Monthly Archives: November 2012

Frank Zappa, Part I

This will be my first of various posts dedicated to Frank Zappa.  Yes, I know this is a beer blog, but I’m a huge Zappa head, and this is my damn blog, and I do what I want!

Today I’m listening to Frank Zappa on Youtube…

I highly suggest listening to this while you’re making a fine craft beer homebrew, drinking a fine craft beer, or just rockin’ out!

I yam what I yam.  I don’t apologize.  Not to you, not to anyone.  Not ever.  Frank Zappa is the MAN!

-this message brought to you by Al

American Amber with Sweet Orange Peel and Fuggles

Well I’ve now moved to TX, and this will be my first batch using my new freezer-chest and Johnson temperature controller, plus outdoor turkey fryer heating setup!   This will be an all-grain batch.  I’m shooting for a pretty tasty but non-bitter, non-threatening 4 gallon batch of American Amber ale, with a touch of sweet orange peel for just a touch of that Grand Marnier flavor.  I think this will make a good Orange Amber, so let’s find out!

UPDATE: Brewed 12-2-12.  Made some slight adjustments to the recipe.

4 gallon batch

7.0 lbs. pale malt (2-row)
6 oz carared
6 oz caraamber
2 oz carafa III
3 oz chocolate

Mash temp 154


1 oz fuggles at 30
1 oz fuggles at 10
1 oz fuggles at 5
1 oz fuggles at 0

1/8 tsp Irish moss fining agent at 15 min
1/8 tsp yeast nutrient at 15 min

1 oz sweet orange peel at 5 minutes**, removed before fermentation

S-04 yeast, rehydrated

6 gallons bottled spring water***

OG 1.052
IBU 26.2
SRM 15.4
ABV 5.0%

*all hops are leaf, and in nylon paint bags (I have plenty of paint bags)
**orange peel also in nylon paint bags
***note: the water at the brewing location has a funky chemical smell to me. I want to brew and I’m not sure about the water yet, so six bucks worth of spring water will be used on this batch until I learn more
NOTE: This is my first batch with my new turkey-fryer outdoor brewing setup, and with my freezer chest w/Johnson controller for temperature control.  Freezer is set up and working at 66F.  Turkey fryer pot must be seasoned first by boiling water in it first, which will be done!  I am looking for a 10+ gallon brewpot, but for now I’m using what I have and thus will continue brewing four gallon batches for now.


  1. prepare checklist
  2. lay out ingredients and equipment
  3. reconstitute dry yeast using 95F boiled spring water and allow to cool to room temperature
  4. Add grains to mash tun
  5. bring 3 gallon spring water to 169 F
  6. Add 2 3/4 gallons of 168F spring water to mash tun on top of grains, then stir well
  7. add more water to boil pot, bring to near 172F and hold for sparging
  8. measure temperature after temperature equalizes in mash.  Once again, this has been pretty spot-on the last few batches, so I don’t anticipate having to boil extra water, but I will be ready just in case
  9. adjust mash temperature using either heated mash water or cool spring water as needed to reach 154F
  10. mash for 60 minutes at 154F
  11. during mash, stir about every 15 minutes or so, checking temperature and adjusting if needed
  12. at end of mash, begin draining wort into pitcher
  13. allow first runnings to drain into a pitcher until clear
  14. pour first runnings back on top of mash
  15. slowly drain remaining wort into boil pot until mash tun is near empty
  16. add 1.6 gallons 172F water (adjusted as needed)
  17. stir well, let sit at least 10 minutes
  18. drain first runnings of first batch sparge into pitcher until clear (or close to it)
  19. pour first runnings of first batch sparge back on top of mash
  20. drain wort into main boil pot until near empty
  21. add another 1.6 gallons 172F water to mash tun (adjusted as needed)
  22. stir well, let sit at least 10 minutes
  23. drain first runnings of second batch sparge to pitcher until clear (or close to it)
  24. add first runnings back into mash tun
  25. drain wort into main boil pot
  26. add wort chiller to boil pot, filled with hot water
  27. bring main boil pot to a boil
  28. when boil is reached, boil 30 minutes
  29. at 30 minutes, add 28g Fuggles leaf hops in nylon paint bag
  30. during boiling, skim off hot break as needed
  31. at 25 minutes, add about 1/8 tsp Wyeast nutrient blend to a small amount of spring water and dissolve
  32. add nutrient blend at 20 minute mark
  33. add 1/8 tsp Irish moss powder at 20 minute mark
  34. add 1 oz Fuggles leaf hops in nylon paint bag at 10 minutes
  35. add 1 oz Fuggles leaf hops in nylon paint bag at 5 minutes
  36. add 1 oz sweet orange peel in nylon paint bag at 5 minutes
  37. add 1 oz Fuggles leaf hops in nylon paint bag at 0 minutes
  38. at flameout, turn on water for wort chiller and chill to 170 F
  39. let stand about 15 minutes hop rest, then turn wort chiller back on
  40. begin sanitation procedures on spoon, thermometer, bucket, wine thief
  41. stir occasionally with sanitized stainless spoon during cooling
  42. ensure bucket, wine thief, thermometer, strainer, spoon are sanitized
  43. when wort gets to about 68F, add to fermentation bucket, pouring through sanitized strainer to catch any extra solids and to help aerate.  If necessary, clean strainer during process and re-sanitize to remove most of the trub before fermentation
  44. take OG reading with sanitized wine thief
  45. thoroughly aerate wort with sanitized stainless steel spoon
  46. ensure wort is 68F or a little less before pitching yeast
  47. ensure yeast is a little cooler than wort before pitching
  48. pitch yeast
  49. gently stir using sanitized stainless steel spoon
  50. install sanitized bucket lid and airlock
  51. ferment in temperature controlled freezer chest for 14+ days at 66F
  52. take FG sample and bottle
  53. use 3.5 oz corn sugar at bottling

