Posts Tagged ‘imperial stout’

imperial stout tasting, beer bargains

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

 

after being sidelined with a nasty head cold last week, I celebrated getting back on my feet by cracking open a bottle of my imperial stout for a tasting.

  • after experiencing some carbonation issues, I hit the bottles with some wine yeast and set them down for a couple of weeks.  the new yeast did the trick, eating up the residual bottling sugar I had added earlier and carbonating up the bottles in a heartbeat.  my latest gravity reading indicates that the beer’s FG didn’t shift (it stayed at 1.02), so hopefully I won’t have to worry about the wine yeast eating some unfermented sugars and overcarbing the bottles (I’m still planning on testing a bottle every week for the next month though).
    • appearance: pitch black, even when held to the light.  1″ tan head fades to 1/4″ after a few minutes but sticks around.  a great looking beer.
    • aroma: intense roastiness with a bit of booze on the back end, slight hint of sweetness
    • taste: creamy mouthfeel with a sharp, dry finish and carbonic bite.  great roasted malt flavors but not a ton of complexity.
    • overall: this beer still isn’t my favorite, but the champagne yeast worked great and really transformed this beer.  it’s amazing how strong carbonation can completely change a beer’s profile.  hopefully the finishing bite created by the wine yeast carbonation will mellow over time.  I’m looking forward to comparing this to the version I finished with brett in the keg.

 

while kicking back with the aforementioned brew, I got to thinking about the frenzy surrounding “elite” beers here on the west coast – beers that are either exceedingly hard to find locally or costly when they do come around.  I know I’m not alone in feeling envious of locals of prominent foreign breweries who can cruise by their neighborhood watering hole at their leisure and pick up some extraordinary beverages for a song.  however, I have also come across consistent beer “bargains” on a weekly basis that (in my opinion) match the quality and complexity of their elusive style counterparts, often for a fraction of the price.

 

 

  • for example, anyone even remotely interested in craft beer has at one time lusted after a bottle of westvleteren 12, a limited-availability belgian quad that is admittedly delicious.  however, instead of shelling out $20+/bottle online or booking a flight to belgium, I recommend heading down to your local and grabbing a bottle or two of st bernardus abt 12, an equally tasty quad that goes for $4.99/bottle around here.  the similarities between the two beers are striking, which makes sense when you consider their shared history.
  • additionally, it seems that everyone and their cousin has a hard-on for anything cantillon these days.  it doesn’t help that the van roy’s creations are nowhere to be found in the state.  I have to admit, they might be my favorite foreign brewery and put out some incredible beers, but instead of chasing down cantillon’s geuze and paying a mint for it, I recommend nabbing some bottles of drie fonteinen’s oude geuze instead.  in fact, although cantillon’s kriek is safely in my top five beer list, I have to admit that I prefer drie fonteinen’s geuze to its cantillon competitor (and I’m not the only one). plus, I can easily get 375s of it (seasonally) for just $9.99, which in my opinion might be the best beer deal out there these days.
  • further, I know of a ton of guys who love orval with a passion.  however, it’s kind of hard to get behind spending $5-6 a bottle for a session beer during a barbecue.  plus, I’m never too sure how long my bottles have been sitting in some hot truck or warehouse on their way over.  as an inexpensive local alternative I recommend checking out green flash’s rayon vert, which is less than half the cost and tastes to me what I would imagine orval would be like from the source.  I reviewed both earlier HERE. 
  • other beers I could generally label as “bargains” when considering quality, price, and accessibility would have to be rodenbach grand cru ($9.99/750mL), old rasputin imperial stout ($8.50/4 12 oz.), and bigfoot barleywine ($14/6 12 oz.).  again, this is only on the west coast, so your results may vary.
  • as much as I like hitting the road to hunt down an elusive regional favorite, it’s reassuring to know that many world-class beers from around the globe are readily accessible from my own back yard.  enjoy!

june PG meeting, house saison IV, thrashlab visit

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

last thursday was the third thursday of the month, and as with all third thursdays, I headed up to culver city for pacific gravity’s monthly meeting.

  • I brought along bottles of my imperial stout and vizcaino for some sensory analysis – vizcaino’s bretty/fruity aroma and golden strong characteristics were well received, and the consensus regarding the imperial stout was that lack of carbonation and high finishing gravity hindered the overall package.
  • as a result, after kegging my clean portion of belgian amber and dosing the other portion with brett b, I individually opened each bottle of my imperial stout and re-yeasted them with red star premier cuvee dry wine yeast.  I contemplated trying a dry ale yeast first, but the beer’s high abv made me doubt that method’s success.  I plan on trying a bottle next week and chilling the bottles once adequate carbonation has been achieved to reduce the risk of overcarbonation.

