Too successful

Ever wonder what happens when the yeast really takes off?








D’OH! Cleanup on aisle 3!


Headwounds and other hazards of homebrewing

Today’s batch was for a saison, because I’ll be going on vacation in a few weeks and I’m told that this yeast wants to be left alone for four to six weeks in secondary. I figure I can leave it and forcibly forget about it, due to not being home.

Saison yeast at the ready

The basics go fine; a half-pound of Caramunich steeped for about thirty minutes, eight pounds light malt extract, one pound wheat malt extract, and about an ounce and a half of Hallertauer hops sixty minutes, another half an ounce at five minutes, we’re good! The OG came to about 1.10, and all I have to do is add the yeast that Joe, a fellow brewcrew member was kind enough to give me from his saison, and first step is done.

Now, like many homebrewers, part of my brewing setup is in the basement-or some other semi-safe environment like a garage or the Roman Colosseum. So, after boiling wort for an hour, I have to haul the three and a half gallons down to the basement to cool it off. The basement is, for a man of my height, a headache in the making. Metal ducts, wooden crossbeams, and light fixtures are all at the exact height to incur headaches for me.

So far only the ducts have taken their blood payment, but today it was the day for light fixtures. I was cleaning up when I walked full on into the lightblub and shattered glass everywhere. Fortunately the wort was sealed tight far away from the accident, but I still put this on the ‘list of things not to do again’.

Bailey’s One Year Anniversary

Bailey’s is one of my favorite bars in Portland, and I don’t make any secrets about that. There are no televisions, the music is kept at a proper volume-loud enough to be heard if you want, soft enough to easily speak over-and the vibe is awesome. Big windows to see outside and well lit, it’s a good place to kill a few hours, and the beer selection is always interesting. The owner is a cool guy and I’m glad he’s made it a year. To celebrate he had a beerfest of his own, with fifteen barrel aged beers to try. 

More beers than any one human could sample certainly, but I had compatriots to help me; Fuz and his fella, and Lala, so between the four of us we were able to try all fifteen beers. We discussed and sniffed and swirled our way through all the beers, while Bailey’s filled to capacity and people debated the merits of beer, or the United States, depending on their inclinations.

But there were two highlights, first the Fish Old Woody, an old ale on cask. This beer was so tasty, and had the nose of malt right after it’s been poured into boiling water. A warm, carmel, smell that made me think that I needed to make another batch of beer. There was a strong alcohol warmth, but a chocolaty finish that wasn’t bitter at all to balance it out. 

The other beer we all enjoyed was Hair of the Dog’s Fred from the Wood, aged in new oak barrels.  This beer was fruity, but had a very smooth mouthfeel and a woodsy element, that may have given it a buttery finish. Of course, this was also my last beer, and after 7 samples, I was writing less and talking more. You might imagine the scene.

And high praise to the staff of Bailey’s Taproom. I thought this was a great event, a real treat, and am looking forward to next years party.

The rest of it

Saturday was my last day on the coast and after a long hike under cloudy weather, I was more than ready for a beer. I had two left, and then I’d be down to the beers I’d made myself. A chore I know but there you have it.

I started my evening off with Rock Dog’s Punk IPA, and after a long hike this was not the beer for me. I was surprised at this; the imperial is so well done, but this didn’t give me any nose nor flavors on the front end. I was left with a bitterness that coated my mouth and left me wondering what went wrong. Since their imperial IPA was so balanced, this Punk was a real jolt and I’m wondering what their next beer holds for me.

Lastly, I had a pale ale from Nogne O, and this worked out much better. It is at this point my notes fail me, however. Possibly a combination of distractions from my niece and nephew, or possibly just being tired but I wrote not a word about this beer, I just drank it. I’ve had the brand before (though not the style) and I like their beers, so I had confidence when I initially chose this beer, and it was validated. I remember that much.

As a side note, I really really like the branding for this beer. It’s simple, colorful (each style has it’s own color ‘O’) and straightforward. Maybe I’m just a sucker for colors. Worse things have been said of me.

Sunday felt like a longer drive than it probably was, just due to the effort of packing a lot of visiting in to a short time. We cruised into town almost lazily, though, determined to not cook for ourselves today. One stop at Fire On The Mountain, and the recovery from a vacation began. After the sampling of various sauces, chicken wings are ordered, and I ask for Roots’ Kolsch to wash it all down.

I enjoyed this. After a rather intense vacation leading to my need for chicken strips, this was so mild that I had a sense of relief after drinking all these very intense beers. Surrounded by cheesy paintings with hippie and chicken wing themes, this mild kolsch let me tune it all out and wait patiently for deep fried goodness. Steve Earle was on the loudspeakers and somehow that makes the painting of Muhammad Ali with drumsticks for boxing glove s less painful.

All at once

Most of the time, I don’t get to try a lot of different beers at once. This is partly so I don’t get ill; mixing beer styles can be as unpleasant mixing other kinds of alcohol, but it also is economics. Who can afford to spend all that cash?

However, when going to the coast on a family vacation, we have an exception to the rule. I was to be surrounded by people who oppressively cared about me! Call it an excuse if you wish, but what the hell; I got a few different beers to try, took notes and photos, and here we go!

I kicked Friday off with some Green Flash Imperial IPA. The label says it has Summit and Nugget hops, and they give the beer a heavy grapefruit nose and some bite on the back that really stuck with me. Happily munching on my Mom’s monster cookies, I noticed that this beer got more piney as it warmed up. The flavor got so strong, I thought I was drinking evergreen tea. Pine does not go as well with oatmeal-raisin-chocolate cookie items, so I finished this beer rather quickly. Perhaps some beers should be served in certian portions. If this beer turns into a tree that fast, maybe it would be better served in twelve ounce bottles.

The second beer comes to Portland by way of Japan from a Portland expat, or so the fine people at the Belmont Station tell me. This beer, Baird’s The Carpenter’s Mikan Ale, had an odd fruit fermentation aspect; the bottle tells me there are citrus flavors, but I don’t believe that. More like something between a banana and a tangerine. It stopped short of cloying by introducing a dryness at the very end, I presume from the fruit but I’m not sure. This is the trouble with tasting a flavor I’ve never had like mikan fruit; I have no idea where it’s subtle contributions to the beer kick in, and where the yeast or malts would take over.

As the evening is wearing down and everyone else is talking about coffee, a drink I have no experience with and no real drive to drink, I finish with the Eel River Triple Exultation. I was looking forward to this beer, because it was from one of the few breweries I liked at the Organic festival. The Triple Exultation is an old ale, but it was a hell of a lot sweeter than I thought it would be. Usually, old ales have some alcohol warmth to balance out their sweetness, but this beer not so. It’s all malts, and that puts the beer off balance.

Still, it was a good way to start off the weekend. More tomorrow!

A beer and homebrewing blog