Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's been one of those weeks . . .

Back to the grindstone this week after a fun-filled brewing week. Work has me in Northern New Jersey again, and really hasn't left me too much time for beer-related goodness. Except for a quick stop at Super Saver in Somerville, which produced a small haul, there's nothing to report. I'm hopefully going to break out of that lull this evening and find a decent beer bar.

On the homebrewing front - not much. The saison (MB0022) was starting to slow down as I left Monday morning, so it should be about done when I get back on Thursday, and it seems I have a leak in my lid seal on the Dark IPA (MB0021). Both will get some attention this weekend.

That is all.



Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Love the Smell of Boiling Wort in the Morning . . . and the Afternoon

As I write this, the sweet smell of boiled wort still permeates throughout my house. It's been a long day, being another double-batch brew day at Muckney Brewing. Only this time I was a man down for the first batch, and was getting my all grain cherry popped throughout the second. Yes, MB went AG for the first time, but let's start at the beginning.

Today's first batch was a partial mash Dubbed Stone Soup XXI Ale, the Mustachioed Dark IPA (MB0021). I brewed this batch using leftovers from previous batches and a lot of hops. Everything was going well, until I had a stuck sparge. Grain hulls clogged up my mash tun's spigot, causing me to forgo a second batch sparge and add water to bring the boil to volume. Other than that, it was all good.

And then it was all grain time. Thanks to Nate for supplying the equipment and more so for walking me through the process. Overall, it was a good brewing session. There were a few quips, like setting up the rig and hooking up the wort chiller, but other than that, the Saison du Muqunee (MB0022-AG1) went off without a hitch. We did only get 68% efficiency, but I'll deal with that for my first time around. There's plenty more I'd like to talk about, but I'm spent. Time to go pitch the yeast and veg out for a bit.



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mustaches for Ulcers, er, Something

In a sign of solidarity with our brewing brethren from the South, I've spent the last several days attempting to answer the call of Johnathan at Monday Night Brewery to

grow [your] own mustache in support of this worthy cause . . .. With the help of our collective upper lips, we may just be able to eradicate ulcers (and specifically stomach ulcers) once and for all.

Yes, I have spent the last several days dodging questions from the wife concerning my shaving habits all in an attempt to do my part. Unfortunately, my plans were thwarted this morning while I was preparing for the day, so I will be unable to participate in Mustaches for Ulcers in the "traditional" sense. Instead, I will be dedicating the next batch of MB beer to the cause, creating Stone Soup XXI Ale, the Mustachioed Dark IPA (MB0021). OK, the name needs some work, but you get the idea. Trust me, it's better than the dirty upper lip I was sporting for the past 5 days. I wish puberty would kick in.



Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Leaky Faucet, TMP and TOMP

It was a housekeeping day at Muckney Brewing today. Both The Missionary Position (MB0018) and the Leaky Faucet Pale Ale (MB0019) needed bottled, and The Original Missionary Position (MB0020) needed transferred to secondary. The day went well overall, with a few minor annoyances here and there. Time for the specs.

I started the day by bottling the Leaky Faucet. After dry hopping it for just over a week, the beer had taken on a much fuller hop flavor and aroma profile. My only worry is that there isn't enough of a caramel malt backbone to balance out the hoppy flavor and bitterness. There's still something odd about the nose, but it is much less that before and will hopefully continue to dissipate over the next few weeks while it's carbing up. I have high hopes for this one, but I'm really skeptical that the final product is going to be anything stellar. We shall see.

After the Leaky Faucet, things started looking up. When I cracked the cork on the carboy holding The Missionary Position, I was greeted with a pleasant bouquet of fruit and spice accenting the sweet caramel malt. The taste revealed the same flavors and some subtle alcohol heat. I'm thoroughly impressed with our first attempt at a Belgian Strong Ale.

What impressed me more was the fact that we were able to duplicate our success with The Original Missionary Position. After I bottled TMP, I saved a couple nips to taste side-by-side with TOMP. They're definitely very close in flavor profile, though TOMP tasted a bit younger (makes sense) and has a more prevalent yeast profile (again, make sense). It makes me happy that they're so similar, so that we will be able to make a comparison between the beer with and without dried mangoes in secondary (2.1 oz. to be specific). We're planning on letting this bulk age for about a month before bottling.

As I alluded to in my previous post, this IS the Week of Beer and Brewing, since I'm on vacation. I was planning on brewing today, but time didn't allow for it. That means Thursday as turned into a two-batch day. I'm planning on doing the Stone Soup XXI Ale (MB0021) in the morning as a PM batch, and then, with Nate's assistance (more like guidance), tackle MB's first all-grain batch, a Saison (MB0022-AG1) using Wyeast's VSS Farmouse yeast. Oh, and I have to catch everyone up on my recent trips to DuClaw and Blue Mountain Breweries.

So stay tuned. Lots to come.



PS - Oh, yeah, um, if you can, pick up Stone XII. I'm drinking one now. It's tasty.

Monday, July 21, 2008


At last!! I'm off all week, so that means lots of beer-related activities. So far there are two brew sessions scheduled, plus some beer housekeeping needing to be done. Oh, and I have to catch up on some beer travel notes. Lots to come. Stay tuned.



Monday, July 14, 2008

Homebrew Update

I had a little homebrew housekeeping to take care of last night. The Leaky Faucet Pale Ale (MB0019) had finished fermenting out and was in dire need of some dry hopping. Its wish was granted last night as I racked it on top of an ounce of Cascade leaf hops. All went well, including 3/4 of a growler of Otto's KClinger's Brown Ale, which for all intents and purposes is one of better brown ales I've ever had.

