Misc Debris

I found out about Rogue’s Maple Bacon beer via The New School blog. The first reviews of it were unkind, to say it nicely. Later reviews by someone better versed in the world of beer were better.

All of it misses the point.

Bacon is not a liquid. Stop trying to make it one.

The glories of bacon do not just come from its salty goodness; it’s the crumbling effect between molars, the chewy bits of fat that get wedged between canines that your tongue probes out.

The glories of bacon come from it being a solid. If you are attempting to liquify bacon for any reason, quit it. So I command.

Rogue should’ve made a beer to pair with a maple bacon doughnut instead of taste like one. Isn’t one of the driving forces behind craft beer is that it can pair with food as well as any wine?

Why not do that, instead of create an ale bewildering to customers and bedeviling to brewers?

The Glory of Cool Things, coming to bite us in the ass. Again.

Viking Ale

My friend Ed sent me this post on making viking ale. Shortly thereafter, he sent me instructions for dandelion beer.

It’s rather timely (for me, anyway) to talk about it because I have just finished Martyn Cornell’s Amber, Gold and Black, which is a history of British ales and included in there is a chapter on herbal beers. That chapter includes historical data on the kinds of things used to make beers before it was regulated (read: taxed) by the government, including sage, yarrow and of course honey or dandelion. From what I gather, a whole lot of plants were tossed into water for beer.

But this leads me to my next point; If you are interested in the history of beer styles such as porter, stout, and IPA, then Cornell’s book is well written and worth your time. Cornell’s style is witty and concise, which manages to keep things moving along, even when he’s writing about the Original Gravity and prices of a beer that has gone extinct, while ensuring that the reader is well informed. Amber, Gold and Black often details how styles changed over time due to war or political winds, and how technology allowed for new styles to come about in Britain. It’s quite nice and worth a read.

Chocolate Mint Brown (sorta)

So here you have it: the chocolate mint beer I made

It’s…alright. Let me tell you what’s going on here.

First, this is a brown and I really would have preferred that it resemble a porter or, to be honest, a stout. Unfortunately, I can’t quite seem to get the mouthfeel right. This beer is decent, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not quite where I was hoping it would be.

I may need to up the fermentables to get there, certainly using the correct grain bill all at once would help and I’ve also been told that oatmeal can provide the kind of mouthfeel I’m hoping to achieve. So there are some options: I may have to run this by some OBC members to see what they think.

Second, I don’t really notice the mint qualities. They seem faint in the aroma, like early morning lake fog, and at the end there’s a bit of a sheen, like gasoline on the water. I was hoping for something a little stronger. I’m told by others that there’s just enough mint in this beer and everything is fine so I guess it’s OK. I may need a broader sample size for feedback.

Finally, this beer is a touch overcarbonated. Darker beers are generally flatter and with the results from this beer, I think I can say with certainty that yes, the adding of bread yeast to the bottling syrup really does boost the carbonation. It’s a great trick and useful for many beers but not such a good idea for this style.

Brew date: 7.29.11

Steeping malts:
.24 lb 120 malt
.5 lb choco
.25 lb roasted barley
.25 lb dark munich

7 lb LME

.5 oz Hallertauer @
.5 oz UK Fuggles @ 60

Yeast: Wyeast 1768, English Bitter

OG: 1.052

FG: 1.018

TG: 1.024

ABV: 4.14%

Added 1 oz of Kafka II malt to 3 cups water, steeped and added to secondary on 8.10

Bottled 8/21

7pm: Decisions, decisions, decisions

alaskan perseverance stoutSome nights are like this.

The sweetie comes with me to Bailey’s and we chat about a house we like. And chat. And chat.

How many couples do this? All of them, eventually. Sitting at the table, hashing out ghosts, tombstones, promised lands and lucky stars. What can be done? What if?

What choices are we willing to accept?

At the end of the day, this is your life: you choose. You sacrifice this for that, take the rainbow without Indigo because it takes you to Asgard, even if it is an Asgard without Indigo.

