Sunday, January 29, 2012

Horton’s Homebrew – Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon (5.5% ABV and 38 IBU) is a pale ale and one of my newer creations in my adventure in home brewing.  My recipe is 6# Briess Pale LME, 1.25# Briess Sparkling Amber DME, 8 oz. Briess Caramel 20L and 8 oz. Briess Caramel 40L.  Steep the Caramel Malts in 153-degree water for 30 minutes and strain.  Add enough water for approximately 2.5 gallons, added the DME and brought it to a boil for 60 minutes.  Cascade hops were added in 0.5 oz increments at 60 – 30 –15 - 5 minutes with a 1 oz. additional at knockout.  During the boil, I heated up the Briess Pale LME to make it easy to pour.  The wort was chilled and water was added to bring to 5 gallons in the fermenter.  Yeast was Wyeast 1968 – London ESB ale and fermented 2 weeks at 68 degrees.  Finally, use 4.5 oz of corn sugar in 1 C. water – bring to boil – chill and add to bottling bucket with the beer.  This resulted in 24 – 12 oz. bottles and 13 – 22 oz. bottles with some left over for tasting.  OG – 1.058, FG – 1.016, SRM 11.1, IBU 38.19 with the Rager formula, and 5.5% ABV.  I was shooting for an APA that was more on the malty side with a nice hop bitterness too.

American Pale Ale (APA)  - Of British origin, this style is now popular worldwide and the use of local ingredients, or imported, produces variances in character from region to region. Generally, expect a good balance of malt and hops. Fruity esters and diacetyl can vary from none to moderate, and bitterness can range from lightly floral to pungent.   American versions tend to be cleaner and hoppier, while British tend to be more malty, buttery, aromatic and balanced.  Beeradvocate
Appearance – Light Amber with a nice two-finger head this has good carbonation too.
Aroma – One can easily pick up a biscuit / light dough aroma from the malts and a fruit / citrus smell from the hops.
Taste – You first taste sweetness a little honey or caramel then a hit of hop bitterness that is fruity and a finish of biscuit / bread.
Overall – B - this turned out very well and I will stick with the base grain bill.  I will brew this again and will next play with the yeast and the hops

URL - Ingredients sourced at The Brew Hut -

Boston Beer Company – Thirteenth Hour

Boston Beer Co. is best know for Sam Adams Boston Lager and they are the largest craft brewer in America.  One thing that I appreciate about Boston Beer Co. is they do experiment with many different styles and they have a huge offering to the public.  The Barrel Room Collection features four Belgian-inspired beers and I had the New World Tripel last year – it was very good.  Thirteenth Hour (9% ABV and 17 IBU) is a Belgian Stout that is aged in oak barrels.

Belgian Strong Dark Ale – “On the same path as the Belgian Dark Ale but obviously higher in alcohol with more of an all around character. The alcohol character can be deceivingly hidden or can be very bold and in your face. Look for lots of complexity within a delicate palate. Hop and malt character can vary, most are fruity and may have mild dark malt flavors. Phenols will range from minimal to high and most will be light on the hops. All in all most are spicy and alcoholic.”  Beeradvocate

Appearance – Black with a white head that takes some time to dissipate.
Aroma – Dark fruit, chocolate, oak and spice - maybe a hint of vanilla.
Taste – Chocolate and dark fruit with subtle oak and vanilla and a Belgian-yeast taste.  It does not taste like a stout, as the roasty malt is subdued. 
Overall – B – If you are looking for a stout, look elsewhere, 13th Hour is more of a Strong Belgian Dark.  I think New World Tripel is a better beer.

Website description – “The thirteenth hour is the witching hour and refers to the mysterious combination of flavors in this brew.  We've combined the roasted chocolate and coffee flavors of a stout with the spicy character of a Belgian ale aged in oak.  The combination of 7 different malts creates a brilliant black brew that's full bodied and smooth with rich notes of coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits like raisins and plums.  The dark roasty, and slightly sweet flavors of a stout are blended with the unique, spicy and sour character of our Kosmic Mother Funk (KMF), an ale that's been aged in oak tuns for up to a year.  The KMF gives the beer an added complexity with notes of black pepper, oak, vanilla, and a hint of acidity.  Enjoy this beer now or age it to further develop unique flavors.  We recommend pouring the beer gently into a traditional glass.  Take care not to unsettle the fine layer of yeast that rests at the bottom from the bottle-  conditioning, a process which creates an extra smooth and balanced flavor in the beer.”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

North Coast – Old Rasputin

North Coast is a brewery located in Fort Bragg, California and I picked up a 4-pack of Old Rasputin (9.0% ABV and 75 IBU) Russian Imperial Stout during a family vacation in Phoenix over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  I had heard and read good things about North Coast and about Old Rasputin.  I picked it up at Total Wine in Glibert, AZ, which has an amazing selection of beer, wine and spirits.  I am a big fan of stouts and Russian Imperial Stouts are one of the best selections for a winter evening.

