Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saison w/ Spelt Brewday

So spelt. I bought a bag of Best Malz Spelt malt to experiment with—mainly to compare it to wheat, and to see how the nuttier flavor expresses itself in a beer, something like, oh, say, a saison. Shocking, right? It is a bit heavier on overall protein (16%, as compared to 11-13% for most other malted grains), but has high enzymatic power. As described on the Best Malz website, “Spelt is a distant genetic relative of wheat, and imparts a dry, tart, and earthy character and aroma. Spelt is good for Belgian Saison and wheat styles.” That’s good enough reason for me! Plus, since I just scored some new ECY08 Saison Brasserie yeast, everythings coming up Milhouse!

152. Saison w/ Spelt
6 lbs. MFB Pilsener
4 lbs. Best Malz Spelt
1 lb. Breiss White Wheat
4 oz. rolled oatmeal
4 oz. rolled barley

Mash @ 150° F for 90 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 2 gallons @ 1.074
Batch sparge @ 168° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.022

Collected 6 ¼ gallons; topped off with ½ gallon RO water to bring it to 6 ¾ gallons, brought to a boil (90 minutes), & added:
w/90 to go: 1 ½ oz. Cluster leaf 7.6% AA

w/60 to go: 15 g. dried dandelion root

w/15 to go: 1 oz. Styrian Golding leaf 2.9% AA
10 g. dried dandelion root

w/5 to go: 1 oz. Styrian Goldings leaf 2.9% AA
10g. dried dandelion root
6 g. crushed homegrown coriander
3 g. crushed cumin seed
3 g. crushed Grains of Paradise

w/0 to go: 1 oz. Syrian Goldings leaf 2.9% AA

Let stand for 15 minutes, chilled, & pitched ECY08 Saison Brasserie

Primary: 7/27/2013
Secondary: 8/10/2013 @ 1.006; dry hop w/ 1 ½ oz. Styrian Golding leaf 2.9% AA
Bottled: 8/12/2013; bottled 1 gallon w/ .8 oz. table sugar, and kegged the rest for Beer & Sweat

OG: 1.056
FG: 1.005

Tasting Notes (12/4/2013): I waited on tasting the last bottle I had of this as I wanted to see how much the spice levels—specifically the coriander—would fall off. In the initial bottles, the underlying beer was good, the spice additions got in the way. Here, things have mellowed, and the Styrian Goldings are able to come through, as well as some of the ephemeral herbal dandelion components that were equally lost under the haze of floral citrus spiciness from the coriander, cumin, and grains of paradise. The beer pours a slightly hazy straw with lots of tiny streaming white bubbles, producing a creamy white head that laces the glass nicely. There is faint pepper and hay in the nose, with hints of citrus and mintiness amidst the floral esters—the delicate aromas are able to express themselves in ways they couldn’t when this was initially bottled. Flavors start with bread dough and candy sweetness, along with bread crust; the middle gives way to hay and a light mineral and minty herbal bitterness. The citrus appears in the turn to the finish, and does more bread crust and a slight nuttiness, with a bit of a harsher bitterness lingering on the back of the throat—the Cluster addition for bittering comes across as more aggressive than the other subtler components of the beer; it is something to rethink in homing in on this beer. While the beer is dry on the palate, there is also rounded creaminess via the rolled oatmeal and barley; the bright, sharp carbonation contributes to dryness, and yet the spelt and white wheat also give this beer some gummy/doughy mouthfeel, even in conjunction with the attenuation. I’ll be interested to compare this with the more recent version of this beer (162. Saison w/ Spelt), which cuts the spice and dandelion additions as well as the rolled oatmeal and barley, and trades the white wheat for acidulated malt, but maintains the same MFB Pilsen and Best Malz Spelt ratio and hop additions. Oh, and there is a new yeast to consider. But this current beer does confirm that Styrian Goldings are a keeper in regards to late hop additions. And the four months this sat in the bottle has dramatically improve this beer—it has brought the outlier components into a more even harmony that harkens to better things. I’m still betting I’ll be missing the dandelion in the new version, though.

Oh, and I am amused that this was entry number 69 for Beer & Sweat.

