Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gems from the Archives

Archival research is one of the many things occupying my time. Usually it involves lots of microfilm, and the need to trace down some obscure reference. Recently, however, I’ve increasingly been making use of some of the new digital online archives—like the Library of Congresss Chronicling America—that offers a quite distracting searchable interface. Distracting because you can quickly and easily find all kinds of interesting and useless information. As with these two advertisements for Consumers’ Brewing Company. The first was in the Washington, D.C. Colored American on June 15, 1901, appearing on page 3. Below is a second Consumers ad from the Washington, D.C. Evening Times that appeared in the April 9, 1901 edition on page 8. Consumers’ Brewing Company was in Rosslyn, VA, right across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., so it makes sense to find their ads in the majority of the Washington, D.C. papers. I came across the first ad while looking for a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem in the Colored American; I was amused by the image, so I proceeded to search the database using the brewery’s name to see what else popped up. Because who can get enough of an adult bear taunting cubs with a full stein of beer? Certainly not me! Sheer genius! Other delightful ad copy points to the “medicinal value” of Consumers’ porters and ales, as well as the fact that it is “recommended for family use” (Alexandria Gazette, September 3, 1900, page 1). Ah, history. So old and so foolish.

Anyway, after examining the search results on the Chronicling America site, I turned to the internet to see what else I could find out about Consumers’ Brewing Company. Which, as it turns out, was not much. Though more than I anticipated. This is from One Hundred Years of Brewing (Chicago: H. S. Rich & Co., 1901): “In 1895 the Consumers’ Brewing Company, of Rosslyn, VA, was organized for the brewing of lager beer, light and dark. A plant was erected on the Potomac river front, lighted by electricity and refrigerated artificially. It was ready for occupancy January 1, 1897, and since then porter and ale have been added to the brewery products” (207). By 1902, the brewery had changed its name to Arlington Brewing Company, and it attempted to stay afloat during Prohibition by producing Cherry Smash. Here is a picture of the brewery from around 1920 when it was producing Cherry Smash; the building itself was torn down in 1958; this picture shows the brewery from across the river—the building is in the upper right corner. I also found a reference to Consumers’ in American Brewers’ Review from October 20, 1896, indicating that Consumers’ had ordered a “50-ton refrigerating machine” from the Vilter Manufacturing Company of Milwaukee, WI (140). So there you have it: a completely pointless post about a long-defunct brewery. And yet this seemingly large digression, one that has consumed most of my afternoon, has left me in a delightful mood.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Rockit Cup Imperial Stout Recap

So the Rockit Cup finally caters to convention and what happens? All the complainers and detractors fail to brew yet again. So typical. Any who, another small and intimate Rockit Cup, with four beers and three brewers. Brian Gallow was unable to join us—something about moving to Columbus or the likes. Double boo for whatever he tries to pass off as his trumped-up excuse. Overall, all four beers were solid. Still, rankings had to be done because, well, that’s what the Rockit Cup is all about. The final tabulations:

1st: Jim Scofield
2nd: John Hoke
3rd: myself
4th: Brian Gallow

Yes, I am as shocked as all of you that Gallow ended up last. But he has it coming for moving. I ranked the four beers as follows: myself (although the beer I thought was mine was actually Jim’s), Jim, John, and Brian. Additional comments include: Jim’s was a clean beer underneath, but had some hop bitterness and astringency that was a bit harsh, John's was the sweetest, bordering on sticky/cloying, and Brian’s was a little hot with some slight sharpness beyond that provided by the darker malts. The beer that turned out to be mine was clean and balanced with a chewy roasty body that was pleasant. I’m certain that given some time, all will blossom into something even better. And to ensure that we can see the results of that, I conned a bottle out of each of the other three to stash away in the basement until next year!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

June 2014 Rockit Cup: California Common

Once again, the Rockit Cup is back to screw up your neat and tidy brewing schedule. What, you don’t like that style? Too bad. Shut up and brew it anyway. And stop whining. Now you know why no one ever liked playing with you at recess. Anyway, what better way to usher in the fast approaching early summer months than by brewing one of the few styles indigenous to the continent? And remember, using this yeast will make your beer more lager-like than many other supposed actual lager beers.

Rockit Cup June 2014: California Common
OG: 1.051 @ 70% efficiency
FG: 1.012
IBU: 40
SRM: 5
ABV: 5.1%

6 lbs. Pale
3 lbs. Pilsner
1 ½ lbs. Dark Munich

Mash at 150˚ F for 60 minutes

½ oz. Northern Brewer @ 60
¾ oz. Northern Brewer @ 30
¾ oz. Northern Brewer @ 15

Wyeast 2112 California Lager
Ferment at 62˚ F

Carbonate to 2.5 volumes

California dreaming...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

AHA NHC Zanesville Beer Judging

This year’s version of the AHA NHC regional in Zanesville was much the same as last year: we were again located at Weasel Boy Brewing and Frank Barickman made plenty of bad jokes. Some things will never change. My compatriots in crime for the trip to Zanesville this year were Jake Browning and Jon Vanderglas. So basically a mini-YHCS roadtrip, since Chris Wyatt was in for the fun on Saturday.

