30 April 2008

Hookarm's Maibock Tasting Notes

I kegged the Maibock on February 28. Except for a taste test a couple of weeks ago, I have kept my mitts off this, waiting for May. According to BeerAdvocate.com, maibock style of beer tends to be lighter in color than other Bocks and a more significant hop character. The noticeable alcohol flavor is around the same as a traditional Bock, 5.7-8.0% abv. Maibock is customarily served in the spring and a crucial part of spring festivals and celebrations in the month of May, hence the name. My version hit 15 SRM, kind of a brown color with ruby highlights and a tan head. And I pushed the edges of the style with 35 IBUs. And my finished alcohol content was 6.15% abv.

This puppy has some serious malt backbone! And the hops cut through it to leave a nice bitter finish. I don't know why I haven't brewed this recipe more! It's a nice, easy, extract beer that has some nice flavor.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 17:33 2 comments links to this post

28 April 2008

Peppercorn Rye-Bock

I got the latest batch of peppercorn rye-bock into the keg, and I am not sure how it's going to turn out. It's reasonably clear. I may not have let the gelatin work long enough. It's got a "fermented hot" smell and taste. I may be at the end of my brewing cycle since I can't get it lower than 71F in the house. I kegged it with priming sugar,and hopefully, in a few weeks, the flavors will have evened out. I want to take a six-pack of this out to Cincinnati and share with my cyber-friend Dave, at DaveDave Breweries.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:03 0 comments links to this post

26 April 2008

Thoughts on Reviewing Beer

I am a member of Beer Advocate, and, despite my better judgment, subscribe to their magazine. I don't belong to RateBeer, and I don't know why.

I purchased a six-pack of Jimmy Buffett's Landshark Lager, and thought I would review it on BeerAdvocate for posterity. I didn't like it very much.

But as I began my review, I noticed this advice about reviewing a beer:

Try to review a beer with its style in mind vs. 100% personal taste, but realize that styles are highly subjective and open to interpretation by the brewer.

I defy anyone to find a review of an American Macro Lager on either site that reviews with style in mind versus personal taste. Every single American Macro review has a bad rating. Now, you cannot tell me that every single American Light Lager is a "D". At least, you can't if you are judging to style. There has to be at least one "A", doesn't there? How else can Lone Star win a Silver in the World Beer Cup? Otherwise, there would only be one winner.

So, Corona versus Landshark? On both sites, both beers are rated as "To be Avoided." Say you are stuck in a resort in Mexico that doesn't have a beer above 8% ABV, as the top 12 beers on the Beer Advocate list of the top beers. So you can only choose between ten or twelve "D-" beers?

There's something fundamentally flawed about these beer ratings. Are you telling me that sitting under a Live Oak Tree on a hot, Texas July day a Trappist Westvleteren 12 is better than a cold Budweiser?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 18:27 13 comments links to this post

24 April 2008

Hubert Wolters' West Texas Wheat - All Grain version 2

I decided to eliminate all the specialty grain and make a real wheat beer. I used 5 pounds of flaked wheat, five pounds of American two row malt, and a pound of rice hulls to help with the sparge. I used the same Sorachi Ace hops in the same hop additions as before. This time, though, I used California Ale yeast. I hit my numbers and feel pretty confident that soon, I will be sipping on a crisp wheat beer.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 16:09 1 comments links to this post

22 April 2008

Sweet Home Alabama?

Recently, Alabama and Utah came into the spotlights as two of five states that make it illegal to home brew beer. Both states had bills before their respective legislatures that would have legalized the hobby. Both legislatures tabled the bills, killing them for their respective sessions.

On Monday April 14 posting at the AHA Tech Talk board Gary Oberman revealed that he had been featured, by name, in an LA Times article about the bill and had his photo taken at his local homebrew club meeting. Gary wrote:

Today when I got home from work, there was a handwritten note stuck to my mailbox from an actual Alabama ABC Agent. Let me back up a bit for those who do not know me. My name is Scott Oberman. Some of you may have seen my pic and read the article in the LA Times or other media. I agreed to allow an LA Times reporter into my home to attend our homebrew club meeting. This was at the request (not directly) of FTH {Free the Hops] folks in hopes that we had something going on while she was in town. I gladly agreed to this thinking it would be great publicity for FTH and the homebrewing legalization efforts. I am a member of the Rocket City Brewers in the HSV area. I have been homebrewing for 11 years. I am a hardcore homebrewer.