The Faucet will chill in secondary for a week before being bottled. So far, so good, after a small scare of infection last week when I went to check the gravity and was confronted by a hideous vegetal/metallic/minerally smell. Thankfully, it has gone away, along with some of the fruity flavors. It's lookin' like this could be tasty.



Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sothern Tier's Anti-Claus

Holiday season's just around the corner - er, not really - but for the brewing industry it is. Southern Tier goes against the Christmas Cheer and focused their new Krampus Imperial Brown Lager on giving bad kids their just desserts - with sticks and chains.

From the label:

European tradition says that while St. Nick is busy delivering presents to good little boys and girls, Krampus hands out punishments to the bad. A fanged, goat-horned bully, the Christmas Devil uses sticks and chains to beat the naughty children.

Um, OK. No wonder the label status is now in jeopardy. As for the beer, it looks rather tasty. Keep an eye out for it later this year.

An extremely early Holiday Cheers,


Friday, July 11, 2008

Wii Pong . . . .

While the Wii has be heralded for its interactive play and its newest venture into fitness, JV Games is embracing the Old School attitude and releasing a downloadable series entitled "Frat Party Games", the first being Beer Pong. Finally, technology being put to good use. I just wonder if it has a virtual keg of Keystone Light, or better yet, Natty.

As one can imagine, the game has been met with fierce opposition, mainly due to its ESRB T rating, saying that it's age-appropriate for teenagers 13 and up. This has caused JV Games to change the name (already) to "Pong Toss" and eliminate all references to alcohol. Read the whole story here, then shake your head in disgust at our society's inability to laugh. Though I do agree that the Entertainment Software Rating Board dropped the ball saying that it's cool for teenagers to practice for their weekend beer pong tourney in a virtual world, JV shouldn't have kowtowed to the criticism by changing the game, but rather pushed to get the rating changed. Now the game won't have my favorite parts, the little pilsner glass and bottle cap meters in the bottom right-hand corner. Oh, well, I guess I'll just have to watch the real pint glass in my hand empty instead.



Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stone Goes Ape . . .

Yup, it's a busy summer for Stone Brewing. Along with the aforementioned Stone Anniversary XII comes Stone Cali-Belgique and Belgian Style Tripel Ale. This is insane - The former being a Belgian Style IPA, with the later being a colabo-brew with fellow SoCal brewery Alesmith and Denmark's Mikkeller Brewing. Oh, and I forgot to mention this year's Vertical Epic, 08.08.08. I think it goes unsaid that I hope some of these make it to western PA.



Monday, July 7, 2008

The Bearded Brewer Will Like Us Again!!

After MONTHS of saying that we'd review El Bearded Brewer's offerings that he had sent us, Justin and I finally stepped up to the plate and threw down on some Minneapolis/St. Paul homebrew to celebrate Independence Day. BB had sent us, along with some commercial offerings a bottle of his Mayabock and of his Irie Stout.

We started with his Mayabock, an organic Maibock named after his golden retriever. Through e-mail, BB had stressed his disappointment with this run of the Mayabock. These were all lies!! Overall this was a nice beer. A bit of an extract "twang" to it and bit dry for style, but it had a great caramel taste with fruity notes and a solid bitterness. Official review:

Pours a golden amber with fizzy white head. Lots of sweet malt in the nose, caramel and biscuit with mild fruitiness and a touch of extract twang. Lost of caramel in the flavor with a touch of said twang, dry and mildly hopped for flavor and bitterness.

Now, I do understand his points if he's referring to the beer stylistically, but this guy had some great drinkability to it, even if it was a touch dry for the style. Like the BB, I, too, love me a Maibock, and I definitely wouldn't kick this one out of my fridge.

After the Mayabock, we moved onto the Irie Stout, a monster of a "Foreign Export Stout", weighing in at 9.3% with some orange peel and brown sugar. I guess I would have to categorize this as an Imperial Foreign Export Stout. Whatever one wants to say it is, delicious should be in there somewhere. It's not a conventional stout. There are some crazy aromas and flavors present throughout, presumably due to the the orange peel and brown sugar. I can see why BB was happy with the turn out. This was a great tasting beer, more fruity than roasty, with a plethora of flavors that danced on the tongue.

Pours black with mild red hues, 1/2 finger khaki head. Nose is briney olives with roast and smoke. At first I got some notes of bubblegum and apple. Taste is bright fruit, apple and raisin, slight cherry, some brown sugar, molasses, plum, and mildly roasted coffee. It is nicely hopped without any astringent bitter in the finish. No alcohol taste at all, which scares me. A fantastic offering. The mouth feel is perfect. A touch too little head, but I'll overlook it this time.

I must say, kudos on this brew. I really enjoy seeing experimentation with classic styles.

These two offerings definitely whetted the palate for more Bearded Brewing brews, which I was forcefully told by BB that we would receive no more of until we drank these. El Bearded Brewer, you have my address. Please include more Irie in the next one.

I'm sure Justin will chime in with his thoughts soon.



Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stone XII Out This Week

Stone's 12th Anniversary Ale is hitting shelves this week. This year's ale will be a Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, with tasting notes here. No official website yet.

Get out and get yours. This is looking like a brew that's going to be tasty right out the gate and should only get better with time.



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

BMC now officially B, MC

Lucky us! Today marks the first day of operations for MillerCoors. Oh, happy day! Coors Light and Miller Light are now sisters, or kissing cousins, or . . . something. The Biz weighs in here and here is the Bloomberg report.

At least for now we're still safe using BMC while referring to US macros. From reading the news, it looks like it'll soon be InBMC, which takes too much time to write while referring to bottled urine.

Happy Tuesday!