Archive for September, 2008

BeerAdvocate & BYO Magazines

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

So I have recently finished four beer magazines with the anticipation of two more on there way, might as well give my two cents.

Hey who’s that pimp with that fine looking mustache on the cover of BeerAdvocate magazine? Well it’s none other than Fred Eckhardt beer legend in his spare time rockin’ out the handlebars. Kind of a weird thing to mention, but there is a super-fly Dogfish Head ad on page 9 with some old school cats break dancin’, real smooth. Don Russell wrote a pretty good piece in the Style Profile section on Belgian IPAs. Yeah, I know it sounds weird and that’s the whole point. The beers and brewers a lot of American craft brewers borrowed ideas from, the Belgians, are now giving props back to the Americans and there innovative style by using much hops in some styles of beers, thus the birth of the Belgian IPA. Try a Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel if you want a prime example of what he’s talking about. One of the first 9 Steps to Beerdom where I didn’t know the brewer also, Steven Pauwels brewmaster at Boulevard Brewing Company and his journey from Belgium to American and how he got to where he is now and what it is that makes him, well him.

Dude, then in the Innovation article I almost lost it, and I still want to write this guy. This dude, Dave Hoops in Duluth, Minn., has figured out how to legally do what I’ve been talking about for a while. He is the “Beer Man”, the modern day Milk Man. Basically replace the milk with beer and now your running his route, place your order and he’ll deliver like take-out food. Which leads me to my idea, a pizza joint brew pub (like Pizza Port in CA) that not only delivers pizza, but delivers beers too. “Yes, I’d like to order a large pepperoni pizza and a growler of the house pale ale.” – Um, sick, no? I’ve never looked into the legality in DE and it might be perfectly legal, but especially in like Newark, a college town, it would probably kill. Oh yeah, then there was a great article in the Cuisine a la Biere on a beer brunch with beer used in every dish plus recommended pairings. The “monk’s” pan pancakes (Danish) looked ridiculous topped with raspberry beer syrup and malted whipping cream paired with a breakfast stout, yowsa.

Then they did a cool featured article called Profiles in Beer where they took the biggest beer pimps around and profiled there stuff. This was the second year in a row and still some major players. There was Kim Jordan from New Belgium Brewery, Brett Joyce from Rogue Ales, Steve Hindy from Brooklyn Brewery, Fred Eckhardt overall beer pimp, author, critic, Dan Carey from New Glarus and a few others – major big pimpin’. And the issue ended with an article with a great title, Do I Come To Your Office and Drink a Beer? To say this was a top-notch issue isn’t to say quite enough.

Also just wrapped up the September issue of BYO Magazine. The issue was suppose to address the hop shortage and things you can do and beers you can brew to work with it. In the Homebrew Systems That Make You Drool section there are a few shots of a sick homebrewery, the Boathouse Brewery,  that I have been secretly admiring for a couple years now online, pure beer pr0n, check out the pictures on their site. Jamil wrote a decent article on Dry Stouts and I will probably reference it later, if I can find it again, for I am planning on brewing a dry stout in the next few months. One of the main articles on Scottish Ales kind of fell flat, I’m not quite sure why, but it really just didn’t hold my attention. It was funny the article on the Ten Low Hop Recipes was a great idea and sort of useful, but the funny part to me was each recipe was “called in” from a different homebrew shop around the country, so essentially no one wrote any article. It reminds me of a community cookbook, decent idea, but no one wrote a cookbook, it’s just a compilation of different recipes from different people – what ever, just saying. And the last piece, Beyond Beer, grabbed my attention enough to think, hummm, maybe I’ll make a basic wine kit and see how things turn out? I’m sure if I do a beginner kit, I could handle that. We’ll see!

Bottling for Competition

Monday, September 29th, 2008

So the other day I decided to break out the Beer Gun again and squeeze off a few bottles to put aside for some up coming competitions.

This time it was the Abbey Ale which I will be entering as a Dubbel, this beer turned out really well so I hope that it gets the same kind of reception. I must say though, that bottling went smoother this time than last. For one I was more confident since last time was the first time. But more so than that, I had all the right pieces this time.

