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Archive for May, 2010

BUZZ Off 2010

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Last Saturday May 22, 2010 was the 2010 BUZZ Off homebrew competition held at Iron Hill Brewery’s West Chester location.

For many of the local homebrew competitions I try to judge or enter beers or both. This was one of the examples where I was both able to judge and enter beers. The beers I entered were an American Amber Ale as an American Amber, the FCX as an American IPA, and Vader as an Imperial Stout. I’ll talk about how the beers did and what the judges had to say in second, but for now I’ll talk about my day judging a little bit first.

So a “typical” judging day (is there such a thing?) is suppose to start around 9AM and wrap up around 5PM with the awards to follow. So I drove up to West Chester and got to Iron Hill around 8:45, with judging not starting until almost 9:30. In the morning I was to judge Belgian and French Ales with 36 entries. We were suppose to have six judges, thus three pairs, so 12 beers per pair. That’s a pretty big flight, but not outrageous. Two of the six judges didn’t show … So now we’re at 18 beers per pair, much bigger. In the category fell Witbiers, Saisons, Biere de Gardes, and Belgian Specialty Beers. The Belgian Specialty Beers were over half of the entries, ugh. Basically a Belgian Specialty Beer can REALLY be anything, as long as the brewer feels it has merit to be there. In my opinion, and for what I can remember, the Wits were OK, the Saisons were good, the Biere de Gardes were meh, and the Belgian Specialties were all over the place with the clear winners/favorites being some of the nicer Brett infused beers. I believe 2 out of 3 of the winners were Brett Beers. I must note though, the table next to us had Larry Horowitz the head brewer from that Iron Hill location, and his partner and himself  hopped over and did about 6 beers with us lightening our load, that was cool.

Our table ran late since we had so many beers, so lunch was a little light and a little fast, buffet style with some pizza, pasta, and salad. Not bad, but when we used to be able to get sandwiches that was cooler, but hey lunch is lunch. In the afternoon I judged Wood-Aged and Smoked beer, oh no, the palate destroyer … I was with four people for this one with I believe 20 entries, so 10 per pair. I was paired up with this guy Chris I hadn’t met before, but after we had talked for a while I realized that we had very similar senses of humor and before I knew it we had everyone within earshot baggin up at out shenanigans. The wood and smoked beers were all over the place; from tasting like cookies, to table leg, to vanilla, to camp fire, to bacon … it’s a tough category. And there was at least two beers that basically tasted like bourbon. In the end the afternoon went quicker than the morning, though neither category was easy. After judging I tried to hang for a bit to see how long things were going to go and to grab my score sheets, but it was already about 5PM and they still needed to do the Best of Show round which easily takes an hour. So I tried to get my sheets, but they weren’t ready so I dipped.

But, my score sheets came in the mail yesterday so now I can see how I did, and here’s the breakdown for you too:

  • Amber Ale – American Amber – 31/33 = 32 – Very Good – Judge #1: “Very good beer, but may be oxidized a bit.” Judge #2: “Pretty nice drinking beer. Malty sweetness is prominent, but tempered by a very long bitterness of citrus and resin.”
  • FCX – American IPA – 25/20 = 22.5 – Good – Judge #1: “This is a hop bomb! The high bitterness isn’t supported by the malt, try cutting back on bittering hops.” Judge #2: “Good color, lots of hop flavor and bitterness, though you may want to decrease bitterness.”
  • Vader – Imperial Stout – 43/44 = 43.5 – Excellent- 2nd Place for Stouts Category (30 entries) – Judge #1: “If this was my beer I would horde it to myself without sacrificing bottles to competitions – thanks for sharing this excellent beer.” Judge #2: “Wow!! Awesome beer. Well aged, this tastes like it was conditioned for well over a year. Well done!”

So basic break down: cool, weak, and pretty rad :). The Amber’s scores are kind of what I expected, it’s a decent beer just not a shining example. It’s actually one of my favorite types of beer, slightly sweet with Crystal Malt and still nice and hoppy. The FCX was beat up points-wise a little bit, but the judges comments weren’t very off. So it makes me wonder if it was just a low scoring pair of judges. And finally, Vader, was well recognized for what it was, the judges really liked it which made me happy. Those are actually the last 2 bottles I am going to sacrifice, since I am down to only 4 bottles I think. I suppose it could have been worth the sacrifice. Guess it’s time to brew another Imperial Stout soon!

