30 April 2010

Hops & Props 2010

On April 24, I headed out to Midland to visit Satan and go to The Commemorative Air Force's Hops & Props 2010. Last year Satan and his brew club, the Basin Brewers, attended and they think they had a good time. As best they can remember, anyway.

We arrived at the CAF hanger about 6:30, and went inside. Hops and Props is sponsored by Glazer's Distributing, one of the largest liquor, wine, and beer distributors in the state, and thus a member of the Forces of Darkness. They provided 20 imported beers, including Pyramid and Saint Arnold. (Sigh. More on that later.)

As we entered the hanger, the silent auction items were on our left along the back wall, commemorative t-shirts were sold to the right of the door, and next to them a stand selling Brian Milson & The Short Road Band,the the music for the evening, and next to that, in the corner, the sound board. And apparently, they like their Brian Milson & The Short Road Band deafeningly loud. (Warning! The site plays music when it loads. Web designers, please stop doing that!) Along the right wall of the hanger was a large silver twin engine plane, and in front of that, the buffet and four tables where volunteers poured two beers off of each table. Along the right wall of the hanger were two planes, and in front of them 6 tables each with 2 beers. Along the far wall was the stage where Brian Milson and band were tuning up.

Thirsty, Satan and I went off to get beer before meeting up with the Basin Brewers. There was a nice selection, for only 20 choices. Sapporo (I'm an Asahi man, myself, but still it was good), Piretti, Saint Arnold Amber, Bitberger, Warsteiner (premium and dunkel), Guinness, and a French beer in a flip top bottle I had never heard of before. I ordered a glass of French Beer and the volunteer poured me a quarter glass.

A quarter glass? WTF?

Look, I understand that you want to maximize your beer purchase. I understand that you have to pay for what the Forces of Darkness drop off and set on the floor. I can even understand trying to limit what the customers consume to prevent drunkeness. But a quarter cup? I would have been happy for a half glass, but then why did you give me a pint glass with my paid admission? So I could admire the logo when there is no beer behind it?

Sigh.

We met up with the Basin Brewers and chatted until the band started playing. Then we had to stop. Brian Milson plays Country music, and he's pretty good. Nice voice, great fiddle player, and danceable. From the music on his site, he writes pretty well, too. But his sound guy had the volume cranked up for a crowd twice as large as was there. To carry on a conversation, we were shouting at each other. It's one of the many times that I wish we all were fluent in American Sign Language, so we could communicate. I yelled to Tom, one of the Basin Brewers, they could back the sound down to 4, and he yelled back, in an English accent, "But it goes to 11! That's one more that 10!"

After a couple more Spinal Tap quotes, I wandered over to table serving Pyramid Hefewiezen. The guy in front of me asked the server about the beer. "It's a German Beer," she said. He didn't look around when I slapped my forehead. After I drank that quarter pint, I went to the Warsteiner table (It was a short walk.) and asked for a dunkel. The blonde hottie behind the table pointed to the NewCastle Brown Ale and asked, "That one?" She was hot. I forgave her.

Another complaint was that there was only one distributor. Before stopping at Satan's house, I had stopped by The Wine Rack, probably the best beer store in Midland. Most Midland liquor stores have large displays of Budweiser. The Wine Rack doesn't carry BMC. It's one of the best selections of imported beer I have seen, and even has twenty or thirty Belgian beers, including three from Mikkeller, who I have come to love. They also carry four Ommegang beers. Obviously, Glazer's Distributors doesn't carry those brands, because there was nothing like that at Hops & Props. That's the danger of a one distributor event.

So, except for the volume of the band, and the quarter pours, I had a good time at Hops & Props. But I walked away feeling like the CAF was a little cheap. Now, excuse me, I have to download some Brian Milson tunes.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 13:26 0 comments links to this post

28 April 2010

Getting Jittery

With my mash tun at a friend's house being customized, I realize that I could run out of beer before I get it back. So, it's back to my extract brewing roots. So I dug out my copy of Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast's Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Homeby Sam Caligione. I like the book because it uses malt extract in its recipes. So I have spent a few hours thumbing through the pages. Should I make the Ginger Saison? Tripel 'Round the World? Decisions, decisions.

What's exciting is the shorter brew day! Making an extract beer knocks three or four hours off my brew day.

Actually, I think I'll make a barleywine this time, and something from Sam's book next time.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:04 0 comments links to this post

26 April 2010

Brewing in Eola

In all the years I have been traveling to the Eola School Restaurant and Brewery, I have never glimpsed Mark Cannon's brewing system. Sometimes, you don't want to look into the sausage factory, if you know what I mean.

But Mark had contacted Satan about brewing a witbier, and so I went to Eola to assist.

When I arrived on Sunday morning, Mark's usual brewing day because he's only open a few hours, Mark and Satan had a couple of cut kegs set up on propane burners, and they had already put in some malted wheat, unmalted wheat and some barley. I had been told to bring five pounds of oats, so one 42 ounce package of the Quaker Oats went into each keg. The fire was turned on and my job was to stir.

