52 Weeks 42: Rogue Maierfest

This beer is aggressively banal. Let us speak no more of it.

Actually, let’s talk about it for a second. This is from Rogue and this is a brewery that helped introduce me to different styles of beer. Lately they’ve been playing it safe, doing beers that are desperately asking to be liked, as though they were the geeky, lonely kid at the party, telling every joke he knows to make an impression. But the jokes are cribbed from a movie–it’s like hearing “Do I make you horny, baby?” for the millionth time. You’re bored already and he hasn’t even asked you your name.

Fortunately, I’ve been engaged in some lively conversation. I’m on the rail, chatting people up and by chance meeting a fellow from the OBC named Jeremy. He recommends a Block 15 barleywine, so I think I’m going to try it.

Quickies

I had the Scuttlebutt IPA from the bottle a couple weekends ago. I’d had their beer before at the pub in Everett, Wa and liked it. My notes tell me that it was not as satisfying as I remember it unfortunately.  Too bitter on the back end, and a funk in the nose like a lager. Maybe it’s just better from the keg, but this beer wasn’t balanced at all.

I also had Session’s Dark Lager. I usually don’t like dark lagers, but this one worked for me. Possibly because there was no nose to the beer–I drank it straight from the stubby little bottle–all I got were coco notes. Smelling it gave me that awful burnt scent but that was easy enough to avoid. A pleasant surprise.

Finally, I also had the Honey Moon (get it!) ale made by the Blue Moon folks. It was blandly sweet and should be avoided.

IPA Two

As part of my effort to make my beers a bit more consistent, I’ve been working on making every other beer an IPA, using the ingredients I have. Tweaks here and there but for the most part the same (or similar) ingredients and processes. My second IPA of the summer has come out and this is a very, very mild beer.

But this isn’t a bad thing! It’s quite drinkable, even though it leans more towards a pale ale instead of an IPA. It’s the kind of IPA one could give to people who are new to the style without frightening them away from it.

The lack of bitterness and the lighter color would probably insist that this beer be called a pale by those in the know. In this case, however, the information that comes from how this recipe turned out will be pretty useful. As follows:

Steeping Grains
.25 lb Rye
.75 lb red wheat malt

Fermenting Sugars
7 lb Light Malt Extract

Hops
1 1/8th oz Sosrachi Ace @ 60 min
1 1/8th oz Pearle (Domestic) @ 15 min
1/4th tsp Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast:
2 packs Wyeast Rogue Pacman, pitched @ about 76 degrees

OG: 1.056

Added .5 Nugget hops in secondary about 10 days later.

FG: 1.015
ABV: 5.33%.

52 Weeks 41: Three Skulls IPA

So first things first: Three Skulls is an awesome name for a brewery. It’s the kind of name that would almost allow for the beer to suck. There’s pirate treasure, black magic, Stephen King and childhood mojo all wrapped up in it. I hope there is a secret passageway into the brewery. Something you have to lift the fourth leg of the spider rune to get into and light torches to wander. 

Hm…makes me want to start a secret brewery. 

Maybe that’s what I’d do with a million dollars. Sure, there’s the cliche answers. (Insert your cliche here.) But a secret brewery? It’d be like my childhood dreams of a awesome treefort + killer haunted house coupled with my adult dreams of hideouts and beer. That’s a dream worth winning a million dollars for.

And this beer wants to support my dream. It’s got a nose that comes on strong with citrus, but gives up quickly. By the time I’ve drank below the bulge in my glass the nose is more malty, even though the head on the beer remains; a sealant preventing the air outside from contaminating my precious beer.

However, it doesn’t finish noticeably bitter either. There’s a lightness akin to a lager there and it’s very thirst quenching. Of course, by the time I’ve drank below the bulge in my glass the bitterness has started to show up, an echo in the cave, bounced back from five minutes ago. 

I’d almost rather have this by torchlight in rough-hewn flagons, playing dominos and telling lies. Maybe you should join me.

The hops

Temperatures of 108 were not so good for the hops. As you might be able to make out, many of the leaves browned and curled up, and the whole plant really just shrunk back from the heat.

The Centennial actually fared the best, probably because it wasn’t as overextended as the Galena or Willamette hops were. A point in bad evolution’s favor!

On the other hand, the Galena and Willamette plants have given me hops! Tiny ones, true, but hops nonetheless. I don’t know how usable they will be, but it’s still worth a shot to use ’em.

Made from the oldest ingredients

My friend Ed sent me this story about an amber ale brewed from a yeast that had been suspended in amber. For 45 million years.

Just sayin’ it’s pretty neat and you ought to check it out.

Also, I have stumbled upon the Arkeg. I found this via Kotaku (I do have other hobbies aside from beer) and feel like this is as good a time and place to share it with you.

Finally, there’s a website to petition bars to carry beers you want.  I’m not sure how effective this is; good bars pay attention to their clients and bring in beers those patrons want to drink. Bad bars don’t. But what the heck; maybe it’ll do someone some good.

52 Weeks 40: Anderson Valley Huge’r Boont

I’m sitting at the bar tonight. Usually I’m able to snag a table by the window, but there just wasn’t space when I walked in. It didn’t feel right. So I went to the bar. Twenty-one taps lined up, the Stormtrooper action figure hidden in a nearby statue. a list of beers on a blackboard in front of me. This is the bar. 

