Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Monster Load of Crap

Hansen Beverage company, owners of the trademarked Monster energy drink, are currently threatening a very one-sided war of attrition against Vermont-based Rock Art Brewery. Rock Art makes a beer called The Vermonster, which Hansen claims is an infringement upon their trademark of the Monster name. It's ridiculous. No person is going to mistake a can of Monster for a bottle of The Vermonster. Yet, Hansen claims consumers could mistake the two. Or, is it because Hansen wants to enter the alcoholic beverage industry? Could be both. Different sources say different things. Check out Rock Art's website, and check other blogs (I follow Starting A Brewery and A Good Beer Blog) to see what you can find.

It seems to me that Hansen doesn't really have a case. They are two easily distinguishable products. Also, there are dozens of beers with the word monster in their name, most, if not all, of which Hansen has not contacted. The problem arises, however, when you take into account Hansen's ability to throw loads of money at court hearings and lawyers. It's doubtful that Rock Art has the money to fight more than one or two court cases. Who does? But Hansen can keep suing if they choose, and financially run Rock Art into the ground, unless they give in.

No worries as of yet, Hansen sent a "cease and desist" letter to the brewery. The brewery's response is on their website, and as far as I know Hansen has not taken any other action. Shit like this show's a huge problem with our legal system: frivolous lawsuits. I don't like your face, so I'm suing. If Hansen does potentially want to enter the alcoholic beverage market, would it really be wise to retain the Monster name? Monster Long Island Iced Tea, anyone? Much less distinguishable from an energy drink since they would both likely come in cans. Let's hope they don't try to enter the beer market. Thinking of the possible monsters (ha!) they could create makes me shudder.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Who cares about the damn Russians, anyway?

Sampled the RIS a few days ago. Figgy, oaky, with a very slight chocolate aftertaste. Pretty much what I was going for, but a little strong on the oak, and this was the blended bottle, mind you. I'm not sure what'll happen when I open the barrel-only bottle. For those who don't know, I made three separate bottle groups. No-oak, all-oak, and some no-oak/all-oak blend. Very roughly blended on a one-to-one ratio. Honestly, not something I would drink more than two of in a night. It's also around 8% ABW, so it's not like I could drink much more anyway. I've been a bit of a lightweight recently.

Had a barrel scare when I opened up the barrel recently. Smelled strongly of sulfur(from the storage solution), but had a weird white, moldy-looking film on top. Rinsed multiple times, and scrubbed as best I could. Currently, it's soaking with a star san solution. Will run a test batch to see if there are any spoilage type flavors in there.

Finally, planning a winter ale and some ciders. Winter ale will be chocolaty and spicy, from the spices (duh). Ciders will be dry and sweet. One gallon with cider yeast, another gallon with ale yeast. I'm thinking of lightly spicing them with cloves and cinnamon. Had a two year old cider I made the other night, the cinnamon and cloves really mellow out over time and provide a very pleasant aroma. Yay me! I made something good!

Cheers brothers, and happy drinking!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And for those who care...

Mainly myself, I think. I haven't brewed in more than a month. My IPA is still on tap. It went on hiatus until I got my new tap handle, which works beautifully. Gonna be a hop harvest ale next. Low yield from the yard this year, though, so I'll use them as an accent towards the end.

Bottled the RIS, now just gotta wait a few months for full maturity. Only broke one bottle and spilled two in the process! Not bad, huh? I was pissed.

Making wine now. Calm down. I'll never love anything more than beer. I have to do this for school. BS in wine, brewing school after that. Why? Two birds with one very large, drawn-out stone. Grapes were free, too. Used a two-by-four to crush the grapes. Gonna call him "Ol' Mashy".

Cheers, brothers, Le'Chaim!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dear God, calm down already!

Is it me, or does the beer world seem situated to forever be at war? I admit, I am part of the problem, but, it seems to me that everybody has a negative opinion of some other countries beer styles. I know we all have our preferences, but damn! Calm down! Someone else's favorite style may not match up with your own. Deal with it. Don't insult them. Don't go on about how their beer sucks, attributing it to their country. Honestly, every country has their divisions, and they should be accepted. I don't like particular beers, but that doesn't mean those beers suck. I prefer my beers "a little colder than they should be served", but who gives a damn? There is no one right way to brew, and no one right way to do much else. If you think I'm wrong, you can burn in hell.

