Reconstructed with notes taken from the Outboard Brain:
Sadly I have forgotten my camera. I always do that when showing friends the town.
But when friends do come to town and tell me; I want to get some of the beer you’ve been drinking and I only have one night, I bring them to Bailey’s. I don’t want to try and wrap them into my current theme so I go back to the original…and here we are.
It’s a strangely warm November night; sure it’s dark and the rain has made things seem a bit gloomy but the air is balmy. At least for November. I take a crack at the Pelican ale-something I’ve been wanting for awhile but just haven’t had the time to try. It’s good and strong and really smooth. Not a session ale obviously-8% is pretty high for a brown- but with the semi-sweet chocolate nose and a nutty finish I just dig it.
The others choose stouts and more mild ales-perfectly understandable of course but I’m not turning away a chance to catch up on all the beers I missed at the Killer Beer Fest. We catch up and celebrate the Giants winning the Series (even though I don’t care about baseball, my Grandpa would be happy.)
It’s a pretty good evening, despite my lack of photos or real notes.
I’ve had the luck to experience both Coalition Brewing and the Beaker and Flask in the past few weeks (blaming/thanking friends for pulling me out.) Brief impressions are as follows:
Beaker and Flask is more a cocktail place than an beer joint. The cocktails are wonderful though-the sips I had off of other drinks were very, very tasty. I settled for a brown ale-by whom I sadly don’t recall- and a Hale’s fresh hop ale, both of which were served well and I’d consider having another. The food was well prepared-spicy but not hot, flavorful but not overwhelming-and the service was very good.
It’s spendy though. Not saying it isn’t worth it, just know you’re opening the wallet when you go.
Coalition on the other hand was a bit more reasonable and is a beer joint. Which I suppose anyone paying attention doesn’t need me to tell them. The food wasn’t bad but didn’t stand out either, although my companions seemed to enjoy their meal more than I did mine. However, the Wu C.R.E.A.M. was very good and I really, really dug the name, my co-diners liked the Maple Porter and I liked Bump’s Bitter ESB-however I wasn’t able to give it my full attention.
I’m looking forward to going back and giving it some.
I ran into Ken from Fearless Brewing last weekend and he was kind enough to explain some of the finer points of gravity as it relates to beer, and explain to me why my beers are coming out in a similar range. I told him about my Earl Gray Brown beer and he said he was interested in the recipe, which I promised to send him. It’ll be interesting if he conjures something out of that. As I was typing up the recipe I realized that I’d pretty much forgotten to tell people how I made this beer-so here goes:
Started by steeping 14 bags of Earl Gray tea in 3 quarts of water
2 oz black malt
5 oz C40 malt
5 oz Victory
12 oz British Brown
7 lb liquid light malt extract
1 oz Amarillo @ 60
1 oz Nugget @ 30
Irish moss@ 5 for clarity
Added the tea after the wort had been cooled and put into a carboy.
I have, once again made an Earl Gray Brown. The results are rather tasty. The nose has a chocolate and nut aroma, like a not quite as sweet version of Nutella. Having moment like that is always promising.
The beer itself tastes like a sweeter version of a brown ale. I’m just not familiar enough with Earl Gray tea to accurately say where it kicks in and I’m pretty certain I could’ve amped the tea mixture up even further. There is an orange flavor though, almost like what you’d get from one of those chocolate oranges. Good stuff.
Next time I’m just using the whole damn box of tea though. Overall, this is a pretty drinkable beer and at 5.2% it falls comfortably in the brown ale style pretty well. Good stuff.
The smart thinking for this comes entirely from my girlfriend. “I want you to make a beer with Earl Gray tea,” she says, and so I set about seeing how this would work. I thought about a few different styles, but given the orange qualities of the tea I decided a brown ale would probably work best with the flavors of the tea. The suggestion I got from an employee of Steinbarts was to steep the tea in cold water first and then add the water to the boil near the end, so I went with this idea.
As a brown ale it’s pretty solid, but there are a few interesting things about it. First, to really appreciate it I’ve discovered I have to take it out of the fridge for at least five minutes so it will warm up. If I do that, the beer actually gives me a nice head on it when it’s poured, and releases a orange blossom-ish nose. Without that time to warm up the beer just doesn’t produce the same flavors.
As far as drinking this beer goes, I may’ve produced a very nice session ale. I’m not a big drinker of Earl Gray tea so I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for in a flavor profile, but there’s a bitterness at the end that reminds me of black teas so perhaps that’s one of the additions. The EGB is strong enough to cleanse my palate of tuna fish sandwich and buffalo bleu potato chips, but without feeling really filling. All in all, a pretty good drink and one I think I’ll make again. I think that in the warmer months it’ll be surprisingly refreshing.
