Glass Experiment: Duchesse De Bourgogne

After the last disaster, I decided to go with something that I know is good, regardless of the glass: Duchesse de Bourgogne.

First, we had the schooner and the mug:
The schooner offered a nose of cherry and raisin but the mug, unsurprisingly had no nose, but left a bit more sparkle on the tongue and I noticed a hint of chocolate.

The girlfriend didn’t like the mug at all: no control over sips, you pretty much have to take a larger drink. She wasn’t too thrilled with the schooner either because it offered too much foam when tilted towards the mouth, but it was visually more attractive and had a nice balance, with flavors leaning  to the sweet side.

About 2/3 down I get more nose in the mug: more space for aromatics, the girlfriend confirms.

The mug has finer bubbles, it seems and she speculates that it’s because it keeps the cold in better. Apparently champagne is supposed to be served in chilled glasses for just this reason: tiny bubbles.

We move on to the snifter and the pint glass.

Pint offers a nice nose, but is foamy in a way I don’t notice that on the snifter.

The girlfriend declares: this is a beer I don’t want foam on top of.  She likes snifter best because it offers most control over the mechanics of drinking.

I like the pint because of the reverse: the snifter is a little narrow, but the nose lasts longer and with the Duchesse this is a plus. The greater spread of oxygen in the snifter does push the carbonation out fast.

Agreed that too much head on pint glass makes for a poor visual as it looks like custard and longer lasting fizz seems odd for this beer. But we could get some nose from the beer all the way down and it didn’t get overwhelming.

I think it goes pint, schooner-snifter, mug for me and snifter, pint, schooner, mug for her.

Chocolate Porter for the Lady

“Make me a chocolate porter for my brithday,” she asked.

So I did. There’s no brilliant backstory here, I just wanted to do something nice for my sweetie for her birthday.

However: while discussing the recipe with a fellow homebrewer, she suggested that I add in Frangelico to secondary, to give the beer more of a Nutella-like flavor. Only light travels faster than the time it took for m’lady to decide that this was a brilliant idea.

So now we have it: a chocolate porter. It’s pretty good but for one caveat: since I used cocoa nibs in secondary and not quite enough Frangelico, there is a slightly acrid bitterness to the finish, just like unsweetened coco. Recipe as follows:

Brew date: 1.13.12

Steeping grains:
2 lb C40
.5 lb Caramunich
.25 Wheat
1 lb Chocolate
1/8th oz plack patent

Fermentables:
4 lb lme

Hops:
.25 oz Fuggle @60
.25 oz Nugget @ 60
.25 oz Fuggle @45
.25 oz Nugget @ 45
.5 oz Fuggle @ 30
.5 oz Nugget @30
1/8 oz Fuggle @ 10
1/8 oz Nugget@ 10

Yeast:
reuse-Winter Warmer WLP014

OG: 1.048

FG: 1.011

Additional notes
2.5 oz Chocolate nibs added to 1/2 fifth of hazelnut liquor, soaked for 3 days,then added to 2ndary
2.75 oz Chocolate nibs added on secondary
Secondary on 1.26
Bottled 2.16
ABV: 5% ish

Personal Brewery

Now, I don’t happen to have an extra $4,600+ but…maybe you do? Even if not, this is a pretty cool looking system.

Of course, I don’t think I can completely trust a process that doesn’t allow the user to add in the hops or grain they think they should. I’m an extract or partial-mash (at best) brewer anyway and I know I don’t want to trust a syrup that someone else made that apparently ‘has everything’. It just feels a bit anti-homebrewing. Robobrewing.

But nobody’s trying to take away my kettle just yet, so I can just share and move on.

New To Me: Spot 79

My first reaction upon entering the Spot was not a positive one.

There were televisions everywhere and I really do mean everywhere. I took a seat at a booth that had a television mounted on the wall, just like every other booth in the area, the faint sounds of  When the Levee Breaks in the background, Fox Sports Speed is on the TV.

Places like this are akin to foreign countries for me. I don’t know anyone who leaves their house in order to watch television at the table. Why would you DO that?

The background noise for my Alameda IPA includes some ‘redneck’ on Fox Sports Speed, close captioned, nattering on about how excited he is to see a Lotus and a Mustang race each other. I feel like I am through the damned looking glass here.

About this time, I look around; everyone else is smiling and engaged. There isn’t a smartphone diversion anywhere to be seen, except by me, taking notes. Everyone else is engaged in the sporting events and with the people at their table or along the rail. I see someone giving out hugs as she leaves the bar. They’re laughing and clearly having fun. It’s pretty easy to contrast this with Bailey’s, where the scene is also filled with people but those people are often letting the outside world tap into their table conversations.

I make no judgment on either scene: Televisions are their own intrusion on the world but by god, people here look happy. I’m going to tell you (or them) that the Spot is all messed up because I feel out of place?

My girlfriend reaches up to touch the power light on the TV; it suddenly turns off. We both go wide eyed in surprise and start looking for an actual power button. In the back of my mind, though, I’m also thinking: well at least you have the option to turn it off, if you want to.

