Gluttony: the Fifth Cardinal Sin

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ah, gluttony. When the Church came up with this one, they certainly didn't mean beer.

What's in the fridge this week?

1) Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Amazing; like drinking chocolate milk. Smells of chocolate and roasted nuts. Huge chocolate on the taste, followed by a nice sweet toasted malt, mild hops throughout. Heavy stout, fantastic overall. 8/10.

2) Michigan Brewing Company Superior Stout. This stout is exactly what a stout should taste like. That means that it's good, but unremarkable, since it is exactly right. Smelled of roasted coffee and bakers chocolate. Same roasted taste, but about half way through the beer it took on a buttery aftertaste, which is really nice. 7/10.

3) Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. I've reviewed the 60-,inute before. Now the 90-minute. SMACK! go the hops. Wow. Pine, citrus, herbs, overall bitter and oily hops, which is exactly perfect. This is a HUGE Double IPA. Definitely for "hop heads." 8/10.

4) Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. It was ok. Chicory is a root that is added to coffee in New Orleans to give it an extra bitter-kick. It just doesn't work for this stout. Good overall stout, but the chicory sort of got in the way for me, as did an astringent quality. 6/10.

5) Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier. This is an old stand-by for me, and one of my favs. Posted reviews before. Love it to death. 8/10.

6) Fuller's ESB. This is the ESB that created and defines the style. Medium body, smooth, a little fruity, followed immediately by a coarse, earthy, almost woody hops. Just a touch of roasted malt, but the hops character last all the way through. It's a celebration, bitches. 8/10.

7) Anchor Steam Beer. This is an original. Back in the late 1800s, refrigeration was unheard of, but Californians wanted to brew lagers (which ferment at low temperature). So, they created shallow fermenters and used yeast that fermented faster at higher temps. Immediate bitter, salty, citrusy taste moving to well-toasted malts, with a dry, citrus finish. This is truly one-of-a-kind, and its immitators pale in comparison. 9.5/10.

8) A can of Miller Lite. My sister in law can be so boring. Meh. 4/10.

9) Crazy Ed's Cave Creek Chili Beer. Barf. Take a Corona, and instead of a lime, cram a jalapeno in it. WTF?!? The pepper that sits in thebeer made it spicy. I don't drink my beer like I eat my salsa. The pepper further killed a mediocre beer. 4/10.

10) Harvey's Tom Paine Original Brown Ale. This is not bad. Smells a little like caramel and cinnamon. Creamy mouthfeel, buttery-sweet caramel taste, low carbonation, with nary a hint of hops. Highly drinkable, if not a bit boring. 7/10.

Hmmmm....6.95 this week. All those good beers RUINED by Miller and Crazy Ed. Ed, you bastard. Crazy Ed's that guy who shows up to your house party at 3 a.m. in a coon-skin cap. He's still there asleep on your couch in red Union Soldier pajamas 2 days later.


Nice Rack! Moving the Beer...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The beer saga continues. Making beer is strange in that if you think about it, all the little yeast spores are eating sugar. The catch is that they poop alcohol. Yummy!

Anyway, lovely assistant brewmaster Jennifer helped me rack the beer this evening from the first fermenter, where the reaction had slowed a bit, into the secondary fermenter, where the yeast will be given a chance to finish eating and shitting, and settle into the beer. This will take around 2 weeks.

The picture you see here are the two fermenters; the one on the left is the newly-racked beer, still bubbling away in the little airlock, and the nasty original fermenter.

The original, without the beer in it, smells quite a bit like wet bread, which is not evil, but still pretty pungent. The beer, as it was poured into the second fermenter, smelled faaaaaaantastic. This will be good beer.

I took a little taste. It's pretty flat still at this point in the process, but tastes about 75% of what the finished product will be. Mostly, you taste here to make sure you haven't killed it, which I don't think I have.

Brewmaster Mark will join me in about 2 weeks to bottle-condition our concoction.


What's In My Fridge This Week?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another Friday, another beer buzz. I feel like I'm posting in a vacuum here, folks, so give me your beer reviews too!

This week's selection was beautiful, until some hack showed up with with some of the lamest macro-brews ever made.

1) Founders Brewing Company Dirty Bastard Scottish Ale. Rrright then, lads. This is a wee heavy ale, no for the weak, aye? Molasses, raisins, and then the coup de grace, that heavy smoked-peat taste like you get out of a good single malt scotch. Thick and creamy. Heavy and complex enough, though, that drinking more than 1 at a time would ruin it. 9/10.

2) Dogfish Head Brewery 60 Minute IPA. Hazy amber color, citrus and pine hops on the smell. Big hops taste up front, moving from piney to fruity to a crisp grassy taste. Solid hops aftertaste, clean and crisp, without that nail polish taste you get with some. An extra bonus: this beer is bottle-conditioned, so you get some GREAT yeasty farts about an hour later. This is now a permanent addition to my fridge. 9/10.

3) Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat "Duvel": Perfection. Cloudy oragne, with a thick, chunky head that lasts throughout. Smelled of subtle spice, pepper and sweet malt. Smooth and extremely creamy, busy carbonation that lends a crispness to it. Prominent fruity esters, bitter up front, lending to a sweetness, then a bold spiciness like orange rind that mellows as it goes. 8.5 alcohol by volume..powerful. This is is simply amazing. 10/10.

4) Dogfish Head Brewery Punkin Ale. Another wonderful offering from this Delaware Brewery. Kind of a murky tea color, with a major pumpkin pie aroma. Like Thanksgiving! Smooth and creamy, just like pie. Sweet malt, kind of buscuity. FInishes with a strong spicey flavor, balanced by lingering sweetness. One of the best pumkin ales I've had. 8/10.

5) Great Lakes Brewing Company Cleveland Brown Ale. Drak brown with lovely frothy lacing floating around on top. Smelled of toast set on "dark" on the toaster with coffee brewing in the background. Medium body with a bready malted sweetness. Toasted flavor is prominent, followed by chocolate and ending with a hint of hops, slightly oily. Aftertaste is like toasted hops, if that's possible. Just a pleasure to drink. 8/10.

6) Great Lakes Brewing Company Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. This is exactly the way a porter should be. Carmelized sugar and chocolate smell, dark, alomost black color. Full body with enough of a malty taste to be damn near chewy. Caramel, creamed coffee, ending on a really biter hop to balance all that sweetness up front (otherwise it'd be like drinking syrup). It finished like...a brownie. Goodness me. 9/10.

7) Michelob Ultra. The person who brought this over to my house is never invited back again. YOUR HEAR ME??? NEVER!! Pale, smells of corn husks. Thin, watery, almost no maltiness, with an attempt at adding an "edgy" bitterness absent in most macrobrews that is laughable. Bleh. Insulting. Brewed to make money off of the low-carb craze. As boring as the poeple who care about that shit. Profiteering dicks. 2/10.

8) Coors Light. The same freak who brought the Mich Ultra brought this swill. This is the crap I use to cleanse my palate between real beers at beer festivals. Yellow-colored water with no flavor and all fizz. 2/10.

9) Pete's Wicked Ale. Now we're talking again. This is a great American Brown Ale. Ruby Red color, sweet malt nose, esters, with a mild hop aroma. Crisp crystal malt taste with...apples? The hops are not big in this ale, but leave a nice dry finish. This is a great fall-back beer, just like Sammy A Boston Lager. 7/10.

10) Coors Blue Moon. Yes....Coors brews Blue Moon. My universe collapsed a little when I found this out; a bit like finding out that Santa Claus doesn't exist, or that my wife and her friends don't have pillow fights in their underwear every time there's a "girls night out." All in all, this is a standard, middle-of-the-road Belgian-style white ale. Cloudy orange in color with a vague citrus/orange peel on the nose. Lemony, fermented wheat tang, with vague spices and plenty of coriander. Very refreshing, crisp, semi-dry. Good all-around beer. 7/10.

That's a 7.1. I was on the way to a high-8 or a low-9 until the dork showed up with a few bottles of carbonated water. Damn him.


Boil, Boil, Trouble and Toil...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The beer ferments away. This is what beer looks like when yeast reacts with sugars from the barley and malt to make alcohol. It's a pretty cool chemical reaction.

About 2 1/2 more weeks to go until bottling, then about a week from there.


I am a Health Nut

Monday, November 07, 2005

I knew it. I just knew it. This article from ABC News shows that drinking beer has healthy effects.

Apparently hops, which give beer flavor and aroma, have a compound in them that has shown in some research to help prevent cancer. Again: prevent cancer. Drinking good, hoppy beer can help fight cancer!

Now, here's the catch: most American beers, the article says, are low on hops. BUT...porter, stout and ale are high in this particular compound.

What does that mean?

It means drink microbrews!! Bud and Miller, the Shit of Beers, will kill you!! Drink craft beers and live forever!


Homebrew Heaven

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A necessary step towards my somewhat mindless journey to become a Certified Beer Judge is a return to homebrewing. I had done this for several years, and only stopped because life happens.

A good beer-drinking friend of mine, Mark, joined me in a journey to Things Beer, a wonderful store attached to the Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, Michigan. Of course, before we shopped at Things Beer, we had a few pints of their lovely forthcoming.

It's nice to be brewing again. The whole house smells like a huge bowl of wet cornflakes during the process, which is pretty cool.

So here we are in Things Beer, running amok like a 6-year-old at Toys-R-Us. Or a 30-year-old at 20th Century Games (shout out to geeks who know what that is...). Equipment! Hops! Malts! What do we make?!?

