30 July 2007

Blue Star Brewing Company, San Antonio

Satan came down for a visit, and we decided to visit Blue Star. It's on the edge of the King William district in San Antonio across the street from Pioneer Mills, and is surrounded by art galleries. As a result, there's an eclectic artsy feel to the place. Only five beers were on tap, Golden, Pale Ale, King William Barleywine, cask conditioned ale, and stout. We ordered a sampler and were impressed and decided on a pale ale. The food was great and reasonably priced. Service was fast, and friendly. What I liked the most was the family friendly atmosphere. Area families were there, and kids ranged from infants to six or 7 years of age. Definitely worth a stop, if you're tired of the Riverwalk.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:23 1 comments links to this post

28 July 2007

Flying Dog Brewery GABF Contest

I want to go to the GABF someday. But having just returned from the American Homebrewers Conference in Denver, I don't know if I can afford to go back in a couple of months. Well, thanks to Flying Dog Brewery, I may be able to. Flying Dog is giving away a trip to the 2007 GABF in Denver. Don't tell anyone. I entered, and I want to win!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:21 0 comments links to this post

26 July 2007

Propeller Brewing Sales Up Again

Halifax's Propeller Brewery's founder John Allen wanted to have beer to celebrate his company's 10th anniversary, but can't get any. Sales for the Brewery's British-style ales are using up every drop they can produce. Allen recently added another fermenter, but it will be weeks before the beer is ready. "It's a good problem to have," Allen said.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:47 0 comments links to this post

24 July 2007

Busy day

Yesterday, I kegged the Kentucky Common beer. It was clear and sparkling. It had a strong sour flavor that I hope will mellow in a few weeks. I will age it two weeks at room temperature before putting into the fridge for another month before sampling.

I also transferred to Chocolate Stout to secondary, adding the cocoa powder to some boiling water and mixing well. Then I poured that into the carboy. I'll let that sit two weeks, then I'll keg it, adding the coconut extract at the last minute. Anothere couple of weeks and it should be ready.

Hm. I have nothing to drink now. I should have planned this better.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:20 0 comments links to this post

22 July 2007

New Conn. Law allows brewpubs to sell six packs

As of June 19, Connecticut's brewpubs are legally allowed to bottle and sell their beer to wholesalers for distribution. Steve Boucino and Scott Scanlon, owners of The Cambridge House in Granby, hired a lobbyist at the state capitol and encouraged fans of his beer to flood the legislature with letters. The legislators wanted to make sure that the brewpubs didn't distribute the beer themselves to keep the wholesale distributors happy.

In Texas, Wholesale distibutors killed a proposal to allow microbrewers to sell six packs on their property. In fact, State Law prohibits a Texas microbrewery from telling a visitor where their beer is sold.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:52 0 comments links to this post

20 July 2007

Doc Scott's Coconut Chocolate Stout

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to brew Coconut Chocolate Stout again. I did some research and was going to buy all the ingredients and give you an original recipe. Then I remembered that Austin Homebrew Supply has a double chocolate stout kit. I will follow their instructions, and when I keg the beer, I will add 1/4 tsp of coconut extract.

Mmmm. German chocolate beer.

Actually, I want to try something different, this time. The kit comes with a small amount of cocoa powder that is added to the priming sugar and water. The problem is that when you keg this, the first twelve or so pints are coated with a gritty coat of cocoa that looks like mud. So I am going to add the chocolate to the beer in secondary, and hope the flavor carries through into the keg.

What have I got to lose?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:07 2 comments links to this post

18 July 2007

My first Swag!

At the National Homebrewers Conference, I got a small sample glass that was used all weekend long. I spotted someone wearing a Can Neck from the fine folks over at BeerNeck.com. Since I was planning to go again next year, I figured I oughtta look into getting me one of those.

I ordered a can neck and a can holder on a belt clip, called a Hipster. Why did I buy that? I don't know. I just did.

A few days ago, I received my order. And then some.

Inside the USPS Priority envelope was far more than I ordered! A hand-written note on the invoice said, "I'm hooking you up with some of our other products -- please let me know your feedback. --CS" and a card from Curt Silbert, Chief Brain of Motivational Creations.

Cool! My first swag bag.

First, the Beer Neck. If Curt is the inventor, then he deserves a Nobel Prize. It seems so simple: put a neoprene longneck bottle holder on a lanyard. To quote a familiar ad campaign: "Brilliant!"

It even has a clip to put your ID card on it. That oughta make you Da Man at the office.

Next, the Can Neck. To quote Maxwell Smart, "It was this close!" There are two straps that close behind the neck with velcro. It's a little irritating on my neck. The two straps are about two inches shorter than the lanyard on the Beer Neck. I'm fat. Any can I put in that and let hang will be tilted at a 45° angle, spilling onto my massive belly. If only the Beer Neck Lanyard was on this! I could have worn my NHC badge on the lanyard, and carried my sample glass!

Also included was a Growler Tote. We're are talking Presidential Medal of Freedom here! If your local brewpub is more than twenty minutes away, and you buy growlers, you need this. Stop what you're doing, follow this link, and give Curt your plastic.

My local brewpub, Fredericksburg Brewing Company, sells growlers with the little rings to hold the growler. You know. The standard. Walking more than a couple of blocks hurts the fingers. Put the growler in this, and I could walk. . .well. . .another two blocks to my car. Have I mentioned I'm fat? I couldn't walk home. But if I could, I would use this!

Curt also included another bottle tool. This is an indispensable tool for any beer geek. You can open and reseal bottles with it. I think Sainthood is in order her. I will be interested to see how long the plastic will last. I have a 10 year-old Lone Star opener on my key ring now. It replaced my twelve year old opener than broke in mid-cap removal.

