Common Ales: 21st Amendment, Brew Free or Die

While nobody got back to me from 21st Amendment (I’m starting to wonder if I should hassle these breweries on Twitter, instead of polite emails!) the Brew Free or Die IPA is the beer I see most often in the stores. It’s a little bit of a bummer for me to see so little variety, because I generally like 21st’s beers, even if the styles aren’t my thing-see the watermelon ale.

The nose of the Brew Free or Die has some grassy undercurrents. It’s sweet like fruit otherwise: I want so say something mango-oriented present but it’s not overwhelming.

This sweetness isn’t in the finish though; it’s just a strong bite, the kind that would turn a lot of people away from IPAs. The hoppiness vs bitterness debate kicks in here and I can’t say this beer is balanced at all. The nose is a good one but the midrange for malt flavors is practically invisible.

It’s a solid beer but probably for people who are more well versed in the style and interested in IPAs than for newbies to the craft brew scene. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it means that the sharper flavor may be a shock to someone who isn’t ready or interested in it.

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On The Rail: Scoreboard

I’ve come to the Scoreboard to meet a buddy and I get a Lagunitas Pils. The beer is…solid but I want to say it should be a little fresher. The nose isn’t very strong, the malts aren’t prominent enough and the finish is just kinda bland. Pilsners are difficult beers to brew though, and often fragile. The Scoreboard is the kind of place where you don’t blame issues with the beer on the brewer.

Which is fine. I’m really here to meet up with Dan anyway.23677318934_0cf94e91d4_z

Dan has been a football guy for as long as I’ve known him: over twenty years now. We’re catching up on the final playoff game of the day, he with a huge sigh of relief because the Seahawks won a nailbiter earlier. It’s quiet here, which seems out of sorts for a sports bar but I have no complaints.

I enjoy football but I’m not as big a fan as my friend is. He’s spent years following the Seahawks through good times and bad and while he’s pretty rational about most everything else, this is a space where he lets things get a little loose.

Sometimes, people get weird about the love of sports. I get it: Often sports, especially team sports, represents everything that was shitty about your childhood. I was terrible at sports for the most part and it was just another level of exclusion, a way to get me to feel worse about a life I already wasn’t that fond of. Not to mention the…well, the really shitty aspect of any sport: terrible human beings. And sporting events often seem to bring out the worst in people: fanatical devotion, win at all costs attitude and alcohol combining to create a pretty toxic mix.

It’s not always like that, of course, but for people who hate sports or find them boring, I see why they might be alienated, might even publicly protest about having to witness someone else’s joy or sorrow about sporting events. I personally find baseball to be devoid of anything resembling entertainment, while really liking videogames, so it’s not as if I am unsympathetic to subjects that are terminally dull to some people, while super exciting to others.

Here’s the thing; this is one of those instances where having nothing to say is better than saying how much you wish you didn’t have to endure someone’s interests. Especially the interests of someone you know.

Because the great thing about having a friend who is really into sports is that if their team does well, they’re happy, and you don’t have to do a thing. You can just be happy with or for them.

Conversely, the great thing about having an enemy who is really into sports is that if their team sucks, they’re sad and you can relish that. Again, you don’t have to do a thing.

People I like get to be happy, people I dislike get to be sad, I get to be lazy. This seems like a win-win to me.

Hoppiness vs Bitterness

This is just a nice article that I felt pretty clearly delineated the difference between the two subjects. It’s good to remember these things (for myself), especially since hops have multipurpose uses in beer and because I’m starting to work on making a pale.

Reading this also gave me an idea for the next hop-oriented beer I make: Maybe I should try and add the bulk of the ops in the last twenty minutes or so. I’ve had difficulty getting any real hop character in the nose of my ales, so I’m thinking this might be worth a shot.

You Are Not Sancho

23337065874_b4b9ebb17f_zNew year? Let’s get to it.

I have started on a quest to make a pale ale. So I am purposefully going to brew them until I have made a beer that I find acceptable to my standards. Then I’ll try and repeat it. I should have a small repertoire of beers that I can make reasonably well and produce at will, I think.

This was not that beer. It looks OK: in the picture you can see there’s a pretty solid head on the beer and that’s often a good sign. However, it’s also a bit cloudy, which the picture doesn’t illustrate quite so well.

The flavor is off though and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly how, so I brought it to a group of homebrewers and the first thing they did was ask about the yeast. They said it had a phenolic quality, (which is not good for a pale) and suspected the yeast as culprit.

It was my third use of this yeast-a Windsor english ale dry yeast that I was told was old to begin with, so it’s entirely possible I just stretched this one too far. It’s also possible that in my handling of the yeast from batch to batch, it got infected or just gave up the ghost.

So it looks like it’ll be time to take another swing at this, soon.

Brew date:10-Oct

Steeping grains
7 lb Full Pint Pale
1.5 lb C40

Fermentables: 4 lb LME

Hops
1 oz Amarillo, Simcoe @ 60
.5 oz Amarillo, Simcoe@ 30
.5 oz Amarillo, Simcoe@ 5

Yeast: Windsor dry English yeast from Oct. 3rd, final use

OG: 1.075

FG: 1.01

Secondary on 10/31

ABV: 8.8%