Putting this on my to-do list.

Here, you have the PR version but I’ll shorten it for you: Salt and Straw made beer inspired ice cream.

Now, here you can read someone who’s had it and tells you what they think. (Thanks, Fuz!) The short version of that? The IPA and Smoked Hefe might be a little off but it’s all good.

Still, it’s beer themed ice cream. I just thought everyone ought to know.

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Added Flavor!

Fuz sent me this article on people using randalls to change the flavors of the beer.

I’m of two minds about this; the smaller, pettier one is insisting that ‘people shouldn’t do that! They’re messing with a perfectly good beer in order to blahblahblah.’

That mind is about 98% wrong. People have been messing with things since forever and yeah, usually the results are disastrous but eventually awesome things come of it and we get beer, internet, heavy metal and cheese.

Trust me, nothing else humans made really matters.

The smarter part of me recognizes that this is a pretty cool idea and a way for people who may not be brewers or brew-minded but still have culinary skills, to exercise them and bring something neat to the rest of us. It will come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to the brewing industry that places like DogfishHead have been using randalls to do weird things to their beer, for example. Why not let everyone have a crack at it?

Although at (minimum) $50 for a randall, I don’t think I’ll be trying it anytime soon. It seems like a ‘sometimes’ idea.

Then again, when a beer doesn’t turn out, this could be just the thing. That investment may be worth making.

New To Me: Cadigan’s

Cadigan’s Corner Bar used to be the Queen of Hearts, a biker bar that had a great deal of personality. With dark corners, the motorcycle motif everywhere on the walls, the Queen was a touch above skeezy in the best sort of way. You could come here and know you weren’t in your element but there wasn’t any real threat to you, so long as you were a decent human.

Then it changed and the last time I was there, all that personality had been stripped away. Generic beer signs, a pitiful beer selection; the best thing about the place was the cabinet behind the bar that kept the alcohol in it. Made of wood, beautifully designed and clearly old, it was a centerpiece in a room that had nothing to compliment it.

But it’s raining like hell this week and Cadigan’s is probably the closest pub for me to walk to, so I’m headed back for a Ninkasi Total Domination IPA. The beer is good, because they do good work. I’m not breaking new knowledge over your head with this one.

I’m pleased to way it’s got some personality now, with guitars and pictures of guitar gods on the walls. There’s a theme, an idea here to explore! The beer selection has improved too; it’s what I would expect from a Portland bar that wasn’t catering to beer freaks; Widmer, Ninkasi, Deschutes, Portland, the big dogs, essentially. The atmosphere is a bit too busy though, with three TVs competing with band performing on stage.

The band is far more interesting, fronted by a mohawked woman singing a lively blues, with a sax man wailing away. They would be better if the guitarist and sax player realized that they didn’t both have to solo in every song but such is life. Also: the world did not need a danceable version of “Another Brick In The Wall pt II“. It just didn’t.

Still, I like Cadigan’s a lot better now. The dance floor is small but it’s there and that means that occasionally the sweetie and I can go dancing without having to make a long trek from the house. Some days you have to take the sweetie dancing and at least in my case, it helps if I can have a couple beers and not worry about driving because I feel awkward about my dance skills. You know how it is.

This didn’t quite work out

This one is my fault. I tried to get blood from the stone that was a very, very tired yeast. Essentially; once again, I have a beer with little carbonation.

The upsides; it’s very clear, and there’s some complexity here, including a belgian-saison style funk in the nose that doesn’t replicate anywhere else in the beer, with a touch of sour in the finish, but the middle doesn’t carry much. It’s a little like a cider, in this respect.

So it’s interesting! But it’s also not carbonated. At all. I can drink it and I’ve learned from this but all in all, I could be happier with the turnout. Let’s get to the recipe:

Brew date: 3.22.13

Steeping Grains
.5 lb 2 row
.5 lg Munich
1 lb C60

Fermentables
7 lb LME

Hops
.75 oz Mt Hood @ 60
.25 oz Newport @ 60
.75 Palisade @30
.25 oz Newport @30
.25 oz Newport, Mt Hood, Palisade @10

Reuse of lager/oktoberfest yeast.

Bottled 4.28

Unknown gravities due to user failure. Oh well!

Craft Beer Magazine Review

The nice folks at Craft Beer magazine sent me a PDF of their recent issue, which they’re marketing as an iPad app. They asked me to do a review of it, so here we go. The only caveat to mention is that the PDF didn’t have the embedded video and I wasn’t going to pay for the download in order to see the video. So this review does not include that content.

This magazine is inoffensive and unfortunately, that is what I keep coming back to. Craft Beer’s iPad app seems to be a collection of blog writers, putting together relatively generic content that, as a homebrewer and beer enthusiast, I find it difficult to get excited about.

The writing is adequate but is clearly in need of an editor. There are sentences that are unclear or poorly phrased that could easily be cleared up with some editorial oversight. The topics chosen are a little bland and lack the kind of raw data that might make them interesting.

