Southern Tier and Dogfish Head are two breweries that helped me get into craft beer, so it was nice to grab two new releases on the same day. This day was a week and a half ago, but still.
Warlock (pictured poured) is often compared to Pumking, given that 1. they are made by the same brewery and 2. they both remind one of pumpkin pie. Outside of that, they are fairly different. Quite a sweet stout with little roasted flavors, the pumpkin, vanilla, and spices dominate the brew from the nose to the finish. A delicious brew, but one has to be in the mood for it.
American Beauty is a highly anticipated brew for me given my affinity for the Dead. Think large boxes worth of FLAC bootlegs and you might start to scratch the surface with how much I love the band. The album “American Beauty” is particularly meaningful - if you ever go through a tough loss, listen to it. Seriously.
*cough* Let Phil sing! “It’s just a box of rain / I don’t know who put it there / Believe it if you need it / Or leave it if you dare / But it’s just a box of rain / Or a ribbon for your hair / Such a long, lone time to be gone / And a short time to be there”
In any case, the beer itself is an imperial pale ale brewed with all-American hops and granola, and that’s exactly what I taste. Very bready malt base (granola) + American hops (citrus, mostly orange) + caramel sweetness (cranberry-like). Almost like trail mix in beer form. This isn’t for everybody, and I’ll probably only buy another bottle at most, but I appreciate the effort and intent behind it.
…I realize that I have not posted much, only 14 times in the past year, and part of this is not exploring my other (aka non-beer) interests, primarily: hockey, video games, music, and education.
Let it be known that my interest in video games is extremely dorky, especially in that I am a Blizzard fanboy. No, not in the “raids WoW 30 hours a week” sense, just knowing that their multiplayer - especially in regards to matchmaking - is ridiculously good, balanced, and constantly re-examined. There are no statistical advantages in SC2, for example, so playing matches only helps you in developing your actual skill, not inflating your power with levels or gear.
Enter Hearthstone: essentially an online version of a trading card game. It is Blizzard’s first entry into F2P games and I would be VERY surprised if it does not become available to tablet OS’s shortly after its launch (it is currently in beta). On the PC/Mac, every action is completed by clicking on the mouse or drag-and-dropping, so it should translate to tablets incredibly easily… plus the graphics are good-but-not-crazy, so everything screams “coming to tablets soon” to me…
The gist of the game is this: every card costs mana, but mana is easily controlled in that you start with one crystal and gain another every turn, up to ten crystals per turn. You select one of nine Warcraft heroes, basically the iconic figure behind each of vanilla WoW’s nine classes, and each hero has unique cards and powers. The majority of your deck will be neutral cards, so match-ups tend to be even-ish inherently.
Oh yeah… the screenshot! Just a fun match I had tonight, had the Frostwolf Warlord card early, kept playing the Paladin hero power to draw more minions, ended up summoning it as 10/10, buffed it twice to 14 attack, then basically two-shot the guy.
This may not be shocking given I am a single guy living on my own, but my apartment desperately needs more decoration. I already have a wall of NJ Devils memorabilia, including a large flag, two jerseys, a signed Stanley Cup poster, and a banner.
Enter the beer wall. The first addition was the Heady Topper poster, an inexpensive yet amazing acquisition. The second was the hoppy beer collage, which looks terrible in this photo given all the glare from the sun - not sure if there is much/anything I can do about that though. The third addition was more of a relocation, my so-called “Wall ‘o (North American) Tripels,” freeing one of my kitchen counters of a looott of space.
I will add BA links in time, but for now - 29 Tripels so far:
- Allagash Tripel
- Anchorage Tide and its Takers
- Anderson Valley Brother David’s Triple
- Avery Anniversary Ale - 19
- Boulevard Long Strange Tripel
- Bruery Trade Winds
- Cambridge Tripel Threat
- Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious
- Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Tripel
- Cisco Island Reserve Tripel
- Defiant Belgian Style Tripel
- Elysian NIBIRU Yerba Mate Tripel
- Green Flash Trippel
- Heavy Seas Yule Tide
- Left Hand St. Vrain
- Midnight Sun Panty Peeler
- Moat Mountain Belgian Style Tripel
- New Holland Beerhive
- Ommegang Tripel Perfection
- Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits
- Schlafly Tripel
- Slumbrew Trekker Tripel
- Southampton Triple
- Stoudt’s Triple
- Unibroue Eau Benite
- Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
- Brouwerij West Tripel
- Weyerbacher Merry Monk’s
- White Birch Tripel
Quite solid American take on a classic style, with an awesome label to boot. Very slightly funky, predominantly apple/pear/spice, sweet at first with a dry finish, simple-yet-complex (as Tripels should be). I will have this again, hopefully on draft!