Last time for some reason the CO2 didn’t seem to “work” right. I knew it was on, I knew there was pressure in the line, but for some reason it just didn’t exit the Beer Gun they way I imagined it. It turns out the piece I bought that connects from the gas swivel nut to the Beer Gun body (the piece behind the tap handle in the picture of course) was wrong. I bought a one way gas valve which allowed the gas to go in only one direction, the wrong direction. I later replaced that part with the same part but with one that didn’t have a valve and things worked out fine. Hey, it looked right, it just worked like shit.

So from what I can tell there are three local homebrew competitions coming up. Both the HOPS BOPS (24th year) and the Lancaster Homebrew Competition (1st year) are on October 18th, and about a month later is the Split Rock competition on November 22nd. I will probably enter the Abbey Ale into all three. I should look into judging at the HOPS BOPS, I haven’t judged much this year and it would be good practice.

Dogfish Dash 2008

Sunday, September 28th, 2008
OK, so I’m a little behind in any new posts, but I am going to try and make that up this week and play a little catch-up.
Dogfish Dash 2008

So last weekend (09.21.08) was the 3rd Annual Dogfish Dash. The Dogfish Dash is a 5k/10k charity run that aids the Delaware Nature Conservancy and is set-up/run-by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Above is the front and back of the shirts that were given out, as far as running shirts go these were pretty cool. Robert and I have run the 10k the last three years, so that’s pretty cool. The first year we both were in no shape to run because of a long night the night before, and the second year we both were in great shape and got to really enjoy the after run festivities back at the brewpub. This year, well, we still haven’t learned our lesson.

So we went down on Saturday so that I could pick up my race packet since I pre-registered and stop by the pub and have a couple beers then call it an earlier night. And, that’s how it started. After we had already left the pub and were waiting for a NIc-o-boli to eat and then head back to the beach house, that’s when things changed. We received a phone call that one of our friends, Steve “the Hammer” and his new wife Monica (congratulations), was having their wedding reception like three blocks from where we were and that we were welcomed to swing by. I’m not going to go into details here, but let’s just say in the long run that heading back at 8PM tuned into 1AM and the additional five hours of drinking in between – long night.

So, the next morning, the morning of the race, came way to early. We were out of the beach house and heading back to Dogfish Head by 7AM. To say I wasn’t feeling well is putting it mildly and was reminded in the car ride over what it was I ate the night before if you catch my drift. After we parked and walked up we had about two minutes before the race started, I decided I was going to go for it anyway. Very slow pace, but I did run the whole 10k without a re-run of the car ride over. The other exciting thing that happened during the run was between like mile 1 and 2 some how a bee hive got disturbed and there were some seriously pissed off bees on the trail. I made it by them OK, but Robert got jacked up! I think the final count was that he got stung 11 times and still had to run 4 miles! No one really knows what happened, but to say he’s a little bee shy now is an understatement.

After the run we went back to the pub and thought about having some breakfast and beers, but between the pain he was in and the state I was in we decided against it. OK, not true, I got one beer, got about three sips in and had to take a fast walk outside and around the corner to find some room to relieve myself of that beer. So we basically left and came home at that point, one of the longest rides home ever, for both of us.

So, on a side note, hopefully some things to look forward to me posting on this week are more kegging, more beer gun information, up coming competitions, new “fermentation chamber”, magazine reviews, DFH Bocce Tournament, and after this weekend Kennett Square Brewfest.

Iron Hill Oktoberfest Dinner

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

So last night (09.17.08) Karen and I were invited to sample Iron Hill’s new seasonal themed dinner, their Oktoberfest dinner.

Iron Hill Oktoberfest 1

All of the Iron Hill locations do a rotating two course seasonal dinner. During the summer they had a lobster clam bake and now for the fall it’s there interpretation of an Oktoberfest meal. I believe the normal routine is for it to be two courses, an appetizer and a main entrée, for typically $20 with suggested seasonal beer pairings for an additional $2.50 a piece. I think the beer used to be included and the price used to be slightly higher, but I’m not positive.