The Huge’r Boont is an imperial amber, which makes it very drinkable, but with an extra density that I’m having a little trouble defining. A hint of burnt flavors at the end, a chewiness that ambers generally don’t bother with, yet a highly drinkable beer. At 7%, it’s not that much stronger than an amber made to style, so the average beer drinker could have it and probably not feel ambushed by booze. 

I’m having one of those moments when I want to make declarative statements, like: NoMeansNo is the best punk band of the 90’s. Things that don’t really mean all that much–who can argue with my point of view, especially when I put it that way–but they feed a little aggro in me.

Maybe I’m just tapped into a little aggro of the country. Healthcare is under debate. Reforms are needed on Wall Street like a junkie needs a fix. Energy policies need to change. Foreign adaptations ask a different nimbleness of us. New ideas are being begged for, stagnation is being promoted usually in the form of some kind of rage that appears to be madness. An anger that comes from two directions: people who insist that the only way for us to keep the greatness we have is to enforce things we’ve always known, and those who insist that the only way for us to continue to be great is to accept change.

It’s all manifesting in energy that is either being too easily directed, or not usefully directed. It’s worrisome. I’d like to think that we could solve a lot of problems by honestly sitting down with a beer, and so long as that remains true then hopefully nothing will be beyond our reach.

But when someone doesn’t want to sit down and have a drink with you and listen (and vice versa)…we do indeed have problems. I like to think my country is one that still wants to sit down and have a beer with each other.

Mistakes may have been made.

So the IPA in last weeks photo has been bottled. However, when I tasted it an overwhelming bitterness finished the beer off. Once again, this was the dregs so I’m not taking this taste as the gospel but it’s entirely possible I just didn’t add enough malt to balance the hops in this beer. Or that I added in way too many Liberty hops in secondary. That shouldn’t affect the bitterness, but maybe the pellet form of the hops allowed the beer to absorb flavors that the loose leaf form would not. Another lesson.

In the photo is the final gravity reading: 1.005. This gave the beer an 8%+ ABV level, which means that without some balancing effects, it might taste a little hot (meaning, you pick up on the alcohol). And bitter. So like coffee, only without actually being warm or roasted. While I’m not looking forward to it,  I’ll post an update of this beer in about a month.

Recipe follows:
Steeping grains
1 lb C 40

Other malt:
7 lb Light Malt Extract

Hops:
1 oz Galena @ 60
1 oz Amarillo @ 30
1 large handful Liberty hopos @ 5
.5 tsp Irish moss @ 5

Yeast:
reused Pacman from the Alt-3rd use.

In secondary I added 5 handfuls of liberty hops.

Walkin’ down an empty road, no one left behind

I’m having to listen to a lot of ‘classic rock’ lately. This is temping; you go into someone else’s space and cannot make it your own. You endure the chairs set to someone else’s height, the jokes that go over your head, the subtle -but not cruel- shunning of the temp, who will be gone soon, the influence those who have jobs there exert over a workspace that is never really yours. So I listen to a lot of classic rock, because that’s what everyone else listens to. My shoulders hurt and I am being put into a time warp, where I am listening to music that lost all meaning for me twenty years ago.

Roughly the time Sub Pop was born. And a sonic revolution hit popular music.

Of course, I don’t know that the Melvins, Tad, Mudhoney, Soundgarden or Nirvana would say they were part of a revolution. Just look at the label of this beer; a perfect shot of Mudhoney rocking like hell, but in the same moment mocking the excessive bullshit and rampant vapidity of the time caught by Charles Peterson. Any member of those bands would probably point out that they were just doing what they loved, that the Afghan Whigs, Seaweed, the Posies and the Reverend Horton Heat were just as important to the scene. Lesser known labels and bands I couldn’t dig out of my skull if I tried would be praised for their contributions.  They just did what they loved.

I wasn’t a brewer then. I wasn’t even a drinker then. But I remember: people drank PBR, Oly and Schlitz (Zeke even did a song about it) because they were broke, at the show hoping for the best and getting to witness the comet in the sky, whether they understood it or not. How the hell can this beer match up to those times? Does anyone really want to drink a beer that reminds them of the terrible stuff they drank twenty years ago, smoke in their noses, ears ringing from feedback?

Maybe…if they’re drinking to forget. Of the bands around then, most of them have broken up. Some of the reasons are obvious, some not so-I still have no idea why Soundgarden called it quits. But I don’t drink to remember either. As I’ve noted before; we eat and drink in the now-just like we see music live: they play and when the lights come up, you go home, show’s over.

Sub Pop records still exists, of course. Band of Horses, Wolf Parade, Iron & Wine all bring great songs to us via SP even if the sound they brought to the attention of the world is ‘dead’. But like a great beer, it could only last for a little while. The now becomes a then, with a new band taking the stage, a fresh drink gotten between sets.

Loser is an exceptionally tasty pale, that reminds me a little of Ninkasi’s Spring Reign. A little more restrained on the back end bitterness than Ninkasi’s beer, but similar with it’s hoppy nose and an acute bitter in the middle that vanishes like the note of an amp ends when the power is cut and the show is over. It’s a tribute and a damn fine one at that. 

I hoist this beer in tribute to…well, everyone who made and loved the music. This beer may not be a revolution, but it does right by the people who helped bring a some great art to a kid who needed it, twenty years go. Cheers.

And much thanks to Fuz, for getting me a couple bottles to sample.  It’s good to have friends.