Friday, February 27, 2009

Beer Wars - in theaters near you?

Beer Wars Movie Trailer from Beer Wars on Vimeo.

For many this is the same ole' story told time and time again. It's an important story and the film looks like it has great production values..

Hop Cast 27 - Deschutes IPA's

Hop Cast - Episode 27 from Hop Cast on Vimeo.

You should subscribe to Hop Cast via iTunes. This episode was filmed before the BMG episode. I am very awkward on camera, notice me slam the fist IPA..;)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh Snap! Bonus Beers..

This week has been ridiculous good to me on the beer front. I came home to find one of my Wife's awesome co-workers grabbed me FOUR Oskar Blues "Gordon" cans. I smuggled a few cans back from Seattle earlier this year and have been jonsen' for it ever since. Also a sixer of brown ale from Deschuttes. What a great week for new beers!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hop Cast 26 - BMG Holiday Beers Reviewed!

Hop Cast - Episode 26 from Hop Cast on Vimeo.

Check out this video talking about the Holiday beers Home Brewer Brandon Boshers and I did for BMG. We have been drinking for a few hours, so excuse the obvious intoxication..;)

Boulevard Brewing Co. tour Pics

Forgive the iPhone photo's, I forgot the better camera. Boulevard is currently remodeling the old brew house to increase capacity of the tasting room and gift shop. In the last couple years they have undergone a 29 million dollar expansion. The old brew house was being pushed past it's limit, now the old brew house is strictly for brewing Smokestack's and test batches. The main brew house is a stainless steel beauty. They also added a new bottling line, which last time we toured was a basketball court. One thing I learned is that the new roof is a "green roof" that allows them to retain as much heat as possible. Also they use as much natural light as possible to cut down on power consumption. I know many of you Chicagoans have not had the opportunity to enjoy these fine beers due to distribution. I can only hope that Boulevard gives our region a shot in the future.

That would be BA NCTRNL enjoying a Single Wide IPA. Myself looking goofy, with Courtney and Selina.

This week we celebrate Kansas City and San Diego through two great Brew Hauls

This one almost didn't make it! We just barely missed check in at KCI, the most secure airport on earth, and were tagged with the evil yellow "late check in" tags. Needless to say my bag was flagged and opened. As I watched in horror as bottle after bottle was removed from between stinky socks and dirty t-shirts, my temper shot up. I know better than to approach a TSA agent about anything, so I had to hope this guy appreciated craft beer, or if anything the smugglers spirit. I have to apologize to my Wife for being completely intolerable for most of the flight. The bag was one of the first ones off at Midway. Felt just as heavy as when I left it and no signs of leakage. Once I got home, every bottle was repacked in the same manner as which I packed it. Big ups to the TSA for not stealing my Boulevard Barrel Aged Quads.

Thanks to BA's Tigerboo, JustinCurtis and NCTRNL for hooking me up with Boulevard BBQ's and Imperial Stouts. I hope the FFF and DFH treat you just as well as I know these will. I also picked up some Boulevard's new Single Wide IPA, which in my opinion is greater than the Double Wide, a more citrusy and floral hop that really comes through in the mouth. I also picked up some Avery New World Porter, a dry hopped porter, on suggestion from several KC peeps. For some reason we do not get this one in Chicago. On the end is Schlafly Bourbon Aged Stout. Had to grab this one and have a I-70 series of my own.

WOAH! Thanks to BA Engebrits for hooking this SERIOUS package. The AleSmith Yule Smith 2007 Summer Holiday was a welcome surprise. Speedway Stout, one of the top rated stouts by BA users. Horny Devil Belgian ale, looks like a large golden strong. Finally the Green Flash Grand Cru, one of my favorite Belgian styles.. Thanks and I look forward to doing a second Midwest Vs. San Diego trade.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Brother's Tasting @ Brasserie Joe

If you follow me on Twitter then you had live updates from the field. It was held in a private room where we enjoyed sharing a table with some real knowledgeable Croatian Chicagoans, one of the old bartenders at Brasserie Joe and Homebrewer Brian from BMG. Each place setting had a marker for the four beers that we enjoyed. Erin, the host and "Beer Sommelier", started the evening off by introducing Jason Ebel. He explained how to properly enjoy beer from start to finish and went into detail about his recipe design for each beer without getting overly technical. One of his more interesting comments was that Beer had 4 times the flavor compounds as wine.

The night went quickly with Redy Rye "Coffee Porter" being my percy. We did get to sample the 2009 Bare Tree "Imperial Weiss" out of the conditioning tanks. It was still very flavorful even with minimal cabonation. The nose reminded me of my Imperial Wheat but the Bare Tree was more dry and complex.

Next Month Hildegard Van Ostaden, head brewer at Urthel will be the featured brewer. Two Brothers and Urthel are doing a Collab! I do enjoy the Urthel "Hop It" and can't wait to try some more offerings..

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's too soon!!

Seriously.. 6 hour lag between pitching and messy carboy. BA Johnnylieberman, a very wise but prickish home brewer on the beer advocate forums, suggests open fermentation with just foil on top. I took his advice.... then I turned tail and ran for the blow off tube. I know, I will take my plate back to the children's table.

This does worry me a bit. Lag time's are necessary to build strong workers. My starter was not excessive, it could be the charachter of the yeast. I believe this is the Rochefort strain. Let's hope this doesn't get violent.

Final pics of the day..

Overall a great brew day. The Belgian Dubbel is in the carboy, aerated and ready to get to work. The Belgian Candi Syrup did not add as much color as I was expecting. I added it in the last 15 minutes of the boil. It's ok, it's still got a great look.

...and some more...

...and some more...

.....some more brew day pics...