So for the Oktoberfest dinner the first course was a German “salad” and looked delicious. It was a large helping of lentils that were seasoned very nicely, some sort of bitter greens (thus the salad), and two different sausages all lightly drizzled in a sweetened course mustard sauce. The lentils, sausage, and mustard all went together well, I especially enjoyed the lighter colored sausage, I meant to ask what style it was but it slipped my mind. The greens for me were too a little too bitter, but Karen seemed to enjoy them a lot, yet I discovered that if eaten with enough lentils they went down just fine. I believe the suggested pairing with this course was Iron Hill’s newest house beer the Vienna Lager. Good beer, I’ve had it several times, but they had their Pig Iron Porter aged with vanilla beans on cask condition, and well, I enjoyed that very much.

Iron Hill Oktoberfest 2

The second course arrived shortly after the first course and looked a little hurried. It was a large serving of home-made mashed potatoes, a bunch of purple cabbage, and a moist thick-cut piece of pork tenderloin all served with an amazing ginger-snap gravy. I’m sure no chef wants to be told the high-light of the dish was the gravy, but that gravy was ridiculous, I couldn’t get enough of it. The purple of the cabbage was a nice visual accent to the dish which was otherwise shades of brown, yellow, and white, but otherwise the cabbage (or maybe a light kraut) was just OK. The mashed potatoes had potential, the flavor was quite nice and buttery, but the consistency reminded me of when you mix potatoes too long and the starches get gummy. Then there was the pork tenderloin, which was the highlight of the dish for me. It was approximately four thick slices of pork tenderloin that appeared to be seasoned and pan seared, probably finished in the oven, which retained a lot of moisture. Plus the combination of the pork and the gravy was just right. I believe the suggested pairing with this course was the seasonal Oktoberfest beer. Karen got an Oktoberfest and it was quite malty and clean, I couldn’t resist and had another Cask Vanilla Porter.

For dessert we split a single serving of vanilla ice cream. It was from Hy-Point farms, and we found out the rest of their ice cream is from Woodside Creamery, my local favorite. Toward the end of the ice cream and the end of my beer I decided to combine the two and enjoy a delicious Double Vanilla Porter Ice Cream Float – yum! Overall it was another great night at Iron Hill Brewery.

Abbey Ale

Monday, September 15th, 2008

So quite some time ago I brewed a beer I dubbed the Abbey Ale, it was actually the first beer I kegged for the kegerator, now it’s on tap.

Abbey Ale

This was kind of an off-the-cuff / tribute to Ommegang beer. I had brewed a Tripel and a Dubbel back to back so I was kind of in a Belgian mood, plus I had just worked through most of the beers from volunteering at Ommegang so I was in an Ommegang kind of mood too. This beer was suppose to be reddish in hue and closer to Ommegang’s Abbey Ale than anything else. Well, it turned out very much like Ommegang’s Abbey Ale and very much like a Dubbel, probably more so than my Dubbel did.

When I first tapped this Thursday night without all of the above explanations Robert said it reminded him of Ommegang’s Abbey Ale. So what do I have to do, run down stairs and grab one and do a side-by-side. My beer was colder, less carbonated, and a little sweeter. Their beer had been stored at cellar temperatures, was bottle-conditioned and fuzzy, and more dry than mine. But over all two great beers.

Scarily enough, this was the first beer I kegged for the kegerator and the last full keg I have being put on. Guess who seriously needs to brew some beer? Fortunately I do have three beers in carboys ready to go.

Gnarleywine, revisited

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

So today I worked on a small project that I have been putting off for quite some time, like over a year.

Gnarleywine keg

Back in October of 2006 Garrett and I brewed a 10 gallon batch of American Barleywine called the Gnarleywine. The brew day was long, the grain bill was large, and we used a ridiculous amount of hops. But between the high alcohol content and the extended time in secondary, this beer NEVER carbonated. I probably could have added some bottling yeast to achieve carbonation through bottle-conditioning, but I didn’t.

So, Garrett let me borrow a 3 gallon keg he has so that I could play with the Gnarleywine to see what I could do. Initially we had thought about reverse-counter-pressure filling in the sense of sending the beer from the bottles to the keg under pressure in a closed environment, carbonating it in the keg, and then filling the bottles with the counter-pressure filler. Seemed like a lot of work to me. So instead I basically cleaned and sanitized the keg then slowly poured the bottles down the side of the keg under a blanket of CO2. I’m sure I oxidized the piss out of the beer even though I was being very careful, but better to have a chance to drink it under better conditions than not at all. I also added a small amount of vodka infused with Madagascar vanilla bean and Wild Turkey bourbon that had been steeped on oak chips. Why not try and make a whole new beer out of it? I was contemplating putting some hop pellets in a bag in the keg, but with my luck with hops and kegs I decided to avoid it.

