Friday, February 27, 2009

The Moon, Venus and a Smoked Porter

Moon and Venus - taken from Greeley, CO on 2/27/2009I just had to add this digital snap I took tonight. The Moon and Venus were putting on a show tonight and the sky was perfectly clear. I had been waiting for this event all month and Mother Nature was kind enough to cooperate with the weather. It had been briefly snow hailing this morning and was blustery and cold but by the evening the skies had parted and the solar system smiled on us.

I couldn't help but stare at the remarkable site in the sky tonight. I broke open a bottle of 2008 Alaskan Smoked Porter and took in the view. Wow. Anywhere you went tonight in Greeley Colorado you could see the big Moon and Venus lighting up the western sky. It was almost like poetry. Glad I had a chance to witness it.

Venus has been a constant western sky companion for quite a while now. It was just a month or so ago when Jupiter was also in the evening sky. But this was so bright and so clear it was spectacular. Just wish I would have had a better camera to take a picture with.

So here is a big CHEERS to our universe tonight. The moon and planets and a good beer made for a great evening! Did anyone else see this site tonight? Did you take a picture of it? Let me know. I'd love to see some other pictures of this pairing.



Related articles:
- Alaskan Smoked Porter review.

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Video tour of Falling Rock Tap House Denver



If you're a craft beer drinker and have ever been to Denver then the Falling Rock Tap House is probably on your must visit list whenever you're in town. Normally during special tapping parties or beer festivals, the Falling Rock Tap House is usually packed with people and it's hard to get a seat let alone a beer.

During my recent visit to Denver for the 2009 Beer Drinker of the Year last Saturday, I decided to top off the afternoon with a visit to the Falling Rock for a beer and some food. While the Falling Rock isn't known for their food, they are known for the best craft beer selection in the Rocky Mountain region.

This place is on the top beer places to visit before you die. I can see why. Don't go for the atmosphere, go for the beer selection. There are well over 75 beers on tap alone including some specials that are there for just a limited time. If anyone in Colorado is going to get a special keg of beer, it's this place.


While I had just missed getting a new glass of Ska's new Modus Hoperandi, I settled for a nice glass of Avery / Russian River's Collaboration Not Litigation ale. It's a nice Belgian that always fits most any mood I'm in. I was already in a good mood so this beer hit the spot.

I grabbed one of their 1/2 pound burgers and chips and while I know it's not the best food in town, I was starved and just about anything tastes good with a beer when you're hungry.

If you've never seen the inside of the Falling Rock, I put together a short 2 minute video of my visit. Just admire all of the various beer taps and bottles that they have on display here. There's been a long history of great craft beers tapped here. I look forward to coming back again with more friends and exploring more of their fine selection. If you can't view it below, watch it on YouTube.



Well worth the visit. Best to visit on a non-busy night.

Related articles:
- 2009 Beer Drinker of the Year.
- Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale review.
- 2008 GABF behind the scenes video.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Beer Drinker of the Year award

2009 Beerdrinker of the Year FinalsLast Saturday, February 21, 2009, a crowd gathered at the Wynkoop Brewery in lower downtown Denver to witness what can only be known as the ultimate competition for beer drinkers. I'm talking about the 2009 Beerdrinker of the Year - The National Finals.

A crowd of nearly 200 people packed in a back room at the Wynkoop to watch as three finalists, chosen from hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes to compete before a panel of judges to be crowned the Beerdrinker of the Year.

This competition got it's start 12 years ago in 1997 when the first beerdrinker of the year was crowned. The eventual winner must first be selected at a finalist and then survive nearly 9 rounds of questions from a panel of experts in the field.

This year's competitors were made up of two former finalists and one local Denver man. From left to right:

The 2009 FinalistsJ Mark Angelus - a Oregon man who was a finalist in 2008. During the last year he sampled over 1029 beers, visited 93 breweries and sampled 244 Oregon beers at 11 beer festivals in his home state.

Phil Farrell - a Georgia man who is a commercial pilot, a homebrewer, a beer jedge and a former 2007 finalist. He's tasted beer in every European country, visited over 1000 pubs and 400 brewpubs. His basement bar has 6 taps, 2 fridges and a 15 gallon brewing system.

Cody Christman - a Denver software engineer who just happens to be a regular patron at the Wynkoop. Cody teaches a Beer 101 class in his home that touts a bar with 7 taps and 3 fridges. He's tasted beer in 19 coutries and visited over 200 breweries.

The back room of the Wynkoop, the Mercantile Room, was absolutely packed with beer fans. Each finalist had fans in the audience but it was apparent early on that local Cody Christman had the most supporters in the room.

The JudgesA panel of 7 beer judges, including a couple former BDOTY champions, some local beer press and writers, and rep from the Brewer's Association were all dressed in white wigs and black robes and each carrying in a glass or jug of their favorite brew.

The competition was broken up into two sessions with a 20 minute break in between. The judges had a most difficult decision to make and deliberated for what seemed like 40+ minutes. Finally, they came back in and last year's champion Mark Venzke was given the honors of announcing the 2009 winner of the Beerdrinker of the Year. And that man was Colorado's own: Cody Christman. Way to represent Colorado, Cody!

Cody was most a most gracious winner. Along with the winners official BDOTY Champion T-shirt, Cody was given FREE beer for life at the Wynkoop Brewery plus $250 worth of beer at the winner's home pub, his name immortalized for all time on a trophy to be displayed at the Wynkoop, the right to produce a special batch of beer for next year's BDOTY competition at the Wynkoop and plenty of free shwag to wear as well.

There were plenty of press and local beer dignitaries there including Denver Mayor (now Governor) John Hickenlooper and also local brewer Eric Wallace of Left Hand Brewery of Longmont.

Grats to all of the finalists and the winner Cody. You guys certainly know a LOT about beer. Attached here is a video of the official announcement of the winner at the end of the competition.



Below are several random shots from the days festivities. Enjoy!



Related articles:
- A visit to the Wynkoop Brewery.
- BeerTapTV plans Denver Tweetup for March.
- Mountain Sun celebrates Stout Month.
- More Russian River beers heading to Colorado.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Breckenridge Pandora's Bock review

Breckenridge Pandora's BockHey, I finally figured out what style of beer my first batch of homebrew tasted like - it's a Bock! I opened up a single bottle of Breckenridge Pandora's Bock from Breckenridge Brewery of Denver tonight. This brew was part of a "create your own 6-pack" that I made while visiting Wilbur's Total Beverage in Fort Collins a little while back. I wanted to try this brew but didn't want to invest in a whole 6-pack just yet, so that was the perfect opportunity.

