Archive for February, 2012

K&L wines, venice beach, east coast yeast

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

last weekend AP and I stopped by K&L wines in hollywood to pick up a couple of online orders.

  • I like to think of K&L as my little secret – disguised as a dedicated wine store, they also have an impressive beer (and spirits) selection.  to top it off, you can buy bottles online from any of their locations (each location has a different selection) and they will ship to your local store at no cost.  only one grungy tall dude tarnishes an otherwise friendly and competent staff, and they are open relatively late for a retail store (8pm most nights).  for those of you interested in spirits, they also have an intelligent, well-written blog on the topic.

after nabbing some hard-to-find bottles, we headed to venice beach for an extra-large dose of humanity.

  • with tons of knickknack shops, heavy traffic, and hordes of people, venice is usually low on my list of weekend destinations, but AP had done some research and promised good food and beers.  she definitely delivered with larry’s, a true gastropub right on the boardwalk that had a great compact menu and a solid tap lineup.  pints of ommegang hennepin and smog city XPA complemented burgers, pizza, and a sizable bowl of mussels, and service was both attentive and fast.  afterwards we regained our circulation with a surprise blue bottle coffee find and headed over to the skate park to watch guys fly out of the bowl.  the whole afternoon definitely exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to head over there again.

in other news, I finally managed to get my hands on some elusive east coast yeast strains.

  • although bugmeister Al B used to give out strains on the BBB, distribution recently shifted to joe at princeton homebrew, where new shipments sell out within hours of being announced (it  looks like love2brew sells these strains as well).  after having an earlier shipment cancelled due to a packaging leak, this west coaster finally got in on a completed shipment, and scored a couple of ECY01 bugfarm VI blends as well as their ECY04 brett blend and their ECY09 belgian abbaye yeast, all of which will be put to use in upcoming brews (stay tuned!).

              

              

averting brew day disaster, feb PG meeting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

last thursday I headed back to culver city homebrew for my second monthly pacific gravity meeting.

  • belgian and french ales were the style of the month, and both local and international varieties were popped open to try out.  surprisingly, my favorite commercial brew of the night was ommegang’s hennepin, a beer I often overlook but was pleasantly surprised by its effervescence and drinkability.
  • I also brought along a keg of my winter house saison, and was stoked to see that it had won homebrew keg of the month by the end of the meeting!  it was very validating to see fellow club members appreciate the beer as much as I did.
  • I also started a flickr page for my pics of PG meetings and events – those interested can check it out HERE.

on saturday I fired up my keggles and embarked on what I thought was going to be a simple, straightforward brewday.

  • the plan was to put together a simple kolsch (recipe for 12 gals, 80% efficiency):
    • 15 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 73.2 %
      5 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 26.8 %
      2.00 oz Pearle [8.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 26.5 IBUs
      1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 4 3.7 IBUs
      1.00 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 5 1.5 IBUs
  • after mashing in at 152F, things started to fall apart.  noticing that my plate chiller wasn’t cooling as well as it had during earlier batches, I decided to disassemble it and take a look.  what I found blew my mind – despite backflushing and thoroughly rinsing my chiller after each use, nasty gunk was caked inside the chiller and fittings (likely a result of a couple sessions of chilling wort without filtering pellet hops).  I immediately soaked the chiller in PBW and power flushed it with scalding hot water numerous times, then filled and boiled the chiller on the stove, soaked it again, and flushed it an umpteenth time.  I can’t believe I had dodged infection for so long!
  • with my paranoia kicked up to a frenzy, I turned to my march pump and attempted to remove the fittings so that they too could receive a thorough cleaning.  in the process, I managed to crack off all but a single thread on the pump’s output port.  since I still needed to both sparge and chill my wort, pump failure was definitely not a favorable turn of events.  luckily, with a little thread wrap and a delicate touch, I managed to bootleg the pump operation just long enough to get both jobs done.  now I just have to choose between a plastic or stainless replacement pump head
  • to top it off, my kolsch slurry didn’t take off, and after three days with no activity, my kolsch became a saison with the addition of WLP568 and wyeast 3724.  when it rains, it pours…

              

              

naja’s barrel night, select beer store, strong beer session #3

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

after a few weeks of ho-hum beer activity, the year really kicked into gear with a trio of events.

           

           

imperial stout bottling, big bear lake

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

last week I finally managed to find some time to bottle/keg the imperial stout I has put together a while back.

  • primary fermentation appeared active for a month after pitching the WLP001 starter, and after visible fermentation tapered off I left the beer in primary for another six weeks.  the beer had an FG of 1.02 for an abv of 9.1%, and the sample I tasted was rich and malty, with a great roasted malt finish.  it will be interesting to see if the carbonation brings out any of the homegrown hops I tossed in there…

also, last weekend I accompanied the APs, the MLs, and HL up to big bear lake for a long weekend of (man-made) snow and relaxation.

  • after a surprisingly great day on the slopes, we cruised by big bear mountain brewery. the only thing that had changed since our last visit was their beer lineup – a decent pils and dopplebock had transformed into a honey blonde and chocolate porter (the latter of which I believe is contract brewed).  despite the mediocre beer and service, the atmosphere was comfortable and very local, and was a great setting in which to pour some pitchers and eat a tray full of miscellaneous fried veggies.
  • the next night things picked up a little at nottingham’s tavern, where pitchers of mission’s shipwrecked DIPA accompanied decent food, a passionate cover band experience, and some shuffleboard.
  • I also managed to stow away some choice beers for the trip, and cracked open specialties like an ’08 drie fonteinen oude geuze, an ’08 brown shugga, an ’08 bourbon county stout, and an ’05 pannepot grand reserva while relaxing back at the cabin.  it’s a rough life!

              

             

              

              

balboa island, costa mesa, newport beach

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

last weekend AP and I tossed our bikes in the truck and headed south to explore balboa island, costa mesa, and newport beach.

  • after parking in a residential costa mesa neighborhood, we rode over to big belly deli in newport for some of their awesome sandwiches before heading down to the beach.  one look at the overcrowded dive bars on the strand had us searching for alternatives – luckily, the crow burger kitchen was only a few minutes away, and in no time we were knocking back pours of dogfish 90 minute and sierra nevada northern hemisphere while going to town on some fresh-cut duck fat fries.
  • the stop at crow burger sustained us during our next ride over to balboa island, where we fulfilled the obligatory chocolate dipped banana and walking tour prerequisites.  After ingesting a week’s worth of calories, we burned off a few riding back to commonwealth, a lounge-y bar that must have been having an off night, with only a handful of active taps.  luckily, one of those taps was pouring bootlegger’s dr. tongue.
  • after heading back to our car, on the way out of town we stopped by goat hill tavern, a completely overrated bar where alcoholics go to die.  cheap draft pours of optimator and a basket of salted nuts couldn’t overcome the overwhelming stale beer stench, overblown but underperforming tap list, dirty beer lines, and horrible service.
  • after a little arm-twisting, we also cruised by hi-time cellars on the way to the freeway.  with hundreds of bottles from all over the world, hi-time’s walk-in cooler didn’t disappoint.  the shop also has a fully stocked wine bar to keep your friends busy while you wander the aisles.
  • I was a little skeptical at first, but the balboa island, costa mesa, and newport beach areas have plenty of resources to appease both the beach-loving beer geek and his discerning, high-society wife.  the ability to bike everywhere is just icing on the cake.  next time I need to hit up slater’s 50/50 though…