Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Potpourri

Every once in a while I notice that there's been many things left unsaid that has occured over the past few months. I like to get these items together in a hodgepodge of a post. Here's your Winter potpourri:

The results are in! I managed to win the crown at my work's quarterly (ish) beer brewing competition! I took home the viking helmet using my ATOTB #02: Clean Blonde recipe. I made a spinoff of it however that would be #02WD02. By adding some crystal malt to my bill, the beer had a lot more body. However the crystal turned the beer much darker that I expected, therefore I will be calling it my "Dirty Blonde Ale." Always, a nod to my competitors Paul and Jeremy. Don't think you will get this crown back easily.

I'm very surprised it's been so long since I mentioned this. A few months back I decided to go get my homebrewing tattoo! This is my second tattoo and it came out absolutely awesome. Working with my tattoo artist, Bobby at Cast Iron Tattoos, we came up with this awesome design. I thought to make a play on the ol' skull and crossbones, replacing the crossbones with stalks of grain. Inspired by the hop grenade at the Brewing Network Army, I decided to add a more realistic version to the top of my design. I gave Bobby a few pictures to work off of, and what came out was extraordinary. Coming soon will be my matching one on the other leg representing yeast and water, completing the 4 key ingredients for beer.

So I may have mentioned before... no, I know I have mentioned before that I coach the Pole Vault at a local High School here, west of Orlando, Olympia High School. I know I've mentioned it, because in the spring, that supports some of my brewing equipment every year. Well this year is going to be great. Some changes have been made, and I'm back to coaching one school. Got a great group of kids. I mention this however, because the head coach just got himself a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas. Before you scoff at it too quickly though, he's already brewed a batch and he's ready to move on. Excited like a kid in a candy store he says to me that he's going to the homebrew shop, and what does he need. The conversation went like this...

Me: "The store closes in 2 hours, you've got plenty of time. Walk in there and say you want the entire beginner's homebrewing kit."

Him: "But I've already gotten the beginners kit?"

Me: "No.... no you haven't..."

Well he's already brewed his first batch this weekend, and from the questions he's asked me it sounds like it went great. I already mentioned that I keg my beer, and he's already excited to move on to that. At this rate he'll own Sam Adam's by Summer 2016.

Finally, I believe... or want to believe, that I've managed to clear up my schedule enough to do some beer brewing. I'm looking to start this upcoming Saturday. I've had some shaky experiments in the past, so I'm going to start off with a few sure things and maybe try a few clones to see how some new ingredients work into the grain bill. I'll be starting off with ATOTB #06: Carpe IPA!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beereview: Sam Adam's Alpine Spring

Lets cover some news items first.

Thanks to all for putting up with my SOPA post. Like Nick said, we won. It was a landmark victory that show our voices can be heard on the internet.

I got an interesting email from First off, it's a pretty interesting website that is based on the history of beer versus reviews and brewing today. It appears to be a new website and the idea is an interesting spin on your typical beer blog. I'm adding it to my RSS feed and we'll see where it takes us. Regarding the email, it was about monks and the beer they brewed. Apparently, the monks had a daily ration of beer. A 4 liter daily ration of beer. No wonder they were so peaceful. Kinda makes me want to go monk. And with those potent beers they brew? Holy cow. 4 liters of that stuff is like 8 liters of Budweiser... That's over 16 pints of your typical American beer. A day. That sounds fantastic. Well, he wrote the email to promote that we should make February 25th a day set aside to recognize monks and their contribution to brewing. Why? Why the hell not. Any reason to raise a pint to a good cause is good enough reason for me. So spread the word, February 25th is Brewing Monk Appreciation Day.

In other news, and relating to this beereview, Sam Adam's rolled out a new spring beer this year. That's all fine and dandy, except they replaced their very popular Noble Pils. So if you've placed an order for your spring keg of Sam Adam's seasonal... well it's probably too late now. You'll be surprised to find that you wont be getting Noble Pils, but the subject of today's beereview instead. Sam Adam's Alpine Spring.

I should note that Noble Pils isn't gone forever. But it might as well be if you don't live in the 49 states outside of Massachusetts. Noble Pils is now part of their brewmasters collection, which is difficult to find outside of Massachusetts. So from Florida, I bid you goodbye Noble Pils. Our relationship was short, but great.


Lets be honest with ourselves here "Alpine Spring" sounds more like a flavor of dryer sheet that it does a name for a beer. Actually... I think it actually is the name of a flavor of deodorant, but I can't remember which one. First pour out of the bottle has a pleasing white head to it, with a little more staying power than the typical mass produced beers. It's got a faint hoppy aroma, which does remind me a little bit of Noble Pils. Alpine Spring is definitely a more hop/malt balanced beer than Noble Pils was. Alpine Spring has more body, and the base malt is showcased very well. It isn't refreshing like Noble Pils was, but probably a better beer to enjoy with dinner. The American hop flavors are subdued, but modestly present.