Breckenridge Pandora's Bock weighs in at a hefty 7.5% ABV and a mild 16 IBUs. A fairly strong brew in a small 12oz bottle. I've had a couple different Bock's before and wanted to see if this one was going to taste as sweet as I expected it to be. A bock beer tends to be a tad on the malty side anyway. It's not one of my favorite styles but it's nice to have for a change of pace brew.

Appearance: The Pandora poured a reddish brown with a nice 2 finger off-white (near tan) head. The head quickly evaporated to a small bubble top. There appeared to be a thin lacing on the glass when swirled.

Aroma: Upon smelling this for the first time I was immediately reminded of my 1st homebrew batch from this year. Woah - nearly an identical smell! It was a sweet malty aroma with some nuttiness and a slight alcohol whiff. Seeing how this had seemed very similar to my homebrew I suddenly had a spark of confidence. Perhaps this beer would have other similar characteristics.

Mouthfeel: The beer felt a bit oily in my mouth. It was moderately carbonated and seemed a bit sticky. It wasn't bad in the least but something you just have to expect from this style.

Taste: OMG, the taste seemed nearly spot on to my homebrew as well. It had a caramel sweetness with a touch of bitterness on the end. The malt was really dominant in this beer as the style suggests. Bocks tend to be on the sweet side and very low on the bitterness scale.

The beer was quite enjoyable. It was a bit higher than most craft beers on the ABV side, but I wasn't complaining. Compared to my homebrew, which had 6.3% ABV, this beer had many of the same characteristics only was made with different ingredients.

Pandora's Bock was made with 2-row, Munich, Bonlander and Caramel malts and lightly bittered with Strisselspalt and Chinook hops. I'll classify this as a decent pre-Spring seasonal brew. It's available from January through the end of March from Breckenridge Brewery.

I also liked the looks of the label. Image does count for something in my book.

Overall: This beer gave me hope that my own homebrew could turn out like this in a few more weeks. I enjoyed it and would definitely have another of these again. It's not a session brew and I was feeling good after just one bottle. I might just get my chance to have another of these early next month during the Denver Tweetup at the Breckenridge Brewery. I'm sure that will be on tap there during my visit.

Related articles:
- Breckenridge Vanilla Porter review.
- Breckenridge Avalanche Amber Ale review.
- Breckenridge Small Batch 471 IPA review.
- Breckenridge Mighty Brown review.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stone Smoked Porter review

Stone Smoked PorterIt's nice to know that many brewers are highly active on the social media front and follow up with fans of their beers. The last time I reviewed a beer from Stone Brewing Company of the North County San Diego area I was graced with a comment posted by Greg Koch of Stone himself. While he was ok with my review he had some issues with a particular comment I made about his beer. So while I'll always try to be honest about my beer reviews, I won't please everyone.

Anyway, tonight I pulled out a bottle of Stone Smoked Porter and wanted to give that a try. I had another nice dark brew the night before and I was still in the mood for something from the dark side. I've had other smoked beers before, including one from Alaskan Brewing Company, so I wanted to see what Stone Brewing had come up with for comparison sake. I wasn't going to be disappointed tonight.

Appearance: This smoked porter poured a nice deep dark brownish mahogany with some ruby red edges along the glass. I was almost able to see all the way through this beer held up to the light but barely failed to see the other side of the glass. I was granted a nice 2-finger tan head that held up nicely with a light lacing. There were enough bubbles coming up through this beer to let me know it was carbonated.

Aroma: The aroma surprised me a bit. I was used smelling huge campfire like smoke from other smoked porters but the Stone smoked porter was quite a bit less smoky than others. I could only describe it as mildly smoked, which is still a good thing. Stone has a way of either being over the top, as in their Arrogant Bastard, or changing gears a bit as in this beer. I could also pick up an abundance of chocolate and coffee notes in the aroma with a mild bit of hop in the background.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel was really spot on for a porter. It had a nice creamy and smooth feel that left just a hint of dryness and a slight coating on the tongue. It tingled the tip of my tongue as I swished it around my mouth.

Taste: The taste was also a bit surprising. I expected to taste a huge smokey flavor but found it to have just as much coffee and chocolate and caramel malts as there was smoke. The smoke was actually blended into this beer very well. Definitely not overdone. It's a sharp contrast to a beer like the Alaskan Smoked Porter.

The beer is not as heavy as a stout but richer than your typical porter. This beer weighs in only at a 5.9% ABV and a moderate bitterness of 53 IBUs. If I was blindfolded I couldn't have guessed that this was a Stone brew. I'm just so used to be hit hard with hop and bitterness from other Stone brews that this was a nice change of pace drink from them.

It's nicely bitter and semi-sweet up front. It was highly enjoyable. Later in the tasting, I got the feeling that I wanted to eat some bacon and eggs with this brew. A good breakfast porter for camping! It would also go well with some nice creamy desserts. @IronOrr on Twitter suggested that this brew goes well as an ingredient in homemade cheesecake. Sounds like a great combo to me!

Overall: I'd sure love it if Stone Brewing would consider putting this beer into a can. I'd love to take this on a hike or campout sometime. It's low enough in ABV that it won't knock you over if you finish the entire 22oz bottle. It's a nice delicious dark brew. I'd sure love to get a clone recipe for this brew and homebrew it sometime. Anyone have a good extract recipe for this? I'd love to have it.

Thumbs Up to Stone for surprising me with this beer. It proves you don't have to be over the top with every brew to make great beer.

Related articles:
- Alaskan Smoked Porter 2008 review.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout review.
- Stone Arrogant Bastard review.
- Smoked beers from Fort Collins Brewery.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recession hits home

Relax, don't worry, have a beerI'm going to go off on a tangent today and veer away from my usual beer posts to talk about the recession a bit. Ya, I know, the recession is hitting everyone hard these days and nobody likes having to deal with it. Well today I got hit with a bit of bad news from work. Granted it could have been a lot worse, but still, it's hitting home and in the wallet.

