Monday, July 30, 2012

527. North Coast Old Stock Ale 2009 Cellar Reserve

“This tastes like everything Samichlaus wishes it tasted like.”
Jeffrey McElfresh

Hot damn. This beer is easily one of the best beers I’ve had in the last couple of years. Sorry all you other fancy beers, but you just got served. Old Stock Ale Cellar Reserve 2009 is North Coast’s regular Old Stock Ale aged in bourbon barrels. And the results are, well, stupendous. North Coast is no stranger to us in these here parts, although it has been a while; our final tabulations indicate that we’ve tried several selections, including Old Stock Ale 2004, Brother Thelonius, Old No. 38 Stout, Red Seal Ale, Cru d’Or Organic Belgian Style Ale and Old Rasputin XII. Prost to Fort Bragg!

Old Stock Ale 2009 Cellar Reserve pours a crystal clear maple syrup brown with orange and red highlights jumping out all over the place. While there was not much in the way of a head on the beer, I pretty much didn’t think about it or care because the aromas streaming out of this beer were phenomenal: brown sugar, molasses, caramel, maple syrup, bright oak, vanilla, bourbon, and hard butterscotch candy. In fact, I smelled and smelled and smelled this beer. Beguiling, alluring, and intoxicating. And no, I’m not talking because of the alcohol, although there were very evident legs on the glass with each swirl. Once I got around to drinking it, the front was a mix of brown sugar and maple syrup with lesser amounts of buttered toast. The vanilla and bourbon really came through in the middle, as did the bright oak flavor, although everything was restrained and in control. The finish offered honey and a tannic bite from the oak; there was a touch of alcohol and bourbon and some lingering warmth that was pleasant and reassuring. The gentle carbonation allowed the chewy & rich malt body to shine; it came with a touch of creaminess that helped round the beer on the palate. In fact, everything was even about this beer—it was complex and delightful with plenty of malt character, it featured a well-balanced use of bourbon and oak, and it was smooth and surprisingly easy-drinking for 13.16% ABV. There was nothing overpowering, and all facets of the beer were in harmony. It was like the warm blanket you wrap around yourself when sitting by the fire on a brisk winter evening, the one that relaxes you and makes everything perfect. In other words, it was super awesome. And it easily could easily handle a couple more years of aging—everything was still bright and fresh and clean. Although I’m not sure I can imagine it being better than it was: that would just blow my mind.

From the bottle: “Old Stock Cellar Reserve is a small batch, limited release that has been aged in oak bourbon barrels. The aging process gives this world-class beer an added layer of complexity. A memorable drink that should be enjoyed as a completely unique offering.”

ABV: 13.16%


Saturday, July 28, 2012

526. Anchorage Galaxy White IPA w/ Brett

I tried a bottle of this in San Francisco in May, and was quite impressed with the mix of funk and hops, so when I saw it in Dayton, I was happy to grab another bottle. Anchorage Brewing Company is a newer brewery, and Gabe Fletcher is focusing on barrel fermantation along with brettanomyces and other souring cultures. Which sounds pretty much right up my alley.

Galaxy White IPA pours a soft, cloudy, and very pale straw with a white mousse-y head that is, to say the least, long-lasting. As in it never goes away. The nose is equal parts delightful and beguiling. I’d probably still be smelling it if I didn’t want to get down to the drinking: there’s barnyard with musty earth, straw, pepper spiciness, and a delicate perfuminess that is either the yeast or the coriander, followed by a touch of horse blanket. The hoppiness comes out as the brettanomyces airs out (or, more likely, as I get more used to it) as does citrus and fruit zest. In other words, the brett has really started to make its presence felt in this beer—the bottle I had in San Francisco in May was good, but not nearly so funky. And I do like the funk. Flavors start with cracker and biscuit malt flavors, as well as a touch of candy. The hint of funk in the front blossoms into barnyard in the middle, along with bitterness, spiciness, and a touch of bright citrus. The finish is dry earth and straw accompanied by lingering brett flavors and a mineral tang mixed with pith and citrus rind. Carbonation is spritzy bright and dry; it is slightly brut-like via the barnyard in the brett, and the dry, dry mouthfeel comes across as almost dusty as it runs over the tongue. This is an excellent and delightful beer; it is probably more of a wild ale than an IPA at this point, but I do appreciate and certainly enjoy the experimentation: much like some of the funked beers I’ve made, once the bugs have a chance to get a foothold, the hop character starts disappearing as the funky cracker lactic bite grows, although it is currently still present in this beer. I might need to buy another bottle to pitch in the basement to see how it continues to develop. And by might I mean will.

