Monthly Archives: May 2012

Deschutes! Let’s try one now… Hop In The Dark CDA

I’ve been loving Deschutes recently!  They’ve had a bunch of them available here locally, and I’ve liked every one I’ve tried so far.  Definitely a brewery you’ll want to try yourself when you get the chance.  From their excellent black butte porter to their lovely inversion IPA, their regular offerings are quite delicious!  I also got to try the organic green lakes amber ale recently, a very darn tasty amber!

Today I’m going to try Hop In The Dark CDA.

Appearance: Good looking. very black with a light brown head, great lacing.

Smell: Really nice, so hoppy I was blasted with hops just when I popped the top! In the glass it’s nicely hoppy too, with plenty of roasty malts too.

Taste: amazing!  Great job on this one. The roasted malts are well accented with grapefruit and floral notes, and a blasting array of perfectly proportioned hop flavors. Seriously, they hit the nail on the head with this CDA.

Body: Rich and thick, feels like a bigger beer than it is.  Roasty aftertaste is perfect for a CDA/Black IPA.

Overall: Amazing. Definitely a must try for hop lovers, CDA lovers, and even IPA lovers.

I’ve also got a Hop Henge IPA in the fridge.  I’ve had that one before, and it’s damn good!  Both Hop Henge and Hop In The Dark are good values too, at under six bucks a bomber.

Truthfully though, the next Deschutes I’m going to buy is another sixer of the green lakes amber ale.  Such a drinkable amber!

Cheers!

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Southern Tier!! A tasting – Oak Aged Un*earthly IPA

First off, let me just say that when I saw that the local class six was stocking Southern Tier, I was ecstatic!  Not only have they stocked it, they’ve kept between six and ten different ones in stock at any given time!  This is one heck of a brewery!

In the last week, I’ve been shopping for an upcoming trade, which I’ll write about when the time comes.  Some guys on BeerAdvocate.com are doing a BIF with both homebrews and commercial beers, and my target (and his wife, more importantly, lol), like Southern Tier.  Thus, I’ve been shopping up.

I got some of their wonderful Pale, which rates a 95 on ratebeer.com.  I also got some of their IPA, another great beer.   Yes, both of those will be in the box!

Some other favorites from Southern Tier are Imperial Iniquity Black ale (fantastic!), and Choklat (wow, this stuff is like drinking a friggin’ fudge brownie, heavently hash ice cream sunday).

Their 2xIPA is also just amazing.  Drink Southern Tier Beer!!

They even make a wheat beer and a different pale ale that are always available here, plus a porter.

You know, when I picked up this beer for today’s review, I actually thought it was the regular Un*earthly IPA, which I’ve had before.  The regular version is an oily hop-bomb IIPA which I happen to really like.

I didn’t even realize that today’s purchase was the oak aged version until I had already popped the top, and was rinsing out the bottle for re-use for home brews!  What a terrific surprise!  I could tell right when I smelled the first pour that this one was different!

The regular Un*earthly is quite good, in fact I gave it a 4/5 on BA.  That’s what I thought I was drinking.  But this one is better.  Oak aged is better.  It might even be some sort of beer cliche, but it’s usually true, so get used to it.  Craft beer lovers love oak aged beer!!

Southern Tier Oak Aged Un*earthly IPA

Great looking, coppery to light brown, mostly clear, rising bubbles, good head and lace.

Smell: Hoppy as hell. Oaky. Smooth malt character.

Taste: A complex array of vanilla, fruits, hop oils, and perhaps bourbon comes through on the taste. There’s plenty of malts but there is also a lot going on here, so they’re a bit more subtle than you’d think.

A relatively full bodied beer with a lightly oily hoppy, woody finish, and some alcohol warming.  The oak aging seems to take a little bit of the sharp, oily bite away from the regular version and mellow it out nicely!

This beer really is amazing. I picked it up not realizing it was oak aged, and boy was I surprised! Awesome job on a great beer from a great brewery!

Southern Tier.  It’s good beer.  Cheers!

Tallgrass Brewing – IPA tasting

Well Tallgrass Brewing is definitely worth trying some of their beers.  I like this brewery.  I like that they specialize in cans, thus allowing you to take their beers fishin’ or to the lake.  I really like that they are very supportive of homebrewers, as you can see in their northern brewing clone kits page.

