Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dogfish Head Miles Davis Bitches Brew

Tonight on the Discovery Channel, a new series titled "Brewmasters" will be aired. It will follow the brewmaster of Dogfish head around. To celebrate this series (which is going to air in a tad under 2 hours from now) I decided to bring out a special beer from Dogfish Head.

I'll do some copying and pasting from their website to give the overall gist of this beer.

"In honor of the 40th anniversary of the original release of Bitches Brew, Miles Davis’ 1970 paradigm-shifting landmark fusion breakthrough, we’ve created our own Bitches Brew - a bold, dark beer that’s a fusion of three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root, a gustatory analog to Miles’ masterpiece."

Brewery: Dogfish Head
Beer: Miles Davis Bitches Brew
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.0%
IBU: 38
Price: $13 for a 750mL bottle

This beer pours pitch black with a large creamy off color head. Aroma is huge on cocoa, roasty notes, a tad of honey, and a hint of coffee and caramel. The first sip reveals roast dark malts, a floral like honey, and a touch of earth tones. The body is medium with a smooth, almost oily texture. Carbonation is on the lesser side. This is one very interesting brew. It has a complex flavor to say the least.

Aroma: 8/10
Appearance: 5/5
Taste: 8/10
Palate: 4/5
Overall Score: 16/20

Final Score: 41/50

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold

Well, after having suffering through that pack of pisswater, I needed to have a good lager. I'm not talking about the typical "great" american lager here, I'm talking about the Dortmunder/Helles style of lager. For those of you who want something with some backbone, give this style a try, it'll be a nice step up from anything that is massively commercially available.

For those who are unfamiliar with the style, A dortmunder/helles is a pale lager with a bready maltiness to it, with an ABV around 5-6%. They are known for a super clean flavor and easy to pound down.

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Company
Beer: Dortmunder Gold
Style: Dortmunder/Helles
ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 30
Price: $9 / 6pk 12oz bottles, $16 12pk 12oz bottles

This beer pours a deep gold with a nice white head. Aroma is slightly malty, very sweet, and has a hint of hops. The first sip is heavenly, revealing a very sweet, smooth malt backbone with just a hint of bitterness. The malt flavor is more grainy than caramel. The carbonation is lively, keeping the mouthfeel on the lighter side. What gets me every time I drink this, is that it still tastes great as it warms up. I haven't had too many lagers that do well past 55F. The other thing that makes this beer stand out is how balanced it is. 30IBU's is bitter enough to turn someone away from a beer. The extra malt in this brew keep it very balanced.

Aroma: 8/10
Appearance: 9/10
Taste: 8/10
Palate: 3/5
Overall: 16/20

Final Score: 39/50

When I was younger, this was the first beer to introduce me to something other than cheapass pisswater. Even today, there's something about this style that never lets me down. Sure, it may not seem as magical as the first sip, but it is without a doubt one hell of a fine beer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

For the lulz, I present you, Genesee Beer

I don't know why I bought this beer, other than the fact that I had never seen it. The price was something around $2.50 for a 6 pack of 16oz cans, so I had absolutely no expectations whatsoever. I figured, why not? I keep drinking all of these awesome beers, why not balance it out and drink some piss water so I can further appreciate the good stuff.

Brewery: Genesee Brewing Company
Beer: Beer (no, I'm not kidding on the title of it)
Style: Pale Lager (piss water)
ABV: 5.0%
IBU: ?
Price: $15 / 30pk 12oz cans, $2.50 6pk 16oz cans

Opening a can of this was a mistake. Notes of ass and corn comes to mind. This beer pours a pale straw color with a fingers worth of white head. Aroma starts to lean towards sweet corn and grain. The first sip/gag revealed abosolutely nothing the aroma didn't already tell me. Corn, corn, and lastly, corn was the flavor. I'm not talking about a pleasant corn flavor, I'm talking about corn that should only be used as livestock feed. Yeah, it's pretty wretched. As this beer warmed to 40F, the flavor became even worse. Mouthfeel is light, with a decent amount of carbonation to try to hide the terribleness that is this "beer".

After suffering through a can, I went to Genesee's website to figure out exactly wtf they put in this "beer". Here's a quote.

"Fully kraeusened to produce carbonation naturally for a clean, smooth taste, "Genny" is brewed with six-row barley malt, corn grits, hops from the Yakima Valley and Genesee’s exclusive bottom-fermenting yeast"

I started to cry once I got to the "clean, smooth taste" part.

I'll try to judge this beer as fairly as I can for its style.

Aroma: 2/10
Appearance: 2.5/5
Taste: 2/10
Palate: 2.5/5
Overall: 4/20

Final Score: 13/50

If you had a choice between drinking water out of a ditch vs a can of genesee, I'd call it a draw.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hoppin' Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale

Yeah yeah, I know. Another Christmas ale review. Despite it being half way through November, how could I possibly resist the urge to have Christmas early?