I also got around to brewing the fourth iteration of my house saison after bottling the third batch last week.

  • keeping with my previous strategy of alternating light and dark variations, I strayed slightly from last year’s recipe with a few modifications, including the use of dark, pungent liquid candi sugar and low-alpha hops early in the boil (12 gal recipe):
    • 18 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.0 SRM) Grain 2 72.7 %
      1 lbs 8.0 oz Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 6.1 %
      1 lbs 8.0 oz Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 4 6.1 %
      1 lbs 4.0 oz Carafa II (412.0 SRM) Grain 5 5.1 %
      1 lbs Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 6 4.0 %
      1 lbs Candi Sugar, Dark (275.0 SRM) Sugar 7 4.0 %
      3.00 oz Saaz [1.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 4.1 IBUs
  • I also mashed higher than normal at 156F and hit my target gravity of 1.059 (14.5 brix) exactly due to a smooth sparge/lauter.  I gave my house slurry a couple days head start and then pitched a single vial of WLP566, which took off in a few hours.  after brewing this batch I came to realize that what was once a slight riff on a saison has evolved into sours somewhat comparable to blanc and banning.  as a result, after this batch has been kegged and bottled, I plan on returning to brewing a standard saison (likely with a high finisher like WLP565) with a simple post-fermentation brett addition (maybe some WLP644?).
  • also, during the start of my brew day the crew from thrashlab (specifically, the subculture club derivative) stopped by to film a general homebrewing how-to as well as to interview me about my process/brewing history.  everyone involved was a consummate professional, and filming went fairly smoothly.  it was definitely neat to share my love of homebrewing and hopefully turn some more people on to the hobby.  stay tuned for a link to the final video(s), and be sure to scrutinize all minutiae and call me out on any mistakes…

              

              

 

lagunitas brewers’ tapas dinner

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

jeremy pouring one up

ahh, lagunitas.

  • for my birthday, AP and I managed to score some tickets to the inaugural brewer’s tapas dinner at lagunitas brewing.
  • I had been to the beer sanctuary and taproom a little while back, but it was AP’s maiden voyage.  after a lunch full of cask ales and british fare at magnolia, we headed out to petaluma for some more debauchery.
  • as anyone who knows me is well aware, I am definitely biased towards lagunitas.  I love their beers, packaging, and overall mentality, and I got a healthy dose of all three at their dinner.
  • their five-course tapas/small plate style dinner was tasty and well-prepared, and was accompanied by lagunitas’ deep lineup, including their IPA, imperial stout, hop stoopid, pils, and hairy eyeball.
  • during the dinner, brewmaster Jeremy Marshal fielded questions from the crowd, while the rest of the brew staff worked the tables and topped off everyone’s glasses.
  • after dinner, everyone headed over to their skybox-style bar overlooking the brewery for some aged brews and beer talk.
  • the highlight of the night for me was talking to one of the owners and the brewers while they doled out generous pours of ’06 gnarlywine, ’06 hairy eyeball, ’08 brown shugga, and many others.
  • topics of conversation ranged from yeast strains to hop extract to the story behind a little sumpin’ sumpin’, and everyone at the brewery was friendly, well-spoken, and informative.
  • I was definitely bummed out when I realized it was time for us to take off, but I was grateful to be a part of this awesome event and was already anticipating my next trip over to the beer sanctuary.  thanks for the great time guys!

aged bottles getting cracked

another pour from one of the brewers

havin a good time

kicking us out

quick glance at the floor

goose island bourbon county stout 2008

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

bourbon county stout in the glass

a while back, while over at CB’s (where all the good bottles seem to be hiding), he cracked open a bottle of bourbon county stout from 2008, a 13% abv bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout from goose island out in chicago.

  • I remember feeling a little like a sucker last year when I shelled out $20 for a four-pack of these at bevmo when they were first released.
  • however, I found that over time this beer has received rave reviews from all the beer nerds, and seems to be pretty highly regarded.  I still remember some dude over at city beer losing it over this beer, swearing that it was the most overlooked beer of 2008 and that we should all stock up before it was too late.
  • I hate to say this, but when I cracked a bottle of this open a few months after I got em, I could barely put down a few ounces – the brew was SUPER boozy, beyond a liqueur and more like a straight shot.  bourbon infiltrated all other flavors and I actually dumped half the bottle since AP didn’t want to have anything to do with it!
  • which brings me to a week or two ago, when CB pops the cap on this sucker and all I can think about was the booze fest that went down last year.
  • however, the beer aged very well, and the alcohol was a lot more veiled.  some great oak flavor came out as well.  the beer was infinitely more drinkable than it had been just a year prior, and tasted great!  I can’t wait to see what a couple more years do to this behemoth!

bourbon county stout

bourbon county stout bottle