Posts tagged ‘homebrew’

Homebrew Adventure, Day #17 – Mikkeller’s Yeast Series Study

Ok- so, this is actually getting posted a bit out of sequence, but I did sample and review these 5 samples from Mikkeller Yeast Series on Day #17 of my homebrew adventure.

I think what Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is doing for the beer community is unparalleled right now in educational value.  Having these “Single Hop“, “Yeast” and even the Black Hole “Barrel” series have been essential to my education as a beer drinker and will give me a leg up for home brewing.

Here are my reviews of five of the yeast series beers, brewed with the same base single malt, single hop beer.

Yeasties!

Yeasties!

1. American-Style:

Nose: Slight pepper

Taste: Dirty grapefruity citrus and a bitter after taste show that this yeast compliments the hop and definitely allows more of the hop flavor through.

2. Lager

Nose:

Blogger’s Note: Honestly- I had nothing here on the nose.  It was a void to me.

Taste: More of a lean towards a malty flavor than the American-Style, this beer has a sweet start and a roasted finish.  It is refreshing and not overpowering.

3. Hefeweizen

Nose: Sweet corn, slight mesquite

Taste: In one word, it is Summer- light just like a witbier with the tang of natural orange cleaner.

4. Brettanomyces

Nose: Cherry Twizzlers, Red licorice shoe-strings

Taste: “FUNK-AY”  This beer is a very drinkable sour with fruity tones.  I called it fermented cranberry apple goodness, as well as my favorite of the bunch.

5. Belgian-Ale

Nose: Banana undertones, spice

Taste: Sweet and spicy deliciously ride on a wave of thick banana funk, proving that yeast really can make a all the difference.

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Honestly, the difference between all of these brews was astonishing to me.  I assumed there would be slight differences, as I know that each style has different characteristics.  But the blatant, screaming differences created a shock and awe campaign upon my tongue- rendering my palate sated but tired.

If you are new to the brewing (or even tasting) scene, I strongly suggest that you invest in this journey as I did.  The rewards are well worth it (as are the bragging rights!)

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Homebrew Adventure Day#29 – An Interview with Shane Welch of Sixpoint Craft Ales

Shane of Sixpoint Craft Ales

Shane of Sixpoint Craft Ales

Photo Courtesy of The Full Pint

New York (specifically Red Hook, Brooklyn) is lucky enough to house Sixpoint Craft Ales, a brewery with a full line of interesting and tasty craft beer output.

Shane Welch is brewmaster, founder, president, and owner of Sixpoint and was nice enough to answer some questions that I have come up with in order to gather information to hopefully help me in my homebrew journey.  Check out this amazing glimpse into the mind of a master brewer:

1. What was your first beer experience?

Oh man…I think I may have had the earliest start of any craft brewer….you see, I have been drinking beer ever since I was 2 years old. Back in the early 80s my father used to drink Meister Brau. Here’s a little walk down memory lane.

Anyway, my father would sometimes leave a little bit of beer left in his ceramic stein, and after he had fallen asleep, I would grab the oversized stein with my two little hands and hoist that thing up over my head and chug the rest. Crazy thing is I remember enjoying the taste of beer ever since I was a kid. Something magical about the sweetness of the malt and spiciness and bitterness of the hops. My parents were shocked – and amused – by the entire ordeal so they took a photo of me. I’ll try to track it down and send it to you.

2. What/who inspired you to start brewing?

Its literature, language, art and poetry that is my weakness. Therefore, it was the indelible and captivating “The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing” by Charlie Papazian and its zany humor, hand-drawn images, and do-it-yourself vibe that had me hooked. Keep in mind that in college, I was a hippie nerd, so the combination of science, chemistry, and making your own beer was right up my alley. Combine that with a fun, informative style and approach, and I was hooked.

3. What is your favorite beer to brew and why? What is your favorite beer to drink (both your own creations and from other breweries as well) and why?

My favorite beer to brew is homebrew. The reason why is because the scale is so much smaller (5-10 gallons versus the typical 500 gallons in Red Hook, Brooklyn) you’re that much more up-close-and-personal with the beer. Everything is smaller – the amount of grain, water, and hops – the size of the kettles, fermenters, etc. And your yield is lower too – so every bottle is precious. I like that feeling of cranking out a small, custom batch…nothing tops it!

