Archive for the 'Other Beers' Category

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Beer and food pairing chart

While Stumbling, I came across this great beer and food pairing chart. There’s no credits on the image, but it appears to be on a website for British Columbian liquor stores.

Celebrate 2008

Guess what Michelle brought home?

Old Crustacean circa 1999

While attending a wedding in Pugetopolis this past weekend, we crashed with Scott and Stephanie. The wedding was on a Friday night, so afterwards, everyone was pretty tired save Scott and I. So after everyone else was tucked in, we lounged downstairs, talked it up, and savored some of his homebrews. He had both a Dunkelweissen and Pumpkin ale on tap, and while both were great, I’m not a pumpkin ale fan so I stuck with the delicious Dunkel. I also tried a bottled IPA which was excellent – just the right color, aroma and with plenty of citrusy hops. But then the mood changed when Scott broke a 1999 Old Crustacean out of his cellar.
A 9 year old Crusty

I thought he was teasing me at first since it was only a 7 oz bottle, and if you’re going to save a bottle for nearly a decade, how could you drink it just shy of that anniversary. He convinced me however because I was one of the few people he knows that relishes in barleywine. So he poured to small glasses and we sniffed. The smell was glorious.

You never know what you’re going to get 9 years after you bottle something, but evidently the original recipe was right. The aroma was part brandy, part malt, and completely alluring. The first sip revealed the truth – this beer was OMFG good. After nearly a decade, the flavor was layers of aged ingredients. There was a gradient from port to grand marnier to chocolate to plums and raisins, then after a 15 second pause, a wash of bittersweet that I can only imagine were the hops begging for recognition. Amazingly, this sensation occurred every time you took a sip, even with the smallest draw of the nectar.

I’m honored that Scott shared such a delicious beer with me. It made me consider cellaring beer for a second, but I’ve thought that before and it’s never really worked out. If you can find this sucker somewhere (ahem, bottleworks), I’d seriously recommend it.

Hoarding Full Sail Doppelbock

I missed out on Oktoberfest somehow, and its one of the few times of the year I relish in German brewed beers. Normally, I prefer to drink the locally brewed equivalents, of which there are many fine examples. However, this year I would have totally missed the boat had I not stumbled upon Full Sail’s 21st Birthday beer, a delicious doppelbock so good that I feel no lament for missing Optimator on tap at Mt. Angel.

I’ve found myself hoarding the nectar each time I visit New Seasons. 2 Weeks ago I bought the last 3 bottles. This weekend, I bought all but the last 1 bottle, feeling a slight bit of midwestern guilt (You always leave the last cookie on the plate). I felt a little silly, but it has allowed me to enjoy a great doppelbock, while still honoring my NW beers edict. The stuff is so delicious that I’ve forgotten that I missed the Oktoberfest beers, the kraut, cabbage, and curried brats.

Ancient Yeast

Something about using really old yeast scares me a little. It excites me too, but mostly scares.

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Those who can't do, teach?

I helped Alan and most of his neighborhood brew a batch of beer last week. It was great fun and there were some fantastic snacks to be had. It wasn’t really a formal lesson though and more of an ad hoc session. I think one of the guys was a little confused by the process since he was a much more structured learner; something that doesn’t necessarily go well with lots of folks and beer.

It’s probably the 10th time I’ve taught folks how to brew and it’s quite a bit of fun. 2/3rds of the brew days I’ve been involved in this year were teaching gigs. Makes me wonder if the old adage is true: “Those who can’t do, teach.”

Luckily, the do part is a time issue only.

First Taste: OBF 2008

I requested to have Thursday off back in May. Opening day of the Oregon Brewers Festival? What better way to beat the crowds and try the beers I want with no lines?

I met Alan and Kathleen shortly after 2pm, and we sampled a number of beers before the rest of the world reached the end of their working day. I can’t speak for their preferences, but here are the few I tried that I’d recommend to other festival goers.

  • Rock Bottom Congo Queen: another Sorghum beer, but this one takes the delicate flavor of sorghum and uses that flavor void to highlight the yeast and a number of spices. Really quite nice, though maybe not what my celiac grandfather has been looking for.
  • Bridgeport Hop Czar: A robust imperial style IPA. Lots of malt and lots of hop. Would be better in about 3 months.
  • Boundary Bay Crystal Pale Ale: A single hopped beer using crystal hops. This beer is subtle, delicate, and delicious. I love crystal hops though, so the slightly spicy noble hop creates a nice head-to-toe beer. Probably one that non-hop heads would enjoy too.
  • Lagunitas Hop Stoopid: All sorts of good. Great body, great flavors, and great sweet to bitter shotgun of hop flavors. I’ve not had this for a year, but it’s really fantastic.