Today I’m tasting their IPA.

Serving: 16oz can, very fresh (it was just brewed a couple weeks ago!) served in a 20oz Schlafly sip club glass.

Appearance: kind of tannish orange and a little hazy, with  lots of very fine rising bubbles.  The head was really nice, lasting all the way to the last sip, leaving great lacing.

Smell: nice!  A balanced malty and piney/grapefruit aroma, lots of hops, even a little bit oily but not overly in your face with bitterness.

Taste: this is a very tasty IPA.  It’s pretty malty, maltier than many IPAs, but the balanced approach you detect in the smell follows through to the taste.  Nice piney grapefruit and a little fruitiness come through nicely.

Body: very thick for an IPA, great mouthfeel and finish.

Overall: I like to pick this one up when I need cans (i.e. fishin’) or when I’m in the mood for a malty IPA.  Definitely a tasty beer that’s worth a try.

I’m also quite fond of the Halcyon Wheat and the Buffalo Sweat from Tallgrass, and I can’t wait to try the new 8-bit pale ale!  I have high hopes that Tallgrass will continue to experience successes and keep on making great beer!

Cheers!

EDIT: having their flagship beer today, Tallgrass Ale, a brown ale.  Quite tasty.  ABV is pretty low at 4.45% (I think, too lazy to look it up again, lol).  Nice nutty, malty, caramel and light cocoa flavors.  It’s a pretty nice brew considering I don’t even really like brown ales that much!  Great stuff!!

Black Cherry Saison – Schlafly Taproom

Definitely AMAZING beer here, black cherry saison!  They say it just became available yesterday.  I put in on ratebeer.com and beeradvocate.com just now.

Here are my thoughts on this beer…

look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost black, in the dim light of the Taproom it appeared very dark purple, but that might have been my imagination. It had a one finger head with some staying power and sparse but ample lacing.

The smell and taste were more of a saison than a fruit beer. Great Belgian yeast flavors, a bit spicy, with plenty of black cherry, although not overpoweringly so. The cherries appear more in the taste than they do in the smell, at least to my pallet. There’s just a touch of funk in there too, which I love in a saison. If you gave me this beer on a blind taste test, I would be hard pressed to call it anything other than a saison.

Body is light and pretty well carbonated, pretty easy to drink. Lighter than many saisons, my 20oz glass went down pretty easy.

Absolute must try when you’re at the Taproom in St Louis. This place remains one of the city’s gems.

In addition, I’m having an American IPA on cask, and some of their excellent Barleywine on cask too!

Great job Schlafly!

EDIT: they also had Organic Pale Ale on tap, for the first time since 2005.  The bartender tells  me this version is much better than the past version and contains Galaxy hops from New Zealand and Tasmania.  I’m having one now and it’s pretty tasty stuff!  At 4.8% and 25 IBUs, it’s really easy to drink.  However, you smell and taste lots of nice hops when you drink it!  Must be late additions.  Very tasty stuff, another must try!

Coffee Oatmeal Stout (with secondary)

Today I brewed an oatmeal stout with coffee added. Well, the coffee hasn’t been added yet, but the beer is in the bucket, and it’s fermenting!

I’m going to do a split secondary fermentation, 3 gallons straight up in my new 3 gallon better bottle, and the rest in my Mr Beer keg using vanilla beans.  There should be a small amount of extra beer at this time which I will bottle without secondary, and without coffee*.  I plan to secondary for about 7-10 days.

I’ll add the coffee into the secondary.  I’m going to try the cold brew method with a total of 6 oz coffee added to a sanitized container of boiled spring water, steeped about two days in the fridge.  I will probably use a grain bag to keep the grinds out of my beer.

The actual amount of vanilla beans I’m going to use is small, probably less than one bean (the stuff is pretty strong, or so I’ve read).  I will decide exactly how much to use in the next couple weeks.  I’m afraid to make the whole batch with vanilla, which is why I’m only putting two gallons of beer on vanilla.

On both secondary fermentations I’ll also add just a little bit of boiled DME/water mix so that it creates an additional fermentation (thus leaving a layer of CO2 on top, preventing oxidation).  We’ll see how it comes out!

