Thursday, March 26, 2009

Steamworks Brewing wins medals in Australia

Hot off the presses is news of some awards that were recently earned by the Steamworks Brewing Company of Durango, Colorado. The following is a press release sent out by Indiana Reed and Kris Oyler of Steamworks:

Brewing Co. earns five medals at Australian International Beer Awards

DURANGO, Colo. – Competing against large and small breweries from throughout the world, Steamworks Brewing Co. has earned five (5) medals at the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), signifying its brews as among the finest in the world.

The brewery’s Colorado Kölsch and Conductor Imperial IPA earned Silver, with the Steam Engine Lager, Backside Stout and the seasonal Spruce Goose each receiving Bronze.

“This is a tremendous honor for the Steam Team and cheers to our brewdogs,” said Kris Oyler, Steamworks co-founder and CEO. “The AIBA is internationally recognized as the second largest beer awards of its kind in the world, established to reward excellence in the field of brewing and to assist in promotion of the brewing industry. We are ecstatic to have five medals.”

The Australian International Beer Awards, held by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) in conjunction with The University of Ballarat, is the pre-eminent showcase for premium beer and brewing excellence in the Asia Pacific Region. For 2009, 1,140 from 39 countries were received. The results were announced on March 19, 2009.

“The AIBA has a strict point judging system, so our brews are truly considered exemplary for their various styles,” said Brian McEachron, Steamworks co-founder and director of marketing and sales. “Steamworks competed with some of the finest breweries in the world – including countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Canada, known for brewing excellence.”

According to press materials from the AIBA, a Silver medal beer is “an excellent product that displays the correct balance of taste, aroma and appearance of the style and a high level of technical merit,” with a Bronze medal signifying “a quality product with the correct balance of taste, aroma and appearance appropriate for the style and the absence of major faults.”

Steamworks’ Colorado Kölsch, a light, crisp ale with a hint of sweetness, is a derivative of the German Kölschs, created originally in response to the popular lager-based Pilsners being produced in the Czech Republic in the 1840s. The Kölsch received a Bronze in the 2008 AIBA.

The Conductor Imperial India Pale Ale features the three "all-American" hop varieties – Warrior, Tomahawk and Simcoe. The Steam Team focused on the key attributes of each hop for the best interplay of aromatics and bitterness with the malt extraction. The result is a floral citrus nose, bold bitterness and a hint of sweetness.

A five-time Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival, the Steam Engine Lager is an American classic noted for its malt sweetness and hop spice with a smooth, dry finish.

Inspired by the turns under Chair 8 on Purgatory Mountain, the Backside Stout has a complex malt and oat flavor – sweet with chocolate and roast overtones. The addition of brewer’s oats is detectable in the smooth, silky finish.

Beers made with spruce or other types of pine were brought to Scotland by the Vikings who brewed ales and spice with fresh spruce shoots to prevent scurvy on sailing voyages. Steamworks’ Spruce Goose, the modern-day version of the Viking’s beer, is a darker brew with complex earthy flavors throughout, featuring spruce shoots harvested in the San Juan Mountains.

"The University of Ballarat is delighted to partner with the RASV in presenting the Australian International Beer Awards," said Professor David Battersby, University of Ballarat Vice-Chancellor. "We congratulate all of this year’s award winners and thank all entrants for their valued participation.”

Further information on the AIBA is available at

Steamworks Brewing Co. – Durango’s “2005 Business of the Year” – is located at 801 E. Second. Ave., Durango (970.259.9200), and 442 Wolverine Drive in Bayfield Center, Bayfield (970.884.7837). For further information, visit

# # #

Related articles:
- Steamworks Colorado Kolsch Ale review.
- Steamworks beers featured in NYC dinner.
- Spruce Goose to fly at Steamworks Brewing.
- Steamworks beer to benefit running scholarship.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Getting the right size wort chiller

Wort ChillerI've found a solution to two of my pending hombrewing problems. The first problem was how to deal with my old wort chiller that was too small for my brewpot. And secondly, what to do about the leaking issue with my wort chiller. Clearly a new wort chiller was in order and I've temporarily put my smaller one away.

Say hello to my new 50 foot long 1/2" diameter copper tube wort chiller. This monster of metal was designed to take on 10 to 20 gallon batches. The bigger diameter pipe will allow more better throughput of cold water and help cool the wort quicker. It's also several inches taller than the old model and will completely fit inside the brewpot.

Here is a side by side comparison of my old wort chiller and my new one. The older one used 25' worth of copper and used much smaller diameter tubing and wasn't nearly as high as my new one. Now I believe I am ready for my next batch with the exception of cleaning and sanitizing my equipment.

I found the new wort chiller online on eBay from a seller named nybrewsupply. I was able to use the "Buy it Now" button and paid by PayPal. Quick and easy ordering. The shipping fee wasn't too bad and I received the unit in about a week from the East Coast.

Different sized wort chillersI was very happy with the transaction. There are several wort chillers out there in the market. Don't make the initial mistake I did and get a chiller that is too small for your brewpot.

Update August 2011: I used the new 50' wort chiller in the heat of summer. I found that in the heat of summer outdoors even this bigger wort chiller had difficulty chilling wort down to 80 degrees despite having 65 degree water flowing through it. Once the beer got down to 80 it seemed to stay there (outside air temp was around 95 degrees however). So I had to go a step further and submerge the kettle in an ice bath to get it down to pitching temperature. Bottom line, if you want wort chilled quick on a hot summer day - bring your kettle indoors and pack it with ice. It'll work even better.