Plastic diptube smSo right now the keg is carbonating. I haven’t decided if I am going to leave it in the keg and put it on tap or if I am going to use the Beer Gun and bottle it. It’ll partially depend on if Garrett needs the keg back (sorry I’ve had it so long). A weird thing about this keg was it had this weird little plastic dip tube on the gas side. I had never seen anything like this before. I’m sure it works fine, I’ve just never seen anything like it. It’s funny, I really like these small “half batch” size kegs, but they are expensive and rare. Usually most places don’t have them, and the ones that do they sell for around $100 used, ouch!

K-Dub & DFH

Monday, September 8th, 2008

So this weekend (09.05/06.08) I got to go see Keller Williams at the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach and visit Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton Delaware.Todd and I went down to the Bottle & Cork to catch Keller for a 9PM show. We knew Tropical Storm Hanna was coming, but that only made it more interesting. We made it down with plenty of time to pick up our will call tickets and grab a bite to eat at a place called Gary’s Surf Shop (I think). We went it into the show about 8PM and Keller came out just after 9PM.

Keller WilliamsI have never been to the Bottle & Cork before and it is kind of a weird laid out venue. It is a typical open bar band kind of venue with little beer kiosks strewn throughout, but half of the venue was covered and half wasn’t. I’m not sure if this is a beach/temperature thing or if came about because of the smoking ban in Delaware a few years back and that way it was legal to smoke in there, dunno. Anyway, the place was way undersold, maybe 200 people in there, so there was more than enough room for everyone to be covered as the different belt of rain came through. Oh, as you probably would assume, the beer selection sucked – I was drinking $5 Coors Lights out of a can.

I poked around on line for a copy of the set list to post but couldn’t find anything. There was only one taper there and I didn’t talk to him so I probably won’t wind up with a copy of the show though I will still check to see if anyone posts it. It was a fun set in typical Keller fashion. He opened with “Come As You Are” by Nirvana and played “All Apologies” by them later. He also played a few older Keller tunes that I can’t think of off the top of my head, but I was impressed, pre-Breath stuff. Todd had never seen Keller before and totally had a good time and dug the KW-style, pretty cool. After the show, which was a little over 4 hours, we just hit the pike and went to the beach house.

On Saturday when we woke up we expected it to be a stormy hot mess, but instead it wasn’t even raining yet just very humid. We had 1PM DFH tour tickets, so we just kind of chilled out and ate some breakfast before then. Previous to this summer you did not need tickets (free) to the DFH tour, but they’ve switched up quite a few things. Now they have about five different tour times everyday with each tour being reserved for groups of 35 or less and requiring advanced sign-up via a free ticket system. I have taken the DFH tour maybe 10 times and every time it is different, which is great.

Dogfish HeadThis time when we walked in the new “Tasting Room” was now set-up, which basically was the open bar area they used to have kind of walled-off and pimped-out with DFH gear. They also had a couple small seating areas so you could chill-out. Now they have it set-up so after you check-in you get four tasting “chips” to “cash-in” at the end of the tour for tastes. The tour itself lasted almost an hour which is probably one of the longest tours I’ve ever had there, and out tour guide, Luke, was very good, probably the best tour I’ve had. We got to see all the original equipment, the 100 barrel brew house, the new fermentation vessels including the humongous oak and palo santo wood casks, the largest in the country since pre-prohibition. They were working on the bottling line and the warehouse was basically empty so that was essentially the end of the tour.

After the tour they had Punkin Ale, Raison D’Etre , 60 Minute IPA, and Indian Brown Ale available to taste, and if you asked nicely you could also taste the 90 Minute IPA and the Palo Santo Marron. It was a good time to say the least. Todd picked up two shirts and we were on our way. Todd had never taken the DFH tour before either, but I know he’ll be back.