Capper Style

Monday, May 24th, 2010

As in a little re-cappage for everyone. I know it probably appears I’m asleep at the wheel here, but truth be told, I just haven’t found the time to update the site. SO, here’s five small updates of things I’ve been into. Hope you enjoy.

On April 24th Robert and I ran in the Trail Dawgs Half Marathon. This was our fifth (I think) year participating. This also happened to be my personal best time for the half marathon, finishing up at 2H 12M 36S. I know it’s not fast compared to some other people, but it was fast for me for 13.1 miles. If you look at the picture you can see my number for the race, 420. Ha, it felt like a joke being the guy with dreadlocks wearing the 420 number, haha. After the race we tried a 5 year old Sly Fox Odyssey and a Stone Black IPA (forget the name). Then we made a pit stop at Twin Lakes Brewery to see what was new there. Overall it was a good little morning.

The day after the Trail Dawgs run on April 25th was the results for the DUH Homebrew Competition. DUH is Delmarva United Homebrewers, and it was only open to homebrewers in the Delmarva area. The cool thing about this competition was the grand prize was Dogfish Head Brewery would brew your beer on the brew pub system, which is an 8 barrel capacity. So the only real criteria was to enter something creative that DFH didn’t already make something similar to it. I entered the Belgian Dubbel infused with Chinese Five Spice, or Dubbel Dragon as Erik started to call it. It didn’t win, but we had a great time sampling all the other homebrews available at Dogfish Head’s upstairs room. I think something with ginger and lemongrass actually won.

The following weekend saw more stoopidity, because on May 2nd was the Sly Fox Goat Races. These are always a ridiculously good time. This year was Sly Fox’s first year at the new location, like seriously open less then a week at this point. The people really showed up in numbers with goats, and kids, and dogs, and beers just about everywhere. This year also saw a first in a back-to-back repeat winner, Dax. So once again we had the Dax Maibock poor at the end of the festivities, and it was delicious. In the bad picture to the left you can see the little goat I wanted to win, her name was Peggy, and she had three legs. Peggy made me smile and I wanted her to win, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Another good thing happened later that week, on May 6th I received my first new shipment of ingredients in quite some time. I had already arranged things so that I had around 150 lbs of base malt, and still lots of extra hops from the order that was placed for the 1oth Anniversary Batch, but now I needed more specialty ingredients so that I could make a more diverse line up of beers. So I ordered enough for seven batches plus, and they are: an American Wheat, an American Brown, a Saison, two different Pale Ales, and two different IPAs. All of these will be 10 gallon batches, and realistically all of these should be brewed by the end of the summer. There should be enough “extra” specialty malts to squeeze out one or two hodge-podge beers too afterward, though I will probably need more base malt by then.

And finally on May 15th I brewed my first batch of been since the beginning of March, I think. I started with the American Wheat, all Perle hops, sort of based off of my Cluster Wheat recipe from last year. For this beer I believe I am going to keep 5 gallons traditional and then add fruit to the other 5 gallons. I was trying to think of something different but still appealing to try and then it hit me one morning at work. A Grilled Pineapple Wheat Beer. I know, it sounds funky, but it also sounds summery, and I think it may just have a chance. I think the grilling will add a cool caramel flavor and will mellow out the pineapple bite a bit. The other thought was similar, Toasted Coconut Wheat Beer, but unfortunately I’m not a huge coconut fan and 5 gallons of that could be a little much for me.

So I promise I’ll keep posting if you promise you’ll keep reading, that goes for you all of you: Dave, John, Scott, Erik and Robert 😉

DFH Off-Centered Film Fest 2010, pt2

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

So, I’ll try to pick up where I left off and make this as coherent as possible.