Related articles:
- Planning for my next homebrew batch.
- Putting together the homebrewery.
- Creating a yeast starter for homebrewing,
- First batch of homebrew for the year.
- Choosing a fermenter for your homebrew.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Belgium Dark Kriek review

New Belgium Dark KriekI love my local breweries and whenever they put out a new line of beers I just have to check them out. The New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado recently decided to make a big push with their "Lips of Faith" series of beers and put them in all new packaging. Previously, you typically had to go directly to the brewery or to a local pub to try some of their employee inspired special ales. But now, New Belgium is wanting to share several of these brews with the world and package them into painted label 22oz bomber bottles. One such beer that has been released recently is their New Belgium Dark Kriek - Lips of Faith beer.

Dark Kriek, as it's name implies, is a beer infused with cherries, cherry juice to be specific. This beer is also a blend of 65% cherry flavored ale and 35% wood aged brew. The blending of this ale gives this brew a distinctive flavor. This is what I consider to be a sour lambic brew. Sour, like it's cousin La Folie, and cherry like their Old Cherry Ale.

Dark Kriek is no lightweight brew as it weighs in at a hefty 8% ABV. I chose to taste this brew in a nice fluted glass which goes well with the sour lambic style.

Appearance: The Kriek poured a very dark red, nearly like a cola and had a very small light tan head. The head did not build much more than a finger tall and quickly disappeared. There was very little lacing with this brew. Swirling the brew would bring up a nice little bead of bubbles and a fresh new bouquet of scents.

Aroma: Immediately upon opening the bottle I could smell a nice sour funkiness to this beer. The cherries and wood aroma were dominant with just a hint of acidity. I've been a big fan of sour beers and I could tell that this style of beer was going to be right up my alley. The smell of this beer was very inviting.

Mouthfeel: Upon the first sip I found my tongue surrounded by bubbles almost as if the brew reacted to my mouth. There was a nice body with a sharp crispness on the palate. It was slightly acidic but not nearly as much as a La Folie.

Taste: As yes - we have a sour! The cherries and wood work well together in this beer. It was tart, smooth and satisfying. The cherry in this beer tasted authentic and not artificial which made me a fan right away. The alcohol affect was noticeable soon after drinking but was not the dominant factor. I could close my eyes and imagine drinking this brew straight out of a wood barrel. There was that distinctive funkiness that I've come to love in a sour beer.

Overall: The New Belgium Dark Kriek certainly lived up to all of my expectations and more. I had heard mixed reviews from others out there but I simply had to judge this for myself and I'm glad I bought this. The price was right and I'd buy this beer again in an instant. It's tart, sour, semi-sweet, cherry, bitter, and dry with a hint of vinegar. Perfect for this style. I'm giving this beer high praise. I enjoyed this from start to finish.

Related articles:
- New Belgium revisited.
- New Belgium La Folie review.
- New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale review.
- Oud Beersel Kriek Ale review.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brewery happenings around Colorado - March 09

Springtime has finally come to Colorado and the breweries around the Centennial state have been busy making plans for later this month. Here is a preview on what's happening in beer over the next couple of weeks.

Beer Dinners

If pairing food with beer sounds tempting you should check out these upcoming beer dinners around Colorado.

Vine Street Pub's Brewers Dinner - March 24, 2009 (Tues) 6pm. $55 per person. Vine Street Pub in Harry's (directly east of the pub) - Denver, CO

Left Hand Beer Dinner - March 25, 2009 (Wed) - 6:30pm - 9:30pm at Treppeda's restaurant, Niwot, CO. 7 different taste sensations paired with 7 different Left Hand beers.

Blues & BBQ - March 28, 2009 (Sat) - River Run Village - Keystone, CO. Great barbeque and beer celebration marking the end of the ski season.

Brewery News

Here are some highlights from various brewery newsletters received during this last week. (after the jump)

Dry Dock Brewing Co – Now open Mondays. Apricot Blonde ale returns after 5 months. Tapping on Monday, March 23 at 3pm. First pint is free! Their expansion next door draws near pending last minute reviews. A new Saison has been started and will be on tap next month or so. A Barleywine will be started up soon as well for the fall. 15110 E. Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO

Great Divide Firkin Night – March 27, 2009 (Fri) – Great Divide Tap Room – Denver, CO. $10 for all of the cask beer you want. 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Door prizes.

Crabtree Brewing (Greeley) – Pint specials this weekend. New Saint Patrick’s Amber Ale in bombers where all profitable proceeds from each Amber goes to Escalante, a program to help underprivileged children and teens.

Avery Brewing (Boulder) – Karma ale Release Party, April 5, 2009 (Sun) 2-5pm. Tap Room. Boulder. Live music. Celebrate the return of their summer seasonal. Karma infused Brats and other food available. $20 gets you 4 12oz pours and brats + sides and access to the music show.

Avery Brewing (Boulder) – Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale Vertical Tasting, April 1, 2009 (Wed) 7:30pm-9pm. Tap Room. Vintage 2009 release. Also sample Samael from ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09. $35 per person for beer and dessert pairing. Advanced tickets available.

Avery Brewing (Boulder) – Sixteen Anniversary Ale – May 1, 2009 (Fri). This year’s anniversary brew will be a “saison-esque” brew with peaches, honey and jasmine, combining intense flavors with summertime quaffability. Release party at their Tap Room in Boulder.

More events and festivals can be viewed on the 2009 Colorado Beer Festival and Events Calendar.

Related articles:
- March 2009 Events.
- April 2009 Events.
- May 2009 Events.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Youngs Double Chocolate Stout review

Youngs Double Chocolate StoutThere's only a few more days of winter left and I'm still sticking to my stouts as long as possible. Tonight I decided to cross the big pond and pull a bottle from the UK. I spied a nice looking bottle from the Wells & Young's Brewing Company of Bedford, UK labeled Young's Double Chocolate Stout. This brew was supposedly boosted in chocolate flavor yet weighed in at only 5.2% ABV - practically a session brew strength. Several of the bloggers I follow recommended this brew so I was anxious to try it for myself.