I realize I may be a hypocrite (sometimes I complain about certain countrie's beer styles), but the things we hate in others are the things we hate in ourselves.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A true interest?

"Dude, I wanna drink some of your beer!"

"You mean, like, beer I bought or beer I made?"

"Haha, beer you made."

"Do you like stouts?"

"Yeah, I had Guinness Extra Stout the other day. It was awesome."

"Well, mine's like ten times better than that. I normally don't say that. And stupid question anyways, cause it's not a stout. It's a porter. A coffee porter. You'll like it"

Finally, I think someone may have more than a feigning interest in my beer. Feigning interest is exactly what friends are for. Although he's a friend, he may be genuinely interested. I wasn't even talking about beer when he brought it up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Updates, updates...

RIS is doing well in the barrel, gonna leave it for another month or so.

IPA is being dry hopped with Columbus and Cascade(no Amarillo at the store).

Thinking about ditching the cooler system and investing in a stainless, heatable mash tun. Expensive, but it allows for multi step mashes, which could mean increased efficiency.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Something for Adeptus


And for anyone else who might be interested. It took me a while, but my lazy ass finally got a picture of the barrel. On it's right you'll see a small starter (today is brewday), and behind that the remainder of the RIS, in a jug and some bottles even further back.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Busy busy busy, not really

But kinda busy. Transferred the RIS to the barrel around a week ago, been tasting it as I go along. Convenient little thing, that pour spout. The majority of what I can say is "woody". Is it a good thing? I think so. It's what a pretentious person would call "sophisticated", which really just means you have to take time and effort to appreciate it. After the initial oak shock, normal-ish flavors resume. My worry is that is will get too woody, over-oaked, and undrinkable. Unless you're the kind of person who enjoys drinking a whole pint of whiskey. So far, no problems, but I like to worry.

Moving on, Sunday is IPA day. Stupid me, I forgot to buy an IPA at the store today. I like to drink something when brewing, and an IPA sounded perfect; out with the old, in with the new sort of thing. Oh well, there's some interesting looking pales in the build-you-own six pack, so I'm content. In case anyone's interested, here's the recipe:

10 lbs Pale 2-row
.5 lb Caramel 20
.5 lb Vienna (store was out of munich)

1.25 oz Columbus @ 60 min
1.25 oz Centennial @ 15 min
2.00 oz Amarillo @ 5 min

WLP-001 California Ale Yeast

Not sure about the dry hopping yet. More to come. I'm going for something floral and citrusy in the nose, to balance out that "I'm an IPA brewer and I want to punch you in the face with bitterness" feel of many out there. Gotta clean out the keg too, that thing's been sitting for like two months with nothing but sediment in it.

Cheers, brothers, and happy beering!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I've got wood!

It finally arrived. The barrel. Now it's happily soaking in hot water in the shade on the side of my house. He was thirsty, let me tell you. I never realized until now just how much oak affects the flavor of whiskey. As I was filling the barrel, I questioned whether it was really new or not. Maybe it had been used for whiskey? But no, it was new. It's not that it smelled like whiskey; it's whiskey that smells like the barrel.

Three days from now, the RIS is going in, and there's no turning back from that point.

Wish me luck, brothers, and happy beering.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

IPA overload, and rain.

It dumped rain the whole day of the Boonville Beerfest, but that didn't stop us. As long as you have a jacket, which I did, it was pretty much the same as drinking in the sunshine.

Over 40 brewers. Some dude said 70. I think he's a liar. He also said Pliny the Elder has some ingredients that make beer ferment a second time in your stomach, evoking a halucinogenic-seeming drunk fest that could last, if proper amounts were consumed, for days. Liar, and probably a thief. I digress. Over 40 brewers, and everbody and their damn mother had an IPA. I like IPA's, but this was ridiculous. If I was on a quest to discover which variety of hops I like best in an IPA, regardless of malt, I would have been in the right place. However, as always, there were a few saving graces (not that very many were bad). My favorites:

Orange Blossom IPA(forgot the brewery)-I know I might have gotten sick of them, but this one was worth buying. Made with real orange blossoms, it literally smelled like a very floral IPA with, you guessed it, orange blossoms! I happen to love oranges, and orange blossoms. Poured, surprisingly, from a can, it was well balanced, probably low on the IBU range for IPA's.

Vanilla Wheat and Chocolate Porter(or stout?)- A delicious blend, weighted more towards the vanilla wheat. Had to have been real vanilla, nothing artificial about it. Also probably the only wheat beer I've come across that I would willingly buy.

Despite the rain, and the annoyingly overabundant IPA's, it was a great festival. Camping in the rain is kinda fun. I could show you pictures, but I won't. I don't even have a picture of the plastered guy on drugs who fell down the embankment into the creek. Classic.

Cheers, brothers, and happy everything.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tomorrow!

That's the day I leave for Anderson Valley's festival. I've been looking forward to this since, well, the minute I left last year's festival. Super stoked, and to think I almost missed it because I got pharyngitis. Not swine flu. I swear. But drugs and sleep have given me a near full recovery; tomorrow I should be more than ready.

I haven't had any beer since Saturday night. Damn. That's a recent record for me. I might just wait until Saturday, for the fest. Gotta start drinking again on a good note, right?

Homebrewing side note: Don't let a dirty carboy sit for two or three weeks in your bathtub. It wasn't all that hard to clean up, but it sure did stink somethin fierce.

Last thing. My barrel got delayed. Wrong shipping address. How did they not catch it? They tried to send it to a postal code that doesn't exist in the particular state they tried to send it to!

Cheers, brothers, and happy brewing!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Less than a month, now.

In less than a month, I get to be one of the luckiest people around. I'm going to Anderson Valley Brewing Company's beer fest, and it's gonna be amazing. Gonna try to brew a quick batch before we go, something pale or maybe a little orangy/amber colored, depending on how much crystal malt I have left.

Highlights from last year include: chili beer, captain and vanille (a porter mixed with a vanilla cream ale, or something to that effect), some really great IPA's (including Pliny the Elder), and more. This year's gonna be even better. Contemplating picking up a whole case of Pliny from RRBC, if they'll let me.

Overall, I'd say I'm hella excited. Yeah, I said hella, don't judge me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I just heard thunder clap

Seriously, it was so close that it actually "clapped". Now I know where the term "thunder clap" came from. So close it could have struck me. But I'm too pretty for that.

Gonna test the RIS tomorrow, see where the gravity stands. I lost almost a half gallon of liquid during primary fermentation because the damn thing overflowed. Good, healthy yeast starter combined with more yeast nutrient in the boil and almost six gallons of wort (as opposed to my usual 4.5 or 5) spelled disaster for the cleanliness aspect of my pantry. And I got sprayed in the face when I removed the airlock. That was actually kind of funny.

Here's the plan: If the beer is underattenuated, I'm gonna steal some yeast from the trub, make a "restarter", and see what few extra gravity points I can whittle away from it. Worked well for the coffee porter I did a while back, why not for the RIS?

Ordering my barrel today, too. I'm excited. Two and a half gallons of oak-aged, delicious (hopefully) Russian Imperial Stout await. In about three or four months, that is. The rest will be bottled, with some of those bottles more than likely being used to top up the barrel.

This stuff is getting heavy, and it's only the beginning. And I'm loving every minute of it.

Cheers, brothers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It Is Done!

Well, not really. Done being brewed, at least. The RIS. All went well, I bumped up my efficiency from 67% on my last batch to 73%. Stoked? You bet. Also, I discovered brewing nap time. I was tired, so I sat down next to the boiling pot, arguably not the best place, and dozed for a few seconds. Now I know as a professional brewer(someday...) I'll be able to take naps all over the place. Sweet.

Also, I was thinking about a real name for the beer. I consider it more of an American interpretation of a Russian Imperial Stout, so why not something American, something imperial, or royal? Rockefeller Imperial Stout, anybody? They are said to be "American royalty", or at least the closest thing we had. Let me know what you think.

And, on a completely unrelated side note, Anderson Valley's 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA is amazing. Well balanced, not overwhelmingly bitter in the taste, and a great citrusy hop aroma.

Cheers, brothers, and cheers to AVBC.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ready, set, Barrel!

That's right, I'm gonna buy a barrel. American white oak, brand spankin new. And guess what's gonna go in it? A Russian Imperial Stout. Yep. Gonna brew the hell out of some RIS this weekend, and when it's mostly done, I'm gonna throw a few gallons in the barrel. Haven't decided whether I should get the 2.5 gallon or 3 gallon. Big dilemma, I know. I pieced the recipe together from a few different sources, and modified a bit to fit my current inventory. Here it is:

15 lbs Pale 2-row
1 lb C60
1 lb Roasted Barley
.75 lb Black Patent
.75 lb Chocolate Malt

1 oz Warrior @ 90 min
.25 oz Perle @ 60 min
.75 oz Perle @ 20 min
1 oz Glacier @ 10 min

WLP-004 Irish Ale Yeast

Scheduled single temp infusion mash for 1 hour @ 154 F.
Second, smaller, single temp infusion, 15 min @ 170 F.

90 min boil

<1000 mL starter

Any homebrewers have questions, comments, or anyone else qualified to comment, feel free.

Cheers, brothers!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Delivery!

Delivered the coffee porter to my manager the other night. He was stoked. Later on that night, when he handed me the money, I couldn't help but feel just a bit like a real brewer. Before you jump to any conclusions, he only paid for the ingredients, so it's legal...I think. I've got to be legit about this thing, and from what I've heard it's okay to brew for people as long as you don't turn a profit. Long story short, I gave him a prorated price since I kept a few bottles to see how it ages.

Also thinking about trying to get a contract brewing license, or just a small brewery license. Mostly just for kicks, but also so I could theoretically brew for someone and legally charge a profit. Anyone out there well versed in California and US brewing regulations? Wonder if I could pass the health inspection...

Cheers brothers, and happy brewing!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just a quick note

Many recent tastings of my California UNcommon have been, well, semi-lackluster. Yesterday I discovered that I left the kegerator open all night. Great. CO2, welcome to your new home, i.e. the head space in the keg, not in the beer where you once resided. So today, I jumped up the pressure for a few little while, and now I'm gonna let it sit until later tonight, when I'll taste it again. The only actual problem so far is that it pours with a nice, creamy head, but no residual carbonation. It's been like drinking cold, flat beer.

On a more taste related note, here's what I scribbled down earlier:
  • crisp, but not dry
  • definite hop bitterness right away, followed by a light caramel, almost honey sweetness
  • slightly grassy hop aroma and taste in the finish
  • could be a little drier or, for the style, i think a little less hoppy
  • definite hint of "lager" but a highly bearable amount.
  • deep golden, but not amber colored, and very clear
  • white, creamy, head that last
Overall, I'm actually pretty satisfied. Is it good? I'd say so. Is it a good session beer (something I've been looking for recently)? Not so much. If I remember correctly, it's clocking in at or around 6% abw.

Cheers, brothers, and happy brewing, drinking, or whatever it is you do for fun.

P.S. I'll be brewing a maibock next, I think. Still working on the recipe though.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Different.

As I sat drinking a pint of Fuller's ESB last night, I couldn't help but notice the difference between it and what I might consider an American version of the same. What came to mind was Anderson Valley's ESB (although it stands for extra special beer, if I remember correctly). But it's not just ESB, it happens with everything else too. There's just a different taste. This doesn't surprise me at all, it just makes me curious. Why are they different? Is it the malt? Is it the hops? The yeast? What is it that makes beers with similar names and classifications such different animals?

If anyone could shed light on this, it would be amazing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Poo!