My regular day job has kept me happily employed for the last 25 years. Today, our corporate CEO announce our quarter one earnings for the company and in a nutshell, we missed our numbers for the last 3 months. So, no surprise, our CEO is obligated to the shareholders to make some adjustments in order to have a shot at making numbers for next quarter and the rest of the year.

The news they gave to all of us employees was this: We could do 20% layoffs company wide but they don't want to do that. Instead, they are going to cut salaries across the board and cut some of our benefits back. OK, fair enough. I can handle not potentially losing my job in exchange for a cut back. Afterall, our company has had to do this a couple of times in the past.

During the last few years, it's been nothing but layoffs and dodging bullets to keep my job. I was on the chopping block 3 1/2 years ago but managed to get a last minute transfer to another account within the company.

I'm glad to see that the company is considering alternatives to layoffs in these tough times. It's better to retain good people than to let them go because eventually we will come out of this recession and will need to be at full strength in order to move forward and stay competitive.

Still, the thought of having to do with less money for the foreseeable future is hitting me tonight. I'm consoling myself with a glass or two of Deschutes Black Butte XX tonight and contemplating my future. It's bad enough to lose income but when you top it off with the fact that this economy is going into the dumpers right now we all need some glimmer of hope to hang on to.

I'm hoping that all of you out there are managing to hang on to your jobs and keep a steady income coming in. I hope we can all still have the means to sit back and enjoy some of life's rewards. For me, family, friends, and the occasional good beer at the end of the day is all that I need.

I hope that the recent government bailout will help kick start the economy a bit. I realize it will probably get much tougher before it gets better so we'll have to buckle down as best we can for the next year or so.

I raise my glass to you, good readers, tonight and hope that the times ahead won't be too tough on you all. We could all use some good news. Let's hope we all get some soon. Cheers!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Westmalle Trappist Ale Tripel review

Westmalle Trappist Ale TripelBask in January 2009, I participated in an event called "Twitter Taste Live", a tasting session for Trappist ales. Two of the beers being tasted that night were from the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle in Malle, Belgium. I had opened up a bottle of Westmalle Trappist Ale Tripel for the tasting that night and liked it so much I decided to try it again. However, I had forgotten to take good notes during that #ttl session so this week I bought another bottle of Westmalle Tripel and made sure I had pen and paper ready.

I had a big surprise opening this bottle. Just as soon as I removed the cap that a huge rush of beer foam started oozing out of the bottle. The near pure white foam just kept coming and coming out over the top. Apparently the pressure inside the bottle had gotten so great that the sudden release of pressure caused a huge carbonation explosion. By the time I had things under control I had lost nearly 1/4th of the bottle. The rest managed to make it into my goblet.

Appearance: The Westmalle Tripel poured a hazy copper-orange color with a generous 2+ finger near-white head. The head lasted quite a while and left a nice lacing along the insides of the glass. It was apparent that there was a huge amount of carbonation in this ale as the bubbled seemed to stream up from the bottom at a constant rate.

Aroma: The aroma was filled with citrus and several other scents. I picked up a whiff of peaches, coriander and a hint of bubble gum as well as some light caramel malts. It was a very pleasant smell, one that I enjoyed sampling throughout the entire session.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel on this beer was quite tingling. I got a rush of bubbles dissipating across my tongue as it moved to the back of my throat. It was a full bodied feel, somewhat creamy with a dry bittering finish that lingered after the beer was down.

Taste: Westmalle Tripel was a bit spicy at first. It was semi-sweet from the caramel malts and a tad on the funky side from the yeast. The Belgian yeast gave this ale a real earthy feel and flavor. It was just shy of the tart side but held onto the sweeter side.

This brew was served nice and cold out of the cooler and I really liked it on the cold side. The taste remained the same throughout the entire session but I liked it better on the cold side rather than after it warmed up a bit.

The Trappist monks of Belgium sure know how to make some good beer. It was highly enjoyable and I was left wishing I had another one. I didn't want that session to end. I was sorry that I lost some of it prior to tasting. With this ale weighing in at a hefty 9.5% ABV I was feeling quite a warm glow from this beer early on in the tasting.

I believe I liked this beer better than the Westmalle Dubbel, a darker brew, that I had late in the summer last year.

Overall, I was very pleased with the Westmalle Tripel. I'm giving this a big Thumbs Up and am definitely going to get another bottle of this soon. Creamy good!

Related articles:
- St. Bernardus Abt 12 review.
- Orval Trappist Ale review .
- Chimay (Blue) Premiere Ale review.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Batch 001 homebrew tasting notes

Homebrew reviewThis is the first in what I'm hoping will be a long series of tasting notes based on the home brewed beer that I will be making over the course of the next several years. These notes will attempt to chronicle how my beer tastes following certain number of weeks of bottle conditioning. I also took some video of the pouring and tasting. Be sure to check that out after the jump.

Batch #001 - Light Porter

History: This beer was brewed on January 10, 2009 and fermented in the primary for 9 days. On January 19, 2009 I racked this beer into a secondary to get the brew off the yeast cake and further clear and finish fermenting. On January 31, 2009 I primed and bottled this beer where it conditioned for two weeks. On February 14, 2009 I took 1 bottle out of the batch and chilled it down for 6 hours then opened it. Alcohol content was estimated at 6.3% ABV. And a low bitterness: 17 IBU. OG: 1.067, FG: 1.020.

Appearance: Upon removing the bottle cap I heard a light hiss but not much. So the beer at least had some carbonation. I aggressively poured the beer into a fluted glass with a wide rim to get the most foaming action as possible. The beer was not dark like a normal porter but rather a medium dark copper color. There was very little head action in this glass and the brew only produced a slight 1/2 finger off-white head that quickly disappeared. The beer was remarkably clear with no visible sediment or haze. However, there wasn't much evidence of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Swirling the glass gave no lacing on the glass. I'm going to have to work on building good head retention on my next batch.

Aroma: Here is where things got interesting. What I was hoping to smell was the dark roasted malts that I had put into this beer, but what I got back was a sweet almost Belgian-like aroma. I also detected the slightest aroma like apple cider. Not what I was hoping for. I could smell a lot of malt but nearly none of the hops. I didn't think the recipe had called for that much aroma hops, just 0.5 oz of Goldings with 5 minutes left in the boil. I figure the apple aroma may have come from the cane sugar I used as a primer for carbonation, but it could be something else.

