Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tasting Notes: Blueberry Wheat Ale

Blueberry Wheat Ale was the second kit I have purchased in recent months at Beer & Wine Hobby. My girlfriend had wanted to brew a fruit beer for a long time, I didn't have any brilliant ideas about how I wanted to make a fruit beer, so I purchased the kit. That we were able to brew the beer together like when we first started brewing was a nice touch as well.

The blueberry garnish is what makes the beer. 

Recently at Fenway Park I had Wachusett Blueberry for the first time in a long time. It was an opportunity to compare and contrast a prominent, local blueberry beer with the homebrew kit.

Friday, May 22, 2015

New Beer Style Guidelines Released

For the first time in seven years, the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) have updated their style guidelines and released the 2015 Style Guidelines. A lot has changed in the craft beer and homebrewing scene since the 2008 Style Guidelines were released.

A lot of the changes in the new guidelines were long overdue. In the old guidelines, the only IPA styles were American, British, and Imperial. If I were to enter WAR IPA or Camp Randall Red IPA in a competition under the current guidelines I would have to enter them in Category 23A Specialty Beer. That is essentially a catch-all category for a beer that doesn't fit in any other style. When a brewer enters a beer in Category 23A, the entrant only has a sentence or two to describe the beer and how it is supposed to taste.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Brew Day: Curly's Milk Stout

As the blog closes in on its one year anniversary, this is a first. This is the first beer I brewed for the site that I am rebrewing.

Beautiful dark wort color.

As my flagship beer, I need to have some Curly's Milk Stout on hand at all times. My original brew day was last November and I am down to my last dozen or so bottles. The nice thing about a balanced stout as opposed to an IPA or hoppy pale ale is that the beer keeps relatively well as hop aroma and hop flavor are the first things to go in a beer. If you buy a six month old bottle of Peeper at a bottle shop, then find Peeper served fresh on draught, it is a completely different experience.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tasting Notes: Walk-off White (Witbier)

Walk-off White was the first of two Belgian-inspired wheat beers that I brewed a few months back. It was also a re-brew of one of my earliest batches.

Nice color, head maybe a little small.

The beer pours a cloudy pale-straw color. The head is thick, frothy and persistent. The beer is gorgeous when poured in a tall wheat beer glass that can accommodate the beer's large head of foam.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Brew Night: Jay Thinks He's Weizen (Weizen/Weissbier)

Like most brewers I almost always brew on the weekend when there is plenty of time during the day to brew and enjoy a beer. This past weekend I judged at a competition in Boston, visited Trillium, and bottled my Blueberry Wheat Ale. That didn't leave a lot of time for brewing. The only thing I have brewed since I returned from vacation was the Cabot Street Hop Harvest. There was another beer I wanted to brew in April I haven't brewed yet. I had planned on brewing three batches in May to be ready for the summer, and I need to brew another batch of Curly's Milk Stout. That is a backlog of five beers These are all batches I already bought ingredients for. I need to get in gear!

My last hefeweizen. The high carbonation gives the beer a thick, rocky head.

Hefeweizen, a type of German weizen/weissbier, is one of my girlfriend's favorite styles. I love them as well. Whenever I am at The Indo and can't decide what to order, I will fall back to Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier which they always have on draught, and serve in a beautiful glass. The style is light and spritzy, perfect for the summer. The malt is at least 50% wheat, there is no hop flavor, the hops only provide a small amount of bitterness, and most of the flavor comes from the esters and phenols produced by traditional weizen yeasts. The esters frequently have notes of banana and bubble gum, while the phenols provide notes of cloves which balances the malt sweetness and helps dry the finish.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tasting Notes: WAR IPA (White IPA)

The WAR IPA was something of an afterthought. I was anxious to re-brew Walk-off White. WAR IPA was intended to use the yeast I bought to brew the witbier, and also experiment brewing my own IPA. The hop selection was somewhat haphazard based on my desire to use up leftover hops from other recipes.

Decent bit of haze. Color not too dark.

The beer pours a hazy gold color. It is darker than Walk-Off White likely due in part to the additional malt used to boost the final gravity and alcohol content of the beer. I also consciously chose to use slightly darker malted wheat as opposed to having all of the wheat be flaked so I could contrast the two. The color was still exactly what I was going for. The beer has a thick, frothy white head with good retention.

Beer Inspiration In Our Backyard: Trillium Brewing

Tiny Trillium Brewing, located on Congress Street in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood has emerged as one of the region's most highly regarded craft brewers. When Trillium was forced to close due to a licensing SNAFU late last year it created a minor uproar in the local craft beer community. Thankfully Trillium has been able to not only reopen, they also have a new production brewery in the works.

Scaffolding sheltered the line-waiters.

Trillium sells the vast majority of their beer at the brewery in 22oz bombers and growler fills. The only retailer north of Boston to carry their products is Redstone Liquors in Stoneham. Until last weekend I hadn't made the time to drive into town, attempt to find parking, and visit the brewery. I was already in town to judge in the Boston Homebrew Competition making it as good a time as any to stop in.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Brew Day: Cabot Street Hop Harvest IPA

Now that my cousin/brewing collaborator Andy is settled into his new home, and said home no longer has a backyard filled with snow, we were finally able to go out and brew some all-grain batches outside. As a housewarming gift I bought a sparge arm to help better control the flow of the hot sparge water over the grain bed. Pa's Videoboard Lager finished much lighter than we had hoped, and I think where we went wrong was that we sparged too fast and did not rinse as much fermentable sugar off the grain as we had planned.

Ten minute addition on the right, flameout addition on the left.

On what was a double brew day we brewed Andy and his brother-in-law Greg's Cabot Street RYE-PA. When Andy and Greg brewed together Greg was more of the creative force that developed their recipes. Now Greg has three boys under the age of six, so leaving home for an all-day brew day is understandably difficult.