I’ll be heading back with friends on Saturday too, but I feel like I got a good head start. The atmosphere was nice, the weather great, and I got to meet Jimi Hendrix and the owner of Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham. Not the real Jimi, of course, but the real owner of Boundary Bay. I sent a picture of myself with him to a friend in Bellingham to show off.

edit: Jimi and I at OBF.

You never know who you\'ll run in to

You never know who you'll run in to

Concordia Cup 2008

Lindsay, Joe and I rode over to Concordia Ale House to participate in the Concordia Cup, a blind tasting of Oregon Imperial (double) IPAs. We each ordered a tray and set about tasting. I started at #10, a beer infused with or aged in a wind barrel (Pinot we guessed). It was excellent. Continuing on, there were more traditional IPAs, lots of malt, strong hop (though only one was truly bitter).

After all the beers were sampled, we all ended up voting for #2, an abundantly citrusy and floral beer with a great balanced sweetness that I found the most pleasing. I wonder if the results are in.

Hopping NA beer

NA beers have suddenly become of interest in my household again, and as generalization, I think they’re just not good. Luckily, it doesn’t matter what I think. Dave Eryn at BS Brewing has a great review of NA beers, and while I differ from her on Kaliber, I agree that O’Douls Amber is about as close as you’re going to get to a decent beer sans alcohol. Still, it’s not great, but there might be a way to improve on it.

My wife is as big a hop head as I am, and one thing consistently missing from NA beers is discernible hoppiness. Buckler at least gets the slight skunk of a green bottle correct, but that’s a pretty lame distinction. So here’s what I tried.

Hop reduction

Bert Grant used to carry an eye dropper of hop oil with him to add to tame beers. Hop oil is extracted using alcohol, something we’re trying to avoid, so why not create a hop tea? I’ve got a lot of hops, so boiling an ounce of Summits seemed like a good use. I boiled the hops in a small stock pot for about 5 minutes, then strained off the cones and continued to boil the tea for another 10 minutes to reduce the volume. The resulting brownish sludge didn’t look too great, but it smelled nice. A reckless sip and I was startled at how bitter it was. Better be careful.

A small addition to a pint of beer definitely made the beer more bitter. Sadly, it was impossible to get the right mixture of the reduction to get the desired hoppiness without making it too bitter. Maybe a hop variety with a lower alpha acid percentage would be better, but this just didn’t work.

Hop Oil

This stuff contains alcohol. To get the hop oil, you have to use alcohol to extract the oils from the glands. But, as it turns out, you only use 2 drops per 12 oz bottle, something that is well within a safe consumption level. I tried two drops in a bottle of Widmer Drop Top, and the beer suddenly became much more to my liking. For the first couple sips. Then it was time to re-drop. I think I used a total of 5 drops over the course of the beer. This is promising though.

Michelle tried it in an O’Douls and the flavor is markedly improved. It’s almost drinkable. The body is now the missing link. I wonder if there’s a way to add unfermentables to bolster that….

In the mean time, it looks like tonic & lime is the preferred alternative.

Revisiting the Trinity

Ella and I spent the long holiday weekend in Nebraska with family for a wedding and my grandparents’ 60th anniversary. As part of my wedding gift, I took my cousin a bottle of Laurelwood’s Tree Hugger Porter; a gift I felt would convey both the appropriate image and flavor of beer out here. I told him to wait until fall to drink it too.

It’s been quite some time since I last had any Macro lagers – “pilsners,” if you will. I may have had a Hamms or two this year, but nothing from the “Trinity” of American beers.  I know it’s now a misnomer to call them the “Trinity” since SABMiller and Molson-Coors are now essentially one, but I find it hard to break the habit.

Over the weekend, I had Budweiser at the rehearsal dinner, Coors Light and Bud Light at a 4th of July party, and Bud Light and Miller Light at the wedding itself. In a non-scientific rating, here’s how I feel about them:

  1. Budweiser
  2. Bud Light -tie- Coors Light
  3. Miller Lite

I was really disappointed to put Coors ahead of Miller, but Miller Lite was just bad. I’m also really displeased with light beer in general. It was such a sad exercise in refreshment. Granted, it was 80F and humid, so any beverage was nice, but there was no flavor and no satisfaction, and definitely no palate satisfying bitterness. I could see drinking Budweiser again since there is some flavor and a smidgen of body, but the other three just don’t seem like beer, and frankly, I hate Coors. At least other Macro lagers get some flavor from adjuncts like corn.

Ella and I were stuck in the Denver airport for roughly 5 hours yesterday so I had a Mojo IPA with dinner. It was glorious. While I was gone, Curtis dropped by for a beer trade, so I’ve got a few nice east coast brews coming my way as well.

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