Here’s the ingredient list and procedure:

  • Briess Golden Light Liquid Extract  3 lbs, 3 oz
  • Briess Golden Light Dry Extract      1 lbs, 0 oz
  • Crisp Maris Otter  2 lbs, 8 oz
  • Briess Flaked Oats  1 lbs, 0 oz
  • Crisp Crystal Malt 120L  8 oz
  • Crisp Black Malt  8 oz
  • Briess flaked wheat 4 oz
  • Crisp Roasted Barley  8 oz
  • Fuggles Pellets, UK  2 oz @ 60 mins
  • Tettnang, German Pellets  .5 oz @ 60 mins
  • White Labs Burton Ale

Note that I’m using 5 lbs of malt here, thus making this quite a large amount of grains.  Thus, I’ll be using a somewhat improvised procedure for this one.

  1. prepare checklist
  2. lay out ingredients and equipment
  3. bring 2 gallons spring water to 160 F
  4. add grains (it took four mesh bags)
  5. steep for 50 minutes at 155F
  6. In separate pot, pre-boil 1 gallon spring water
  7. when grains are finished steeping, remove grain bags, add 1 gallon boiling water and bring entire pot to a boil for one hour
  8. add bittering hops, 0.e oz Tettnang, 2 oz Fuggles at 60 minute mark.  I used a hops bag this time, thus eliminating the need to strain after the boil is complete.  I did use a strainer to get the crud from the boil out of the pot before chilling though.
  9. During boil, added wort chiller, dried malt extract, liquid malt extract
  10. 20 minutes begin sanitation procedures on spoon, thermometer, bucket, etc
  11. 20 minutes add 1/4 tsp Irish moss powder
  12. stir occasionally with sanitized stainless spoon during cooling
  13. while wort is cooling, add 2 gallons chilled spring water to sanitized primary fermenting bucket, allowing it to fall into bucket to increase aeration
  14. when wort gets to about 75F, add to fermentation bucket 
  15. top to 5.5 gallons with chilled spring water
  16. thoroughly aerate wort with sanitized stainless steel spoon
  17. ensure wort is 70F or a little less before pitching yeast
  18. pitch yeast
  19. gently stir using sanitized stainless steel spoon
  20. install sanitized bucket lid and airlock
  21. ferment in closet for 7-10 days at 69F ambient air temp.
  22. two days before transferring to secondary, put 6-7 oz coffee into sanitized grain bag and steep two days in 1 quart boiled spring water in the refrigerator
  23. transfer coffee to wort just before transferring to secondary, along with a small amount of boiled DME to create carbonation in secondary and minimize oxidation
  24. transfer to secondary – 3 gallons in better bottle, 2 gallons in Mr Beer keg
  25. add vanilla beans to Mr Beer keg**
  26. take FG sample and bottle (after a minimum of 7-10 days in secondary)
  27. use 4 oz corn sugar at bottling

Targets:

OG 1.055
FG 1.015
IBU 29.3
SRM 38.86
ABV 5.24

I didn’t get my new gravity meter in the mail yet, so no OG reading.  Not worried!

*I just did this with my Bleach Blonde Ale.  I had to transfer from the glass carboy to the 3 gallon better bottle in order to make room for new brews (I need the glass carboy for bottling, and put my oatmeal stout in my new 8-gallon bucket).  It was a bit early for the blonde ale but I would have dumped out about 20oz of beer, so might as well toss it in a bottle and see what happens!

**exact procedure for preparing vanilla beans TBD

More Upcoming!

I’ve got my next SEVEN beers planned out!  I’ve already discussed a few of them, and the next two will be my Cascade APA (recipe and procedure already blogged, brewing is just delayed a few weeks), and the very next one will be Coffee Oatmeal stout!

After that I’ve got (in no particular order…)

  • a nice English Mild on the way, coming in at low ABV and hopefully high flavor, this will be my first usage of Bramling Cross Hops
  • a mega-hoppy IPA, called Benchwarmer IPA, inspired by two posters on BeerAdvocate.Com, using some combination of colombus, chinook, northern brewer, and willamette hops
  • Juniper Pale ale, a moderately hopped APA with a touch of Juniper berries added near the end of the boil
  • Elderberry Wheat, which should be slightly purple in color and a bit tart in flavor.  This American wheat is a real experimental brew, we’ll see how it goes!