Mouthfeel: It was not quite carbonated nearly enough. Just the start. Could use a few more weeks in the bottle. It wasn't really watery as the sweetness seemed to cover the mouth and tongue a bit. I wouldn't call it syrupy but it wasn't crisp either.

Taste: It only took me one sip to admit that I had not made a porter but something more along the lines of a Brown Ale or Marzen. The brew was still sweet with just a trace of bitter. It also had a hint of Belgian-like yeastiness to it, not quite a funk but it could be the start of it. I used an English ale yeast but what I was getting back wasn't that at all. I believe I put in a bit too much light malt extract into this beer. The base malt should have been much darker too if I would have really wanted a nice dark porter.

Overall impressions: The more I drank this beer, the more it tasted like a Marzen (Oktoberfest). It was easily drinkable without any objections but far from a quality brew that I'm used to. The sample bottle I used was a 0.5L bottle (16oz). I could start feeling the alcohol after the first 8 ounces of the drink. By the end of the bottle I could tell I had drank a 6% ABV brew. I think somehow despite all the yeast I poured into this brew that it could have fermented off more sugar than it did. Perhaps I didn't aerate it quite long enough. I'll double the aeration shaking period next time.

While this beer apparently fails as a porter, it passes as a lighter brown ale. I'll let this beer age another couple of weeks before sampling again. It definitely needs more time to carbonate. I don't enjoy under carbonated brew that's for sure. It made me wish for a corny keg and getting some CO2 forced through the beer.

As it stands now after 2 weeks in the bottle, I'm only giving this beer a "C" grade. Much to be improved yet. But hey you know, that's homebrewing. Sometimes recipes don't come out like you expected. But with good notes and some further research, I figure my next batch will be even better. I'm not giving up on this batch, oh no. I'm just going to give it a bit more time to mature.

Video tasting: (If you can't view the video below watch it on YouTube)


Related articles:
- The trials and tribulations of bottling beer.
- Brewing my first batch of homebrew for the year.
- Creating a yeast starter for my homebrew.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

BeerTapTV TweetUp planned in Denver

My good beer friends from down south in Colorado Springs, Eli Shayotovich, Erik Boles and Dusty Frazier, aka the BeerTapTV guys, have announced plans for their 1st ever DenverTweetup. For those of you who follow BeerTapTV.com and their wild and crazy video shows each week, here is your chance to get together in Denver at the Breckenridge Brewery and have a FREE beer and talk some beer smack with them and 100 other people while they tape a live show with you Tweeples in attendance.

Here's the lowdown on this Tweetup according to the source:

Thats right gang! It’s the long awaited (and heavily requested) Beer Tap TV tweetup.

Come hang with your friends at Breckenridge Brewery & drink a FREE BEER just before taking off to SXSW.

WHEN: Thursday, March 12th, 5:30 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.

WHERE: Breckenridge Brewery, 471 Kalamath St., Denver, CO 80204 (map)

Some of the the great things about this tweetup:

  • It’s in the actual brewery, not the tasting room, so this is a semi-private tweetup just for you tweeples!
  • One free beer ticket is provided.
  • A brewer will be onsite to give personalized, behind the scenes tours to anyone that wants them.
  • There will be giveaways from Beer Tap TV and Breckenridge Brewery.
  • The Beer Tap TV crew will be there taping a live-audience show that you will be involved in…taste beer with the brewers and the BTTV guys!

Hurry — because of the free beer and limited space, we have to cap attendance at the first 100 tweeples. (but there will be plenty of overflow room in the tasting room to hang if you want to come anyways!)

Register your attendance on our Yahoo Upcoming page located at: http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/1823388/


Yours truly is making plans to be there and am looking forward to meeting fellow members of the Twitter nation and sharing a beer and talking about better times to come. And who can pass up a chance for a Free beer and getting a private tour of a brewery? I'll bring my Flip camcorder and capture some of the action to post on Fermentedly Challenged. So if you plan to attend you better be on your best behavior! No seriously, do what you do naturally and just have fun. Hope to see you there! Save me a spot, I'd hate to be the 101st person there and told to take a hike.

If you happen to get shutout of the event, you can still drown your sorrows next door at the tap room at Breckenridge Brewery. There will be plenty of good beers available on tap you can enjoy.

Related articles:
- Twitter pub followers share their favorites.
- Twitter Taste Live adds to the Twitter pub.
- Twitter is the new beer pub.
- Denver Tweetup highlights from Breckenridge Brewery.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale review

New Belgium Mighty ArrowUntil just recently, the only way to get one of the New Belgium Brewery's newest pale ale was to buy a 12 bottle Folly Pack or to get it on tap from New Belgium or a local restaurant. But now, Mighty Arrow Pale Ale is available from NBB as a stand alone product available in 6-packs. It's been a while since I had a glass on tap so once it came out solo I grabbed a bottle for review.

Mighty Arrow was named after the CEO's former Aussie/border collie who had the run of the brewery a few years ago. I think Kim found the perfect way to honor the memory of her pet with this brew.

Mighty Arrow poured a nice copper color with a big carbonated action. It gave a solid 2-finger near white head in my NBB tasting glass and left an excellent lacing along the glass. I think this glass was made for this beer. The laser etched bottom created a huge stream of bubbles flowing to the top of the beer.

New Belgium brewed this beer with a honey malt base and designed the aroma around both Cascade and Goldings hops. Last year, they threw in some Amarillo hops for bittering but may have altered the recipe a bit since then.

The aroma was a familiar one to this pale ale drinker. The hops produced a nice piney and citrusy aroma and a hint of sweet malt. What I didn't get from the smell was their signature Belgian yeastiness. Perhaps it is a slight departure for this brew they were after.

The first taste was of the honey malts with a nice blend of bittering hops. It was a very smooth drinker, slightly sweet and with a creamy mouthfeel. I could taste a bit of a Belgian-like yeast in this beer but it was nicely put into the background. The taste was crisp and clean. Very refreshing indeed. This would make an excellent year round beer.

Mighty Arrow weighed in at 6% ABV so it's a bit high for a session brew but I swear I could have had a few of these with no problem. It was mildly hopped and far from an IPA. There wasn't the bitter finish in this brew that other pale ales have. It was highly enjoyable.

Everything about this beer was right on the mark. I think New Belgium has a winner with this brew and it should quickly become one of their flagship brews I believe. I'm giving this brew a big Thumbs Up and a definite buy again recommendation. Way to go NBB!



