Sunday, November 28, 2010

Avery - duganA - Double IPA

Avery – duganA is a Double IPA with an 8.5% ABV and 93 IBU.  This one pours golden and will create a rather large head if poured quickly.  It takes some time for the head to recede.  Since this is an IPA, I like it to warm a bit.  So, take your time pouring and allow the beer to warm slightly.  I like this beer and loved the taste of grapefruit and pine.  There is definitely an emphasis on hops and I like it.  I was thinking that Cascade hops were used, but I see that it’s cousin Chinook is used; as well as, Centennial and Columbus.  The barley is two-row, and dark aromatic caramel malt.  Avery brews this beer “whenever we have a little extra tank space and a desire for dank hops!  On Avery’s website, duganA is described as “Lupulin Rapture Incarnate! As fervent devotees of hops, we found ourselves on a quest to create a transcendental IPA capable of quenching our voracious lupulin desires. Our mantra became "unity of bitterness, hop flavor and aroma." Enlightened, duganA IPA was born: A brutally bitter, dank, piney and resinous ale designed for those seeking a divine hop experience.“  I heard on a pod cast that duganA is the Hindi word for double.  So, if you like hops and you like a double IPA, I suggest you try Avery’s duganA.  This one is for the hop-heads and I think they will not be disappointed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Avery - The Czar

Avery – The Czar is an imperial stout with an 11.69% ABV and 60 IBU.  This one pours black with a small head that recedes quickly.  This is a sipping beer because of the higher alcohol rate and you taste the alcohol on the finish.  One tastes toffee / molasses, chocolate and a hint of licorice (anise).  Avery recommends cellaring this beer and this one should last quite a while.  If Avery hosts a vertical tasting of the Czar, I will plan to attend. 

The Czar is seasonal (Nov. – Feb.) and is one of Avery’s Dictator Series.  Maharaja is an Imperial IPA (10.24% - ABV and 102 - IBU) that I think tastes best when warmed up a bit.  When I first had the Maharaja, the aroma took we back to my grandmother’s herb garden in Virginia.  The Kaiser is an Imperial Oktoberfest Lager (9.3% - ABV and 24 – IBU) that my wife (not-a-beer-drinker) likes. 

I was happy to try the Czar as I have previously tried the others in Avery’s Dictator Series.  I would love to enjoy the Czar with my friend George with ancestry from Czarist Russian.  I am sure he would appreciate this one and have fond recollections of his relatives.  I can see why Russian Imperial Stout was a favorite of Catherine the Great.  This is a nice beer to put in a snifter and enjoy by a fireplace.  I recommend Avery’s Dictator Series and these beers are a real treat.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving - Best pairing ever and Beer Brined Turkey

Thanksgiving was a great day and a great meal.  I modified a beer brine recipe from Sean Paxton ( and used the following (minus a small glass of each):

1 – Alaskan Smoked Porter
1 – Paulaner Oktoberfest - Marzen
3 carrots and 3 celery stalks
4 garlic cloves
1 C. Kosher Salt
½ C. Brown sugar
2 Lemons quartered
Couple of tablespoons of peppercorns

Combine the ingredients and simmer until the vegetables softened.  Cool the brine and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  Strain the vegetables from the brine and add ~ 1 gallon of water.  Clean and rinse the turkey.  Put the turkey into a large Ziploc bag or use a cooler that the turkey just fits into.  I put the turkey in a bag, added the brine, placed it in a cooler and then covered with ice.  The turkey should brine 24 – 48 hours.  Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and let dry.  I then used a dry spice rub called Tiny Town Turkey Rub from the Savory Spice Shop in Littleton, CO.  The 12-pound Turkey was cooked in a bag for 2 hours at 350 degrees to an internal temperature of 160 - 165 degrees and then pulled from the oven and allowed to rest for 30 minutes.  The oven was then set to broil.  Remove the turkey from the bag and place in the oven for ~10 minutes to allow the skin the crisp.  The turkey turned out excellent and was enjoyed by everyone.  I think it was the best turkey I have ever cooked.