You can see all the pictures from the trip here, just CLICK

We woke up late on Saturday, probably close to noon. We were all a little out of it, but no one was broken. First thing we had to do was contact the car rental company and make sure everything was in order, of course we weren’t able to get a hold of anyone so our consciouses were not at ease. We decided that going into Austin for the day and walking around would be a good idea. I can’t remember the name of the street now, but it was a definitive thoroughfare sort of like Main Street in Newark or Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth. Lots of food, lots of nitchy stores, lots of people watching, you know, lots of everything, but Austin-ized. As we were be-bopping around in one of the stores Erik realized he had lost a credit card. So now we had that to worry about too. We were hoping he left it at the Draft House or the Draught House, but we could not get a hold of anyone at either. We figured we’d score some lunch, call again, and if nothing else pay each a visit before a full on freak out occurred. Lunch was kind of a long decision, no one had an opinion on what they wanted only what they didn’t want. We settled on pizza slices which I think was a good choice, and it was good pizza too. After lunch we tried calling the two bars again in hopes of scoring the credit card, and we did! Erik accidentally left it at the Draught House the night before, so off we went to rescue the credit card and see how much of tab was put on it. When we got there Erik ran in, picked up his card, paid the tab, and ran back out. We were all waiting for some sort of end-of-the-night-tab-that-wasn’t-ours to be charged on there, but it was only $4.25, haha. I asked if he left a good tip, and I believe he responded that he didn’t leave any because he was pissed they didn’t look for him at the end of night :).

We then left the Draught House and went back to the hotel to chill out for a couple hours and clean up before the movie premier. On the way to the theater we stopped and re-upped on non-alcoholic beverages, specifically Gatorade, we needed to make sure we were going to have an OK flight home, right? When we got to the theater Erik was interviewed by the local Austin newspaper (check that … now that I think about it I believe that was Friday, but regardless, it happened) about the film fest and our movie. The picture above is the four of us with Sam from DFH which was in the paper. Of course we couldn’t find a copy of it before we left, but here’s a LINK to the article if you care to read it. The movie premier was of course a ton of fun. Sam and DFH filmed a short film of their own for the fest, plus they showed like the top ten honorable mention films which I thought some of them were pretty good, and then they showed third, second, and first. After the honorable mentions and before they showed the top three, they called one person up by name from each group to come up on stage and talk about the film. Erik went up and said a little bit, but as he said he didn’t want to say too much to ruin the film or anything. I liked all of the top three, though third was my favorite of the other two. Ours got a pretty good crowd reaction too, which was cool. We filmed the whole movie premier, so it should be interesting to watch that version of our film and see what a bunch of Austin beer-geek strangers thought were the “good parts” versus which parts didn’t get the pop we thought they might. Below are You Tube links to the DFH movie, third, second, and third.

After the premier we wound up hanging at the theater, which has a bar in the lobby, I love this place. We probably stayed at the theater drinking different DFH beers until about midnight, and then it was time to go, we had one more stop to make. From the theater we went to Pluckers, which is a local TX wing bar, think ala Hooters but without the scantaly clad waitresses. We wanted to go back to Pluckers more because we be-friended a bartender, Deuce, last year and wanted to see if he was still working there, which he was not. Though he was no longer there his protege was. He was a goofy young kid who had been there about a year and was trained by Deuce. He was OK, but didn’t hold our attention enough to stay longer then a couple of local beers. When we got back to the hotel we were all giddy for some reason. We got the giggles real bad on the car ride home and it never really stopped. So from like 2AM to 4AM we were loud as shit in our room, bumpin music, drinkin beers, throwing shit around, it was a hot mess. We started to fall out around 4AM with Roby and I falling out first, and Mitchell and Wooly still rolling. Supposedly they went outside around that time and the second and third place teams were actually leaving the hotel to catch their flight, talk about different time frames. Eventually they must have gone to bed too :).

Sunday morning seemed to come out of the blue. We started waking up around 10ish and had to be checked out by 12 and be at the Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s BBQ at 1PM. While we were packing up our stuff we wanted to secure our film fest posters. Last year we ran to a FedEx/Kinko’s within walking distance and bought a 1″ diameter mailing tube for the posters. It was an OK idea, though the tube was a little tight and a little long, but it kept them safe. So, this year I brought down a 3″ diameter poster tube cut to fit the posters from last year. Guess what? They changed the poster size and the tube was too short. In all honesty in retrospect it probably would have worked OK with only about two inches of poster hanging out, but instead we tried to source a new poster tube. Of course we spent way too long looking for a tube we never found, similar to how I’ve already typed way too much about something no one even cares about. After the poster tube search we were off to Stubb’s BBQ to enjoy one last bangin’ Austin meal and listen to some blues-gospel music. We did this brunch last year and knew we wanted to come back. Last year they had us tucked in some corner were we couldn’t see the stage, this year we made reservations plenty of time in advance and requested a seat downstairs so we could watch the performance. After we got situated we headed up to the buffet line, which includes authentic BBQ including brisket, chicken, sausage, and smoked bacon, plus biscuits and gravy, pecan pie, eggs three ways, breakfast burritos, fruit … all sorts of stuff. I tried not to eat until it hurt, but it was the only meal I had that day, so I’m sure I had plenty.