Is it worth getting the full rainbow that doesn’t lead to Asgard or is it better to sacrifice a color for a promised home?

Decisions, decisions, decisions. I can’t get everything so I hope to get halfways. Halfways is usually more than enough. Some I lose, of course, and sometimes I get more than I ought to. But halfways is a decent point to begin the choices, especially with people you love.

I have chosen the Alaskan Perseverance stout. It was made with syrup and honey adjuncts and the flavors show: this stout tastes like banana pancakes and it is not to my liking. I like banana pancakes, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t like it in my stout. There’s a reminder of honey-banana-peanut butter sandwiches that just doesn’t work in an ale. Fortunately, this choice is a fleeting one and I only have to live with it as long as it takes for me to finish the beer.

Like everyone else, I have made other choices. Some might call them sacrifices but I prefer to choose. You can’t say I sacrificed if I chose one path over another. Sacrifice is when there are no choices but the bad one, the one where you lose everything or enough that it might as well be everything.

Not to say I don’t leave something behind. Like the lingering banana flavor, some choices come up and ask if I’d do it all over again. Who’s to say how things would play out with just another color, a blue instead of a green, a Florence instead of a New York?

But at the end of the day, I get to choose. Not everyone does and until the time comes when I don’t get to choose, I’ll try to accept what I get, good and bad.

Belgian style lesson

Dad sent me an article on Gueuze style beers. It’s alright but the article feels like it cuts off near the end and I don’t really get the impression that I’ve been told what a gueuze style is, I feel like I know what a lambic is.

Fortunately, thanks to Wiki, I can tell you that gueuze is a substyle of lambic ales, made through the blending described in the Tribune’s article. All well and good.

What may also be of interest is that until modern refrigeration technology came about, the blending of new and older beers was common practice in many styles, including porter and ales. The older beers would have the flavor of wood-aging and the newer beer would give it the bubbly quality that people liked. In much older times, those beers would even be mixed by the publican according to the customer’s taste!


homebrew chamomilesThese are two chamomile beers I made–wits, they are not. They should be; the elements are there, but I am about 99% certain I chose a standard ale yeast for these beers instead of a proper wit one. Live and learn.

Still; it’s clear just from the color that one is different from the other and this is because I used darker malts in one.

The darker ale also has less chamomile in it. At the very least, the impact of the chamomile is milder and the nose tilts towards a honey-clover scent.

The lighter beer has something close to an herbal sweet/slightly going banana scent, and the finish is all chamomile. It also has a stronger head on it and what seems to be more carbonation throughout the life of the beer.

But both seem to go well with the chicken curry dinner I’m having so no complaints.

Normally, I’d post a recipe but I’ve got one more chamomile ale that I just bottled, and I’d like to see how that turns out before posting a general recipe.

7pm: Indulgences

There are three conspiciously open tables and Geoff, the owner, tells me that they’re expecting some blogger group at 8. Missed it by that much

good life paleI know I was going to be all about the bottle list but there’s a brewery I’ve never heard of, Good Life, with a Sweet As pale wheat beer.  It’s got a sweetness on the nose-a touch of pine, maybe? but almost air-freshener quality, in a good way and a similar feel at the end. It’s sweet, just shy of medicinal sweet, but there’s a hint of something else. Times like this I want another beer or another person, to help me verify what’s going on. I like this beer but I’m not describing it in a way that suggests people ought to drink it…but you should.

Geoff is able to hang with me for a bit. He asks how this theme is going and I think it’s good so far. I haven’t had much of a chance to spread my wings yet but it’ll come and mostly, I tell him, it’s nice to not have to worry about where I’m going to go.

We talk a little about the black market beer thing, stemming off of a conversation about digital distribution and how useful it is for established vendors instead of up-and-comers. It’s agreed; if people want to pay that much for beer, then that’s what they pay but it seems a little weird. Other kinds of art, we’re undecided.

Then again, when you’re surrounded by gold, mayhap lumber takes on more value.

I’m considering a second beer. Yeah, the wallet is empty and I’ll be putting it on credit but why not live like an American!

Wait. Nevermind.