I paired dinner with Avery – Old Jubilation (ABV - 8% and IBU – 30) and Left Hand – Black Jack Porter (ABV – 6.8% and IBU - 35) with a desert of Lori’s Chocolate Pie.  The desert pairing was perfect with the beer and the chocolate pie being one of the best pairings I have ever experienced.  The beer cut through the fat and emphasized the chocolate and the crust.  The pie emphasized the sweetness, chocolate, and bread qualities of the malt.  It was amazing.  I split a bottle of the Kaiser with Lori and her mom and they both very much like the Kaiser (ABV – 9.6% and IBU - 24).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Avery - Out of Bounds Stout

Yesterday evening we had a nice dinner of romaine salad, Stilton blue cheese, kalamato olives, garlic and cheese croutons, sesame ginger dressing, and salmon lox.  I paired this with Avery – Out of Bounds Stout at ABV of 6.3% and IBU of 51.  This one goes down very smooth and was actually a nice pairing with the salad.  The salads components enhanced characteristics of the beer – croutons – bread, Stilton – nuttiness, dressing – sweetness, and salmon – smoke.  This was a nice pairing and it worked very well.

From the packaging there are double diamonds and the words expert only in alignment with the skiing packaging theme.  Avery describes Out of Bounds as, This big, roasty stout takes flavor to the extreme. We aren't afraid to use plenty of rich roasted barley and a mountain of hops to give this full-bodied stout that little extra something you've been looking for in a beer.  This comes in a six-pack and I will have a couple of other opportunities to pair this beer. 

My wife (not a beer drinker) tasted the beer and she is noticed a similarity between this beer and some of the other Avery beers she has tried.  She actually likes the Kaiser.  She noted that the beer is drinkable and then the bitter or other flavor hits.  I will continue tasting Avery beers and I have Old Jubilation and the Czar for Thanksgiving. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bridgeport IPA and Breckenridge Avalanche at NoNo's Cafe

It had been some time since the family went to NoNo’s and we decided it was time.  NoNo’s is located in Littleton, Co on County Line Road just east of Sante Fe Dr. (HWY 85).  Brian and Sonda Brewster are the owners and they have a great place; they know about good food and service.  Fresh bread is served with a special dipping sauce and my son always wants seconds on the bread.  I ordered Bridgeport’s IPA with an ABV of 5.5% and IBU of 50.  This is a nice IPA that pours golden with a nice head.  It has a very good floral aroma and is not as bitter as many craft brew IPAs.  This went very well with the dipping sauce, cutting through the fat and going well with the spice. 

I ordered the NoNo’s Sausage Classico for the main entrĂ©e, which is two sausage patties on a bed of linguine noodles smothered in a nice tomato based sauce that is just a bit spicy.  I ordered Breckenridge’s Avalanche Amber Ale with an ABV of 5.4% and IBU of 19.  This is a good beer and is very drinkable, but it was a bit overpowered by the spiciness of the dish.  Not a bad pairing, but the IPA probably would have been a better choice.  It paired much better with a beignet that I split with Lori.  It was a nice meal and I tasted two nice beers. 

NoNo’s never disappoints and I am very happy this restaurant is close to home

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Alive

Yeast – Are living organisms in the Fungi kingdom that convert sugar to alcohol during fermentation.  There are many different strains of yeast that the brewer can use during the brewing process to make the desired style of beer.  The primary categories of beer are ales, lagers, and lambics.  Ales are known as top-fermenting or warm-fermenting because the yeast forms foam on the surface ferments between ~60 – 70 degrees F.  Lagers are known as bottom-fermenting or cool-fermenting because the yeast tends to collect at the bottom of a fermenter ferments at a lower temperature around ~50 degrees F.  Lager means to store in cool temperatures in German and does not pertain to fermentation.  Lambics are known as spontaneous-fermenting or wild-fermenting because they are exposed to the wild yeast and bacteria and are brewed in Belgium.  There are always exceptions with some beers that “blur” the lines on these descriptions, and craft brewers today can use strains of wild yeast for their particular beer.  The taste of beer is also affected by the type of yeast used during fermentation.
Ale varieties include – Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Scotch Ale, Porter, Stout, Old Ale and Barley Wine, Belgian Trippel and Duppel, Wheat Beer, and others.
Lager varieties include – Lager, Pilzner, Bock, Dunkel, Helles, Oktoberfest / Marzen / Vienna, and others.
Lambic varieties include – Lambic, Gueuze, Mars, Faro, Kriek, and others.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Hops – a climbing plant that is used for flavoring and preservation of beer.  There are many varieties of hops and they are grown in many parts of the world.  Hops add bitterness to beer that is used to balance the sweetness of the malt, or to increase the bitterness and associated aromas for “Hop Heads” – people who love a beer that is strong in hops.  A good example of hops use is in India Pale Ale.  When British brewers first sent beer to soldiers in India, the beer spoiled during the route.  India Pale Ale had higher alcohol and hops that prevented the beer from spoiling.  Over time, the IPA also became very popular locally.