We really had nothing left to do at this point, plus were were all burning out on booze and food, and wanted to see what’s the haps on the craps for the rental car. So we went to the airport about three hours before our flight. When we filled up the rental car on gas it cost only $20 for four days of driving around TX, I guess that Prius does get good gas mileage. We then went to Alamo to turn in the car. The guy actually made it seem like it was no big deal since we had the renters insurance, so hopefully we have heard the end of that and won’t get hit with some crazy bill months after the fact. In the airport it was pretty boring with all of us pretty much just staring at each other trying not to fall asleep. We had one layover in Dallas but didn’t even need to get off the plane, so that’s a cool layover, and the Temple Female Gymnastics team boarded and were sitting near us, so that was entertaining too. We arrived back in Philly about 12:30AM-ish and I was home by about 1AM. Morning came fast again and work went slow on Monday, but it was all totally worth it, AND I hope to have the opportunity to do it all again in 2011 :).

I think that pretty much wraps the trip up in a nutshell. If anyone has any direct questions that I didn’t address feel free to ask and I’ll give you my two cents. Otherwise, go check out those pictures, the newspaper article, and short films from the trip! (now)

DFH Off-Centered Film Fest 2010, pt1

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Better late then never I suppose … but Austin 2010 was AWESOME!

You can see all the pictures from the trip here, just CLICK

This may be a little briefer than it could be, but we’ll see… So this years Dogfish Head Off-Centered Film Fest was April 16/17, 2010. We had gone last year because of our award winning movie World Wide Clout which came in third place AND we got to back again this year because of our new award winning movie Burton Baton and the Legend of the Ancient Ales which came in first place – unbelievable! So this year Erik (Klaus Von Hommelbier), Robert (Burton Baton), Wooly (Johnny Squall), and myself (Sah’Tea) all went down from Thursday to Sunday to get our Austin rock star on! To say the least we had a blast.

So Thursday we had a reasonably timed flight, we left Philly around 9:00AM and arrived in Austin around 3PM-ish. DFH had us booked at a pretty nice hotel for Fri and Sat but on Thurs we decided to book at a different hotel down the street to save a few bucks, it was pretty ghetto. Mental note: next time front the extra couple bucks for the nicer digs. When we got to the hotel we all kind of fell out without saying anything to each other, before I knew it we were all basically asleep for a little over an hour. When we came to we wanted to go out and buy supplies for the room, like beer, water, snacks, and then head out for the night. So we went to our favorite spot the H.E.B. (which we call the heeb) and stocked up, got some decent shit, and some weird shit, like pickle juice, HEB-buddy grape body wash, and some snack that made Roby’s fingers all red that looked like death wiped off on a white hotel towel – I can’t remember what that shit was! After the HEB we wanted food and beer. Erik had pulled up some breweries/brewpubs on his phone and we went on the hunt. After our second one came up permanently closed we needed to punt. Since we were all tired and hungry we decided to go with a reliable choice, the Gingerman. The Gingerman has like 90 taps and probably almost as many bottled beers too. We all got something to munch on and tried a few local TX beers, good times. We weren’t out too late, probably made it back to the room like 1AM-ish and sat up bull shitting and drinking Full Sail Session Lagers out of stubby bottles until about 3AM or so.

Friday we woke up around 10AM-ish to the dilemma of Erik’s iPhone breaking. It sounds kind of lame, but honestly we relied on that thing as our calendar, our GPS, our contacts, and general interwebs connection to find shit in Austin. So we looked up the nearest Apple store which was at a mall like 30 minutes away, actually, everything seemed to be like 30 minutes away from everything else, go figure. Anyway, we got to the mall and found the Apple store and had to wait. Robert, Wooly, and I basically cruised the mall for like two hours. It was actually a half way decent mall, but when you’re just killing time two hours at a mall is too long. Fortunately Erik was able to get his phone “fixed”. Actually, it was three weeks out of warranty and the phone died, but the little Apple dude was cool and basically kicked down a refurbed one for free. So though the phone was wiped of all personal stuff (suckage) we did have access to the world again. After the mall we went for some lunch at a BBQ brewpub, Uncle Billy’s,  that Wooly’s cousin had recommended. BBQ + brewpub together, genius idea. The place was pretty cool, roll-up doors all the way around, so when they’re up (which they were) you kind of feel like you’re sitting outside. The house Pale Ale was pretty good, though their seasonal hop handle was empty, which I was a little disappointed about. The BBQ wasn’t bad either, I had brisket, coleslaw, and fries, though their sauce was a little weird for me, kind of a cross between a tomato based BBQ sauce and a vinegar based. When we were getting ready to leave we stuck our heads into the brewery door to see if the brewer was around. He was, and was brewing, but still made time to chat us up a little bit. He was a really nice guy, though I can’t remember his name, and totally gave us some recommendations of places to check out while we were in Austin, nice. After lunch we went to our other hotel, which was much nicer, thanks DFH. We kind of just lazed around the hotel from like 3-6PM, drank some beers, ate some snacks, listened to some tunes, and watched TV on mute while overdubbing our own commentary (So many rooms …) – you know dumb boy stuff.

