Mystery Beer

We have this conversation from time to time at the house:

“What kind of beer is this?”
“I dunno. Free beer. Drink it!”

And this is because I write things down so I don’t have to remember which beer is which. I can just drink it. I usually come back with: ‘ah, it’s a (whatever)’, when I’ve checked my records.

This time, however, when asked I didn’t know, because I failed to write down the style when I was making it.

Oh well. It’s good! There’s a nice hint of pine at the nose and the finish, but there’s a solid malt back with touches of chocolate to keep it all under control. The carbonation is full of tiny bubbles and long lasting. I’m pleased with this. It’s good enough that I’m going to give this a go in this year’s Slurp & Burp competition. Given how it tastes, I’m calling it an American Pale Ale. I’d say IPA but it just doesn’t seem hoppy enough so I’m going to hedge my bets.


Brew Date: 12.25.12

.5 lb Wheat
.5 lb Munich
.5 lb Baird Brown
.75 lb Victory
7 lb LME

1/4 oz Cascade before boil starts (about 170)
1 oz Magnum @ 60
1/4 oz Cascade @ 60
1/2 oz Cascade @30
Added .5 oz Mosaic @ 15–had to let this boil an extra 15 min for reasons. I was probably distracted by videogames.

Reuse Wyeast 1056 (third and final use)

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.01

ABV (approximate): 7.3%

1oz Mosaic added to 2ndary,
2ndary on 1.13.12
Bottle 1.19

7pm There Be Dragons. Go.

I haven’t even been here 30 seconds before the barkeep pours me a sample. I take it. Commons‘ Little Brother is a Belgian dark strong, has a hint of raisin in the nose and drinks like an amber with a gentle sour stroke at the end. Cherry-ish. It isn’t until it hits my belly that the alcohol blooms and it registers that I’ve got a 9% beer. It’s a pretty damn good one but given the strength I’m glad I got a small glass.

Maybe I’ll have another. I probably should. It’s worth investigating further. One to celebrate my release, if you will.

I am looking forward to being untethered from this place for a bit. Like a much lesser Ponce de Leon, I have a new world to investigate and bring word back from. I expect I will do it without finding gold, magic fountains or destroying he local population, but you never know. I might get bored.

Also, I want to move from this theme. Being in the same place at the same time has almost become a job, and despite this particular job providing me beer, it still drains some of the fun out. Being able to come on days other than Monday at times of my choice mean that I will be allowed to enjoy this experience as things are meant to be enjoyed: when you feel like it.

On the upside, the consistency has allowed me to meet with friends, usually to play cards but just like making an appointment to drink, it’s all just a mask for hanging out. Hanging out is why I shall be back soon. I don’t know how many places I can walk to from my new location but I do know it will take me over a month and into realms uncharted. It might even take me east of 82nd, which…well, maybe it won’t.

The point is, I’m only leaving for a little while. There are people to talk to and adventures to have. If I come back for resupply, I doubt anyone will mind.

Hicks’ Advice

The late, brilliant Bill Hicks had a suggestion for anyone in marketing and advertising. NSFW language.

So it is in that mindset, I show you this writeup on the marketing stuff for Bud Black.

Setting aside the stab at ‘rednecks’ made by the author, I am hard pressed to argue any of the other points. I just cannot think of anything more misguided, assuming the attempt was to get people who have a love of beer and brewing to pay attention to this product.

But for me it’s totally worth seeing because of the clear disconnect it demonstrates between people who want something and people who think they know what you want and hope to sell it to you. It’s almost as if they don’t care what it is you buy, so long as you buy it from them.

Cynicism, right?

The Troublesome Lager

This troublemaker started off as they all do: innocently enough.

I began with the intent to make a lager and the twist in the plan was that I was going to use the yeast that I had for last year’s dunkel. It’s been sitting in my fridge waiting for someone to use it and I just never was able to get it traded to anyone else so…why not me?

