Tuesday, April 27, 2010

El Chupa-hop-ra Report

Racked to secondary tonight.  Gravity reading at 1.02.  Great aroma still and a good color.  Stole a taste and ooooooh this baby's gonna be good!

Bottling this weekend.

Brew #2: West Coast IPA - El Chupa-hop-ra?

Admittedly, my brewing schedule is way behind the planned brew-a-month pace.  However, we do what we can, right?  The latest foray was originally going to be a straight-up, American  Pale Ale.  Nothing over the top, just crisp and drinkable and most likely a session beer.

Oh well.

When I arrived at Southern Brewing and started talking to Ben Romano (a fine brewer in his own right), I found myself once again shifting to something little more hoppier.  And then more so.  And then before I could say lupulin, I had a recipe for a hopped-up West Coast IPA in my hands.  Ben convinced me to up the Magnum and Chinook hops.  Such is the burden of a hop-headed homebrewer.

Here is the recipe:

6.6 lbs Golden LME
2 lbs Golden DME
1 lb Crystal 65
8 oz. Vienna

1 oz Magnum (60 minutes)
1 oz Chinook (20 minutes)
1 oz Amarillo (15 minutes)
1 oz Centennial (10 minutes)
1 oz Simcoe (5 minutes)
1 oz Amarillo (end)

I used a dry yeast for the first time, the US-05 recommended by Ben.  My O.G. was 1.07.  According to my BrewPal app, I am expecting an ABV of about 7.2%, and an IBU of 92.  We'll see.  Does this rank as a Double IPA?

After less than 12 hours, the fermenter was bubbling away, and the wafting, bitter hoppiness was floating about.  Going to secondary shortly.  I wish I had some hops on hand to dry-hop with.  Oh well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time Flies When You Are Having Sons...

The things that are on my mind this week...

My oldest son turns 10 today.  It doesn't feel possible that a decade ago he arrived in this world (after 5 days of induced labor) and changed my life forever.  That weekend my friend snuck a 4-pack of Guinness cans into the hospital room.  The Nordspawn never developed a taste for beer, unlike his younger brother.  Perhaps that will change over time; I like to think it will.

I am never tired of hearing about collaborations between craft breweries.  Its just one of those feel-good things about the industry that you just don't see much of elsewhere.  The latest release is epic as fas as those involved go.  Fritz Maytag (Anchor Brewing) and Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada).  Giants in the industry.  Legends.  Icons.  Like Mozart and Bach.  All reports say the 30th Anniversary Fritz & Ken Ale is a fantastic beer.  I expect to have a bottle or two in short order.

Last weekend was the Craft Brewers Convention in Chicago.  I do hope to make it there one day.  Everything I have heard back indicate it was an amazing event, and not just because of the great quality (and quantity) of beer available.  The seminars and speakers alone would have been worth the trip.  And then to be surround by so many kindred souls... sounds like heaven.

The weather is heating up in Florida.  We may very well skip Spring and go straight in to Summer at this rate.  And that means its time for the more refreshing beers to move to the front of the line.  I love my big beers and stouts and whatnot, but there is something special about sitting outside on a warm Florida day with a lovely sessionable pale ale or crisp pilsner.  Time to get reacquainted with them, says I...

Now that we are done with the "first quarter" of the year, it is a good time to take stock and see where we are in terms of the "Brew Year's Resolutions".  Some might need to be adjusted and some may no longer qualify.  Lets take a look!

  1. Attend GABF in Denver for the first time. - Well, this is not until September.  So...  Grade: N/A
  2. Visit more breweries. - I have been over to Cigar City a few times now, and stop in at Peg's Cantina and Brewpub as well as Tampa Bay Brewing Company, but I need to step it up.  There are a few trips planned for this year, so I will make it a point to get to nearby breweries if at all possible.  Grade: D
  3. Start rating beers. - I am doing it, but not often enough.  Grade: C
  4. More homebrewing. - To date I have exactly one batch done.  Not good enough, and far short of where i should be so far this year. Grade: D
  5. More writing. - That I have been doing, but still not consistently enough for my own taste.  I need to double my efforts on that. Grade: B-
  6. More drinking. - Also been doing well with this.  I am trying to make sure i try something new at least once a week.  I have had some really excellent beers, too. Grade: B+
  7. More reading. - It seems like the more I read, the more books I add to my list.  I have knocked off several books so far and am loving the knowledge I am gaining. Grade; A
  8. Certification and Study, part 1 - Cicerone.  Nothing yet.  I am looking to maybe the summertime to really look at this. Grade: N/A
  9. Certification and Study, part 2 - BJCP.  See #8.  Grade: N/A
  10. Continue to be a vocal craft beer advocate. - Probably to the point of being obnoxious.  Grade: A
So, there is work to be done!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Beer People Are Good People

I have been deeply engaged and writing about the world of craft beer for about nine months now.  I knew when I decided to focus my efforts on this culture and industry that there was a lot I didn't know and that I needed to learn.  I soon found myself surrounded (virtually and otherwise) with other beer lovers, writers, brewers, and so on, all eager to pass on information and answer any question I had.  And there was no common theme other than beer people helping other beer people.  No one asked "are you a Democrat or Republican".  No one cared how much money I made, if I was married, had kids, owned a home, had a good credit rating, or where I went to school.  The single factor was that I liked craft beer and wanted to learn more.

Everyone I have met has a different background, comes from a different place, and has their own personal tastes and preferences when it comes to beer.  Hop-heads and malt-heads, sour-lovers and "extreme" beer hunters alike love to talk about beer and their experiences... and actually listen to yours!

Recently a hashtag of #beerpeopleRgoodpeople has been circulating on Twitter, and I have to smile every time I see it.  As I have gotten to know more people I am uplifted by how something as basic and seemingly simple as craft beer can bring so many people together from so many different walks of life.  of course there is some healthy competition.  West Coast and East Coast, Yankees and Red Sox, NorCal and SoCal, Portland and Asheville... But I have met someone great from each of those.  And with each new person i meet, be it online or in person, my own knowledge and appreciation of craft beer grows.  I am not only introduced to new beers, but new books, new blogs, new cities, even.  I can go just about anywhere in the country at this point and probably be within a couple hours at most from a #beerpeopleRgoodpeople connection.  There is something fundamentally comforting about this to me.

So my goal - long term, anyway - is to share a craft beer in person with as many of these great beer people as possible.  As spread out as they all are, it is a lofty goal, but a worthy one, I think.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Brewed for Tots

I was recently made aware of a new craft-beer-related blog called Brewed for Tots.  I highly recommend it.