This brew poured dark like a cola, mostly brown with some slight ruby edges to it. I was pleased to see a nice thick brown head on this beer that lasted for several minutes. Being so dark, it was hard to tell if it was carbonated but a nice "hiss" while popping the cap left me little to doubt.

Instantly upon opening the unique 16.9 oz bottle I was filled with the wonderful aroma of chocolate. This wasn't just chocolate malt but rather cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate. It was a simply delightful smell that was very inviting. There was also just a hint of hoppiness in the air surrounding my pint glass.

As I took a first sip, the chocolate aroma filled my nose and I felt a slight drying effect from the brew. It was creamy but modestly bodied. For a stout, I felt that it could have used a bit more viscosity. It was adequately carbonated as well.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout certainly had a chocolaty taste yet it wasn't as dry and roasty as other stouts I've had. Most stouts seem to emphasize the coffee in the roasted malts but this one scaled back the coffee bitterness a bit and left you with a choco-infusion instead. It was nicely balanced between the sweetness of the chocolate and the bitterness of the hops and brew.

Having this brew at a lower alcohol level avoided introducing that usual alcohol bite that many of the imperial stouts have. That was a nice change of pace. No need to slow drink this stout.

Lately, it seems that it takes me a good 2/3rds of a glass to get the full sensation of a beer and this beer was no exception. Later in the tasting even more of the chocolate flavor came out. I enjoyed this brew but felt as if I have had better. A while back I had tried a Double Chocolate Stout on nitro tap from the Fort Collins Brewery and really enjoyed that. The Young's was very similar and had even more chocolate aroma and taste but was less bodied.

I also poured quite a bit of this over some vanilla ice cream. While it was satisfying, it didn't really mix too well with the ice cream. Some stouts bubble up quite a bit when poured over ice cream but this brew simply poured down the sides and didn't bubble at all. Perhaps the ice cream had been a bit too long in the freezer.

I'm going to give this beer a rating good enough for a repeat buy. It was good but perhaps I'd grade it a bit lower than what I've seen on the rating sites due to it's thinner body. The aroma is certainly to die for and that alone is most of the experience right there. Nicely done. I'd love to brew up something like this someday.

Related articles:
- Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale review.
- Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock review.
- Fort Collins Double Chocolate Stout (Tap Room).

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Odell expansion nears but cancels festival

There's good news and bad news coming out of Odell Brewing Company this month. First the good news. The brewery is pushing on with it's plans to expand the brewery. Starting in April, the brewery will break ground on an expansion that will increase the size of their brewing facility as well as give them more room to expand their oak aged line of beers. The expansion will allow Odell to grow from 40,000 barrels a year to nearly 100,000 barrels. The expansion is a bit late taking off which leads to the bad news.

Due to the upcoming construction, Odell Brewing has been forced to cancel their annual Small Batch Beer Festival for 2009. This festival was to have seen it's 3rd year this year but due to the dangers of construction equipment and the on-going expansion process they won't be able to handle the crowds this year. What a shame too as thousands of Odell faithful have come to look forward to this annual event. Odell plans to bring back the SBBF in 2010 and promises to make it bigger and better than ever.

Don't worry though, Odell will let you drown your sorrows with plenty of fresh beer in their tap room. Plus in April, they plan on releasing their 2nd batch of Woodcut oak aged beer. This time around it will be a Aged Golden Ale. Look for more word on that coming soon.

Update: Expansion progress at Odell (Nov. 2009)

Related articles:
- Odell to expand brewing facility.
- Odell's Small Batch Beer Festival.
- Odell taps it's Woodcut series.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Cheers to Saint Patty's Day

Craft beer drinkers have a hard time ignoring this date on the calendar each year. No, I'm not talking about the anniversary of Beer Utopia, I'm talking about Saint Patrick's Day. One of the top beer drinking holidays (unpaid holiday) in the land. It's upon this day that I dust off my old green shirts, celebrate my true Irish heritage (yes the Butler clan did originate from Ireland) and hold myself back from putting green food coloring in my beer. Now that I drink mostly darker more flavorful craft beers, green dye won't do a thing for it.

As is tradition on this blog, all 2 St. Patty's days worth, I'll leave you with a good ol' (may be new) Irish drinking song after the break. And while I'm at it I'll give you an old traditional Gaelic blessing...

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Related articles:
- More Irish drinking songs.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout review.
- It's time to buy more beer when....

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale review

Duvel Belgian Golden AleI've had a 750ml bottle of Duvel sitting in my beer cellar for over 4 months now and I had nearly forgotten about it until this weekend. My intention was to save this beer for a special occasion, but after 4 months I figure I wasn't going to save it any longer as I've really wanted to try this beer. Duvel is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and has been a highly rated beer for quite a long time. I've wanted to give this beer a try but until now I had yet to sample a glass. Today was going to be that day.

Duvel is a product of the Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat brewery from Belgium. It weighs in at a hefty 8.5% ABV and comes in both a single individual size and a large 750ml bottle. I chose the 750ml size as I sometimes prefer to sample an entire 2 glasses worth of a brew in order to get a full experience of that beer.

I love to sample Belgian ales from a tulip glass as I believe it helps bring out the full flavor of those beers. The 750ml bottle comes with a wire cage and cork and when opened up it gave a loud "pop" and let me know immediately that there was quite a bit of carbonation in this beer.

Appearance: Duvel poured looking like a golden pilsner with a huge white head. It was extremely carbonated and I was forced to pour the beer very slowly else I risked getting an overflow of foam from this brew. I had a huge white head on this beer and the bubbles just seemed to be non-stop. Even the bottle warns you to pour this beer with a non-hurried method. The bubbles just seemed to last forever and clung to the side of the glass with a wonderful lacing. The first pour was quite clear, but later in the tasting as I got closer to the bottom the brew got noticeably cloudier.

Aroma: Upon opening, this beer will immediately tell you that it is a Belgian just from the aroma. There is something about the yeast that is used in these beers that is quite distinctive. It smelled not only of the yeast, but also reminded me a bit of honey, fruits (raisin?) and somewhat floral in nature with a hint of pepper spice.

Mouthfeel: Once in my mouth, Duvel felt quite carbonated as the beer created bubbles that danced all over my tongue. It was a light and refreshing feel and left a bitter, but pleasant feel in the mouth after swallowing.

Taste: I was initially surprised by the taste. I initially thought that it would taste sweeter than it was. It was more bitter than I expected. It had a good amount of malt like a good pilsner, but with a bit of funk to it. It gave the impression that it had some spices and pepper, yet is finished light on the palette. The brew leaves a small bitterness at the end.

The alcohol content was higher than most brews I've had, but that was not a dominant characteristic when sampling this brew. It took nearly a full glass of beer for my taste buds to adjust to this beer. I've been drinking so many darker brews lately that I had to re-adjust getting used to a Belgian style.

Midway through the 1st glass I felt the need to eat something with this beer to work against the initial bitterness of the brew. I chose to eat some garlic flavored club crackers and felt that it complimented this brew well. Suddenly after eating the garlic crackers the sweetness in this beer finally came out a bit. Thereafter, the beer really opened up for me and I began enjoying this beer tremendously.

Overall: I wasn't sure if I would finish the entire 750ml bottle after the first few sips, but after the first 10oz or so of this beer it really becomes quite appealing. I felt that I had been too spoiled with so many dark beers lately and suddenly having to adjust to a light colored Belgian brew was quite an undertaking. It took me a good full glass to really appreciate this brew but once I did I became quite the fan of Duvel.

I'm giving Duvel a hearty Thumbs Up with a side note. Be sure you've warmed up to lighter brews before partaking of this style. It will grow on you and then you'll become convinced that this is a truly good beer. It was worth the wait for this beer.

Related articles:
- Gulden Draak Ale review.
- Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic review.
- Chimay Grande Reserve review.
- Great Divide Hades Ale review.
- Deschutes 19th Anniversary Golden Ale review.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crabtree Brewing expands their hours

Crabtree Brewing CompanyGreeley Colorado's own Crabtree Brewing Company recently announced that their tasting room hours have been expanded. Now on Fridays and Saturdays, Crabtree Brewing will be open until midnight. As Greeley's thirst for beer expands, so has the city's only dedicated microbrewery's facilities for accommodating fans.

Crabtree Brewing has recently added ten new tables and plenty of wooden chairs and is now introducing some new Brewery Food, according to Stephanie Crabtree. The brewery also occasionally brings in local music artists to entertain guests.

For the last several years, Crabtree Brewing has sponsored their own SpringFest and for the 4th year, they will be hosting their Spring beer fest on April 25th at their brewery on 625 3rd Street. SpringFest will feature live bands, games, great local food and of course a full line of their special local beers on tap.

Crabtree BrewingThis week marks the return of their special RAZ-A for a very limited run. Their raspberry amber is a local favorite. Pints are just $3.00. Growler REFILLS are $6.00 each (new growlers $8.50).

The tasting room is open Wednesday through Saturday starting at 1pm. Visit their website for more details.

Several other specials are running this week including deals on 6-packs, snacks and T-shirts.

Related articles:
- Supporting my local brewery - Crabtree.
- Crabtree Boxcar Brown and Twisted Creek Wheat.
- Crabtree hosts HarvestFest '08.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Denver Breckenridge Brewery Tweetup Highlights

Twitter is indeed the new pub and last night Twitter users got off the internet (for a moment) and met up at the Breckenridge Brewery in south Denver Colorado for a Tweetup and some free beer. Thanks go out to the brewers and staff at the Breckenridge Brewery for hosting a great event. Also to BeerTapTV (Erik Boles, Dusty Frazier & Eli Shayotovich) for sponsoring. And also a big thanks for @TheBigKlosowski for organizing the event.

Breckenridge offered up two of their ales for tasting including their Pandora's Bock and their Extra ESB. Over 100 Twitter locals and several Breck staff enjoyed themselves. Great beer, friends and food. Can't wait for the next one.

View the slide show and video below (or after the jump).

More pics and details can be found at the official DenverTweetup web site.

The next DenverTweetup will be held on Friday, April 17th from 6-9pm at the Great Divide Brewery in downtown Denver. The Tweetup has been dubbed the "April 2009 Liquid Stimulus Plan" in honor of all of us filing our taxes by the April 15th deadline. Hope to see more of you there!

Related articles:
- Twitter pub followers share their favorites.
- Twitter Taste Live adds to the Twitter pub.
- Who is @ChipperDave?

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout review

Samuel Adams Imperial StoutTonight's brew just hit the store shelves here in Colorado recently (early 2009). I had asked my local beer store to look for it and I was pleasantly surprised to see it waiting for me upon my next visit. The Boston Beer Company has had an imperial stout on tap at their brewery for many years but are now just releasing it to the public in the form of a new beer in their "Imperial Series". This brew is aptly named Samuel Adams Imperial Stout.