Actual OG: 1.050

Actual FG:

Notes: Actual color was a little darker than I had hoped.  We shall see what it looks like when it’s ready.  Overall brew day went well.

Double Bastard!

Ah the joys of Stone Brewing.  I’ve had this bottle of Double Bastard for over a year, and I said “screw it, I’m drinking it.”

Rating a 99 on ratebeer and a 95 on beer advocate in the American strong ale category, this is one of my favorite examples of the style.

What stands out about this beer, along with Stone’s regular pale ale and Arrogant Bastard ale, is that there’s a pronounced hoppiness and a pronounced maltiness that don’t cancel each other out.  In reading The Craft of Stone Brewing, I discovered that Arrogant Bastard was derived from a test batch of Stone pale ale that went wrong (they put too many of the same ingredients in for the batch size).  What came out was so good, despite being a big mistake from what they intended to make, that they made a whole new brew out of it.  Obviously, their creation was a huge success, because arrogant bastard is one of the best beers on the planet, and has been a big commercial hit for the brewery too.  I can only assume that they continued this evolution to create double bastard.  You can see, taste and smell all the same great ingredients in all three beers.

It pours a somewhat cloudy, reddish-brown color with a 1/2 finger head that dissipates into a sheen and leaves thin sheets of lacing that cover the glass.

Aroma is heavily malty, with sweet citrus and lots of hops.  You can detect a bit of alcohol already, although at 11.2%, this is to be expected.

Flavor is a BOMB of a monster of a beer!  American strong ale is right, and this may be the quintessential example of the style (which, BTW, has been hit or miss for me).  The flavors are so strong that they seem to permeate your tongue.  So much maltiness that you’ll think you died and went to malt heaven.  It’s a bit barleywine-esque in that sense, in fact there is probably a lot of overlap between this beer and a good barleywine.  Hops wise you’re once again about to cry uncle, unless you’re a hop-head (like me), in which case you’re just marveling at the saturation of intense flavors that they manage to cram into a single brew.   Piney citrus from the hops is notable.  It’s also quite fruity, with light and mixed mid/dark fruit flavors coming through.  Really your taste buds can’t decide which way to go, but they keep coming back for more.

Feel wise it’s thick, rich, somewhat slick, and downright delicious, with a lingering malty and bitter hop aftertaste.

Overall, you just need one word.  Stone.