Brewery: Hoppin' Frog
Beer: Frosted Frog Christmas Ale
Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
ABV: 8.6%
IBU: 12
Price: $7.99 / 22oz bottle

This beer pours a dark amber with a quickly disappearing white head. The aroma really hits you hard. Ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, all of which are perfectly presented. Mouthfeel is heavy, with a slight syrupy texture, very little carbonation. Flavor is huge on ginger, cinnamon, and malt. As this beer warms the alcohol becomes more pronounced. If you can imagine the scent if you were inside a gingerbread house, this beer could be it. Absolutely delightful!

Aroma: 9.5/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste: 8.5/10
Palate: 3/5
Overall: 18/20

Final Score: 43/50

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brewing Beer 101

Chris requested some knowledge about brewing beer. As a homebrewer, how could I possibly refuse?

If you are too lazy to read, watch the video.
If you are too lazy to do either, SEE MY PICS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST!

Boring Disclaimer: If homebrewing is illegal in your area, do not do it. Fines and jailtime could be thrown upon you. I can speak for US folk and tell you that it is legal for anyone of any age to buy all of the equipment and ingredients necessary to brew beer. Law states that you must be 21 to produce alcohol. Also, the amount of beer you can produce per year varies between countries and states. It's usually around 100 gallons per resident over the legal drinking age.

I am going to be lazy and let Alton Brown do most of the talking for me. ^_^

Beer is made up of barley, hops, water and yeast. the barley provides color, flavor, and fermentable sugars for the yeast to turn into CO2 and alcohol. The hops provide bitterness, a lot of flavor, and a lot of aroma. The yeast produces the alcohol and can carbonate beer if desired. (FUN FACT, the term "wort" is used to describe beer that is unfermented, (no yeast added)).

Have you seen those shitty beer commercials where they claim "triple hops brewed" to make it sound fancier. THEY ARE ASSUMING YOU ARE RETARDED. In order to achieve bitterness, hops must be added in a certain time frame, same case for flavor and aroma. Here's a pretty graph to visually see wtf is going on with hops. (the % on the left hand side shows hop utilization.)

I don't feel like writing a whole book on the process of making the beer, instead, I'll summarize what happens.

You'll need to use either malted barley or malt extract to get the fermentable sugars you need to make beer. Beginners should go the malt extract route, it's super easy to learn.

I'm making 2 assumptions before I get into the process. I'm assuming we are making a pale beer that requires no grain. I'm also assuming we are brewing an ale. Ale yeast needs to ferment between 60-80F, depending on the strain of yeast.

The first step will be to bring a bunch of water to a boil, followed by adding the malt extract (comes in either powder or liquid form). Stir this constantly until it completely dissolves. Once this starts boiling, start a timer for 60 minutes and add your bittering hops. You'll want to add hops again with 20 minutes left in the boil to add flavor. To get aroma you'll want to add hops again with 7 minutes left in the boil. After this has boiled for an hour, you'll want to cool the wort down to room temperature as fast as you can. (for malt extract recipes, you can just be lazy and add ice, as long as you didn't start with too much water you won't water down the beer). Once the beer has cooled, move into a fermenter, throw the yeast, attach an airlock, and wait 3 weeks for the beer to fully ferment. After 3 weeks, you can either bottle the beer, adding a little big of sugar to allow the yeast to carbonate the beer, or you can be lazy and throw it in a keg hooked up to a CO2 line. If you bottle the beer, it will take anywhere from 2-3 weeks for the beer to carbonate, depending on how high the alcohol content is. The more alcohol, the longer it takes.

The initial cost to get into brewing is around $100 + ingredients.
A typical 5 gallon beer kit based off of malt extract (easy) usually runs between $25-$50.
A typical 5 gallon beer kit based off of grain usually runs between $15-$35.

Brewday will take anywhere from 3-5 hours, depending on your process.
After that, it will take 3 weeks to ferment.
If you bottle your beer, it'll take another 2-3 weeks to carbonate fully.
If you keg it, it can be carbonated in as soon as 3 hours, or 2-3 days, depending on your technique.

Beer with yeast in it literally has the same shelf life of spam. It'll only go bad if you had an infection of the beer to start with (from poor sanitation) or if the seal goes bad on your bottle cap. It will also get better over time. I try to hide a few bottles of each batch so I can come back a year later and thoroughly enjoy them.

Homebrewing is a very rewarding experience. As I type this, I am drinking a homebrewed cream ale (6% ABV). The cost to make it comes out to $0.21 USD per 12oz bottle. For comparison, a 12oz can of natural light (3.2% ABV) would run about $0.46, and a 12oz bottle of a microbrew beer would run about $1.50. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it tastes pretty damn smooth, smoother than any cheap lager on the market.

TL:DR, here are some damn pictures of a pale ale I made.

