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IPA – India Pale Asininity abounds

July 25, 2011

I’m starting to nitpick the IPA/dIPA categories these days.  Several basic IPA’s out there are bland.  Insipid.  Ordinary.  One-dimensional.  I’m looking at you, Redhook.  You too, Pyramid.  Dechutes, your Cascadian Dark Ale (black IPA) was a good beer, but the hop profile initially screamed at me.  Must have been too citrusy, quite possibly the Citra hops.

Don’t get me wrong, I like IPA’s as well as Imperial IPA’s.  When done well, it’s an exhilarating taste experience.  First, the hops hit your nose with a beautiful bouquet.  Then they assault your tongue with pleasant bitterness.  Then the malt backbone washes it down.  The alcohol warms you.  Repeat.

Typically, a substandard IPA just kicks your tongue in the metaphorical nuts.  Sorta like a bad beer paired with greasy pizza.  Sure it’s bitter.  I’m bitter too, but it’s because that beer is one dimensional.  The problem is that there is too much mediocre IPA out there.  You could bottle condition it.  You could inoculate it with small bit of brett.  Just make it interesting!

I read a few reviews (yeah, I know…) of Brewdog’s Punk IPA.  I’ve really not desired to seek it out.  But Nate over at THFB has peaked my interest.  Apparently, Hardcore is not Punk.  Cool.  I’ve found it difficult to find any offerings from Brewdog, but then again I don’t seek out brew shops (unless we’re talking about brewing equipment and ingredients).  I’ll look for it.

Incidentally, I do share the sentiment that the next greatest beer is brewed in my back yard or is sitting in my keg-o-rator.  And more to the point, my kegs are filled with an Imperial IPA that give you that exhilarating taste experience.

Living the Dream – Wilderness Brewing

June 1, 2011

Turning a hobby into a career.  At some level, it seems like that is a desire a great many of us share.  Some of us are already living the dream.  Others are still dreaming.  Then there are those dreamers that are taking concrete steps towards living out their dreams.  For instance, take Mike and Nate from  They have just embarked on the road to owning their own brewery.  Yesterday, they started fundraising for the new brewery. Their future is bright.  Creativity is on their side.

Check it out, and help out a couple of great guys!

Oh, No He Didn’t!

April 12, 2011

Yes he did!  Goose Island in the news again.  Good grief.

Homer Fail

Yet Another Goose Island/Anheuser Busch Commentary

March 28, 2011

In what appears to be the first acquisition of a craft brewery by one of the beer giants, Goose Island has been acquired by Anheuser Busch InbevSeveral bloggers are already weighing in, and the opinions seem to be leaning negative.  Add my voice to the negative cacophony.  I suspect that the Goose Island brews will decline in quality.  Why?  Because of Mr. Hall’s discussion of capacity and distribution.  It reminds me of another brewery in the Craft Brewers Alliance:  Red Hook.  According to my friends who have lived in Seattle for nearly 50 years, Red Hook started small (down in Ballard, methinks).  Over time, though, they got bigger (ABI also has a stake there now) and wider and quality began to suffer.  I’ve been in the area only 6 years, so I don’t have anything to compare current products to, but that’s what my food critic friend tells me.  Personally, I’m not a big Red Hook fan… I see their beers as somewhat mediocre.

I also understand why many in the beer-geek community are disappointed to disgusted.  It seems as if we have a romantic view of this business (and yes, craft beer is a business).  The brewers are our rock stars.  They do what many of us want to do: make beer for a living.  We celebrate their limited releases.  We revel in the exclusivity of certain brands.  We often have access to these folks are tours.

I don’t begrudge the Goose Island owners the right do as they see fit with the company they have built.  In the end, it seems to be about money, not about the craft (as we romantically view it).  I hope I am wrong, and the Goose Island maintains a strong brand without suffering in quality, but I’m not holding my breath.

Brew Minions

March 6, 2011


Open House

March 2, 2011

When breweries open their doors to the general public, one of two things may happen.  You may get dynamite tour, up close and personal with the brewing equipment, or you may get a lackluster event full of “free” beer and stories, but not much of a tour.  Up until this past weekend, I thought this was the case.  The Washington brewing community offered us something new: the Washington Beer Open House.

Grab your craft beer buddies and make an afternoon of touring around to sample some of your favorite local WA breweries.

Participating breweries are opening their doors so their adoring fans can catch a peek behind the scenes of what makes them great. And wait, that’s not all… They’re also cooking up some fun and unique treats for visitors.

Sweet.  And with my parents in town for the weekend, I knew exactly what we were going to do.  So, we packed up the kids and all headed out to two local breweries:  Scuttlebutt Brewing and Diamond Knot Brewing.  Both breweries held their open house festivities at their primary brew house as opposed to one of their pubs.  And aside from both offering tastes of some good beer, they offered very different but still enjoyable experiences.

