Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2K11

Oh the weather outside is sunny,
I don't miss my nose all runny,
I don't have much better to do...
Let it Brew! Let it Brew! Let it Brew!

The burner's lit and burning,
My tun is warmed and churning,
Adding hops and right on queue...
Let it Brew! Let it Brew! Let it Brew!

When the wort is finally cool,
I'll pitch the yeast and shake like mad!
The cork & airlock's new,
To the chest in the last spot i had!

Now the airlock's slowly bubbling,
There's nothing to find that's troubling,
Pull a draught off tap number two,
Let it Brew! Let it Brew! Let it Brew!


Merry Christmas from your favorite brewers here at A Tale Of Two Brewers! I hope you all are having fun opening gifts and drinking home brewed beer. Have a safe and happy holidays.

See you next week!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Question to the Community: Can Conditioning?

I originally thought of the idea of can conditioned beer on our trip to Colorado two years ago. I talked to the brewmaster about it at Keegan Ales last October (and promised him he could be the first to do it.) He told me he'd ask another brew master about it and get back to me. Well it's been over a year and he never responded to my follow up email, so I guess it's time to let the cat out of the bag.

There's a lot online about Bottle Conditioning and if you've ever had a really fine Belgian ale (or brewed your own beer without using a secondary fermenter) you're probably very familiar with the results. There's a layer of sludge in the bottom that, while not poisonous, can cause some very undesirable results in your lower GI should you drink it. Some people have no problem downing the bready residue but it's never recommended.

My question is this: since canning beer is the new rage in craft brewing, can you "can condition" a beer and still achieve carbonation and a quality product?

I can think of a few potential negative effects of using this method. These are all uneducated guesses (are they ever not?):
  • The top of the can is held on by pressure (like a bottlecap) but might not have the same threshold.
  • Pouring beer out of a can might agitate it a lot more than pouring from a bottle (resulting in more sediment being poured out.)
  • You can't see the sediment layer so it's hard to judge when to stop pouring
  • With the total absence of light, the yeast might not perform correctly.

A quick google search on the topic results in several hilarious yet unhelpful results. This was my personal favorite:
  •  Can conditioning my hair with mayonnaise really help prevent hair loss?
While you work on that gem and discover quickly that body heat makes mayo go rancid all that much faster, if you've ever tried bottle finishing a beer in a can please let me know in the comments below. Even if you've never commented below but think you know the answer, I'm dying to know your guess.

Monday, December 19, 2011

If a tree falls in the woods...

What a weekend.

I went into this weekend with a case of Miller Lite, a keg of "Saa-wheat" homebrew, a 6-pack of Terrapin's Hopsecutioner, and a 4-pack of Keystone Ice.

And it's all gone.

Needless to say I'm writing this post with a pint of H2O versus my usual pint of beer. I went camping to celebrate a birthday party this weekend. Of course, when I say camping, I mean I stayed in a cabin with running hot water, a fridge, and a small kitchen. That's about as rustic as I get. Of course I'll raise a pint for anyone's birthday, it's always a good reason to do so. But for Nikki and I this weekend was so much more.

The exam the you may remember me complaining about for the past 6 months was finished at the end of October, and Friday we got the results. Words will not explain the emotion we both went through...

Because we both passed that stupid, stressful, and long exam. And for it we are now both licensed engineers in the state of Florida. We wanted to crack a beer right away, but we still had 2 hours to drive to the campsite. After finding out we passed, I wasn't sure if we had enough beer!

So this week I leave it at that. I'm going to go back and crash on the couch now, before I fall asleep and start typing junk on the keyboard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beereview: Stone Double Bastard

"Ye Shall Know The Bastard and The Bastard Shall Set You Free."

First I want to apologize. I was feeling under the weather Sunday, which is when I usually blog to my heart's content. I even had this beer that I was very excited to review. But I decided to end the night with a shot of Nyquil at 7 o' clock. I was out like a 60 watt incadescent, planet-killing, pepper spraying, light bulb. Thing with Nyquil is that it always leaves me incredibly groggy in the morning. Today was no different, except the grog never ended. Hopefully there's no brain damage.

To the point, I apologize. I know many of you count on coming to work and starting your Monday's off on the right side of the bed by opening up A Tale Of Two Brewers at 9 AM eastern, and read what exciting adventures I've been on. I feel responsible for all the heartache and lost productivity that may have occured.

Yeah right.

So I'm pretty stoked at a recent development. Our Publix really isn't that great. I could go on and on really. But I wont. The deli line is the worst however. It's so painfully slow that I can't help but imagine pushing the woman's face through the plate glass display when she's order 1/4 lbs of everything in the @%(*in freezer. I digress...

Well we were in the market for a new market. So I went to our new Publix just on the other side of the highway. To my delight, in it's shining glory, was a Knightly Spirits Liquor store. Oh yes. Finally at my front door do I have a stock of high quality craft beers. With a full selection of Stone's finest I might add. The gentleman there also assured me that if there was anything I was looking for that he could have it shipped, free, from their main store across town. Which has of 1,600 different beers. Oorah!