I put the yeast in some sugar solution for a day ahead of time to see if it was still good: if it seemed active, great! If not, I could still go to the store and buy a yeast, no harm no foul. 24 hours later, the yeast seemed happy and bubbling so I figured: awesomesauce!

But seven days later, there was virtually no activity on this beer. The airlock was showing little, if any activity. Sometimes it would look like there was but of a push, and shaking it to integrate oxygen seemed to help for a little bit, and sometimes it seemed as though there was negative pressure-that is, air from the outside was pushing in on the wort! That is no good.

Off to FH Steinbarts to ask what to do and after a little discussion, they recommended another yeast. They suggested that a yeast that old is just going to be tired and they reminded me that when making a lager, you generally want to add in twice the yeast as you would ordinarily. I figured this might be the case and I had nothing to lose at this point, right? If another yeast works, then I’ll take it. So I pulled an Oktoberfest Lager Blend on their recommendation, took it home and dumped it in.

The good news: the beer took off. Fermenting beer is happy beer. Or something like that.

The bad news is…I have no idea what’s going to become of any of this. I didn’t give this lager yeast time to double because I figured the sooner I got the yeast in, the better and I was hoping that, tired as my original yeast may have been, it had still done some work. A very tiny amount of work. However it’s still likely that I underpitched.

I racked this beer into secondary last weekend and it tasted a little sweeter than I would like. I know the yeast isn’t going to be very active at this point, but I’m going to shove it into the sub-basement and let it sit for a couple weeks anyway. If it can dry out even a little bit more, I think the beer will be much more drinkable. If not…well, at least it’s not the winter warmer.

7pm Second To Last Call…

…with a glass of Full Sail‘s Vendell’s Veizen, a weizenbock. The wheat malt is definitely offering a little more body, a touch of sweetness that sticks around, albeit lightly, until the next sip. I like it.

Man next to me on the rail has a messenger’s bag and is trying to explain why he’d never had a Firestone Walker beer- “hate where they’re from, hate the label-but he is persuaded to try a Double Jack, their awesome imperial IPA and my next drink. He likes it and realizes he should let go of his prejudices. I’m about 80% certain that he’s going past his limit, though it doesn’t seem to be in a bad way.

I have been feeling some wanderlust. While getting the ducks in a row for last week’s post I noticed I had 57 photos as part of the 7pm series, which suggests I have been doing this for more than a year. In that time I have, amongst other things, moved and there is a whole new neighborhood to explore, one that makes me a little nervous.

Which is the best reason to start checking it out. I live here: I belong. Plus, I have a hunger for novelty and though this novelty may have me drinking some very tasteless beer, I still need to know what is out there. Information is power and the more I know about my new location in town, the better.

But I think I’ll start in March. The weather ought to be improving by then, so I’m less likely to get drenched while going for my beer.

Glass Experiment: Old Rasputin

For this experiment, I took the lessons from the previous one and only poured two glasses at a time. This let us slow down and appreciate what was going on, which was as relief from the pressure of the last experiment. In addition: Old Rasputin is an imperial stout, which means it’s strong and benefits from warming up. Time would be on our side, if you will.

Now take a look at the head on the mug! I can’t explain that to save my life. I poured the beers at the same time but it’s clear that the brandy glass wasn’t allowing any head on this beer at all. Why was there such a different? No idea. But the nose is quite potent at first hit from the mug, moreso than with any other glass.

The girlfriend said the mouthfeel changes with foam. She preferred the foam here, even suggesting the pint over the schooner glass, because the head retention is better. The drink seemed smoother and she enjoyed it more.

The drinks from the brandy glass were warmer. This would happen in the mug eventually, but it took more time and that seemed to matter; the mouthfeel played a bigger role in the enjoyment of the beer and for some reason, the insulation provided by the mug was working in favor of the stout. The beer also would become too warm too quickly in the sniffer, which offered flavors that were less optimal and more roasted.