From the bottle: “Ale brewed with Galaxy hops, coriander, kumquats, and peppercorns. Fermented and aged in French oak foudres with a wit yeast. Dry hopped with Galaxy hops. Bottle conditioned with brettanomyces and wine yeast. Drink fresh or age to bring out the funk.”

ABV: 7%
IBU: 50
Batch #2 April 2012


Friday, July 27, 2012

American Pale Ale Yeast Experiment Brewday

We’re officially into round two of the yeast experiment. I racked the three versions of the 80 Shilling into empty carboys, and will be splitting this beer on up on top of the three left over yeast cakes. I did go for a bit more volume with this beer; I had a little over seven gallons going into the fermenters, so they’ll be a little extra for yours truly, if you know what I’m saying. And I think you know what I’m saying.

122. American Pale Ale Yeast Experiment
11 lbs. Dingemans Pilsen
1 lb. Dingemans Pale
1 lb. Dingemans Aromatic
1 lb. Dingemans Cara 8

Mash @ 152° F for 60 minutes w/ 5 gallons of RO water; collected 3 ¼ gallons @ 1.082
Batch sparge @ 156° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water and 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.026

Collected 7 ¼ gallons; added ¾ gallon and 3 g. gypsum to bring to 8 gallons total, brought to a boil (60 minutes) & added:
w/30 to go: 1 oz. Amarillo 10.7% AA

w/20 to go: 1 oz. Amarillo 10.7% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

w/5 to go: 1 ½ oz. Amarillo 10.7% AA

w/0 to go: 1 ½ oz. Amarillo 10.7% AA

Chilled, racked into 3 carboys from 121. 80 Schilling Yeast Experiment

Brewed: 7/27/2012 @ 68° F
Secondary: 7/31/2012; dry hop each carboy w/ ½ oz. Amarillo leaf 10.7% AA (a @ 1.010, b @ 1.008, e @ 1.012)
Bottled: 8/3/2012 w/ 1.0 oz table sugar each

OG: 1.050
FG: a @ 1.008, b @ 1.008, e @ 1.012

Tasting Notes: Again, all three poured pretty much the same crystal clear faint copper: 1272 was stunningly clear, 028 was clear, and 3522 was hazy but clear. I may have waited a bit long to type up the notes, as the hop aromas are not as forward as when first bottled, although the deterioration is most evident in the 1272 version—it doesn’t have any reciprocal yeast character to bulk and balance the lost hop aromatics. 

Wyeast 1272 American II (a): Pours clear with a thin white head; the retention is moderate, but the clarity is like mad prism-like. Yo. In the nose, there is floral, spice, and citrus, with the spiciness being the most prevalent. There is none of the orange that can come with Amarillo. And other that the hop aroma, the beer is quite clean—there is a touch of Belgian candy and biscuit malt, but even this is subdued. The biscuit is more prevalent in the flavor, specifically in the front, along with floral and spice hop flavors. There is a touch of lemon/orange citrus is the middle, but again, it is restrained. There is orange in the finish, and a nice clean bitterness that lingers briefly on the back of the mouth. The body is very light, as intended, and the carbonation is bright and brisk even in cleaning the palate and leading into the lingering bitterness. Good, safe, clean. It was better when the hops were fresher; it is effective now, but less interesting.

Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (b): Pours clear, albeit with a slight haze, and has a thin white head that laces the glass—there is more on the sides of the glass than covering the beer. The hops in the nose are spicy floral with mineral that finishes with orange marmalade. There is also perfume-y sour musty tang that I’ve gotten in Amarillo before, but that I associate more commonly with Centennial; it could also be some of the yeast esters from the Belgian Ardennes. It feels like there is a touch of Belgian candy sweetness trying to come through here, but the nose in this one has a lot of things going on, so I’m not certain—I find the nose more beguiling here than the 028 version, as it offers a more alluring combination of aromas. Flavors are bright and clean, with candy malt and spicy orange hop flavor in the front, followed by floral and perfume in the middle—either hop or yeast, I’m not certain—with a clean dry bitterness. The finish has a spicy mineral tang in the bitterness, along with a touch of biscuit. The body is light and clean with a prickly, dry carbonation that accentuates the bitterness—it had the same FG as 1272, but it tastes noticeably drier. I like this version best of all, most likely because of the Belgian yeast accompanied by an American hop profile—I do, after all, know my own weaknesses. Still, I think the beer hangs together best as a whole, although I’m not sure I’d call it a proper APA by any stretch of the imagination. Oh well. Like with the 028 version, I’ll be revisiting what I’ve learned here soon.

