Coney Island Lager

So…yeah, I bought this.

At the time, I’m there with baeza and Fuz at the Belmont Station, and my first reaction is, ‘Hey, I’ve never seen this beer before!’ That’s always a positive sign for me; I always try something I haven’t if the price is reasonable. We’re all buying some beer, about to retire to the casa and play Magic for three hours, so I’ve got a chance to try something without any severe repercussions since there will be two other guys to take the beat of a bad beer.

So there’s the beer, right? A woman swallowing a sword; fits in with the carny motif of the company, what’s my problem? Is there a problem? My problem is that it was right next to the Coney Island Albino Python Wheat. Standing there with my compatriots, we all agreed; buying this beer is meant to get women to perform oral sex on you.

And I’m just not sure how I feel about that. Now, clearly not all of Coney Island‘s beers give this message, but two of them do and they’re just so obvious about it, I can’t ignore it.

Maybe I’m just reading too much into these things. It’s marketing right? Who gives a damn; the question is–Is the beer good?

And it was; I enjoyed this lager. It was crisp and easy on the palate, just like it should’ve been. Reminded me of Hopwork’s Lager, which I adore. The fellas agreed; this was tasty.

But the imagery being used is pandering to me and I’m not all that sure it’s sending a message that I want to support. I’m smarter than that, even if I’m not sexier.

You want what you want

I have become tired of stouts and IPAs. Not in a ‘oh man it’s miserable’ sense but all the beers around me lately are of those styles, and I just want something cleaner and not as dense as those two beers. Fortunately, I’m in a position to do something about that.

I went with an amber style although I’m really shooting for something in between and amber and a pale ale. This probably doesn’t exist as a style, I just want a place to start.

I steeped these grains at about 160 degrees F.
1.5 lb Munich 100
.5 lb Victory
4 oz Pale Chocolate (British)

The tiny amount of Pale Chocolate is in there to give the beer a little color and maybe a hint of flavors that wouldn’t be present in your standard amber ale.

The other malts I used where 6 pounds of Golden Light malt extract, and 3 pounds of Amber malt extract, added for color.  It took awhile for this to dissolve, and for quite a bit of time the top of my boil looked like this:

1  3/8th oz Newport at 60 minutes.
1 oz Autanum at 30 minutes.
Since there are quite a bit of malty flavors going in, I felt ok about using the stronger Newport hops for the full boil  This ought to give the beer a bitterness which I hope will balance the sweeter flavors. The Autanum hops were new to me but smelled raisiny, like UK Golding hops only a bit more intense. My notes say it has 8 % AA, which shouldn’t be a problem if it comes with that raisin flavor. 

Then at 10 minutes left in the boil, I added 1/2 tsp of Irish Moss to give this beer some clarity. I got a gravity reading of 1.07.

The yeast I used was Rogue’s Pacman. I had two packets of this, but one of them burst on me when I smacked it to activate the yeast. My plan is to let this beer ferment for a little longer in primary because I didn’t have as much yeast as usual to get to work. So far so good though; the beer is percolating along just fine.

52 Weeks 15: Ninkasi Imperial Sasquatch

I wonder if I can have a month of beers that are named after mythological figures? That would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it? If I’m lucky and the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot holds out I’ll have a glass of that next week, and round it all off with the Elysian’s the Immortal IPA. That might be stretching the theme a bit, but what the heck?

Maybe a month of primitive man beers? There’s the Yeti Imperial stout, and practically anything by Walking Man…

Oh man. I can see some friends of mine having a ball with this idea. I’m here for the beer, but if I could work a theme like that in, that would treat me. Personally, I’d like a month of beers named after dinosaurs. Can someone get on that please? 

Maybe I’ll just have to do it myself. Ninkasi will help with their Tricerahops, but that’s the only one I can think of offhand. 

The Sasquatch is an old ale but it’s very hoppy given the style. On the flipside, the beer is a really big one; malty and rich so the hops actually feel balanced, and the bitterness of this beer is present, but never overwhelming. The alcohol warmth is faint but present, more in the belly than in the mouth. 