It's still officially Winter here in Colorado as evident by the recent dusting of snow yesterday morning and therefore it's still dark beer season in my household. I grabbed this new 4-pack quickly and put a couple of these in my cooler and put the other two away in my cellar for later. At 9.2% ABV, this imperial stout should age well I believe. Even the label on the bottle invites you to age this beer. I'll take them up on that suggestion.

Appearance: Sam Adams Imperial Stout pours black with hardly a trace of dark mahogany on the edges of the glass. I served this brew cold and got very little brown head to arise from my beer goblet. This beer was brewed to resemble the old 18th century Russian Imperial Stout recipes and at a glance I'd say they got the style down.

Aroma: The aroma on this beer gave me a full experience of dark unsweetened chocolate, a hint of coffee and a whiff of molasses and licorice. The higher alcohol also gave off a slight alchy bite but it was only moderate.

Mouthfeel: Upon the first sip, the beer felt creamy and full bodied and left a slight coating on not just the tongue but also on the roof of my mouth. It felt fairly carbonated for a dark beer and tingled a bit on the tongue. The brew finished with a slight drying effect.

Taste: The taste of this beer is of bitter chocolate and molasses with a nice bitterness. The coffee flavor wasn't very prominent as the chocolate, but it was far from sweet. After swallowing, you get a slight after taste of molasses and licorice on the palate. I'd almost call it a "twang" effect.

The alcohol was noticeable in this brew so I'd suggest just having one of these 12 oz bottles at a time. I could tell that aging this beer would do this beer some good and should mellow the alcohol bite over time. This beer was good now, but I would like to see how it improves over the next 8-12 months. It needed to mellow a bit more.

Overall: I've targeted Thanksgiving and Christmas 2009 to revisit this beer again. That should give this beer plenty of time to settle in. But right as it was now, this beer was still enjoyable. I couldn't help but think that this beer was begging to be paired with ice cream, so I went and got a small cup of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and poured some of the imperial stout over the top of it. Yum!!!

I think I will now have to go out and try their Double Bock and Imperial White counterparts in the Imperial Series. This beer was good enough to warrant further purchases in the future as well as putting some away for a future cold night.

I'll give Samuel Adams a big Thumbs Up on this imperial stout. It hit the spot and gave me a nice warm glow on a cool evening. Serve this one cold but then let it warm up a bit. The flavor comes out as it warms.

Related articles:
- Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock review.
- Samuel Adams Beer Dinner in Denver May 2008.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout review.
- Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout review.
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2008 review.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Planning for my next homebrew batch

Planning a homebrew batchIt's been nearly two months since my last homebrewing day and I've got the itch to get another batch going. My first batch has been in the bottle for nearly 6 weeks and I think it as done as it's going to get. I got mixed reviews from my friends and myself on my first batch and I know that I have a lot of room for improvement.

One way to improve your homebrew is to keep a list of items that you'll want to do differently next time. Here's my list.

Things I need to fix

1. My wort chiller is too small for my brewpot. Need one that can do 10-15 gallon batches. I've seen some on eBay that look good. May trade in my PayPal bux for a bigger one. Hopefully this one won't leak like the other one did. I'll have to test it before brew day.
2. The plastic tube from my bottling bucket to my bottling wand was too big. It's 1/2" inside diameter but should have been 3/8". Again, it will pay to test before needing it.
3. Need to pick up a 2nd propane tank. I probably spent most of the 1st tank and need to keep that with my outdoor grill. A separate one just for homebrewing would be nice. A 40 lb tank might be even better than a 20 lb tank.
4. Invest in a bottle tree that can hold up to 40 bottles. Get one with a sanitizer pump at top. Didn't like sanitizing shortly before bottling as I felt there may have been too much sanitizer residue left in the bottles.
5. Need a better way to spot sanitize. Perhaps use a squirt bottle and fill it with Star San. I wasted way too much sanitizer last time.

I'm going to have to make a shopping list again. I'll probably shop online at my favorite homebrew store - High Gravity Homebrewing and pick up the rest at my local store in Fort Collins (Hops & Berries).

What I'd do differently this time

1. I need to remember that using Dry Malt Extract only needs to be 80% of what you need in Liquid Malt Extract. If the recipe calls for 5 pounds of LME then you only need 4 pounds of DME. I used way too much base malt in my last recipe. Beer was too sweet.
2. Steep my specialty grains longer. Only did 20 minutes at 160 degrees as per recipe. I think I should have done it for 30 minutes at least.
3. Sparge my steeped grains with 180 degree water before discarding them. I merely let them drain last time and should have given them a hot rinse. Would have yielded a bit more sugars out of those grains.
4. Add higher AA bittering hops to the boil. 1st recipe called for low 5% AA hops for bittering but wasn't nearly enough for my tastes.
5. Create my yeast starter only 1 day before brew day instead of 3. I think the yeast was too dormant by the 3rd day in my starter. It did ferment well after 12 hours and got done in 5 days though.
6. Aerate my wort a lot more BEFORE pitching my yeast. I pitched the yeast and then aerated but probably shouldn't have done that.
7. Try using water that has had a chance to settle out the chlorine before using. I used it fresh out of the tap last time and may have contributed to some off flavor.
8. After filling the first bottle, insert the bottling wand inside the 2nd bottle while I'm capping the 1st. Having to lay down the end of the wand on a questionable surface worried me. At least the insides of the bottles are sanitized.
9. Fill some 12 oz bottles this time instead of all 22 oz bottles. Would like to just have a single brew to try and not have to drink down a full bomber.
10. Need to stock up on more PBW and Star San. I seemed to go through a lot last time.
11. Try making a yeast starter outdoors. Small pot on the burner should work fine and keep me from filling the house up with beer smell.

What I'd like to brew next

There are many styles that I enjoy and have yet to brew myself. Styles like: stouts, ESB, APA/IPA, Kolsch, Pale Ale, Porter (real one this time), Ambers, Belgians, Old ale, or perhaps even a cider. I want my next brew to be more hoppy with a better balance with the malts.

My first batch was supposed to be a dark porter but ended up more of a light brown. A stout sounds good but at same time I'm tempted to make a nice lighter Springtime ale. Leaning towards an ESB or Pale Ale.

I want to create a beer with a much better head to it and with some lacing. And it has to be adequately carbonated. Someday I'll just keg my homebrew but for now, bottle conditioning will suffice.

That's a lot of items to consider for my next batch. I'd better start working on them as soon as possible. If I wait much longer it will soon be too hot outside and that will give me a whole other list of things to do differently.

Related articles:
- 1st batch of homebrew for the year.
- Creating a yeast starter for homebrewing.
- Putting together the home brewery.
- The trials and tribulations of bottling homebrew.
- Bottle washing day.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cellaring notes on Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

Cellaring a Ten FidyThe old saying goes "some things improve with age" and I've been on a year long quest to find out if that statement is true when it comes to aged beer. Every so often I'll have the patience to let a bottle or can of some of my favorite strong brew sit alone by itself in a dark corner of my basement and forget about it for a while. Well this weekend I decided to pull out an imperial stout that I've left age for over a year.

Back in February 2008, I bought a 4-pack of Oskar Blues Ten Fidy imperial stout. I enjoyed the first 2 cans of this beer soon after I brought it home from the store. I had read that certain types of beer would age well and this style of beer was one that would qualify for aging.

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy is a strong dark stout that weighs in at 9.4% ABV. Many styles of beer that are 8.0% or higher typically can stand up to aging provided you keep the beer in a dark place and in an environment that is relatively constant in temperature.

I know from measuring the temperature of my basement that it stays a constant 64 degrees almost all year long. So it seemed like the perfect place to try aging some of my favorite imperial stout. I let 1 can age for just 3 months and tried it again and found that the sharp bite of the higher alcohol had mellowed a bit. But I really wanted to see how it would taste after an entire year. So I hid away my last can in the corner of the basement and decided not to touch it until 2009.

Here it is now, 13 months after I bought the beer. It's been sitting in a can for well over a year now and it was time to open it up for a tasting. I put the beer in the fridge for just a little while to cool it down a bit but not too much. Imperial stouts taste better a bit warmer than other beers. It helps bring out the full flavor profile of the beer.

I opened the can and poured the Ten Fidy into a nice pint glass. Almost immediately a huge dark brown head grew on this beer. So much head in fact that I had to wait several minutes for the head to subside so that I could pour the rest of the beer into the glass. Time it seems hadn't dampened it's ability to maintain a decent head. Finally after 3 or 4 minutes I had the entire can emptied into the glass. About a 2 finger head lingered in the glass for what seemed like a long time.

The beer was as black as night and seemed viscous. The aroma was rich with roasted chocolate malts. It's the kind of smell that you just love inhaling over and over. This is one of the reasons I enjoy imperial stouts so much. Time had killed a bit of the alcohol smell but not the malts.

As for the taste, oh my. It still had all of the wonderful roasted goodness as I remembered. There was hints of chocolate, molasses, and licorice in the brew. The sharpness of the high ABV had mellowed a bit but hadn't lessened the overall kick of the beer as you drank it.

It seems that being stored in a can hadn't given this beer any after tastes at all. Plus, absolutely no light had gotten to this beer. That's the plus of storing it in a can. This beer was even better than I remembered. It was definitely worth the wait.

This beer doesn't come cheap. Today's prices for Ten Fidy runs around $14.99 for a 4-pack. I think it's gone up about a $1 since last year. Still, for just over $3 a beer, it's a wonderful drink that I'd gladly pay that much for again.

Sadly, I don't have any more cans of this that I can age further. I'd love to see how this beer stands up to a few more years. I do, however, still have a bottle of North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout aging in the cellar. It's coming up on it's one year aging anniversary, so I should be able to review that one soon.

Have any of you aged Ten Fidy for longer than a year? If you have I'd love to hear about it.

Related articles:
- Original Ten Fidy tasting notes - Feb 2008.
- Beer cellar aging - a short experiment.
- Cellaring notes on North Coast Old Stock Ale 2008.
- Great Divide Oak Aged Imperial Yeti review.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here.

Read the full article here...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Buckbean Black Noddy Lager review

Buckbean Black Noddy LagerLong live dark beers! I have been a fan of the "dark side" for quite a while now and tonight I had a chance to try out a new German-style Schwarzbier (black beer) from the Buckbean Brewing Company of Nevada. It's been a very long time since I've had a lager like this and I couldn't wait to open up the Buckbean Black Noddy Lager. This was the second of two beer samples sent by the brewery for me to try.

The Black Noddy is another 16oz beer that comes in an aluminum can. I'm sold on enjoying craft beer in a can. My own home state brewery, Oskar Blues, does the same with all it's store sold brew. It certainly makes a 6-pack much lighter in weight than a glass bottle 6'er.

The Black Noddy Lager poured nearly black with a slight mahogany edging in the glass. This beer was served very cold and when poured into a pint glass it left just a small 1 finger high tan head. The head disappeared quickly and left just a trace of lacing on the glass. I knew I'd have to let this beer warm up quite a bit to do it justice. Dark beers need to be served at warmer temperatures than lighter beers, else you'll mask a lot of the flavor of the dark malts.

Aroma: The aroma reminded me immediately of a stout with a roasted coffee and chocolate malt smell. It has just a hint of hops but I think the coldness of the beer was still masking some of that. It gave a hint of some sweeter caramel malt underneath.

