Common Ales: 2 Towns: Cosmic Crisp

Cider in mug on table, next to can of cider.

A friend recently pinged me, saying this was the best cider they’d had in some time.

And when someone takes time out of their day to tell you how good something is, well I feel I need to give it a try. So, although cider is a little out of my area of expertise, I picked some up.

There’s something in the nose-fresh cut apple, maybe apple blossomy? I’d say it’s just shy of perfume-y while still inviting.

The apples come through in the body, and this is a dry-ish, mildly tart drink. Enough sweetness that they might’ve back sweetened the beer, but tart and dry enough on the finish that it has balance.

It’s also quite bubbly: I wonder if they used yeast for sparkling wine, because that’s actually the nearest analog I can draw to the Cosmic Crisp. Except I find this beverage far more palatable than sparkling wine, in part, possibly, because it has such a clean finish. Or maybe I’m just not a big sparkling wine fan.

This has been a wonderful surprise and I’m pleased to recommend it to cider drinking friends.

Front Porch Chats #53

It’s too blustery to be outside drinking today-March’s lion hasn’t given up on the month yet, and this helles ale from The Bruery is ill suited to the weather.

The Bruery-Helles in glass on table outside.

It’s a damn fine helles though; little sourdough in the nose, a nice bready quality near the finish and it’s a crisp ale that probably deserves a sandwich compliment, instead of southern winds and rain.

Still, we work with what we got.

I’m still drinking on my porch, because it’s still necessary. The pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere…so I guess I don’t, either? We’re almost there, though. ALMOST. We just need to keep doing the work of keeping each other safe.

Which I suppose we always have to do, but for this moment let’s just keep on the pandemic work.

Days like this though, remind me why I like drinking in a pub; despite how gloomy this spring day may look, a pub can be lively and a good counterweight. Plus, you can meet people there: strangers, friends, and I miss that too.

Still, warmer days are coming. Healthier ones, too I hope, as more people get vaccinated. There’s a lot to complain about, and still a lot to do but I’m going to have this bright beer on a gray day and just be alright with it. Patience is not easy but things take as long as they take, and sometimes there’s no rushing it.

The Last Cream Ale (of 2020)

The nose is more bready than yeasty, but there’s some overlap. A sourdough influence is present, I would say but not disruptive. An accent scent.

Cream ale in glass on countertop

The head on the beer is a bit thin, but the effervescence is constant, so that’s good.

Buuut. The flavor has a hit of that tea-cinnamon flavor, left over from the yeast I used on the winter warmer. This is a disruptive element, in a beer that I was really hoping would be bready and clean. It doesn’t make the beer undrinkable by any means, but I have to acknowledge that it’s a fly in the ointment.

So I’ll take that as a lesson to do keep my yeast as clean as I can-until its last use. Then, adjunct away!

Brew Date: 12/26/20

Steeping grains
4lb Pilsner malt
3 lb Vienna

Fermentables: 3 lb dry extra light

1.5 oz N Brewer @ 60
.5 oz N Brewer @5

Yeast: Imperial House yeast, 3rd use

OG: 1.06

FG: 1.01

Bottled 1/2/21

ABV: 6.8%

Front Porch Chats #52\Second Pint

2015 Full Sail bourbon barrel aged stout in glass on table outside

Got a special one today! This is the imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels from Full Sail, circa 2015. The fellow at Beermongers said that he ‘found a box’ (which, ok, suuuure you did) and viola! I have a beer. This is usually one of my favorites from Full Sail and one of my favorites examples of this style.

This one is complicated. There’s a touch of sour in here-which is absolutely related to the coffee flavor-and although the initial nose is all bourbon all the time, it fades fast. Which is good, because it allows for some (though not much) of the coffee and chocolate qualities to rise up.

The finish is all coffee though, and while the beer is deceptively light on the tongue, there’s enough push – pull of the coffee and bourbon, and hints of sweetness, to make it a solid, though not my favorite.

Still; a good pickup for my birthday.

As second pandemic birthdays go, it’s difficult not to feel discouraged. Knowing things didn’t have to be so bad, that so many people didn’t have to die, or lapse into poverty, or endure trauma. It’s difficult seeing the Asian American community bear the brunt of violence that is brought by racists who will almost certainly not experience consequences.

Along with the Black community. The trans community. The women. The poor. The list doesn’t end anytime soon.

It can seem pretty bleak.

But on my birthday, people show up to wish me well. Sometimes from out of nowhere. And that’s pretty great. They come from all walks of life and they have decided that I’m worth a lovely acknowledgement.

It’s down here, in the little things, the daily work, the quiet stuff that people do to help each other; that’s where I find my hope. We don’t give up, and we take our joyous moments where we can. We push them to the forefront of our lives, insisting that this is what we are about.

Not our suffering, but our joy.

Happy birthday, everyone.

