Saturday, January 30, 2010

California Common, January 30 2010

Beer is on its way, my friends!

I had a hANCHORing for a steam beer and it just so happens that house temperatures are ideal right now for fermenting this style. Michelle and I and our friend Kara have had a number of Anchor Brewing beers in the past few months and it reminded me of how much I truly enjoy their Steam® beer (that's right, the descriptor "steam" is a registered trademark by Anchor Brewing and thus the universal style is named California Common rather than a steam beer). I've brewed a handful of beers in this style in the past and you just can't go wrong! I spent the last two weeks dreaming of how I want this beer to be brewed (a clear sign of a serious homebrewing problem!) with the current storehouse availability.
In other news... The state of the kegerator is in recovery mode ever since the mass consumption that took place over New Year's. Currently on tap is the Agave Smoked Porter and the two versions of the Mayahuel Mild. The porter is already running low after bottling-out and a surge of consumption from the recent homebrew drought. The milds were also bottled-out for our club-only session challenge competition as well as to share with Larry at Cantina Mayahuel this coming Monday. Though in recovery, the kegerator is calling, "Feed me, Seymour!" I've realized that I need to start doing 10 gallon batches in the future just to keep up with the local consumption.
While in Big Bear I did manage to bottle out some of the homebrews to share with QUAFF and for the upcoming AFC Homebrew Competition. This past Tuesday, I shared a few beers with my fellow QUAFFers, the infamous Blueberry Wheat, Winter Warmer, and the recent Agave Smoked Porter. I've been genuinely enjoying sharing my beers at our club meetings. While it seems to be easy to please friends, it is the comments and appreciation from fellow homebrewers that is most gratifying.

California Common, January 30 2010
5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

8 lbs. Maris Otter Pale
1 lb. Crystal 20
1/2 lb. Victory
1/4 lb. Biscuit
1/4 lb. Caravienne
Single Infusion Mash at 148°F

1 oz. Homegrown Vojvodina hops for 60 min.
1 oz. Spalt for 20 min.
1 Whirlfloc tab 20 min.
1/2 oz. Hallertauer for 10 min.
1/2 oz. Saaz for 10 min.
1/4 oz. Hallertauer for 5 min.
1/4 oz. Saaz for 5 min.

White Labs WLP810 San Francisco Lager Yeast (vial to starter), thanks Kara!

OG: 1.062 @ 66°F
FG: 1.014 @ 42°F
Kegged on March 8th, ABV 6.5%
*some bottled for sharing on March 17th, damn its good!

Image Source: This 1931 anti-prohibition march in New Jersey photograph occurs in abundant locations all over the web. There are many online entities selling prints of this photograph as well. While I found numerous descriptions, none identified the photographer or an authentic source. Considering its abundance on the internet without a valid origin, I feel this is a heritage photo and took the liberty to upload it to my own album.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter (drinking) Games

Let the games begin! Every winter season, a sizable group of my friends collect in the San Bernardino mountains for some harmless debauchery, frivolity, and well deserved chillindamos. Over the years, we've sustained a number of inebriated adventures and games, developing a repertoire of winter events that require intense training and sophisticated equipment.
I'll start with homebrew since athletes must be fueled. 30 Gallons of homebrew arrived in Big Bear along with some other guest intoxicants. These beers were brewed during the epic 8 batch weekend in November. Among the beers brought, the Blueberry Wheat was rapidly consumed and with its hidden ABV of 6.8%, certainly gave us the sustained energy that no 'power drink' could ever provide. Andrew, above, enthusiastically topped his Blueberry Wheat with fresh blueberries (because anti-oxidants are important too).
Beer doesn't always travel well in bulk but thankfully my brother-in-law Tom hooked me up with a mini-keg of Faultline Brewing's Pale Ale. After being snow-chilled, we took out the mini-keg for some inebriated sledding. Above is Dave pouring a Faultline pint (not far from the San Andreas fault too). Minutes later, Dave was surfing a toboggan at record speeds.
Michelle showed intense athleticism, donning two sleds to break speed records. Just look at that smile, obviously chillindamos!
After a day of competition speed sledding, we resorted back to life, The Game of Life. We find this circa 1960's LIFE to be a far stretch from our reality so a number of squares have been modified to make this another gem of our winter games. Where's the skill, you ask? Well, every "Car Crash" demands a social. Do you know how hard it is to keep those little blue and pink pegs in those tiny plastic cars? With homebrew involved and the social interaction of cash stealing, tipsy spinning, trash talking, and child auctioning, the car crash is imminent at every bend in the road of LIFE.
The culmination of our Winter Games ended with a legendary game of Sloshball. The game is centered around casual baseball rules. About thirty inebriated athletes took the field where the main rule is to 1. have a beer in hand at all times.
If you've never played Sloshball before, here's the rest of the rules. 2. There's a keg on second base. While most find the yellow fizzy variety sufficient, we upped the quality to something more local, Bayhawk Brewing's Blonde. The fact is that more beer is spilled than is consumed so you must plan accordingly. VERY IMPORTANT: don't use or spill homebrew, that is bad!
Above is homebrewer and wine maker, Dave (Comrade from brewcommune), "warming up" before the big game. 3. All runners must stop at second base, finish their beer, and refill before proceeding to third base. 4. It does not matter how many team members are on second base but if no one can bat, your team gets an automatic third out.
Beware of seasoned veterans like Wesley (above) that can readily advance to second base and pound a brew in a moments notice.
Michelle's also dangerous with insane sloshball skills that one can only acquire from UCSB (in our book, U Can Study Buzzed).
Most athletes seem to be very focused and intense but as you can see from me batting above, Sloshball is above all, chillindamos!