Favorite beer from our brewery to drink? That’s really hard because it literally changes every week or month. But recently the Bengali Tiger has been tasting the best it has ever tasted. But, if you would have asked me two months ago, I would have said the Righteous Ale.

As far as beer from other breweries go….oh man, there are SO MANY to drink, and so many good beers. What a great industry. We’re surrounded by all of these amazing colleagues (who in theory, are our competitors too) but they make such great products you just can’t refuse them. For some reason lately I have been obsessed with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. There has been anywhere from one to twelve bottles of it in my refrigerator at all times in the past 3 months. It hits the spot every time!

4. What is your favorite beer event to attend, and why?

Best feel-good event that represents what the craft brewing industry is all about? Without a doubt, the Great Taste of the Midwest.

Best up-and-coming beer event to showcase the creative and renegade side of craft beer? Without a doubt – the Extreme Beer Fest put on by Beer Advocate.

Best global revelry and largest beer party in the world? Hands down – Oktoberfest in Munich. No one even comes close.

5. Have you taken any courses for brewing or beer tasting? What are your thoughts on courses for brewing and tasting- are they helpful or unneccessary?

Although I have no formal courses taken in beer brewing, I am BJCP certified and have extensive chemistry and physics background at UW-Madison, and I was also a math major. Without this solid foundation of knowledge and education, some of the brewing processes would be hard to grasp. However, I do want to emphasize my core competencies rest in the more theoretic fields – and that is why I loved chemistry so much – but people like David Liatti (our Operations Manager) is the more practical engineer.

As far as beer courses for brewing and tasting – they are not necessary, but a knowledge of science and the components of beer are necessary. In other words, you don’t need to go the academic route, but you must have a basic understanding of the causal relationships that take place during the brewing process, for that is how you troubleshoot and problem solve when issues arise. The more advanced your knowledge base is, the better your troubleshooting skills will be.

Sixpoint Craft Ales

6. What advice do you have for homebrewers looking to get into the professional field of brewing?

Homebrew your ass off, pound the pavement, press the flesh, and keep the faith.

7. Do you still homebrew? If so, what are you currently brewing or what was your latest creation?

I do homebrew. But I’ve become a bit of a recluse with it sometimes because I like a clean, sterile, and quiet environment without distractions when I homebrew. Its really meditative for me. I can’t stand a soiled or dirty environment, or one where someone is interrupting me every few minutes. I like to immerse myself in the beer. Figuratively, of course. 🙂

I’ve also been teaching people how to homebrew lately. A few weeks back, I taught my good friend and executive chef at Prime Meats/Frankies Spuntino Willy Prunty how to make some beer. His knowledge base was already super solid, but we took it to another level. Its a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
8. What has been your hardest challenge with the creation and continued success of Sixpoint? What has been your greatest success/ defining moment with the creation and continued success of Sixpoint?

The creation side has been rather easy…as the creative juices and spirit has always flowed freely with me. Regarding “continued success” I would say that is a subjective critique! But thanks for thinking so. But we have a long way to go…and that is where the struggle comes in. I’d like to see us making better beer, with stronger ties to our community and customers, and better customer service. I also would like better communication within the company…tighter controls…more efficiency. So many things to do! That is the key…to never get lazy or content. Stay fit! 🙂

Greatest success or defining moment? I’d like to thing the chapter on that has not yet been written! But I’d have to say – above all else – is the innumerable amazing relationship I’ve been able to forge as a result of starting Sixpoint. I’ve met so many helpful, thoughtful, kind, talented, fun, and appreciative people through this business…I’m eternally grateful. I feel blessed.

Sixpoint Brews

Sixpoint Brews

9. Tell us your most fun beer story.

Before I started the brewery, I was living on my friend Aaron’s couch for a few months while I homebrewed every single day. I had turned his kitchen into a bona fide mini brewery. He lived on the second floor of a two-unit flat. On the ground floor was a dude named Pat, who was a 40 year-old “retired poet” who was very idiosyncratic. Anyways, he apparently had moved in several months before but still had his stuff packed in boxes.

I started brewing and one day there was a knock at the door. It’s Pat. He said, “what are you doing up here? Its smells like you’re making candy.” I said, “Don’t worry. Just making beer. That’s the malt – it smells sweet.” Pat then replies, “Uh……ok. It sounds dangerous…..” I said, “Nah…I’ve done it hundreds of times. Its easy.”