The note said:
"To the Oberman's,
Please call me at

256-726-[xxxx]
256-261-[xxxx]

Sorry I don't have a card to leave you.

Agent Rob xxxx (not positive of last name spelling)
Alabama ABC Board
At first I figured one of my brewing buds sure went a long way just to mess with me. I called the number just in case. It was legit. I was told by the agent that the Montgomery office instructed him to pay me a visit and ensure that I was fully aware of the AL code concerning making beer in the home. He asked if he could come over to talk to me. I asked if there was a website that I could download from and save him a trip. He said that he had to have me sign for the information to verify I received it. I asked if I could just come to his office and meet him and sign for it there and he agreed. I will try to get a better feel for the direction this is leading, but I am not feeling good about it. My situation is extra shaky because I am divorced and have joint custody of my 11 year old daughter. I also have a job with the DoD that requires a security clearance. You may think I was a dumbass for allowing my name, etc to be published in the article. I did not know the article was going to have full names printed nor did I know the tone it would be presented in. I did not get to read it before it was printed. I should have asked. At this point, I am very close to the decision to completely give up the best hobby in the world until such time that it is no longer illegal here in AL. This is a decision that I have not taken lightly, but my family has to come first. This is the real thing. This is a sad day for homebrewing. I urge you all to do whatever you can to get this thru the 2008 legislation. Your voices CAN be heard and CAN make a difference.

Scott Oberman
[I have removed the ABC address, otherwise the text above is a direct cut and paste.]

The Montgomery Advertiser recently published a story about John Little who is also a criminal under Alabama state law. In that story, is this passage:

In more than a decade no organized attempt had been made to enforce the law on Alabama’s books. Little said there was one case in which the home of a home brewer was robbed, and the rural sheriff investigating confiscated the brewer’s equipment. But that’s the only case of home enforcement Little said he has heard of.
That is until they started trying to change the law.
The Los Angeles Times did a story on Free the Hops, Alabama’s outmoded beer law and a Huntsville brewer.
Just last week a representative from Alabama’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board visited the Huntsville brewer, to warn him to stop unless he wants to face prosecution.
“If there is a crackdown because of the publicity we’ve helped create to try and change the law, it will be a nightmare for some very respectable people,” Little said.

I just sent the following email to the Alabama Bureau of Tourism:

Hello,

I am a card carrying member of the American Home Brewers Association and live in Texas. Through the AHA, I learned of a visit by the ABC to a fellow brewer in Alabama. This brewer had been named in an LA Time article on the "Free the Hops" movement in Aalabama. According to a news story recently published in the Montgomery Advertiser, my fellow AHA member was told that he had to stop brewing or face prosecution.

Since the hobby I also participate in is illegal in Alabama, I too am a criminal there, although I have never brewed there. Naturally, concerned for my safe passage through your state, I will no longer travel to or through Alabama where I have an option. Should I ever find myself in Alabama, I will spend as little money as possible in Alabama. Instead, I'll travel through Tennessee, where I do not risk arrest.

I have visited Alabama several times and have always found the citizens to be among the friendliest folks on the planet. Maybe someday I will be able to visit again.

Their email address is: info@tourism.alabama.gov

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

20 April 2008

Four Texas Breweries Honored at the World Beer Cup

Brewers from five continents earned awards from an elite international panel of judges this week in the 2008 Brewers Association World Beer Cup. The seventh bi-annual competition awarded medals to brewers from 21 countries ranging from Australia and Italy to Bolivia and Japan.

This year, 644 breweries from 58 countries and 45 U.S. states vied for awards with 2,864 beers entered in 91 beer style categories. The top three entries in each category won gold, silver and bronze medals.

