- one of the best things asheville has going for it is its size – most of the major downtown spots are within walking distance from each other. it only took about ten minutes to walk from moog music on one side of town to the orange peel and wicked weed on the other!
- speaking of the orange peel/wicked weed, that combo is one of the best I have ever experienced. a world-class beer bar immediately next door to the best venue in town – what a symbiotic relationship! wicked weed was the sleeper hit of my trip – I had vaguely heard of them before heading over but their great beer and food lineup really took me by surprise. after talking shop and pouring us some taster flights of their core lineup, one of their long-time employees took me and AF on a tour of the facility and introduced us to their killer sour program. I couldn’t believe their modest system pumped out the dozens of available taps. I also couldn’t believe their pricing – many full pours were under three bucks!
- the city wasn’t just a one trick pony either – breweries, tasting rooms, and bottle shops turned up around every corner. some favorites were bruisin’ ales (great bottle selection), burial beer co. (great hangout spot a little off the beaten path), and thirsty monk (cool basement spot with a great belgian selection in bottles and on draft – thanks for the heads up ML!). even the local pizza and beer joint, barley’s taproom, impressed with great pies and beer to match.
- after dozens of shows, events, and beers it was time to head back home, but I won’t hesitate to head back to asheville given the opportunity – it is a great walkable downtown with an impressive beer presence that rivals many west coast locales in quality. I just wish I could grab a direct flight there (my connecting flight was horribly long)!
- side note: one of my “jobs” at moogfest was concert photographer. you can check out some of my shots (and other photo work) at SSF PHOTO.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
a few weeks ago AP and I braved some wild weather to explore hood river.
- after digging our 2WD sedan out of a foot of powder the first morning, we upgraded to a 4WD SUV and hit the icy roads. a freak snowstorm had hit the day we arrived, dumping close to two feet of snow in less than 24 hours.
- despite treacherous conditions, we managed to hit up full sail, pfriem and solera, although our planned tour of logsdon farmhouse was cancelled after their location was completely snowed in. all breweries were very welcoming and had a great variety of top-notch beer – pfriem had perfected many true-to-style expressions, and solera had a killer IPA as well as some tasty lactic offerings, while full sail had a nice flight highlighting components of their barrel aged imperial stout.
- after grabbing some amazing house made donuts and coffee at 10 speed, before heading out of town we stopped by double mountain to pick up a few bottles at their kriek release, which was fortuitously scheduled the day we left. we made it back to portland just in time to peruse some bottles at belmont station before all commerce in the city shut down due to the snow and ice (people were cross-country skiing down hawthorne blvd!).
- despite less-than-ideal weather conditions, our trip was a resounding success. I can’t wait to go back during the summer!
- solera lambic
- appearance: perfect clarity, straw yellow with thorough, fine carbonation. this was the fifth or sixth bottle I opened, and a couple of them were already overcarbed even without the addition of yeast at bottling (maybe due to stratification of the sugar? I have never run into this). I can definitely see how geuzes can be put together with little to no sugar – the yeast/bugs involved are super aggressive!
- aroma: “authentic” complex lambic funk, for lack of better descriptors. citrus and barnyard.
- taste: citrus, hay, stone fruit, with a balanced, smooth lactic acidity and a dry finish.
- overall: I’m very happy with how this beer turned out, even with such a short time in the bottle – it holds its own as a solid example of the style. I’m also pumped that I have close to three cases of this and another six gallons on cherries, all of which should improve with age…
in celebration of overcarbed’s fourth anniversary, I finally worked some magic with a good-sized pull from my (p)lambic solera barrel.
- it had been seventeen months to the day since I initially filled the barrel (and seven months since my only tasting) and once I started up my autosiphon I knew the results were going to be worth the wait. the beer has a bright acidity with a great funky complexity. the gravity is approximately 1.005 for a current ABV of around 5.45%.
- to mix it up a little, I racked six gallons of beer onto seven pounds of sour cherries in one of my carboys, which I am planning on forgetting about for at least six months. I also primed and painstakingly filled eighty 12oz bottles with another seven and a half gallons, and was reminded why I usually bottle my specialty beers using bombers (it’s half the work).