Flash forward a few days, and I’m making a batch of American Amber on the stovetop. Then, I get a phone call. The reception is poor, so I go out onto the balcony. I’m talking to my friend, and then I hear a knocking at the door – its Pat! Uh-oh. Apparently there is a RIVER OF BEER coming through the ceiling and dripping onto his book in the living room.

I rush to the kitchen to find out I had a boil over. Shit! Yep, it ran down the side of the kettle, and all over the stove, and then down the gas line through the linoleum floor. It goes through the floor and comes out the ceiling below and is streaming all over Pat’s books, still freshly packed in cardboard boxes. What a sight….a river of hot brown beer coming through the ceiling!

Just like Poltergeist. Haha.

10. What is your take on the craft beer community? What is your favorite thing about it? What could stand for some improvement?

The craft beer community is awesome, and it is probably my single favorite thing about the entire industry. Interestingly, its not just the community of brewers….not even close. Its the community of craft beer drinkers, craft beer bar owners, craft beer writers, craft beer bloggers, craft beer distributors, and craft beer website owners. Its a gigantic and ever expanding craft beer universe! 🙂

My favorite thing about it is it is so different from other industries….like take, for example, Wall Street. There is less of a “every man for himself” and “dog eat dog” mentality and more of a mentality of “a rising tide lifts all boats” and cooperation.

As far as improving the industry…I would say there could possibly be some regional centers within the Brewer’s Association…since the country is so large. I think every major city should have a craft beer week…and it would be nice to get some sponsorship and support from an organized source. If the Brewer’s Association really threw their weight behind a coordinated effort to get all 50 states rocking craft beer, the sky is the limit! 🙂

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Shane has that refreshing a relate-able style that we see with a lot of brewmasters, and that is what I love so much about this industry.  There is competition, for sure, but brewers are constantly encouraging others to join in the game and get to brewing- the passion is everywhere, and it certainly is contagious.

With that, I say to you, go out there and talk to your local brewers.  Hopefully, (and I have a hunch they will be,) they’ll be as insightful, smart, experienced and willing to chat as Shane was.

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Homebrew Review #3 – Joe Postma’s Brews

Joe Postma

Smilin' Joe - Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

I have the pleasure of many beer friends who are also experimental home brewers, and among the most nerdy of them is Joe Postma.  Joe is Über passionate about beer and even carries around spectrophotometer with which to gauge the color of the beer he drinks.  It is adorable and heartening to see someone who cares so much about quality beer.

Joe was kind enough to pass along to me three of his recent homebrew creations: “Ababa”, originally brewed to mimic the Black IPA style; “Hot Chocolate”, a spicy chili stout; and “Tripel”, a Belgian Tripel.

Brewer Joe

Brewer Joe - Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

“Ababa” was the first try of the night, and sadly, my least favorite of the bunch.  It featured a super dark, opaque pour and a yummy chalky dark chocolate aroma.  Throughout an evolving recipe, Joe grew this beer into something that was super hopped with Sorachi Ace hops.  The result was that of very bitter dirty earth.  Joe let me know that he was having some problems with carbonation on this brew, and it shows.  I think carbonation would make the brew much better by cutting some of the deep bitterness.  Overall, however, this brew is a commendable step on the right path toward Joe’s Black IPA goal, although the funky aftertaste leaves something to be desired.

Next,  I dove into “Hot Chocolate”, a Russian Imperial Stout made with ancho chilis and chocolate, inspired by Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu Stout.  This is my kind of beer, so I was SUPER excited to try it.  And, let me tell you, Joe does not dissapoint.  With a deep fudge and chocolate ganache icing aroma, like that of Entenmann’s Brownie Cake, this brew boasts a Mole-ish chocolate spice.  It reminds me of the Taza Aztec Guajillo Chili Chocolate that I once had from Whole Foods.  The brew has a nice semi-thickness to it that eases the sip, which burns nicely, not overwhelmingly- surprising for a 10.2% Chili stout!  “Hot Chocolate” was my favorite of the three and took the cake for the night.  Honestly, this beer could pass for professional grade and be sold on store shelves tomorrow.  Joe has taken obvious care with this brew and certainly reaped the rewards! Warning: This beer is not for the faint of spice…

Pour

Pour - Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

Last, but definitely not least, came the “Tripel”.  For this brew, Joe went with the “less is more” mentality, and kept the beer to a few simple ingredients- Pilsner Malt, Belgian Candy Sugar, Hallertau Hops and Belgian Abbey yeast.  It is clearly a Belgian through and through, what with the smelling of florals, coriander, clove, Spring rain and bananas.  Oddly enough, Joe described this beer as very dry, while I received it as a super wet brew.  The Tripel was very refreshing and soft tasting.  Joe made good use of his tiny bubbles on this one.  Bananas are super prevalent on the taste of this brew as well- making it a good strong Belgian ale.