In addition the competition gives “Champion Brewery” and “Champion Brewer” awards in each of five brewery categories based on the medals won by each brewery.

Brewers from the United States won 185 of the 268 style category awards and four of the five Champion Brewery/Brewer awards.

Brewers from Texas took home five awards:
American-Style Wheat Beer: Silver: Shiner Dunkelweizen, Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
Vienna-Style Lager, Gold: Vienna Lager, The Covey Restaurant & Brewery, Fort Worth, TX
German-Style Heller Bock/Maibock, Bronze: Rahr's Bucking Bock, Rahr & Sons Brewing LP, Fort Worth, TX
Strong Scotch Ale, Gold: Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 4: Saint Arnold Brewing Co, Houston, TX
International Pale Ale, Silver: Saint Arnold Elissa IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Co, Houston, TX

Congratulations, guys!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:34 0 comments links to this post

18 April 2008

Finally. . .

After a week of being sick, I finally feel well enough to go back to work. That also means I can start thinking about brewing again. I am going to brew another version of West Texas Wheat: 50% wheat, 50% two-row, and the usual Sorachi Ace hops. I am going to use California Ale yeast, just to see what happens.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:29 3 comments links to this post

16 April 2008

Down for the Count

This would normally be where I tell you what I brewed over the weekend.

On Thursday night, I felt my throat begin to burn, and by Friday morning, I was sick. I spent all day Friday and most of Saturday in bed. I got up a few hours on Sunday, and actually thought I was getting better. Then on Monday, my fever came back. I bought some Zyrtec, and have discovered it's great for feeling stoned, but otherwise it didn't help much.

And I have to go back to work today. . .


posted by Jeff Holt at 17:18 0 comments links to this post

14 April 2008

Wheat Porter Tasting Notes

A few weeks ago, I brewed Randy Mosher's wheat porter from Radical Brewing. Last night, I felt a need for something dark and smooth, so I tapped the wheat porter keg.

Oh

My

Gosh!

This is silky and creamy, kinda like chocolate milk. I would have like more alcohol, but what do I know about mashing?

I may have to fill the tub and bathe with this.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:06 1 comments links to this post

12 April 2008

The Return of Peppercorn Rye-Bock

I really like the Peppercorn Rye-Bock beer I have been brewing lately, and, since I killed the last keg a couple of weeks ago, it was time to brew it again.

This time, I found green peppercorns, so I used that. I also mashed the steeping grains this time. I put the grains in 2.4 quarts of water and mashed at 154°. I changed the aroma hops from Liberty to Saaz because I couldn't get Liberty, and I like Saaz. The only other change was that I did a full wort boil. I may have used too much water, since I had to pour a quart or so on the ground, and my initial gravity was 1.048, about 17/100ths lower than I have gotten in the past.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:21 0 comments links to this post

10 April 2008

Tui Beer Made by Women


posted by Jeff Holt at 07:41 0 comments links to this post

08 April 2008

Basin Brewers Club Re-Forming

According to Manny Ortiz, out in Midland, the Basin Brewers, the Permian Basin Homebrew club is getting back together. Says Manny, "We get together the first Friday of each month (except for May, we will gather for National Homebrew Day), usually at someone’s house so that we can share each other’s homebrew. Anyone interested should contact me."

Manny said the website is under development, but there is meeting info posted.

If you're a homebrewer out in the Midland/Odessa area, give Manny a shout. It's always fun to meet some brother (and sister) homebrewers.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 19:06 2 comments links to this post

07 April 2008

75 Years of Beer Celebrated at Fredericksburg Brewing Company - 4/7

It has been 75 years since President Franklin Roosevelt modified the Volstead Act (prohibition) which banned alcohol in the United States, which allowed Americans to once again enjoy beer. Tonight, from 5:00 –- 8:00 p.m., the Fredericksburg Brewing Company will mark that anniversary with a “75 Years of Beer” celebration at 245 E. Main Street. There will be live entertainment by Josh Dodds, complimentary appetizers and door prizes. Brewmaster Rick Green and his team will also be on hand to explain the beer making process and to answer any related questions. For more information, call 830-997-1646.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 11:44 0 comments links to this post

06 April 2008

An Explanation

The other day, I came home from work and checked my email and found a note from someone in Midland who knows Satan and wanted to invite him to their homebrew club meeting.

