Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Trip to Portland aka "Beervana"

My trip to Portland over the long weekend began with a ferry ride to Anacortes, Washington State, then a cruise south down the I-5. We stopped for diesel along the way at a place that appeared to not even be a town, just a gas station and convienience store on the side of the road. When I went inside to grab a drink I was blown away by the contents of the beer fridge. Sierra Nevada? New Belgium? Deschutes? All for under 10 bucks... in this place? Are you kidding me? Apparently not. Welcome to south of the  border.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Vancouver Home Brewing Competition 2011

I've never entered a brewing competition before, but with both the Vancouver and Victoria competitions on the horizon I figured it was about time. The Vancouver brew-up is first with the deadline on April 27th, so I packed up some Basement Breweries beers and shipped them off to the big smoke. My main reason for entering is for the input I'll receive on my beers from qualified judges. I'm not so worried about the actual competition aspect of it, but I should probably mention the grand prize, as it is pretty sweet. The winners of each of the 23 categories will go on to compete for the Golden Stag Award. Apart from ridiculous bragging rights this award carries the honour of having your beer brewed by Russell Brewing in both bottle and on tap, as well as a $3000 cash prize! Next up is the Victoria Brewing contest where the winner gets their beer brewed by Phillips Brewing, but before I think about that, I'm off to Portland in the morning for a little "research" expedition to the beer capital of the universe. I guess life ain't so bad really.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review - Elysian Bete Blanche Tripel - 7.5%abv

If I owned a brewery, I'd probably want it to be a lot like Elysian Brewing. Based in Seattle, Elysian has been turning out amazing beer since 1996. The Wise ESB and The Immortal IPA are favourites of mine, and their unusual Avatar Jasmine IPA, made with actual jasmine flowers, is definitely worth a try. Not only do I love Elysian's beer, but their marketing is awesome too. Their branding revolves around mythology, the brewery's name itself referring to the Elysian Fields, an ancient Greek afterlife reserved for the heroic. Most of their beer names follow this trend, but not so with their Spring seasonal tripel, Bete Blanche. This beer's name seems to be a twist on the French expresion bete noir, meaning something dangerous or fearful.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brewday - Hop Treader India Red Ale

The hat of the Hop Treader
When hops are processed nowadays they are kiln-dried and then stuffed into large cloth bags using hydraulic presses. It was not always so, however. A century ago hops were gathered and brought into an oast house, a multi-storied structure with a wood or coal-fired kiln at the bottom. The floors were perforated to allow the hops to dry, after which they were cooled and prepared for transportation. Enter the Hop Treader. Wearing a massive hat to keep hop particles out of his eyes, nose, and mouth, he would climb into a sack that reached above his head into which hops would be poured from above. The Hop Treader's job was to literally tread the hops into the sack, called a pocket, with his feet, pressing in as many as possible before the pocket was transported to market. It is to these hard working and little known labourers that this beer is dedicated as this is the third and last of my blue-collar series of beers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review - Upright Brewing Four 4.5%abv

The more I read about Upright Brewing, the more I like them. Its not just that they specialise in one of my favourite styles, the saison, but it certainly helps. It also helps that many of their beers are made using (home brew geek warning) Wyeast's 3711 French Saison yeast, a strain that I love, and that I've been using a lot lately. Most of all, these guys seem to be the perfect fusion of the production of the commercial brewer and the innovation and freedom of the home brewer. Their four year-round beers are all unique and hard to define. Their 8 seasonal beers feature an oyster stout made with real oysters, an obscure German wheat beer made with salt and two different bacteria-soured versions of their beer Four, one made with cherries and the other with chili peppers. If I ever was to work in a brewery, I think I would want it to be just like this one. Upright's brewpub will be a definite stop on my upcoming trip to Portland, but enough about that, onto the beer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Brewday - The Beard of Zeus Imperial Stout II

She's a full!
Next up for another brew is The Beard of Zeus Imperial Stout, which scored top marks at the Homebrew Shindig, along with The Half Pounder. The Beard is one of the biggest beers I've brewed, clocking in well over 9% abv last time around. I only wanted to tweak the recipe, as overall it was a damn good beer. I wouldn't mind reducing its sweetness slightly, so I went for a slightly cooler, longer mash to try to squeeze a bit more fermentable sugar out of the grain. I also upped the bittering hops slightly to bring it into better balance. It was kind of a pain cooking up the oats last time, so when I saw organic rolled oats in the new, neighbourhood hippy shop, I bought a bag. These can be used straight in the mash, without precooking.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Brewday - The Harvester Belgian Saison II

My mission to rebuild my homebrew stockpile after it was decimated at the Homebrew Shindig continues with a new batch of the Harvester Belgian Saison. I've pondered long and hard over how to change the recipe for this beer. (for all those of you who know me I'm sure you're shocked that I was agonising over the details of a beer recipe) At length I decided that the main thing I wanted to tweak was the aroma, so I zested a Seville orange and crushed some grains of paradise and threw these into the last few minutes of the boil. I also mashed slightly hotter to add some substance and hopefully take the edge off this beer's extreme dryness. I decided on a change to the grain bill as well, reducing the pilsner malt and upping the wheat malt. Upright Brewing's Four was the inspiration for this change, a simple saison I really enjoyed that uses a large amount of wheat to augment the barley in its recipe. I'll post my review of this fine beer in the near future.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tasting Notes from Basement Breweries

Now that the Hombrew Shindig is in the books I've had time to look at everyone's comments and general reaction toward many of my beers. In addition, I've been able to sit down with each beer available at the tasting and with the help of other people's comments, make my own decisions on how to alter, or not alter their recipes in the future. The following goes over all the beers from the Shindig and the direction I'd like to take them in.

Brewday - New Batch of Half Pounder

The hops for The Pounder
I just wanted to throw up a quick post about my latest brew, a new batch of The Half Pounder. Im pretty happy with this beer, and its not a recipe I want to tinker with too much. Basement Breweries recent Tasting Shindig confirmed this as The Half Pounder took top spot in the voting, tied with the Beard of Zeus. The party is actually a big reason for the newest batch of The Pounder, as due to its popularity that evening, supplies are running very short. One change I did make was using some of the bittering hops for first wort hopping, a technique I used once previously where some hops are added to the brewpot just as the sparge begins, which seals the hop flavour into the finished beer. Other than that its the same recipe of yet another batch of the beer I just can't make enough of. Here's to hops everyone.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Guest Reviewer - Beer in BC rates Pretty Things Jack D'Or

I'd like to introduce a guest reviewer today, Dave from Beer in BC, another local blogger who writes about our burgeoning craft beer scene. When I think of a beer blogger, I imagine a self-righteous prick, who likes nothing better than sticking his nose in the air and the sound of his own voice. (maybe I'm just imagining myself?) Whatever the case Dave doesn't fit this mold. A man of few words who spends much of his days demolishing buildings, the first time I met Dave he told me a can of beer is just as good as a bottle. Definitely not your typical beer geek. He was kind enough to put together the following review of Pretty Things Jack D'Or, and if you want to read my review of this unusual beer, you can read it on Beer in BC. All your's Dave.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review - Driftwood Naughty Hildegard Extra Special Bitter

The latest seasonal release from Driftwood Brewing, the popular Naughty Hildegard, hit stores this week and in some cases, quickly sold out. It is named for the 12th century Benedictine nun and abbess Hildegard von Bingen, who was famous for being a herbalist, mystic, musician, and natural healer. Hildegard's connection to beer comes from her writings, which contain the earliest known reference to the use of hops in beer, "(hops) when put in beer, stops putrification and lends longer durability."