- to top it all off, I bottled my fermentors of dark house on persimmons and banning on apricots for a total of over 100 bottles (113 to be exact). I then refilled my solera with fifteen gallons of fresh lambic base that I had brewed a couple weeks back using my old recipe. the bottles will be used to support my homebrew club in competitions and will also be a good way to conduct tastings without running through large volumes of beer. I’ll have tasting notes in a few months!
last weekend AP and I headed down to north county san diego to hang out with CB and family.
- we got in late saturday night but still managed to grab some brews over at pizza port carlsbad. pizza port’s relaxed atmosphere and world class beers are a great representation of what the SD beer scene has to offer, and a cold pour of plant to pint along with a slice or three are worth the trip alone.
- the next morning we headed inland over to escondido to meet up with CB at stone brewing. the food was great, the staff was awesome, and the beers were outstanding. I especially enjoyed the variety of low-alcohol session offerings, including a stout from craftsman that clocked in under 4% abv and was perfect for a hot indian summer afternoon. stone’s spacious “beer garden” was a great place to stretch out and let the kids run wild.
- one note: I was disappointed to discover that pizza port’s badass bottle shop has been sidelined by local government and can currently only sell bottles for on-site consumption. for the sake of local business, I hope they can overcome this legislative BS, but in the meantime, texas wine and liquor will have to fit the bill for picking up some bottles for the ride north.
after recovering from a busy weekend, I rallied my strength mid-week and headed to the basement to rack the latest batch of vizcaino onto some fruit.
- I chose raspberries to complement the light color and funk-forward flavor and aroma of the beer, and racked the developing brew onto over nine pounds of seedless puree and one ounce of toasted french oak. after close to six months in the fermentor, the gravity had dropped from 20 brix to 10.25 brix, for a current abv of 9.09%. hopefully the bugs have enough energy left to chew through the fruit!
while vizcaino was changing homes I also got a chance to taste a chilled bottle of my homegrown saison:
- appearance: golden orange with a slight haze, vigorous fine carbonation (after only a week!) that results in a fluffy white head
- aroma: assertive spice and aromatic floral notes, slight citrus finish
- taste: assertive spice, pepper, and belgian esters, fruit with a touch of alcohol at the finish
- overall: I’m excited at the condition of this beer so early in the game. I’m glad I sacked it up and fermented at close to 90F – this yeast can handle it and rewards you with some great assertive classic saison flavors. my favorite saison yeast yet! although I decided against a brett b secondary here I definitely plan on doing one in the future, especially after reading this writeup over at embrace the funk.
- the weeks leading up to the event were full of hype – thousands of homebrewers and hundreds of taps were to convene at an idyllic location for an eleven-hour pouring session. I was a little apprehensive at first, but by the time the smoke cleared late saturday night, it was clear the festival had delivered in spades.
- a great variety of beers were on draft all day, from awesome gruits and tasty barrel-aged projects to jalapeno stouts and truly “herbal” pale ales. there were also tons of unique meads, oude geuzes and bruins, and satisfying riffs on IPAs (this was in addition to a six-year flight of SN bigfoot, a three-year flight of la folie, and a bottle of unibroue 11 anniversary, amongst many others, that were circulated back at camp).
- after sampling dozens of beers over the hours I realized I had barely scratched the surface of what was offered, but plenty of food, hydration, and pacing left me in good shape on sunday morning. pacific gravity organized a great camp site and the weather was great all weekend, which made for an awesome experience. I’m already looking forward to next year!
- the flickr set of additional photos can be found HERE.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only brewer out there who is a little biased while reviewing the fruits of their labor.
- after spending hours milling, mashing, sparging, boiling, and cooling, results that taste anything close to beer are most likely celebrated. in addition, friends and family who enjoy the fruits of the homebrewer’s labor may be reluctant to offer even the slightest criticism, as a result of politeness or perhaps a desire to maintain a steady stream of homemade libations.
- however, constructive criticism resulting from accurate observations of a beer’s characteristics can only help to improve future incarnations of such beer. even casual drinkers unfamiliar with the BJCP style guidelines can help by summarizing significant elements they observe in a neutral manner (e.g., “I smell a lot of grass and flowers,” “this beer tastes like bread,” “it smells like a dirty diaper,” etc.)
- in my case, I was able to review some valuable criticism when I got my OC fair beer comp scoresheets back in the mail. the reviews ran the gamut – some were written by BJCP certified judges, some by fellow homebrewers; some were thorough and offered suggestions, while others were painfully sparse and overly general (and frankly worthless). scores ranged from a 9 (saison) to a 35 (golden strong).