I find myself in a conversation with another homebrewer, and distracted from my task. Hard to complain; beer is an easy conversation piece around here.

2002 vs 2008

At the Harborside they had Full Sail’s Top Sail bourbon porter on tap from 2002 and 2008. How could I resist?

For those of you who have never been to the Harborside, I recommend hitting it during happy hour, which I believe is from 4-6pm. The beer costs the same, but there is a fantastic selection of food for two bucks; hummus plates, french fries, burgers, all your basic Portland pub grub, and it’s very good. You want to arrive by 5 though, because it gets crowded very quickly. It’s loud but congeneal, mostly populated by folks just getting off work and wanting to relax for a moment before heading home. 

2002 Top Sail
2002 Top Sail

I started with the older beer and was handsomely rewarded. The head was the color of chocolate milk and the nose was all bourbon. The finish however, had a maple flavor to it that was more woodsy than sweet.  In between that it was all smooth porter; nothing too sharp, nothing hiding away, just a good beer.

The 2008 was a related cousin. The nose only hinted of bourbon, and the finish was the standard mellow coffee flavor I’d expect. The middle was a work in progress though. There was a roughness to the flavors of the beer that stood out. I described it as ‘white noise on my tongue’ to the other people at the table. 

The ’08 wasn’t a bad beer by any reasonable standard. I’d just had an uncommonly good beer before it and so in comparison it suffered. I would happily drink more 2008 Top Sail by itself, but comparing it to the 2002 almost seems unfair.

Catching up-Later Winter Warmer

In the later weeks of January, I walked into Steinbart’s to get another copy of Brewing Classic Styles and more supplies for beer. I’d lost my book-probably at Steinbart’s-and as it was my bible for a year of pretty good brewing I knew I needed to replace my copy. This time I was going to write my name in the cover, because you know; fool me once… 

A copy of the book firmly in hand, I asked the gent behind the counter for a suggestion; What style should I make next? He replied that winter warmers were still in season, and so with just eight weeks left I started on my Later Winter Warmer.

Steeping grains:
1 lb 1 oz of Caramel 120 
3/4 lb of Special Roast, which had a chocolatey scent to it.

6.6 lb Light Malt Extract
1 lb Dark Malt Extract

60 minutes: 1 oz Newport, and the info I have on this is that it’s 9.1% AA, but I could be wrong. The bag didn’t say, and so I had to rely on the internet to give me data.
At about 10 minutes left in the boil, I added 1/4 tsp allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The recipe also called for ginger, but I didn’t have any. Instead, I used the yeast from the ginger stout I made in December. Hopefully that will bring over some ginger flavoring, but who knows?

I put this beer into secondary on the 7th of February, but once again forgot to get original gravity readings. Hopefully for the last time.

My plan is to actually bottle this beer this week, but without adding yeast to the bottling sugar I add in at the end. If this beer can get enough time in the bottle to ferment properly, I shouldn’t need it. Plus, I’ve noticed that my beers are a little too foamy (I know, I know; bitch, bitch bitch) and I want to see if I can take it down a notch without ruining the beer.

Final note: I bottled the beer today, and this is sorta what it looks like:

52 Weeks 14: Hale’s Cerberus Triple

I’m a sucker for anything with a mythological name involved. Fortunately for me, in the world of beer this kind of dependency is rewarded: Ninkasi, Elysium, and now the Cerberus tripel. There’s a chewiness to this beer, especially on the backwash. It lingers, an almost syrupy bitterness to wage a battle on the tongue against the Belgian sweetness of the style. 

I enjoy this beer, but it’s got a slickness to it and an alcohol warmth that shows up in my belly and warns me; only drink one of these.

So I’ll  probably be moving on to the next beer after this. It just feels wise. 

It’s President’s Day, but this seems only to matter to bankers and lawyers. I’m not sure that this holiday is helping endear them to the rest of the nation, these days. Everyone else I know worked, so maybe it’s a more accurate reflection than we’d like to admit? 

Food for thought, I guess. I claim no special knowledge when it comes to America; I just live here and try and see the country for what it is, and what I hope it can be.  There are days when I am awestruck by the utter support for what is possible here, and days when I am shamed by our willingness to discard that which we do not understand. 