Did you know that stainless steel is an excellent conductor of heat? We didn't. Both kettles scorched. We tried to get the black bits out of the cereal mash, and were largely successful.

Mark's plan was to split the wort into two fermenters, and in one, throw in some Bavarian wheat yeast. In the second half, he wanted to toss in the spices before transferring to the fermenter and pitching some wit yeast.

Mark's biggest handicap is his market. It's Coors Light country and he can't sell beer that is too much outside that range. If he brews a dark beer, he has to drink it himself. So the witbier has just a kiss of spices.

Mark had also invited Carol to join us. Carol wants to learn to brew. Mark thought she would learn a lot watching us. Satan and I gave her some advice, and tried to assure her that once she understood the process, making beer is not difficult. I pointed her to this site, and the link to the Good Eats Beer Show. I also taught her the mantra "Relax. Don't Worry. Have a Homebrew."

It was a good time, even though Mark spent a lot of time busting my ass.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 07:38 0 comments links to this post

24 April 2010

7-Eleven to sell Private-label Beer

Getting a new beer on the shelves of 7-Eleven is about to get harder, especially the prime spot in the cooler. City Brewing in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, will brew "Game Day" for the 6,000 store chain. "Game Day," store officials have said, is a premium beer with a budget price. I'm thinking something like Bud or Miller.

According to the Forbes story, 7-Eleven has dabbled in this area before, with an import-style beer that failed miserably. And while store brand soft drinks sell well, beer is still brand driven.

But the most interesting point to consider about the whole thing, is this single quote: "7-Eleven's issue is that there are a lot of trucks in their parking lot keeping consumers out." Makes me wonder if one day soon, Bud-Miller-Coors won't be delivering to the front door, but instead to distribution centers where only one truck a week will deliver beer.

If the distributors will stand for it.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:30 0 comments links to this post

22 April 2010

Old McQuaker Oatmeal Stout and a Couple of Thoughts

It's a recipe from Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can BrewClick Here to Purchase by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. And it's a good one.

I had a discussion with a BN friend the other day, and he had just finished judging at a contest in California, and noticed that all the beers tasted the same. He asked, "Does everyone own that book?" While they were good beers, he was complaining that no one developed their own recipes anymore, and just brewed from this book.

I listen the the Brewing Network religously (except when I backslide), and I have heard letters from listeners who brewed recipes from the book and won competitions. So I guess a lot of people own the book.

I almost sent this beer in to NHC, but I stopped myself. After entering Brother Spud's Oatmeal Stout in over a dozen competitions, I already know the feedback: "Doesn't taste like an oatmeal cookie. Doesn't smell like an oatmeal cookie. 15 points." I just made a batch of oatmeal cookies, and frankly, I don't want my oatmeal stout to taste like an oatmeal cookie! I didn't put cinnamon and vanilla in my beer. Nor did I put raisins. Are all these judges suggesting that I do that? It's not even part of the BJCP description, for crying out loud!

I like this beer. Too much to let some yay-hoo tell me it doesn't taste like a cookie.


posted by Jeff Holt at 06:46 0 comments links to this post

20 April 2010

Windy City Glass Recycles Beer Bottles

The folks at Windy City Glass have taken an interesting approach to recycling beer bottles. The widen the neck to the same width as the bottle. While it would be hard to tell some bottles apart, the ones with painted labels look cool.

posted by Jeff Holt at 08:55 0 comments links to this post

18 April 2010

Lone Star and PBR

Eric Braun, a beer columnist at mySA.com, recently wrote that he's noticed Lone Star has begun to become popular with the hipsters, sort of like Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I might have to pick up a six pack again.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:55 0 comments links to this post

16 April 2010

Dinner at Fredericksburg Brewing Company

It's been a trying couple of months at our household. On the Friday before Valentine's day we put Dad into the hospital with a ruptured colon. (He's doing well, and will probably be released next week.) On Wednesday, Mom got sick, and went to her doctor. They called me at work to take her to the hospital. After work I went to visit her, and finished up the night at Fredericksburg Brewing Company, completely oblivious to the fact it was ten minutes to closing time. Fortunately they let me order anyway.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:40 0 comments links to this post

14 April 2010

Interview with New Glarus owner Dan Carey

As Mission From God IV: Drink Harder (Still working on it.) approaches in June, I have already planned Satan's and my trip northward. We will be in New Glarus on Tuesday, June 15, trying to figure out how we will take our combined annual salary in beer home with us. Is there a U-Haul place near the brewery?