Today’s second pint goes to Stop AAPI Hate.

My last beer

No, not forever. Just for a while.

I’m having minor surgery in a few days, and I wanted to dry out before I went under the knife. Which must happen, but about which, as you might imagine, I have…feelings.

I also finished my major responsibilities at work for quite some time, and damn it, I needed to celebrate the end of an atrociously challenging few months. After the year I’ve had at work, I was done. And I needed to cut loose.

So I opened a 2017 Luppulo Evoluta, a tripel aged in bourbon barrels, on a Zoom with some colleagues.

I’m surprised at how boozy this beer is, several years on. I had a bottle when I first purchased it, and while I remember the alcohol note being a bit more aggressive in 2017, the difference four years made wasn’t nearly as significant as I’d thought it would be.

The beer was a bit dark in terms of colour–not surprising, since it was aged in bourbon barrels–, and had all the delightful flavours you’d expect of that: brown sugar, and lots of it. But it was definitely strong! And that booze carried me through a slightly befuddled evening. Precisely what I needed.

Good-bye for now, beer. We’ll meet again in a few weeks, when I’m on the other side and healing well.

Front Porch Chats #51

Gigantic's Massive barleywine ale, in glass on table outdoors.

That’s Gigantic’s Massive barleywine ale, aged in port barrels, sitting on the table. I know it’s got to warm up a little before I’ll get the most out of it, so I’m just waiting, pondering.

I’ve been thinking of my own thoughtlessness of late, because my niece got her picture published in the paper. It was the first day back to school since the pandemic, and her mom, thinking it was pretty neat that her kid was on the front page, posted that on social media.

My niece’s joking response was that it was ‘a hate crime’.

Which is….a bad look. Equating your emotional discomfort of having a picture taken to be equivalent to the threat that Black, Jewish, or LBGTQ people live under every day is just not a funny thing. I wondered if she knows any people who would need protections under hate crime laws-I didn’t at her age. And, given she’s growing up where I did, it wouldn’t surprise me if she didn’t, either.

Which was the second thing I thought about: how I didn’t know I I knew any gay people, until I was 17, and while I knew Jewish people, the fact that they were Jewish had as much relevance to me as someone having brown hair instead of black. I made dumber comments at that age, thoughtless about the larger context of the world and my place in it.

I was just fortunate enough to not have social media to document my fuckups.

Then I got older and learned more. But, even within the last year I have had to confront internalized racism and classism, to unlearn things I didn’t even know I was being taught. It doesn’t end, not if you want to legitimately do the work.

I am grateful to my friends who have spent time with me and celebrated who they are, so that when events came up that were hurtful I could recognize that something I once thought as benign was actually harming them-sometimes even killing people they know.

So it was up to me to grow, and be better. So that they wouldn’t have to struggle alone. I didn’t-even when I probably deserved to.

And my niece? She’ll be fine-she’s got good people around her and is certainly ahead of where I was back then. That error will self-correct.

As for the Massive…well, that won’t self-correct. There are notes of gasoline-it’s a boozy ale-and a bit of fig, but no sweetness, just the dry, bitter part. After it’s all done, there’s an element of woodiness that doesn’t sit well with me. The caramel sweetness I enjoy in barley wines has been replaced with something that tastes burnt.

It’s that burnt quality that is throwing it all off: maybe that barrel of port has seen too many miles, but it certainly wasn’t making friend with the barleywine.

Common Ales: Ferment Hana Pils

Ferment brewing Hana Pils in glass, next to can, on table, indoors

Whoa, this is a fine pils. I get the two-row malt, but also a little bit of sourdough. Just enough malt in the middle to give this beer some body, but not too much. There’s enough viscosity there that I don’t feel like it’s watery.

The finish is really nice too: just enough bite there to let me know that yup, they did indeed use hops in this beer, but not so much that it overwhelms the beer, or gives me that 70’s beer skunk. It also doesn’t linger, either; this is another ‘pub classic’ kind of beer where I feel it can really wash down some strong flavors, without interfering with the next bite.

Ferment did a damn fine job with this one, and I hope to see it again.

Smash Cream

So, here was a fun one. A single hop and (mostly) single malt cream ale that I was hoping would be an interesting spin on all the beers I’d been brewing in 2020.

And…it turned out OK! But it was a little less ‘interesting spin’ and a little more one dimensional, even though I added hops days later to try and bring up the hop elements.

Still, it wasn’t bad: nothing too intense, but like most SMASH beers, more of an interesting idea than an excellent beverage.

Brew date: 11/28/30

Single malt, single hop cream ale in glass on counter

Grains: 7lb Pilsner malt

Fermentables: 3 lb Extra Light Malt extract

Hops: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer @60
.5 oz NB 5 days later

Yeast: Imperial’s House

OG: 1.054

FG: 1.012

Bottled 12/5

ABV: 5.7%