Monday, February 27, 2012

Rub a Dub Dub

Three kegs in a tub! I finally got around to cleaning my kegs last week while it's was raining cats and dogs outside (seriously, called animal control and everything, what a mess). As you may notice in the picture, the kegs are upside down and drying in my master bathroom bathtub. Cleaning my kegs there is the most action that tub has seen in the past two years probably. I was still a little worried about my wife's reaction about using it to clean kegs however. Thankfully it has been over a week and she still hasn't said anything about me moving them. It's much easier to enjoy a hobby when it's backed by the SWMBO.

I've started to piece together my new lagerator as well! I picked up the Holiday chest freezer at Lowe's this week, as well as placed the order for my Johnson Controls temperature controller. Now I just need to find some time to brew a lager... This is the start of a new large chapter in my brewing book! Lagers! Awesome! Watch out Budweiser, Yeungling... Brewer Gene is coming to town and he's going to be brewing his mash off.

More in equipment news, I've decided to push forward on my new mash tun. I'm going to go the keggle route. It's just more sturdy, and provides a significant increase in size over my old tun. First step will be to move my parts from the old tun, to the new one. This includes moving the spigot w/ disconnect, the autosparge w/ disconnect, and the temperature probe. I'm going to have to figure out something new for my temperature probe, but I'm happy to be turning my back on my old copper tube that held it originally. I've seen some interesting design ideas online using compression fittings, but I'll have to look into it more. If all goes well, I'll add a site glass to the side of it. Step by step though. Speaking of, I just received my $12 step bit in the mail from Amazon. Considering they can be sold for $45 dollars in the store, you can't beat that price with a stick...

Really, you can't actually beat it with a stick. It's a piece of information. An idea if you will. The closest thing you can do is to beat the piece of paper it's written on, or in this case, the monitor. And, well, that's just not that worth it. If I catch any one of you beating my monitor with a stick, I'm sticking you with the cost of a new one.

True first step though is to find that "decommissioned" keg. I am very gracious to have a friend, who shall remain nameless (Ian), who happens to have a keg that fell off the back of his truck and is damaged to the point where the store wont take it back from him. So I'll pay him his deposit for it and get cranking. Cutting out the top to it should be significantly cheaper this time around since I'll be using my oxy-acetylene blow torch.

And I cannot wait to use my oxy-acetylene blow torch.

We've launched a new section of our page! It's a glossary section. I know there's a lot of lingo running around this site that might need some explanation, especially for someone who's new to brewing. So check it out! It'll be under renovation for a while, but the information is there. And please, if there's a word you need to know that's not on the page, shoot me an email, I'm just coming up with words off the top of my head.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dry Hop-tastic

Well I finally managed to get some free time this weekend, so I went and transferred my IPA into the secondary for dry hopping. The resulting image is beautiful. As I sit and stare at the wonder of whole leaf cascade hops slowly oozing their goodness into my beer I realized something. I've turned hophead. I'm not saying I'm hop crazy, but not too long ago, crazy hoppy beers were too much for me. Strong IPAs would be avoided. Now, I seek them out. There's nothing more refreshing than a light, crisp IPA. That one certainly sneaked up on me.

Other news I'm pretty excited about... my birthday is coming up in 2 weeks, which means I'm 2 weeks away from finally getting that lagerator. I'll just need to find some time to brew one so I can christen that bad larry.

It's been a relatively quiet week for brewing. That coupled with a splitting headache induced by plastic-bottle scotch doesn't condone a hugely creative post. So until next time!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beereview: t Smisje Catherine The Great Imperial Stout

I won't deny it. Buying this beer made me feel a little fancy. It has a name like a white stripes album title, a price like a double whopper with cheese, and an ABV like a frat guy on St. Paddy's day. Seemed like a winning combination to me.

I've never heard of the brewery "De Regenboog Brugge" but it sure seems fun to say. Continuing our thread of analogies it sort of sounds like the name of a delightful gnome or hobgoblin but it probably just means something like "The Royal Brewery" or something plain Jane vanilla. For all I know it's the Coor's light of Belgiam, but I'll pretend it's more like the Budweiser of Germany (which is a lot better, if you didn't know.)

First, the review - t Smisje Catherine The Great Imperial Stout:

Is this "t Smisje Catherine, The Great Imperial Stout" or  "t Smisje, Catherine The Great Imperial Stout?" I have no idea, either way: it's a mouthful.

This stout pours a very dark brown and is slightly cloudy, but it's not the solid black I'd usually expect in an Imperial Stout. It's a very active beer but there is very little lacing or head retention. The aroma is very fruity and sweet, almost like raspberry jam with spices. There's a very strong malty (or jammy) aroma and almost a complete lack of hops. Granted I have a cold, but this smells really good. It's like the scent I was expecting from Bad Elf but didn't get. At 10% ABV I'd expect to smell the alcohol, but it's not there.

The flavor is slightly bitter chocolate with a hint of raspberry or cherry. It tastes like the beer equivalent of those cherry filled chocolates, with a slightly hoppy aftertaste. There's a bit of alcohol harshness on the tip of the tongue and after swallowing, but it's not that severe.

Overall, I am very pleasantly surprised with this stout. It tastes like dessert to me, with strong chocolate and coffee flavors complemented by just the right amount of fruit.

After checking some other reviews, I'm apparently way off the mark on this. Maybe I do have a cold.

Have you tried this beer? Are they the Coors Lite of Belgium? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oh my head... Math works.

This is what happens when I go downtown. Stuff doesn't happen. Wake up late, post late, Carpe IPA sits untouched. But you know what?

It's always worth it.

And here's why I'm not a beer snob, and more a beer geek. I had a bunch to drink last night, sure. And you want to know something? I spent barely anything. Why? Cause I was drinkin' good ol' PBR at $2 a bottle. Funny thing about PBR. It's not half bad. I mean, it's called Pabst Blue Ribbon because it won 1st place at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. That's some serious staying power. 119 years. That's a long time, especially in these days when dishwashers are as disposable as tampons.

Don't get me completely wrong. I started out the night at Mellow Mushroom. If you don't know what that is, than that's just too bad for you. It's only the best gourmet pizza joint ever. Of all time. On top of that they have a large selection of craft beers and 4 continuously rotating taps so they always have something new. While I was chowing down on pizza I had a Lagunitas IPA, a classic, and a Mojo Risin by Boulder Beer. It's the same way I drink scotch. First glass is the good stuff. After that it's the Clan MacGregor from the plastic bottle. After the first one or two, you're not really tasting much anyway.

It's just economical really.

But what is economical? You know what economical is. Economical is homebrewing. Have you guys taken the time to do the math? Break it down. Lets call a case of beer 24 bottles(Bcase=24). Lets also call a typical case of beer a case of.... Budweiser, 12 oz bottles (oz=12). I'll drink that. It's stereotypical American. We'll fix that price at $18 (P=18).

So number of bottles times size of bottles...
oz * Bcase = Ozc (ounces per case)
12*24=288 oz/case

Take P (price) and divide that by the Ozc...
P/Ozc=PPO (price per ounce)
18/288=.07 dollars

So for 84 cents, you get a 12 oz bottle of Budweiser. That sounds pretty good, actually. Quite cheap. Lets apply the same math to homebrewing. I'm going to put a cheap brewing session at $30. Standard homebrewers will put forth 2 cases of beer for every homebrew. So we'll put a case of homebrew at $15 (P=15). Lets apply that math again:

oz * Bcase = Ozc (ounces per case)
12*24=288 oz/case

15/Ozc=PPO (price per ounce)
15/288=.05 dollars

That's saving you 2 cents for every ounce of beer you brew. Considering you brew 576 ounces of beer every time you brew, that's some serious coin. That also means your expensive brew rig pays itself back after only... 40 batches of beer. Legally, if you're married, and living in Florida, you can brew 200 gallons a year. Therefore paying itself back in 1 year. 1 year! That's serious payback! Companies make investments in things that won't payback until after your kids are long and dead, or Trump's wig decays whichever comes first. 

