Archive for July, 2010

healthy spirits, bistro gambrinus and hopmonk tavern – an SF weekend

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

last weekend AP and I flew back up to our old stomping grounds in SF for a swim as well as some much-needed beer exposure.

  • on friday we made a pit stop over at columbus cafe, and old favorite, where a couple pints of lagunitas’ dogtown pale and bear republic’s racer 5 eased me into the weekend.
  • we also cruised by bistro gambrinus for dinner per AP’s research, which turned out to be a great idea.  the food was great (the burgers looked awesome), and although the service was spotty and a couple taps were kicked, the beers were still outstanding.  I grabbed a köstritzer schwarzbier (drinkable and well balanced, a little more refined than death and taxes) as well as a schneider aventinus (not my thing, tons of clove and banana), and AP knocked back a neumarkter lammsbräu dunkel, which was damn tasty and made me wish I had ordered it (AP has been doing a lot of that lately).
  • on saturday we hit the bridge and went up to the hopmonk tavern in sebastopol with the CBs and TB (after trying some of CB’s pale and his killer saison going to town in his fermenator).  after getting off on the wrong foot with their house kellerbier (super corny and actually pretty horrible), I recovered with pliny, while the table was being peppered with favorites like lagunitas’ kronik/censored and rodenbach’s grand cru.
  • we also stopped by bottle barn on the way back to grab some beers, highlights including ’08 bourbon county stouts for $3.50 a pop!
  • before taking off on sunday, there was one essential stop to be made over at healthy spirits.  this spot was my first major beer discovery in the city and is still a must-visit location for many reasons, a few of them being:
    • the staff - the owner, rami, and resident beer expert, dave, are super friendly and can talk for days about beer.  dave has given me great homebrewing ideas (kvass IPA) as well as insightful beer procurement advice (bi-rite for brews?).
    • the selection - unless I cruise down to port’s bottle shop in SD, there is really no other place I can go to get ANY hard-to-find beers, much less small batch belgians from cantillon, fantome, drie fonteinen, etc.  healthy spirits carries them all, and aggressively stocks some of the finest beers money can buy.
    • the blog - dave maintains a great blog that is consistently updated with their new procurements.  even though I can’t make it in most of the time, I can check the blog to keep updated on new killer releases.
  • of course, this selection and service does come with a price (healthy spirit beers ain’t cheap), but if you mix a sixer you get a discount.  I grabbed a boxload of brews and checked them on my flight without any issues (FYI, a standard 24-pack filled with 6-7 wrapped bottles weighs about 25 pounds, well under standard airline limits).
  • when AP and I finally got back to LA, we were glad to be home, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the amazing beer scene up north.

brewing a pilsner and kegging the IPA

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

on sunday I managed to squeeze in some time for a last-minute brewday.

  • this wasn’t any ordinary brew, though – it was my first pilsner!  I was inspired by my recent keezer build to brew a beer that needed some colder fermentation temps and long-term lagering, and a pilsner fit the bill perfectly.
  • I was also inspired by my trip with AP to the czech republic, and I therefore decided on a bohemian style pilsner, or “bo pils.”
  • after a little internet scan I came across jamil zainasheff’s bo pils recipe, which I then slightly modified as follows:
    • 10.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 93.02 %
      11 oz. Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 6.98 %
      1.50 oz Saaz [3.50 %] (60 min) Hops 18.5 IBU
      1.80 oz Saaz [3.50 %] (30 min) Hops 17.0 IBU
      1.00 oz Saaz [3.50 %] (10 min) Hops 4.5 IBU
      1.00 oz Saaz [3.50 %] (0 min) Hops –
      1 Pkgs Budvar Lager (Wyeast Labs #2000) Yeast-Lager
  • I also made a pretty hefty (for me) 1L starter a couple days before and gave it a shot of O2 to get it going.  I pitched at 70F and let it sit for about an hour before tossing my fermentation bucket into the keezer at 55 +/- 5F.
  • the next morning, I knocked the keezer temp down to 50 +/- 2F, which seemed to be right for the yeast.  last I checked, the airlock was bubbling away, so everything seems to be on the up and up.  keep your fingers crossed…
  • I also managed to keg the IPA during the brew.  as usual, I forgot to grab a gravity reading, but the aroma was pretty awesome, so I’m hoping for the best.
  • on monday I also cruised over to san pedro brew co. to meet up with JW to try out his new lineup.  he has a belgian wit, amber, and brown on tap, all of which were tasty.  I especially liked the brown, which was clean and very sessionable, a perfect summer beer for the brown ale lover.
  • JW also showed me his fermenter cleaning procedure and, as usual, fielded a barrage of questions with patience and enthusiasm.  thanks again JW!
  • also, on the hop front - all the plants are doing well, but the cascade vines are definitely larger than any first year growth I have ever seen.  there are tons of developing cones and which will hopefully result in a significant harvest.


alpine village, great BBQ, and sweat equity

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

last thursday night, AP and I went over to alpine village for some legit german food and brews.

  • ever since I dropped by AV a little while back, I was eagerly anticipating our return.  I knew it was going to be a great night right when we walked in the door, and were seated immediately and given a healthy serving of liverwurst and rye.
  • thursday was swing night, and there was a full band in attendance along with an impressive singer.  we were definitely the youngest in the crowd by a few decades, but it didn’t keep us from cutting a rug in between courses and beers.
  • ah, the beers – AP got one of her staples, hangar 24’s altbier, and I had weihenstephaner’s kristall weissbier.  well, I ordered it, and ended up with an unfiltered wheat instead, so who knows what I put down.  later AP chatted up the bartender and tried the kristall weiss after the fact, which was definitely tasty and probably the variety of the style that I would pursue ifwhen I brew another wheat.
  • on sunday AP and I rang in the 4th with some heavy BBQ and great beers.  I’m talking a 10lb pork shoulder, 8lb brisket and two dozen brats in the smoker with all the fixins – it was definitely a good time.
  • unfortunately, I was out of homebrew for the occasion, but the food was very well complemented with some firestone walker variety packs and a sixer of stone’s IPA, which was better than I remembered.
  • I also snuck down to the basement for some bottles, including stone’s 14th anniversary empirial IPA (uncomfortably bitter with not enough aroma to balance it out, probably due to the hop selection), lagunitas’ hairy eyeball (killer as always, malty and delicious), and new belgium’s eric’s ale (definitely one of my favorites, the most drinkable sour I have come across).
  • on saturday and sunday JF helped me out with some “brewery expansion construction”: using an angle grinder and some bootleg jig I threw together based off a modification of this idea from homebrewtalk, we cut the tops off of a couple of kegs that will soon enjoy long lives as an HLT and mash tun.  we also installed some weldless ball valves, thermometers, and sightglasses.  once the third keg makes an appearance and all my quick disconnects and other fittings come in, the setup will be revealed, but until then the project will remain shrouded in mystery.