Scuttlebutt’s main attraction was a tour of the brewing facility.  The owner and proprietor was on hand to guide us around the facility and describe the brewing process.  My parents, especially, enjoyed this aspect of the tour.  They’ve heard stories of my homebrewing experiences and sampled some of my own creations.  I’ve even had my father present at a brew day before.  I’ve tried to explain it before, but having the explanation in a relatively short time frame with the equipment and ingredients right before you is probably the best way to explain the process.  That, and I tend to get wrapped into too many details when I explain things!  In a certain sense, my parents were able to better understand one the things that makes me tick: beer!

The setup over at Diamond Knot’s B2 brewery was less formal.  The tasting room was open pouring samples and selling pints.  One of the owners was on site as were the head brewer and at least one assistant brewer.  Upon entering, we were greeted by the head brewer and immediately grabbed a sample of beer.  The brewery was open for walking around and perusing the equipment.  (This was when things got really fun!)  The kids really were in awe of the fermenters in their shiny stainless steel glory.  So as I’m talking to them about what these things are and what they are for, the head brewer and his assistant come over and start chatting it up with us.  They immediately picked up on the fact that I am a beer lover and homebrewer.  They offered some basic explanations to us, but I also had the chance to really “geek out” with them regarding process, ingredients and more.  My mother commented to me later that she couldn’t understand what we were saying in beer talk, and that she needed a translator!

Chatting with Diamond Knot brewers.

Chatting with Diamond Knot brewers.


Joseph and the fermenter.

Tiny Bubbles

Blow-off Tube for one of the fermenters.

Bridget and Katie

Bridget and Katie having some water.


Emily kicking back.

The Tasting Room

Drinking beer with other Diamond Knot fans.

How Beer Saved the World

February 17, 2011

An interesting twist on the history of the world.  Not bad… not bad at all.

Good Game, Packers!

February 7, 2011

Good game, Packers.  I appreciate you preventing the Steelers from winning a Superbowl on the Cowboys home field.  Cheers!

Image borrowed and modified from Octane Creative who had the original brilliant idea.


February 4, 2011

I’ve had a busy week of brewing.  This past Friday, I brewed an Oatmeal Stout but went high on my mash temperature coupled with a slow start on the fermentation.  This bothered me a great deal… to the extent I lost sleep over it.  On one hand, it revealed that I still have much to learn with respect to brewing.  I also learned that yeast is a little more robust than we are often led to believe.  I even found this handy little chart relating mash temperature and pH with enzyme activity:

The beer did finally start fermenting, but I seems as though it will be higher in the unfermentable sugars than what I had originally aimed for.  I targeted a mash temp of 156º F, but hit 16o – 162º F.  Not awful, but I knew I could do better.  So, after fretting and losing sleep and such, I decided upon attempting the recipe again.  This time, I would target lower on the scale (150º F) with the intent to blend the two beers.

I set out this past Wednesday evening, less than a week later to brew it again.  Below are some selected pictures from the event.

These are my helpers… Joseph and Katie.


Joseph stirring the mash a little.


Magnum Hops giving me that bitterness we all seek.


The fermentation station.  The two in the middle are the most recent brews.


Now I have 20 gallons of brew fermenting along steadily.  Hopefully, I’ll have some of the balance in the blend that I was originally shooting for.  If not, I imagine it will still be darn tasty beer.  Many thanks to Nate and Mike over at Thank Heaven for Beer for the advice!


January 30, 2011

Homebrewing.  It’s a hobby that I’ve enjoyed for over seven years now.  In that time, I’ve never made a bad batch of beer.  Each was tasty.  Some were good.  Some were great.  And some were not bad.  For about two years now, I’ve been going the all grain way.  And to this day, I’m still working at honing in and controlling my mash temperature.  Usually, I hit it low and get a thinner beer than what I desired.  It’s not a bad thing really, because I still have fermentable sugars in my wort.

Well, that didn’t happen with this latest batch.  Friday night, it was my intention to brew an oatmeal stout.  The recipe (10 gallons) is as follows:

  • 15.75 lbs. Pale Malt
  • 2.00 lbs. Flaked Oats
  • 2.00 lbs. Wheat Malt
  • 1.50 lbs. Crystal Malt – 20L
  • 1.00 lbs. Chocolate Malt
  • 1.00 lbs. Roasted Barley
  • 0.75 lbs. Crystal Malt – 60L
  • 1.50 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min)
  • Nottingham (Danstar) Yeast (2 packages)

I was shooting for a mash temperature of 156° F.  Well, after mixing the grains and mash water together, I took a reading.  160° F!  Ok, I need to cool her down.  I added cold water.  Took another reading, and 156° F.  Sweet.  Checked back later and back to 160° F!  More cold water and back down again.

So here’s what’s bugging me.  It’s more than 36 hours later, and there’s nary a bubble coming out of my airlocks.  It seems as though I extracted a bunch of the unfermentable sugars.  I did taste the wort prior to the boil, and it was indeed rather sweet.  I’ll give it until tomorrow, and the I’ll be fairly sure.

Assuming my fermentation doesn’t take off, I’ll have 10 gallons of sweet, hopped wort just sitting there.  What I’d like to know is how I might be able to save it and get it into a  beer.  Also, I’d love to hear some tips and advice on better hitting the target mash temperature short of an automated PID controller type setup.  (I’ll get one of those someday, but my need is a little more immediate here!)