White Labs 028 Edinburgh (e): Also pours clear, although not as vibrant as the 1272 version, and it has slightly better head retention with a thin white head that hangs around and laces the glass. The nose is a mineral dry spiciness that is floral with an almost herbal hint at the end that runs into orange marmalade. Some malt sweetness is mixed in with the hop aromas—almost caramel, but not quite—as well as breast crust and biscuit in lesser amounts. Like with the 1272 version, I’m not sure I’d peg this as Amarillo. Flavors are rounded with more depth than 1272; after the initial biscuit malt and mineral/floral hop flavors, the middles heads into orange marmalade and clean bitterness with some Belgian candy sweetness behind that. The finish is spritzy and bright via the carbonation and hop bitterness; while the beer has more body than 1272, it finishes with more lingering bitterness, that picks up some pleasant hop spiciness as it warms. This beer has aged better and is more interesting that 1272; I thought the same thing when the beer was fresh, although the fresh hop character of 1272 made it hard to put down. But has aged into a better beer: the balance between the hint of caramel, the orange marmalade hop flavor, and the clean mineral bitterness combines to create a more interesting and rewarding beer. Interesting combination of malt, hops, and yeast that I wouldn’t have guessed would create this type of beer. Glad I tried this; I’ll certainly return to some version of this beer in the future.

There was more variance in regards to what I expected from the yeast with these three beers than with the 80 Shilling Yeast Experiment—I expected to like 1272 American Ale II better than I did precisely because of the clean yeast profile combined with the hoppier body. And while it was better when fresher, I still preferred the two other versions, specifically 3522 Belgian Ardennes. I was a bit surprised that 028 Edinburgh worked as well with hops as it did with malt—that was certainly the curveball I didn’t see coming out of this, but then again, discovering useful tidbits like this is precisely the reason to perform such an experiment.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

525. Marin Brewing Old Dipsea Barleywine 2009

This particular beer was part of our evening of plenty: we tried four different beers from Yazoo Brewing in Nashville, TN (the Rye Saison was the best of the four, by the way, although we thought the APA and the IPA would be better if they were both fresher and on tap) and the collaboration between Jolly Pumpkin and Maui Brewing, Sobrehumano Palena ’Ole, which was fantastic and should only get better with more time in the bottle. So why did we make this our selection for the day, you ask? Because I actually wrote down some notes, that’s why. After all, when the drinking is all done, and you’ve got nothing but empties, you need more than vague assertions and empty descriptions like “that tasted good” to build a following. Not that that hasn’t served in the past, mind you. And the clamoring numbers to get up on this blog are, well, stunningly inconspicuous. Any-hoo, I bought this beer a couple of years ago in San Francisco, and meticulously socked it away in the basement as is my wont; after all the sticker indicating it had been “Bourbon Barrel Aged for 10 Months” told me that it needed to sit back for a while. So there you go—you’re all caught up and the likes. Oh, and this is our first beer from Marin Brewing, kicking it out there on the Left Coast. Although they seem to have some sort of relationship with Moylan’s, who we’ve tried before.

Old Dipsea pours a brown infused with both red and orange—it looks, quite honestly, Belgian—with a wispy, wafty tan head that swirls in arabesques over the beer. It also features red highlights and is crystal clear. The nose packs a decent punch of oak and dark fruit—mainly raisin, plum, and cherry—with a corresponding touch of alcohol. Taken collectively, you get an oaky rum raisin with chewy caramel. Flavors start with brown sugar and caramel malt, followed by vanilla, oak, and fruit in the middle—again, raisin, plum, and cherry—with a touch of alcohol flavor and warmth, and rounding out with a tannic bite, a touch of alcohol, and then oak and bourbon. While the tannic bite lingers, the beer is rather clean and dry in the finish. The mouthfeel has a couple of odd contradictions: it is chewy and rich with a touch of vinous character and yet also has a bit too much heat from the alcohol. And at three years in, I’m not certain that’s going away. There is also a surprising amount of oak for the time spent in the bottle, but that is more balanced, and is spread out across the beer’s profile. We’d  like to see less sharp alcohol in the flavor and mouthfeel, but everything else is pretty much in line.