Related articles:
- New Belgium offers Mighty Arrow as a standalone.
- New Belgium tasting room revisited.
- New Belgium 2 Below Ale review.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stone Levitation Ale review

Stone Levitation AleAs winter slowly winds down I find myself starting to be drawn to the lighter and more hoppier ales. I spied a lone 12oz bottle of a Stone Brewing Company's beer and couldn't pass it up. Tonight's review will be of their Stone Levitation Ale, an American Amber Ale or Red Ale, depending on how you judge it. When I read the label on this beer I was surprised to see a 4.4% ABV measurement for a Stone ale. Stone is known for being over the top on almost all of their beers (take Arrogant Bastard for example). So while this was a lower session brew classification I knew something was going to happen when I sampled this beer.

Levitation is said to be brewed with four different types of hops: Columbus, Amarillo, Simco and Crystal. And just for good measure, Stone dry hops Levitation with more Amarillo hops. All that boosts this amber ale up to 45 IBU, a respectable and hopped up version. So while the ABV wasn't there, the IBU was.

Appearance: Levitation poured a clear red amber color with a healthy 2-finger off-white head. As I swirled the brew it left a slight lacing around the glass. It was nicely carbonated and the Sam Adams beer glass gave off a steady stream of bubbled from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma: The first thing I smelled from this beer was a piney and somewhat spicy hop aroma with a hint of citrus. The hops were more subdued than the Odell Red Ale that I had the other night.

Taste: All bitter and very little sweet malt. The hops dominated and radiated the pine and citrus aroma into the taste buds. The brew seemed to be lacking in malt up front and left my mouth rather dry with a slight aftertaste.

Bitter, this beer was, but not like an IPA, but rather like a light beer that had extra hops thrown in at the last minute. Stone is known for their over the top bitter brews and this is a lower ABV and less malt version. Can you say Arrogant Lite? It's definitely a session-like brew but not an easy drinker. It took me a while to warm up to this beer.

Perhaps having a dark porter shortly before this sampling locked up my taste buds. They were used to a sweeter and maltier brew. So when I drank this it was a slight shock to the system. I suppose I should know better to drink a dark beer first and follow it with a lighter brew.

Admittedly, after a 1/2 a glass was finished I started to really enjoy this beer better. The malts became more apparent as it warmed and my tongue relaxed a bit. It's like a watered down IPA.

Levitation Ale begged to be consumed with cheese so I grabbed a baby round of Gouda and bit off a piece. Instantly, the hop hit was mellowed. It was amazing how the cheese counteracted the hops. It made the experience much more enjoyable. Without the cheese, the beer left a near metallic taste in my mouth, but with cheese it went away.

Overall: I had a mixed experience. I had to learn to like this beer and once I figured it out it was alright. But as for being a session brew that I could drink a few of, I'd probably stop at one of these and pick up something else to finish the night with. I have to go in moderation with Stone beers. They're not a brand of beer I could play Beer Pong with, definitely not. I could try but I'd probably end up wanting to eat a lot of cheese.

Related articles:
- Stone 08*08*08 Vertical Epic review.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout review.
- Stone Arrogant Bastard review.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oskar Blues debuts new tasting room Tasty Weasel

I've wondered how long it would take before this would happen, but it finally has. Oskar Blues has been brewing in it's new brewing facility in Longmont for less than a year now but up until now you couldn't taste any of their beers at that building. But now you can. (No pun intended)

As of this Friday, Oskar Blues will open their brand new Tasty Weasel Tasting Room at the new brewing building at 1800 Pike Road in Longmont. Below is a news release from a newsletter emailed out today:

The Tasty Weasel, Oskar Blues' new tasting room will be tapping kegs to kick off our opening this Friday the 13th, 11am to 8 pm. In addition to kegs, we'll be starting our Firkin Friday celebrations by offering a different Firkin each Friday. The Tasty Weasel is located inside our new brewing facility on the corner of Sunset & Pike in Longmont. Just down the street from our future beer bar we'll be offering an insiders view into our beers & the people behind them. Final hours of operation are still up in the air, but we are estimating 7 days a week 11am to 8pm. Keep an eye on our website for updates on current hours. Come join us at the Tasty Weasel as we open our doors to you!

The Tasty Weasel will have room to seat 50 thirsty visitors. The door is located on the east side of the facility. The room will offer fresh pours from their facility as well as some whiskey barrel aged treats and other surprises. Firkins will be tapped every Friday afternoon at 4pm. Rumor has it that their real hours will be Monday - Friday 3-8pm and Saturady - Sunday 11am - 8pm.

During my tour of the facility last fall, the interior of the building still had quite a bit of space left for such a room. There was a half basketball court and a batting cage area set up inside, but I imagine that one of those areas have been converted into the Tasty Weasel.

So not only will there be an on-site tasting room, but soon there will also be a future Oskar Blues restaurant as well. Chalk up another good reason to visit Longmont during the afternoon or early evening.

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues to open new restaurant in Longmont.
- A video tour of Oskar Blues in Longmont.
- Oskar Blues opens Longmont facility.
- Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish Style Ale review.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Belgium to partner to make fish food

In what could only be called a most unlikely partnership, it was recently announced that the New Belgium Brewery of Fort Collins, Colorado will team up with a group of former Colorado School of Mines graduates to someday soon turn beer waste into fish food.

A report from Denver's 9news.com shown on local TV reported that Oberon FMR is in talks with New Belgium Brewing in an effort to take the waste products from the brewery and using a process developed by Oberon FMR to further ferment and dry the waste and turn it into a high protein fish food. FMR stands for Fish Meal Replacement.

Currently, New Belgium treats its own waste water in settling ponds before releasing the water back to nature. But Oberon FMR wants to take a lot of that waste and give it back to nature in a form of food.

Fish hatcheries are the target beneficiary of their proposed beer waste fish food. Hatcheries have been having difficulty coming up with adequate fish meal to feed their stocks. This product would be an alternative to having to catch other types of fish to turn into fish meal for hatchlings.
Oberon FMR claims it can help turn 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of daily waste beer sludge into nearly 35,000 pounds of bacterial protein. Regular fish meal has 40% protein but the Oberon product will have nearly 65% protein.