I call my cousin Satan for two reasons: One, it irritates him. Two, I don't want to give out too much identifying information on this here Interweb thingie. It's almost criminally easy to find out anything about anyone on the Internet. Giving Satan's real name and his place of business would be giving out too much info. Despite him being a certified, US Army trained killer and typist, he really doesn't need a stalker.

My local brewing partner runs a bed and breakfast, but I don't want to give out his name either. I'm not being an ass and trying to shift all the focus on me, but I am aware that there are folks lurking in the corners of cyberspace who are not nice. In my local brewing partner's case, I don't want someone reading my blog then traipsing out to the B&B for a look around for the brewing equipment. If you want to book his B&B, you can look on this page.

The main reason I don't want to identify them is laziness. Since I occasionally write about them, or at least what we brewed, if I named them, I would have to let them approve what I publish. Since I don't name them, I can always tell them, "Oh, that wasn't you."

So, you will forgive me if I give my friends some anonymity here.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 21:31 0 comments links to this post

04 April 2008

Off to Nationals

I went to Midland last Sunday to deliver beer for shipment to the first round of Nationals. I submitted Peppercorn Rye-Bock and Hubert Wolters' West Texas Wheat. Satan thinks the PRB, as we call it, has a pretty good chance to advance. The wheat wasn't wheaty enough, he thought.

We're also sending two of his beers, Brother Spuds Oatmeal Stout, and Wit Willy (a Belgian Wit). Satan has asked that I do not reveal his recipes. Brother Spuds is roasty with a nice tan head. I don't know if it's creamy enough, but Satan has his hopes set on that one. Wit Willy is a little over-carbonated, but still. . . A couple of weeks ago, I drank one after sampling a Sam Adams Summer Ale, and I thought Wit Willy was better.

Finally, the best of the lot. A month ago, I went to Midland and Satan and I brewed my recipe for Welton's Wild Cow Dunleweiss. I intended to make it a Wiezenbock, but miscalculated the recipe. It's a very nice dunkel, and we think it might do well. Again, I'm sworn to secrecy regarding the recipe.

Wish us luck! We'd very much like to bring a medal home from Cincinnati in June.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:09 0 comments links to this post

02 April 2008

Dick's Elixir Wheat Porter Session notes

My last all-grain batch went off a little. I didn't have enough sparge water.

This time, the exact opposite. I added 3 gallons of 130° F water to get the grains to 116° for 20 minutes. The mash was soupy.

Next, I added 2 gallons of 200° water to get it to 146° (6 degrees below my target, although it did eventually rise to 151°.). I had a mash tun full of water. It looked like a huge pint glass of stout--black liguid and a tan foam.

Then I took ProMash's advice sparged with 7 gallons of 170° water and collected eight or nine gallons of wort. I boiled for two hours trying to evaporate down to 6 gallons, but didn't make it. I wound up pouring 1 gallon or so onto the ground because it wouldn't fit into the fermenter. This got me an OG of 1042 instead of 1073.

How did I wind up in such a state of affairs? I consulted two brewing sources and made one error during the sparge.

First, I consulted The Master, who said I should use 1.2 quarts per pound of grain at 130° to get my protein rest at 122°. Then I should add half a quart per pound or 200° water to raise my temp by 15°. I did some quick math and learned that would put about 5 gallons of water into my mash tun. I also consulted The Guru, who said I should use 2 quarts per pound of water!

Then, during the sparge, for some reason, I decided that I had to use all the sparge water instead of just sparging until I collected 7 gallons!

The other night, I listened to The Session on The Brewing Network for July 23, 2006, The Honesty and All Grain Show, and have learned I can do it with as little as a quart per pound.

Or I could just brew extract.

Or I could just go to the fucking liquor store.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 18:12 0 comments links to this post