She finds the sensor to get the TV back on. Whew. Always prefer to leave things as we found it.

“They’ll change the channel for you, if you like,” a man with a pepper-salt mustache, a trucker cap, and a navy blue tshirt says to us from a near table, leaning forward. He points to the top of the TV: “They have boxes for each one; you can set it to whatever you like, just let somebody know.”

We thank him but we were just trying to figure out how it worked. He smiles, keeping an eye on the television “The Mustang won, so we’re all good.” Everyone enjoys a brief chuckle.

And a few minutes later, a waitress (flagged down by our helpful patron) asks us if we want to change the channel. We politely tell her no, everything is fine.

And it pretty much is.

The Results

A couple weeks ago I talked about submitting this beer as an American Pale to the annual Slurp & Burp competition. Yesterday, I got back the results.

As a short aside: well done to the people running S&B! Those results came back quickly!

And those results were…not good. Not good at all. An average score of 19.5 out of 50.

I have to admit, this is my own fault. Looking over the style guidelines, this beer should have been given more hops if I wanted to enter it into that style. If I really had been doing my research, I probably would have entered it as an American Amber ale, as the judging notes suggested I had stronger malt qualities in this beer.

I got some positives: the carbonation level was appropriate and visually the beer looked good. Then I got some conflicting information: one judge said that the beer finished flat, yet both judges said the carbonation was good. I don’t know what that means.

I also got some troublesome messages: one judge suggested that my beer tasted ‘infected’ but then didn’t use any words to describe what that infection tastes like; examples could include musty, vegetal, diacetyl (butterscotch-something mentioned in aroma but not flavor) etc etc. Again: I don’t know what this means, so I don’t know how to fix it but it may be a place to start.

It is also possible that the beer just went too long before being judged, or was kept too warm at some point. It’s hard to tell and once that entry is out of my hands, I prefer to just let it go. Obsessing over something I can’t control just wouldn’t help.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting a little but the good information I can take from this outweighs the rest.

New To Me: Mt Scott Pub

Within the first week that we moved to the new house, a news story came on TV as I was leaving for work. It was about an attempted robbery at the Mt Scott Pub, which was foiled by the bartender who shot the suspect. So it all worked out! Welcome to the neighborhood.

Perfect place to start the new series, I figure, because it already has a story. I’m nervous about going into many of these places; most of them offer a vibe that doesn’t care about what I care about. They aren’t there to provide me with some exceptional beers, they’re there to serve whatever the neighborhood is asking for, in an area that, while up and coming, is still viewed with a tiny bit of concern. I think this is why I forgot to bring my camera: when I go into a strange place I want to look as normal as possible and carrying around the tools of my trade increases the amount I stand out.

You might imagine my surprise to see Fort George’s Vortex IPA on tap, along with a nice selection of beers from Deschutes. Really, something for any taste-including various spirits and the typical selection of big brewery offerings.

Of course, there were other sights both expected and unexpected; video bowling machines, a CCTV showing the back parking lot, or posts wrapped in white tinsel and Christmas lights, for example. There was even a video shuffleboard machine and that just seems wrong.

My biggest surprise was how empty it was. I’ve gotten used to lively crowds when I go out and I swear, there weren’t more than ten people. It was a little weird.

Also, I felt a bit lost in the Mt Scott, as I do any time I am in a place that could be anyplace, like an airport. You’ve been there, even if you haven’t, with the older, ready to be grouchy barkeeper and the ‘Oldies’ station playing (which now includes Supertramp, I guess.) This bar could exist in Texas, Wisconsin or Connecticut. I got nothing from the joint, in my brief time, suggesting an element of distinction and I always find that to be a bit tragic in dive bars. It’s well lit and seemed pretty comfortable but it might as well exist in Limbo for all the charm it had.

But it also could be a good place to be nondescript. Some days, you might need that.

Winter Warmer

Savvy readers may have noticed that on Monday not only was I not out and about, I was not drinking sake, not beer. This is because the only beer left in the house that could be considered drinkable is the winter warmer, which I have been sitting on. But in the end, I have to admit that it just isn’t that good.

The nose is like banana bread and the molasses flavors are still overwhelming but that’s all. There is still a strong iron-like bite at the end. It’s a little bit like Jagermeister, only without the alcohol warmth contrasting the rest of it. This ale just is not coming around. Oh, I’m drinking it, sometimes, you know, when the darkness closes in and you’re desperate for human flesh but anything will do because it’s drinkable (barely) but I can definitely chalk this one up to a learning experience versus a successful beer. I feel that a quarter less (unsulfured!) molasses and this might’ve been pretty tasty. Recipe as follows.

Brew Date: 12.8.12

Steeping malts
3 lb 2 row
1 lb Maris otter
.5 C80
.5 Chocolate
.5 Black Patent
.5 Roasted Barley
steeped for 30+ minutes?

Fermenetables
4 lb LME
1 lb Molasses @ 5

Hops/Other
1 oz Centennial @ 60
.25 oz Centennial @ 15
.5 oz raspberry tea @ 5
2 sticks cinnamon @ 5
5 cloves @ 5

Yeast
WLP014-Pacific Ale