Whew!  All this homebrew tasting and writing is making me thirsty!  What do you think Joe?….. Joe?…………

Nothing gets between a man and his beer

Nothing gets between a man and his beer! Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

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A Night of Simply Beer Part Deux: British Bitter and Black Cherry Stout

That’s right, Ladies and Germs- it is time for the next installation of Simply Beer homebrew! Peter Kennedy, craft beer enthusiast and homebrewer extroadinaire, was kind enough to send yet another Simply Beer care package to my work establishment (I am now the envy of all my co-workers).  This time he included two of his brews- the British Bitter and the Black Cherry Stout.

My night began with the British Bitter, which clocked in at a whopping 3.4% ABV.  The great thing about the low alcohol content is that this beer can accompany a lunch hour meal without the worry of getting drunk (the definition of a session beer, basically).  The brew poured a half cloudy, half clear golden amber color with no head.  On the nose were pear juice and green apple airheads- that tart/bitter/sweet combination.

The first thing I noticed about the sip of this beer was that it was very low on the carbonation- in fact, there was barely any of which to speak.  It was a very watery consistency, but held a punch of taste.  If I’m being honest (and that’s what I do,) this was not my favorite “PetahBeer!” (as I have affectionately called Peter’s Beer- ha!)  But, then again, I haven’t had much in the way of British Bitters, which doesn’t really seem to be my style.  To me, the brew tasted like dirty, watered down fruit punch- the type I had as a kid which was cheap and made me jealous of all the kids’ who had Minute Maid.

(Blogger’s Note: I tasted this beer with my favorite Brit, Lee Norman Williams of Hoptopia, and he kindly informed me of the fact that this brew was, in fact, a great example of a British Bitter; which, in turn, makes it a perfect example of what I love about beer.  There are so many different styles and flavors out there, and we don’t have to like them all!)

PetahBeer!

PetahBeer!

Next, and sadly, last, was the Simply Beer Black Cherry Stout.  I was really excited to get this beer, and it certainly did not disappoint!  The pour was one of the prettiest Auburn/Amber tinted blacks I have ever seen.  The head was super creamy and of the milk chocolate colored persuasion.  It smelled like the Wild Cherry Ludens I used to beg my mom for as a kid (I was a very sick child and begged for Wild Cherry Ludens for each of my monthly strep throats!)  Also on the nose was the aroma of Real Cherry Italian Ices.

The brew was refreshingly light and dry with an ashy finish.  Surprisingly enough, the beer tasted exactly like black cherries! (Blogger’s Note: heyuk, heyuk!) The brew also included a beautiful tiny fizz and a slightly hoppy overbite.  A very interesting observation that I made is that the quicker your sip was, the sweeter the taste of the brew was.  In other words, the longer you held the beer in your mouth, the more of the flavor profile you would get- including the bitter/sour hoppiness.

The Simply Beer Black Cherry Stout is yet another great installment in the line of Simply Beer homebrews that I have had the privilege of sampling.  The British Bitter, while not my style, stood up with the rest as well.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again- this Peter Kennedy fellow is going places.  Keep an eye out for the Simply Beer logo– one day you will see it on your local beer shelf!

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A Night of Simply Beer: Bourbon Stout, Funky Saison, Pumpkin Porter, Peanut Butter Porter

A Night with Simply Beer

I recently had the undoubtedly fortunate pleasure of receiving a Simply Beer Homebrew care package from fellow BrewYorker Peter Kennedy.  Peter is an avid beer junkie who has been trying his hand at homebrewing for about a decade- and his seasoned knowledge definitely shows.  His brews are not only delicious and different, but his painstaking attention to detail and love for beer shows in every last drop.  The kit included four of Simply Beer’s offerings: Bourbon Stout, Funky Saison, Pumpkin Porter and Peanut Butter Porter (I KNOW!)