I’ve got my eight gallon fermentation vessel now, ready to brew stouts, barleywines, double IPAs, and anything else with higher gravity (and the potential for a large krausen).  This piece will also allow me to have multiple batches fermenting at once.  Along with this I’ve just gotten a three gallon better bottle, allowing me even more access to making split batches and secondary fermentations for experimental purposes!

My next brew day will be bottling day for my English Special Bitter.  I’m anticipating that to be in about one week from this posting.

A few days after that I’ll be bottling my Bleach Blonde Ale / Blueberry Bleach Blonde Ale.  I’m really anxious to see how that one came out, as not only was it my first attempt at liquid yeast and making a starter, but it’s my first experiment with using fresh fruit!

Once those are bottled, Coffee Oatmeal Stout will be brewed next.  The coffee will be added as a cold brewed addition to a secondary fermentation.  I plan to split this batch as well, putting half of it on vanilla beans in secondary fermentation.  I haven’t decided the exact amount of vanilla beans to use yet, but it won’t be a lot.  I’ve got the beans and they’re potent!  I just want a lightly vanilla flavor, nothing overpowering.  I don’t want the vanilla to clash with the coffee.

And finally, I’m participating in a homebrew BIF on beeradvocate.com.  We’re exchanging homebrew, and a few local commercial beers too.  Always anxious for a BIF!

Lots of good beer stuff coming soon, I can’t wait to taste it!

Cheers!

Schlafly – More Notes and a tasting

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Schlafly is one of my favorite breweries.  They have a number of rock-solid brews that I’m always in the market for, including their Pilsner, Oatmeal Stout, Coffee-Stout, Quadrupel, Tripel, Kolsch, Barleywine, American IPA, Dry-Hopped APA, Imperial Stout, Summer Lager, and everything they ever put on cask at their Taproom.

I’ve tried and reviewed around seventy beers by Schlafly, and they’re all fine beer creations.  I have my favorites, and some are better than others, but there is no argument that Schlafly Brewing produces fine beers.  I admire the craftsmanship and effort they put into producing a great line of beers every year, every season.

Today I’m trying the Raspberry Hefeweizen (again).

Appearance: kind of a notably pinkish-tan color, somewhat cloudy, with a one finger pinkish-white head that dissipated fairly quickly.  Lacing was minimal.

Smell: Notable raspberries although not overpoweringly so.  Some wheat and some yeasty aromas come through.  Light, but nice.

Taste: a pretty nice brew.  The fact it’s a hef comes through in a gentle, non-overbearing way, accented with subtle yet ample raspberries.

Body/mouthfeel: light and easy to drink.  Aftertaste is lightly raspberry with a little yeast.

Overall: pleasant, a good summer brew, even if not spectacular.

What I like about this beer is its simplicity and subtleties.  The raspberry is very nice, lightly sweet with a touch of tart, but not sicky-sweet or too in your face.  Not that I don’t like heavily fruity beers – in fact I love them.  But that wasn’t what I was looking for here, I was looking for a lightly fruity lawnmower beer, and that’s what Schlafly provides in this brew.

Do I think this is Schlafly’s best beer ever?  Definitely not.  But it’s tasty and light and the ABV is moderate, so if you’re just thirsty on a hot summer day, go ahead and try it.

I still think the everyday go-to beer from Schlafly is their Pilsner.  It really should be their flagship beer.  Well, that and the APA.  If you’re at the taproom, make sure to get a growler, you won’t be disappointed!

Bleach Blonde Ale – First Usage Of Liquid Yeast

Well despite what I already blogged about, I’m changing my weekend brewing schedule around again!  I’ve decided that my new stir plate was beckoning me to use it, so I made a started for my White Labs American Blend yeast, which is going in my Bleach Blonde Ale!