For me: go to MA. In fairness to myself, the majority of my return went to getting ahead on bills, but the hefty (for my income) return combined with taking on a second job meant I could splurge more than I already usually do on MA beer runs.
My first stop was Table & Vine in West Springfield, MA. This was my first time there, a heavily anticipated trip given its 98 BeerAdvocate rating. I was definitely impressed with beers from The Lost Abbey, Avery, and Hoppin’ Frog that I had not seen before, but could get 90%+ of their inventory between local beer stores and Spirited, so I don’t expect to go the extra distance too often.
Table & Vine grabs:
- Avery Collaboration Not Litigation
- Avery The Reverend
- Bear Republic Black Racer
- Blatant IPA
- Cambridge Spring Training IPA
- Cisco Double IPA
- Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet 1.5
- Cucapá Runaway IPA (craft beer from Mexico, gotta try it)
- Hoppin’ Frog Hop Master’s Abbey Belgian-Style Double IPA (given how I enjoy Mean Manalishi, I have high hopes for this)
- Hoppin’ Frog Sweet Evil Barleywine
- Lost Abbey Avant Garde (this and the following come from my “buy any Lost Abbey I haven’t had yet” rule)
- Lost Abbey Carnevale
- Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi
- Lost Abbey Serpent Stout
- Mystic Day of Doom (saw this and next three on Tumblr beer blogs)
- Mystic Saison Renaud
- Prairie Ale
- Prairie Hop
- Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits (re-try)
I pretty much knew I would be making the detour to Spirited in Lenox, MA on the way home, especially when I did not see Bloom at Table & Vine. Even after a first stop at a significantly larger store, there was plenty of goodies to be had, a sign of a great beer store.
- Baird Carpenters Mikan Ale
- Freitgeist Geisterzug Gose (Sean recommendation)
- Freitgeist Pimock (Sean recommendation)
- Graal Quest
- Heavy Seas YuleTide (x2 - had this at BCTC 2012 and loved it, been wanting to re-try since… wonder if it has been sitting on Spirited’s shelves this whole time?)
- Jack’s Abby Cascadian Schwarzbier (Sean recommendation)
- Mikkeller Invasion Farmhouse IPA (saw on Spirited e-mail and wanted)
- Mikkeller Tiger Baby: Open Windows Open Hills (Sean recommendation)
- Pretty Things Once Upon a Time 1939 No.1 Ale
- Smuttynose Bloom (saw on Spirited e-mail and wanted)
- Struise Pannepot (Sean recommendation)
I’m in Florida with family, and while beer is far from the main purpose of the trip (three nephews under six + Walt Disney World = you do the math), I was able to snag a bunch of new-to-me-brews. I could not hunt any whales - as I had to take an expensive cab ride to the beer store in the first place (no rental car) - but hey, I’m no whale hunter… hell, I’m not even a whale watcher!
I wanted to get as much Cigar City and Terrapin as possible, and fell short of my expectations on both. With that said, I got 27 beers for $100 (21x12oz, 4x22oz, 2x25.4oz), and 26 of 27 are new-to-me-brews. The only one I have had is the Jai Alai IPA on the left, which I had at a bottle share, so I definitely don’t mind having a full can of it to myself.
I struck out a bit more with Terrapin than I did with Cigar City, but got three that I haven’t had, plus another one yesterday at the resort. I’m on my third of the three Terrapins as I type, and all have been good to great. Great Divide isn’t new-to-me, but those two are, and Twisted Pine is new-to-me. For better and for worse, I have heard many things of Ghost Face Killah, while the other was mostly a random grab.
Bell’s may be coming to NY soon, but if I fall short on Cigar City and Terrapin, I may as well turn straight to a go-to back-up. I’ve only had three Bell’s so far, so nothing wrong with another eight new-to-me-Bell’s-brews!
This last group of beers is a bit weird, at least to me. First of all, I did not expect to buy any Clown Shoes down here (nor Flying Fish for that matter), but the braumeister of Spirited (Sean) is not a Clown Shoes fan, so while I buy beer regularly in MA, these two MA beers are still new-to-me-brews. The Pike’s and OBP are mostly random grabs.
We shall see! So far the first four brews of this trip have been the new-to-me-Terrapin-brews, so it has started on a strong note. Cheers!
