Posts posted by Jim
A couple of years age Diamond Knot Brewery in Mukilteo, WA put out an Imperial ESB that was simply wonderful. This brewery is known in the NW for its IPA and it’s Double IPA, which they call “Industrial IPA”, so it was no surprise that their Imperial ESB while quite malty with lots of chocolate and biscuit malt flavours, but it’s other big signature was that it was dry hopped warm for a month with Willammet hops. The resulting beer was a malt and hop party, with each vying for attention as the flavour evolved. Truly a great beer that they have sadly not since reprised.
Generally the “Imperial” label for an American beer says to me “bigger”, usually being bigger alcohol and a bigger profile of whatever the beer style being imperialized is known for. I’ve had Imperial Pilsners that were clearly not helles bocks, for they were far too happy for that, being, well, bigger pilsners. I find it an appealing feature of American brewing that the envelope is there be be both respected and pushed, and the Imperial or Double label on a brew tells me it’s a pusher and I want to try it.
Throw the stuff out. Homebrew ingredients are better fresher, much better. Hops are generally kept in oxygen barrier bags in a freezer; a homebrew shop I know had their freezer go down over a weekend and threw out all their hops since they couldn't be confident they're ok, i.e., have the bitterness and taste characteristics they should have. Malt extract, similarly, deteriorates over time.
I love hoppy beers, particularly IPAs and double ones. So I bought two bottles of Full Sail's Sunspot IPA 2006. This orange gold beer attacks the drinker with a sharp citrus peel bitterness that just keeps on coming right through a long finish, a finish characterized by a prickly grapefruit peel taste. Not a good thing.
It pours a pretty glass of beer, with the deep orange gold topped by a thick off-white head. Aroma is subdued but with hints of caramel malt and citrus hops. As Sunspot warms you can taste through the bitterness to note some sweetness and some bitter orange marmalade flavors, but, unlike the bitterness, these are subtle, things you have to look for.
Much as I love hops, this beer brings forth an unpleasant bitterness that doesn't leave me wanting another. The second bottle will languish in the 'fridge just in case this is a beer that needs age to bring out its full potential. I sure hope that's the case, but I'm not optimistic.
The best pilsner I ever had was the Pilsissimus at the ForschungsBrauerei in Munich. I enjoy Czech Pilsners on draft but find they aren't nearly so wonderful in the bottles that make it to the US. Radegast is my favorite, being the heartiest of the bunch, but I enjoy Kozel and Staropromen quite a bit, too. Both Urquell and Budvar have changed for the worst in my view, but still go down quite easily. I like the Pilsners made by Baron Brewing and by Alpine Brewing in Washington as well. Unfortunately they aren't widely available.
I have no objection to plastic bottles; in fact, I've bottled some of my homebrew in plastic bottles before and noticed no problems. That said, I've not had any commercial beers that have been packaged in plastic, so I'll let the taste tell the tale.
Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel to see what a Belgian's interpretation of the totally American Brewing Style of a Double IPA. Although it's reputed to be on draught around the Seattle area, I decided to get it in the .75 L bottle, since it has a monster head and takes a long time to get a draught. Who wants to wait?
It's a lovely golden color with a prodigious head, likely from the late hop additions as well as the normal big head for tripples. Uses Tomahawk, Amarillo and Saaz hops and weighs in with 59 IBU's, low for a double IPA. The aroma is at once the typical candy sweet tripel with the added luxury of aromatic, flowery hops, but all quite subtle. Extremely creamy and mouth filling, with slight Belgian phenolics as well as grassy citrus floral hop flavors, again quite subtle. Hides its 9% alcohol well. Quite enjoyable, neither a session beer nor a thirst quencher, rather it's a beer to contemplate and wonder...Particularly about why it's called a double IPA since its character is enormously different from that style, which is characterized by "in your face" malt and hops, mostly hops, aroma, bitterness and taste. Houblon is a tripel influenced by the Double IPA style, it is; in short, sui generis.
Style designations aside, how good is it? Very. It's a bit pricey, $9.99 for the bottle, but assuredly worth it as an exploration of a combining American and Belgian brewing cultures.
The WSJ article is quite interesting in that it notes that AB has, for some time, taken random samples of beer from the production line and frozen them in liquid nitrogen so that they can, in future, sample a "flight" of different "vintages" and taste how the beer has or has not evolved over the years. It also notes that brewers are forever changing their recipe to account for the changes in the key ingredients over time. AB's use of consumer tasting panels has detected an emerging consumer preference for actual beer taste, to which trend AB has apparently responded by adding more bitterness. They've also begun to market beers brewed to emulate some craft beer styles, having noted that while industrial chemical beer sales have fallen, craft beer sales continues to rise.