American craft brewers are known for the use of hops that result in some IPAs with high IBU – International Bitterness Units.  A lager may have very little IBUs (example – 5) and an IPA may have over 100.  Some brewers mix hops to impart different aromas.  There are essentially two types of hops – bittering and aromatic – that are used by the brewer to develop the final taste and aroma of the beer. The beer will also smell and taste differently depending on the temperature of the beer.  Germany leads the world in growing hops followed by the U.S.  Hops growers in the U.S. are primarily in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Hops do grow in Colorado and wild varieties can be harvested.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Left Hand - 400 Pound Monkey and Milk Stout

Last night’s dinner was roasted peppered pork loin with potato, sweet potato, onion, and jalapeno peppers.  Left Hand Brewing – 400 Pound Monkey – English Style IPA was paired with dinner and it worked well.  The 400 Pound Monkey went very well with the jalapeno pepper and the bitter in the beer was a great combination with the heat from the pepper.   This IPA has an ABV of 6.8% and an IBU of 60.  Note, this is not published, but I listened to a podcast of Cicero’s Beer School featuring Left Hand’s Chris Leonard who gave an IBU of 60 for 400 Pound Monkey, and he stated that they came up with the name because someone at the brewery said that a 400 Pound Monkey could just through in lots of hops to cover up flaws in a IPA.  From the website description – “Because this one ain't like them others. We use hops of a different color, earthy and herbal, well-balanced by bready malt.  The result?  An English-style IPA that separates itself from the ubiquitous bunch.  Cartloads of bitter monkeys flinging wasteful amounts of bananas into the jungle . . .we're so done with that.  Left Hand went for a balanced taste and provides the consumer with a well rounded IPA – they have done well. 
I paired Left Hand – Milk Stout, ABV 6% and IBU 25, with a desert of pumpkin bars and this pairing was excellent.  Milk Stout has won a few awards and I tasted coffee on the first sip.  After the beer warmed a bit and was tasted with the pumpkin bars the sweetness came out and the pairing just “popped” – it was a delight.  I think this beer would pair great with chocolate and in particular my wife’s chocolate pie.  I think it would also go well with a chocolate desert with a raspberry sauce.  From the Left Hand website description of Milk Stout, “Dark and delicious, America's great milk stout will change your perception about what a stout can be.  Preconceived notions are the blinders on the road to enlightenment.  Udderly delightful.  This is my favorite beer that I have tasted from Left Hand and I look forward to sampling more from Left Hand.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Avery - Ellie's Brown Ale

There were a couple of Avery – Ellie’s Brown Ales remaining from the previous evening’s beer tasting and I enjoyed one with a dinner of roasted chicken, roasted asparagus and a baked potato with the works.  I thought the pairing worked well and this is a very nice brown ale.  I enjoyed the other one after dinner.  Ellie’s Brown Ale comes in at ABV of 5.5% with a low IBU of 17.  This beer pours dark, with a nice thick head and has just a great flavor from the excellent malt selection.  The note on the package says – “This beautiful, deep russet brew has the sweet and somewhat nutty character of Adam Avery's late (1992-2002) Chocolate Lab, for which it is named. Crystal and chocolate malts give this beer a brown sugar maltiness with hints of vanilla and nuts, while subtle hopping gives it an overall drinkability that's second to none, just like Ellie!”  Avery is right on the money with this description and I highly recommend this brown ale.  I think this would be a good beer for a person who wants to try craft beers or wants to try dark beers because of how drinkable this beer is.  By no means is this beer simple, as there are some great flavors of vanilla, nuts, and brown sugar.  From the previous evening, when I poured it, all gave the “ought oh” of a big, knock-you-upside-the-head, dark beer.  Everyone then said that they were pleasantly surprised by the taste of the beer and it was a prime example of not letting your eyes deceive you.  Avery – job well done and this beer is available all year.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Beer Tasting