It has been a while since I took a trip to Manchester Discount Beverage, but they gave me a solid reason to come up: Maine Beer Company’s Lil One:
I grabbed the last two bottles they had, one reserved plus the last on the shelf, and am drinking one (currently) and planning to share the other. Here are my other grabs:
- Ass Kisser Double IPA (I hated it the first time I had it, and a friend was surprised by that, so I’ll try it again)
- Bar Harbor Cadillac Mountain Stout
- Gigantic City Never Sleeps (brewery from OR that is only distributed to VT as far as the east coast = sure, why not)
- Gigantic IPA
- Gigantic Royale
- Knee Deep Hop Shortage
- Lompoc C-Note
- Northshire Chocolate Stout (local brewery I haven’t had yet = try)
- Northshire Hefeweizen
- Northshire Slopeside Spiced Ale
- Rising Tide Zephyr
- Schneider + Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse (re-rate)
- Slumbrew Attic & Eaves (any Slumbrew I haven’t had = buy)
- White Birch Indulgence
As far as Lil One goes, while I’m not as bowled over as I am by their other beers, it is a quite solid hopfest that is well worth the hour and change trip each way (as it is a one-off, at least for now).
A small update from my last post on my first homebrew batch - just over two weeks into fermentation, my gravity is reading 1.029 (adjusted for temperature), compared to a starting gravity of 1.083. My target is 1.022 or lower, so I am not far, and I decided to rouse the yeast gently, hoping that this in addition to another week in primary should finish it off.
The nose is still amazing, full of fresh orange / tangerine, and the hops are starting to become apparent. Unsurprisingly, given the current gravity, it is very sweet and hard to judge flat, but certainly doesn’t taste bad. I’m still ready for my first batch to suck, but it doesn’t seem like it will…
I think I am starting to understand why Charlie Papazian repeatedly says “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” I made what seemed like a ton of mistakes, but it at least looks like things are progressing well so far.
The beer itself is meant to be a cross between a Wit and an IPA, emphasizing citrus flavors found in both styles. It is single-hopped with Citra and finished with a healthy amount of fresh orange and tangerine zest.
Four ounces of Citra hops, ready for the boil!
Most homebrew books and websites recommended avoiding the white “pith” by not zesting too deeply, as it lends an unpleasantly bitter flavor - easy enough.
…and here’s where things started to go wrong. I was attempting to do a full six-gallon boil by using two burners, but was not able to reach a full rolling boil. I was able to come close (203 F), so it will be easy enough to reach by doing either partial boils or smaller batches (I am leaning towards doing 2/3 batches). Supposedly not reaching a full boil is not a huge deal while using extract, but it does diminish hop utilization, which is fairly sucky given the goal of this beer.
After my first hop addition, I started to sanitize the equipment I would be using while transferring the wort to the fermenter. In what was a serious FML moment for a first-time homebrewer, the floating thermometer I was planning on using broke while being sanitized. The only other thermometer I had was a digital thermometer typically used for meat, which was harder to sanitize and seemed very off. I used the ice bath method to chill the wort, but kept getting ~100 F readings over an hour in. I ended up having to cover it up and leave it overnight. The next morning, the thermometer was still reading ~100 F, even though the room was below room temperature as it does not have a heating duct and its door was closed. I poured some out, stuck a finger in, assumed it was under 75 F, and decided to pitch the yeast. I got a starting gravity of 1.083, much higher than the ~1.060 I was aiming for.
I brewed on Tuesday evening, pitched the yeast Wednesday morning, and had largely given up hope by Friday. Everything seemed to be going wrong - the risk of contamination was (and still is) very high, there may not be enough yeast for the gravity, and there was no visible signs of fermentation after 48 hours. My co-workers asked about it and I told them I was going to dump it over the weekend and start over.
Then, on Saturday morning, I opened up my closet and saw gunk filling the airlock. This is not good in that it shows I did not have enough headspace, but is good in that it is a very clear sign of fermentation. I took the airlock out, sanitized it, and dumped a bit down the drain, trying to keep as much yeast in by pouring slowly. I had to do this a few times, but took care to sanitize the airlock each time, and have not had to do it in over 12 hours.
Here’s what is going to change for next time:
- Partial boil or smaller batch size (for hop utilization)
- Better thermometer with a decent back-up (for accuracy)
- Wort chiller (to help avoid contamination by reaching pitching temperature more quickly)
- Label carboy by gallon (to ensure proper headspace - I probably had more than 5 gallons given I did not achieve a rolling boil)
I’m also planning on getting a few more items, including two more carboys so I can have multiple beers fermenting at a time (hey, my closet does have plenty of room). I am still ready to accept this first batch sucking, with everything that has gone wrong, but find a bit of optimism in how amazing it smells plus the lack of anything green. Who knows? I’m relaxed, not worried, and ready to start my next homebrew already.
Well, maybe that isn’t the official holiday, but it certainly has been mine. After picking up materials to wax my beer to be cellared the other day, I’ve been itching to cellar a few beers, even if I don’t have any whales to cellar at the moment. Besides, while Founders is readily available, their stouts are pretty fan-friggin-tastic. Extremely bootleg details to follow!