Maintaining the kind of bland tastelessness Bud and Miller stand for is quite an accomplishment in industrial chemistry. But it's not an example of making good beer.
Those who prefer beer as a lifestyle statement, never mind the (lack of) taste, will be moved by the ensuing exercise in marketing and counter marketing expertise, but at this point, how is in question.
Those who actually like beer won't respond to how these chemical companies market their ersatz wares since they are most likely already not drinking their products. I've not had one of these abominations for years.
Had Deschutes' Hop Henge twice in the last two days. First try was on draft at the Dog and Pony Alehouse, near Boeing Renton. Very statiating beer, heavy mouth feel with malty biscuit notes. Medium to dark reddish brown color with tight head and medium carbonation. Initial hop aroma is quite subtle, round and floral as are the first several tastes; while the hop character is subtle at first, it is soon overwhelmed by the deep bitterness and the heavy malt.
The original gravity is stated to be 1080 and the abv as 7.5%, meaning that the final gravity would have been in the range of 1020 to 1024 [quite high for non homebrewed double IPA] so there must be significant amounts of residual dextrins in the beer contributing to the satiating quality. Although I quite enjoyed the hop aroma and character, I was unable to work up enthusiasm for another one [that day].
Next day I found a bottle at Whole Foods so I brought that home to pair with aged cheddar and crackers before the fire. The hop aromatics and character were still there but more muted than with the draft version. Still too no-moreish for me.
The advertised 3.5 pounds of hops per barrel, by the way, is a fairly typical hop rate for double IPA's [working out to about 1.8 oz hops per gallon] and not at all over-the-top unusual.
Overall this beer is very worthy beer experiment by a fine craft brewery and well worth seeking out, particularly if you only want one! I read in earlier posts a comparison to Bear Republic's Racer 5, one of my long time favorites. I find Racer 5 far more quaffable, less satiating and less malty than Hop Henge. Racer X, however, is quite similar to Hop Henge to my taste.
Since I'm getting ready to brew an Imperial Stout soon to lay down for a few years my brewing partner and I thought we'd sample a few to help us decide on a recipe. We ended up with 4 excellent examples of modern Imperial Stouts and one interesting (alleged) example of Tsarist brewed Imperials.
Harvey’s A LeCoq Imperial Stout
Reputed to be authentic reproduction of the Imperial Stout’s originally brewed by LeCoq, in Tsarist Russia. Perhaps it is, too. Had the 2001 version, an opaque, oily, lightly carbonated brew with a very small head and light carbonation. Sour aromas, including soy sauce, dark fruit, old coffee and dark chocolate. Mouthfilling and slightly oily, sour , fruity flavour. Overall, not my cup of tea at all, but interesting as an example of what the Tsar’s court very likely had before the revolution.
Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout
Pours dark brown with hints of ruby with a tan, bubbly head that dissipates soon; low carbonation level feels just right. Initial aroma of coffee and toasted malts. Relatively low in alcohol at 7%. Thin mouthfeel for an Imperial Stout, more like the draft Guinnes in Ireland, though with tons more flavor, including a strong caramel note and just barely counterbalanced by bitterness. The most quaffable of the Imperial S’s I had today, but also, the least interesting.
Victory Storm King Imperial Stout
This 9.1 % beer pours a high, dense, light tan head that lasts and laces the glass. Initial aromas feature roast malt and – surprise – hops! Light, mouthfeel with a pleasant, prickly hop dimension and highest carbonation level of those tasted today. Spicy hops and roast and caramel malts come through interwoven in the taste, with a pleasing touch of middle sweetness. Virtually not hint of the alcohol and a bitter aftertaste. My favority by a smidge over the Poseiden. The only Imperial Stout I’d have more than one of, for it’s actually refreshing and not a bit cloying.
Fish Tale Poseiden Imperial Stout batch 5
A 10% complex monster from Olympia Washington, this is the first Poseiden not barrel aged. It poured a frothy, huge light brown head that lasted and laced the glass as we slowly polished it off over 90 minutes. Chewy, mouthfeel with a riotous interplay of roast malt, caramel, bitterness, coffee and chocolate all somehow smoothly evolving with nothing sticking out too much. A beer to be sipped slowly on a dark noght.
North Coast Old Rasputin, 9 %
Poured a dense, long lasting light brown head. Quite a dark beer with hints of ruby. Nice balance of roasted barley and hop bitterness. Rather rapid finish. A very pleasant beer, certainly not a session candidate, but, overall rather middle of the pack, like Guinnes on steroids.
