Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Politics of Beer

I hinted a few posts back about an upcoming collaboration brew with another homebrewer/beer blogger. Well, as the Presidential Election draws nigh, it is time for the "official" announcement.

Over the past several months, El Bearded Brewer (EBB) of Bearded Brewing and I have become friends through countless e-mails concerning all things beer. Sometime this summer, EBB and I discovered that we don't quite see eye-to-eye when it comes to the political realm. So instead of spewing the usual talking points that one can get on pMSNBC or "fair and balanced" Fox News, we put aside our ideological differences and focused more on having a dialogue concerning our views on the upcoming election, letting the "other side" in on how we view things. Being the Evil Conservative that I am, there was no way I was going to be swayed by EBB's liberal leanings, nor would the converse happen (though, I tried!).

Out of these conversations, at EBB's suggestion, came the first beer in the Across the Aisle Ale series. Ladies and Gentlemen, Madam Speaker, I give you Bi-Partisan Porter. Each homebrewing entity will make a version of the same recipe, our Blue-State friend to the north making the organic version and us racist rednecks (yes, my congressman) in western PA making the (what's the PC term) non-organic version, no, wait, "chemically-enhanced" version. There were many variations of said porter on this end while we toyed with the idea of baby seal blood, but we weren't sure if it needed boiled. EBB suggested baby Bald Eagle blood, you know, to us an endangered animal AND be patriotic! Unfortunately, said "sangre" was difficult to procure, so at Justin's suggestion, we went with coffee instead, allowing our hippie friend to use organic free trade varietals whilst we sought out beans picked by a Colombian slave child (we actually settled on either Sumatra or Celebes. More to come on that, though).

This is going to be a great time. Not only will we be able to take unnecessary shots at each other over the next several months, but there is an opportunity to help open a dialogue between the left and right that this country so desperately needs. I mean, hell, our country was founded because of beer and has played such an integral roll throughout history, why not use it as a "uniter" in such trying times.

There will be plenty of updates here and at Bearded Brewing so stay tuned to each and chime in with any thoughts, comments or opinions. All are welcome.

I must echo, as my bearded friend has, that no matter who you vote for, be sure that you VOTE! Remember, Republicans vote on Nov. 4th, and you liberals have to wait until the 5th**!! I know, "Damned conservatives! Why do they get to go first!?!"



**Disclaimer: EVERYONE votes on the 4th. I don't want to be blamed for any disenfranchisement (that's a lot of letters). Though, if you're stupid enough to choose a beer blog as your one and only source of information on the upcoming election, then maybe you shouldn't vote! :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Arrrrh Me Matey!!

The Roger is back!! Yes Otto's Jolly Roger Imperial Stout, the 2008 version, is back in bottles (oddly enough, before it's being served at the brewpub), of which a hereby undisclosed number were procured by me today. The scuttlebutt from the brewery is that they changed the recipe slightly by adding a bit more smoked malt than the previous bottled batch. This is pretty evident right off the bat as I bury my nose in the snifter. The aroma is full of bitter chocolate and mildly roasted coffee, along with some subtle undertones of burnt wood and log cabin smokiness. JR offers up a smooth chocolate taste with muted coffee flavors and a hint of smoke, followed by a big dose of bitter that mingles with a subtle sweetness, almost caramel-esque quality throughout the after.

This guy's a pretty tasty RIS, though, in my humble homebrewing opinion, it's lacking in a few small areas as compared to other Impies. First, there's no dark fruit character. Either the smoky quality has completely canceled out any fruity esters, or there weren't any there to begin with by design. Either permutation is, of course, fine by me, but because of previous experience, I expect some semblance of vinous fruit accent. I also think that the body left a bit to be desired, again when comparing to other Impy Stouts. There was a full mouth feel, but it was missing that oily slickness.

Other than the two above grievances, which are completely minor and straight nit-pickery, I thoroughly enjoy JR every time it resurfaces. Plus, it's served cask-conditioned at the brewpub, which makes the experience all the more meaningful. If you can get your hands on some, do so, preferably by making the trek to State College, PA for a pint and sandwich, while watching the hometown Nittany (Nitally??) Lions roll THE Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday night.

We Are!! Penn State!!



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Saison du Muqunee - a Tasting

So, I've been absolutely terrible about posting reviews of the beers we make, other than "yummy" and "tasty" and "solid". So to start what I hope will be a new trend, I give you a review of Saison du Muqunee (MB0022-AG1), the first venture into all-grain brewing.