So where to begin? How about four beer judging sessions in two days: two Friday and two Saturday. And two rough days it was: Friday was American Ales and IPAs while Saturday was Stouts and Strong Ales. So basically I drank through starter categories for home brewers on Friday, started with that again on Saturday, and closed out Saturday afternoon with even bigger beers with the Strong Ales. So Saturday was especially rough. As well, there was a lot more hot and fusel alcohols in the beers I judged this year; I’m not sure if I was just that unlucky, or there was some sort evil mojo curse circulating. Either way, after the two sessions on Saturday, I was in a bad place. So after a few rounds of our now-classic “Worst In Show” beer drinking game and the award segment of the evening, we opted to return to the hotel and drink Snakebites made with PBR and Woodchuck Granny Smith Cider. After all those big, dark, and burny beers earlier in the day, that PBR and Woodchuck went down like a dream. 

(4/4 & 5/2014)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bockfest 2014 Beer Judging

This year I was a bit more mercenary in my Bockfest beer judging experience. There was no messing around afterwards and having a beer, no visit to the underground labyrinthine caves beneath the brewery, no trip to Party Source or 50 West, no ogling giant goat heads. Just judging. Drive down, judge some beer, drive home. I kinda liked the experience.

Like last year, I judged Bock beers; I was paired with Scott Lafollette, who runs the show at Blank Slate, and a third judge whose name embarrassingly escapes me. Oh well. My shame is now publicly acknowledged, so I can move on. Anyway, as per usual, Scott was an excellent judge partner, as was our to remain nameless third judge partner. So after we rolled through our section of the flight, I left Scott to mini-BOS judging and got the hell out of town. Back to the DYT.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

April Rockit Cup Imperial Stout Brewday

So I erred on the water volume calculations, which left me with a little over 3 gallons going into the carboy, hence the low OG of this beer. Still, a fun experiment trying to brew a half-sized batch of a bigger beer—certainly something to revisit in the future. Because let’s he honest: the Rockit Cup doles out knowledge like bakeries dole out free day old bread. Simile me some of that! On with the learning!

171. April 2014 Rockit Cup Imperial Stout
5 lbs. Muntons Maris Otter
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat
1 lb. Muntons Chocolate
1 lb. Muntons Roasted Barley
½ lb. Crisp Crystal 77° L
½ lb. Dingemanns Special B
¼ lb. Muntons Dark Crystal
¼ lb. MFB Kiln Coffee
Mash @ 149° F for 75 minutes w/ 3 gallons RO water & 5 g. gypsum; collected 1 ¾ gallons @ 1.082
Batch sparge @ 163° F for 20 minutes w/ 2 ½ gallons RO water & 4 g. gypsum; added ¼ lb. each of Muntons Chocolate and Roasted Barley to sparge; collected 2 ½ gallons @ 1.032

Collected 4 ¼ gallons; brought to a boil (60 minutes) & added:
w/60 to go: 1 oz. Northern Brewer leaf 9.9% AA
w/ 30 to go: ½ oz. Northern Brewer leaf 9.9% AA

w/15 to go: ½ oz. EKG leaf 6.6% AA

w/5 to go: ½ oz. Northern Brewer leaf 9.9% AA

w/0 to go: ½ oz. EKG leaf 6.6% AA

Chilled, racked to carboy to chill to 60° F, then pitched on yeast cake from 169. Rockit Cup No Name Best Bitter

Primary: 2/26/2014 @60° F; rose to 66° F
Secondary: 3/17/2014 @ 1.024; dry hopped w/ 1 oz. Northern Brewer 9.9% AA
Bottled: 3/26/2014 w/ .75 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.082
FG: 1.024

Tasting Notes:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Barrel Project w/ Jake Browning Brewday

A while ago, Jake Browning approached me with a conundrum: he had a 10 gallon barrel that had been handed down to him, but didn’t know what to do with it. I happily volunteered to help brew something to fill it, since collaborative beer projects are usually fun. Then a bunch of time passed. Which is generally how such things work. And then Jake reminded of my promise. So I  made us a recipe, and we each brewed a five gallon batch to put into the barrel. We weren’t super-fastidious as to adhering to the recipe, as the barrel itself—through lack of actual use—may be a bust, but if the first beer turns out, we’ll certainly have a second beer ready to go into the barrel. Oh, and since Jake is scared of introducing wild microbes into his house, he brewed his version with a clean, neutral yeast, and convinced me to keep the barrel at my house.

Via the dubious history connected to said barrel, we did want to take steps to help—as much as possible—produce a “positive” result for the beer that was going into the barrel. With that in mind, prior to racking the beer into the barrel (which smelled like blue cheese and vinegar), we filled it with boiling water and let it sit for 30 minutes, at which point we drained the barrel and then filled it with beer. Will this work? We’ll certainly find out! But our hope is that by killing off as much as possible whatever current organisms were residing in the barrel will give the Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois, and Brettanomyces custersianus a chance to successfully colonize the barrel.

170. Barrel Project w/ Jake Browning
7 lbs. MFB Special Aromatic
4 lbs. Breiss White Wheat
½ lb. rolled oatmeal
½ lb. rolled barley

Mash @ 150° F for 90 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 5 g. gypsum; collected 2 ½ gallons @ 1.090
Batch sparge @ 167° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 4 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.026

Collected 6 ½ gallons; topped off to 7 gallons, brought to a boil (90 minutes), & added:
w/90 to go: 2 oz. EKG leaf 5.41% AA

Chilled, racked onto yeast cake from 167. Brett Beer w/ Brett & Coffee

Primary: 2/21/2014
Secondary: 2/28/2014

OG: 1.052

Tasting Notes: