Tag Archives: golden ale

In Thar Hills

Successes aren’t always glamorous to talk about but a good beer is a good beer. After getting a reminder from the Commons that golden ales exist, I am very glad that I have given this style a go. I may’ve used slightly darker malts than I should’ve: there is a strange zone for goldens to inhabit between actual ambers and lagers, or even pales.

Color is a funny thing for beer and I’ve never quite gotten it down. Between the red of an amber and the straw of a lager is…everything else? Anything that isn’t obviously a brown, stout or porter, anyway. Still, I suppose intention is what matters here and I was intending a lighter, maltier ale and I got one! It’s tasty and that is what matters. I deliberately kept the hops low, in order to emphasize the malt but there’s still a little zip to it.

Brew date: 6.8.14

Steeping Malts
3 lb Vienna
3 Golden Promise
1 lb Crystal 15
1 Maris Otter

Fermentables: 3.5 lb LME

1 oz US Hallertauer @ 60
1/8th oz Glacier @ 60
1/8th oz Glacier @30
.5 oz US Hallerltauer @ 30
.5 oz US Halltauer @10
.75 oz Glacier @ 10

Yeast: White labs Cali Common-3rd use

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.012

Secondary on 6.18

ABV: 7.8%

Where I Want To Go: Roscoe’s

I’ve come to Roscoe’s because I feel like I should be getting to Roscoe’s more often. It’s reasonably close and the beer list is good so I wonder why I don’t make this a watering hole. The Commons Primavera Gold ale is on tap and it’s been a looooong time since I’ve had anything from them, so let’s have at it!

Damn. This is the beer I should be trying to make for summer! Forget lagers. They are a pain in the ass, especially for a homebrewer. This is sweet, with a clean finish and an effervescence that keeps it crisp. Thank you, Commons, for telling me I don’t have to chase that dragon. Plus, now I know what style to make next.

Roscoe’s is very quiet tonight. I’m a little surprised. I’m not complaining, since the lower-key atmosphere gives me a chance to enjoy the pub without feeling overcome by people. If it was like this all the time, I might take up residence.

A third residence, that is.

I ponder the beer list at Roscoe’s, trying to decide what my second beer should be. I don’t know who’s picking out the selections but they do a good job. Broad range of styles, from sours to kolsh to a stout on nitro, and with breweries still, amazingly, concentrated on Oregon (with WA & CA smatterings). Plus one beer from Denmark, which seems to be the case rather often, here. Some beer from across the seas makes it in, just to remind us that Americans are not the only ones making interesting beer.

I approve. The sooner we remember that we aren’t isolated, the better. Plus; who doesn’t want to see what those crazy Danes are doing?

I feel like I want something more aggressive, next. This golden is quite tasty but it is not hitting the spot, most likely because it’s no longer 90 degrees out. Three days ago, or a month from now: totally different story.

I could just ask for a sampler but how easy is that? Too easy. No. Let’s just go big.

I’m move to the Aussie IPA (the second in Bridgeport’s three anniversary beers)
and I have to say, this isn’t working for me at all. The grapefruit is overwhelming! I don’t understand why this beer has been selected for a highlight. Because-and I know they know how to brew this- provide a strong caramel backbone to this beer? It becomes amazing. A pale instead of an IPA, perhaps, but who gives a toss? Pales are good! As it stands, this beer feels like they are trying to get away with one: undermalting the beverage to overemphasize the hops.

Let’s ask the bartender next time. Prodigal Son’s Fatted Calf stout or Crux’s On The Fence pale. Both nitro. Bartender likes them but at the moment prefers the Crux. I go for it.

I am staring at the nitro settling, creamy density becoming clarity and I try not to think of it as a metaphor for life that cost me $3.50. Sometimes it’s like that though; if it wasn’t the poets would all starve.

Generally I disapprove of a pale ale on nitro; part of the glory of the style is that it has such a nice nose. I even cringed a little as I watched the bartender pour the beer, scooping out a head so thick that she cannot fill a proper glass. I am concerned.

But it all works out. The dense foam of the nitro cannot stop the hops and the creamy qualities that the nitro brings to the ale actually mesh nicely with the hop bitterness. I don’t know that this is the first pale that I’ve had on nitro but it’s certainly one of the best.

Although this really just confirms how much I like Crux. They do such good beers.

2 of 3 for the night. I’ll take that.

Where I Want To Go: The Tannery

A buddy recently pinged me wanting to meet up for a drink. As it so happens, a host of new places had opened up in his neighborhood so I suggested we try one. The only one he hadn’t been to was the Tannery, so off we went!

And damn, was it cold! Even the cook wore a scarf, jacket and hat! I don’t know if this was due to faulty heating, or because the old cinder block construction of the building just sucked but I found it very difficult to enjoy the space because of the temperature. No coats were removed and it seemed a little silly to order beer, but I did it anyway. For science!

I had the Upright #5 golden ale. It wasn’t bad but had the dirt flavor at end that I’ve come to associate with organic ales. On the upside, I felt it was an improvement on Upright ales I’ve had in the past. I don’t know if I’m too hard on Upright or if there’s something I’m missing. Perhaps I need to do a tasting session with someone else to compare notes and see if it’s just me.

The Tannery would be a pretty cozy place to have a drink if it had proper thermal regulation. The lights are low and the knick-knacks give the appropriate amount of classiness to the vibe of the place.

But I think I’ll hold off on another visit until Spring because I really don’t like being cold.

Golden Blunders

The title is misleading: this golden ale came out great! But I can’t pass up a chance to reference the Posies when I get one.

There’s not much more to say here: It was a success, tasted good and had a great look to it. Funny story: while I was cooling this beer, I had to stick my hand in the wort when it was about 80 degrees in order to retrieve a thermometer. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to this beer since I had to stick my filthy claw into it. I’ve actually called this beer Golden Claw in my notes. Gives it that ‘Sinister Organization out to Kill James Bond’ feel.

Let’s bring on the recipe!

Steeping Grains
.5 lb 2 row
.5 lb Munich
.25 lb munich 20

7 lb LME

.75 ozo El Dorado @ 60
.25 oz El Dorado, Tradition & Summit @ 40
.5 Tradition @ 15
1/4 tsp Irish Moss for clarity

reused Laurelwood from Red ESBish, did starter w/1 gal water, 1 cup sugar





I recently met up with Erik at Gigantic (which is still great) and I mentioned that I’d had a Pyramid brew recently, at Bailey’s.

“How was it?”

Surprisingly good, I told him, although I couldn’t remember the style I had. In many ways, it doesn’t matter because you can’t just say that: you have to put your money where your mouth is. So I bought a sixer of the summer blonde ale, Curveball and had some more.

blonde ale

My opinion is a little changed: This is a solid ale that is really good for the summer months. That would be more of a knock if I didn’t expect it from this style and brand of beer. A commercial ale is meant to have a broader fanbase and summer ales generally tilt more towards the quenching of thirst over an abundance of flavors. But it’s still tastier than I would expect and I think it’s the kind of beer that could serve both as a fine standard or as a launching off point for a newbie to the world of craft beers, to get into more interesting or experimental stuff.

Either way, it’s a pleasant surprise and suggests that maybe Pyramid has upped their game a little. This is the kind of competition I can get behind.

A Sunday

I ran out of drinkable homebrew in Saturday. It was going to be a couple more days before the next batch was ready so it was off to Beermongers for some beer to enjoy my Sunday with.

pelicanWe begin with Pelican’s MacPelican scottish ale. A bit thin in the mouth, the caramel flavors are very nice and there’s a nuttiness that saunters by at the very end.  There’s also a thread of metallic-ness when it’s all drank. You might miss it if you weren’t looking for it. I think I’d prefer Wee Heavies. Pelican makes good beer but I’m just not sure this style is for me.