Russian Imperial Stouts – “Inspired by brewers back in the 1800's to win over the Russian Czar, this is the king of stouts, boasting high alcohol by volumes and plenty of malt character. Low to moderate levels of carbonation with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavours. Often dry. Suggestions of dark fruit and flavors of higher alcohols are quite evident. Hop character can vary from none, to balanced to aggressive.”  Beeradvocate

Appearance – Black with a large tan head that takes some time to recede.
Aroma – Rich smell of malt with undertones of coffee and chocolate, maybe some vanilla and alcohol.
Taste – Wow – this is a big beer – Coffee, chocolate, slight alcohol, earthy and bready with a nice medium bitter finish.  Let this warm up to let the tastes come out.  These should be tasted at ~50-55 degrees. 
Overall – A+ - This is a very good Russian Imperial Stout and is one of the best I have tasted.
Website description – “Produced in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia's Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes. It's a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Firestone Walker - Walker's Reserve

I have a few brewers that when I see an offering I have not tried, I just buy it.  It does not matter the style, as I am confident that the brewer will do a great job and I’ll enjoy it.  Firestone Walker is one of these brewers and you can be confident that whatever they brew will be very tasty.  I saw Walker’s Reserve (5.8% ABV) that is a Robust Porter and I wanted to try it.  Walker’s Reserve pours very dark with a large head that took some time to recede.  There is a very pleasant aroma of roasted malt with some hints of chocolate and coffee.  The taste is very good and it has a nice roasted malt tastes with the chocolate / coffee notes and a touch of toffee / caramel.  The oat addition adds to the mouth feel and there is nice clean hop bitterness of citrus, but not too much.  Walker’s Reserve is another great offering from Firestone Walker. 
 Website description – “A singularly distinctive beer that represents our finest brewing efforts, Walker’s Reserve is a elegant dark ale featuring robust flavors of toffee, caramel and bittersweet chocolate. This brew employs five specialty malts, as well as oat and barley flakes, for added complexity and flavor”.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Upslope – Craft Lager

Upslope is a new brewer here in Colorado and they are based in Boulder.  They currently are canning four styles and the latest in the line-up is Craft Lager (4.8% ABV).  On the can, the labels are “Bright – Fresh – Easy” and the ingredients description is “Made with snowmelt, Czech Saaz hops and lager yeast” and I made the assumption that this would be an American Lager with ties to a Bohemian Pilsener.  The color is yellow gold with a nice head that quickly recedes.  Craft Lager has a classic lager clean taste with note of bread, and a clean dry hop finish.  This is a session beer that would be great to have after yard work or to take to a BBQ or a picnic.  Nicely done and I think Upslope is a brewery to watch – they took a Gold Medal at the 2011 GABF for their Pumpkin Ale.

Yuengling – Traditional Lager and Black & Tan

First, another shout-out and thank you to Dennis for bringing back some beer from Georgia on a recent trip he had.  Two that he brought back were from Yuengling, the oldest brewery in America, and they were Traditional Lager (4.4% ABV) and Black & Tan (4.7% ABV).  The brewery started as the Eagle Brewery in Pottsville, PA and I think my favorite story of this brewery is their shipping a truckload of beer to FDR after prohibition ended in 1933.  These beers are not bad, they are a step above the macro brews, but not quite up to the level of the new American craft brewers.  I would love to see these guys take some chances and do some experimentation and add some new offerings to their line-up.  They seem to be taking it safe and sticking with the beers they are comfortable making and their sales are doing well.  These are not bad beers, but they are not great beers. 
Website description – “An iconic American Lager famous for its rich amber color and medium-bodied flavor – with roasted caramel malt for a subtle sweetness and a combination of cluster and cascade hops, this true original delivers a well-balanced taste with very distinct character. “
Website description – “Black & Tan combines our popular Dark Brewed Porter with Premium Beer.  Rich and dark in color, it has a well-balanced flavor, with hints of caramel and coffee from the dark roasted malt that finishes smooth and satisfying. “