I took 1/2 a cup of DME and added it to a quart of spring water (making approximately 1.040 wort) , then boiled for ten minutes.  After the solution cooled I added it to a sanitized 2L flask and put it on the stir plate.  There was a bit of foam left over from the starsan, but then it’s “don’t fear the foam” so I’m not worrying about that!  After the wort and the yeast got to about the same temperature, I pitched the yeast and put it back on the stir plate.  The stirring should oxygenate the wort sufficiently for the yeast to be healthy and numerous when I pitch tomorrow. I’m not worrying about the exact calculations, I’m just going to pitch it!

Here’s the ingredients and procedure:

  • Briess Pilsen Extra Light Liquid Extract  6 lbs, 0 oz
  • Crisp Pale Ale  1 lbs, 0 oz
  • Briess 2 Row Caramel 10  1 lbs, 0 oz
  • Briess 2 Row Carapils  0 lbs, 8 oz
  • Williamette Pellets  1 oz @ 60 mins
  • Williamette Pellets  1 oz @ 20 mins
  • Williamette Pellets  1 oz @ 10 mins
  • Williamette Pellets  1 oz @ 1 mins
  • White Labs American Ale Blend

The day before: Prepare yeast as already described

Brew Day:

  1. prepare checklist
  2. lay out ingredients and equipment
  3. bring 1.75-2 gallons spring water to 160 F
  4. add grains (in mesh bag)
  5. steep for 40 minutes at 155F
  6. In separate pot, pre-boil 1 gallon spring water
  7. when grains are finished steeping, remove grain bag, add 1 gallon boiling water and bring entire pot to a boil for one hour
  8. add bittering hops, 1 oz Willamette 60 minute mark
  9. at 20 minutes, add 1 oz Willamette
  10. begin sanitation procedures on spoon, thermometer, bucket, siphon, hoses, wine thief
  11. add wort chiller, pre-filled with hot water
  12. over the course of the last 20 minutes of the boil, add the LME
  13. add 1/4 tsp Irish moss powder
  14. at 10 minutes, add 1 oz Willamette
  15. at 1 minute, add 1 oz Willamette
  16. let stand 10 minutes before beginning cooling
  17. stir occasionally with sanitized stainless spoon during cooling
  18. while wort is cooling, add 2 gallons chilled spring water to sanitized primary fermenting bucket, allowing it to fall into bucket to increase aeration
  19. when wort gets to about 75F, add to fermentation bucket using strainer
  20. top to 5.5 gallons with chilled spring water
  21. take OG reading with sanitized wine thief
  22. thoroughly aerate wort with sanitized stainless steel spoon
  23. ensure wort is 70F or a little less before pitching yeast
  24. pitch yeast
  25. gently stir using sanitized stainless steel spoon
  26. install sanitized bucket lid and airlock
  27. ferment in closet for 12-14 days at 69F ambient air temp.
  28. take FG sample and bottle (after a minimum of 12 days)
  29. use 4 oz corn sugar at bottling

OG: I doubt I’ll ever know because I probably won’t have a SG meter in time for this one.  As you recall, I broke mine on Wednesday!

Targets:

OG: 1.053  FG:  1.014  IBU: 22.7  SRM: 4.44  ABV:   5.11

Notes: In reality, I did not get my order yet which has a second (8-gallon) fermentation vessel, so I had to split this batch between my Mr Beer keg and my 5-gallon carboy.  I’m not exactly sure how much water was added to each before I added the wort, as it was eyeballed by me.  Therefore I’ll probably have two batches that will be a little different in FG.  I’m kind of considering adding some fruit to the portion in the Mr Beer keg, just for kicks!

EDIT: I decided to go with some fruit in the smaller half of this one, blueberries!  Who knows how it will turn out, but I’m going to try it!

I’m going with the wash then freeze and add directly to primary method.  Wish me luck, I hope it goes well!!

Sierra Nevada – Hoptimum

Well I picked up a four pack of this one and I’m drinking the second bottle now.  Sierra Nevada is a great brewery, but I don’t think this one is a major hit.

Hoptimum is a hop bomb from beyond Pluto, that’s for sure.  Although it’s coppery-orange in color, I’m picturing that it was a perfectly clear beer and the only thing that added any color was the hops.  That’s how hoppy it is!  Tons of bitterness, lots of hops flavor, very intense.

The finish is a bit oily from all the hops and hop oil residues that made it into the final product.  It’s one of the typical, modern-age American double IPA hop bombs.