Next was Hopwork’s Abominable Winter Ale, which I wanted to try because of the good words I read at The New School. This is a hoppy monster of a beer too; even when the head of the beer is gone, spicy and floral notes are still notable. There is just enough malt in there to keep things from going off the rails and I can definitely tell that this is the brewery behind the Gigabyte IPA. A very drinkable beer, even though there’s a lot of flavors going on. Makes me wish I had another to analyze it further.

For lunch was Goose Island’s Demolition a belgian golden ale, cut by a tasty italian sub and while it’s nose has the sweet elements common to belgians, the beer is clean and lacking the sweetness that some belgians have which might spoil a find sandwich. There’s a whisper of banana like sweetness in the middle that helps keep this beer drinkable. Another beer I wouldn’t mind having some more of; drinking this without food might reveal more about it.

bad henry ipaFinally, I split a bomber of Fire Mountain Brew House’s Bad Henry IPA. There’s a nice balance to this IPA because there’s a strong malt quality that ties the ends of bitterness together but the bitter qualities aren’t very intense either. There isn’t a strong head on this beer, so the qualities of the Cascade and Fuggle hops don’t make themselves too apparent. The malts are very strong though, giving the Bad Henry a slick quality that would probably go very well with some spicy chicken wings.

Sure, you could say I spent my Sunday drinking beer and watching football…

And you’d be right.

52 Weeks 39: Lucky Lab Beljamin

I realize I had this at Baileys’ 2nd Anniversary event, but some time has passed and it’s time to give this beer another chance. It both improves and suffers at the same time; this beer has a touch of sour in the nose, a tartness in the mouth, that liquid Sweet Tart moment that stops a few stations away from a sour beer. 

But it wants some food. While salty goodness is my default for beer, this one wants some light chocolate mousse, maybe a cheesecake with chocolate sauce. Cake might be too dense. Pie might work, as could ice cream. Either way, it is a dessert beer and a complimentary drink not a solo one-at least for me. 

I saw a giant billboard for Stella Artois on my way down tonight. I wonder how well beers like that really do in Portland. I mean, we’re obviously not all in the thrall of Widmer or Hair of the Dog, yet I really wonder who chooses Stella when Session is available. Or any other beer for that matter.

Occasionally, it’s hard to remember that there are places in this country that don’t care about the local brewers. Of course, being able to try beers from all over is a wonderful thing. Colorado, Maine, California and Vermont all are known for producing some amazing beers as a culture. Recently I’ve had brews from Michigan and Kansas that have been excellent. Getting to try something from across the country is a real wonder and it’s good to remember that in these times. 

But even when I lived in Spokane, which was not known for being a land of plenty when it came to cultural options of any sort (residents would occasionally proudly tout the city as an ideal test market; Spokane, the standard of Bland) I somehow learned that getting the thing that was made locally was always something to investigate over the ‘wonder’ that was made everywhere.  

I’m not here to make any kind of statement about the cost compared to quality of getting beer made from Japan or Germany vs drinking what’s made in your hometown. We like what we like. But I wonder; when was the last time you adventured? 

And when was the last time that adventure was close to home? Or even on the path to somewhere else; stopping to try the wares of that town en route to the city instead of just driving through.

So many of us spend our time not going to the places or events that ‘everyone’ does, because that’s what the tourists do. New Yorkers who never go to the Statue of Liberty, San Franciscians who don’t go to Alcatraz or eat the sourdough, Tuscans who don’t bother with the Duomo, Spaniards who don’t go to Las Fallas

Don’t get me wrong; travel is good for the soul. It’s certainly been good for my soul. I wonder, however, how many journeys I’ve missed because I decided to go there, instead of stay here.

“Just ain’t destined to brew that one”

Recipe for the golden ale I’m trying to make:

Grains and malt:
1 lb Caramel 20 Malt, steeped at about 150 degrees for  thirty minutes
8 lb LME

1 handful Sorachi Ace
1 oz Pearle @60
1 handful Pearle @15

Yeast; Wyeast 1084, 3rd use.