Friday, July 26, 2013

December Rockit Cup: Mini-Cask Fest

For December’s Rockit Cup, you’ll be choosing a previous Rockit Cup recipe, brewing it, and putting a portion of it into a mini-keg. Yes, you’ll need to do something with the other 3.68 gallons, since a mini-keg will only hold 1.32 gallons (or 5 liters for those of you who like the metric system), but that is up to you. If you’re super lazy (I’m looking at you, Ben Cripe), you’ll fill up a mini-keg with American Weissbier (if you’re cutting it close) or Brett Trois IPA (once you get around to it). Or maybe you’ve already planned for it—I’ve got a mini-keg of the Millenium Single-Hop Session IPA stashed somewhere in the basement. But ideally, everyone will brew something new, and get to experiment with the joys of cask-conditioning beer. Me, I’ll be brewing the one Rockit Cup beer I didn’t brew: the Northern English Brown from December 2012. Woot!

Here’s a list of links to previous Rockit Cup recipes:
April 2011: Standard/Ordinary Bitter
June 2011: Session IPA
August 2011: Saison
October 2011: Dry Stout
December 2011: 60 Shilling
February 2011: Alt
March 2012: Belgian Session IPA
May 2013: Black India Session Ale
June 2013: Chris Wyatt’s Landlord
August 2012: Hoppy Wheat
October 2012: American Bitter
December 2012: Northern English Brown
February 2013: Grinder’s Mild
March 2013: Belgian Pale Ale
April 2013: Single-Hop Session IPA
June 2013: Rye Pale Ale
August 2013: Choose Your Own Yeast American Weissbier
October 2013: Brett Trois IPA

A couple of comments on mini-kegs: you can either buy one new (like the above shiny silver one) or re-purpose a commercial one you buy and empty (I have a Scherlenka Rauchbier mini-cask I’ve used several times now—see picture below, filled with Rockit Cup Dry Stout). If you buy one, you’ll need to remove the plastic and rubber bung: pull straight up on the red plastic lift piece until it snaps apart from the bottom piece, push the bottom interior piece into the mini-cask, and remove the black plastic bung. You’ll have to shake the keg around to get the other piece out, but the two red plastic pieces will snap back together through the plastic bung, and can be re-used (although you will want to sanitize it first); if you damage the bung, or if you get one that won’t re-connect, you can always buy a new one at Brewtensils (they are currently in stock). Do get the one that has the red top (like in the picture), and not the gray one that you have to push the entire center plastic piece into the beer to get it to work.

Carbonation: the larger volume of the mini-keg means you’ll want to scale down the ratio of priming materials you use: don’t ask me the physics, but the bigger the vessel, the less priming sugar needed to achieve the same level of carbonation in a smaller vessel. Thus, when I used ¾ ounce of table sugar to prime my first mini-keg (90. Session IPA; for this batch I added the priming sugar separately to the mini-keg and the rest of the batch of beer), that was still too much. The second time round, I packaged the entire 5 gallon batch (99. Rockit Cup Dry Stout; 2 mini-kegs and the rest in bottles; I did the entire batch together this time) with 2 ounces of table sugar, or approximately .525 ounces for each mini-keg (and .95 ounces for the other 2.36 gallons), which turned out much better. For the most recent mini-keg that I can find notes on, the aforementioned 143. Rockit Cup Millenium Single-Hop Session IPA, I used 2.2 ounces for the remaining 4 gallons (I bottled the first gallon to take to the April DRAFT meeting); I filled the mini-keg first, then bottled the rest, which means I used .726 ounces for the mini-keg and 1.474 ounces for the remaining 2.68 gallons. The bottles were all fine; I haven’t opened the mini-cask yet, but my guess is slightly over-carbonated.

Let me know if you have other questions!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

569. Lazy Magnolia Timber Beast Imperial Rye IPA

I like that I have friends who feel compelled to bring me back beer from their vacations, because it means that I get to try things like that I would never get on my own, like Lazy Magnolia from Kiln, Mississippi. And yes, I am drinking this beer out of a jam jar, mostly because it goes with the lumberjack theme on the label, and the sweet-ass name. It’s like the Brawny dude finally decided to do something worthwhile with his life: he stopped chopping down trees to make paper towels, grew a beard, and opened a brewery. Get some, Brawny dude! While the Mississippi location did initially give me pause—this is, after all, our first beer from Mississippi—Lazy Magnolia brings it with the beer as well as the packaging. 