Mouthfeel: This beer was moderately carbonated, more so than a porter or stout. The first taste coated my tongue with a moderate bodied brew that slightly coated the tongue. It was dry but a bit less than a typical stout or porter. Very smooth and left a noticeable bitter taste.

Taste: This beer is loaded with dark malts. It had an unmistakable taste of sharp dark roasted coffee and a hint of chocolate. While similar to a stout it was a bit milder in bitterness and yet blended well with the malts. It was an easy drinking dark beer that could very well be a sessionable brew.

The Black Noddy won a Bronze medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in the German-style Schwarzbier category and I can see why. If you like a good roasty beer then this lager is for you.

I wondered where the name came from. It has a black bird on the can and indeed the Black Noddy is a form of tern (bird) that is typically found near the sea in most cases.

This beer paired very nicely with a chocolate brownie that I was eating. The chocolate in the brownie brought out more of the chocolate malt flavor in the brew. I bet this beer would also go well with smoked meats and sharp cheeses.

Overall, I was very impressed with this lager. I would certainly buy this beer again if I saw it in my store. I've yet to see this beer in Colorado but seeing how Nevada is practically next door, I believe it would soon be sold here. A big Thumbs Up on this brew. Buckbean knows how to brew a good Schwarzbier.

And for those of you who will be in the Vegas area next week, Buckbean is co-sponsoring a Nevada Beer Fest on Saturday March 14th from 3pm to 7pm at the MonteLago Village Resort just outside of Vegas. Read the details on the Buckbean Brewing web site.

Update Feb. 10, 2012: Reports are circulating that Buckbean Brewing Company is closing down due to "sluggish economy and higher-than-projected costs". If you like this beer, grab it on the shelves while you can. No more beer will be produced.

Related articles:
- Buckbean Original Orange Blossom Ale review.
- Brewers needed for Las Vegas beer fest.
- Kidd Lager - Fort Collins Brewery tasting room.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Buckbean Original Orange Blossom Ale review

Buckbean Original Orange Blossom AleI came home to a wonderful surprise tonight - a package from a brewery! I always get excited to get packages like that especially when the package contains some beer. Now this wasn't just any beer, it was from a relatively new brewery in Nevada called the Buckbean Brewing Company of Reno, Nevada. Apparently Buckbean Brewing is only the 2nd microbrewery in Nevada currently and any chance I get to try a new brews from a brewery I jump on it.

Buckbean was kind enough to send me a sampler of their canned beers. Two sets of two different canned beers. The first of which I'm reviewing tonight, their Original Orange Blossom Ale. This is classified on BeerAdvocate as an Amber ale but I'd call it more of an herbal pale ale.

Appearance: The Orange Blossom Ale (O.B.) poured a light copper color with a small 1 finger tall white head. When I poured the beer into the glass it sounded like a fizzy carbonated soda with a lot of bubbles. It was certainly well carbonated. The head slowly melted into just a small white bead at the top. There was a small lacing that momentarily clung to the sides of the glass when swirled. The beer was cold and was slightly hazed when held up to the light.

Aroma: The aroma was truly original as it's name implied. This beer is brewed with Orange Blossom water which probably means that a ton of orange blossom flower pedals were soaked in the brewing water before heating. It has a very floral aroma with a hint of honey in the back. It was a smell that was both semi-sweet and bitter at the same time. It reminded me of an herbal tea smell with a tad bit of cut grass in the nose. The sweet aroma came out when I let the beer sit for a bit but disappears when you swirl it in the glass.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel of the O.B. Ale was creamy, smooth and slippery. It coated the tongue well and was medium bodied. It slid down my throat easily and left a slight coating.

Taste: The taste was different than any other beer I've had to date. I got an earthy, grassy and herbal flavor from this brew with just a touch of sweetness from the caramel malts and orange blossoms. You could imagine that there was a scraping of orange peel thrown in for good measure in this beer. The malts were blended well into this brew but were not as dominant as you might expect in an amber beer. The orange blossom water dominates here.

It took me a good 1/2 a glass to appreciate the uniqueness of this brew. Once again, another brewery has found that a beer could taste just as good if not better sealed in a can. These cans came in 16 oz sizes too! This beer tasted best cold right out of the fridge.

This is one of those beers where if you burp and let the gas come out through your nose you will get the full experience of the aroma. Wow. The taste of this beer really grows on you. At 5.8% ABV this brew would drink well as a session brew on a nice warm day. Today was in the low 70's here in Colorado which is rare for a March day and it went well for this pre-Spring day.

The American hops used in this beer gave a small citrusy whiff but was not as dominant as the orange blossoms. Don't be mistaken, this beer does not taste like an orange but rather has small hints of their blossoms and honey. I'm pleased to say I could easily drink this whole beer down with no problems. I look forward to having the 2nd beer of this later on.

If you're looking for a change of pace brew with a unique nose you probably will be pleasantly surprised by this beer. Get your nasal passages ready for a full experience as the orange blossoms will definitely deliver that to you. Don't be too quick to judge this beer. Let it open up to you and you'll thoroughly enjoy this one. Nice job Buckbean! I'll be sampling their Black Noddy Lager next.

Update Feb. 10, 2012: Reports are circulating that Buckbean Brewing Company is closing down due to "sluggish economy and higher-than-projected costs". If you like this beer, grab it on the shelves while you can. No more beer will be produced.

Related articles:
- Brewers needed for a Las Vegas beer fest.
- Travels with Barley.
- Twisted Pine American Amber Ale review.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Redfish reopens as Colorado Brewing Company

Colorado Brewing CompanyThere was a quiet transition that occurred last month in Colorado breweries. Did you notice it? A Boulder brewpub changed it's name. The old Redfish Brew House had closed down and a new owner just re-opened it as the new Colorado Brewing Company at the CBC Draft House.

