Friday, December 28, 2007

Day Trippin'

Ah, Winter Vacation. I know that sounds completely back-asswards, but its so true. Oh how I love this time of year. No work, food, fun and frolic with family and friends, a little extra coin in the pocket. . . all three contributing to the western PA Winter Road Trip '07 concerning all things beer in which I was able to partake in yesterday. Nate was gracious enough to drive myself and Justin around to multiple beer-related destinations. Unfortunately Eli and Jon were unable to attend.

We started with a stop at The Commonplace Coffeehouse for an obligatory caffeine fix, then off to North Country for lunch and a sampler. Some tasty stuff. We then loaded up a couple growlers and headed south to Hereford and Hops (Cranberry Edition) for what turned out to be some rather average offerings. There was an interesting "finish" to all of the beers, probably related to the water profile (I only sound smart here thanks to Nate). I must say the Portersville Porter, though, was a tasty treat, being my first taste of a Baltic Porter. This may end up being one of my favorite styles. We'll have to see how it goes.

From H 'n' H, we traveled south to Wexford for a stop at Three Son's Dogs and Suds. Nice bottle selection. Not as wide-ranging as D's SixPax and Dogs, but slightly better pricing. I picked up a few offerings. We then hit Country Wines to procure some homebrew supplies for Nate, then on to East End for Growler Hours. Lots of folks jammed into a rather small area, all clamoring for free samples of the delicious nectar the Scott offers, which included on this night The Bitter End and Snow Melt, plus Three, EEBC's Third Anniversary Ale. I brought home a Grisette growler and one of the Three's for consumption.

There was one last stop to make, which was D's. It was a busy Thursday night, but after a few minutes perusing the Beer Cave, we were able to find a table and grab dinner and a pint. After the much needed sustenance, we finished our shopping in the aforementioned Beer Cave, rounding out a great little road trip to "Da Burgh".

On the homebrew tip, we're about to really get into the swing of things here at Muckney Brewing, starting on New Year's Eve with some bottling and transferring, then some serious brewing starting in January. We're looking at (hopefully) three batches a month. We'll see how it goes.

Stay Tuned.



Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday Cheer

I'm still reeling from my recent loss in my Fantasy Football semi-finals. But it is the holiday season, so I'm sure I'll quickly get over it. Probably after a wonderful Christmas dinner of turkey with all the fixin's. It should pair nicely with the Sierra Nevada Celebration, a chocolatey Expedition Imperial Stout for desert.

Cheers, to all, and to all a good night.

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Steamy McBeer, Steely McBeam's MUCH Cooler Cousin

So I was fortunate to acquire one of Eli's steam-style homebrews last week. He's been on me to get back to him ever since. So, Eli, here goes it.

12 oz. bottle from brewer (Eli). Pours golden amber with small, off-white head. Thin and filmy. Small carmel aroma, touch of hops. Good mouthfeel, medium-bodied with medium carbonation. Carmel malt character with steam beer-esque qualities. Mild hop bitterness at the ended muddled with classic liquid malt extract/dextrose "twang". Good offering overall.

Solid offering from a novice with only a couple brews under his belt. First, there were no qualities that were reminiscent of his eASSb at all. Second, when ignoring the LME "twang" at the end, I can really make out that it is what it was meant to be, a Steam Beer. Trust me, from my own eperience, I quickly got used to wading through the twang with my first handful of brews. This is the reason that I don't use LME for my beers nor corn sugar to prime. Anywho, Kudos, Eli, and I'm looking forward to your upcoming releases.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

8000 = 200

So here I am, just over 7 months into my "awakening" (if you will) where craft brew is concerned, and I have finally rated my 200th beer on That averages out to be just under 30 beers per month, almost a beer a day. A new beer every day. Now, of course, this isn't the case, most have come through tastings with generous friends, who have been in this game a helluva lot longer than I have. To be truthful, 200 may be a milestone for me, but I'm still a newbie in the craft beer world.

I've come a long way in the past seven months as far as my palate, tastes, and knowledge are concerned. When I first was turned on to, I said to myself, "I bet that I can list 500 beers that I've tasted." I got to around 150 before I ran out. But I couldn't remember what any of them tasted like, at least specifically. So I started with one, and tasted my way to 200 so far.