The pint and schooner glasses didn’t seem to change at all on initial pour, with the head being thicker in pint glass. Nose detection was minimal in these glasses but I expected that, given the style.

As it warmed up, the pint really made a difference. The end of the schooner glass still offered a carbonated bite, the pint didn’t and I thought the pint is better for that and she agreed. The stout became less pleasurable with a concentrated dose of carbonation at the end.

What was most interesting was that unlike the previous test, the mug glass fared the best for this style. The beer was kept a bit colder, so it didn’t suffer as much when you got to the end of the drink. The bountiful head gave a great first whiff but when it died down there was still a very drinkable beer.

7pm Sparky

I have discovered the secret of a good wit, thanks to Double Mountain‘s White Riders of Conquest.

It tastes like applesauce. Homemade applesauce, with a nice dose of cinnamon and a hint of brown sugar, woven between an apple that isn’t quite as tart as a Granny Smith but has a similar dryness. It is good and you should try it, if this description appeals at all.

It’s a rather full bar but I am looking for Sparky….and he is not here. He’s a big man with a ZZ Top style beard, Lennon sunglasses, and a big smile. Smart, too: I seem to be fortunate in running into people who are smarter than me. We ran into each other often in the early days of this blog but it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen him and I suspect he and I are just not crossing paths. I certainly hope so: last we spoke he’d told me of some health issues he was working through so I hope he’s well. With the increased business I’ve noted on Mondays, he may just be stopping by at quieter times. He has struck me as the kind of man who prefers a calmer space.

Not that he isn’t boisterous: man has a hell of a laugh. Just that I got the impression he likes his cool down times to be cool. I get that.

Some nights the past comes back a little stronger though and I miss it. It’s weird: I don’t miss highschool for shit, for example. That whole event in my life could be hit with an H-bomb and I would not feel the slightest twinge. But there have been times when I have found small communities amongst the internet (many now defunct, sadly), amongst the odd, at the bars, and I find that I miss them. I do not know how to connect with them beyond being present whenever I can, leaving the door open should the distance between us be closed. What I do know is that there are people who are lost to me and I wish that they weren’t. It is life: a perfect imperfection.

There are many, many ways to go from here. Melancholy calls, evoking from the heart a longing for what could have been, made out from the cottonstuff of what was. However, I prefer to think of pubs a bit like Munden’s in Cynosure. Or perhaps Callahan’s. Someplace where anything is possible and the past can be as joyfully present as the future, and people would rather sit down and have a drink, bury the hatchet and talk, than bicker over who should have called whom last. So it is with Bailey’s. I prefer to think of it as a place where Sparky–or other absent friends–could come in and all would be well and whenever they choose to arrive next is entirely OK.

More Patience

This is a pic of a winter warmer I made. It has issues.

Namely, I made this from a recipe that wanted me to put in a pound of molasses. That seems like quite a bit but I generally assume that, when reading a recipe, the person who put it down knows more than I know. Natural assumption to make, really.

I was asked later “Did you use unsulfured molasses?”

Um…no. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

The problems presented are twofold at this point: First, the nose is too sharp. I don’t want to say sulfur but something evil is there. It isn’t rotten eggs but it isn’t pleasing, either.

Worse, the finish has a distinct note of iron. A tang to it, like putting your tongue on cold metal. This is coupled with a brutally strong molasses taste: molasses without the sweet part.

All in all, this does not bode well. I don’t want to throw away five gallons of beer though: That costs money, damnit! So I’m letting it sit for another month. You might be able to see in the photo that there is carbonation on the side of the glass. It’s a little weird, because the bubbles don’t move; they cling to the side. I’m taking that as a good sign, though: carbonation is coming. Maybe some of these less desirable flavors will drop out and I’ll have a drinkable beer. Or maybe not but I’m going to give it a shot. It can’t get any worse, right?