From the bottle: “Our richest ale has a deep copper color, is full-flavored and very hoppy in the finish. We use East Kent Goldings and Styrian Goldings to hop the balance of flavor just right. Ideal for sipping after dinner.” The website says pretty much the same thing.

ABV: 9.0%


Rockit Cup Hoppy Wheat Brewday

It’s Rockit Cup time, dagnabit! Don’t be fooled by my late start on this one—I plan on making it the one beer to rule them all! Not that a hoppy wheat beer is that actual beer, but it will be that good. I promise. Or, as the proverbial turn of phrase I am ever so dependent upon goes, something.

123. Rockit Cup Hoppy Wheat
5 lbs. Breiss White Wheat
4 lbs. Breiss Pale
½ lb. Dingemans Cara 20
½ lb. Rice hulls (rinsed)

Mash @ 153° F for 60 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons of RO water; collected 2 ¼ gallons @ 1.058
Batch sparge @ 167° F for 20 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 3 ½ gallons @ 1.022

Collected 5 ¾ gallons; added ¼ gallon to bring to 6 gallons, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
FWH: 1 oz Centennial leaf 10.3% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

w/5 to go: 1 oz. Centennial leaf 10.3% AA

w/0 to go: 2 oz. Centennial leaf 10.3% AA

Chilled, racked to carboy, & pitched White Labs 007 Dry English Ale

Brewed: 7/24/2012
Secondary: 7/29/2012 @ 1.010; dry hop w/ 1 oz. Centennial leaf 10.3% AA
Bottled: 8/3/2012 w/ 3.0 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.040
FG: 1.008

Tasting Notes (8/10/2012): For this Rockit Cup, it was a showdown between Brian Gallow and myself; Brian couldn’t actually be in attendance, so Darren Link got to play the part of Brian. I played myself, and was roundly trounced for not sending a proxy in my stead. My version had tasted much better 20 hours earlier when I tried a bottle to see if it was carbonated, but those intervening hours allowed the jankiness of my version to shine through, or something like that. Still, second is better than not having brewed it at all. Oh, and Jeffrey did make this beer, but managed to drink all of it before the DRAFT meeting. We’ll give him an honorary third.

(8/24/2012): I’ve given this beer a couple of weeks to come together in the bottle. Whether this strategy is solid or not remains to be seen. Rockit Cup Hoppy Wheat pours a tawny and hazy tan, although when it warms a bit the chill haze starts to disappear. The white head is thin and persistent—it refuses to leave and still sits in the glass once the beer is gone. That’s wheat for you. The nose is more hops than anything else—citrus and orange with some spicy floral resin in the background, coupled with that tang of earthy sourness that is the earmark of Centennial. Behind the hops, there is a touch of wheat and gummy bread dough. A ways behind. Flavors open with spicy orange hop flavor and gummy wheat, giving way to hop bitterness with perfume-y resin and earthiness and the with the bread dough malt found in the nose. There is also a hint of caramel, although it does get easily lost amongst the hop flavors. The sour twang hits in the final third, balanced by the lingering lightly chalky and floral bitterness. The carbonation gives the beer bounce and snap; it lightens the beer on the tongue and plays well with the hop flavors. The body easy on the tongue, albeit a bit gummy, and it works well in conjunction with the aggressive hopping. I do like this beer as a whole—it goes down light and easy—but I might like a slightly more distinctive hop to give it a better balance. While the malt does hold up to the hops, it is a bit indistinct, and when coupled with the Centennial, the beer needs a bit more of that intangible something to improve the beer as a whole. Still, good drinking, and another Rockit Cup success.

Monday, July 23, 2012

J. P. Patches

This morning, I got a text message from my brother, Jason. There were no words, just a picture from one of the front pages of The Seattle Times that read “Chris Wedes, 1928-2012: J. P. Patches, a treasure of Seattle childhood.”
“Fuck,” I thought. No, check that. I thought something much more profanity-laced, and longer than I am willing to type out. And while Elli was in the room with me when I got the message, I suddenly felt very alone. Part of my childhood—hell, probably one of the last and largest pieces of my childhood, to be honest—was dead. And that never feels very good. Especially when you have to explain who J. P. Patches is.

So rest in peace, Julius Pierpont Patches. I know I’ll drink one for you, my man, and I hope the rest of you will as well. Here’s to the man who was the man behind the man.