Timber Beast pours a hazy orange copper, with an emphasis on the orange. The head is pretty minimal—the last bottle had more carbonation, while this one is a bit under-carbonated—although when I swirl the beer to re-rouse the head, I can see tiny bubbles fighting through the beer. In this case, however, they lose. The nose is spicy rye and resin coupled with orange and grapefruit; there is some bread crust and toast behind this, along with some pine, but the rye spiciness and resin hop aroma do a good job of smothering them under a flannel shirt of love. Flavors start with warm bread and toast mixed with spicy pine resin; bitterness picks up in the middle, turning to orange and pine as the beer heads toward the finish, closing with some lingering orange marmalade—there is a jammy mouthfeel in the finish, too—and bright evergreen bitterness. The chewy, rounded malt body and hop flavors balance well in this beer—it drinks deceptively easy for a 9.0% ABV beer, although there is a hint of warmth on the back of the throat as it warms. Still, a well made and enjoyable beer, one that is far superior to many of the other double/imperial IPAs we’ve tried, rye or not. The bright hoppy bitterness and rye spiciness dance on the palate, with flavor and complexity to spare. Timber Beast, I’m gonna miss you.

From the bottle: “Timber Beast is the first in Lazy Magnolia’s Back Porch Series. A spicy, full-bodied Imperial Rye Pale Ale balanced with a generous does of Zythos hops. Retreat to the Back Porch and be a little Lazy. Big Cheers, y’all.

ABV: 9.0%
IBU: 80
Malt: Rye, Pale, Carapils, Caramel
Hops: Zythos, Nugget, Cascade, Centennial

P. S. Art and Chloe rule!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Brett & Gueuze Brewday

Time to clutter my dining room with more 3 gallon carboys that will be sitting there for at least a year. Because that’s what I need right now, right? Actually, only the gueuze will be cluttering the room for a year or so—with the current temperatures, the ECY05 Brett Blend #9 should finish up by late August or so, at which point it will get some fruit—I’m thinking mulberries, since I recently realized I have something like 30 pounds of fruit in the freezer that need some using. We can see what is trending seasonally at that point, or just pull out the good ol’ reserves. Welcome to round three of The Great Brett Experiment, kids: fruit and brett!

151. Brett & Gueuze
6 lbs. MFB Special Aromatic
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat
1 ½ lbs. Weyermann Pilsen
1 lb. MFB Pale
1 lb. Acidulated Malt
¾ lb. steel cut oats

Mash @ 150° F for 80 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 2 gallons @ 1.090
Batch sparge @ 165° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water; collected 4 gallons @ 1.028

Collected 6 gallons; added 1 gallon RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 oz. Millenium leaf 16.6% AA

w/10 to go: 1 ½ oz. Sonnet Golding leaf 4.1% AA

w/5 to go: 6 g. crushed homegrown coriander
3 g. crushed cumin seed
3 g. Grains of Paradise

Let stand for 20 minutes, chilled, split batch into two 6 gallon carboys, and pitched:
151a. yeast starter from Bruery Rueuze
Brewed: 7/24/2013 w/ 5 Hungarian oak cubes

OG: 1.056

Tasting Notes:

151b. yeast from 138b. ECY05 Brettanomyces Blend #9
Brewed: 7/24/2013 w/ 5 Hungarian oak cubes
Blended: blended during the Old Beer Blending Party (2/21/2016)

OG: 1.056
FG: 1.000

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: Beer School

Since it is summer, it is time to start posting some reviews of the books I’ve been reading. Reading is the easy part; finding time to transform my thoughts into something useful—summer or not—is an entirely different proposition. But I’ll try. First up is Beer School, the story of the founding of Brooklyn Brewery. It is a story told by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter, Brooklyn’s two founders, with each taking their turn in the individual chapters of the book. There is a clear difference between the two voices in regards to tone and direction, but they do end up playing off each other well. As Tom puts it, “an even surface tone beats enthusiasm every time” (57). While he is discussing the construction of a business plan here, in many ways this is an apt description of the two partners, with Tom the “even surface tone” and Steve the voice of enthusiasm. Steve’s previous career as a correspondent serves him in good stead when telling Brooklyn’s story, but at times the hyperbole is, well, a bit much: “If you are going to start a business, you must be prepared for lonely moments of entrepreneurial terror, for stress and anxiety. There is little consolation in those moments. I haven’t slept soundly since I became an entrepreneur. But Tom and I have shared some experiences that only an entrepreneur can appreciate, and I know we both treasure the experience” (278). Oh my. This also comes at the end of a chapter Tom spends debunking the mythic image of the entrepreneur in the public imagination; thus, while Steve’s observations have merit, they nonetheless smack of solipsism. Still, Steve has his moments, like when talking about his interest in beer: “Money people make money. Money is different from art and beer. Art and beer can enrich your life; they can arouse your senses; they can inspire and liberate. Money is not by itself enjoyable” (154). It is observations like these that give Steve depth beyond his role as the public face of Brooklyn Brewery and save him from falling into the role of corporate cheerleader. Tom’s even business-speak does start a bit dry, but it open up as he warms to the topic; coupled with Steve’s flair, the two present the difficulties and disagreements with more candor than a single narrative voice could.