There is a history of craft beer in America that seems to hit all the base points of accuracy but it doesn’t provide anything new. Decent for someone coming into the scene perhaps but it doesn’t offer much to someone like myself. The article on American craft beer being big in other parts of the world is incredibly vague, lacking numbers or specific quotes to show either the impact the American scene has had or the adjustments that American brewers make to market themselves in Asia or Europe. Then there’s an article that reads like a PR piece on a social media app. Everything just lacks any sort of bite, and by this I don’t mean hostility, I mean an attitude to provide the reader with meaningful content.

The worst offender is the beer review at the end. If there is one thing  this magazine should knock out of the park, it should be a review. However, the author uses the words ‘hops’ or ‘hoppy’ all over the place to describe a beer, without mentioning what the hops involved provide the beer. There is a sentence that reads “The hops in this beer are really nice.”

You could replace the word ‘beer’ in that sentence with practically any other noun and make it work, because it’s so vague.

That is a serious omission. Hops can have spicy, floral, citrus or pine qualities and that’s just the four I can think of offhand. Then they broaden out; pine can get sticky, sharp or marijuana-like. Citrus can evoke tangerine or grapefruit (among others.) Despite mentioning the kinds of hops used in the beer (Bravo and 644) there isn’t any attempt to convey what these hops contribute from a flavor perspective! If you don’t already know what Bravo or 644-which the author says are an experimental variety-are, then tough noogins.

Again, this shows a dearth of editorial involvement which could have helped this writer dig deeper and provide some content to the readership. As it stands, I have no desire or reason to spend my money on this beer–or this article–because the content just isn’t up to snuff.

New To Me: Gemini

I suppose I ought to tell the truth: the Gemini isn’t new to me. When we moved to the neighborhood, this was the first place we came to get a beer, after a heinous week of lifting boxes and putting dishes into cabinets. I remember they had Burnside’s Sweet Heat ale-a pale with jalapeno-on tap, which I avoided. I have never liked that beer and the reason this memory sticks out is because it never seemed to leave. I needed this beer to rotate, to have some other option available!

Someone has heard my pleas because the Sweet  Heat is finally gone. I opt for Coalition’s red ale, while lady had the Lolita, which is a margarita with pomegranate instead of lime. In truth, I think the Gemini is more of a cocktail place anyway, which means I have chosen..less wisely.

The red ale gives me a stronger bitter flavor as I go: that doesn’t seem right, especially since there’s no hop nose. It makes for an unbalanced ale which isn’t as pleasant to drink. Still, it seems like the first time in a while since I’ve gotten my beer in a non-chilled glass. That’s probably just me remembering the dive bars over the ones that know how to serve a beer.

The girlfriend sings “She’s Gone” along with the jukebox while noshing on chips. This is followed by something from the Ramones, which I bob my head to.

I like it.

No one is here now, yet it’s super lively on weekends. At the moment, it’s quiet enough that we can chat and hang out but I’ve also had a nice time when it is more rambunctious, sidestepping through crowds on New Years Eve, a DJ casting beats from the corner. I’ve been here enough times to know that the food is solid and getting free chips to munch on with your drink never sucks.

But I don’t think the Gemini is a beer place; it may not even be a pub in the way that I tend to think of these joints. It’s got a funky vibe to it with stained glass chandeliers out of the 70’s hanging around, giving everything a red velvet gloss to it. The staff is friendly and the Gemini seems to run at a neighborhood pace; just a little slower than you might expect, but with people who seem to get that you’re from ’round here, so take your time and enjoy.

This is…disappointing

So, this is what happened. I realize the photo is a little washed out but it’s probably pretty easy to see that there is virtually no head on this beer. I don’t know exactly what happened as I wasn’t there so I want readers to understand that I’m speculating but: I think this beer went flat because the person operating the canning machine had to shake the keg/spill beer to the point where the forced carbonation escaped.

One other oddity: the cans seem to be overfilled. Every one I’ve opened has had zero space to offer, leading to some small spillage.

On the other hand; a very, very, vigorous pour does offer me some slight head, something to breathe in reflecting a strong pine element…while also helping to make the beer a little less carbonated, too, I guess.

Which is a bummer because drinking the beer, I can tell that there’s a great IPA there; nice malty middle with a  piney bitterness in the finish. I know all the potential is there for this to be excellent…but there’s not enough nose and no space for the palate to be cleansed so it falls flat. But at least it’s not my fault!

Oh well. Here’s the recipe:

Brew date: 4.14.13

Steeping grains:
1 lb C80
.5 lb Castle Special Malt

Fermentables: 7 LME

Hops:
Added 1/2 oz Chinook in warmup (pre boil)
.5 oz Newport, .5 oz Chinook, .25 oz Amarillo @ 60
.25 oz Newport, .5 oz Amarillo @ 30
.25 oz Newport, .25 Amarillo, .25 Chinook @ 15

Yeast: Hopworks Ale Yeast

OG: 1.062

FG: 1.016

Put into secondary on 4.30. Decided to add Citra pellets as a dry hop.

ABV (approximate): 6.2%