Giving back to nature from beer waste is nothing new. Local farmers already get spent grains form breweries and feed it to their cows. It makes the cows happy and fattens them up faster than regular feed. Oberon FMR hopes they can do the same thing only for fish.

Related articles:
- New Belgium expands with new tanks.
- New Belgium offers Mighty Arrow as a standalone.
- Most bizarre festival to promote beer at.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Odell Red Ale review

Odell Red AleIt was back in January 2009 when Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado announced that they were discontinuing their Single Batch Series of seasonal brews. Soon after they announced that their new Odell Red Ale was going to replace the Extra Special Red as their new February through May seasonal. I wondered how the new Red Ale would stack up to the old red. Tonight I got my chance to try it for the first time and let me tell you, get ready for some hops!

Odell Red Ale is an American Red ale but with a big dose of hops thrown in. Odell warns you on their label that this beer is like a Rocky Mountain goat, both come with a big kick and in this case the kick comes not from the alcohol but from the hops.

Appearance: Red Ale poured a nice copper red color with a gigantic 4-finger off-white tall head. I had to stop pouring for a minute to get the entire 12oz bottle into my glass. As the foam settled a bit it left a clingy lacing along the glass. Nice start to this beer! It was decently carbonated and was a cloudless brew - very clear.

Aroma: My first sniff - WOAH - hops! If you can imagine the guy in the "Burger King Angry Whopper" commercial reacting to the hot onion, that's exactly the reaction you get when you smell the hops. "HOPS! HOPS!". The hops were very dominant in the aroma. It was fresh, spicy, piny and grassy all at the same time. The aroma nearly reminded me of a liquid pine cleaner dissolved in water. Strong! I believe they've created a hop monster here.

If the smell was any indication of what was to come, I knew this beer was bound to be on the bitter side. And yes, indeed it was. The hops really dominated the first few sips of this beer. Very hoppy and bitter. There was no apparent sweetness here. The malts were subdued by the strong bitterness up front. It quickly dried my mouth and left a slight piny aftertaste.

Taste: This beer is NOT the same as their retired Extra Special Red. The hops here are turned way up a notch. It's not a starter craft beer, so noobies, beware! Luckily, after a time, the malts start coming through after it warmed up a bit. Your mouth just has to get over the initial shock of the bitterness, then you can taste a more balanced beer. It took a good 1/3rd of the glass for the hops to settle back a bit.

This beer begs to be paired with some spicy food. Tacos, Chinese, Cajun or perhaps Indian food would do well with this beer. I'm calling this an India Red Ale. It could easily pass for an IPA. Hops heads will want to seek this beer out for sure.

Overall: While I've just recently became a hop head myself, it's been a couple of months since I've had a big hoppy beer and I think I needed to get my tongue wet again on something this hopped up. One of these beers was just fine for an evening. At 6.5% ABV, it's above being a session beer and into the class of brews that need respect.

Odell Brewing has created a hop monster of a seasonal ale. While it's not my old Extra Special Red, it'll do just fine I think. It's worthy, but don't drink one by itself, eat something with this beer. I enjoyed it, but needed something afterward to cleanse the palate. A sharp slice of cheese did just the trick.

If you like your hops big, you'll love the new Red Ale.

Related articles:
- Odell to discontinue Single Batch Series.
- Odell drops, adds beers.
- Odell releases Hand Picked Pale Ale.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Widmer Brothers Brrr Seasonal Ale review

Looks like I may have missed the window when all the other bloggers were getting FREE samples of tonight's beer. But I saw it on the store shelf and picked up a bottle for myself. I'm talking about the Widmer Brothers Brewing's own winter warmer - Brrr Seasonal Ale. Brrr is normally available during the holiday months but some of these beers managed to survive the busy season and I found a single 12oz bottle at a local store. Seeing how many other bloggers had enjoyed this beer I wanted to try one for myself.

Brrr poured a dark red color and looked somewhat like an IPA. It had a big white frothy head. The lacing lasted well into my tasting. It was evident from opening the cap that this brew had stayed carbonated well. Normally this beer is only available from October through January, but I found a few single bottles on February 6th and put one into my "create your own" 6-pack.

Brrr's aroma could really fool you. It was very piney and citrusy with a hint of pepper spice. It made me think I was going to get a big bitter mouthful like a few IPA's I know. But the taste was actually milder than I expected. It was lightly malted and decently bittered without being over the top.

I could tell this beer had a bit more ABV than regular craft brews as it weighed in at 7.2% ABV. This was a borderline big beer and half way through the sampling I knew that one brew was going to be plenty enough. This is no session brew boys and girls.

Widmer, an Oregon brewer, put a lot of malt and hops in this brew. They threw in a blend of Pale, Caramel 10L & 80L, Munich 10L, Carapils, and Dark chocolate malts in with a some Alchemy, Simcoe and Cascade hops. It had enough kick to it to sneak up on you later in the tasting.

Brrr had a bit of a roasty characteristic with a slightly sweet finish. The hops come out more in the smell than they do in the tasting. I really like the smell of this beer. It's a nice warmer for a cold winter night. It's the kind of beer that would go well on a special occasion. I probably wouldn't want to drink two of these during a single session. One was plenty enough to satisfy and make me feel good.

I get the impression that Widmer could easily turn this into an IPA if they wanted to, but they held back some of the hops and toned it down a bit and made a nice winter seasonal out of it. I enjoyed this beer and would drink one again.

Read on: The sinfully delicious list of Colorado winter seasonals.

Related articles:
- Great Divide to release fall - winter seasonals.
- New Belgium 2 Below mini-review.
- Samuel Adams Winter Classics review.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Odell Brewing highlights pilot tappings

Hey craft beer fans! If you happen to be heading to northern Colorado this week consider stopping off in Fort Collins to the Odell Brewing Company and visit their tap room. Starting this week, Odell has several special brews on tap to tempt your craft brew taste buds, including their new seasonal Red Ale.

Take a peek at what's special on tap this week along with all their other flagship beers.



Check out the Odell ESB, the Whistle Blower and their Buffalo Bourbon Stout. Plenty of other brews to be tapped soon. This month's tap room charity is Foothills Gateway who help people with disabilities. Your beer sampler fee can be donated directly to this charity if you wish.

The tap room specials change weekly so be sure to check them out often.