Last night’s beer tasting turned out very well and we (Tibor, Chris, Dennis, and me) tasted some really good beers.  Lori, made some great appetizers consisting of a good selection of cheeses, olives, salami, and pumpkin bars.  Nicole, Tibor’s wife, made a surprise stop with some pizza that occurred at just the right time for one of the beers and the combination (pizza and beer) was very good. I supplied a few different types of beer and everyone brought beer – we had an interesting combination and the list below is in the order of tasting.  I would say that none of these beers were bad and some were truly outstanding.

Paulaner - Wiesn Bier – a German Oktoberfest beer that now is in a 1 litre can available in the U.S.  – Wiesn means meadow and this beer was brewed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest.  The ABV is 5.8% and this bright beer poured with a nice head and was a great way to kick-off the evening. 

Avery – Ellie’s Brown Ale – Nice beer and this went very well with the cheese and the smoked almonds.  When I poured everyone was concerned that this dark beer was going to be a smack your face dark beer – all were surprised by the drinkability of this beer.  Avery never disappoints and this brown ale comes in at ABV - 5.5% and IBU – 17.

Left Hand Brewing Co – Oxymoron (A Teutonic India Pale Lager) – this is a collaboration beer with Terrapin (Athens, GA) and is described as a American style IPA using 3 different German malts, 6 German hop varieties and a lager yeast strain coming in at ABV – 7.2% and IBU -65.  This is a smooth and balanced beer even with the high IBU.  Nice work by Left Hand and Terrapin and this is Series 3 of the Midnight Brewing Project.

Avery – 17 – Dry Hopped Black Lager (A Study in German Hops) – ABV – 7.69% pours dark with a nice frothy head.  WOW – this is a great beer and I will buy another one of these before they are gone.  This may be my favorite from Avery; however, everything I have had from Avery is very good.

Left Hand Brewing Co – Milk Stout – this is a sweet stout coming in at ABV – 6% and IBU – 25.  This is a dark one with a nice bubbly head.  When I first tasted this I was expecting a sweeter taste and my first impression was “coffee” – this beer would go great with breakfast.  This beer went very well with the pumpkin bars.

Sierra Nevada – 30th Anniversary – Charlie, Fred and Ken’s Imperial Helles Bock with an ABV – 8.3% and IBU – 41 and pours with a large head.  At first, I was disappointed with this as I had very high hopes for it.  I am not sure if it was the order of the tasting and I did not like it as much after the Milk Stout or if it did not resonate with my palate.  Then the pizza came and Tibor said to try the beer with the pizza.  I tried it with a slice of mushroom and sausage pizza and the combination was great.  I was really glad to try this pairing because I would have panned the beer.  This was a good lesson for me that a good pairing will make a beer shine.

Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw (Blue) – 2009 – Belgian Strong Ale at ABV 11%.  Wow, those Belgians know how to brew and this was my favorite of the evening.  This is an amber / brown colored beer that pours with a lacey head.  There is a lot going on here and you taste fruit immediately and the alcohol at the end.  The second taste was evening better and I did not notice the alcohol at the end.  This is a very complex beer and I say to add this to your list – you will not be disappointed.  Caution – this one is dangerous is a very good way – sip it and enjoy. 

Moosbacher – Kellerbier – is a German beer meaning “cellar beer” with an ABV – 5.5% that pours with little head that quickly disappears.  This is a “grainy” tasting beer that can be consumed quickly – it is described as a good representation of this style.  

Left Hand Brewing – 400-Pound Monkey – IPA with ABV – 6.8% and IBU – 60 that pours golden brown with a light head.  This is a well-balanced IPA and is not a hopped up one.  400-Pound Monkey is more earthy and herbal compared to the citrus / resin IPAs.  Left Hand has a different twist on the American IPA and I would like to try this one again and compare / contrast against other IPAs. 

