Burton Baton and the Legend of the Ancient Ales

April 21st, 2010

This is long over due, so I figured I’d toss this up here now and add more later.


1st place winner in the 2010 Dogfish Head Off-Centered Film Festival (w/extended credits made especially for YouTube). Watch it in HD!

The second installment in the box-office blockbuster series of Burton Baton action adventures, “The Legend of the Ancient Ales” is a gripping journey of Post World War II intrigue and an alcohol-infused joyride through the well-aged pages of history. It’s also the second movie we ever made. The first movie we ever made, Burton Baton’s debut film “World Wide Clout,” placed 3rd in the 2009 Film Fest! Check it out on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS_xZ_TIH_E

Note: When we weren’t drinking DFH we were drinking Fool Circle (foolcircle.net). And if you dig the song during the credits, check out Erik Mitchell’s music (facebook.com/mitchellmusic).

Come to the Dark Side…

April 4th, 2010

So yesterday, 04.03.10,  was Iron Hill Wilmington‘s Brewer’s Reserve / Dark Side release day.

Overall it was a real good time. Things were supposed to get started around 12:00 and I wound up getting there about 3:00. I had anticipated that things were going to be quite crowded by that point, but to my surprise it wasn’t very busy at all, and I was totally down with that. I was hoping they were going to do a dark beers only sampler, and they didn’t disappoint. The Sampler consisted of ten different dark beers each approx 5oz for $20. So 50oz of reserve beer for $20, that’s a pretty good deal I think. Plus if you were a Mug Club member they had Dark Side T-shirts they were giving away, which was a nice little perk. Some of the stand out beers for the day were the Dark Side, a crisp dark lager weighing in at about 10% alc, dangerous beer indeed, the Black IPA, a highly hopped dark beer that was more IPA with color than roast, and the Bourbon Russian Imperial Stout, a boozy blend of a big tasty beer and bourbon.

I wound up meeting up with Wooly which was cool, he got a sampler also even though he’s not a big dark beer kind of guy. His favorites were the American Stout, a “lighter” stout compared to some of the options in the sampler with a nice hop presence, and the Oompa Loompa Chocolate Stout, a chocolate/vanilla stout. Honestly, the OLCS was not my favorite of the day. Though after talking to the brewer, Paul, about the beer it seems as if the beer we were being served yesterday may have been the “last keg” of the batch and wasn’t of the same characteristics of the rest of the batch. It reminded me of a milkshake or chocolate milk in appearance, with kind of a chalky after taste, oh well. Per usual, good times at Iron Hill and can’t wait for the next event.

2010 Polar Bear Plunge

March 15th, 2010

So yesterday was the 2010 Lewes Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics Delaware.

Originally the Plunge was suppose to be the first Sunday in February (I think), but it was postponed because of one of the weekends of snow we had this year. The new date was yesterday and we were hoping for great weather. Well, instead of great weather we got a crazy-angry ocean. It was windy, and grey, and wanted to rain, and maybe 48’F. The water was wavy, and grey, and wanted to eat us, and maybe 42’F. Honestly the water was so rough that they had divers in the water standing at knee level advising people not to go in past their knees and to keep their eyes on children and the elderly, wtf!? So of course, I couldn’t just stop at my knees, I had to go all the way in, it is called a PLUNGE! The downside, wet hair for the rest of the day, poo biscuits and hair water …

Over all I’d say it was another successful Plunge, though I think the day before with the DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot kind of overrode the fun, or contributed, or amplified … Regardless, it was a fun eep-eep kind of weekend.

DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales & Whatnot

March 14th, 2010

So this weekend was the Dogfish Head Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot … and Whatnot 🙂

So, this weekend was the DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales & Whatnot, which basically boiled down to “two” new beer releases, a shit-ton of vintage DFH on tap, and good times all around :).

So here’s our adventure in a nut shell … So we left roughly 9AM on Saturday morning to try and run into the 11Am brewery tour with Sam at the DFH Weekend of Compelling Ales & Whatnot. We got down there about quarter to eleven and ran into some DFH familiar faces. I think because of the poor weather there were less people than originally anticipated, so we were able to jump onto the “special” 11AM tour with Sam, bonus.  During the tour, which was 1.5 hours long, one of the longest he has ever given …, we learned all sorts of fun facts about DFH; like about the Wrath of Pecan / Pecant name change, the reason why the lauter tun is so much larger than the rest of the brewing equipment, and where Sam keeps his private stash (sorry, dude, we may need to raid that :)). Anyway, overall it was a great time, we got to try and buy: the Wrath of Pecant, a  new limited edition beer at a very fair price, we tried the Aprihop, Black & Blue, and Burton Baton, yum and yum! And we ALMOST indulged in the 2006 4-Pack, a 2006 beer each of 120 Minute IPA, WWS, Old School Barleywine, and D’Extra (I think), for $60, yikes, and awesome! AND we got to pick up some Liquor de Malt, old school DFH throw back, swee!