Hm. I’m getting the feeling that I ought to stop here. I’ll start saying things without actually saying anything, because I don’t want to shove my political or social views on anyone, or I’ll just turn into a hardass about what I do say. I mean yes, this is my blog and I can say what I like but I would like to stay on topic. It’s the principle of the thing.

That said; these posts don’t have topics per se, so maybe I ought to loosen up?

Recycled beer (but not the obvious kind)

I just find it really cool that people are finding ways to reuse beer waste product to make more food

This post also inspired me to make a news category. I guess my interests in beer go beyond just what I drink and make in Portland. Plus, stories like this remind me to try and minimize my own impact on the environment when I brew. It takes a lot of water to make beer, and there’s always used grains, hops, and wort detritus that has to be dealt with. I try and minimize my own water use, and reuse or recycle my other materials when I brew, but on a larger scale things become much more difficult to handle. I like it when smart people come up with interesting solutions to these kinds of problems.

One benefit of unemployment

I can make some crazy sandwiches for lunch.

In the right hand is a mozzarella-bacon-chicken-sun dried tomato sandwich. In the left is a ginger stout that I made. In between learning more CSS and listening to Ice-T, I need some serious food. Since I don’t have to pack for travel, I can get creative with my meals. 

And of course, there’s beer. I’m really liking my ginger stout. The ginger isn’t too up front, but it does linger for a long time. It’s like a house guest that you’re really OK with hanging out for a little while. The chocolate elements of the beer keep the ginger from becoming overwhelming, and as you can see; this beer actually has a bit of a head on it, and that’s been true for most of the beers I’ve opened from this batch. Which is great!

I’m starting to wonder if I need to add yeast to the bottling process, or just really need to give those new bottles a solid two weeks before opening one. A little bit more time than I usually give does seem to help the beer taste better. If there’s one critique of this stout it’s that the mouthfeel is a little light, so maybe adding yeast to this beer wasn’t a good idea.

52 Weeks 13: New Belgium Dunkelweiss

A few weeks back, my buddy Jim, who’ll be joining me in about thirty minutes, said that he liked the 52 Weeks idea, but was wondering; What was my plan for this?

And I didn’t know. But from that point on I thought I ought to try and engage in some manner. Not in a deep way, but to set to this with purpose. What purpose, I didn’t know.

Even now I can’t say I know.

But when I walked into Bailey’s tonight, a greeting from the bartender, a selection of a beer, and then a quick trip to the bathroom brought me the sight of someone sitting at a table with another person, their laptop open to Facebook, yet a conversation happening at the table. 

And I immediately passed some kind of judgment over these people. Because I don’t understand why someone has their laptop open to a social networking site when there is someone right in front of them to be social with. However, I don’t know the score. In the modern age, I casually accept the polite use of cellphones during conversations I have with people. I actually don’t mind this, so long as the conversation is either brief or very important. 

So who am I to say that these people aren’t interacting on exactly the level they want to be? Even so, someone having a laptop open to relate to people socially when someone is there to talk to seems rude. 

I sit here and I write alone-but when someone speaks to me I completely ignore the machine so I can talk to them.  

It was at this point that I realized what I’m doing with these posts; I’m having a conversation with You. The other posts I’m describing in very concrete ways, my experience either with homebrewing or the beer someone else has brewed, and occasionally the environment I’m in as a good or bad place to have a pint. 

(Which reminds me, I ought to do a little more of that.)

But with these posts I realize that in a way I’m talking to you. I realize most of my readers aren’t talking back–but that’s not the point. This is a conversation, even if it is one-sided and the more that I think about it, the more I realize that these posts especially feel a lot like my speaking style-with about fifty percent less swearing. 

So I guess what I’d like to do is encourage any comments. Not because I need them; as a writer I’m compelled to write. To not write would be a violation of my nature. However, for a little while I’m drinking a beer-a very tasty one with a banana flambe flavor-with You, whomever you are. 

I’m not sure I can write in such a way to encourage comments. Perhaps that will be my goal.