Archive for September, 2009

rogue ales public house

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

the bar at rogue ales public house

last night I rode down to rogue ales public house in north beach with CB (you’d think I live in north beach with all these reviews lately!)

little sumpin/ extra and latona

tap list at rogue

denogginizer and 200m IPA

bear republic hop rod rye

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

hop rod rye in the glass

bear republic’s hop rod rye is a great example of a rye IPA.

  • the rye in this beer complements the IPA hoppiness perfectly, and the result is a brew that is even more drinkable than a straight IPA.
  • I am definitely a fan of rye IPAs, and will order them up whenever I get a chance.  another great examples of a rye IPAs is schmaltz’ bittersweet lenny’s R.I.P.A.
  • I have also brewed denny conn’s rye IPA recipe multiple times, and each batch has gotten rave reviews from everyone who has tried it.
  • in fact, one of my top 5 personal favorite homebrew recipes is based off of a rye bread/kvass and pale ale recipe adapted from a conversation with dave over at healthy spirits.  I will definitely be brewing that one again.
  • bear republic is a great brewery that I have noticed more and more at festivals.  their employees are always super friendly and generous with their pours.  plus, their racer 5 IPA is my go-to pint at many bars around town.  great job guys!

hop rod rye bottle

pivovarský klub prague

Monday, September 28th, 2009

a great house pilsener at pivovarsky klub

this post is a continuation of the brew highlights from last year’s european adventure.

after a long trek out to holesovice and pivni galerie (review soon!) in the czech republic, AP and I were in desperate need of refreshment.  pivovarský klub definitely came through nicely.

  • this place had a great bottle selection (200+ bottles) that included many american/west coast offerings.  it was pretty amazing to see some local bottles from places like stone brewing so far from home.
  • the downstairs bar was amazing too – bottles lined the walls and the modest tap selection was top notch.  the traditional food was great too.
  • I tried out the dum stepan from their house brewery, pivovarsky dum – it was a great czech pils that I wish I could get more often.
  • I also had a svijany maz from svijany brewery – this beer doesnt seem to get much love on beeradvocate, but I remember it as hiding its 11%abv well and being quite drinkable and refreshing.
  • AP had the lipan from these guys in drazic (I think).  she also had her now-favorite beer, the pivo svetly lezak from opat aka pivovar broumov, a brewery whose offerings have been impossible to find here in the states (much to AP’s disappointment).
  • overall, this place was comfortable, relaxing, and had great service.  I will definitely make a point to stop by again the next time I am in the area.

planning out the rest of our route with opat at the klub

another great high-gravity czech pilsener

brewdog punk IPA

Friday, September 25th, 2009

punk IPA closeup

I recently cracked open a punk IPA from scottish brewery brewdog.

  • I recently read about brewdog in an issue of beeradvocate and was intrigued not only by how young the head brewer looked, but also by the wide variety of brews they were putting out and the interesting techniques they use (lots of whiskey casks – figures!).
  • they have also been in the press recently for putting out pretty some outrageous brews (atlantic IPA or tokyo anyone?).
  • punk IPA is hopped with a couple of hops I don’t see in commercial beers to often: ahtanum and nelson sauvin (a high alpha-acid new zealand hop with wine grape-like aroma).  I have been looking to get some nelson sauvin for a while, so I was interested in seeing the results it produced.
  • unfortunately, I was a little disappointed by this IPA.  I’m not sure if I’ve been brainwashed by mega hoppy west coast IPAs, or if my palate was destroyed by earlier beers of the day, but punk IPA seemed a little too light/watery to me. it was like an east coast IPA without the malt backbone.  it might be a good idea for a hot summer BBQ beer, but I’m not sure when I’m gonna pick this guy up again.

punk IPA bottle

punk IPA

deschutes the dissident

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

up close pour of the dissident

last weekend I managed to crack open a bottle of deschutesthe dissident.