Mmm... Bourbon-y...

The first brew I tried was the Bourbon Stout.  As you probably know, I’m a stout girl at heart, so I couldn’t wait to pop this one open.  The back story I received on this beer is that Peter (a stout lover himself,) decided that he wanted to try his hand at a low ABV stout that tasted like a big barrel aged imperial.  Hence, this session-style stout was born.  While an interesting concept (and something that could save me from an embarrassing night,) this turned out to be my least favorite brew of the bunch.  The aroma cries out of cheesy chive and sour cream- a twice baked potato.  The taste is fizzy and watery for a bourbon stout.  Dark and malty with a vegetative herbaceous base, the sip is sweet but the aftertaste leaves me a bit unhappy.  Overall, however, this bourbon stout is very complex and commendable for a homebrew.   With time and a little finagling, this concept could go places.

It's time to get Funky...

Next on the list is the muddy pouring Funky Saison.  This beer poured with a HUGE ecru foamy head which took almost all of the glass height.  The scent tickled my nose like natural soap made with lavender, sage and peach.  There was also something of strawberry or cherry starbursts on the nose.  This brew sips nice and light- bubbly and sweet and sour, although not super extreme on the sour end.  There is a refreshing quality to this drink that does not take away from its clear and present taste point.  Apples and pears mingle with clove and nutmeg to give it a spiced cider feel (sans cinnamon).  Although pulpy, the Funky Saison is a fine refreshing drink that packs a tasty punch.

A little sip of Autumn...

Upon taking a sniff of Peter’s Pumpkin Porter, I was immediately transported to October.  Literally, the beer smells like a night of New England trick or treating; crisp and chilly, musty and leave-y, and roast-y and toasty.  The taste is a mixture of pumpkin bread and baked apples with cinnamon.  Honestly, I don’t even need to say anything more about the Pumpkin Porter- what is better than a beer that smells like Halloween and tastes like Fall?

Giving Reese's a run for their money...

Last, but most certainly not least, came the Peanut Butter Porter.  At 11% ABV, this brew could quite possibly be the best beer I have yet come across.  Opaque midnight black with a tiny, milky chocolate head, the porter boasts some beautiful lacing which makes me excited for a fine nitrous-like reminding me of my grandma.  Sweet chocolate undertones compliment the strong peanut butter taste.  When I was growing up, my parents would marinate chicken in a sesame teriyaki sauce and grill it on the barbeque.  This brew has a hint of that smoky, savory goodness.  The sweet and salty mixture of salted caramel shines through at certain points of the sip.  There is a good amount of alcohol in the taste; like a fancy peanut butter cup filled with bourbon.  Overall, the brew is thick, roasty and creamy, like eating buckeyes (a decadent peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate) near the fireplace.  This is undoubtedly Peter’s best creation to date- the complexity AND familiarity of the Peanut Butter Porter make it a deliciously great beer for newbie tasters and seasoned beer vets alike.

Peter Kennedy is not only just an amazing homebrewer, but a genuinely great guy as well.  He is an advocate of craft beer and always willing to offer a bit of tasting advice or to share his knowledge and help educate on the world of craft beer.  He is quick to support his fellow BrewYork-er’s in their “beerdeavors” and always willing to lend a helping hand.  Check out his article about the hashtag phrase “beerpeopleRgoodpeople” and you will understand what I mean.

With that in mind, keep your eyes peeled and ears perked for the day when Simply Beer brews will be released for public consumption.  These beers are simply too good to pass up.

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The 2010 Bucket List

Okay, so I know it’s not a bucket list unless I kick it at the end, but here’s my list of things I want to accomplish in this lovely year of 2010:

  • Learn to play guitar
  • Homebrew my own beer
  • Finish reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • Understand what I read in Infinite Jest
  • Go to Cedar Point amusement park
  • Learn to play Ultimate Frisbee
  • Make a reel of Visual Effects work
  • Get at least one job as a video editor
  • Take more photographs
  • Expand my music listening horizons and go see more concerts
  • Watch a NYC sunrise

I may think of more as time goes on, but this is what I’m starting with.  Some are simple, some are more time consuming, but all can be achieved…