Still, every so often one should treat themselves. Life gets pretty sad when you don’t get to treat yourself. Maybe that Oakshire Harvest Ale. I want to make an Octoberfest style ale this month and here’s a chance to get a good sample of the style.

Yeah. That’s it.

Black market beer

This story at the Washington Post has gotten some people talking lately.

My first thought: It’s weird to see a shadow economy for a product that is legal.

My second thought is: this is why travel is important. You gotta go there to understand certain things, like how Guinness just tastes better in Dublin than it does anywhere else. Experience is a good thing and we rarely get it by sitting by our computers, ordering it online.

Now, while a few people have said that this is just the natural extension of a free market, and there’s a not-quite-thought out (to me) suggestion that breweries just charge more for the beer-not thought out because you want to pay more for something? What?
There’s also the flip side; one that I especially enjoy in it’s phrasing by Bill, that:

Since it can’t predict anything, but can only rationalize what happened, this efficient-market model that modern Americans apply to everything has much more in common with religion than with science.

I like that because of the way money is generally regarded in our culture and the thought of economists as high priests working out tenants of a world that doesn’t quite exist pleases me. Plus, it matches up a bit with what I think economists actually know, which isn’t much.

No offense to the economists out there, it’s just that much of what I’ve read and experienced about your discipline suggests that it’s got a long way to go and frequently attempts to divorce itself from human behavior when it attempts to predict things and since economies are run by people that has always seemed like a pretty quirky flaw.

All that aside, Bill Schneller really hits it on the head in the comments of Beervana, I think.

Now, I don’t find anything really wrong with people reselling beer, in the same way that I don’t have an issue with ticket scalpers on a small scale. Fighting against that is like wrestling the tide; you’ll look stupid and get tired. People want beer they can’t get and someone is willing to abuse eBay’s system to get it to them. There are probably many ways to fix this but until that happens, the shadow economy thrives as music and book sellers are finding out.

I do take issue with people being assholes though, as at the end of the the WP story:

Last September, Russian River released Framboise for a Cure, a raspberry-flavored beer that it sold for $12 per bottle to raise money for a local breast cancer treatment center. The beer sold out in a day, and soon somebody sold a bottle on eBay for $400. Then someone else put one up for sale. “We contacted that person,” Cilurzo says, “and we said, ‘This is absolutely ridiculous, because we donated 100 percent of this for charity.’”

The person selling this beer might’ve been legal but I still think he’s a chode. Being a chode comes back to you, eventually.

Also; maybe people ought to relax and enjoy what they have instead of what they wish they had.

Strong Rye

strong ryeI have made this and it is good. I was a little concerned when bottling it because when I tasted the remnants, there was a a heavy caramel then grapefruit flavor and my initial thought was: that doesn’t work.

Remnants are only semi-useful when predicting a beer though; they’re too warm, non-carbonated and frequently have a bit of yeast and malt sludge mixed in due to the fact that the brew has been handled a bit before bottling. As a result I try not to get entrenched in an idea about a brew and take that initial sampling as more of a: what might this be like?

The most relevant thing about the beer now is that the grapefruit and caramel switched places. I know how that sounds but nevertheless, now the beer has grapefruit notes, then caramel and it makes a world of difference when talking about the drinkable qualities of the ale.  There isn’t much of a hop nose on this beer, so I’m taking that as a lesson that some hops are better as bittering agents.

Let’s get to the recipe, shall we?

Brew Date: 6.29.11

Steeping malts:
1.25 lb C40
.25 lb Rye

7 lb LME
1 lb dry malt extract

1 oz Citra (already used in dry hopping IPA) @ 60
.5 oz N Brewer @60
1 oz Ahtanum @ 15

Reused-WLP008, 3rd use

ABV: 6.51%

2ndary on 7.25

According to my notes, I had to add quite a bit of water to this one, once I put it in the carboy. Seems like a lot of water got lost between the kettle and the carboy and adding some water is standard but I recall having to put in quite a bit, maybe even two gallons’ worth!

Still, all’s well that ends well.