So, go to Curt's site, and buy his stuff. You won't be sorry!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 17:09 0 comments links to this post

16 July 2007

Kentucky Common Contest Beer to secondary

It seems I am making the same mistake today that I made in Denver on Saturday. I just transferred the Kentucky Common to secondary. It needs to clear some. It's a dark brown color, not black, as I'd hoped. I used pale malt extract instead of extra dark. The aroma has a sour smell. I used Belgian sour yeast with several strains of bacteria. The beer has a sour finish, that seems to be accented by the hops. It's about 3% alcohol, so there's no heavy alcohol flavor, making it pretty smooth. I know it's green, so I'll give it a three out of five.

The Belgian sour yeast worked perfectly. I'll use it when we brew the beer for competition. I'm going to try this with Williams Brewing's American extract (80% malt and 20% corn) and mix up the specialty grains. I used Carafa 450L, black patent, chocolate, and Crystal 60L (I was hoping this would give red highlights. I think it just made the beer dark brown.)

My mistake? Having beer at 9 am.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:40 2 comments links to this post

14 July 2007

Where do I enlist?

Atten-Hut!
Pre-sent Beer!
Con-sume Beer!
At Ease!

I found this at Ernie's House of Whoop Ass.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 15:20 0 comments links to this post

12 July 2007

A revelation

The other day I was thinking I should brew another batch of Coconut Chocolate Stout. I began scouring my library for a recipe. Then I smacked my forehead in the tomato juice fashion and said, "Austin Homebrew Supply has a Double Chocolate stout kit. Why reinvent the wheel?" That's when I realized something: I drink most of my homebrew. I don't enter it in competitions. Kits are okay! I will still make beers from recipes, but if I am in the mood for Bourbon Stout or Vanilla Porter, I can buy a kit that I know will turn out well, rather than gamble on a new recipe.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:31 0 comments links to this post

10 July 2007

Thoughts about Craft Beer

Lately, I been thinking about what exactly craft beer is. When I look back at the headlines of this blog, I can tell what I think craft beer is. And I'll confess that sometimes when I write these posts, I sometimes do minimal rewriting, so I can guess what the original writers meant by "craft beer." They mean a small brewery or brewpub, or, essentially, anyone but Bud, Miller and Coors.

According to the Wikipedia entry on craft beers, I'm not alone. Some craft beers can be made by a big brewery in England or Germany--as long as it isn't made in America.

Whenever I think about the term craft brewer, I try to equate it with an artisanal baker, or cheese maker. The problem with that correlation is that the brewer generally does not grow the grain or hops he uses, unlike a cheese maker raises and milks his own cows. And part of me thinks that's what a craft brewer should do. Another part of me thinks a craft brewer should use local ingredients. For example, if I open a brewery and I buy my grain from a local farmer and malt it myself, and I have a hop garden and draw water from my well, I could legitimately be called a craft brewer. But who wants to, or more importantly can afford to, go to that much effort?

The Brewers Association, which represents American craft brewers, defines craft brewers as being small (less than 2 million barrels per year), independent, and "has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor." A craft beer is defined as "produced with 100% barley or wheat malt or use other fermentable ingredients that enhance (rather than lighten) flavor."

So the question becomes, can a non-craft brewer make craft beer? In other words, is Blue Moon a craft beer?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 18:39 1 comments links to this post

08 July 2007

Fosters attempts to save $20 million in taxes

I wonder what my new friend, Peter, would think of this?

Foster's will cut the alcohol content of Victoria Bitter (VB) from 4.9% to 4.8%. This controversial move will save the Australian brewer $20 million in taxes. Oh, and they're raising prices, too.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 20:22 0 comments links to this post

06 July 2007

Kentucky Common Contest Beer

Inspired by the National Homebrewers Conference in Denver a couple of weeks ago, I will enter the National Homebrewing contest with my cousin, Satan. We will brew three beers for submission, his Oatmeal Stout, my Kentucky Common and as yet undetermined beer. With any luck, we will be able to pick up our awards at the 2008 conference in Cincinatti.

Brother Spud's Oatmeal Stout will be an all-grain batch. Kentucky Common will be partial mash. We'll figure out the third beer later.

In that spirit, I ordered the ingredients for the prototype batch and brewed it on July 4th. Here's the recipe:

A Winner and a Sinner Kentucky Common
4.00 lbs. Light Dry Malt Extract
0.50 lbs. Chocolate Malt (350L)
0.25 lbs. Black Patent Malt (525L)
0.50 lbs. Carafa (400)
1.00 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)
0.50 lbs. Crystal 20L
1 oz. Cascade 6.4% AAU/60 min.
1 oz. Cascade 6.4% AAU/5 min.
White Labs WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix
Add grains to 155° F water, and hold for 30 minutes. Sparge and bring to a boil. When boil is finished, add to 3 gallons of ice water pitch yeast.
Est. OG 1051
Actual OG 1038 !

I guess I need to work on my partial mashing technique! This time, I put the flakes maize in one steeping bag, and the grains in another. The maize didn't expand, it just gelatinized. I broke up the ball, but there were still dry spots when I got rid of the spent grains. Maybe I'll use, Williams Brewing's 80% malt 20% corn extract next time. . .

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posted by Jeff Holt at 13:36 0 comments links to this post

04 July 2007

Here's what you need today!

I could have used this last weekend at the National Homebrewers Conference. They provided everyone with a small sample glass A lot of people had things to put around their necks, but I put my in the pocket of my shorts.

Check out Brew City Online for their complete selection of beer-related t-shirts.

And have a happy Fourth of July!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:56 1 comments links to this post

02 July 2007

It's not a fire extinguisher, but. . .


posted by Jeff Holt at 18:10 0 comments links to this post