The CBC Draft House is in the exact same location as the old Redfish at 2027 13th Street, Boulder, Colorado. It's been entirely remodeled and re-branded and has a fresh new look. The Redfish closed it's doors on January 21, 2009 but just recently opened a few days after Valentine's Day.

The new Draft House is serving up 8 fresh new beers including: Crystal Springs Kolsch, Alpenglow Amber, 44 Pale Ale, Feisty Fiddler IPA, Big Bella Brown, a Seasonal Stout, plus two other seasonals - Dunkelweisen and Irish Red. These brews range from 4.5% to 6.3% ABV. CBC's head brewer is Mike Kasian from the Chicago area.

Patrons of the new Draft House can also enjoy some classic Front Range food and listen to live music (Bluegrass) on selected nights. Every Saturday night they will feature FastGrass music.

So if you haven't been to the brewpub in a long time you will be pleasantly surprised by the brand new look and taste of their fresh beers.

Update: This property goes through many changes. Colorado Brewing Company closed in early 2011. In June 2011, Los Oasis Latin Grill & Cerveceria took over. They too closed, then Shine Brewing Company took over and started brewing beer in March 2012 inside of Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place.

Related articles:
- Upslope Brewing opens in Boulder.
- Avery Brewing transforms its tap room.
- Mountain Sun celebrates Stout Month.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A visit to the Wynkoop Brewing Company

Wynkoop Brewing CompanyDowntown Denver Colorado has a lot of great attractions and for craft beer lovers there are several hot spots that are worth visiting. One of them is a well known spot located in the heart of LoDo just a short walk from Coors Field. I'm talking about the famous Wynkoop Brewing Company. This brewery was founded back in 1988 by Denver's current mayor John Hickenlooper.

Denver's oldest brewpub was the host of last week's Beer Drinker of the Year National Finals. I've been looking forward to returning to the Wynkoop, especially now that I'm taking notes and video of my favorite beer destinations as a beer blogger. I met some friends down there and had a few beers while attending the BDOTY event.

The Wynkoop had over 13 different brews on tap that day. Their list of brews that day included: Lightrail Ale, Wixa Weiss, Two Guns Pilsner, Railyard Ale, Monkey's First IPA, St. Charles ESB, B3K Schwarzbier, McKenzie's Milk Stout, Silverback Porter, Tripel Sixes, Mile HI.P.A, Patty's Chili Beer and a special BDOTY brew called Venske Weisen.

With so many good choices it was difficult narrowing it down. During the course of the 3 hour event, I chose to sample 3 of their brews. The follow are some brief notes about each one.

St. Charles ESB - I was in the mood for something bitter and an Extra Special Bitter felt like just the thing. The St. Charles poured a nice copper color with a good creamy off white head. The lacing was perfect and coated nearly every available inch of the glass. There was simply a good amount of hops in the nose and was just what I was expecting. The mouthfeel in one word: creamy! It felt good in the mouth. I loved the hoppy taste of this brew. The malts were well balanced with the bitterness. I've had ESB's with a bit more bitterness to it, but for what I was looking for that afternoon, it fit the bill.

Mile HI.P.A - I was destined NOT to have a porter or stout today but instead targeted some brews only hop heads would love. This India Pale Ale was light copper colored with a small white head. There was a huge hop smell up front that I believe was Cascade hops. It was piney and citrusy. It left a distinct dry mouth feel with a lingering bitterness. It was a classic IPA experience. The malts and hops really came out but with an emphasis on the hops. It left a hop coating on my tongue. Very smooth, bitter and served best cold.

Venzke Weisen - I noticed that they had brewed a special beer for the Beer Drinker of the Year event. Last year's winner had the honor of brewing a beer at the Wynkoop and offered up to the attendees of this year's competition. Wenzke Weisen was a dark smoked wheat beer. Quite different than any wheat beer I've tasted. It poured dark and had a distinct wheat beer aroma but with a noticeable smokiness to it. The taste was also bitter and smokey. If you closed your eyes, you wouldn't know it was a dark beer except for the campfire smokey malts. Quite a unique beer experience. I don't know if I'd drink another one of these but I did finish the entire pint.

I toured around the facility a bit. They had a large room downstairs that doubles as a comedy club. Judging by the size of the crowd that attended the BDOTY awards I think the Wynkoop will have to move the 2010 competition downstairs to accommodate all of the fans. Upstairs was a large pool hall with over 22 pool tables and some dart boards. A pool players paradise if you ask me. I didn't get a chance to shoot pool but I can say I am always impressed by the atmosphere there at the Wynkoop.

On the main floor you can peer through the glass windows and look inside their brewing operation. There were several large vessels used for mashing, brewing and clarifying their brews. There was an employee training session going on that day. Nearly a dozen brewery workers were there going over brewing procedures in the brewhouse that day.

Mayor Hickenlooper was also on-hand that day and was attending the festivities. I wished now that I had gone over to introduce myself and compliment him on what a great brewpub he had created.

If you ever get the chance, head over to the Wynkoop Brewing Company. They are located at 1634 18th Street, just about 2-3 blocks southwest of Coors Field in lower downtown Denver. They have a huge food selection too and it all is meant to pair up with all of their beers.

Related articles:
- 2009 Beer Drinker of the Year National Finals.
- Falling Rock Tap House (video).
- Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB review.
- The Inaugural Denver Rare Beer Tasting at the Wynkoop.

This article came from
Help us grow. Forward this article to a friend and have them subscribe here

Read the full article here...