The practical elements of starting a business stood out more than I expected. They initially dub themselves Mr. Inside—Steve—and Mr. Outside—Tom—to help identify their respective roles in the fledgling operation, and document some of their miscommunications in this regard as well, providing insight into the importance of open communication when working together. We also get a good amount of information concerning the importance of constructing and implementing a business plan. Thus, “What might appear to be a mundane 40-page report is really the dramatic result of months of imagining the world anew. It’s the founders’ distilled brainstorm of strategy, structure, management, and motivation” (44). They also emphasize the value of research coupled with the practical knowledge necessary to implement their business plan in a successful manner. And one other solid piece of advice that, while simple even to me, bears repeating: “Get It On Paper.” Or, put more succinctly, “with a partnership agreement, if the relationship dissolves, there’s a mechanism in place to make it amicable and fair” (15). Offhand, I can think of one no-longer functioning Ohio brewery that might have benefitted from this advice.

I do like that Beer School details some of the personal history that most people never tend to discover. For example, everyone knows that Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster at Brooklyn. Yes, everyone. Even that guy you know who doesn’t like beer. And rightfully so—he’s a media darling, and TheBrewmaster’s Table and The Oxford Companion to Beer have only solidified that reputation. He’s witty and personable, and as Steve tells it, is fond of using a quote from the Blues Brothers to identify his role in the world of craft beer: “I’m on a mission from God” (220). Thus, we get the story of when Steve initially met Oliver in December 1987 at a meeting of the New York City Homebrewers Guild, and later, as Steve recounts, “In the early 1990s, as we began planning to finally build our brewery in Brooklyn, I began to talk to Garrett about coming to work for us” (31). Oliver was hired in 1994, the new brewery in Williamsburg opened on May 18, 1996, and the rest is history and, well, the rest of the book. But I liked hearing about Bill Moeller, their first brewmaster, who was a “fourth-generation German-American brewer whose grandfather had brewed beer in Brooklyn at the turn of the
Bill Moeller with Michael
Jackson; from here
last century” (27). He had worked for 35 years at C. Schmidt and Sons in Philadelphia; the job at Brooklyn was “the first time in my career that an owner has ever told me to make the best damn beer I can make” (28). The original recipe for Brooklyn Lager was put together by Bill, Steve, and Tom using “the notebooks of Bill’s grandfather” (28). And it was Bill that initially helped open doors for Steve and Tom: “Bill had contacts everywhere. We were delighted to take advantage of them. For his part, he was delighted to be working on a project for a really premium beer” (51). Bill simultaneous status in the beer industry and involvement in the burgeoning craft movement was an important part of the early transition from macro- to microbrewing in the United States—exactly the type of history I’d like to learn more about.

Other points worth noting include Brooklyn Brewery’s “great detour” (77) into distribution, as well as their foray into the dot-com revolution with While the distribution branch of the business started as a means to deliver their own beer, it ultimately included both imports and other craft beers, like Sierra Nevada. Thus, when Wine Enthusiast released a list of the 100 best beers in the world in October 1994, Steve and Tom “discovered that we distributed a strong majority of them” (95). We also learn about the industry, and the potential pitfalls of financing when moving from a regional to a national brand: “Pyramid Brewing was doing very well in the mid-1990s, enjoyed excellent organic growth, and was guided by a talented management team. When it raised $34 million in late 1995 on the promise of going national, it quickly spent most of its money in the futile attempt and saw its reputation erode from regional success to national failure. Pyramid’s shares went public at $19, and over the next 10 years they lost nearly 90 percent of their value. Pyramid has lately regained some positive momentum and still makes good beer, but the whole episode is a painful reminder that the business strategy needs to direct the financing and not the other way around” (142). While previously I was puzzled by Pyramid’s transformation, being that I was in mid-twenties during the time, I just abandoned Pyramid for one of the many other craft beers springing up in the Northwest. This explanation makes a lot of sense, though. After all, Red Hook’s “deal-with-the-devil” to achieve national distribution with Anheuser-Busch InBev fared only marginally better in regards to maintaining their reputation. Finally, Steve and Tom discuss some of the early New York microbrewers that came before them, like Matthew Reich, founder of New Amsterdam Brewery, who “pioneered the idea of contract brewing—contracting with an existing brewery to produce a beer for you” (212). They point out that one price of success is that others will “go to school on your business” (213), as they and others—like Jim Koch of Samuel Adams—did with Reich. Hence, as you’ve probably now gathered, the name of the book. While Reich wasn’t always gracious—in one interview he says of Brooklyn “I hope they fall flat on their faces. They have stolen every idea I ever had” (213)—others like Bill Newman of Albany Amber Beer, Jeff Ware of Dock Street Brewing, and Nat Collins of Woodstock Brewing exemplified the community spirit that still exists in craft brewing today.