And, thanks, Jason, for passing the news along. While it sucks, it is still better to know.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

80 Shilling Yeast Experiment Brewday

Back in February, I made an American Pale Ale with White Labs Edinburgh Ale Yeast 028. I had a yeast cake, and I figured I’d try something different. And while that beer was delicious, it was not really an APA. So I figured that, in the name of science, I would run a single batch of beer across three different yeasts as a controlled experiment to compare the different versions. I picked an American yeast (Wyeast 1272 American Ale II), and Belgian yeast (Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes), and an English yeast (White Labs 028 Edinburgh, since I liked it so much last time) in order to offer some variety. So without further ado, I bring you the 80 Schilling Yeast Experiment! Oh yeah, and I’ll be running an APA over the same three yeasts when I rack this one over to the secondary.

121. 80 Shilling Yeast Experiment
10 lbs. Muntons Pale
½ lb. Weyermann Dark Munich
½ lb. Breiss Flaked Barley
½ lb. Gambrinus Honey Malt
½ lb. Muntons Dark Crystal 135-165° L
½ lb. Muntons Crystal 60° L
¼ lb. Crisp Pale Chocolate

Mash @ 157° F for 70 minutes w/ 4 gallons of RO water; collected 2 gallons @ 1.068; pulled 2 quarts to boil down and caramelize sugars
Batch sparge @ 158° F for 20 minutes w/ 5 gallons RO water; collected 5 gallons @ 1.028

Collected 6 ¾ gallon, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 ¼ oz. Sonnet Golding leaf 4.1% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

Chilled, split 5 ½ gallons into three carboys, & pitched Wyeast 1272 American II (a), Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (b), and White Labs 028 Edinburgh (e)

Brewed: 7/21/2012
Secondary: 7/27/2012; a @ 1.016, b @ 1.016, & e @ 1.018
Bottled: 7/31/2012 w/ .9 oz table sugar each

OG: 1.052
FG: a @ 1.016, b @ 1.016, e @ 1.018

Tasting Notes: So I am finally getting around to typing up some notes on the first of the two yeast experiments I did this summer. In the glass, the color and carbonation for all three versions are identical: clear deep copper with a touch of chocolate and a wispy soft eggshell head—there is minimal carbonation even after about five months in the bottle.

Wyeast 1272 American II (a): The nose is clean and lightly nutty, with faint delicate chocolate that borders on cocoa; there is a hint of malt and caramel, but it is the most neutral of the three. Flavors follow quite closely; there is malt and caramel sweetness in the front with just a touch of chocolate in the middle, while the finish is smooth and even—it is just more of the caramel and malt of the front, with some lingering chocolate. There might be a touch of fruitiness in the middle, but it is very indistinct and buried. The nose is actually more interesting and subtle than the flavor profile: the delicate nut and cocoa doesn’t make it into the body. The body is light and gentle, and the subtle carbonation allows the beer to roll pleasantly across the palate. This is a good beer, but it comes across as a bit too clean overall. The beer is also a bit thin in the front; the cleanness is nice, but makes for a bit of an indistinct beer overall.

Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (b): There is a slight phenolic tang, along with some spicy fruitiness. Caramel comes in behind this, but is clearly secondary to the Belgian yeast characteristics—I find the nose a bit off-putting, honestly, and I’m a fan of both Belgian beers and 3522 in specific. The flavors are also a bit unbalanced between the phenolic yeast and the malt and caramel flavors: it opens with malt sweetness that leads into caramel in the middle before giving way to the spicy phenolics of the yeast in the finish. The subtlety found in the other two versions is lost—the hint of chocolate and even much of the caramel is hidden behind yeast flavors in the second half of the beer. As with the Wyeast 1272 version, the body is light with subtle carbonation. It does not, however, finish clean—the Belgian yeast character lingers on the palate. Still, I’ve had worse beers. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend this combination.

White Labs 028 Edinburgh (e): The nose opens with a rich maltiness: there is toast, caramel, and a lighter chocolate with an almost delicate creamy breadiness behind the caramel. Flavors build upon the aromatics; sweet caramel malt in the front, with bread and biscuit leading into hints of chocolate in the middle, along with some nuttiness. The finish is dry but malty, and more husky than grainy. There is a hint more body in this beer, which not only gives it a touch more mouthfeel, but also gives it a corresponding more rounded feel on the tongue. In conjunction with the light carbonation, this version has a creamier, smoother body, even as it finishes cleanly. This yeast is certainly much more malt friendly than the other two; unlike the Wyeast 1272, which is clean and neutral, this yeast draws the malt flavors out to delicious effect. It is hands down the best beer of the three, although I can see a case being made for the 1272 version. Not that I’m listening.