Aroma is where this beer really shines.  There’s so much aroma your head will probably explode if you’re a bud drinker.  Approach with caution!

If you’re a hop head, you’ll definitely like this beer.

I think for the price ($10.50 a four pack) that it’s a nice one time novelty, but there are other IPAs out there that I enjoy more than this one.  Still, a nice offering from Sierra Nevada.

Al’s ESB – Extra Special Bitter

Well I have most of the day off and I’m anxious to brew for an upcoming homebrew BIF on beeradvocate.com.  Thus I’m going to make an ESB today.  I’ll still be brewing on Saturday too!

Here’s the recipe and procedure:

  • Briess Golden Light Liquid Extract  6 lbs, 0 oz
  • Briess 2 Row Caramel 60  1 lbs, 0 oz
  • Briess 6-Row Malt  1 lbs, 0 oz
  • Briess 2 Row Carapils  0 lbs, 8 oz
  • Fuggles Pellets, UK  1 oz @ 60 mins
  • Kent Goldings, UK Pellets   0.5 oz @ 30 mins
  • Fuggles Pellets, UK   0.5 oz @ 30 mins
  • Fuggles Pellets, UK  0.25 oz @ 10 mins
  • Kent Goldings, UK Pellets  0.25 oz @ 5 mins
  • Fuggles Pellets, UK   0.25 oz @ 5 mins
  • Kent Goldings, UK Pellets   0.25 oz @ 0 mins
  • SAFALE S-04
  1. prepare checklist
  2. lay out ingredients and equipment
  3. bring 1.75-2 gallons spring water to 160 F
  4. add grains (in mesh bag)
  5. steep for 40 minutes at 155F
  6. In separate pot, pre-boil 1 gallon spring water
  7. when grains are finished steeping, remove grain bag, add 1 gallon boiling water and bring entire pot to a boil for one hour
  8. add bittering hops, 1 oz fuggles at 60 minute mark
  9. at 30 minutes, add 0.5 oz fuggles AND 0.5 oz EKG
  10. begin sanitation procedures on spoon, thermometer, bucket, siphon, hoses, wine thief
  11. at 20 minute mark, add wort chiller, pre-filled with hot water
  12. over the course of the last 20 minutes of the boil, add the LME
  13. at 15 minutes, add 0.25 oz fuggles
  14. begin pre-boiling of 2 cups spring water for yeast rehydration
  15. add 1/4 tsp Irish moss powder
  16. at 5 minutes, add 0.25 oz fuggles AND 0.5 oz EKG
  17. at flameout, add 0.25 oz EKG
  18. let stand 10 minutes before beginning cooling
  19. stir occasionally with sanitized stainless spoon during hop rest and during cooling
  20. while wort is cooling, add 2 gallons chilled spring water to sanitized primary fermenting bucket, allowing it to fall into bucket to increase aeration
  21. add pre-boiled water to sanitized 2L flask for yeast rehydration
  22. when 2L flask reaches about 95F, pitch yeast into flask and place on stir plate for about 20 minutes
  23. when wort gets to about 75F, add to fermentation bucket using strainer
  24. top to 5.5 gallons with chilled spring water
  25. take OG reading with sanitized wine thief
  26. thoroughly aerate wort with sanitized stainless steel spoon
  27. ensure wort is 70F or a little less before pitching yeast
  28. pitch yeast
  29. gently stir using sanitized stainless steel spoon
  30. install sanitized bucket lid and airlock
  31. ferment in closet for 12-14 days at 69F ambient air temp.
  32. take FG sample and bottle (after a minimum of 12 days)
  33. use 4 oz corn sugar at bottling

Actual OG: well I dropped and broke my SG tester, so I’ll never know.  I’ll have to order another one, but that won’t happen till I can make sure and get cheep shipping because anything I am going to brew in the next week or two won’t need a gravity reading bad enough to spend a bunch of money on shipping!

Note: I accidentally cut off the labels for the hops and didn’t notice that they were unlabeled.  At the 10 minute mark, I lost track of which was which!  So I just combined them and added by weight, LOL.  So it’s close but not exactly what my procedure said to use.

This one is currently fermenting in the closet at 67F (as of May 4th).

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