That's all I could think of when cleaning the carboy the other day. I had just finished racking the coffee porter into secondary, and was trying to get the yeast cake out of the bottom to harvest (or attempt to harvest) some of the yeast. But the damn thing was stuck. Really stuck. I had to shake it for a good couple of minutes to get the cake to slide slothily down the wall and towards the mouth. Then it hit me, that overwhelming smell of coffee found only in a young coffee infused beer. It made me kinda nautious. After the immediate coffee shock, I smelled a very nutty aroma, which inevitably led my thoughts down the path of poo, sliding down the walls and out the bung hole of the carboy. Sliding, glopping, plopping, reeking of nuts and looking like something that might come out of a 70 year-old man (don't ask me how I know). I actually laughed a bit, after being grossed out. In the end, I dumped (haha, dumped) it all down the drain. Why would I want to harvest yeast that have been tainted by coffee? And possibly developed a caffeine dependency? "If you don't give us coffee by twelve, we won't be able to finish the workday!" Lazy drugged up bastards. Chip off the old block, I see.

On a less anal and much more delicious note, I also racked the California UNcommon into second/third-ary. It tasted like God sent it down from heaven, so I'm guessing the conditioning time in the cold garage helped a lot. If you're curious as to what I mean by "second/third-ary", check out the miniscule problem I had. Since I repitched some yeast, I decided to rack a third time to ensure clarity and tastiness.

Cheers, Brothers, and happy brewing!

P.S. Since I plan on going to school to learn all about professional brewing, I have come to the realization that every beer I drink can be written off as "research". Take that, society. I don't have a drinking problem, I have a research problem.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Waiting...

I don't like waiting. That's all I seem to be doing right now. Waiting for conditioning time to be adequate. Waiting for primary fermentation to be complete. Waiting for free time to actually do anything beer related. I barely have any time to be wrtiting this right now. I should be sleeping. Oh well. I'll sleep when I'm dead. Or in about 10 minutes, either way.

A quick thought:
I had Chimay Blue for the second time the other night, and for the first time as my first beer of the night. No tainted taste buds or dulled senses here. In a word: complex. Also, elegant, subtle, slightly spicy, and a little too mellow for me. I like the way it looks, smells, and feels. The taste, however, is something I'm a bit undecided on. It's definately something to appreciate, to take your time with. But the flavors are so subtle that you really have to search for them. I'm sure a huge difference would have been made if it had been paired with food. Hovever, it was a simply a taster of the new beers at the restaurant, Chimay Blue and Red.

A quick update:
California UNcommon is coming along quite nicely, albeit slowly. I want to do this one right, so I'm letting it cold condition for a while. After the small problem I had, I siphoned off some yeast, made a "re-starter" and pitched it back in. Fermentation seems to have finished out, and the problem is now non-existent.

Coffee Porter, as brewed by request, is also doing well. Fermentation went hella quick, so I'm letting it sit for at least a week in primary just to be sure. I don't want to repeat my mistake with the above mentioned beer.

Oh, and I'm buying up bottles of belgian and belgian-style stuff like crazy. Don't ask me why, but I've had a sudden craving for bottle conditioned, spicy beers, and big, strong, brewed-by-monks-who-know-their-beer kinds of beers. Maybe I'm just attracted by big fancy bottles with champagne corks. Who knows?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not Success!

Just when I open my mouth (see previous post), I go and screw something up. The California Common I brewed is in no great danger, but I made a little mistake. In my great excitement at anything related to brewing, I transferred it to the secondary fermentor a little too early. I transferred after ten days, a pretty normal times for ales. This, however, was not an ale. It was a lager. Looking back at the original recipe, I should have given it at least 14 days, if not longer. I brewed using the same recipe a while back, and I gave that one 18 days in primary.

Now, you might be asking yourself, what's the problem? Well...under attenuation? If that means nothing to you, how about less alcohol and more residual sweetness? Incomplete fermentation. Not to worry, though. As it turns out, the yeast were just moving a little slower because the fermentation temperature was around 50 F, and that whole transferring too early thing. There are still yeast, and they are still working, but slowly. I was planning on 2 weeks in secondary. It may be three now. Which is fine. Conditioning time never hurt anybody, or any beer, for that matter.

So why the hell did I write all this if there's no real problem?! Cause I felt kinda dumb, and I wanted everybody to know.

Cheers, brothers, and happy brewing!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Success!

