Beyond Hops & Barley

It was bound to happen: brewers were going to remember that a long, long time ago, people made beer using things other than hops to flavor the beer. NPR has caught up with some of those people and I’m personally really glad to see this trend coming. People have frequently made interesting things by using what’s around them and that has been one of the great qualities of travel: the opportunity to see how people innovated with what they had. The internet has compressed some of this-you can see many structures and art without going to to the city-and the convenience of modern transport has muddied other aspects: you can get food from places very far away and all but recreate signature dishes. In regards to brewing, some of you may not be aware that to capture the appropriate style for certain beers, brewers often doctor the water to replicate the appropriate conditions. In Portland, this means adding calcium to the water to get the appropriate mouthfeel for stouts.

To be fair, I don’t think this article is spotlighting a huge innovation so much as it is people reclaiming a good idea but I hope this good idea helps broaden the kinds of ales we get, as opposed to merely contributing to the ‘hops arms race’ that often plagues new beers, especially in the NW.

Han & Chewie Ale

I totally ripped the idea for this beer of from someone else, who made a beer called Millennium Falcon that I saw at Baileys.  However, because I was only stealing the idea not the recipe, I decided that Han & Chewie Ale was a cooler name.

This is also the beer I submitted to OBC Fall Classic competition. It did OK, scoring about 32 out of 50 which might seem low but we’re pretty hard on our beers in Portland. That said: I entered it as an English IPA and they seemed to get a more balanced beer between the malt and hops and less a hop-centered ale. That is my fault for not knowing my beer styles well enough to properly categorize the ale for competition.

Despite all that, it’s a pretty good beer and for non-competition purposes, very much worth drinking. I’ll take that.

Brew date: 9.8.13

Steeping Grains:
2 lb C40
1 lb C120
1 lb Victory
1 lb Munich

Fermentables: 4 lb Liquid LME

.25 oz Falconer @ 60 (some in preboil)
.5 oz Millenium @ 60
.5 oz Millenium @ 30
.5 oz Falconer @ 30
2.75 oz Cascade (fresh) @ 5

Yeast: reused Wyeast London 1318

OG: 1.05

FG: 1.013

Put into secondary on 9.17
Added .25 oz Falconer hops

Bottle 9.21

ABV: 5.01%

Where I Want To Go: Reverend Nat’s

One of the nice thing about going to Kells last week was that I got to see the Taphandle people again. We had a short but nice chat and during which they recommended a variety of places to check out, including Reverend Nat’s cider taphouse.  As I hope everyone knows by now; I’m always up for a new joint to investigate and tasty beverages to try.

The taphouse is barely tucked away from the bustle of Broadway and it’s located right inside the working space. It’s tiny and charming, with a distinct but invisible line between where you drink and where they work. I liked this because I could turn and see the equipment that was being used and I enjoy seeing how things operate.

I’m going to provide my notes on the sampler I got but with the caveat that I don’t know cider as well as beer. I went with my girlfriend, who seemed to pick up on some flavors I didn’t, especially in the nose. I’m not sure if this is because a) my nose isn’t all that great, b) there wasn’t that much nose to pick up on or c) I just didn’t know what I was looking for. I have a feeling it might be a combo between a and b, because cider seems to be a less imposing drink than beer is. My point is: I was lucky to have her there to help me pull out some of the flavors that I might have missed otherwise. The notes correspond with ciders starting left to right on the bottom sampler in the photo.

Holiday Hopricot has a lot going on. Soft fizziness at the end that reminds me of poprocks or champagne. A touch of vegetal in the nose: it’s faint thing and not really offputting. This cider is attempting to mimic a saison and I feel like it’s just got so many parts moving around that it’s difficult to pin down.

The Revival Dry gives me the most cider impression so far. I’m told the nose is like roses, but my sniffer ain’t working. It’s thin, probably a good drink post work day. After it warmed up, I could smell something like Bazooka Joe. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, it was just interesting.

Deliverance Ginger Tonic has a strong ginger nose and really does taste like a ginger ale soda although quite a bit drier. I found that I liked it a lot, maybe because it really didn’t correspond with what I thought about cider? But I enjoyed it.

Session-style Ciderkin has a nose like pineapple, taste like it too, along with a pink grapefruit flavor around the finish. Something subtle and savory is in there that we cannot pull out, though. The finish isn’t too appealing and I cannot explain why.

Sacrilege sour cherry; has a hard candy taste, smells lambicy, cinnamony. The girlfriend picks up a flavor that she doesn’t like- cherry & cinnamon together. I’m more ok with it, although the cinnamon gets very strong as it warms up.

Finally, the Revelation Newton Pippin tastes like an apple peel and is pretty dry. I like this to: very drinkable, I want vanilla ice cream to go with it.