A direct quote from the Stone Brewery, and the full text of what’s on the back of the bottle:

This is one lacerative muther of an ale. It is unequivocally certain that your feeble palate is grossly inadequate and thus undeserving of this liquid glory…and those around you would have little desire to listen to your resultant whimpering. Instead, you slackjawed gaping gobemouche, slink away to that pedestrian product that lures agog the great unwashed with the shiny happy imagery of its silly broadcast propaganda. You know, the one that offers no challenge, yet works very, very hard to imbue the foolhardy with the absurd notion that they are exercising ‘independent’ thought, or attempts to convey the perception it is in some way ‘authentic’ or ‘original.’ It’s that one that makes you feel safe and delectates you into basking in the warm, fuzzy, and befuddled glow of your own nescience. Why so many allow themselves to be led by the nose lacks plausible explanation. Perhaps you have been so lulled by the siren song of ignorance that you don’t even notice your white-knuckle grip on it. You feel bold and unique, but alas are nothing but sheep, willingly being herded to and fro. If you think you are being piqued in this text, it is nothing when compared to the insults we are all asked to swallow streaming forth from our televisions and computers. Truth be told, you are being coddled into believing you are special or unique by ethically challenged “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” marketers who layer (upon layer) imagined attributes specifically engineered to lead you by the nose. Should you decide to abdicate your ability to make decisions for yourself, then you are perhaps deserving of the pabulum they serve. Double Bastard Ale calls out the garrulous caitiffs who perpetrate the aforementioned atrocities and demands retribution for their outrageously conniving, intentionally misleading, blatantly masturbatory and fallacious ad campaigns. We demand the unmitigated, transparent truth. We demand forthright honesty. We want justice! Call ‘em out and line ‘em up against the wall… NOW.

Saison Dupont

Well I wanted to do a review on Saison Dupont, a delicious saison from Brasserie Dupont.   Rating a 93 on and a 99 on, it’s one popular saison, and for good reason.  It’s definitely one of the best in style, and overall just one of my favorite beers in any category.  So without further delay, let’s open this bad-boy!
Monstrous appearance, the first thing that happens upon pouring is that a giant white head tries to take over the glass.  You’ve gotta wait a bit before you can even fill the glass.  Although I have come to expect this from the heavily carbonated saison style, this one is even more pronounced than most others in the style.  Tons of bubbles rise in a torrent through a somewhat hazy, tan colored brew.  Looks good!

Belgian yeast, fruit, spices, and a lovely funkiness provide this brew with a lovely and typical saison aroma.

Taste wise this beer is very complex.  The flavors range from peppery spices to Belgian yeast to light and mid colored fruits (pears, apples, peaches, plums) to citrus (oranges, grapefruit, lemon peel) to barnyard funk to grasses and floral flavors.  Your taste buds hardly know what to do with all the amazing flavors being thrown at them!

Body wise this brew is light, well carbonated, yet still a bit chewy, with a funky aftertaste that kind of rides with you after the fact.

Overall I’d say this beer is a MUST TRY.  If you like saisons, I cannot imagine that you wouldn’t like this beer.  It’s not terribly expensive for a corked and caged Belgian import either, and I’ve had perhaps ten of these and never had an issue with freshness.  I believe I’ve had it in 12 oz bottles also, and the quality was equally good.  They obviously put a lot of time and effort into this brew, and it shows.


Temperature Control!

Just picked up a chest freezer and Johnson temperature controller.  It’s already pretty close to spot-on, only off by a degree or two.  I can fit two buckets at a time, or an eight-gallon fermentation bucket and a carboy.  Now while I could do lagers, I’m sticking to ales for the moment.  I’m going to perfect my ale processes before moving on to lagers.  Besides, I’m more of an ale man anyway!

Also picked up a turkey fryer for brew-day.  Finally moving this shindig outdoors!  Only thing left to pick up is a bigger pot (eight gallon) and a recirculation pump for cooling the wort.  The ambient temperature does not lend for water cold enough out of the tap to cool wort properly, so I’ll be adding some more to my system!!

I think my next beer with either be an amber with fuggles and sweet orange peel, or an all Belma hops IPA.

Let’s get ready to brew some beer!

I’ve been nominated for a highly prestigious Liebster Award!

Yes, apparently my blogging has attracted the attention of so many top superstars in the blogosphere that I’ve been nominated for a Top Honor!  The Liebster Award!  It’s an award for no-namers like me who have less than 200 followers!  Although it’s probably a bit of a chain-letter-esque type of co-patting on the back from one under appreciated blogger to another, I’m not too busy today, so I’m happy to play along!