In conclusion, the evening was great – good food – good beer – good camaraderie.  It is hard to beat a nice evening with friends tasting different beers.  All of these beers were good with my favorite three being the Paulaner, Avery 17 and the Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw.  I would say to obtain these if you can because they will be gone soon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Barley is King

Malt – a germinated grain that is quickly dried.  Germination is when a seed sprouts and many of us completed an elementary school or middle school science experiment of placing sees between moistened paper towels and observing the seeds as they germinate.  The germination changes the seed, enhancing the conversion of starches into sugars and developing enzymes that enhance fermentation.  Germination is halted at a precise time and the sprouted grains are dried – the color of the malt changes depending on the length of drying or kilning of the germinated grain.  The brewer changes the style, alcohol content, and flavor of the beer by using different malts and various mixes of different malts.
Various grains can be used for making malt; however, barley is king.  There are two types of barley, 2-row and 6-row, with many varieties or strains of each type.  The barley farmer is a big risk taker as the malt house or brewer can deny purchase of the barley if it does not meet specific criteria.  The farmer will then need to sell the barley as feed barley at a lower price.  The U.S. is the eighth largest barley-producing country and barley is grown in the Northern Plains and the Pacific NW – Colorado is the 5th largest barley-producing state.  Because Coors has contracts with most barley farmers in CO, local craft brewers acquire barley (or malt) outside of CO.
I am hosting a beer-tasting tonight with guests bringing a CO craft beer.  I will be serving Avery’s – Elle’s Brown Ale and the Sierra Nevada – 30th Anniversary Bock.  Tomorrow’s post will cover the beers tasted, the guest’s synopsis of the beers and notable pairings.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's in the Water

Water – two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule.  Very simple from a molecular structure, but very complex as to what other items may actually be in the water.  As water makes its way to the tap, there are various minerals, metals, and other chemicals that are included in water.  These “ride -alongs” and dissolved items affect the taste of water and how beer will taste, or the flavor of beer.  Depending on what is dissolved in water can change the PH (acidic or alkaline) of the water and make water that is “hard” or “soft”.   Hard water has a high mineral content and soft water has low mineral content – specifically low or no calcium and magnesium ions.  Certain geographic areas have been known for their beers directly attributed to the water and prime examples are Burton-on-Trent, England with perfect water for Pale ale and Plzen, Czech Republic with perfect water for Pilsner.
In Colorado, there are very plentiful water sources from snow melt and from underground (aquifers).  Adolph Coors choose Golden, CO, because of the water supply after scouting out a location for a brewery.  Per Coors, The water is a soft water from the aquifer and Coors describes the water as “perfect” and “pure” for the beer they brew.  Nearly all breweries today treat their water and may include additives to assist in brewing the style desired and as a yeast nutrient.  Home brewers need to know what type of water they have in order to avoid potential ill-effects to the style they are brewing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step .”  This quote has struck a positive note with me for some time as one needs not only the courage to begin a journey but also the realization that the destination may not be the actual goal.  I have discovered the experiences one has the opportunity to live during the journey are what can be truly amazing and the destination many times results in a bittersweet moment as one realizes the journey is near the end.
A friend asked me about craft beer and I thought – “Wow – when was the last time I actually had one?”  I then realized it was the right time and right place to begin a new journey – a craft beer journey.  I researched a number of websites, subscribed to a number of podcasts, selected a number of new people on social media and researched craft beer.   The first trip to a store soon ensued with the purchase of a number of different beers.  The initial beers were found to be quite tasty and it was quite satisfying as these beers fired new synapses and re-fired some previous pathways.
A decision was quickly made – since I reside in Colorado – I should start a journey close to home by sampling the breweries of Colorado.  There are a large number of them and they are very good.  It also seemed appropriate as Colorado was an initial “hot spot” for the beginnings of home brewing and craft beer.   I am sure I will make detours along the way to other states and as travels take me to various locations.
The journey will be recorded here with a focus on the experiences along the way...