Pours golden blond with rimming and filmy white head, dissipated from about two fingers. Nose is funky, yeasty aroma with wheaty notes and mild, grassy and citrus undertones. Taste is bready with lots of yeasty and funky bite, along with slight, lemony citrus notes. There is a good dose of bitter throughout the middle and well into the end and after, where it intertwines with citrus and grassy flavors. Pretty decent. The Wyeast VSS Farmhouse Ale Yeast has caused the beer to become more funk-defied, even over the past few weeks, which bodes well for the upcoming months.

In other homebrewing news, Justin and I will be bottling the Rising Sun Ginger-Sesame Red Ale (MB0023) and the Rising Sun Oiwai Ginger-Peach Red Saison withing the next week.

Oh, and stay tuned for special announcement concerning a collab-brew with another one of your favorite beer bloggers.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Nutshell - Indianapolis

First off - MY COMPUTER LIVES!!! I was fortunate enough that it only needed a small tune up, instead of a whole overhaul, which is nice because I lost nothing. (Note to self: Print out ALL recipes soon)

So I've spent the past week in Downtown Indianapolis for work, which allowed me to sample some of the local beer culture. It's not often that one has access to three brewpubs within as many blocks, namely The Ram Brewery (Big Horn Brewing), Alcatraz Brewing, and Rock Bottom Indianapolis. Having been to numerous Rocks, I mainly frequented the not-so-accessible Ram Brewery, and the local Alcatraz. Both had standard Brewpub offerings, although the food at The Ram definitely bested the Alcatraz.

I did, however, get to share a pint with the head brewer for Alcatraz, Omar Castrellon, who was nice enough to share a sample of his bourbon-aged Impy Stout from his private stock, and a tasty brew it was.

On top of the brewpubs, I also had a few pints at J. Gumbo's, which boasts a tap list of 40 brews, focusing on local fare, including the coveted Three Floyds (check out my FFF Brewpub trip here), along with other micros and imports. Plus, they carried a small array of vintage beers, including some early 00's Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and North Coast Old Stock Ale. This is THE place to go when near the Convention Center in Indianapolis. Slightly out of the way and a bit more "local" than the usual chain restaurants, this place won't disappoint. The owner knows and loves his beer, and it shows in his selection.

Downtown Indy has always been one of my favorite "work cities" to visit, mainly because of the plethora of things to do downtown, only accentuated by its beer destinations. When in town, be sure to do it up.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Otto's Jolly Roger Stout Out Soon

While in State College yesterday, I stopped at Otto's for lunch. While there, it was mentioned that this year's Jolly Roger Imperial Stout will be available in bottles starting October 15th. It should be on cask at the brewpub prior to that, as soon as the Old Fugget Barley Wine kicks.

It's definitely worth a stop to try this Impy Stout, especially on cask. Rumor has it that there's a barrel-aged version floating around.



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This is the reason you back up your computer

So, yeah, my laptop died. Well, it's not officially dead, but it's in the "Computer Hospital", getting a brain transplant. And as the title indicates, I didn't back up and/or print hard copies of my recipes. Now, we take decent notes, but not always when we're transferring and such. This came into play tonight while transferring over the Rising Sun Sisters, Ginger-Sesame Red Ale (MB0023) and Oiwai Ginger-Peach Red Saison (MB0024).

I transferred the Oiwai first, racking it onto a pound of dried apricots, split. Yeah, the one night Justin's not around, I have to cut a pound of dried apricots in half. Do you know how many dried apricots there are in a pound? I lost count after fifty. At any rate, the FG of this guy got down to 1.010, which was much lower than expected, and gave a very dry, alcoholic flavor with predominate ginger notes and mild hints of peach, which should be kicked up by the apricots.

So why apricots? Well, during an e-mail exchange with Johnathan from Monday Night Brewery, he suggested that, through trial and error, they found out the peaches don't really impart a "peachy" flavor, and I trust them, 'cuz they're from Georgia. He instead pointed me towards apricots, saying that they actually give a much more "peachy" feel to the beer, so I'm taking his word for it.

I then racked the Ginger-Sesame Red Ale over to secondary, on 4 oz. of candied ginger, referring (thankfully) to this post for the needed quantity. I knew I put all this time into this for a reason! The FG reached 1.019 this go 'round, which I'll have to (hopefully) compare to my notes when I get my laptop back. This rendition of the Rising Sun had a much stronger sesame nose, with toasted, roasted, and nutty notes. The candied ginger should only add to the nose.

In other news, The Missionary Position (MB0018) and The Actual Missionary Position (MB0020) are now officially carbed up, but will need some serious time in the bottle to mellow, as they're both really hot right now, but surprisingly drinkable, as I have had one of each this evening. Full tasting notes to come in about a month or so.