After the brewery came the pub. We showed up later than expected around 2:30-3:00-ish for lunch. They seriously had like 20 beers on tap, an ass-ton of vintage, plus some in-house only, plus some specials like Randallized WWS through espresso beans, umm, yeah, yum! PLUS, it was the first of Randall 2.0 that I saw, a double chamber Randall, appearing to be one chamber for “flavoring” (hops, espresso, apricot) and one chamber for chilling, with the potential for the chilling chamber to have a second ingredient, ie I THINK the ApriHop was pushed through hops in the first chamber of the Randall and through apricots the second chamber, make sense?

After way too much (or just enough) lovely DFH beer we decided to part ways. But this of course, wasn’t before some very interesting conversations, which I won’t say too much here, but hopefully I will get to express fully later. Let’s just elude to the following: Short Film Competition, Bocce, Dogfish Dash, Hurt Locker (wtf??), Mastadon, and general wacky-bird-full-on-drater-ism!!

McKenzie’s Results

March 8th, 2010

So yesterday McKenzie’s Brew House announced the winner to their little homebrew competition they recently had.

The competition was pretty quiet from what I can tell, I can’t even remember where I heard about it. But the entry deadline was February 15th and the only real criteria was the beer had to be described as “Belgian”. “Out of style” Belgian Specialty ales were highly encouraged. From the impression I got there were maybe 20 entries, like I said pretty small.

I decided to enter my Chinese 5-Spice Infused Belgian-style Dubbel, AKA Chinese Dubbel, AKA Dubbel Dragon (thanks Erik). I figured the base beer was good enough to hang, the 5-Spice contribution was definitely “out of style”, and the beer itself is actually pretty good. Now that I’ve had a few to drink it reminds me of a cross between a Winter Warmer and a Belgian Dubbel, makes sense to me. The beer also starts off very well balance, yes spicy but not overwhelming, though as the beer warms the spices do come to the forefront.

So yesterday, Sunday 03.07.10, McKenzie’s had a small get together/thank you for the brewers that entered and they were going to announce the winners. It was suppose to start at 4 and started just after. They had all of the house beers, plus the regular seasonals, plus they had their award winning Saison available plus a barrel-fermented (not barrel aged) version of the Saison too, there had a little bit of Heywood-toe up in that beer ;). On top of that they also put out a spread with appetizers; wings, hummus, bbq beef – it was nice.

So, I’ll say I didn’t place now, though they did announce a top three winners, even though they had only mentioned there was going to be a first place. The winners were a Dubbel, a Tripel, and a Belgian Strong Ale which took first. Not that I’m complaining, I’m just pointing out the lack of “out of style”-ness of the winners. The very cool part was the winning brewer and recipe will get to be brewed on McKenzie’s system, nice.

I’ll wrap this up with some notes from the judges, honestly only pretty good stuff to say, but anyway here we go:

  • Judge 1 “Alcohol is well hidden and base beer seems beautifully executed, but it’s hard to tell with all of the spice character.”
  • Judge 2 “Great base beer, very well made. Yeast fruit and spice marry well with carmely vanilla like malt character. For me, the spices add great complexity, but tend to dominate a bit too much.”

Kegging & Brewing

March 2nd, 2010

Sunday was productive enough in my little world of homebrewing; kegged the Pale Ales, did some house-keeping, and brewed an Amber Ale.

So of course the highlight is the Amber Ale. I jokingly called it the Anxious Amber because I am so concerned with running out of beer / not having three beers on tap. What’s the point of having three taps if they’re all not full, right? So this is a pretty straight forward Amber, sort of similar malt bill as my California Red but toned down a notch, and a little wacky-bird hop experiment using only traditional bittering hops throughout, Magnum and Chinook – I bet it’ll be great. The Magnums were some sticky fellows, even after washing my hands there was still some tackiness.

The brew day itself went pretty well, no major hic-cups. Still a little perturbed at the extended mashes and extended cool downs after jumping up to 10 gallon batches, thus extending my day over all. It takes me about 80-90 minutes to heat up all of my sparge and mash-out water, which is about 30 minutes longer than I would care to mash. Though, I must say, the last few batches have crushed the efficiencies, like by more than 0.010 points, so maybe there is at least some benefit to the extended mash. The cooling has and always will drive me nuts. I honestly believe a double cycle through a plate chiller would be the way to go. Maybe even whirlpool back into the kettle while pumping to help the trub collect in the middle, let it settle some, and the crack the valve and syphon clean cool wort … hmmm maybe after I have money to blow on homebrew crap again.