Not surprisingly, all these yeasts ended up producing the types of characteristics that I would expect from them. Still, this experiment was valuable to see the ways in which the three yeasts interacted with one batch of beer. White Labs 028 Edinburgh produced the best beer for the style—it is a malt-friendly and malt forward yeast. Wyeast 1272 American II was too clean and neutral, which is good for certain types of American beers, but it came across as a bit too bland in a Scottish 80 Shilling. It was clean, yes, but nothing really stood out. As well, it was the thinnest of the three in terms of mouthfeel—the one place Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes was better than 1272 was in mouthfeel, even though both finished with the same final gravity. And Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes? While I’m certain there is someone out there for this particular beer, it is not me. Although I do want to point out that when I took a couple of six-packs of this and 122. American Pale Ale YeastExperiment, there were a couple of people who got behind the Belgian Ardennes version of the Scottish 80 Shilling. So there you go: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Monday, July 16, 2012

524. The Bruery and Cigar City Marrón Acidifié

sour faces speak
oaked fruit babbles on the tongue
silent malt below

The above is Jeffrey’s haiku for this beer, which is something we’ve been sitting on for a while so that it had a chance to mature in the bottle. My love of the Bruery is well-documented, so I won’t bore you all with the details. I’m like the Matt Strickland of the Midwest. If you’re desperate to read more, I’m pretty certain you’re all clever enough to navigate the site and find the other eight beers. If not, then the terrorists have already won.

Marrón Acidifié pours a dark Belgian candy brown with plenty of orange and cinnamon colors, and has the creamy tan head that hangs around longer than I anticipated it would. And the nose—that came pouring out of the bottle before the beer even hit the glass, and set my mouth to watering immediately. Vinegar sour and sharp tartness. Both were upfront and almost aggressive, but at the same time rounded with a pleasant depth and complexity, with red wine and dark fruit notes pushing through in the back. As the beer warmed, aromas both brightened and lightened, and a touch of malt sweetness emerged. The puckering began with the first sip: a bright lactic bite before moving into the acetic vinegar sourness of the middle. Along with the lactic zing in the front, there was Belgian candy and dark fruit coupled with some light malt doughiness, while the middle had both sweet and sour playing together at the same time (and playing well, might I add). Fruit returned in the finish—fig and plum, mainly—along with a tannic bite from the oak, ending with a sour tartness featuring a residual tang that left an impression of malt and bread crust/toast. There was also a slight chalky/mineral flavor via the sourness in the end that created a perception of grittiness on the tongue, although there was no real substance to it. The body is medium, lightened by both the tartness and vinegar sourness, making the beer bright on the tongue and clean on the palate, even with the only moderate, creamy carbonation. Certainly, a fantastic beer—I had small circles of sweat on my cheeks almost from the first sip, and the beer settled and opened quite pleasantly as it warmed. Even the dregs from the bottom of the bottle were delicious—oaky and tannic with chewy malt and balsamic vinegar. Oh, and here’s my haiku:

rush of sour, then sweet
biting with fruit and dark oak
rosettes bloom on cheeks

From the bottle: “For our first collaboration beer we are lucky to partner with a brewery a country apart, but on a similar path, Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa, Florida. Marrón Acidifié is suitable for aging up to five years when cellared properly.”

From the Bruery website: “Marrón Acidifié: Imperial Oud Bruin. For our first collaboration beer we are lucky to partner with a brewery a country apart, but on a similar path, Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa, Florida. Geographically a country apart but following similar paths, we felt an immediate connection with Joey, Wayne and the crew. We’re both young breweries, founded and staffed by homebrewers, whose use interesting ingredients and techniques to make unique, full-flavored beers. A recipe was created over pints at Falling Rock Tap House during GABF 2009 and Wayne came out to help brew shortly after. Over a year in barrels has left this dark sour layered with notes of cranberry, tropical fruits, leather and aged balsamic vinegar, balanced with wood tannins and roasted malt. Raise a glass and toast to the success of fledgling breweries across this great nation!”

ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 15

We also tried a bottle of each of the starters I made for the Wild Yeast Lambic on 10/7/2011 to see where the larger batches might be going (I bottled 2 twelve ounce bottles of each starter when I drained the liquid off of each to toss the yeast into the wort). The results: the blueberry yeast version is still not that good, but better than it was 10 months ago, while the raspberry yeast version is still pucker-y sour deliciousness. We also checked the gravity of each, with the blueberry coming in at 1.006 and the raspberry at 1.050. So the blueberry is certainly fermented, while the raspberry is some form of lactobacillus (or maybe pediococcus). So now I’ll be planning the next step for each, which will probably involve racking the blueberry onto something that will go with the earthy and slightly burnt flavors, and finding a yeast to toss into the raspberry—something that can handle the low ph—although I will be racking the beer (or whatever the hell you would call an almost year old wort with lactobacillus) off the yeast cake first, as I most certainly plan on using the raspberry yeast cake again to see what it will become.


Monday, July 9, 2012

523. New Glarus Raspberry Tart

We picked this beer up in Wisconsin in January on our trip back from Seattle, and pulled it out today to drink while watching Stage 9 (long individual  long time) of the Tour de France. Beer and cycling? Sacre bleu! This is our third beer from New Glarus, everyone’s favorite Wisconsin brewery (sorry, Leinenkugel’s!); the last two were Wisconsin Belgian Red and Fat Squirrel Brown Ale.

Raspberry Tart pours a crystal clear and luscious ruby red with hints of brown at the edges; the head is thin, white, and quickly goes the way of the dinosaurs. And as the label warned us, the nose is resplendent with bright and tart raspberry aromas followed with a touch of jammy sweetness. Flavors are equally delightful—Raspberry Tart starts sweet and, well, tart with plenty of raspberry. There is a soft doughy wheat malt in the middle, and the jammy sweetness comes through here as well. The tartness returns in the finish, combining to linger with the sweet jam and fruit flavors of the raspberry in a wonderful mélange of taste sensations. Carbonation is bright, prickly, & spritzy, while the mouthfeel of the malt character is light and soft on the palate. The combination is clean, refreshing, and crisp—there is a wonderful balance of tart and sweetness from the fruit in the beer. This beer may even be better than the Belgian Red—I know Elli thinks so. I myself am on the fence. The consolation of philosophy connected to that discussion, however, will not do much considering that our cellar is currently bereft of both beers.

From the bottle: “Treat yourself to a rare delight. The voluminous raspberry bouquet will greet you long before your lips touch your glass. Serve this Wisconsin framboise very cold in a champagne flute. Then hold your glass to a light and enjoy the jewel-like sparkle of a very special ale. Oregon proudly shares their harvest of mouth watering berries which we ferment spontaneously in large oak vats. Then we employ Wisconsin farmed wheat and year old Hallertau hops to round out this extravaganza of flavor. Life’s too short to wait for dessert.”

ABV: 4.0%


Friday, July 6, 2012

The Session #65: On the Solo Tip

Like most Americans, early on I was socialized to believe that doing anything by yourself was, well, weird. This included pretty much most aspects of life: clothes, beliefs, interests, etc.—you know, be one with the herd. The problem for me was that I didn’t work that way. I didn’t mind being alone for hours on end, reading and thinking, and I found quite a bit of pleasure in consciously (albeit quietly) deviating from accepted social norms. At the same time, I did learn to fit in, by which I mean I learned to be a social creature, if for no other reason than the stark realization that willfully ignoring and contravening social conventions carried far more social costs than merely being a loner. And, with time, these attitudes expanded to include other age relevant elements of my life, like beer in general, and drinking in specific, once I became of age for such pursuits.

The conforming public extrovert and rebellious private introvert went on until I was in college, when one day, when I was meeting friends for a beer, I ran across a professor of mine, who was drinking a pint by himself in the bar and reading a book. I remember this moment very specifically for two reason: 1) I had skipped class that day, and 2) he is the first person in my memory that I actively recognize as drinking alone in public. And he was most certainly enjoying himself doing it. I was so shocked that I walked over to ask him what I had missed in class that day. He looked up, happily answered my question, and then returned to his book. Clearly, company was not needed. The feeling I experienced at that moment can be best described as a combination of being impressed coupled with cognitive dissonance—here was someone who was not afraid to display his introversion publicly. So simple, and yet the thought had never crossed my mind. And thus was born my embrace of public introversion. Over the course of the next couple of years, I experimented: bars, coffee shops, restaurants, movies. These quasi-public, quasi-private endeavors allowed me to realize that, on occasion, these events were more enjoyable when done alone: I could focus on enjoying the task at hand, be it reading, eating, mulling over a pint of something specific, or enjoying a film. Yes, all of these experiences can, at times, be enhanced by the company of others. But not always. So here’s to the times when drinking alone is its own reward.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

522. Fremont Homefront IPA

Our third beer from Fremont Brewing, following Bourbon Abominable 2011 (love that name) and Harvest Ale. I picked this up in Seattle during my recent visit with my dad, and brought it home because I figured Elli would like it. And I was right.