- reading these score sheets opened my eyes to some overlooked “defects” in my beers and prompted me to impartially review my current draft lineup. in the interests of progress, I also made note of some potential modifications that could be used to overcome identified undesirables.
dry irish stout
light coffee nose, thin body, slight tang in finish, poor head retention
mash higher for more malt/body, use a bigger starter, use 2-row instead of pils, longer boil
dry finish, “delicate” floral/spice aroma
mash higher, higher fermentation temp for more phenols, use different yeast (german hef or belgian wit instead of trappist strain)
dry apple cider
dry champagne nose, tart apple flavor with tart, dry finish, very champagne like
experiment with other yeast strains that are less dominant/highlight the apples more and don’t attenuate as much (beer strains, etc.)
saison/belgian specialty ale/sour ale
fruity/sour aroma, clean barnyard funk with smooth sourness, slight oxidation
modifications:enter in a more relevant judging category(even though fantome is an example of the BJCP saison category)/explain beer in notes, higher initial fermentation temps and more dregs earlier during fermentation, purge carboy with CO2 when adding dregs
- hopefully objective tasting sessions like these will lead to an improved experience for everyone involved, even if I don’t brew with competitions specifically in mind. constructive criticism shouldn’t hurt any brewer’s feelings!
as a personal fan of such gems as “funner”/”funnest” and “I’m doing good,” I hate to go all grammar nazi on everyone, but beer advocates and bloggers alike should take note, as this is abused all too often:
Your “palate” is the roof of your mouth, and by extension, your sense of taste. A “palette” is the flat board an artist mixes paint on (or by extension, a range of colors). A “pallet” is either a bed (now rare) or a flat platform onto which goods are loaded. (beedictionary.com)
- neither showed any signs of activity (read: visible blowoff), and although this was the first time I had fermented in cornelius kegs, I knew something was up. I also remembered that my roselare pack was from an older batch (early ’10) and my sour mix vial didn’t show as much activity as earlier vials had (after warming to room temperature, they usually gush down the vial sides into my wort – this one seemed pretty tame in comparison).
- I vowed to take quick action if conditions hadn’t changed by the time we returned on sunday.
- after unloading our gear sunday afternoon, I dropped by the cellar for a status check. what I saw was disheartening – still no visible activity. after popping the lid of the sour mix keg, I was relieved to see a strong krausen, and after sealing the keg gasket with some lube, the blowoff started bubbling away. however, when I cracked open the roselare keg, I was greeted with nothing but the sweet aroma of unfermented wort.
- luckily, when I initially racked the wort into the kegs, I was left with about a gallon extra, which I had fermented out with a dry pack of safbrew T58 (PDF link!), effectively resulting in a gallon starter.
- after reading up on the pros and cons of the yeast, I decided to pitch a significant amount of the propagated slurry into the roselare keg. the T58 doesn’t seem to be that attenuative, so there should be plenty of sugars left for the bugs to get at over time (assuming that the alcoholic environment doesn’t hinder too much activity).
- in less than 24 hours the T58 keg was violently blasting CO2 and krausen, much to my relief. my long term plans for this brew include a primary fermentation in kegs for six months, then blending the two kegs over a large amount of sour cherries and the yeast cake slurry from my (hopefully bottled) saison for another six.
- as a side note, when in big bear, check out their only local brewery – big bear mountain brewery. it gets rocked on beeradvocate, but their pils and dopplebock were pretty tasty and go well with some fried green beans.
- also, FYI, the SF beer week calendar has been posted, so get ready.
- I started with edwort’s pale ale recipe and tweaked some things around to get it where I wanted it:
16.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 72.73 % 4.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 18.18 % 1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 4.55 % 1.00 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 4.55 % 2.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (60 min) Hops 23.9 IBU 1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (30 min) Hops 7.3 IBU 0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (15 min) Hops 2.4 IBU 0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (5 min) Hops 1.0 IBU 1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale
- I mashed lower than usual (around 152, dropping to 148 by the end of the mash). hopefully the added dryness will bring out some of the homegrown hops without accentuating any of the alcohol.
- and got an OG of 1.055 and an apparent FG of 1.005, which by my calculations results in an ABV of 6.56%. a little high for a pale ale, but I’m sure not that many imbibers will mind the extra kick in the pants.