Which is where the Stone: Double Bastard comes in. Keep in mind, I can't handle Arrogant Bastard. I've said before, and I say again, the label rings true in saying that this beer is too aggressive for me.

Enter the SWMBO (she who must be obeyed), the SO (significant other), mission control, and any other words or phrases you might use (appropriate and not) to refer to your wife, Nikki.

As I foray deeper and deeper into beer brewing and zymology (the study of zymurgy, fermentation), I've discovered Nikki to be a hop head. Starting tame with beers like Red Hook IPA, she fell in love. Slowly we climbed the ladder. Before I knew it we had already bypassed greats like Terrapin's Hopsecutioner, Stone IPA, and Lagunitas IPA. Finally we were at a bar and I decided to test her. I saw on tap Stone's Arrogant Bastard and ordered her a pint. She took a sip and.... didn't even flinch. She proceeded to devour the pint like it was a lump of tofu at a vegetarian pie eating contest. Challenge accepted.

So today I bring you Stone's Double Bastard. This is I calling Nikki out. It's time to pop the cap. Double Bastard weighs in at a hefty 10.5% ABV. While I wait for the foam to die, I'll make a note that the head is thick, stout, and resiliant. Aroma is surprisingly faint of hops.

Needless to say she loved it, but it made her pause for at least a second to give a wide-eyed look of surprise and an audible "whoa." The hop bitterness isn't much stronger, if at all, than Arrogant Bastard's. I must note that while I write this she's poking and mocking me, and asking if she needs to finish it for me. No. Of course I can finish it woman. Go watch the X Factor woman. Really, Double Bastard isn't an intense IPA, but more so Stone's version of an Arrogant Bastard Barleywine. The body is thick, full, and chewy. The lacing grips to the glass long after the beer recedes. The hop strength is balanced with that alcohol punch to the larynx. Definitely a sipper (for me). It may be true that Nikki will be finished by the time I walk out into the living room...

Check out what I say about Double Bastard at my Pintley site here. If you'd like to follow Nikki on twitter she's at @NikkiDJ27. And please, if you think there's a Hop-Crazy beer that can take her down, please recommend it below. I need a suggestion.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Public Service Announcement and Beereview of Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve

We usually try not to bring non-beer related topics up on this blog unless it's important. Having been victims ourselves of a malicious attack which nearly resulted in a total loss of all our posts however, means this new information is something I feel is important to any of you using Google accounts.

Google has recently made available two-factor authentication across all their products. What does this mean? It means you need to authorize individual computers, iPhones, iPads, Commadore 64s, Wiis and anything else you might obsessively check your email from to login to Google. This might sound like a pain in the butt unless you think about what is specifically denied access. Basically, unless somebody steals your mobile phone or goes through a pretty rigorous password recovery process any PC, mobile device, Russian spy satellite, or Chinese bot network that you do not own cannot access your account.

If you use Gmail for your email then that means anybody who gains access to your account can submit lost password requests to PayPal or your banks, read all your email and chat logs, or make really embarrassing posts on your Facebook account. If those reasons aren't good enough for you, then I wish the person luck who inevitably steals your identity and leaves you with a bill from QVC for $1,000,000.

What can you do to protect yourself? Enable two factor authentication. Right now. Do it. Thieves would need to steal your mobile phone AND password to get access which is a lot better than just having to guess your kids birthdays or your name backwards.

Ok. off the soap-box and onto the six-pack.

Beereview: Flying Fish - Grand Cru Winter Reserve

Being a New Jersey-ite more by necessity than desire means it take a little longer for that Jersey Pride to build up to rabid levels. While I haven't tried any fake tan yet, eaten copious amounds of pork roll (basically SPAM made of pig who-knows-whats,) or actually bothered to complain about Jersey Shore I do enjoy a good beer. I'm proud to say Flying Fish makes a good product down in Cherry Hill NJ (which is more than I can say about White Castle for those of you who remember the first Harold and Kumar.)

This Winter Ale pours a bright amber color (totally clear) and is very active. There isn't much head initially but it maintains about 1/5" due to the high volume of bubbles. The aroma is sweet and cirtus with a slightly malty undertone. It doesn't smell sour or hoppy, just mellow.

The flavor is initially very sweet with a slight grapefruit bitterness underlying. It's initially very refreshing and smooth with no alcohol harshness. There isn't much of a lingering aftertaste and this seems like it would go very well with food. I'm not sure what Grand Cru is, but it tastes like a very good sweet lager.

Overall I like it a lot and can highly recommend it, especially considering a 6-pack is around $9.

Have any of you had Flying Fish? What'd you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Your One Stop Wishlist

Alright so maybe you don't want to give someone glassware for Christmas. Maybe they're the bottle sort of person. Maybe they have a tendency to break things made of glass. Maybe their cupboard is overfilling of pints, pilsners, boots, and chalices. What can you get that special brewing someone? Lets break it down in price ranges...

