Amendment showed up to kick your ass. While the building subsequently served as the Husman Potato Chip plant (and then lain dormant for a solid chunk o’ time), it has recently been rented by Christian Moerlein with the intention of re-opening the location as a functional brewery. After we were done judging, Mike Carver (I think that was his name—sorry if I am dropping the ball), the head brewer for Christian Moerlein, offered to give us all a quick tour of the old building, which included both upstairs (lots of dark creepy open spaces, old machinery, a room filled with old wooden palates, and one of the original grain hoppers that we were told still had grain in it—talk about your ancient brews) as well as the basement areas of the brewery, which were very cool, specifically because some of the recent renovations in buildings in the area had uncovered previously sealed and unused passageways between buildings, as well as a second level of sub-basements underneath the original basement. Yes, a basement with a basement. Nothing like catacombs under the city to create an eery and macabre effect, especially since the spaces were both very old (I believe circa 1880s), and were used in part to originally lager beer, but also to brew during Prohibition. Either way, the underground tour was awesome—if for nothing else besides trying to figure out where random airshafts ended up or where other catacombs we could see branching off from the the main rooms went. I would have loved to jump the barrier and continued to explore, but the lack of personal light source would have made my trip both short and inept. But a girl can dream, can’t she? I am glad we got to check it out, however, because it was a nice glimpse into the brewing past of Cincinnati.


Friday, March 4, 2011

The Session #49: Regular Beer

Regular beer has been an ever-shifting descriptor during my life. I came of age in the Pacific Northwest during the early heyday of craft brewery explosion. That means my memory crosses the generations. High school was all Olympia and Rainier. Sure, they were domestics, but they touched a cord and addressed a need. You wanna talk game? Vitamin R hired Mickey Rooney, and Olympia was already on the national circuit. In college, everything changed. I recall the times as an undergraduate in Eugene when Widmer Hefeweizen was fighting for tap space and pricing itself to beat out domestics. This was the same time where I could roll into the local 7-11, and score 22 bottles of Rogue, which was something that I took for granted until I moved East for graduate school. I also recall summers in Seattle when the bartender at Red Hook’s Trolleyman would fill our bike bottles with beer as we headed out the door.

With all this said, one of my regular beers for a long time was Rolling Rock. This was in part inspired by moving to Buffalo for graduate school, where Saranac didn’t inspire me in the ways that Northwest brewing did. They tried, but they weren't living up to what I had left behind. Rolling Rock was an easy-drinking beer, and it had been a favorite of my mother’s. (Note: one of my brothers recently crushed my fond memories by informing my that my mother liked Rolling Rock because Dirk Pitt drank it. Yes, Dirk Pitt of Clive Cussler fame. And I guess this inspired my mother to like Rolling Rock. When I thought it was her own interest in beer. But I didn’t know this at the time.) So I drank Rolling Rock, and several of the East Coast beers that were trying to be good. When Ommegang and Southern Tier came around, and Victory started showing up in Buffalo, life turned over a new leaf. Things were good. But Rolling Rock was always there for me, too. And I remembered that.

Then one day I noticed that the horse on the beer cap and label changed. Not a lot. But it had changed. Then I noticed that the city at the bottom of the front of the label had changed from Latrobe, PA to St. Louis, MO. I felt violated. No, really. The glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe aren’t in St. Louis. When I realized what that meant, I felt really violated. You can laugh. But I did. Something died in me that day.

I still drink Rolling Rock on occasion, but the taste is always bittersweet. Maybe it is because I’m angry. Maybe it is because craft brewing caught finally caught on on the East Coast, and I could finally find the beers that hadn’t been there before. And now, with the craft brewing explosion, there are things I like all over the place. “Regular” beer is much more plentiful than ever before. Even in Dayton, OH, I can find beer that fits. Southern Tier Pale Ale does the job, as does Rivertown Dunkel and Jeffrey McElfresh Smoky Brown. That’s right, I rely on local homebrew to get my regular fix. I also travel enough to see the regular beer I wish was local as well as regular: Full Sail Session, Bruery Humulus Session, and Iron Horse Hop Hub Pale Ale offer a peek, but this list could go on and on. To the break-a-break-a-dawn even. But regular beer. I want more session-strength American craft beer. And I want more local beer. Maybe you don’t live in he hinterlands, but I do. Who is with me?


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gose Brewday III

The tipping point for another Gose was the delicious flavor of the first one as it went into the bottle on Tuesday—soft bready malt mixed with a saline perfume-y sourness that has certainly increased since last week. I also tasted the second one when I moved it over—it is slightly tarter, and the tangerine is hiding in the background. In this one, the grapefruit was hidden by the bready wheat when I tasted the wort, so we’ll see if it shows up once the yeast works its magic. Oh, and I ramped up the salt here to 14 grams a gallon. I know, crazy.

84. Gose the Gozerian III
4 lbs. Breiss White Wheat
2 ¼ lbs. Weyerman Light Munich
2 ¼ lbs. Weyerman Bohemian Pilsner
½ lb. Weyerman Acidulated Malt
½ lb. Unmalted Organic Spelt
¼ lb. Dingemans Cara 20

Mashed w/ 3 gallons of RO water @ 150° F for 90 minutes
Batch sparged with 2 ½ gallons RO water @ 163° F for 15 minutes

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (90 minute) and added:
w/90 to go: ½ oz. Hallertauer Leaf 4.1% AA

w/10 to go: .60 oz. coriander

w/2 to go: peel and juice of 2 pink grapefruit

@ removal from heat: 70 grams Kosher salt

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched on Safale US-05 and Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus cake from the last two batches

Brewed: 3/3/2011 @ 73° F; began bubbling within 20 minutes; 1 ½ inches of krausen and up t0 75° F after an hour
Secondary: 3/15/2011 @ 1.012
Bottled: 3/27/2011 w/ 4.5 oz. table sugar @ 61° F

OG: 1.044
FG: 1.011

Tasting Notes: 4/18/2011: Gose the Gozerian III pours a hazy yellow gold; it is dusky gold in lower light, but held up to the light it is brighter and certainly more yellow. The head is white and has decent staying power—the middle third of the center falls out, but the rest hangs around and even offers a small amount of lacing. Wheat, salt, and breadiness dominate the nose, coupled with just a touch of sourness in the back—it blends in well with the salt, however. Flavors are sweet and bready in the front—the wheat structure of the beer is clear and present, with a bit of a tang from the salt and lactobacillus. The middle is lightly gummy and salty—the initial sweetness drops away, leaving behind more of the wheat. The finish is dry with biscuit and low levels of graininess, and more of the salt and sour with the same lingering sourness you get in a Berliner Weisse coupled with an extra salt kick. With a soft, chewy mouthfeel that is also cleansing and brisk, there is a pleasant mix between substance and refreshment in the overall palate sensations created by the beer. I understand that the salt component will turn off some people, but I just don’t see it—I find it delicious, crisp, and refreshing—it’s like a bready alcoholic version of your favorite energy drink, only better. I’d call it the perfect lawnmower beer, but something tells me I’m just gonna get shouted down on that one. Let’s call it the beer nerd’s lawnmower beer. This is probably the best of the three versions, although I am personally partial to the Fruity Pebbles flavor in the second version. Still, this one is probably the closest to an authentic gose. I’m looking forward to trying this again when the weather gets warm and I can ferment it really warm to let the sour lactobacillus character shine. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted.