52 Weeks 23: Cascade Spring IPAnox

Despite my perturbed look, I’m actually quite pleased to be here. It’s been a scorching Spring day, and I have done yardwork, bottled beer, visited friends, battled with the stupid, unfortunately, gone to my dance lesson, and now, finally, I am at the shelter of Bailey’s. I deserve this beer.

My selection of ale was a little less smooth though. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but choices must be made. 
“Eh….Mojo Risin’.”  
And the barkeep, Michael (I believe, please forgive me if I’ve gotten this wrong) says,
“You’ve already had this.”
 Which explains the bad feeling that I’d had when I ordered it. It’s got the title of a beer I would order, but looking back at the post, I hope I can be forgiven for not remembering that I’d had it. There’s a lot of beer between me and the Mojo. 

But it’s nice to know I have readers.

Cascade Spring’s beer is awesome for a couple reasons. First, there’s and x in the name. Anything with an x in the name is automatically more awesome than something that does not have an x in the name. Tyrannosaurus Rex? Cooler than other dinosaurs because of the x. If the Romans had decided to use the world King instead of Rex, not only would we have some serious linguistical and/or time travel problems on our hands, but the T-Rex just wouldn’t be as awesome.

Second, this is a fine IPA. Lighter in color than the typical IPA, and with a nice pine nose, this beer isn’t overwhelming in any sense, but there’s no mistaking it for a pale ale, either. There’s a fine bitterness in this beer that runs through the sip of it, while the malts appear long enough to create a distraction, like some kind of 3-card-monte. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to recommend this IPA to IPA haters, but to people on the fence and who like pale ales, I’d say give it a shot. 

A special thanks to the Santeria Taqueria, who delivered a plate of nachos across the street to soothe a hungry stomach after a long day. They were delicious and I hope to sample their menu again.

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Calm Wit 3

The story goes like this: About three years ago the OBC had a contest for the right to have a beer served at the Horsebrass pub. It was the pub’s 25 anniversary, and they’d asked for beers from many local brewers, but had also worked out a deal for the winner of the OBC contest to have their beer brewed with the people at Laurelwood, and served. 

So I joined a team of people and we made a wit beer with chamomile tea. And it won. Triumphs all around, we had our beer brewed with professionals and served to the public, a great day was had by all, right? 

Well actually, yes. But it has led to the most commonly asked question by my friends; When are you going to make that beer again?

It was a good beer. Why not try to repeat the success? Except I have been unable to re-brew this beer. Or I have, but the beer has been undrinkable to the point where I have had to pour out five gallons of beer because it tasted like swampwater. Twice. 

Granted, my first time brewing this beer was with some people who were far more experienced and certainly their knowledge and skills helped a great deal. I’ve made a few beers since then though, I ought to be able to make this beer again. Or at least come close, right? 

So into the breech once more.

These were my steeping grains:
1.25 lb Flaked Oats
1 lb Gambrious Pils

When I strained them out of the wort, they looked like this:

yum?
yum?

 Does anyone want to drink something made from this? I’d already stared having misgivings and the yeast wasn’t even in.

Next in was:
6.67 lb of Wheat malt
.5 lb Dry dark malt
(both extracts)

At the boil, I added the following:
1 1/8ths oz Golding @ 60
1/4 th oz Hallertauer @ 35
just under 1/8th tsp Grains of Paradise
1/4th tsp crushed coriander  seeds
1/4th tsp dried orange
less than 1/8th tsp bitter orange
zest of one orange–all @ 5

Finally, I added two packs of Wyeast 3974. What I got was a beer that initially looked like this:

racing stripes!
racing stripes!

This…this also does not look promising. I mean really; what the fuck is going on there? Two days later, the yeast would tell me what was going on there.

overflow
overflow

 Yup, the thing blew the airlock. 

After two weeks the beer has settled down a bit, and I put it into secondary yesterday. It smelled quite yeasty with a slight citrus undertone, so I’m actually hopeful this will turn out well.

What is it?

I made a belgian IPA and although the initial look wasn’t so hot, the results have been pretty good. But how do I describe this? One of the pluses of being a homebrewer is that you can make anything, as with this pal who has made a cat themed beer. I do not know the specifics of it, but he has told me that catnip and other ingredients are involved.

The minuses would be; how the hell do you describe it? In the case of a beer made with catnip I think I might just default to good/bad, just because it’s so alien. However while a belgian IPA might be off the beaten trail, it’s not like searching for Dr. Livingston. 

You can’t tell from the photo, but the beer does have a light carbonation to it; the head drifting on the top like peach fuzz. The aromas are malt-sweet and citrusy, but they’re very light, almost faint, really.

I think this beer may have again suffered from me putting the yeast in too soon; there is an estery quality that shouldn’t be present in an IPA style. But is it OK in a belgian? Is it possible I did everything right and the yeast is doing exactly what it’s supposed to?

There is a bitterness to the back end which is actually nice. Sweeps away the sweeter flavors, reminds me that I put hops in this beer damnit, and they have a say in how things taste. Plus, it helps the beer go with foods like spicy potato chips, holding it’s own quite nicely and keeping my poor tongue from burning for very long. 

I brought this beer to the fine people at the OBC, and to my surprise the response to it was quite positive. No questions of potential mistakes. No curious disappointments. So I did it well, even if I can’t tell you exactly how it tastes.

The question really is; can I make it again?