I cut my Resin can just over the gold above the name to allow the bottles enough room to be dipped. While I waited, I just happened to enjoy Ommegang’s Tripel Perfection, the only beer from said brewery that made my want list. I found a cellared bottle chillin’ by the register at Westmere Bev (waxed, coincidentally) and promptly grabbed it!
6 Crayola crayons + 10 mini glue sticks + medium/lowish heat later…
The molten goo, embellished by flash!
I thought this was very easy to do, especially if one is patient and willing for medium/low heat to do its trick… I could have done 10-12 bottles with the ingredients I used, maybe more, and will be mindful to adjust next time. Cheers!
This pretty much sums up any time I get slightly excited about lockout talks…
Payday was Friday and, given that I work in a school, I had today off. I honor significant days from my dad’s time by drinking good beer - we chose to bury him on Veteran’s Day seven years ago, delaying it almost two months for the significance. This weekend, as you will see here, it was easy. I decided to hit Spirited on Saturday, before heading down to visit friends in Jersey on Sunday night, and then hit two beer stores while in Jersey. I found Ramsey Liquors via BeerAdvocate and didn’t plan on going to a third, but a friend recommended Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, which was less than ten minutes away from where we were having lunch, so how could I resist? I’m going to have to budget like whoa in the remaining 11 days before my next paycheck, but there is NO chance I will run out of beer in that time. Prost, Vati!
- Backlash Conquest White IPA
- Big Elm Gerry Dog Stout
- De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2010
- Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend
- Girardin 1882 Gueuze (Black Label)
- Grand Teton Snarling Badger Berliner Weisse (14SDC)
- Hanssens Experimental Raspberry
- Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin
- Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA
- Pretty Things Lovely Saint Winefride
- Rising Tide Ursa Minor
- Slumbrew Flower Envy
- Slumbrew My Better Half
- Slumbrew Rising Sun
- Slumbrew Trekker Tripel
- White Birch 3 Anniversary Ale
Ramsey Liquors grabs:
- Cricket Hill Reserve Russian Imperial Stout (14SDC)
- Flying Fish Exit 8 (14SDC)
- Harpoon Pott’s Landbier*
- Heavy Seas Smoke on the Water
- Lost Abbey Devotion
- Lost Abbey Lost & Found
- Mikkeller Hoppy’ Lovin’ Christmas
- Old Schoolhouse Ruud Awakening IPA (14SDC)
- Pale Horse Hopyard Dog
- Port Brewing Midnight Expression
- Southampton Triple
- Struise + Mikkeller Elliot Brew
- Terrapin + Shmaltz Reunion Ale ‘12 (have had Shmaltz version, this is Terrapin’s version)
- Terrapin Samurai Krunkles
- Voodoo 4 Seasons IPA
Gary’s Wine & Marketplace grabs:
- River Horse Hop-a-lot-amus x4 (thanks Aine! x2 for 14SDC)
- St. Bernardus Tokyo
- Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter x4 (x2 for 14SDC)
- Unibroue Quelque Chose
*I have a history with Pott’s Brauerei. I did not drink beer for most of high school as most of my friends didn’t, but knew I would be going on a student exchange trip to Oelde before senior year started. Shortly after I turned 18 in October of my senior year, my dad offered me my first beer, a Löwenbräu. Over the next few months, I was sporadically allowed to have many quality beers, mostly pilsners and lagers of German (and to a lesser extent Czech) origin.
I spent three weeks of the spring of senior year in Oelde, which has made a permanent mark on my love of beer. Let me be emphatic! here: there was a beer festival about half a mile away from my host’s house! (The equivalent of) 75 cents for .5l of beer! Brewery-sponsored sports leagues, with cheap beer at all events! Direct recycling - bottles bought by case at the brewery and directly returned to the brewery - aided my drunk-as-hell people obediently placing empty bottles in plastic cases even six+ hours into a party! ”Ein Topspiel” between Borussia Dortmund (the local heroes) and Bayern München, with over 80,000 ridonkulous fans going buckwild! Drunk biking! Drunk hitting on girls in terrible German! Good times!!!
In any case, Pott’s was the local brewery, right in Oelde (which is probably considered a small city, but is pretty durn small, just sayin’). While some of their styles were not my favorite, I had enough of the hefe and pils to add them to my list when I first created it, even though that was about a decade after I had them. I still love hefes, though am not as bowled over as I used to be, and can appreciate a good pils, but for the most part have still not come around to lagers (outside of those from Jack’s Abby). Long story short, this is an interpretation of one of their styles I did not care for, but am pretty damn excited to drink it nonetheless!