So there’s a small snapshot of the book. There’s a whole lot more, and despite some of my earlier comments, it is both well-written and a good read. While the business language is at times a bit generic, the book offers a fascinating window into the early days of microbrewing on the East Coast, one I hope to learn more about soon.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

October Rockit Cup: Brett Trois IPA

I’d like to point out that the idea for this beer is Brian Gallow’s, not mine, although I’m guessing that no one will believe me. That said, I think this is a fantastic idea: using Brettanomyces as the primary yeast. That’s certainly gonna push some knowledge. And who doesn’t need more of that? Nazis, that’s who! This recipe is a slightly revised version of Michael Tonsmeire’s 100% Brett Trois IPA, which is also currently being produced as Modern Times Neverwhere. Rockit Cup: always on point.

October Rockit Cup: Brett Trois IPA
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.012
IBU: 72
Color: 4.59 SRM
ABV: 6.2%

9 lbs. Breiss 2-row
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat
½ lb. Breiss Carapils
½ lb. Weyermann Acidulated 

Mash @ 153° F for 60 minutes
60 minute boil

1 oz. Columbus @ 60 minutes
1 oz. Citra @ 5 minutes
½ oz. Cascade @ 5 minutes
½ oz. Centennial @ 5 minutes
1 oz. Cascade @ 0 minutes
1 oz. Centennial @ 0 minutes
1 oz. Citra @ 0 minutes
1 oz. Citra dry hop 
½ oz. Cascade dry hop
½ oz. Centennial dry hop

WLP644 Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois

Ferment @ 68° F

Carbonate to 2.0 volumes

P. S. For those of you who have never brewed with Brettanomyces: do recall that it is a wild yeast that can and will infect the soft plastics you use for brewing. Thus, I would suggest glass for primary and secondary fermentation, and getting a second set of transfer and bottling equipment (or borrowing one from someone who has a second set) to use to transfer and bottle the beer. Sure, your stuff might not get infected, but do you really want to take that chance?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rockit Cup Sour Mash American Weissbier Brewday

I decided that I wanted to experiment with sour-mashing, so I figured that the Rockit Cup American Weissbier was as good a place as any for such experimentation. I mashed in a 5 gallon stainless steel pot, chilled the mash down to around 105° F, pitched Wyeast Lactobacillus, and then put it in the oven and used the bread proofing setting to keep it at around 100° F for 42 hours. After 12 hours, there wasn’t much smell, but right about 16 hours I began to get small whiffs of bread dough and hot candy garbage. Ah, Lactobacillus, so stanky and yet beguiling at the same time. By the time I was ready to brew this morning, the house was smelling good. And another fun fact: when you bring that doughy candy garbage wort up to a boil, it spends a fair amount of time bleeding and oozing even more of that delightful Lactobacillus stanky stank out. Mmm....delicious candy garbage.

150. Rockit Cup Sour Mash American Weissbier
5 lbs. Breiss 6-row
3 lbs. Breiss Flaked Maize
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 153° F for 70 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; chilled to 105° F and pitched Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus; kept at approximately 100° F for 42 hours; heated to 145° F and dumped in mash tun to strain
Batch sparge @ 160° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water

Collected 6 gallons; added ¾ gallon to bring to 6 ¾ gallons; brought to a boil (60 minutes) & added:
w/60 to go: 1 oz. Cluster leaf 7.6% AA

Chilled, split into two 3 gallon carboys, and pitched:
150a. mason jar of ECY19 Brettanomyces custersianus from 141a.
Brewed: 7/13/2013 @ 66° F
Secondary: 7/26/13 @ 1.010
Bottled: 9/2/2013 w/ 2.1 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.002

