Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tasting Notes: Spring Training Stout

Spring Training Stout is a foreign extra stout I brewed for Saint Patrick's Day. It is not a clone of a particular beer, but it was strongly influenced by Guinness Draught.

Fair head retention and lacing. I had to have a sip before snapping the picture.

One of the things that makes Guinness Draught unique is that it is believed a small amount of soured beer is blended in after fermentation which gives the beer a slight tartness in the finish. I imagine this would replicate the stouts of old that were stored in wood barrels that may or may not have exposed the beer to other organisms that could effect the flavor.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tasting Notes: Pa's Video Board Lager

Pa's Video Board Lager is a beer Andy and I have brewed the last two years in his memory around his birthday on November 1 to serve at our family Christmas party. This year I also brewed a beginner version for Learn to Homebrew Day which fell on Pa Chalifour's birthday. I have been waiting to do a side-by-side tasting to compare the two beers.

Extract ale version the left, all grain on the right.

The version I brewed with Andy used an all-grain brewing method with no malt extract. We milled and mashed the Belgian barley, converting the starches in the grain to the fermentable sugars that became the alcohol in the beer. We used WY2112 California Lager liquid yeast, and I made a large yeast starter to make sure there were more than enough yeast cells to give the beer a clean and crisp lager taste. I also adjusted the water chemistry of the water we used to mash and sparge. After fermentation was complete the beer was kegged and force carbonated with CO2 from a tank.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beer Inspiration in our Backyard: Extreme Beer Fest 2015

Local beer lovers are fortunate that BeerAdvocate runs two major festivals in Boston. The American Craft Beer Fest (ACBF) is one of the largest beer festivals in the country. Last year we went for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. This year's ACBF is set for May. Depending on how much money I have left from my upcoming vacation we may well go again this year.

The second major festival run by BeerAdvocate, Extreme Beer Fest (EBF) features beers that Beer Advocate describes as:

"Extreme Beer Fest is the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity. Join us as we celebrate brewers who push the boundaries of brewing and raise a fist at the norm. Minds will be blown. Palates will be inspired. Prepare for epicness."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Brew Day: Summer Somewhere Ale (English Golden Ale)

Around the time I was preparing for my Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) online entrance and tasting exams, I skimmed through the updated draft 2014 guidelines. The updated guidelines have not been implemented yet and are still under review. Competitions are still using the current 2008 Guidelines, and by the time the new guidelines are approved and implemented they will be christened the 2015 BJCP Guidelines.

 Three hop additions, 60 minutes for bitterness, 10 minutes for flavor, and at flame-out for aroma.

The new guidelines have several new and additional styles that were are not included in the current guidelines. One that caught my eye was English Golden Ale. Brewers in England created the style in the 1980s to compete with mass-market pale lagers that threatened the existence of traditional British ales. Light in color, the beer is designed to appeal to a lager drinker, but it is hoppy like an American pale ale. Many brewers in the UK started to release Golden Ales seasonally in the summer. Locally Ipswich Summer Ale fits most of the criteria for the style.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tasting Notes: Peabody Pale Ale

In the words of the late 20th century philosopher Ace Ventura, "Loo-hoo, serr-herr". This stuff was bad. I brought three of these to a gathering of a bunch of friends from Peabody, had a few sips, dumped the beer, and then dumped the rest when I got home.


The beer poured copper in color; much too dark for a pale ale. There was no discernible hop aroma from what was supposed to be a hoppy beer. The taste was overly metallic. It was like licking an Easton. Brewed in late November, the beer shouldn't have spoiled. The likely culprit is old malt. Specifically, the crystal malt I steeped. Before I bought my grain mill, I ordered my malts pre-milled, and once grains are milled their shelf-life decreases dramatically. In hindsight swapping out un-milled Special B for old pre-milled Caramel 120 malt saved my Irish Red.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Brew Day: Camp Randall Red IPA

My cousin and occasional brewing partner Andy received the book IPA, written by Stone Brewing Co. Brewmaster Mitch Steele as a gift. Around a year ago we were spitballing ideas of what to brew for our next brew day. After reading the book he suggested red IPAs. Intrigued I suggested we both come up with our own interpretations, then pull a small amount of each and blend them.

Checking out the color of the wort after the mash.

Andy's Cabot Street Red RIPA had a fair amount of flaked rye. From what I recall the spiciness of the rye worked nicely with the sweet caramel malts which gave the beer it's red color. Anticipating that Andy would design a hop forward beer, I sought to make a more balanced brew as a counterpoint. For Curt's Red Sock IPA I used English Pearl base malt, similar specialty malts that I had used in a previous Irish red, and London Ale 1318 yeast to give the beer a fruity finish.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tasting Notes: Welkin Ringer ESB Clone Kit

I originally bought the Welkin Ringer ESB clone kit on a whim at Beer & Wine Hobby. It was the first time in awhile I bought a kit for a style of beer I was familiar with and had brewed before. I intended to do a side-by-side tasting of the clone and the real beer, but couldn't find any after putting a low to moderate level of effort in looking for it. On Untappd, it did not appear there were a lot of recent check-ins.

Really impressive clarity.

The beer pours medium copper in color with a small, mousy white head. The low carbonation level contributes to the small head. To compensate this is a beer that benefits by being poured a little more violently. Instead of pouring along the side of the glass, pouring the beer in the middle causes the head to rouse. Not unlike how real ale is almost sprayed out of a beer engine. The beer has brilliant clarity for a beer that was unfiltered and is quite bright. The S-33 dry yeast gave the beer a perfect appearance.