After the tour, around 2PM, we took the long way home now that the storm had hit so that we could kind of watch it roll in. We went up Route 9 along the Delaware Bay and stopped at a bunch of fishing spots Todd knew to watch the water and the storm. The best stop was probably where the road was basically washed out by crazy black vegetable matter infused water, pretty neat. Around 6PM we made it back to Newark and I drove home to Wilmington. It was a great music/beer/weather weekend.

6th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

This time it was 14 months in between tastings, but we still held the 6th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting last Saturday the 3oth of August over Labor Day weekend, and everyone could make it.

6th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting

So, this years tasting was later than usual because of the saga of the kegerator. I had eight kegs worth of beer that would normally have been available for the tasting and I was trying to figure out all the logistics of how to do this. In the long run a few of the beers were drunk before the tasting and a few were filled with the Beer Gun. All in all we still had 20 beers (the most yet) to taste so I don’t think anyone was complaining.

This year we did the blind side by side tasting style again, which I think has become the new norm. I also declared right off the bat that I was not aloud to win, even if I got all of them right (which I didn’t), which was last years stipulation. This year we had four vintage brews from 2004-2006 plus the others from late 2007 and early 2008. Some stand-outs that I remember were the Saison, developed beautifully, the ABA, held up great for a great beer, the Vader, awesome, and the Honey Oatmeal Stout, still tasting fresh. A lot of the Ambers, Pale Ales, and Golds got muddled together for me with all of their hop presence being weakened with age.

In the long run the overall break-down went like this: Richard with a big 3 correct, Todd with 5 correct, Dave and Karen with 6, Robert with a huge 10, and Brian (me) with a non-counting 17 out of 20 correct. Richard did well at telling honey from apples from barley, Todd, Dave and Karen all did about the same, Robert did well with 50% correct mostly mixing up the browns with the browns and the pales with the pales, and I got 3 wrong, the Amarillo Amber, the Fool’s Gold, and the Pacific Gem Pale Ale. Robert walked with the big title though and was crowned the Grand Pooh-Bah until next year. He took the trophy base home to get engraved and hold onto, but left the Grand Pooh-Bah glass at my house to drink out of in front of me for the year, thanks sucka!

After the tasting I fired up the grill and got dinner started earlier than last year. This year I kept it simple with burgers, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, and potato chips – simple summer BBQ style. Before and after dinner we played some Cornhole. Todd got full on food and drank too much and began “rubbing feet” a little early and dipped out around 9ish half asleep. Richard hung a little longer, but unfortunately had to work the next day so he couldn’t stay too long. Karen hung and played Cornhole and stuff until about midnight, but then she wised up and went to bed. But Robert, Dave, and I fool-asses stayed up to almost 3AM bull-shittin’, drinkin’, and getting ate up by mosquitoes. It was great.

If you’d like to check out last years post (2007) feel free to check it out, and that then will direct you to all the other Fool Circle Beer Tastings from the past. Plus if you’d like to see the rest of the pictures from this years tasting I have embedded a slide show below, but it can also take you to the full photo album. I also am going to include some of our more colorful quotes. No offense Dave, but even your good handwriting isn’t good.


  • “That’s fuckin’ with the Monkey”
  • “Don’t use your doctor handwriting”
  • “I got one right Fuck-Face!”
  • “Weigh my balls in it . . . That’s a stout”
  • “I wouldn’t even wait until I was starving to eat someone”
  • “Is there a part of the pig that isn’t delicious?”
  • “That smells whoopity”
  • “Hey, that’s our fucking cheese!”
  • “Gotta love the bottle ass”
  • “Fun-of-a-bitch!”
  • “I’m like Hazel and Gretal in the fucking woods”
  • “Richard pig noise”
  • “Take this cheese from me”
  • “10 is funky, like Bootsy Collins funky”
  • “He could have done it with his ass”
  • “Like it’s the first time I have tasted Richard’s vomit”
  • “You didn’t pick a 19 asshole!”
  • “I don’t want the mayonnaise jar back”
  • “We’re back to pig again…”
  • “I would have sex with this beer”
  • “Richard can tell the difference between apples and beer”
  • “Dude, you don’t have a 19 either!”