Our favorite was a toss-up between Poseidon and Storm King, so we decided to design our recipe to replicate Poseidon for the beer we'll drink after a year and to replicate the hop aroma/flavor for that portion we'll drink after 4 months.
Today at lunch I had a Harmon Brewery [Tacoma, WA] Point Defiance IPA draught ale.
It poured a hazy organge, with a tight, off white head. Light, but definite aroma of citrusy hops. Medium to light mouthfeel, soft carbonation. Very pronounced citrus hop flavour at first, combination of burnt orange and light grapefruit taste from dryhopping Amarillo hops in secondary fermentation delicately offset by light caramel malt. Rather short finish of hop and malt falvours but a longish, slightly sticky, appropriate dry bitterness persists. Overall, a very solid example of an American IPA, though on the weak side with 5.8 abv.
My mistake, the Hopotown is by Full Sail, not Pyramid.
Went to Seattle’s Brewworks to get & drink Lagunitas’ Sirius, a high octane cream ale, very quaffable, dangerousely so at 7.6% abv. It is, BTW, a good example of the possibility of brewing great beer with adjuncts, in this case maize as I understand it. Also had a Snoqualmie Wildcat IPA, a mild 6.6% abv, an amber gold, creamy IPA with subtle hop aroma and a sweetish grainy middle palate backed by firm bitterness and northwest hop flavors. Tonight it will be a Bottleworks IPA, at 8.5%, made by Dick’s Brewing, and a Pyramid Hopotown IPA at 5.2% abv. Soon I’ll try the Rogue Uber Pils and the Hales Mongoose IPA. Looks like I have a hop thing going……..
I just tasted two brews I made. One a Hefe Weizen and another and American IPA.
The HW had been brewed with the Weihenstephan yeast and was, accordingly, quite phenolic and spicy, with both vanilla and clove/spice notes evident as well as a slght acidic quality. The head, like all Hefe's, was very tight, creamy and slightly aromatic. Colour was yellow gold and carbonation was slightly less than standard Hefe's would be, owing to forgetting to save enough unfermented gyle to bottle / carbonate with. Original gravity was 1055 ad final, 1012. Quite a tasty Wehehnstephen-like beer, Since it was "homebrew" the most and beguiling, quality was it's freshness!
The other beer, an IPA of the American style, was also bottled / tasted. This light gold elixir featured both an English, ie., low, carbonation, level and a high hopping rate that translated into a middle bitterness of q smoothe quality (somewhat surprising for the Centennial Hops uses. The whipped cream-like head was tight and tasted of Cascade hops, while the beer itself was lighly carbpmated and featured a full mouthfeel & a balanced bitter-sweet flavour that evolved to a strong aftertaste of succulent, sweet malt, just balanced by a smooth hop bitterness of Cascade hops. The aftertaste, quite long, evolved from sweet to subtle bitterness. I was happy with theboth beers.
I meant to add a reference to its location, but, belatedly, here tis:
I understand, from signs posted on the doors, that Whole Foods Bellevue store opens tomorrow at 8 AM. It looks to be quite large, the largest of the 9 I've been to, and will give the other Eastside stores a run for our money! It's supposed to reflect WF's latest thinking in organic cum upscale shopping. I'm going early tomorrow and will be interested to know what others think.
It looks like Wilson has a lot of opinions about the Pac NW, some positive, some negative, but, at the end just opinions, not a fact in sight. Are there too many beers that are too hoppy? Are the governments more incompetent than Boston or New York? Are the locals too uptight to hear criticism? These queries can, of course, be debated endlessly and gotcha's scored all around. How do we move the conversation towards fact based discussion? As a start, are there data that show that Pac NW made beers are, in general, more hoppy by International Bitterness Units, that other craft-made beers in other parts of the country? Are the hoppier beers in the NW outselling less hoppy beers? I'd prefer to deal with facts first and then debate the implications as opposed to starting with in your face assertions about group think and the like. If it's simply a matter of opinion, I'll take mine!
Since I lived in Marin County until this last Dec., I've had numerous opportunities to visit Napa and Sonoma wineries. My favorite is Artesa. [ http://www.artesawinery.com/ ] in the Carneros region. It is set off among the vinyards in a berm facility at the top of a hill with wonderful views of the vineyards and of the north end of San Francisco bay. The tasting room is staffed by exceptionally friendly folks and, if you join the wine club, you taste for free! Oh, yes, the wine is great as well.