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.
I am rarely that good at naming a beer; it’s got a style, that’s enough for me. Why people insist on naming brown ales with either rhyming words or alliteration, or both, is frickin’ beyond me. It’s like creativity took a hike when it came to that style.
However; this post isn’t about them, it’s about me and the brown ale I made. Take a look!
Now, it’s a little fizzier than I thought it would be, so the mouthfeel is a bit sparkier than I’d expect on a brown. But it’s light and has a lingering honey taste to it which is wonderful. Part of the taste comes from the temperature it’s being served at; my fridge keeps food cold…and I don’t have a spare beer refrigerator. However, that’s easily solved by just pouring the beer into a glass and letting it warm up a little bit. Warmer, the beer has some chocolate flavors and just a hint of roasted bitterness at the end. I just had this with a banana–what can I tell you, I was hungry–and the roasted flavors of the brown worked very well to offset the sweetness of the fruit. Good stuff all around.
I woke up this morning to drop the 1056 yeast in the beer. Thermostat read 74 degrees fahrenheit. And a fine layer of foam on the top, while the airlock bubbled away.
Sigh. Well, I already had the new packet of yeast ready to go (apparently 6 hours in the basement works out to about 3 hours in a room of normal temperatures) so I added it in. Not so bad I suppose but still, I wish I’d given that beer more time to get going. Or maybe just more faith in myself that I’d taken and stored the yeast from the pale correctly in the first place.
Because if anything is true in this instance, it’s that I was not confident in my own ability to follow instructions, which lead to me not wanting to see how things worked out, but to take action. Which is weird, since I’ve been on a pretty good roll lately, making beers that were at the very least, drinkable.
I made a brown ale today, and tried to re-pitch the yeast I’d used in a pale ale (which I’ll be writing about shortly).
It’s been…4 hours, and it has not taken off yet. That’s discouraging. So I guess I’m glad I bought that extra yeast, which I’ll start tonight, and pour tomorrow morning, in hopes that this liquid actually becomes beer.
It’s been two weeks or so since I put Old Churches into secondary, and it was time to move it into bottles. I wanted to bottle this before the yeast went completely dormant, because I seem to have a perpetual issue with brewing beer that isn’t effervescent. There are supposed to be bubbles, damnit! At least some bubbles, anyway.
The process for putting Old Churches into bottles is pretty simple; first sanitize the bottles, bottlecaps, and syphon in a solution of iodophor. I ususally do this about 24 hours beforehand so these things can dry out and I don’t get sanitizer flavor in my beer.
Then I boil two cups of water, adding 3/4 cup of sugar and let that go for about five minutes to sanitize the solution. I’m told this is the process for making a simple syrup, though I’ve never seen it refered to as such in the brewing recipes I’ve seen. After I let the syrup cool I added it into the wort, and let it sit for about five minutes. This step is new; in the past I’ve just stirred the syrup into the wort and started filling bottles. I let it sit this time in the hopes that the sugars will be more evenly dispersed throughout the beer, so the yeast will be active in all of them.
Then I inserted the syphon, gave the wort a little stir and then I set to filling the bottles.
This took about twenty minutes. As I filled the bottles, I put caps on them, so the oxygen in the top could be pushed out as the beer generated CO2. I don’t know that that happens, I read that it was a good idea, so why not? It’s a little tricky to manage this by myself, but I usually get it done. Because I didn’t have enough regular bottles I used a couple growlers too. The up side; about three people get two beers each per growler. The down side; once I open a growler, I pretty much have to make sure the whole thing gets drank otherwise the beer goes flat. And flat beer going flatter is not good.
Although it’s not quite a punishment, having to drink a lot of beer.
One other drawback is that I had more beer than bottles for it. Now because sometimes I’m too clever for my own good, I tried to use this opportunity to fill a large mug to get a hydrometer reading for the terminal gravity. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough beer for that; my hydrometer sank right to the bottom of the glass and bounced. There’s a better way to do this, I’m sure, but I haven’t put resources to solving this problem yet. Which is another way of saying I’m lazy, but what the hell.
I didn’t have anything else to do with this beer except drink it, so I did. The coffee flavors were strong but not too bitter, and the yeast gave this beer a density that brown ales just don’t have. The mouthfeel was thicker than what a brown ale ought to be, and the beer finished off with a note of banana. Which seemed pretty unusual, but quite tasty after the strong coffee start.
Now all I have to do is wait a week and see what comes out. It might take two weeks for things to really come together, but I’ll likely give it a taste in seven days to see what my initial impressions are. Or, uh, second initial impressions.