So It Begins..

The biggest of the kettles is 10 gallons, then 5 gallons and 2 gallon. The largest is for my boil and the 5 gallon heats sparge water. The manifold is placed face down in my mash tun, which is pre heated using water from the mini kettle. After 5 minutes the water from the preheated tun is moved to the hot liquor tank so that it too is preheated. I then put the grain in the tun, which is backwards, most people "dough in" to water with grain. It's easier for me to infuse to my protein rest with the grain already in the tun. I use a stiff 1 qt/lb ratio. Once to 130F I let it rest 15-30 minutes and then raise it to saccrification temp of 149.

The grain bill is 12lbs Belgian Pilsner and 1/2 lb Special B. Which Dingemans, the Belgian Maltster describes as...

Special B (140° - 155° L)
The darkest of the Belgian crystal malts, Dingemans Special B will impart a heavy caramel taste and is often credited with the raisin-like flavors of some Belgian Abbey ales. Larger percentages (greater than 5%) will contribute a dark brown-black color and fuller body.

... i am using 4%. I will get more flavor, color and ferment ability from D2 Belgian Syrup. I will get added zip from 1/2 lb of plain white sugar. This will be added into the boil. I will add the sugar in the last 15 minutes but I am still undecided on the Candi Syrup. I don't know if it goes in at flame out or in the beginning of the boil.. hrrrmm

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2 cases + of American Stout

All bottled up and ready to condition. I really need to build that kegerator, bottling takes about 2 hours start to clean up. Add 2 weeks + for carbonation..ugh. Keg's force carb in 2 days and are 1 vessel as opposed to 30. Spring project?

Heeeey, Remember Me?

Yes, me. The American Stout you brewed? The one with the yummy Cascade aroma additions? The one that has been sitting in your closet for a month and a half so those aroma additions might not be so aromatic. It's time to bottle before I lose much of my intended character.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Come on Kansas, Give the people what they want!

Push is on in Kansas to allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer

When I was a youngin' in the great state of Kansas, with the buffalo, indians, tornados and backwards alcohol laws. We would make the 45 minute drive to cross the Missouri state line cause after 10pm you got nothing but macro, 3.2 macro. I know things could be a lot worse, we could live in a dry county, whatever.. After living the past decade in states with looser alcohol laws I see no benefit to limiting the consumer, they will find ways around it. Like taking money to the neighboring state.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Belgian Abbey Dubbel

This is my second attempt at Belgian Dubbel style. Early on in my home brewing career I attempted this style and went about it all wrong, rushed it to the bottle and it was not a very pleasant drinking experience. My first and only drain pour. This is my personal favorite Belgian style. Selina and I spent a weekend of our honeymoon in Brussels, visiting breweries and sampling as much of the beer culture we could. I prefer them to be dry and "digestible" as opposed to super malty or sweet. I created this recipe after reading "brew like a Monk" by Stan Hieronymus, using his tips to create more of a traditional abbey style dubbel.


OG 1.064

FG 1.011

ABV: 7%

EFF: 70%

12lb Belgian Pilsner Malt
1lb Dark Belgian Candy Syrup
8oz Special B
8oz White Sugar

Protein rest 130F 15 minutes, sac rest 149F 60 minutes, sparge 170F

90 minute boil

1oz Hallertau at 90 minutes

Large starter of Wyeast 1762
Ferment at 65F 10 days, let temp rise after third day
Condition at lager temp 1 month
Prime with fresh yeast and sugar.


.. I joined it. "SlovakBrewer". Feel free to follow me like the lemming you are..

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Home Brew BIF Brew Haul

Yesterday I received my package for the Home Brew BIF. I received 5 12oz home brews and 2 Pennsylvania brews. I was very excited to try the Troegs "Nugget Nectar" Imperial Amber Ale. I just brewed a Hoppy Amber and as you all know I LOVE hop forward beers of any kind. The Nugget Nectar was bottled 01/15 , less than a month old. I shared this with several other beer fans and it got unanimous approval. Super piny hops in the nose and throughout the mouth. As to be expected. I thought there would be more of a crystal malt presence but no matter, still a fantastic beer.

The home brew I received are the first 4 batches this brewer has ever done. All extract kits, Nut Brown, Spiced Winter, American Red and Porter. I am a big fan of porter's and brown ales so this package was not disappointment. I will post my reviews if the brewer is OK with that. I will also post the results of the Home Brew i forwarded on.

Red Beer - Hangover Cure!

We first moved to Chicago almost 6 years ago, we would spend plenty of nights at Nick's Beer Garden for cheap PBR as this was affordable. We have always added tomato juice or bloody mary mix to cheap beer to make it more quaffable. It is also known as an excellent hangover cure, much like a bloody mary. Every time we order a "red beer" the bar staff gives us that alien stare, every once in awhile they will try it and also like it.

Last night we were given the opportunity to do a "Hopcast" on the Bridges Media beers. Needless to say I enjoyed a red beer with my eggs this morning.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Carbonation at last!

It's been too freaking cold in Chicago, in the interest of saving money we have been keeping the thermostat at 65 (oddly IMO the perfect fermentation temp for most ales, get a sweater). One month ago I bottles a Czech Pils and Hoppy Amber, they were not getting any carbonation. I decided to move the bottles from my closet to reside underneath the kitchen table. Last night I cracked a Pils, a nice white head was produced that stuck around in some capacity for the duration of the beer. On previous tastings I indicated that the beer was under attenuated for a pils and had some sweetness that was not to style. Now it has a clean taste, no sweetness, just a slight hoppiness and mild breadiness you would expect from the style. I can't wait to get feedback on this one. Tonight I will open an Amber and pray for the carb fairy to work her magic.