Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brew Day: Australian Sparkling Ale

Northern Brewer runs specials from time to time where if you spend X number of dollars you get Y for free. I have a Dark Star Burner in my basement still in the box that I obtained from one of these promotions. Last October I didn't have quite enough in my shopping cart to get the free burner, so I bought this Australian Sparkling Ale kit with the idea I would brew it at some point in the future. I have never brewed, drank, or even seen an Australian Sparkling Ale so I am excited to try one for the first time.
Interested to brew a 'new to me' style. 

Australian Sparkling Ale is similar to California Common in the sense that both styles are synonymous with one commercial example and one hop. Fullsteam's flagship is a California Common, Smuttynose collaborated with Stoneface and Deep Rhythm on one, but the archetype will always be Anchor Steam. With Australian Sparkling Ale, the style practically starts and ends with Cooper's Sparkling Ale. Yes, the same Cooper's as the Cooper's Ginger Beer kit I just brewed.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beer Inspiration in our Backyard: 2015 AHA Rally at Samuel Adams

I can't believe it has been a year already since last year's American Homebrewer's Association (AHA) rally at the Samuel Adams Brewery. It was interesting revisiting my post from last year. I touched on the challenge Sam Adams has in maintaining their "craft beer cred" so to speak. Since then there was a Boston Magazine article where they ask, and Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch laments whether the craft beer movement has left Sam Adams behind. That was followed by a scathing rebuttal from local beer and homebrewing blogger Vinny Mannering which went viral.

Real brewmaster and a would-be. Who's to say which one is which?

Unlike last year where I could only make it for an hour or so due to work obligations, this year I planned ahead and took a half-day. If my girlfriend hadn't been stuck in a meeting we would have been better able to time the rush hour traffic. Instead we were stuck for a half an hour in the I-93 tunnel.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The fight to legalize beer mail

Craft Beer & Brewing defines "beer mail" as:
Beer mail is actually not mail at all since it's illegal to ship alcohol via USPS (and craft-beer lovers always obey the laws). It is, however, a shipment of beer sent from one craft-beer lover to another. When one receives beer mail, it is often an event
eliciting social media status updates such as “Unexpected beer mail arrived today from @phacebook . . . taking the afternoon off to gawk at my new haul of whales. #whalezbro #craftbeer #beermail.”

That's right, it is currently illegal to send beer via the United States Postal Service. Whether it is two craft beer lovers trading beers, or a homebrewer sending their beer to someone who lives far away or sending them to a competition.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier is proposing legislation to legalize beer mail:


Ever want to send wine, beer, and liquor through the mail? I’m introducing a bill that would allow the U.S. Postal...

Posted by Congresswoman Jackie Speier on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tasting Notes: Crackerjack Cream Ale

Crackerjack Cream Ale is the only beer I have brewed on an annual bases in my almost three years of homebrewing. I guess that alone makes this a special beer. Year-on-year I have only made subtle tweaks to the recipe.

Nice clarity, looks like I poured hard to rouse the head. 

The beer pours straw colored. The fizzy head is thin and white. Head retention is low which is typical of the style. The beer has almost brilliant clarity. This is the best looking beer I have brewed in a long time.

Brew Day: North Shore Brewers Galaxy IPA

My father has been in the painting business since before I was born. Most of that time he has been a painting contractor. For most of the last 10-15 years he has been contracting and sub-contracting exclusively, but when I was growing up he was still climbing ladders and swinging a brush. During the summer and on weekends I would go on estimates or go to job sites with him. Every once in awhile somebody would see this kid just hanging out, maybe reading a book or listening to the radio, and ask if I would follow my father's footsteps and take over the business. If my dad was around he would usually answer for me and say something along the lines of, "my son is smart, he will have a job where he uses his brain someday."

I'd call this a rolling boil.

While my intelligence, and certainly my common sense is up for debate, I did end up working behind a desk. Any desire I might have ever possibly have to pull a Peter Gibbons and forsake cubicle life for blue collar work went out the window after this brew day. The summer of 2015 has been kind of a dud. My girlfriend was calling June, "Junuary" due to unseasonably cold temperatures. Andy and I were fortunate enough to plan a brew day on the first day temperatures crossed 90 degrees. Not only was the heat oppressive, there was no wind, and for most of the day there was no shade in his yard.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Extract versus All-Grain Brewing

As an intermediate to advanced brewer, I probably brew with malt extract more than most other brewers of a similar level of experience. A lot of it has to do with the limitations of brewing on an electric stove inside a one-bedroom apartment. The only all-grain, full boil batches I brew are with my cousin/brewing partner Andy every couple of months. At home I can brew one or two gallon all-grain batches on my stove top using the brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) method

Malt extract is not without it's benefits.

For my full, five gallon batches I brew at home I typically use a partial-mash method where I mash about one-half to two-thirds of my fermentable sugars, and top off with malt-extract and/or other sugars to make sure I have enough fermentable sugars for the yeast to convert into alcohol.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tasting Notes: Jay Thinks He's Weizen

Jay Thinks He's Weizen was a slightly modified version of Jamil Zainasheff's Harold is Weizen recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I brewed the beer to bring to the North Shore Brewers June meeting. The meeting was a style meeting where members would try and discuss different homebrew and commercial German Wheat beers. I kegged about half the batch in a Party Pig to bring to the meeting, and bottled the rest.

Wheat beer in a wheat beer glass.

The beer pours a hazy dark-gold color. The head is creamy with above average thickness and retention. Un-ripened banana permeates the aroma along with notes reminiscent of Cream of Wheat. Given more than half of the grist was wheat, this is appropriate.