52 Weeks 22: Collaborator Bike Town Brown

I have a feeling this post isn’t going to make much sense. In my head all day has been the line “While you were shouting at the devil, we were in league with satan” which is the title track of a Zimmer’s Hole album. This is the kind of thing that’s going to distract you from focusing on anything proper. Sure, I could do math, train elephants, put on my robe and wizard cap, but instead I hear this blazing thrash metal track. 

And that’s ok.

Perhaps I selected tonight’s beer on this basis; knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to focus properly. The Collaborator project is relatively well known in Portland, and this brown ale is everything you could ask for in a great session ale. Something a little spicy near the back end of the beer, but I really had to pause to sense it. It’s smooth and creamy, almost like a really good root beer but without the sweetness. 

The rains have come back to Portland. It’s mellow at Bailey’s tonight, with the usual crew of jovial regulars but nobody else, so there’s a chance to talk and catch up with people. The bartender has a chance to visit in addition to serve, and that’s always a nice thing. 

I can hear him tell a story about a brewery that got raided-but I’m catching just snippets of the tale. I don’t know if it’s a recent brewery or one from Prohibition. Maybe I’ll head up and get another beer to listen in better.

Excess

I don’t exactly know why, but I ended up buying a whole lot of very high alpha acid hops. For my non-homebrewer readers, the higher the alpha acid in a hop variety, the more bitterness you can boil out of it to flavor your beer. As a general rule, these hops also have more intense scents to them as well which make them excellent for dry hopping purposes, but when adding them to a boil it’s usually a good idea to err on the side of caution, or else the beer becomes overhopped and resiny. Which is fine for most NW styles of IPAs, but there’s an art to making a proper one that’s hoppy and drinkable and I’m going to try to work that angle for once. 

In order to get some sweetness in this beer, I steeped a quarter pound of honey malt, and half a pound of caramunich belgian malt for about thirty minutes. I did this not only for sweetness, but also so I could get a more amber color in the beer. Next up I added 7.34 pounds of light malt extract which seems like a lot, but doesn’t do a lot for impacting the color of beer because it’s so light. I could have used an amber or even dark malt extract, but I’ve been told that light malt extract is the ‘cleanest’ when it comes to its flavor profile, allowing the other ingredients to come through, so unless a recipe calls for it I always try to use that. 

With 60 minutes to boil I added one ounce of Autanum hops, which contain 8% alpha acids. These went in first because my pouch of hops was already open, and because much stronger hops were going to be added later and I don’t want the bitterness of this beer to be overwhelming. 

At 30 minutes in the boil, I put in about half an ounce of Newport hop which come in at 11.2% AA. I went a bit easy on the Newport for two reasons; first there’s only so much you can get out of hops in a boil like this, and second I wanted to use the majority of them for the dry hopping when this beer  goes into secondary. 

I re-used the yeast that I made the amber from, and this beer has taken off. I can smell the hop aromas coming out of the carboy’s airlock, so adding hops in secondary will come next.

Nine days later I transfered this beer into secondary and added 3/4th an ounce of Newport hops. A month later the beer was bottled, and  now all I have to do is give it a couple weeks in the bottle and all will be revealed. 

For easy reading the recipe list is as follows:

.25 lb Honey malt
.5 ln Caramunich malt
steeped at about 150 for thirty minutes.

7.34 lb light malt extract

1 oz. Autaunam hops at 60 minutes.
.5 oz. Newport hops at 30 minutes.

1/4 tsp Irish Moss at 5 minutes.

 Rogue Pacman yeast used. 

OG: 1.066
TG: 1.016

Planting

With the space of a garden I have decided to try my hand at growing my own hops. From left to right in the photo I have Galena, Willamette, and Centennial hops there. They should be planted soon, and then I’ll have my own hops to work with (in about two years.)

But now I need names for my plants. Things ought to have names. Any suggestions? Here’s a listing of hop varieties to tell you more.

52 Weeks 21: Boulder Mojo Risin’ IPA

“So what do you think,” the barkeep, Michael, asks me. 

“The nose is like cucumber farts,” I tell him. “But as a drink it’s pretty good.”

“At 10.5%,” he replies, “it’s a pretty rough beer.”

“But it’s not bad,” I tell him. 

And that about sums it up. It’s not very malty, and I get only a very mild bitterness at the end. The beer is remarkably clear, and pretty easy drinking. Just don’t inhale.

The day after I wrote that it wasn’t spring until I could see the sun for two-thirds of the day, the sun shone for two-thirds of the day. Then most of the day on Sunday, and today all day. It’s Spring. And my powers over the weather seem to be increasing. 

I have to confess, I’m thankful for this. Not that I have a particular affinity for the sun or the outdoors for that matter, but I do like being warm. And this winter has been longer than usual, with even Portlanders feeling a touch more surly than they ought to. 

Which is why I’m so surprised that Bailey’s is so quiet tonight. This night feels celebratory; Winter has been broken! Hoist the flagons, mates! Maybe there’s a groundhog effect in place. We saw our shadows, hide away, hide away! It can’t possibly be real, can it? 

But at ten at night I could walk home comfortably. It’s almost Summer-like. That might be the problem. No one wants to trust the warmth, because we’re still at the point where it could be stolen from us. Perhaps that’s why I’m not so down on this beer. Which, as I near the end of the pint has revealed itself to be adequate, but little more. The nose remains, but no backbone in the mouthfeel, no bitterness to sharpen my senses away from the nose. It’s limp. 

There’s a clear sky, a nearly full moon, and it’s warm. A lot of things seem to not matter when those combinations come together. However, if you’ll pardon me, I think I’m going to try to get a better beer before I have to head out. A night like this ought to be given to the pleasures I can find, and this IPA is not fitting the bill.

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