Under $10
  • The Autosiphon - if the special brewer in your life is still transferring beer/wort/whatever from one vessel to another by sucking on the tube like he's stealing gasoline out of a cop car, he needs an autosiphon. Every brewer needs one. Not only is it more sanitary, but it is exactly 12.5 times easier than trying to manually siphon with a plane ol' racking cane.
  • The Thief - basically an autosiphon without the racking cane. I understand if you're as stingy with your beer as I am, you don't want any to go to waste. Even that little bit you dump into your test jar so you can measure your gravities. The thief you drop in, pull out, measure, and let the beer back into the fermenter. Someone was thinking, the thief is sized to fit a standard hydrometer inside.
  • The Blow Off Tube - it only takes the krausen shooting out of your airlock once to run to the store and get one of these. Never worry about getting your jackets nasty from fermenting in the closet again.
Under $50
  • American Homebrewers Association - like the NRA in the fact they fight for our right to brew. Not like the NRA in the way no one dies in their articles.
  • A Propane Burner - get your homebrewer out of the house! Nothing is so convincing then to spend an hour cleaning sticky wort off your kitchen floor. But seriously, these are a must-have for a brewer. Unless your brewer doesn't want one. But then he/she may also enjoy riding the Ol' Model T to work as well. Time to come up to the times of advanced brewing!
  • A Homebrew Keg - Depending on the situation, this could double as a prank gift. Once the homebrewer kegs his first beer, he's never going back to bottles. Even if he doesn't have a kegerator, get him a keg. It wont be long till he gets one. No matter what the SO (significant other) says.
  • A Beer Pump - All grain brewer? No pump? Put that man out of his misery and get him one. Simplifies the whole process... until you can't figure out why the stupid thing won't prime.
  • Mash Tun! - Nothing will thrust your brewer into the wonderful world of all grain like his own mash tun. Comes in any color you want, as long as it's orange.
Under $500
  • The Fermenator - You're spending $500 bucks on your fellow brewer? Don't expect me to reciprocate that gift. Well if you insist, dive into the king of fermentors. By Blichmann!
  • The Brew Magic System - Seriously? Seriously?!?!? Before diving into this, about halfway down this page there's a lovely "donate" button. Check it out. It's a really cool link. You're either married to your brewer, or about to get a restraining order. An awesome brew system that costs as much as your beat-up Honda Civic. A cheaper option would be to get him a Brutus 10 for $3... the plans for one that is.
You either love brewing or hate money. If you hate money, there's a donate button on your right.
Got any other great gift ideas? Let me know. Want to get me a gift? Lets talk.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Only Holiday Buying Guide You'll Ever Need

Toss away that Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. Shred the Sharper Image. This holiday season make that $20 for somebody you really like or $10 for somebody you only kinda like get the best present with the least amount of thought or effort (since that's what holiday shopping is all about!) With only $20 you could probably get "The best toothpick" or something from Hammacher Schlemmer, so why not get an awesome holiday beer pack instead?

I love holiday beer packs. It's all the awesome beer I usually buy with a free cup! What could be better than oddly shaped cups that fit poorly in the cabinet next to regular cups than free oddly shaped ill-fitting cups? Without any further ado, here's some of this year's winners (continuing with some of the Hammacher arrogance in order of worst glass to best).:

From left to right, the flute,
the pint glass and the Chalice
Beereview: Free Glassware!

#4 The only flute glass you'll ever need.
Ommegang 4-Pack
Just like most things in catalogs the title is probably a little misleading here. This is sort of a last resort glass for me because it's awkwardly shaped and doesn't hold an easily eye-balled measurement of beer. If you're not using a matched set it's inevitable that whoever ends up with this glass is going to get a much smaller pour.

#3 The world's sniftiest snifter.
I love duvel and I love feeling fancy. Nothing feels quite so fancy as drinking Duvel out of a brandy snifter wearing only socks. While you can skip the socks and still achieve the desired effect, the snifter is a solid way to enjoy the sweetness and pleasant aroma of Duvel. It doesn't really feel like a beer glass though, which is why it's only in the middle of the list.

#2 The most English pint glass.
Samuel Smith
Now this glass feels like a beer glass! A kinda flimsy, thin, easily broken glass but still, it holds an entire bottle of Samuel Smith's! This is a really nice way to enjoy a beer that's not meant to be sipped or sniffed like some kind of sissy barleywine. It's the only way to truly enjoy oatmeal stout, so when it inevitably breaks it's time to just get another one!

#1 The Monk's best beer chalice.
St. Bernardus 4-Pack
This pack combines some of my favorite beer with an awesome chalice just like the monk holds in the picture. There's no better way to savor a Belgian Abbey ale than out of one of these oversize wide mouthed vessels. They hold about 12 ounces each, so a matching pair is a must when you're splitting that bottle. Chimay comes with a similar glass, but I personally prefer the St. B's!

Special Mention: Jones Soda
If you're purchasing a gift for a young child, beer and glassware are probably both poor choices. This Jones Soda deserves a special mention for it's sheer oddness. They have candy cane and pear tree soda! Watch out though, knowing Jones it probably tastes more like the tree than the pear.

What's the best thing about Holiday Gift Packs? They can be given to the same person every year!

Is your cabinet full of these types of glasses? What's your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!