Apparently I have to answer 11 questions from the person who nominated me, which would be the Beer Bitches.  They blog about beer, stud-muffinly men (such as myself), homebrewing, and other such highly important topics.  Here are the 11 questions posed to me…

  1. What is your favorite beer?   Ooo, that’s a tough one.  There’s just so many that no single answer would suffice.  Obviously “the one I brewed myself” would be the best answer.  But then there’s commercial breweries too, which I’d have to mention Stone, Russian River, Dogfish Head, Deschutes, Schlafly, Brooklyn, New Glarus… so many beers, so little time!  I’m having a Stone IPA right now, so perhaps “the one that’s in my hand” would be the best answer.  Who knows.
  2. If you could be a superhero, what would your super power(s) be?  I’d have the power to transmute water to beer using only hops, malted barley, yeast and various specialty ingredients.  Oh wait, I already have that power!
  3. Gaga, Madonna, or Cher?  Definitely Lady Gaga.  She stirs the beans, and I like that.  But couldn’t we at least give P!nk an honorable mention?
  4. Have you ever (or do you) have an imaginary friend?  Well, no.  I’m pretty grounded in reality, except when I’m in outer space.  But then after Buzz Aldrin decked that conspiracy theorist/idiot who was harassing him over the moon landings, I’d like to think that we could at least be buddies, Buzz and me.
  5. If you had to choose between a millions dollars and being able to fly, which would you choose?  Show me da money.  With a million bucks I could buy a kit helicopter and still have plenty of money left over for gas and trips to Vegas.
  6. You can press a button that will make any one person explode, who would you blow up? That’s easy.  Karl Rove.  He’s a drain on humanity and has no redeeming value.
  7. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you going? Jamaica.  Another easy one.  Do I have to come back?
  8. If you were a beer, what would you taste like?  Bold, hoppy, and smooooooooth.
  9. If you were Miss America, besides World Peace, what would you wish for?  To marry a homebrewer who played guitar and blogged about homebrewing and drank craft beer all day long. 😉
  10. Daphne, Velma, Fred, Shaggy or Scooby?  Daphne.  She’s just too dang hott for me to resist.  I’m only human.
  11. If someone brewed and bottled you, what would your label say about you?  “A bold, intense, hoptastic beer creation that’s not for the faint of heart, open at your own risk.”
So there you have it, questions answered.  Here are my questions for the next batch of poor suckers who I happen to nominate…
  1. Which world leader (present or past, good or bad) most intrigues you, and why?
  2. if you could have an unlimited supply of a single beer, wine, or spirit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  3. You are stuck on a desert island for life, and you can only bring 100 CDs with you, no more than 6 artist/bands, at least two of which must be female or contain females as the main stars.  And you have to choose NOW.*
  4. Which topic in science do you feel is the most important for young people to understand, and why?
  5. Which vehicle / mode of transportation, be it air, land, sea or “other” is your most favorite, and why?
  6. You have to take a two year course on either Calculus or World Literature, which do you pick, and why?
  7. You have to pick a website (or general style of website) and troll it relentlessly.  Which do you choose, and why?
  8. It’s time for a tattoo.  The bus is leaving now, and you have to get one.  Choose it.  Minimum surface area 80 square inches.
  9. The man/woman of your dreams is now standing in front of you.  Describe them.
  10. You are eating a foot long chili-cheese dog** with extra onions and jalapenos.  There’s way more food than you can possibly eat here, and it’s kind of falling apart a little on the ends.  A small, scraggly dog with a pleasant disposition runs up to you and looks longingly at your hot-dog.  What do you do?
  11. Describe your favorite beer(s), and why you like them so much.  If you don’t drink beer, explain why you hate America so much!.
Here are my  underappreciated bloggers for whom I intend to annoy with this chain-letter-esque award!
I think there’s an extra one in there, but oh well!   Damn, this is a long post… I need a beer!
*note that I’m not sadistic enough to force some poor slob to only have ONE friggin’ album for the rest of their poor, pathetic, half-starved life living alone on a desert island.  I’ll at least also give them a lifetime powered CD player with decent speakers and a reasonable supply of music.
**it can be a veggie chili-cheese dog, if you insist

Ruination! Stone Strikes Again!

Just picked up a few four packs today for a long weekend, had to grab a four pack of Stone Ruination, one of the best American Double/IPAs on the planet!

Mostly clear and tan to slightly orange in color, great head and lacing, a very good looking brew.

The hops permeates your nasal cavity like some kind of magnificent medicine, designed to sooth the soul.

There’s bready malts that beautifully accent the plentiful hops that make up the bulk of the flavor.  Amazing!  Flowers and earthy woody hop character just blast your taste buds.  Pine and citrus/grapefruit accent the bitterness, which is high but very smooth.  A hop head’s dream, consistently one of the best IPAs available in the USA! USA! USA!