Other than that the day was pretty chilled. Transferred the two Pale Ales to kegs and did a bunch of house-keeping. Cleaned up my general work area, cleaned like five carboys, and like two kegs. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to keep the beer flowing for these knuckleheads. Speaking of beer flowing, the Chinese 5-Spice Belgian Dubbel-style beer (thus has been dubbed the Chinese Dubbel) has definitely been a crown-pleaser and I am totally down with that.

Iron Hill Mug Club

February 27th, 2010

So the other night it was time to re-up on my Iron Hill Mug Club renewal, and I gladly paid the annual fee to take advantage of this great Mug Club.

This is my sixth year as a member of the Iron Hill Mug Club I believe and every year I feel it is a great opportunity for anyone who goes to any of the Iron Hill locations even on a semi-regular basis. Here’s the basics: you pay a $35 annual fee to be a member, with said membership you get to take home a lovely 24oz ceramic mug (each year it’s different), you get any Iron Hill beer poured in your 24oz mug for the same price as a 16oz beer (quick math, every two mugs = 1 free pint), they have Mug Club only promos throughout the year, there’s an easy points system to acquire gift certificates, and all of this can be used at any of their eight locations! Jebus, enough of my jibber-jabber, here’s the straight dope from the horse’s mouth:

Mug Club Loyalty Card Perks

  • Drink from an exclusive 24 ounce signature handmade beer mug
  • Any-time filling of the mug for the same price as the 16 ounce pint
  • Use of your mug during any Iron Hill pint promotion
  • Invitations to exclusive mug club events throughout the year
  • Direct contact via email with the head brewer regarding upcoming releases and events
  • Earn a $25 credit reward for every 300 points accrued
  • 200 free points credited at time of sign-up
  • Take home collectible mug at time of sign-up or renewal
  • Mug design changes each year

Mug Club Loyalty Card Rules

  • Cost of membership is $35 per year
  • Mug club memberships expire yearly and must be renewed each year during the month specified on the back of your membership card
  • Unused points roll over at time of renewal
  • If you choose not to renew, unused points will be forfeited
  • Membership and card are non-transferable
  • Points are accrued for each dollar spent, excluding tax and tip and the purchase of gift cards

Pretty freakin’ dope, I know. So come on out and support you local brew pub(s). Bring a friend, join together, now the two of you have something else in common and something else to do to keep yourselves occupied.

Who’s got my JACKET, brah!?

February 23rd, 2010

“Who’s got my JACKET, brah!?”

Bad picture of said missing jacket above.

I’m not 100% sure on what went down, but let’s just say I left the Bob Carpenter Center into the cold February rain one jacket less then when I entered the building last night. I am assuming someone acquired a new jacket last night, MY jacket. Please keep your eyes open for a black Dickie’s work jacket, XL-Long, with a YARDS Brewing Company logo embroidered on the front left breast pocket and a YARDS swirly-thing logo on the upper back. Honestly, this is the only one of these jackets I have seen locally (Northern Delaware), so if you see someone wearing one of these that hasn’t been before, that’s the guy I’m looking for.

I was at the Bob last night to see Further and got very lucky and scored an extra the day of the show and it turned out to be a first row center stage floor ticket (!!!), talk about awesome. Regardless, I took off my jacket and piled it onto the chairs with several other jackets, like I have several times in the past, not really thinking anything of it. After the show, it was a different story, there was no jacket to be found. I looked for quite a while, kept my eyes open for anyone wearing it, talked to security, and even checked with the Bob’s lost-and-found today, all to no avail.

I know it’s not the end of the world to loose a jacket, I get it, but I’d still like it back, and anyone can contact me anonymously through this website up at the little Contact button at the top if they may have information for the return of the jacket. The jacket was actually a gift/reward from April of 2004. I had entered the HOPS BOPS XXI homebrew competition and had won Best of Show for a California Common, and the jacket was the reward. So, besides being just a jacket, a thing to keep you warm, it had some meaning to me.

I appreciate any help in advance.

War of the Worts XV

February 21st, 2010

The War of the Worts (WOTW) XV homebrew competition was yesterday, Saturday 02.20.10, and it was good times indeed.

With 816 entries in this years WOTW competition this was big! You can check out all the results here – RESULTS. It had been quite a while since I judged at a competition, maybe 6-8 months, but I was hyped to get into it. In the morning I was able to judge the Specialty Beer category with 44 entries and 8 judges, so about 11 entries per pair. The Specialty Beer category is kind of the catch-all for beers that don’t fall into other categories: experimental techniques, historical, style-bending, and total odd-balls. I actually really enjoy judging this category, there are a lot of mediocre beers that wind up here, but there are some that are kind of inspirational that help you formulate your own ideas. I believe the top three that moved on were an American Wild Ale (spontaneously fermented in the LeHigh Valley, haha), a Gruit (beer made without hops but with herbs to supply the bitterness), and an Imperial Pilsner. We probably started around 9:00 and wrapped the first round at a little after 12:00, not too bad.

Iron Hill Brewery then generously supplied us with lunch, two different tossed salads and a combo of sicilian-style pizza and wood-oven pizza. I think the IH crew wasn’t anticipating how much judges like to eat free food, they were having a hard time staying on top of our consumption of mass quantities, but it was all good an no one didn’t have enough to eat. After lunch I was able to judge Wood-Aged and Smoked Beers. Sounds like an interesting category, but I’ll tell you what, it is a palate destroyer, I’m not sure I’d want to judge that one again. This time there were 33 entries I think with 8 judges again, so it should have been about 8 beers per pair, my partner and I judge very similarly and we were able to do 13 beers in the afternoon. The best beer we had was a great IPA aged on cedar. I really wish I knew more of what the cedar was suppose to contribute because I’m afraid it didn’t fair as well as it could have if we had a descriptor to reference to see what cedar contributions were suppose to be like. It tasted like an awesome hoppy shortbread cookie or something, I really dug it. I think the top three were an Oaked Old Ale, a Smoked Porter, and a Smoked something-something. The Smoked Porter was bacon-esque while the Smoked something-something was more camp fire-esque, interesting.

I also had two beers entered in this competition, actually, I had the same beer entered twice, shotgun approach. This was the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Beer, the Stick-Icky DIPA, which has recently been dubbed the FCX, got all that. Anyway, I entered it as an American IPA and as a Imperial IPA. The theory being I think it is better suited as a DIPA, but sometimes a “big beer” will fair better in a smaller category because it stands out against the other, so I was hoping for the extra pop in the AIPA category. Here’s some of what the judges had to say below:

  • American IPA – Judge 1: 33/50, Judge 2: 37/50, Average: 35 – Very Good
  • Judge 1: Almost flat, sticky resiny pungent hops with some caramel and alcohol, tasted like it really would have “popped” if not for lack of carbonation.
  • Judge 2: Low carbonation, very hoppy – nice balance of citrusy, piney, and grapefruit, good example of an Am IPA on the edge of a IIPA.
  • Imperial IPA – Judge 1: 34/50, Judge 2: 32/50, Average: 33 – Very Good
  • Judge 1: Good Imperial IPA, citrus and pine, almost grape like aroma, plum and stone-fruit in flavor, very good attempt at style.
  • Judge 2: May be too estery for style, hop flavor is definitely present, other flavors include watermelon, grape, and lemon from hops and esters.

So there you go, unbiased “professional” opinions of my beer. I really don’t like arguing with what the judges say because, well, I want to respect their opinions as much as I want mine respected, but I also know how the process works and sometimes a good beer can get brushed to the side just because the judge is trying to judge it <- I don’t even know if that made sense, haha. Looks like there were 41 AIPAs in the competition and 25 English/and Imperial IPAs. I think the one thing that bothers me most is the carbonation comments from the AIPA judges. I know the beer was well carbonated, I actually just had a bottle from the same batch the other day, so it makes me think they received a “bad bottle” for some reason, like perhaps the cap wasn’t set correctly when I bottled it and then through time and shipping the carbonation level dropped, dunno, but it tweaks me a little bit. Really would have liked to place, especially in such a big competition, but alas I didn’t, oh well. Good feedback is always good on it’s own.

Pushing Beer

February 14th, 2010

So this evening was spent pushing beer from one container to another.

First, the Twenty Pound Pale Ale had to be moved from the primary fermenter to the secondary and get a dose of dry hops, 1 oz of Centennial to be exact. I also moved the beer from upstairs to downstairs where the warmer temp upstairs is preferable during this time of the year to help with primary fermentation, the cooler temperatures downstairs will benefit the beer clarifying. It weighed in at roughly 5.5% alcohol, and pretty balanced, yet slightly malty as of now, so the dry hops should move it towards very balanced. Most of my pale ales are aggressively hopped, this one, not so much.

Next the Dubbel and the Chinese 5-Spice Dubbel needed to be bottled. I pulled 5 bottles of the Dubbel and 9 bottles of the 5-Spice, kind of weird numbers now that I think of it. I’m going to leave one of these on tap for now, not sure which, but I am leaning toward the traditional Belgian-style Dubbel, and the other I am going to reserve. I was thinking about it earlier, it’s been since like Christmas since I have had 3 beers on tap at once, I need to remedy this. So I’ll reserve one of the Dubbels, then the Pale Ale will be ready to roll in like two weeks, but that’s it. So I guess I’ll need to brew again soon, and often. If things go right I’ll be re-upping on base malt shortly so it’ll be time to get my brew on, anyone have any suggestions, I’m open!