I like it. I'm not wild about it, but I'd like another one!

What do you think about Sam Adam's new spring lineup? Let us know. And if you can think what that Alpine Spring deodorant is, let me know as well. Post below!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Beereview: Blue Point Old Howling Bastard

Click for the Big Version
(Note: Congratulations to any of you who let your Representative know that you didn't want SOPA or PIPA! We won! Think about the power that was just exercised; can we harness it again to change the world? I'm encouraged by this and I hope you are too!)

I don't often buy beer because of the name; there are so many clever titles out there that I'd be bankrupt in about a day. I had to make an exception for this eye catching bottle though, as it features shiny bronze and silver lettering (oooh shiny) and a garish screaming zombie Moses. If there is such a thing as a tasteful screaming zombie Moses I'd be all over that too, but you take what you can get. The name "Old Howling Bastard" really sealed the deal on this one.

I found this interesting post about the label design if you want to see a close up photo of this local legend (apparently he was a crazy homeless guy, not a zombified Charlton Heston) It's a pretty creepy label, although I think seeing anything from Flying Dog has left me desensitized, intrigued by the macabre, and more likely to buy beer exactly like this.

So how does it measure up to my lofty expectations? 

Beereview: Blue Point - Old Howling Bastard

This Barleywine Style Ale pours a cloudy apple cidar color with a thick head that quickly recedes into a steady but very thin film.

The aroma is sweet and hoppy with a bit of that citrus twang that I really enjoy. Not exactly what I'd expect from a barleywine as it smells more like an IPA.

The taste is... complicated. There's an initial sweet rush followed by an intensely bitter hoppiness closer to Arrogant Bastard or Hop Devil. It has a slightly oily aftertaste with an alcohol burn. At 10%, this beer can keep up with the best of them if you manage to keep it down.

Summing it up, this beer is HARSH although not low quality. It isn't something I'd recommend to many people but I do like how they didn't over-sweeten it to cover for the high ABV. It really is more like a weak bourbon than a strong beer.

Have you tried this? Is barleywine supposed to be this hoppy? Let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Sorry I missed my Monday post, things have been busy! But I had to take some time from work and put this out there...

Don't worry. This is totally about beer.

I'm not going to shove this issue down your throat. After I make this comment I wont visit it again. I don't particularly like preaching, and every time I see one of those soap box guys on the street, I want to go and kick his stool out from under him. Well, I'm getting up on my stool, but I'll make it quick. I don't want my stool kicked out from under me.

If you haven't noticed on Google, Wikipedia, or Reddit lately. The internet is up in arms. The government is trying to push through legislation known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), and PIPA (Protect IP Act). The idea of the laws are innocent, however the methods are dangerous. Effectively, the bills give the government power of total internet censorship. There's more, and I encourage you to check out what's on the web. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great one page summary of the dangers inherent in this bill.

Please read up and sign one of the many petitions out there that are against SOPA and PIPA. If these pass, sites like Wikipedia, Reddit, and most importantly, A Tale Of Two Brewers, could be shut down forever.

Sorry for the serious post. No jokes or funny pictures today.

How's this about beer? For every petition you sign, drink a beer. The more you sign, the better you feel! Drink beer, protect the internet. That's a lot you can do from your armchair.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rockin Setup

When I first toyed with the idea to get a kegerator, I threw out the idea that we should put it in such a way that we could have the taps brought right into the kitchen. How awesome would that be? Cookin, maybe goin through the mail, when all of the sudden that inkling hits you, "beer!" Well the SWMBO vetoed that idea. And I dont really blame her. But I was at my friends house last night and... wow.

He had finished his 4 tap setup. The setup that leads right into the room with the pool table. It doesn't get more man-cave than that. You can see the picture of the inside setup to the right here. The wood is beautifully stained, and he's got some killer tap handles to adorn his tap. Don't hate the MGD tap, it's still sweet. He's always got a keg of Yeungling on tap, which i learned he switches out every month. That of which is impressive in its own right. Currently the first tap is his "Mexican Ale" (which he admits tastes like a wheat, so we dub thee "Mexi-Wheat"). The 4th tap (far right) is a winter ale, with a full body and some mild spices. Definitely tasty and filling.

Behind closed doors he's got a massive keezer, outfitted with every brewer's best friend, the Johnson Controls Temperature Controller. He's got a great collar that he built on the keezer, stained the same color as the back splash of his taps. He mentioned maybe adding more taps. When will it stop? 6 taps? 8 taps?? The man can drink beer. Out the back of the of the collar he's got his 4 draft lines running to the back splash running through the piece of insulated spa tubing, keeping the temperature of the lines cool just a little bit longer. It also appears to prevent the lines from kinking where they go through the back of the collar. Like I mentioned before, he's got one full keg, 2 corny kegs, and his CO2 tank in the keezer. And he's got room to spare. I predict that if he puts that CO2 tank outside, and really jams some kegs in there... He could probably fit 6 cornys and a full keg in there... probably 9 cornys if he gets rid of the keg. I'm pretty sure I've been to a few bars with a smaller selection than that, let alone craft brew. I don't mean to sound like I'm blowing roses here, but I'm thoroughly impressed by the setup. See below.