Feel is so very rich and thick, so much body for a DIPA, and so damn smooth.  It’s almost like smoking a maduro robusto cigar, in that it’s powerful but smooth, complex as hell and you just can’t rush it.  In fact, if there’s an IPA that I’d want with a fine cigar, this might just be it.

Obviously Stone puts a lot of effort into all their wonderful beers, but Ruination still manages to stand out nonetheless.  And how it’s possible to top their regular IPA is beyond me… but ruination really does stand out as an amazing and extremely well crafted beer.

Stone.  That’s all I need to know.

BTW, I like the four-packs of this brew better than the six packs.  I’m sure it’s just psychological, as the price was nearly identical per bottle,  but I also think Stone will probably sell more of this in four-packs than sixers.  Though I love the bombers too (haven’t checked the math on the prices, but who cares, I love bombers!).

As an aside, I also picked up a four pack of Sublimely Self-Righteous today.  I love four packs of this even better than bombers.  For some reason I like the 12oz bottles best for this particular beer.

Are four packs the new sixers?

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde is absolutely one of my all-time favorite tripels.  I was so very happy to see it in four packs near me today!  I picked some up, chilled it, and now it’s in my glass.  Tripel heaven!!

Light tan and slightly cloudy. Massive head leaves good lacing.

Smells a bit like pineapples and pears with a slightly floral, yeasty, clove-like background.

Tastes absolutely great, a terrific tripel. Sweet light fruity flavors, bananas, apples, pears; cloves and yeast accent a beautifully spicy, peppery malt backbone.

Lovely to drink. Just a hint of warming, but virtually no trace of the taste of alcohol at any point in the experience. Rich and smooth mouthfeel, a great example of how good a tripel can be.

This is one of the best tripels I have had, and it’s very reasonably priced too.  Make sure to try it if you can!

Southern Tier Update – Imperial Oat

Well a little while back I talked about Southern Tier’s Imperial series, and how many of them were quite dessert like, especially the imperial stout types.  This blog kind of updates that one and also highlights a new (to me) imperial series from Southern Tier that’s quite a bit different!

Southern Tier Imperial Oat!

It’s a nice, thick, more traditional imperial stout, albeit with a bit more of an oatmeal taste and feel than you might expect from such a high ABV brew.

And wow, it’s a thick and rich imperial stout, presumably from what I assume must be lots of extra oatmeal goodness.  Mouthfeel is great!  It’s a bit hot from alcohol but I bet it would age beautifully.  Lots of great aroma and flavor, coffee, dark roasty and burnt malts, chocolate, a tinge of dark fruit, and a surprisingly refreshing amount of hop character, there’s certainly no shortage of hops character and bitterness!.

I will have to research this one a bit, because I’d really like to try and clone it someday.  I am suspecting I would need lots of oatmeal!

What can I say besides “delicious.”   This is probably my favorite and most regularly drinkable of the Southern Tier Imperial series of beers.  I think I should get a couple for aging too.   Definitely worth a try.


Bitches Brew!

I just traded for some Dogfish Head and I plan to discuss them all. Picked up a 120 minute IPA, a World Wide Stout, and a Bitches Brew!  I’ve had all three before, all via trades, and the fact that I’ve traded for them all again (despite their pretty damn high cost) speaks volumes about how good they are.

Today I’m going to discuss Dogfish Head Bitches Brew.  I believe this is the third edition of this particular brew, but I’m too lazy to actually confirm that! 🙂

Bitches Brew was brewed in honor of the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ 1970 fusion jazz album by the same name.  The bottle even includes the album’s artwork.

As for the beer, it’s damn delicious!

Black with just a tinge of redness, especially in the dark brown one finger head.  Lacing is kind of sparse but ain’t bad.

The aroma is ripe with chocolate malts, roasted and burnt malt notes, honey, coffee.

The taste is a bit more honey-like than the nose, although it’s a pretty nice imperial stout at the same time.  Lots of coffee, chocolate malts, and a good balanced blend of burnt and roasted flavors.

Body is slick, thick, full bodied, and a bit silky, presumably from the honey. As it warms it becomes smoother and silkier.

Overall it’s a very nice brew, and quite interesting too.  I’ve got a bottle on display from the first edition.

I can’t wait to break into the WWS and 120 that I’ve got chillin’ in the fridge, look for my comments on them in the near future!

BTW, anybody who’s got DFH Fort, I need some!  Trade time!

%d bloggers like this: