30 July 2010

3Tail Bottle Release Review

Just so you know, I really like Freetail Brewing Company. Great food, great beer, amazing view, and it's the third closest brew pub to my house. So when they announced a 3Tail bottle release on a weekend I was off, I thought I would go have lunch and pick up a bottle. I met my nephew and one of my great-nephews there and we had a nice visit, watched some World Cup Soccer and had a wonderful pizza.

3Tail Tripel

Appearance (0-4): Pours up a cloudy golden orange with a fluffy white head that leaves nice lacing on the sides of the glass. 3 points
Aroma/Bouquet (0-3): Bready malt aroma with hints of citrus 2 points
Taste: Hop/Malt Balance (0-4): Flavor starts off with slightly sweet malt flavor, and finishes with a light hop flavor. Well balanced. 3 points
Aftertaste (0-3): Finishes with a subtle bitterness on the back of the tongue, with a hint of citrus on my breath. 3 points
Mouthfeel (0-3): Full bodied and strong carbonation. The carbonation helps lighten the heavy alcohol of this beer. 3 points
Overall Impression (0-3): Another great beer from Freetail. I know this has some alcohol, but it's very drinkable, and makes me wish I'd bought ten bottles. It's smooth and easy to drink. Probably too easy, which makes me glad I only have one bottle. 3 points

Total: 17 Points

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:39 0 comments links to this post

28 July 2010

From my Memoirs

As I was gathering my notes from NHC and putting into something of a publishable form, I recounted my experience at Pro Night. In my notes was something that has bothered me about every beer festival, so I thought I would post it here and then ask for some input.

All 1300 attendees were standing five deep at the tables around the ball room where the beer was. We made a circle around the inner perimeter, fought our way to the front of a couple of lines, then said, “Fuck it!” and retired to our room.

At this juncture, allow me to propose a rule of ettiquette when you attend a beer festival: STEP AWAY FROM THE FUCKING BAR!!

Remember there are people behind you. After you get your beer, if you must ask questions, make them short and sweet. For example, “This is a nice beer. Would you consider helping brew something like it? May I email you?” Get the card then STEP AWAY FROM THE FUCKING BAR!

And don't simply turn and take a step to talk to your friends, who have formed a large circle in front of the table. We're not attackers. You don't have to circle the wagons to defend the jockey box. Take ten steps from the bar so other people can have some beer. We will leave you some. Just STEP AWAY FROM THE FUCKING BAR!

What would you add to a Beer Festival Etiquette list? Post your thoughts in the comments.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 06:00 0 comments links to this post

26 July 2010

Jester King Debuts New Logo Art

Recently, Jester King updated their new logo art, posted above. Cool image.

But what caught my eye was some text: "[W]e’ve decided to pursue beers that age and mature for several weeks or months in oak barrels under the mischievous influence of wild yeast. . . We’ve also taken stock of our location in the Texas Hill Country with its own unique flora and fauna influenced by the surrounding wineries, orchards and olive groves. We’re aiming to use the wild yeast from the Hill Country to impart unique and complex flavors to Jester King beer."

Satan and I have toyed with the idea of somehow capturing some of the wild yeast around bluebonnet time just to see what would happen. We're just not sure how we would do that. Anyone have any advice?

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:04 3 comments links to this post

24 July 2010

Baby Dies in Beer Kettle

From Africa comes this reminder: keep your babies away from your beer kettle! Eighteen-month-old Talkmore Chikuni from Gutu,slipped from his mother's back during a brawl with an unnamed villager and drowned in a drum brimming with boiling traditional beer and was scalded to death. An investigation is on-going and no arrests have been made.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:56 1 comments links to this post

22 July 2010

HEB = "Hey! Enjoy Beer!"

Last month, Austin American-Statesman columnist Lee Kelso noticed that his local HEB, which in the 1970s didn't even sell beer, has moved the beer to the Healthy Living Department.


posted by Jeff Holt at 09:51 0 comments links to this post

20 July 2010

Tripel 'Round the World Update

In May, a friend volunteered to build be a copper manifold for my mash tun. Since I have no mechanical skills at all (zippers elude me so I wear no pants), I said "Sure!" I took it to him, and he told me it would be a month before he could get to it. "Oh well, NHC is coming up," I thought, "and I can do a couple of extract brews." So I dug out Sam Caligione's book Extreme Brewing. I decided to brew Tripel 'Round the World. I followed the recipe exactly, even going so far as to only pitching a single vial of yeast. The OG was 1.090 and the FG was 1.042 instead of the expected 1.021. I sampled the kegged beer last night, and it's okay at first. But it's cloying. By the end of the second glass, it's like syrup.

Yes, I know. I am telling myself now that I should have made a starter. Or at least, when I added the brown sugar at the end of fermentation, I should have added another vial of yeast. I didn't and I have learned my lesson. But I am still left with a far too sweet beer.

As I see it, I can take the keg out of the fridge. Vent it and let it come to room temp. Vent it several times as CO2 comes out of solution. Then transfer it to a carboy and pitch more yeast.

In 2007, I went to NHC in Denver, and went to Vinnie Cilurzo's presentation about sour beers. After the session, he handed out baggies of oak chips infected with wild yeast.

Here's what I came up with as I was driving home from work: Do all of the above, but instead of pitching yeast, add Vinnie's dime bag of oak chips. Let it sit 6 or more months, bottle and store cool for however long it takes.

So I asked the vast collective intelligence of the BN Army: What would they do? Drink the sweet beer one glass at a time; repitch with yeast; or repitch with Vinnie's infected wood chips? Any other ideas?

After a few days of advice, I decided on the nifty idea of making a small starter, and adding it to the keg. It has a relief valve that can be locked open, making a effective airlock. So yesterday morning, I made a 500 ml starter, pitched two vials of Abbey Ale yeast and waited for high krausen. Then I vented the keg, and poured the starter into the keg. I resealed the keg and let it sit a couple of hours before locking the valve in the open position. I figure a week of fermentation should do the trick. Stay Tuned.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 10:40 0 comments links to this post

18 July 2010

All-Citra Wheat v. 1.5

After some criticism from Satan and a couple of the Basin Brewers, who all felt the beer was too bitter, I decided to rebrew this beer, but decrease the amount of bittering hops, and increase the aroma hops.

All Citra West Texas Wheat
OG 1.052 - 60% efficiency - 6 gallon batch - 20 IBUs
7# Wheat malt
6# 2 Row
.5# CaraPils
.5# Crystal 20
.25 oz Citra 13.4%/60
.75 oz Citra 13.4%/10
1 oz Citra 13.4%/ dry hop
WLP001

Unfortunately, I had too much water, so my OG was 1.038 instead of the predicted 1.052.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:38 0 comments links to this post

16 July 2010

Beer and Sausages

I am interested in beer pairings, and beer and sausages go together like white and rice. Here's a story about beer and sausage pairings, from which I have excepted the following:

Sausages with mild flavor and intensity: Some traditional European-style sausages like the white- to light cream-colored, veal-based weisswurst and bockwurst fit into this category, as does porky bratwurst if it contains some veal.
Bernard Steinert, a native Bavarian and longtime sausage maker for the Bay Area's Saag's Specialty Meats, says hefeweizen accompanies a traditional German breakfast of weisswurst and pretzels. Hefeweizen is typically a light, smooth, unfiltered wheat beer with citrus, spice and a barely noticeable hoppy note, though you can find some richer, hoppier versions.
Mild chicken and turkey sausage also pair nicely with lighter beers, including pale ales that aren't too hoppy. Also try classic pilsner (a light lager), which has slight hoppy bitterness that contrasts with the sausage's sweetness.
Suggestions: Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen; Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen; Schneider Weisse Hopfen Weisse; Radeberger Pilsner.

Frankfurters and hot dogs: These ballpark mainstays come in turkey and chicken as well as pork and beef versions. Condiments such as mustard, relish, onion, sauerkraut and sometimes the kitchen sink can garnish a dog, so a refreshing mug of light-bodied suds - Budweiser, anyone? - doesn't try to compete. But if you go with just bun and dog, be sure to add a squiggle of mustard, which Steinert says provides some acidity and tang to cut through the fat, as will a well-timed gulp of a light- to medium-bodied seasonal summer brew.
Suggestions: Lagunitas Pils Czech Style Pilsner; Hoegaarden Witbier; Pacifico Clara.

Sausages with medium intensity: Made with pork, or a pork and beef blend, kielbasa, bratwurst, knackwurst and sweet Italian sausage fall into this category. The meaty texture and moderate spice allows these versatile sausages to pair with a wide range of beers, including lagers and ales.
Suggestions: Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager; Kingfisher Premium Lager; Stone Ruination IPA.

Smoked sausage: Smoke adds another dimension of aroma and flavor to kielbasa, smoked bratwurst and other smoke-influenced styles. The beer in beer-containing sausages like Saag's Maerzenbier brats (made with Gordon Biersch Marzen) also adds complexity. Just as using wine in a dish helps the dish pair with wine, Marzen beer is a no-brainer match with these brats.
Weightier ale is a good choice, too. Paxton prefers a classic stout for its darker roasted malt, which he says complements the smoke.
Suggestions: Gordon Biersch Marzen Auburn Lager; Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Boont ESB; organic Eel River Brewing Porter; Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout.

Full-flavored sausage: Hearty, full-flavored duck, lamb and boar sausages call for an equally intense beer, such as a dark or double ale. The beer's greater hoppy bite cuts through the richness of the sausage, while the more darkly roasted malt provides caramel notes that play to the deeply flavored meat.
You can also try classic lambic like that from Cantillon- a dry, Belgian beer brewed with wild yeast. Its typical sourness is often offset with a sweet fruitiness from added fruit or fruit syrup. Straight lambic is a better accompaniment, but I wouldn't turn down an offer of spicy wild boar-apple sausage and apple lambic.
Suggestions: Firestone DBA Double Barrel Ale; Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA; Negra Modelo.
Sausages with chile heat: Chorizo, linguisa, North African lamb merguez and hot Italian sausage all have varying amounts of heat. Louisiana/Cajun andouille is smoked, but its assertive spiciness is the main factor.
Contrast these sausages with a crisp, light brew to cool your palate. Citrusy Belgian witbier, Belgian-style saison or an IPA (India Pale Ale) with lively floral hops and a malt backbone will help balance the spiciness, although Josh Margolis, a partner at Rosamunde Sausage Grill in San Francisco, says some of his customers enjoy a heavier sipper. Beer contains less alcohol than wine, so spiciness won't be as accentuated; some, however, will find that extremely bitter beer clashes with the chile.
Suggestions: Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale; Speakeasy Big Daddy India Pale Ale; Saison Dupont Vieille Provision ale.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:29 0 comments links to this post

14 July 2010

Craft Beer in Washington, D.C.

Since I have family in the area, and my former favorite beer was brewed in the area, I keep an eye on the beer news coming out of Washington, DC. Recently, I came across two news articles about brewing in the Nation's Capital.

The first story is a about the rise of the DC Brew Pub. Hopefully I will be able to get back there before too long and give them a try.

The second story is about a boom in breweries in the region.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:22 0 comments links to this post

12 July 2010

The Return of Belgian Bombshell

Here's what I wrote about this same time last year:

Fired up after NHC, and itchy to brew for the first time in a month, I went to Austin Friday and bought ingredients for Belgian Bombshell. The recipe is in the May/June 1009 Zymurgy.

Belgian Bombshell
11# Belgian Pilsner
.5# CaraPils
.5# Munich Malt
.5# Flaked Wheat
1 oz Magnum 14.4%/60 min
.25 oz Saaz 5.8%/5 min
.5 oz coriander seed
1 cardemom pod, crushed
1/2 tsp Irish Moss
WLP 550 Belgian Ale
Mash at 152° F for 60 minutes. Sparge. Bring to a boil and add the Magnum hops. Boil 45 minutes and add the Irish moss. Boil ten minutes more and add the Saaz and the spices. Boil five minutes, then cool. Pitch yeast.

Somehow, when I put this recipe into BeerSmith, I didn't adjust the boil time on the Saaz hops, so I added them at 90 minutes. I knew I had to add hops at 5 minutes, so I kept the Magnum back, until I went to add Irish Moss. Then I realized what I'd done. Scheiss! So my beer has .5 ounces of saaz at 60 minutes, 1 ounce of Magnum at 20 minutes, and the last half ounce of Saaz a flameout. I mentioned this to Satan who responded: "LMAO, sounds like business as usual to me!!!!! Macht's nicht! So in the Macht's Nicht spirit, I went ahead and pitched the yeast.

The heat here in Paradise has been a little on the brutal side, and I don't have a dedicated fermentation fridge. I will ferment this in the coolest room in the house at 75 F.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:16 0 comments links to this post

10 July 2010

The Increasing Importance of Craft Beer


posted by Jeff Holt at 09:19 0 comments links to this post

08 July 2010

H2DC v. 3

Well, I brewed H2DC the other day, and in addition to a new copper manifold in my mash tun, I have a new Blichmann burner, so I have two new things in my brewing process.

I cleaned the copper over the weekend, and submerged it in the Five-Star Chemicals Powdered Brewery Wash, which dissolves organic stains. I let the copper soak in hot water an hour. When I came in to rinse, there was a white deposit that looked like Elmer's glue floating in the water above the solder on the center tube. I gave everything a good hot rinse and let air dry.

When I assembled the manifold and put in into the cooler, the manifold was suspended above the bottom of the cooler about 1/4 inch. I managed to get it on the bottom, and mashed the grains.

I noticed I collected a lot more liquid that I used to. So I am quite happy with how it turned out. There's a slight learning curve using it, but not too bad.

The new burner added its own complication. It puts out more btus than the old one, so I boiled off a bit too much liquid. The burner has a steeper learning curve.

The copper manifold seemed to work well. Pre boil gravity was 1.031 and was predicted to be 1.028. I finished at 1.041. Shooting for 1.032. I lost about a half gallon on the boil.

We'll see how well it worked when the beer is finished in a month.


posted by Jeff Holt at 04:16 0 comments links to this post

07 July 2010

The Big Switch: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. to Introduce “Movable Yeast” Series

HOUSTON, July 6, 2010 – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (www.saintarnold.com), the oldest craft brewery in Texas, today announced plans for a series of special brews that offer a twist on their year-round beer recipes. The first quarterly release in the so-called “Movable Yeast” series, will be Saint Arnold Weedwacker, a re-yeasted version of Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Beer, which has quietly become the brewery’s biggest seller.

The concept behind the Movable Yeast series is to focus on the flavor contribution of yeast. Each release will be created by brewing a regular batch of a Saint Arnold beer and then splitting the wort (unfermented beer) into two 60 bbl fermenters. One fermenter will be pitched with the yeast normally used in that beer and the second fermenter will be pitched with an alternative yeast and the beer given a different name.

Saint Arnold Weedwacker will be Fancy Lawnmower Beer fermented with Bavarian hefeweizen yeast. This yeast contributes esters to the beer resulting in clove and banana flavors. Like a hefeweizen, Weedwacker will not be filtered. It is scheduled for release to selected Texas restaurants and bars on Monday, August 16, 2010.

“People spend a lot of time talking about the malt and hops used in beers, but yeast is discussed little and probably understood even less. We thought this would be fun, tasty and educational,” said Saint Arnold Brewing’s founder and brewer Brock Wagner. “We’re hoping that bars and restaurants will offer both beers at the same time so that people can compare the flavor differences. I think it will be enlightening, plus both beers will be very tasty!