150b. mason jar of WLP510 Bastogne from 149.
Brewed: 7/13/2013 @ 66° F
Secondary: 7/20/2013 @ 1.006
Bottled: 7/30/2013 w/ 2 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.004

Tasting Notes (12/18/2013): I’ve waited on tasting these two beers because I wanted to see what happened to the residual garbage and butyric/isobutyric aromas and flavors that were quite present when initially bottled. Yes, my initial attempt at a sour mash failed miserably, but I still see this as a learning opportunity, hence my decision to bottle it to see what I could learn over time. As well, as Jeffrey McElfresh once pointed out, forcing yourself to drink a batch of beer you screwed up is an effective reminder to not brew shitty beer. So so true. Both pour a slightly hazy straw color, with 150b.WLP510 having better head formation and retention. As to the particulars:

150a. ECY19 Brettanomyces custersianus
This one still has some of the garbage and sweaty feet in the nose, although most of it is gone in the flavor. Besides the butyric/isobutyric aromas, there is tropical fruit and candy sweetness, although it does border on rancid, overripe fruit and cloying sweetness. Still, you do have to work a bit to find all that, so certainly an improvement. And given the time to open up, many of the off-putting flavors bleed out of the nose. Either that, or I am getting used to them. I’m not sure which is worse. Flavors start with corn and musty candy; the fruitiness in the middle is pleasant and enjoyable, and there is some nice bright lactic sourness along with some candy corn flavors in the finish that cleans the palate and makes you forget about some of the other less salient characteristics in the first half of the beer. Until you smell it when you take the next sip, and remember what the finish made you forget. The dry carbonation bite helps the lactic bite clean the palate: post-aroma, this is a pretty interesting beer.

150b. WLP510 Bastogne
The garbage and stomach bile initially present in this beer have all but vanished, leaving behind cracker, corn sweetness, and a hint of hop bitterness. OK, maybe there are still residual remnants of the initial butyric and isobutyric acids (and/or the esters those acids became), but nothing nearly like when it was first bottled—I get Juicy Fruit and hints of the jankiness I associate with Lactobacillus, but not much else. Instead, it tastes clean and lightly fruity; there is some grainy cracker in the finish, and the beer comes across as slightly watery, but overall much cleaner and more enjoyable than when initially bottled. There is some lingering fruitiness on the back of the throat that tastes a bit off, but otherwise it is good. I do wish it had some of the cleansing lactic bite in the other version, but that could also be Brettanomyces-derived. Still, the Bastogne yeast did a better overall job of cleaning up the off-flavors from the sour mashing

See? Learning. Given time, yeast can clean up and minimize some of the off-flavors produced during early fermentation. I’m glad I didn’t dump this beer out—I’ll be intrigued to see what it continues to do with more time in the bottle.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Session 77: IPA: What’s the Big Deal?

Is anyone really surprised by the rise of the IPA in American Craft Brewing? It seems (or seemed) the logical initial step in the systematic rejection of domestic macro beer by your average craft beer drinker: replace neutral with overpowering and small with big. Sure, there were a couple of potential contenders for this spot—RIS, the other beer nerd Ur-beer—but IPA is currently trending as the beer de jour of craft brewing: it comes in white, brown, black, red, rye, DIPA, TIPA, imperial, and session forms, in addition to the regular ol’ IPA. Oh, and don’t forget British, American, and Belgian versions. In other words, IPAs have become the male version of the handbag: a necessary accessory craft beer drinkers can’t do without. So I get it, but that doesn’t mean I’m jumping on the bandwagon. What I’m really looking forward to, though, are the next couple of steps craft beer consumers will (hopefully) make. We’re already at the start of the turn to smaller, flavorful beers—see the “session” listing for IPAs above, although there are numerous others available, like Humulus Session or Swing. Need I overly emphasize the adjective small here? After that, maybe we can imagine an increased acceptance of subtlety? I know, I know, that’s crazy talk. But I’d like to see craft beer drinkers realize that making a good lager, craft or not, is actually quite hard. Not that everyone needs to make one. Or even like them. But let’s be honest, craft beer could benefit from a touch more healthy discernment as a remedy to arbitrary opinion. Which is just another way of saying knowledge. Because, after all, looking down your nose with nothing but self-righteousness when you lack the ability to understand difference is the epitome of poor taste. And there is certainly enough of that going around already.

The Session is a monthly first Friday beer blogging event; this month is hosted by Justin at Justin’s Brew Review. Drink and blog, y’all.