Oh, and his beers are really good too. Thanks Jeremy!

Feel like bragging about your sweet draft setup? Let me know, post below!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beereview: Blue Moon - Grand Cru

First, Happy New Year everybody! After reading Gene's post, I can't help feel that I could have done more to bring new readers to the site. I never figured out the whole "Post when you post on every social network site out there thing." I know the how of it, but I guess I'm just not good at the when. 2011 was a crazy year for everybody (especially for the wall street types who are now sleeping in their 1986 Chevy Astro van.) Let's hope 2012 is a lot better!

On that note, I was looking for an economical option to review this week and the new Blue Moon caught my eye. I have a love hate relationship with Blue Moon in general: I love that it brings people into the mindset that craft brew is something desirable but I hate that it pretends to be craft beer. That said, they have attempted to create a beer in my favorite variety by adding their "signature wheat" flavor to Belgian Abby Ale. Let's see how it pans out:

Beereview: Blue Moon - Grand Cru

No head at all!
The first thing I noticed about this beer is that it has a CAP. Almost all (or all?) the Belgian Ales this beer is trying to impersonate come with a cork and wire restrainer due to the extreme pressure involved when one of these bottle conditioned beers gets shaken up. The label for this beer clearly states that it is bottle conditioned, but I suspect that's about as valid as calling white bread with a pinch of whole wheat flour for color "9 Grain Whole Wheat."

This tribute ale pours a murky tan with almost no head retention whatsoever. I tried to pour it quickly to get a good photo but was still thwarted. Once it warms up a little it becomes very lively so this is less noticeable. The aroma is somewhere between month old lemons and public bathroom. It sorta smells like using lemon cleaner on a rotten deck. Similar to coastal wheat this is the urinal cake smell, although I have no idea what causes it.

How does it taste? It is extremely sweet, but it's a sort of nondescript sweet. It has a lot of spicy flavors but ginger really sticks out. It reminds me a little bit of ginger beer, except that it has this underlying sour wheat taste. It's hard to describe, except to say that it tastes like somebody let a ginger bread man soak in your blue moon for quite some time.

If you're expecting Belgian style quality from this non-craft product you're sure to be disappointed. If you just want 8.6% ABV for under 7 bucks than I suppose this is a little better than Colt 45. It really just tastes like somebody poured a blue moon into a bowl, added half a can of ginger ale, and added about a shot of grain alcohol. Not too good.

Overall, I'd say this borders on undrinkable. Instead of buying two of these, buy one real Belgian. I promise, it's a much better bargain.

Have you tried this? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Salutations, 2012

Out with the old, and in with the new. I'm sure many of you did your duty to drink goodbye to 2011. I know Nikki and I did. Without delving into personal issues or national security, it was a rough year for the two of us, and we're both glad so see it off. In our recycling bin, the number of liquor, wine, and beer bottles mixed with the recyclable bag of tortilla chips, salsa, and gingerbread mix can attest to that. But the beginning of the year is a time of reflection of the past year, and foreseeing what may be in the future. Learn from your mistakes, and better, learn from the mistakes of others. Looking back onto my post almost exactly a year ago, it's almost embarrassing that most of the targets I've missed. But if you shoot at the prize fish in the barrel, you'll likely miss, but you're still walking out with a few dead fish. Let's rewind to last year.

Well, traffic did increase over the year. It hasn't double like I was hoping for, but it has grown steadily. While I'm not the internet superstar I dreamed of becoming we're making progress.

I did in fact buy my own t-shirt. And it fits great! I also got myself a DeMalt t-shirt, and I wear them to all beer related outings I go own. I also managed to make my own ATOTB business cards which look great as well.

While I didn't update my equipment as dramatically as I had hoped, I did manage to put a disconnect on my last stretch of high temp tubing which made my brewing a lot easier. Doing this has made me able to pump my hot water from the HLT, instead of having to lift the boiling cauldron of death up onto my Home Depot special backyard furniture and gravity drain it. Not only did it make my job safer, it also substantially improved my efficiency upwards to 80%.

The competitions... yeeeeah. About that. Aside my one work competition, I entered only one sanctioned competition this year. Which is about 1/3 of the competitions I did the year before. Ah well, chin up, move forward. We'll see how this year goes.

My most immediate goal this year is to finally catch that elusive hard cider. Finally it may be within my grasp. The SWMBO got me the book "<a href="">Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider, Third Edition</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />." Bring it on cider. You're mine.

Here's to 2012! Raise your glass and lets start this year brewing your mash off!

Oh, right. By the way, we're all supposed to die at the end of the year. So make this year count!