Odell Brewing Company
800 E. Lincoln Ave.
Fort Collins, CO
(970) 498-9070 or (888) 887-2797

Related articles:
- Odell releases Hand Picked Pale Ale.
- Odell taps their Woodcut series.

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Steamworks beers to be featured in NYC dinner

Normally I don't post entries about out of state beer dinners, but since this one highlights a Colorado brewery I thought it might be interesting to pass along.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - FEBRUARY 4, 2009
For further information, contact Kris Oyler, Steamworks Brewing Co., 970.375.9686, or Carrie Wunsch, Culinary School of the Rockies, 303.579.8198

Steamworks beers to be showcased

Tickets now available for “Celebrating Colorado’s Bounty” at
New York City’s James Beard House, March 6, 2009

DURANGO, Colo. – Tickets for the March 6 “all-Colorado” James Beard House dinner featuring Steamworks Brewing Co. craft beers, are now available at www.jamesbeard.org.

Steamworks’ Co-Founder Kris Oyler will join leading Colorado chefs Adam Dulye, Culinary School of the Rockies, Kyle Mendenhall, The Kitchen/Boulder and Pastry Chef Amy DeWitt, Boulder, in preparation and presentation of the multi-course, gourmet meal now christened “Celebrating Colorado’s Bounty.” The presenting team is currently highlighted on the James Beard web site, http://jamesbeard.org/?q=node/736.

“It’s a tribute to Colorado to be able to highlight what the state has to offer from grass fed beef, to organic greens and craft beer. Having the stage of the James Beard House to feature the Bounty of Colorado is a true honor,” said Chef Dulye.

In addition to Steamworks’ craft beer, fresh foods from throughout the state will be flown to New York to become part of the extensive menu that includes Foxfire Farms Sweetbreads with Chestnut Purée and Caramelized Western Slope Apples; Monroe Organic Farms Beet Terrine with Haystack Mountain Chèvre, Hazelnuts, and Black Truffles; Colorado Striped Bass Steak with Cure Organic Farm Fingerling Potatoes, Artichokes, Smoked Paprika, and Bread Salsa; Poached Western Slope Pear–Brown Butter Cake with Mascarpone Zabaglione and Blackberry–Cabernet Sorbet and much more. Durango’s Desert Sun Coffees will also be served.

“Come in from the cold and celebrate the best of Colorado cuisine at this special dinner where you’ll sample award-winning Colorado beers and unique wines, paired with a farm-to-table-inspired menu prepared by a trio of the region’s top chefs,” notes the James Beard House web site. The Foundation’s event program is designed to educate, inspire, entertain and foster an appreciation of American cuisine.

“This is a tremendous honor for Steamworks, Durango and Colorado in general,” said Oyler. “Steamworks is the only brewery represented among the wines, so it will be a unique opportunity for Foundation members and visitors to compare craft beer and wine paired with various Colorado foods.”

The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to celebrate, preserve and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of culinary excellence. The James Beard House is located at 167 West 12th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues), in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. Tickets for the event - $165 per person for non-Foundation members - are available by calling 212.627.2308 or on line, at www.jamesbeard.org.

Culinary School of the Rockies, nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), is located at 637 South Broadway, Suite H, Boulder, Colo. (303.494.7988), and offers professional programs year-round. For further information, visit www.culinaryschoolrockies.com.

Steamworks Brewing Co. – Durango’s “2005 Business of the Year” – is located at 801 E. Second. Ave., Durango, Colo. (970.259.9200), open from 11 a.m., serving lunch and dinner, with a public tasting room at the main brewery at 442 Wolverine Drive in Bayfield Center, Bayfield, Colo. (970.884.7837). For further information, visit www.steamworksbrewing.com.

# # #


Related articles:
- Steamworks Colorado Kolsch review.
- Beer news around Colorado.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flying Dog to hit NoCo liquor stores for promos

Why should a brewery wait for a beer fest to promote it's beers when there are so many liquor stores around to utilize? Flying Dog Ales is doing just that this week as they are bringing their beers to the people's local stores in Northern Colorado to show off the joys of drinking some of their best beers. Not only that, they're bringing some of their best looking reps to do the beer hawking.



Here is an excerpt from their latest blog post on the upcoming promotion:

Flying Dog Brewery is doing Longmont and Fort Collins BIG AND BAD this coming Friday and Saturday (Feb 6 and 7). Our very own Rachael and Stephanie will be hitting various liquor stores in the area and Flying Dog running specials and promotions over the two days. Check out the schedule below and be sure to stop by, say “hello” and hit them up for some free shit.

Friday, Feb 6, 2009

Hover Crossing, 1844 Hover St., Longmont - 3:30 - 5:30pm
Liquor Land, 1020 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont - 3:30 - 5:30pm
Twin Peaks, 900 S. Hover St., Longmont - 6 - 8pm
Fox Creek, 1610 Pace, Longmont - 6 -8pm

Saturday Feb 7, 2009

Wilbur’s Total Beverage, 2303 S. College, Fort Collins - 3:30 - 5:30pm
Fabby’s, 2608 S. Timberline, Fort Collins - 3:30 - 5:30pm


For those of you who've never had the opportunity to sample Flying Dog ales, this is your chance. These beers were all born in Colorado but are now brewed in Maryland. While we might not forgive them for moving their brewing operations out of Colorado, they still make some dang good beers. I'm a big Gonzo Imperial Porter fan myself.


Related articles:
- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter review
- Who let the dogs out? Flying Dog reviews
- Beer cellar aging - a short experiment

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Oskar Blues to can Mama's Little Yella Pils

At long last, famous craft beer canner Oskar Blues of Lyons, Colorado has decided to add a 5th brew to it's long line of beers. The next beer in line to be put into cans will be their lighter brew Mamma's Little Yella Pils. Mama's will get a limited run and join the likes of Dale's Pale Ale, Old Chub, Gordon and Ten Fidy on the store shelves of Colorado and selected states. Below is an excerpt from their latest newsletter on this news:

"Our upcoming new canned good is a small-batch version of the beer that made Pilsen, Czechoslovakia famous. Mama’s is made with hearty amounts of pale malt, German specialty malts, and a blend of traditional (Saaz) and 21st century Bavarian hops. Our first canned lager, it’s also fermented at cool temperatures with a German yeast. This tasteful reality Czech is the perfect antidote for the watered-down versions of pilsner clogging America’s shelves. And Mama’s gentle hopping (about 35 IBUs) and low ABV (just 5.3%) mean we’re finally honoring consumer requests for a delicious but less-challenging beer. (Hey, we like a good low-dose session beer, too.) Look for our Gold Metal Winner on US shelves in March. Sadly, the Feds rejected our “Take Two and Call Us in the Morning” line on the can."