Mark and I settled on an ale...specifically, an APA. Not as hoppy as an IPA, but a little more bold than some classic English ales. We chose what is essentially a clone "kit" of MBC's Mackinac Pale Ale. It was my first time back after a long time off, and Mark's first time really ever. This would reintroduce me to the characters of a few different kinds of barleys and hops to start to remember what mixes best with what. In future posts, I'll put the recipes on, but since this was a kit, and a knock-off of a great MBC beer, it just doesn't feel right to post it withour permission. Don't want to develop bad beer karma after all...

I must say it was smooth sailing. Mark is an extremely conscientious brewer and beer drinker, and the help is always nice, especially since brewing takes upwards of 5 hours. You need someone to talk to or you go nuts.

The ale now sits fermenting in the basement. It is going crazy; the fermenter was about 4/5 full, and the yeast is working so well, that last 1/5 is all foam. When it settles by about Tuesday, I'll switch it to the next fermenter for a week or so. It should be ready for drinking around the first week of December.

A huge thanks to Mark, and I am looking forward to cracking the beer.


Ten Beers in My Fridge

Friday, November 04, 2005

It's Friday. It's been a long week. I want to drink beer. What's in my fridge? And what do I think of it?

1) Michigan Brewing Company Peninsula Porter. Another consistent beer from this consistent brewery. It misses the standard porter mark ever so slightly, but still has a strong roasted nuts and smoke smell and taste. Heavy beer...drink with red meat. 7/10.

2) Dogfish Head Brewery Aprihop. WOW. An India Pale Ale brewed with real apricots instead of artificial fruit flavor like so many other brews. What you get is a lovely, strongly-hopped IPA with a beautiful balance of sweetness barely in the background. WOnderful....except the finish was a bit heavy on the alcohol taste. Damn. 8/10.

3) Michigan Brewing Company Mackinac Pale Ale. Great copper color, with a taste bigger than its smell. It smelled weak, but I was amazed at the variation in flavor from biscuity hops to carmelized sugar to rose-flavored hops. Damn good beer, this one. 9/10.

4) Michigan Brewing Company Bavarian Dark. Yes, I visited the brewery this week as I picked up some brewing supplies and took home a few mixed 6ers. Anyway, this was not as heavy as other beers of this style. I didn't smell a ton of hints as to its taste, but the taste itself was great. Big-time toasted malt, subtle (but not weak) hops. Lighter body than I expected; thin and wet, a little hops bite at the finish, which pleased me just as well. 9/10.

5) Rogue Ales Brewery Dead Guy Ale. Clear amber with a thick, foamy head that left a beer-stache like a Guinness does. Toast, malt, wonderful honey/clover-flavored hops. Very well-balanced ale. 9/10.

6) Arcadia Brewing Company Lake Superior ESB. This is drinkable; I won't kick it out of my fridge. It doesn't hold a candle to Fuller's ESB (see last week's 10), as it is a little weaker and watery. What it is missing is prominent hops. It's like they are trying to market an ale as an ESB, so I was looking for stronger hops that weren't there. Not terrible, though. 6/10.

7) Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier. I've you've been brewing beer since 1040AD (yes...26 years BEFORE England as we know it), you've pretty much got it down. Chrystal-clear amber, little streams of bubbles all the way up, with a head like lemon meringue. Sweet, balanced by a tangy wheat flavor. More cloves than banana, which is unusual for a weissbier, and just fine by me. Great damned beer here folks. One of my favorites. 10/10.

8) Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. Yummy! Roasted coffee, balanced by sweet oatmeal that leaves a bit of a bitter chocolate aftertaste. Dark brown, tan, frothy head. Great, solid, basic oatmeal stout. Thick, but not oily, which so many oatmeal stouts can be. Well done! 8/10.

9) St. Pauli Girl. Dammit, I hate green-bottled beer. It could be good, but most stores store it in bright lights, so it is skunk city. This is a pretty weak pilsener to begin with; big blast of hops up front followed by that all-familiar skunky aftertaste. Meh. 4/10.

10) Iron City Beer. I blame my buddy, who is from Pittsburg, for this beer. But I am torn. This is a tailgate beer. It is light, easy to chug, and has a little more flavor than Miller Light of Bud Light. So, I swill this beer when I am getting smashed enough to watch MSU nearly win or nearly lose every Saturday. On the other hand, it's tart, acidic, with that oh-so-wonderful aluminum can aftertaste we've grown to expect out of a "macro." I'd rate it lower, but because this beer is connected in my head with tailgating and BBQ, 2 of my favorite things, it gets a 6/10.

So there you have it. An average of a 7.6 gives me a darn good buzz. Whatis in your fridge?



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