Saturday, October 31, 2015

Brew Day: Alan's Stepchild (American IPA)

When conducting research for the Geary's Summer Ale clone, I learned about the profound influence Alan Puglsey, and by extension Peter Austin, had on many early East Coast craft breweries. Leaning heavily on English brewing traditions, "Ringwood Breweries" like D.L. Geary, Gritty McDuff's, and Shipyard share a few common characteristics: the use of mostly English malts and hops, open primary fermentation, and the distinctive Ringwood yeast.

Home-made open fermenter.

The IPAs produced by these breweries are English IPAs, or malty, old-school, East Coast American IPAs. When I brewed Fort Dummer it was in the style of a contemporary New England pale ale/IPA. To surmise these contemporary beers are characterized by: juicy hop flavor, soft mouthfeel, low bitterness, and a hazy straw to gold appearance.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ales for ALS Homebrew Competition - Essex 2015

On October 24 I finally tapped the kegs of Fort Dummer and Shareholder's Saison at Ales for ALS in Essex. I also brought two 12-packs of bottles from the last batch of Curly's Milk Stout. I'll have more detailed tasting notes on all three of those brews down the line. For now I will say that I was happy with all three.
Serving my latest batch of Curly's Milk Stout.

I still bottle almost all of my beers. Last year I purchased four 3-gallon kegs and a CO2 tank. I haven't used them that much because I still don't have a kegerator at home to keep the kegs cold. For this event I purchased a "jockey box" while Northern Brewer was offering 20% off of a single item.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tasting and festival fun!

Note: Newburyport Brewing asked if I would like to write some posts for their blog on the brewery website. This is a post about my experiences working events for the brewery. 

My name is Jason Chalifour. I am a homebrewer, blogger, Recognized Beer Judge Certification Program judge, craft beer fan, and have been working on the Event Team at Newburyport Brewing Company since May. As a side job there are worse things I could be doing than meeting people and talking about beer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tasting Notes: Rounders Brown Ale, the importance of fermentation temperature

In home brewing, brewers will spend time researching ingredients, crafting recipes, pondering things like whether the last hop addition should be with five or ten minutes left in the boil. What many don't pay adequate attention to is what happens after brew day. Often after brew day the fermenter is plopped in a closet, basement, or under the stairs and forgotten about until racking or packaging.

If only the beer tasted as good as it looks.

Managing fermentation temperature is as important as recipe formulation, if not more. Commercial breweries have professional equipment to precisely set the temperature of their tanks. Advanced home brewers will equip a refrigerator or chest freezer with a temperature controller to control their fermentation temperature. A would-be like myself working within the limitations of brewing in an apartment has limited control over the temperature my beer ferments at.

Big beer is getting bigger and I don't care

The two largest beer companies in the world, AB InBev and SABMiller have agreed to a takeover of SABMiller by ABInBev. Freelance writer Jason Notte wrote a reaction piece 5 ways the A-B InBev-SABMiller deal will ruin your beer. I thought it was an interesting, if alarmist take on the situation and tweeted the link.

Notte replied to my tweet and them mention tweeted:


I corrected Notte and told him that I never said what he accused me of saying. Will any "good" come of this proposed merger for craft beer? Probably not. Will it change my drinking habits? No. Do I think it will change the options available to me at local bars and bottle shops? No.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Brew Day: Geary's Summer Ale Clone

As a homebrewer it is possible to brew hard to find beers like an Australian Sparkling Ale. It is also possible to attempt to clone specific commercial beers. Homebrew shops and websites sell tons of commercial clone kits, occasionally they have hilarious names that thinly veil the beer the kit is attempting to clone. A year ago I attempted my own clone of The Substance by Bissell Brothers Brewing in Portland, Maine. At the time it was the hot, new IPA on the market. One year later people still line up outside the brewery. This time around I am cloning a beer from New England's oldest craft brewery.

Traditional brick-lined boil kettle designed by Alan Pugsley.

DL Geary Brewing was incorporated in 1983, one year before Samuel Adams, and started producing beer in 1986. David Geary spent three years in Britain learning his trade.  He spent time at the Ringwood Brewery owned by influential English craft-beer pioneer Peter Austin. Another disciple of Peter Austin named Alan Pugsley, who would later become head brewer and partner at Shipyard Brewing, helped set up the brewery.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Brew Day: Shareholder's Saison (Wild Specialty Beer)

Brewing for me started as something my girlfriend and I could do together. In the early days we would brew, rack, and bottle together. After our first batch we started developing our own recipies. If I came up with one on my own, she would come up with one of her own. Slowly the hobby sucked me in more than it did her. She liked brewing, but maybe not enough to want to do it every other weekend.

The LME can is next to the mash so the extract heats up and loosens.

In the early days she found out about the Ales for ALS event in Essex and wanted to participate. When I volunteered for this year's event and realized we would have to brew a couple of batches to bring to the event, she was as excited about brewing as she had been in a long time. I took this as an opportunity to make her more involved again and suggested she choose the style of one of the beers and develop a recipe.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Brew Day: Fort Dummer (American Pale Ale)

For years aggressively hopped IPAs have been marketed as "West Coast" IPAs. These were IPAs where the malt and yeast exist mostly as a canvas for the hops. The best examples from the West Coast widely available in the Boston area are from Stone and Ballast Point. Local brewers like Ipswich Ale and Newburyport Brewing have released IPAs that they market as West Coast. The proximity of major hop-growing regions in the Pacific Northwest helped the West Coast IPA as it came to be known evolve.

Dry hopping during active fermentation.

East Coast IPA traditionally resembled an English IPA with American hops. It has more malt flavor and often yeast esters than West Coast IPAs. Ipswich's original IPA, Fisherman's IPA, and Shipyard Monkey Fist are a few examples that come to mind. East coast pale ales generally followed a similar pattern.