I finally got around to bottling yesterday, having kept the beer in secondary for about 4 weeks at 50 F. I used a quart of the saved gyle that I started refermenting for a few hours and then mixed with the finished but unconditioned beer. It's now sitting in my garage at about 50 F; I expect it will be carbonated in a month's time. Though flat, it tasted pretty good, though it paled in comparison to the IPA I sampled from an earlier brew this year.
I'm thinking of naming it Geordie Champain after Newcastle Brown's nickname.
We should give some thought to distributing the beer for a tasting; obviously, those who have beer to trade have the first call for beers.
Hop pellets do indeed disperse bitterness a flavour more rapidly than hop flowers. The extrusion process by which pellets are made ruptures the lupulin sacs and makes their constituents more available in the boil. The chief drawback to pellets is the difficulty of clearing them from the finished wort and ferment. I avoid them for that reason but many prefer them. They also are said to have better shelf life.
My beer's ready to rack and store for a bit at cooler temps. It's dropped quite bright in the bucket with nothing floating or in suspension but with the ususal nasty looking fermentation scum higher up on the bucker sides. My bucket has a spiggot to drain the beer with an inlet above the debris at the bottom of the bin. I plan to move it to a 50 degree storage area and let it recover from racking before packaging in a week or so and storing for referment at 50F for a month to allow carbonation. Right now the beetr smells good: beery and hoppy.Does anyone think there's a difference in the final brew if you steep grains and hops loose in the brew pot and then sparge, vs. steeping in muslin grain bags with no sparge? I've done it both ways and haven't really noticed much difference, but the brews were pretty far apart in time.
Hops need to be boiled free in the wort because the mechanical action of boiling is part of the mechanism for dispersing the hop bittering acids that aren't on their own all that soluable. Grains on the other hand work perfectly well when soaked in a bag and sparged or not sparged...sparging tends to get more stuff out of the grain but if you aren't worried about that, don't sparge. There's actually a technique in all grain brewing of using more than normal amounts of grain [ by about 4/3] and accordingly more mash water but not sparging; the effect of this is said to be more malty flavours.
The beer looks like it's progressing great!
With your name and that towel I'm surprised you aren't lobbying for the next brew to be Old Pequiliar.
Oxygen causes the beer to deteriorate more quickly than otherwise. If you make good beer, however, and drink it quick, it's not much of a worry!
Thanks for the info on Prime Tabs, I'm going to check them out.
If you really want to bottle from the secondary directly consider dramatically dropping the temperature of the now-fermented beer to 40F or less for a few days; this causes the yeast to drop out of suspension quite quickly and clears the beer nicely. Otherwise, I think there's a benefit to siphoning off the secondary into a bottling bucket in that you can focus more on leaving behind the muck. I usually put the mucky uncarbonated beer into a big jar, put it in the refrigerator until it's settled and enjoy some flat beer.
What Beers Did You Drink Today? Or Yesterday? (Part 1)
Pliny the Younger is a great double IPA. As I recall it has a great hop aroma, a lighter body than you would expect and great gobs of hop bitterness and flavour right through to the end of the glass. I also like Pliny the Elder quite a bit, although it doesn't have the overall finess of the Younger.
I just got back from Alpine, CA where I scored a few bottles of their Pure Hoppiness, which is a super double IPA from this little brewery 30 miles east of SD; they also make something called Exponential Hoppiness every once and a while, a beer which I think is the epitome of double IPA. Their next release if due on 31 Jan. I plan to be there with an empty growler or 2.
While in SD I stopped in at Stone Brewing's new [several months' old] Brewpub and Bistro. The menu is very un-brewpubish, featuring things like braised brussel sprouts and two plates of stinky and more stinky [and expensive] cheese. I had grilled zucchini, eggplant, and trumpet mushrooms with pesto and blue cheese bits - it was fantastic, as was the chicken tikka masala I had with it. I drank a cask conditioned Port Brewing Wipeout IPA dry hopped with amarillo hops... the aroma of grapefruit hit me first followed by the smooth bitterness and hop flavour all gently coddled in the low, English, carbonation typical of cask ales. I heartily recommend Stone Bistro to anyone going to San Diego. Note, look at Stone's website for directions, for it isn't at all obvious where it is. I brought home a growler of Stone's double dry hopped IPA for the weekend, and I'm glad I did. It had more hope aroma and hop flavour than any beer I've had recently. I had the chance to try it vs a bottle of Stone IPA, generally my favborite, and the DDH version blew away the hop-malt balance of the regular IPA.