  • the dissident is a great example of an oud bruin, aka an east flanders brown ale.
  • east flanders brown ales are traditionally more malty and bitter than their west flanders red ale counterparts, and are fermented in stainless steel tanks using a mixed culture of yeast and bacteria (here, presumably brettanomyces) that gives them their sourness. thanks wild brews!
  • in the case of this beer, evidently some of it was aged in pinot noir and cabernet barrels, and washington cherries were added to secondary.
  • when this beer came out it was seriously hyped, both online and in local stores.  it lived up to it though by being a relatively sessionable brown with just the right amount of sourness.
  • I believe deschutes called this beer “the dissident” since it was their first brett beer and they isolated it from their main brewing equipment during aging and bottling.  their label is one of the best and most unique I have seen on a commercial beer.
  • this beer was on the shelves everywhere for a couple of months, but supplies went fast and pretty soon there was none to be found.  long after I had given up hope of cracking another bottle of this guy, AP, CB, TB and I rolled up to santa rosa for their beer fest.  while up there, we stopped by their friendly neighborhood beer store.  while we were kicking around the store looking for brews, I noticed that one of the cases of red chair on display looked a little different from the rest.  I looked a little closer and had an indiana jones moment – it was an unopened case of the dissident!

dissident artwork

dissident pour

dissident bottle

magnolia pub and brewery, fresh hops galore

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

hand pumps at magnolia

yesterday CB alerted me that there were some special beers on draft at magnolia, so last night we rolled over to check it out.

  • turns out there were quite a few special beers available – I counted 5 in addition to their regular rotation.
  • the first one I had to try was a pint of their “wet-hop-dry-hopped” prescription pale.  it was described in their mail update as follows: “We tried to see how many pounds of wet hops (Chinook) we could fit into a firkin and then topped it up with Prescription. There might be more hops than beer in it.” this was my favorite of the night by far – it had a great hop aroma and flavor that thoroughly enveloped the beer but was not harsh or overwhelming.
  • CB and I also tasted both varieties of their high time harvest ale – #1 was brewed with 120 pounds of fresh centennial hops, and #2 was brewed with 120 pounds of fresh chinook hops.  both were great, but completely different – CB preferred the centennial, while I enjoyed the chinook.  fresh/wet hop beers are some of my favorites, and magnolia definitely went the extra mile with the style this year.
  • we also tried the other one that was aged for 8 months in a buffalo trace bourbon barrel – once it warmed up a little the aroma on it was awesome, and the barrel gave the beer a ton of complexity.  it was my second favorite of the night.
  • I also had a taste of rosebud, an anniversary beer that “is built loosely around our beloved Maris Otter malt but then goes out on a long, strange trip through a Belgian fermentation, the addition of dried rosebuds, and the juice of 100 pounds of syrah grapes from Amador County.”  the rose-petal aroma was definitely interesting, as was the rest of the beer, but I’m not sure I would order it up again.
  • the place was full but not crowded, and everyone there (both staff and patrons) was very friendly and in a good mood.  the service was awesome as well. to top it off, most pints were only $3 through their tuesday special.  it reminded me of my trip up to portland earlier this year, where this kind of environment was commonplace.  it was definitely my best trip to magnolia – I have to start going over there on tuesdays more often!

wet hopped prescription pale and barrel aged the other one

taps at magnolia

prescription pale, high times, the other one

fantome saison

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

fantome saison

ah, fantome, how I love your saison.

  • the sheer fruitiness of this beer is unreal! I cannot believe how much tropical fruit aroma and flavor come from this yeast alone.  the fruit is not overwhelming though, it is very complementary, and the beer is ultimately complex and drinkable.
  • in fact, I have come across more than a couple clone recipes for this beer that call for strawberry, guava, and other juices in order to replicate the fruit elements of this yeast.  however, I have heard that wyeast occasionally releases a special strain of this yeast…
  • this bottle was especially fruity and clean.  however, it is always a crap shoot when opening a fantome bottle – since they are bottled by hand in small batches, they are very unpredictable in terms of carbonation and flavor.  every time you open a bottle you are rolling the dice.
  • on my trip to belgium last year, I tried to plan out a trip to Soy, where fantome is located.  however, it’s quite a trek from brussels, so the trip didn’t happen (some day!).
  • a little trivia – the equipment Dany Prignon uses over at fantome is from Brasserie d’Achouffe.
  • also, according to the same source, the brewery is named after “a legend of the nearby town of La Roche-en-Ardenne, which asserts that the ghost of the long-dead Countess Berthe de La Roche can still be seen walking amidst the ruins of the town’s castle
  • I just checked the ABV of this sucker – 8%??? where does the alcohol go?!?

fantome saison bottle

fantome saison in glass

baby shower kölsch: results

Monday, September 21st, 2009

the setup

quite a few months ago it was brought to my attention that NB and PB were having a baby shower.  I offered to supply a keg for the occasion.