So go, go ahead and buy yourself that fancy rig... You now have the math to support it. I now leave you with this... mind = blown.

Now I'm going to take some aspirin and go to bed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Beereview: Newcastle Founders Ale

I'm really excited to be posting about this. But we'll get to that.

I had a really good brew day this past Saturday. I brewed ATOTB #06: Carpe IPA. Starting early at 7am was nice, I was able wrap everything up by 1 and still have a day in front of me. A minor emergency did occur, however. I was assembling my rig while my HLT was heating up on the burner, when I plugged in my solenoid valves to my control box. That's when I noticed the shroud protecting the connected had melted slightly. The connection would work, and my water was coming up to temperature. Some wire strippers and wire nuts later I was able to hard-wire the valves into my box. Not ideal, but it works. I'll be looking for new connectors locally for a replacement.

I also noticed that my mash tun had a slow leak. It slowed down as the brew went on, but I think it's on its way out. I've been thinking about upgrading it for some time now, and I think it's finally time. I've looked at a few options on the net and I think I'm going to go for a keg with the top cut out and fit it will all my valves and whatnot I currently use on my Rubbermaid cooler. I'll probably add some features too, like a sight glass. I'm not looking forward to it being so much heavier... but maybe this is my way of slowly building a brew structure.

Now for what you all have been waiting for!

Got a message from the guys over at Newcastle. Turns out their releasing a new beer this February for a limited time only release. The brewers at Newcastle have been busy, because they've released a whole line of rotating seasonal beers. Look out for "Summer Ale," "Werewolf," and "Winter IPA." According to the website they have been in rotation, but I haven't seen it. Maybe as time moves on they'll become more widely available.

But no matter! Today I have here in my hands a bottle of Newcastle "Founder's Ale," which is supposed to represent the founding brewers that came together to make that which is Newcastle. Let's crack this one open.

Head retention is better than your normal Newcastle. Relatively quick to diminish, but a little more staying power than usual. Aroma is sweet, mixed with a faint touch of floral, grassy hops. The body is very much like that of Newcastle, it's smooth, slightly thin, and easy to drink. What is absent in comparison with Newcastle, is the dominant malty sweetness. This beer is much more balanced than Newcastle is. On an even scale the malt is presented with the hops. The beer is mildly sweet, mildly dry, and mildly hoppy. What does this mean? I think it all adds up together in a beer that is easy to drink, and easy to enjoy. I'd recommend this one to a friend that likes a good beer.

You've got until April before it's pulled from the shelves. Grab a bottle and let me know what you think. Post below!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Beereview: Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

At A Tale of Two brewers we're no strangers to ruthlessness. If a beer smells like urinal cakes, tastes like garbage, and its brewer hasn't sent us $200 via either PayPal, money order, or BitCoin (no checks please,) we'll let you know exactly what we think of it. Considering my usual penchant for alliteration, agressive titles and ales, Ruthless Rye from Sierra Nevada seemed like a good bet.

Ruthless Review: Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

This IPA pours a dark golden color with a sudsy off white head. Unlike other mass-market bottled beers, the foam sticks around for quite some time and sticks readily to the glass. If nothing else, it's very photogenic but unfortunately that same quality also made it stick annoyingly to every surface in my mouth. The sensation was sort of like eating bologna, but much less fatty, much more bitter and with far fewer horse penises. I generally disdain foods that leave my mouth feeling soiled; considering the wicked case of cheese tooth I got earlier from some chili I wasn't in much of a mood to tolerate it in the drink I usually use to wash away cheese tooth!

The aroma is fruity hops with a strong malty undertone. It's got more of a pine note than citrus, combined with apples and spice. Overall, it smells like a decent IPA. The flavor is fairly generic, but far more hoppy than the normal Sierra Nevada. They claim that the Rye imparts a peppery flavor, but I didn't notice much beyond the extreme bitterness.

Overall, I'd give it about a 3 out of 5. It's too strong and bitter to leave out at a party and I didn't much like how it coated my mouth.

Have you tried this beer? Do you eat Bologna without wondering what is in it? Let me know in the comments below!