So here I am, less than a year into my beer brewing/geekery. Among other things, this is what I've learned:
1. "Beer Geeks" are "Beer Lovers" who go to meetings . . . homebrew and beer club meetings.
2. Beer, above all other beverages, carries with it an inherent sense of community and camaraderie instead of an air of snobery and I'm-better-than-you-idness. I mean, come on, it's beer!
3. Hops are a tongue's best friend.
4. Anything I can't pronounce is usually good. (Yeah Weinhiphenstaphent yeast, or whatever Nate said.)

And what did I have for my 200th rate? Bells Batch 8000. Here's what I said.
(200) 12 oz. bottle, early Christmas present from Justin. Pours hazy gold with a touch of amber. Head was small and white, quickly disapating. Nose is spicy, mainly clove with some banana and alcohol. Wheat flavor, lots of clove and spice, some fruit, banana and raisin. Very dry finish, with some alcohol and a whole bunch of warmth. Pretty decent after in breathes for a bit. Drinkable, but in moderation.

So . . . Prost! Salud! Na zdrowie! . . . and most of all, CHEERS!!

I'm off to have #201.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Sixty, Ninety, One-Twenty, . . . .

So Saturday was another brewday for Muckney brewing. Besides Justin and I, Nate stopped by to "help" (read: drink). We brewed another of Justin's aggressive recipes, this time the Dark and Mysterious Cinnamon Porter (MB0012-T2). This was the second PM brew that we attempted, and all went smoothly, again, reaching 76% efficiency. As of yesterday morning it was bubbling away nicely in the dining room (the basement is too cold) which is loved by the wifey.

We also transferred the newly christened Batch 11 IBA (End of Year Beer) (MB0011) to secondary to allow it to dry hop for a couple/three weeks before bottling. The sample we had was pretty darn decent. Interesting flavors, some resin from the Chinook hops, plus a pretty complex malt character from all of the different grains/extracts added to it. I'm excited for this to be bottled and drinkable.

Speaking of drinkable, a Show Your Hoppeeness (MB0009-T1) was opened to see how its progressing after two weeks. It was a bit flat, needing to carbonate, but this was expected. Otherwise, its money. Huge bitterness and a decent hop aroma/flavor. I think it could have been/will be bigger (not sure yet) on the nose, that is, but I suspect that our method of dry hopping (adding hops to the beer after its in the carboy, instead racking it on top of the hops) may have yielded a less-than-expected hoppy aroma. We shall see.

As for the most delicious "Parallel" tasting as Nate put it, we were privy to a bottle of each of the "minute" IPAs from Dogfish Head. Pretty decent beer. I feel that the 60 minute was a bit underhopped for an IPA, but the malt backbone was good enough to cover for the lack of hop flavor, The 90 minute was pretty spot on for an Imperial IPA, with a strong, but not overpowering maltiness to accent the citrusy and piney hop character. The 120 isn't an IPA in my opinion, but on a planet of its own stylistically. Its like a barleywine that's been overhopped and over alcoholed. It was delicious, but I'm glad that I shared a twelve oz. bottle three-ways.

And now I'm off for a beer.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Celebration, Shock, and a Birthday

So the weekend was busy. The wife and I had our respective company Christmas parties, full of IC Light and Miller Lite, so when Jeff invited me over for the Steelers/Bengals Sunday night game, I was happy. Why? Because he likes his good beer. He likes it so much, in fact, that he graciously accepted a batch of homebrew as his birthday present. And that is how the Fat Tire clone (MB0007) came to be. So way back in August the batch was brewed, and the waiting game began.

It ended last night, much like the National Championship hopes of the Mountaineers the day before, only this boded better results. The Fat Tire clone, christened Random 12 Ale, was a hit. A hit to the tone of a couple 6 packs between the two of us. I think it helped soothe Jeff's wounded Mountaineer soul. And it helped us celebrate a Steelers victory, and another record for Hines Ward. It was a good evening.

So tonight, as pictured above, I cracked a Red Ale (MB0008) after 4 weeks in the bottle. Pretty good. Mouthfeel's a bit lacking, and it may need a bit longer to mature, just a bit though. Mmmmm. I'm happy with it.

Oh, and LSU vs. OSU for the BCS championship is bogus. It's time for a 16 team playoff. Go State!!