  • oysters and BBQ were on the menu, and the event was being held outside.  I had to figure out a beer that would fit the bill.
  • I chose to brew a kolsch.  not only is kolsch a great session beer, but it is light and crisp, perfect with most foods on a sunny day.
  • I had read somewhere that an initially sweeter kolsch dries out when aged, which is what I wanted.  in order to ensure that the kolsch was light, crisp, and clear, I kegged it in June and cold crashed it in my cool shed for over 3 months.
  • the strategy worked, and the beer came out dry, perfectly carbonated, and super drinkable.
  • in fact, I think “drinkable” was an understatement.  with about 30 people in attendance, and over 20 pouring, the keg was kicked in less than an hour!
  • the couple of bottles of tripel and cider that I brewed up were the next to go.  it’s a good thing I brought a case of lagunitas IPA as backup!
  • thanks again NB and PB, the setup was great!

kolsch pour

oyster shuck

party goers are satisfied

reflecting on the brew, anticipating the future

during the weekend I also managed a couple more beer-related accomplishments.

  • I kegged the single-hop pale on friday.  I’m thinking about letting it sit for a month max, and then breaking it out to enjoy some local hoppyness at its freshest.

single hop fresh hop pale ale

  • I also took down the vojvodina vine on sunday, completing the cycle.  I felt bad stuffing it in the trash, but I knew it would be back even stronger next year!

vojvodina in trash

st feuillien saison

Friday, September 18th, 2009

St. Feuillien saison

another one of the brews that got cracked over at CB’s last weekend was a saison from st feuillien.

  • I had never tried a beer from st feuillien before (or even heard of the brewery).  evidently they are a belgian abbey brewery (note the difference between an abbey brewery and a trappist brewery).
  • mildly entertaining trivia regarding the story behind the brewery can be found here.
  • the beer was very well balanced and drinkable, and was refreshing during a hot brew day.  however, it didn’t really stand out from the rest of the saisons out there.

St. Feuillien in the glass

St. Feuillien bottle

using a portable refractometer

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

refractometer with wort on prism

for our anniversary this year, AP picked me up a portable refractometer.

  • I’m not gonna lie, up until now I have never taken a gravity reading for any of my brews.
  • the extra steps involved in taking a reading using my hydrometer weren’t worth knowing the exact ABV of my beer.
  • however, I had heard stories about the ease of use of a refractometer, so I put it on my brew wish list, and AP picked it up for me from william’s.
  • at first glance, the thing looks like a piece of lab equipment, which to me was a little intimidating.  as a result, I put off taking an OG reading on my fresh hop pale until I figured out how the thing worked.
  • however, CB’s ages-old hydrometer snapped while brewing his brown, and he sent some wort home in a ziploc bag for me to test.
  • I was kicking myself when I finally used the thing.  calibration took 30 seconds using a drop of the included solution and a screw on top of the unit.
  • after that, I just wiped the unit clean with the included cloth, put a single drop of wort on the prism, covered it with the cover plate, and pointed the sucker at a light source.  the reading is where the blue and white areas meet.
  • there are a few advantages to using a refractometer over a hydrometer: you just need a drop of wort, the wort can be 40°-160° F, and you don’t need to adjust your reading for temperature (although there is a temperature correction chart in the instructions, the instructions also state that the “refractometer [is] provided with an automatic temperature compensation function, so correction of the temperature according to the table is not needed.”  I guess that’s what ATC means).
  • note: the reading you get is in brix, so you have to convert it to specific gravity.  there are many converters online, and a lot of brew software does the conversion as well.
  • in short, I highly recommend this tool as an alternative to a hydrometer – it is fast and easy (and not prohibitively expensive).

the refractometer kit