Around 6PM-ish we got our asses in gear and headed over to the Alamo Draft House to get ready for the DFH beer pairing/tasting. This year they decided to kick it up a notch from last year, so that was awesome. It was 15 beers paired with 15 small bites, all while this great local jazz band, Torch, played while old school black and white cartoons silently played over top on the big screen – really neat. We ran into a bunch of people from Austin from last year too, it was really cool, it kind of felt like we all picked up right where we left off, like it was the next weekend not a year later. Here’s a list of what we had, both appropriate for foodies and beer geeks alike, and since I’m into both, well, score!

  • Aprihop w/ Chicken, corn, and black bean fried mini burrito
  • Raison D’Etre w/ Medjool Date stuffed with gorgonzola, Marcona almond and wrapped in bacon
  • Black & Blue w/ Crab wonton with blueberry sauce
  • 60 Minute IPA w/ Full Quiver farms white cheddar
  • Burton Baton w/ Prosciutto, melon, and lime
  • 120 Minute IPA w/ Blue cheese soufflé puff
  • Chateau Jiahu w/ Pulled pork slider, with house pickled red onions, and spicy mustard
  • Pangaea w/ BBQ Bison slider with cheddar
  • Punkin Ale w/ Chorizo/ beef slider with avocado mayo, lettuce, and tomato
  • Indian Brown Ale w/ House made smoked duck sausage
  • Palo Santo Marron w/ Chorizo, jack, and cojita quesadilla with roasted tomato salsa
  • Immort w/ Truffled parmesan cheese fries
  • Midas Touch w/ Midas Baklava
  • Raison D’ Extra (no pairing)
  • Fort w/ Fort Sherbert

They served the pairings in 5 courses, three at a time. In between each course Sam, owner of DFH, and Paul, chef at Alamo, would get up and talk about their beers and food respectively and then discuss why they thought they would make a good pairing. It was actually interesting and you could tell they really cared about what they were saying. I think my favorite pairings were the Raison D’Etre with the stuffed date (called the “Date Rape” by the chef), the Burton Baton with the prosciutto, and the Immort with the fries. All of them were delicious, I don’t think there was one stinker in the bunch. Wooly wasn’t eating and drinking all of his pairings, so we all got to have a little bit extra of certain ones too, so that was nice. After the tasting we were still ready to go, so we went to the Draught House in the city. We really had no idea where we were going, so thank goodness for the iPhone. We did happen to make one wrong turn, so we had to make a U-turn in a parking lot. The problem with driving in the dark, in an unfamiliar town, and being in a hurry is that sometimes you don’t see things, like the pole we backed into making the U-turn. Yup, jacked up the rental car, a 2010 Prius. It wasn’t horrible, but I bet the bumper and the rear quarter-panel will need to be replaced. We did purchase the renters insurance, so fingers crossed there won’t be any repercussions because of it. At the Draught House we ran into this cat Pliny who we met last year, super chill dude. The funniest part is he is originally from Delaware but now lives in Austin, WTF! So we pretty much saddled up with Pliny and his crew and hung until like 2AM when the bar closed and they kicked us out and then we all hung out front for like another hour. We got back to the hotel like 3:30AM-ish, grabbed another beer, and hit the hay.

Overall Thursday and Friday flew by, but were great times. The DFH tasting that night was superb. And we still had two more days of kickin it in Austin to go! Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll have part two with Saturday and Sunday up soon. Saturday was the actual film fest and Sunday was gospel brunch and the flight home. Until then …