Up until now, you could only get Mama's Little Yella Pils at their restaurant in Lyons or on tap at select beer festivals. But come March, it will be on the shelves for a limited run. Should be worth a case of the stuff just for the novelty.

For those of you planning to attend the big beer fest "SF Beer Week" starting later this week, Oskar Blues will make all of their canned beers available in the Bay Area, including the new Mama's Little Yella Pils just in time for the celebration. You SF'ers get to be the first to try Mama's from the can. Lucky you.

If you happen to be in Colorado and visiting their restaurant, you can sample a few other on-site only beers including their Leroy Brown, Alt-itude Altbier, Whiskey Aged DPA (aka Whiskey Dick) and their Velvet Elvis Stout along with their regular beers. Who knows, someday one of those other fine brews may make it into a can as well. One can only hope!

Related articles:
- Oskar Blues to open Tap Room in Longmont.
- Oskar Blues Ten Fidy review.
- Oskar Blues Gordon review.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

The trials and tribulations of bottling beer

Bottling BeerOnce the beer had fermented it soon became bottling day. I had originally intended to bottle the weekend before but couldn't manage to get a few hours of dedicated time to do it. But yesterday I had blocked out the entire afternoon to focus on getting my 1st batch of homebrew into the bottles. For many homebrewers, bottling day is filled with mixed feelings. You're either excited to finally get your beer into it's last stage before consuming or your dreading the time consuming process.

Preparation for bottling day actually started a while ago when it was bottle washing and label peeling day. The entire process to get enough bottles clean for a 5 gallon batch was very time consuming. Bottle preparation is actually a multi-step process as follows:

1) Every day rule: As soon as you finish a beer from a bottle that you intend to use later, you need to rinse it out thoroughly as soon after you're done drinking it.

2) You need to soak the bottles in very hot water for an hour or so to loosen the glue from the labels and then scrap them off. While the labels may come off easily, the glue sometimes does not.

3) Once the labels and glue are removed, you need to thoroughly wash the inside of your bottles with a bottle brush and or a high pressure rinse.

4) The day before or the morning of bottling day, you need to sanitize the bottles. I use a StarSan soak and hang the bottles upside down to drain. No rinsing is needed.

After you've done all that, your bottles are ready to go. But there are several other items to wash and sanitize as well. Anything that will come in contact with your beer will need to be sanitized: auto-siphon or racking cane, food-grade hose to transfer beer through, bottling bucket, bottling wand, stirring spoon, bottle caps and capper, and of course your hands too.

Once all your equipment is sanitized and ready to go, you'll need to prepare some priming sugar if you intend to bottle carbonate your beer. Those of you who keg your own beer are probably laughing right now, they don't need to bother with most of these steps.

It only took me about 15 minutes to get some priming sugar prepared. I followed the advice of several Twitter users and used a guide found in John Palmer's "How to Brew" book on preparing a primer. Since I didn't have any corn sugar handy, I ended up using regular table sugar. Using the Nomograph table on page 113 of Palmer's book, I calculated that I wanted to use about 3.2oz of cane sugar to give me roughly 2.3 Volumes of CO2 in my beer with a beer temperature of about 67 degrees F.

I boiled 16oz of water along with the sugar for about 10 minutes, then cooled off the liquid to room temperature and added it to my bottling bucket. Then I used my auto-siphon and transferred the beer from my Better Bottle secondary fermenter into the bottling bucket. The siphon process went fairly quickly. The only problem I had was getting the transfer hose to behave itself and stay in the bucket initially.

Once the beer was transferred over into the bottling bucket with the primer sugar I put the bucket up high on my workbench. I then got a nice big tub to use to do the bottling process in. Having a container to catch any spilled or overflow beer is essential to keep beer from getting all over your floor.

Turns out it was a good thing that I had a container as I ended up having a massive leaking problem with my bottling wand. I probably ended up wasting a couple of bottles of beer in the entire process due to that. It was my fault for not testing all of my equipment before bottling day as I would have caught that problem earlier and avoided the excess leakage of beer.

Once the actual bottling process began, it took a good hour or so to fill all of the bottles. I ended up getting 26 full bomber bottles of beer out of my 5 gallon batch. That's about 3 bottles shy of what I was hoping for. I did have a half a bottle left over at the end and I used that for tasting purposes.

Once the caps were all on the beer, I put all the beer bottles in my basement utility sink and gave them a good rinse off. The sides of the bottles had gotten sticky from overflowing and leaking beer, so keeping the bottles clean for storage was a must.

After the beer was put away, I still couldn't rest because now I had to wash all of my equipment that I had used that day. The fermenter, bottling bucket, hoses, wand and everything else had to get a good rinsing. While I didn't bother doing a thorough washing, I did ensure that all of the sticky beer was rinsed away. I'll have to ensure I wash everything again with PBW before using the equipment again however. But that can wait for my next batch.

Whew. What a long bottling day. The entire process probably took me 3.5 hours from start to finish. I know I made a few mistakes during this process, but then again it's been a long time since my last bottling day (10 years). I took a lot of notes and filled out the rest of my Brewer's Logbook with last minute details. That way, if something ends up going wrong when I end up drinking it, I can look back and figure out the steps I did and make corrections later.

I did manage to save a little uncarbonated beer for an initial tasting. The beer was room temperature but that's OK, I just wanted to see if this stuff resembled anything like a beer. To my surprise, it had a nice beer taste. It didn't taste like a porter, but then again I had deviated greatly from the initial recipe and used a much lighter base malt. So it looks more like an Amber than a Porter. Still, the roasted malt taste came through and you knew was more than just a Pale Ale or an Amber.

Once the remaining yeast get a chance to eat the priming sugar and carbonate it over the next 2 weeks, then I'll take a bottle or two and chill 'em down and do an official tasting. Looking forward to that day, which just happens to be Valentine's Day. More on the finished product in a couple of weeks.

Related articles:
- Bottle washing day.
- Homebrew batch transferred to secondary.
- Brewing the first batch of homebrew of the year.
- Putting together the home brewery.

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