Homefront IPA pours a hazy butterscotch with a thick, rocky eggshell head. The nose is a delicious blend of spice, pine, and resin hop aromas mixed with floral and perfume yeast esters, with an emphasis on the evergreen. Flavors follow suit, with pine and a touch of caramel in the front, followed by bitterness and dryness in the middle coupled with more evergreen and pine hop flavor. There is a slight chalk and mineral bite in the turn to the finish, then the pine returns, along with a tannic bite on the tongue from the oak that lingers with the bitterness. The oak bite also dries out the beer on the palate, as does the bright carbonation, although it simultaneously makes the beer clean & fresh on the palate. The malt character strikes me as more British than American; while the flavor is more caramel than crystal, the malt contributes more of a chewy mouthfeel than any clear, distinct flavor in the beer—it serves mainly as a backdrop for the hop flavor. Homefront also strikes me as not as definitively a Northwest IPA as others I’ve tried, although I’d be hard pressed to pin down the intangibles that have led me to this claim. Nonetheless, a well-balanced and easy drinking beer—it is simple, upfront, clean, and fresh. Homefront IPA is both approachable and refreshing. Nice work, Fremont.

From the bottle: “Homefront IPA is a special beer created with Chris and Phil Ray of COTU Brewing to honor our veterans as they return home from their tour of duty. Homefront is aged on oak bats donated by Louisville Slugger and is released nationwide in collaboration with 21st Amendment, Perennial Artisan, St. Arnold, Cigar City and Sly Fox Brewing. This beer is our way to say thank you to our service members for their sacrifice. Operation Homefront (OH) provides emergency financial assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. All proceeds from the sale of this beer will be donated to OH.”

ABV: 6.2%
Malt:  2-row, Crystal 60 & Aromatic
Hops: Cascade & Chinook


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

521. Widmer Marionberry Hibiscus Gose

So Widmer is getting in on the sour beer action. Or, as described on their website, they are “perfecting the art of tart.” Good, but you’re not quite there yet. All told, this is our third beer from Widmer, including Nelson Imperial IPA and Drifter Pale Ale.

We had this beer served to us in a tulip glass at South Park Tavern; it is a delicate bordello shade of dusty rose with a thin white head reduced to a ring by the time it appeared at our table. The nose features a gummy wheat aroma mixed with floral esters and a touch of sour that is almost but not quite lactic. It does better approach a lactic tang in the nose as it warms. As well, there is no real salt or salinity detectable in the nose. Flavors start with a malty bread dough and wheat coupled with salt, followed by hibiscus and a slight saline tang before moving into a soft and refrained cleansing lactic bite towards the finish—it does taste more like acidulated malt than lactobacillus—with hibiscus & berry, both of which linger on the tongue. The body is medium and doughy/gummy with a gentle carbonation that enhances the wheat character of the beer. The delicate, soft, and rounded body is offered a touch of brightness via the hibiscus. The berry flavor comes out as it warms; initially, it is only in the finish, and it took over a bit too much in the final quarter of the glass. An interesting beer, but it needs more lactic sourness and more salt—it is more a gose dressed-up for Joe Sixpack, which ultimately means it is more fruit beer than gose. It is certainly lacking the balance seen in Jackie O’s Raspberry Berliner Weisse, which deftly combines fruit and sour without sacrificing either. I am glad that someone is commercially producing a gose, and I understand the need to make it palatable to wider audience, but, well, I am a bit disappointed.

From the Widmer website: “Gose is a traditional cloudy German-style wheat beer that balances tart and slightly salty flavors with a soft malt background. Our unique take uses a healthy dose of Oregon-grown marionberries as well as dried hibiscus flowers for a tart, floral profile with clove & coriander flavors to round it out. Prost! Or Goseanna!”

ABV: 5.5%