OMG, watch my beer boil!

Using a hydrometer to determine the specific gravity. The tan stuff floating in there is yeast btw.

Here's that whole batch after I bottled it.

And lastly, here's the end product! Damn tasty!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

Oh yes, another christmas ale. : )

Brewery: St. Bernardus
Beer: Christmas Ale
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 10%
IBU: ?
Price: ~$10 for a 750ml bottle

This beer pours a shade of reddish brown with a thin tan head. Aroma is bready, yeasty, along with dark fruit, and some spice. Flavor is much the same, consisting of a heavy belgian yeast flavor, raisins, and cinnamon. Mouthfeel is creamy/full bodied, which has this beer coming off as a delicate dessert. : )
There's something special about this beer. After going a few sips, it feels as thought you are in a nice cozy log cabin next to a roaring fireplace. The whole experience feels warm and fuzzy. No, that's not the alcohol talking, I'm only half way done with it ; ) The head retained throughout the duration of me enjoying this brew, as is true with most bottle conditioned beers.

Aroma: 9/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste: 8/10
Palate: 4/5
Overall: 18/20

Final Score: 43/50

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tröegs, The Mad Elf Holiday Ale

Tis the season for Christmas ales. : )
A friend of mine gave me a bottle, so why not review it?
I'm sure you guys are sick of east coast beer reviews, but what the hell, here's one from Pennsylvania.

Brewery: Tröegs
Beer: The Mad Elf Holiday Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 11%
IBU: 15
Price: ?

The bottle that I received had a bad seal. It appeared to have no pressure released upon opening, and the head was pretty much non existent. I guess my picture says it all. With that in mind, flat beers tend to sway on the sweeter side. I'll keep this in mind as I drink it. Anyways, this beer pours a very reddish orange. Aroma is yeasty (specifically belgian), slightly fruity on the cherry side and alcohol. Flavor is HUGE on the cherries, slightly overripe. There is a slightly spicy side to this beer, I can't quite figure out what it is, but its very pleasant. This beer is on the sweet side. I'd contribute this to the fruit and yeast more so than the lack of carbonation on my bottle. What gets me is that the alcohol is perfectly masked in this brew. For an 11% beer it's very impressive. Mouthfeel is very heavy, almost like a light syrup. As this beer warmed into the cellar range of temperatures, the alcohol became more pronounced, but not in an intrusive manner. Overall, I was very pleased with this beer. From the first sip to the last it was very enjoyable.

Aroma: 8/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste: 8/10
Palate: 3.5/5
Overall: 17/20

Final Score: 40.5/50

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

There are a few things that remain constant in the city of Cleveland.

1) in general, it's depressing
2) all of their sport teams fail year after year, the local phrase is "there's always next year)
3) the whole city goes nuts around November 1st every year because Great Lakes Christmas Ale becomes available. Seriously, I can't log into failbook without seeing a dozen status updates saying "ITS HERE!!!!!!!!!!"

So anyways, onto the review

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Company
Beer: Christmas Ale
Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBU: 40
Price: $10.99 / 6pk of 12oz bottles

This beer pours a nice shade of copper/red with a nice off white head. Aroma is heavy on caramel malt, some ginger, a tad of cinnamon, and a smidget of alcohol. Maybe a hint of honey too. Body is medium. Flavor is big on cinnamon, caramel, and malt. Very smooth and balanced. The aftertaste kinda fades quickly, so I ended up drinking this one faster than I would have liked. I swear, this specific beer always gets me into trouble. It's literally impossible to just have one, or four. I really need to look into cloning this beer and making it myself in barrel quantities.

Aroma: 8/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste: 8/10
Palate: 4/5
Overall: 17/20

Final Score: 41/50

I'd recommend picking this one up while you can. Each year they sell out sooner and sooner. Last year for example, it was nearly impossible to find bottles of it mid-December.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stone Smoked Porter

Sorry about the lack of updates. I've been busy slaving away my kitchen makes gallons upon gallons of applesauce. As a result, I haven't had time to really write out reviews. Right now, I'm done for the day, so I thought I'd crack open a beer adn write out a review.

I thought I'd give the west coast some love tonight. So I'm reviewing Stone's Smoked Porter.

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Beer: Smoked Porter
Style: Porter
ABV: 5.9
Price: ~$6 for a 22oz bottle

This beer pours a dark reddish brown with a dense tan head. Aroma is full of chocolate, malt, and maybe a tad of smoke. Flavor is slightly sour, with chocolate, roasty malts, with a certain sweetness to it. Smokey flavor is non existent Mouthfeel is medium with a creamy feel to it. Well, to be honest, this beer was kinda a let down. It comes off as a nice porter, but nothing spectacular.

Aroma: 6/10
Appearance: 3.5/5
Taste: 7/10
Palate: 4/5
Overall: 14/20

Final Score: 34.5/50