When I ran across this interview with New Glarus Brewmaster Dan Carey, I scoured the entire article for a mention of a U-Haul place and came up empty.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:31 0 comments links to this post

12 April 2010

The Latest from California: Beer Dessert

I have had beer paired with a dessert, and I even have published a couple of Guinness Ice cream recipes and a Guinness Cupcake recipe, but making a dessert with beer and Grape-Nuts?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:20 0 comments links to this post

11 April 2010

World Beer Cup 2010 Texas Winners

BOULDER, CO • April 10, 2010—Brewers from six continents earned awards from an elite international panel of judges this week in the 2010 Brewers Association World Beer Cup—the world’s largest-ever commercial beer competition. The eighth bi-annual competition announced awards to brewers from 19 countries ranging from Australia and Italy to Iceland and Japan.

Two Texas breweries brought home medals: Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que brought home a bronze for their Hell in Keller kellerweiss, and The Covey Restaurant & Brewery brought home a silver for their Vienna lager.

Congratulations!


posted by Jeff Holt at 08:43 0 comments links to this post

10 April 2010

Beer Labels as Art


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

08 April 2010

HH&T Saison

A couple of weeks ago, while chatting with Satan about his dream brewery (Harry, Holt & Turner Brewing), we hit upon the idea of producing only "The Finest Belgian and German Style Ales"™, and we would bottle in Belgian style bottles with corks and cages. So I began looking at saison recipes in Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition by Phil Markowski, an interview with Ommegang brewer Randy Thiel on The Brewing Network and listened to the saison episode of the Jamil Show. I also thought about the Belgian-style beers Scott Metzger makes at Freetail Brewing Company in San Antonio. Scott uses grapefruit zest in his wits and saisons. So I borrowed that idea and came up with this:

Saison de Permienne
6 gal | 60% eff. | OG 1.066 | 30 IBUs | 90 min boil
10.5# Pilsner Malt
1.5# flaked wheat
3# corn sugar
2 oz Saaz 4%/60 minute
1 oz Saaz 4%/5 minute
.6 gram powdered ginger/5 minute
4.6 grams Coriander Seed/5 minute
4.6 grams grapefruit peel(or however much I can get off of one grapefruit)/5 minute
WLP 575 Belgian Stlye Ale Yeast Blend
Mash at 147 for 90 minutes.

I expected an OG of 1.066 and got 1.061.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:46 2 comments links to this post

06 April 2010

A Must Read Article

A great article on the current state of beer laws in Texas.

To paraphrase JFK, "Ask not what Texas' craft brewers can do for you and what you can do for Texas' craft brewers." Contact your State Representative today! I did.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:01 9 comments links to this post

04 April 2010

List of Wet and Dry Areas in Dallas

Mike Hashimoto of the Dallas Morning News supports bringing some order to "Dallas' mish mash of alcohol laws." To illustrate the insanity of the local laws, he lists where you can and can't buy alcohol in Dallas. If you are heading that way to visit, you might want to print out the list and put it in your purse or wallet.

But, even more interesting, Hashimoto links to a TABC list of all the jurisdictions of Texas. Unfortunately, that won't fit in a wallet.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:37 2 comments links to this post

02 April 2010

Beer back at the Preakness

Last year, because of juvenile behavior of drunk idiots in previous years, the organizers of the Preakness Stakes decided that they wouldn't allow people to bring their own beer. Attendance plummeted and the event lost a lot of money. This year, they still won't allow outside beer, but for $20 you can get a special mug and drink all you want for no additional charge.

While a part of me is snickering because they lost money with such a boneheaded move last year, the other part of me is wondering how much drunken hijinks almost free beer will cause.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:25 0 comments links to this post

01 April 2010

The EU approves "Fucking Hell" Beer

If you are offended by foreign words and names that resemble curse words, please skip this post.

Now don't get all worked up. There is a town in Austria called Fucking. It's name is derived from a sixth century noble called Lord Focko, with 'ing' being old German for 'family of'. It's signs are pretty popular, and the city has had to bolt them to things and sink them in concrete so English speaking tourist don't steal them. Helles, or Hell, is a light colored beer. So "Fucking Hell" is just a light colored lager beer from Fucking.

Well, maybe not.

According to Mayor Franz Meindl, there is no brewery in Fucking. The brand's creators, Stefan Fellenberg and Florian Krause accused the EU patent office of having a dirty mind when it initially had rejected the brand for profanity. But when they provided The Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union with their linguistic explanation, the Office okayed the trademark and said, "The word combination claimed contains no semantic indication that could refer to a certain person or group of persons. Nor does it incite a particular act. It cannot even be understood as an instruction that the reader should go to hell. Nor can it be considered as reprehensible to use existing place names in a targeted manner (as a reference to the place), merely because this may have an ambiguous meaning in other languages."

To quote Der Speigle: "The Bavarian towns of Kissing and Petting have the same problem [as Fucking does with its signs], as does the eastern German town of Pissen. But so far, there are no plans to name a beer after them."

The "Fucking Hell" beer will likely debut in August or September, but it is unknown if it will actually be brewed in Fucking.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:24 0 comments links to this post