03/06/2008: History is made. For me at least. This was the day I bottled a coffee porter I brewed, thinking myself a veritable genius. Well, it turns out that everyone and their mother has brewed a coffee porter, or coffee stout-people always bring up the other when in the presence of either-and I ran the risk of being just another homebrewer. Then, over continuous and consecutive months later, it occurred to me that mine was the best. Ever. Why? Because I'm awesome, and decent looking, and a nice guy(for the most part). I'm pretty sure, once again, that I can do no wrong.

XX/XX/2008: Numerous praises for my coffee porter, and from people who don't even like porters, nonetheless.

XX/XX/2009: Manager at my employing restaurant, after much hounding, gets to try the coffee porter. He approves, and suggests I leave a bottle for the head chef, who presides over the two different locations and works in the corporate office.

01/27/2009: Head chef takes the beer home. Says he really liked it, and he's someone who only drinks darker styles, at least on a regular basis. How stoked am I? I swear I'm gonna get a license to be a contract brewer.

So, I know I've tooted my horn a lot here, but I feel I should at least be a little proud of myself. I have yet to hear anything negative, except for one suggestion to use a bit less coffee, or maybe some more chocolate malt.

P.S. HUGE thanks to Palmer, for providing me with a recipe that I would modify slightly. I'm such a cheater.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's with the pale ale thing, anyway?

Something's been bugging me a bit recently. Bugging me a lot, actually. What constitutes a Pale Ale? I have a general idea in my mind, but half of the pales I try shoot down my preconceptions. With a 10 gauge.

Anyone out there have any ideas? I want to know if there are certain guidelines to be met, or can, as it seems, thirty hundred vastly different beers be lumped into one category? If not based on color, is it based on malt used? I don't think this is likely, since even the darker styles still use a majority of pale malt. I have this inkling that it may have more to do with hops than with the color itself. If a pale blurs into the amber color range, are hops the remaining determinant? Does gravity have anything to do with it?

Somebody please answer me. At least lie to me, and make up some entertaining history lesson of how the name came to be.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

California UNcommon

I brewed a California Common, but with different hops than I was supposed to use. That's why I came up with the name. Clever, ain't it? The store was out of Northern Brewer, so they recommended Centennial instead. We'll see how it turns out.

Brewing day went off without a hitch, despite the fact that I completely forgot to measure the amount of water for the initial mash. No measuring, just a lot of dumping hot water, and me realizing my potenital mistake, and then damning it all to hell and going with it. All I had to do was adjust the amount of sparge water, no big deal.

This is why I love winter. It's cold enough that I can do a lager in the garage, without proper cooling equipment. The yeast for this batch is specifically bred to be able to ferment a little higher than lager yeast usually does, so it can handle the 60 degrees during the day, and the super cold nights.

The recipe, in case anyone is interested, is as follows:

8.5 lbs Pale two row
.75 lb Caramel 40
.5 lb Carapils

1 oz Centennial @ 60 min
1 oz Centennial @ 15 min

WLP-810 San Francisco Lager Yeast

Cheers, brothers, and Happy Brewing!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Adventure Time!

With the long-awaited Christmas money lingering in my account, I've decided to go out and, hopefully, buy a kegging setup tomorrow. Goodbye, tedious bottling of beer. Goodbye, two week waiting period for carbonation. However, as with everything I encounter, I have found a dilemma. Specifically, should I purchase a 3 gallon keg or a 5 gallon keg? My typical batch size is around five gallons, so the 5 gal keg would seem perfect. However, I want to do a few bottles of each batch, to see how it ages over time, and to take places a keg should not, or cannot, go. If I bottle part of the batch, I have excess head space, and might need more gas. I know nothing about the subject, however, so this could be a negligable amount. And if I force myself into the 3 gal keg, I also force myself to bottle 2 gal of each batch, which is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

Maybe I'll just buy both sizes. I could use the 3 gal for small experimental batches. Thanks for the help, bloggy thing! Writing this just helped me solve the enigma that was my situation.

Cheers, brothers, and happy brewing!

P.S. Hanukkah was great.

Super P.S. Try not to set unrealistic resolutions for the new year, if you're into that sort of thing. We don't all want to be disappointed, now, do we?