Yeast is the engine behind fermentation, converting the sugars from the malt into alcohol. Yeast also produces the CO2 for carbonation as well as producing esters and other flavor and aroma compounds. In the world of beer, everything that brewers produce is beer; the two subgroups, ales and lagers, are differentiated by the type of yeast. In addition, there are many different strains of yeast within these two categories, each with its own specific characteristics and flavor profile.

Saint Arnold Weedwacker will be followed in mid-November by Saint Arnold Altared Amber, Amber Ale wort pitched with Belgian Trappist yeast. In mid-February 2011, Saint Arnold plans to release Saint Arnold Bitter Belgian, Saint Arnold Elissa IPA wort pitched with Belgiat Trappist yeast. In mid-May 2011, Saint Arnold Brown Bitte is due, which will be Saint Arnold Brown Ale wort pitched with Alt yeast.

A limited supply of 60 barrels (approximately 20,000 12-ounce servings) of each beer in the Movable Yeast Series will be available only on tap. Wagner expects each to remain available for two to three weeks after release.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 19:18 0 comments links to this post

New Republic Brewery, Bryan, TX

If you are just joining me, I have a Twitter account that I use to follow a bunch of fellow beer lovers in Texas as well as any of the breweries I can find. Everyday I get an email someone new is following me, and so I check them out to see if I am interested in following them. Today I discovered brewery in the planning stages, New Republic Brewery in Bryan, Texas. Naturally I am now following them!

Currently, NRB is looking for a location in Bryan so they can start the Federal permit application process. The state won't license them unless they have a Federal permit. And they can't get a Federal permit until they have a location and a brewery plan. So, naturally, they are hip deep in red tape.

Good luck, guys! Keep us posted!

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:33 0 comments links to this post

06 July 2010

WTF? Rahr & Sons places 11 beers on Zymurgy's Top 50

Showing what scarcity can do to a beer's popularity, practically all of Rahr & Sons Brewing Company's entire portfolio landed on Zymurgy's annual Best Beers in America List. Not bad for a brewery that hasn't brewed anything in almost five months!

According to the Rahr website, this showing makes them America's Top Brewery (that isn't brewing at the moment) and garnered them a Zymurgy Spirit Award. Patrick Beach, The Austin American-Statesman's beer blogger, compared it to a stuffed ballot box in Jim Wells County back in 1948 that put LBJ into the Senate.

It's also a testament to the popularity of a series of YouTube videos showing what their bored brewers have been up to. It's kept the brewery's name in its customers minds every week since the roof collapse.

I like Rahr's beers, when I can get them. In fact, they had just scored a distributor in our area the week before the roof collapse, and I was looking forward to enjoying some Ugly Pug. But are they really America's best beers? All of them?

Congratulations to Fritz and the boys in Fort Worth, for having so many loyal fans willing to vote in the Zymugy poll. This positions them to hit the ground running when the brewery is back in operation.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:46 0 comments links to this post

04 July 2010

Helles Keller at Fredericksburg Brewing Company

The Helles Keller at Fredericksburg Brewing Company won a gold at GABF in 2009 for Keller beers. I can actually say that it is an awesome beer.

But you don't have to take my word for it. When Stan Heironymous, author of Brewing with Wheat, was signing my copy at NHC, he saw that I was from Paradise and we talked about it.

I try to take photos of the beers I drink, mostly to taunt Satan. Most of the time, I am using my camera phone. This time, thanks to a sudden rain shower outside, I got an interesting look, so I thought I would share it with you.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 04:11 0 comments links to this post

02 July 2010

Beercation Tips

Normally, I don't eat at McDonalds. I LOVE McDonalds, but since it's on the other side of town, I don't go there.

But when Satan and I do the Beer Road Trips, like this year's Mission From God, we spend a lot of time getting to brew pubs. We aren't too interested in breakfast, so we often stop at Mickey D's. I'm glad to see our decisions are validated.

But we still look for the local places. Town Edge Cafe in New Glarus, Wisconsin, ROCKS!

So what are your beercation tips? Post 'em in the comments.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 08:46 0 comments links to this post