Now, this all seems OK until the tales of woe begin. The tales of woe go like this:

After steeping the grains for thirty minutes, I took the wort off the burner to pour in the malt extract. This was probably the smartest thing I did. When there’s less malt extract, or it’s powder, I frequently keep the pot on the burner and just stir like mad to keep the malt from sticking to the bottom and burning. This works out fine, but eight pounds of malt requires me to use two hands to pour it in, so I removed the pot from the heat.

While pouring the bucket of malt in, the handle broke and the whole thing fell into the wort, splashing hot water and ropy lines of malt everywhere. Luckily for me I didn’t get burned but now I have two problems. First; hot sticky mess everywhere. Second, and more importantly, there is a plastic bucket in my beer that may be melting even as I survey the mess.

I takes me perhaps just under a minute to get the utensils to decently grip the bucket and pull the bucket out of the hot water.  The bucket appears undamaged, which is good, but I have no idea how this might affect the beer. 

The rest of the process goes alright until I realize that the yeast I’ve been using, despite my notes, actually is on it’s 4th, not 3rd use. After three uses, I’m told the yeast starts to add off flavors to the beer. I wouldn’t be surprised if some brewers wanted some of those flavors, but I don’t know enough about brewing or yeast for that matter to desire this. 

It’s a little too late to go get new yeast at this point however, so onward and forward, right?

Well…yes, until it’s time to add the yeast. I kinda fucked that up. Most of the time, yeast should be added when the wort is in the low 80’s to the mid 70’s. This rule isn’t set in stone, but it is a pretty good one. 

I am pretty certain I cooled the wort to below 100 degrees, and then just added it in with some cold water to top the wort off to five gallons. Being generous about  the temp, I figure I pitched the yeast when the wort was in the mid-90’s. I really don’t have much of an excuse, except that my head just wasn’t in the game. 

The good news; the yeast took off like a bat out of hell. I could see little pieces of debris swirling in the beer, the airlock percolating like a hyperactive coffeemaker, all systems go.

The bad news; yeast fermenting at higher temperatures produce sweeter tasting alcohols. These flavors conflict with the other agents in the beer. When I put the beer into secondary yesterday, I got such a sweet aroma out of the fermenter that I’m pretty sure ‘cloying’ just won’t cover it. 

Describing the whole debacle to my Dad later, he said, “Well son, I guess you just ain’t destined to brew that beer.” I’m hard pressed to disagree, though I’m going to bottle it just the same. Who knows? If I give it a month, maybe it’ll mellow out.

Failures that are successes.

Things did not go quite right with my new beer. It was supposed to be a pale ale, but very hoppy. Almost IPA-ish, but lighter in color.

It’s lighter in color alright, but…the hoppiness is not there. It’s sweet, and I guess ought to be called a golden ale instead of a pale. I’m baffled by this, honestly; I dry hopped this beer with Chinook hops, which have a pretty high alpha unit (which means that they have high bitterness properties-at least, I think that’s what it means) and a really strong scent. That quality didn’t transfer to the nose however, and I have no idea why. The color being so light is also unexpected, but the cloudiness of the beer is expected; I forgot to buy Irish Moss on my last trip to the store. (That’s an agent that helps clarify beer.)

This beer also has a  very thin head and doesn’t retain it for long. I get that satisfying burst of escaping CO2 when I open the beer, so I’ve done something right, but that the effervescence isn’t lasting seems to signal that I’ve done something not right. It’s possible that some of the higher temperatures Portland has seen affected fermentation. I’ve been told that sometimes the yeast will produce a sweeter flavor if fermented too warmly. I don’t think 66 degrees is too warm, but my basement is an uncontrolled area, so perhaps there have been fluxuations that have had an impact.

Now all that said, it’s a pretty good beer. It may not have turned out the way I’d thought it would, but it’s light, though not crisp, and easy drinking. As a summer beer I’m actually happy with how this came out, I just wish I knew more about how this occurred so it would be purposely duplicated. It’s possible that what happened is exactly what was supposed to happen, I just was unaware of my intent. Thankfully I’ve got some decent notes on this beer, so I’ll have to try it again.

One thing I can  say for certain; it’ll get you drunk. I’ve had 2 and I’m crusing.