Image Source: De Coubertin, Pierre, and Pumbaa80. The Symbol of the Olympic Games. Digital image. Winter Olympic Games. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 28 Jan. 2010.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Holiday Inebriants

At the start of the holiday season, Michelle learned that she got a promotion. Hmm, what to do on such an occasion? Oh, I know, let's drink! We pulled out a special bottle with significance to celebrate, a 2003 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. This bottle was given to her at the completion of her PhD from her PI (boss) at the time. He was very animate that Silver Oak Cabernet is the best wine there is. It is also known that he never dabbles much with any other wine. Silver Oak is $ilver Oak in our book. When we couldn't afford to buy a bottle and try it out, we decided to pay a visit to $ilver Oak a few years ago during a wine tasting trip. Not only were we curious to taste a high-end wine, we also wanted see how well their cabs stand up against other local Napa greats. Michelle and I both agreed their cabs were great but during the trip, we experienced numerous other cabernet exemplars not priced like $ilver Oak.
Another funny side story about Michelle's former PI (principal investigator - this is the individual in charge of an academic laboratory): Apparently he was expecting a gifted shipment of two bottles of $ilver Oak. Shipments that arrive at the lab in his name are opened since the contents are likely essential lab inventory. This particular box was thought by him to contain two bottles of $ilver Oak. By the time he was able to get to the box, he was convinced a bottle was mi$$ing. After all, it was opened. While Michelle and other lab members believe there was never a second bottle, her PI continues the interrogation. In fact, even I was questioned about the bottle during Michelle's PhD defense celebration!
While the mystery remains, we enjoyed this bottle very much. It was an exceptional cab. Recently, I've seen Silver Oak deals as low as $40 for the recent release. Outside of that, you can expect to pay $60-$100 per bottle. While you can't go wrong with a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet, I would suggest Jordan (also from Napa) where you can likely buy two very nice bottles of cab for the price of one $ilver Oak.
The premier holiday party in San Diego is hosted by my homebrew club, QUAFF. I haven't been able to go to this highly revered event until this past season. How does one score an invitation to this exceptional beer event, you ask? Just be a member of QUAFF. The club acquires a number of special holiday bottles and many contribute other great beers too. Ed, Michelle, and I had a great time. I also was able to chat it up with Marcus, a fellow beer blogger (FinalGravity) and QUAFFer. I had a number of tasty beverages and a number of tasty eats. It rained throughout the evening but that didn't seem to slow anyone down. Poor Chuck's backyard became a little muddy and I know everyone brought a little of that in his house. Below is Marcus and I at the QUAFF holiday party. Notice that I'm carrying two cups! I learned that you have to be prepared at a moments notice when someone opens a special bottle.
While at Cantina Mayahuel this holiday I asked our awesome server, Misty, to pour me something extraordinary. She brought me two bottles of extra añejo and I decided to try both. The first tequila was Corrido Extra Añejo. The aroma, flavor, texture, and depth were awesome. Very smooth and well balanced. The Corrido is now on my radar!
I also tried the Abandonado Extra Añejo. Misty shared with me that a customer orders this tequila exclusively. How could I not try it!? Especially when the aroma from this bottle was fantastic. While it was very flavorful, I found the Abandonado to be more of a desert tequila than to group it with other añejos. It was insanely sweet! So much, that the distiller must have back-sweetened before bottling. At the same time, I realize that I try so many tequilas that I should take better notes and blog it!
Another inebriated holiday event was our friend Dana's ChocoVino party. We brought up a nice bottle to start off the party right, a 2006 Lane Tanner Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir. We were introduced to this exceptional wine during a Santa Barbara county wine tasting trip a couple of summer's ago. This particular bottle has been in our cellar since that trip. Its a bigger pinot than the many I've had, very expressive in fruit with subtle hints of smoke and floral notes in the nose. While the remainder of the evening was a bit of a chocolate fog, the Lane Tanner was very memorable. More to come soon...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chimay Cinq Cents Tasting Notes

This tasting followed the Rochefort flight, on another evening of course! I'm well versed with Chimay since its a hard beer to miss at a number of pubs with quality beer available. Before I really started paying attention to Belgian style beers, this was the only Belgian I would recognize on tap (or on the bottle list). It seems that every reputable craft beer bar has a metal sign for Chimay. I think they're the only one in the authentic Trappist group that actually advertises their beer. Its been quite some time since I had the white label and I truly have been missing out.
Chimay Cinq Cents
Brew Like a Monk gives the vitals:
OG 1.069 ABV 8.2% (8% on the bottle) Attenuation 89% SRM 8.5 IBU 35
Pours cloudy and pale in color with a creamy white head. There's clove and banana in the aroma but this left as it warmed. Light to medium body with medium carbonation (visually seems to have a higher carbonation than perceived). The hop character is subtle but lingers in the aftertaste. This beer has a great flavor profile that comes in chapters. First comes the malt sweetness, subtle banana, clove, dries out, then finishes with a smooth clove-like hop bitterness. Ed was here for the tasting and commented on how well balanced the beer is.
This is my favorite from the Chimay lineup though its been months since I've had blue or red label Chimay. Taking notes is the only way to keep track!
On a side note, I've read that Chimay is the source for White Lab's Trappist Ale yeast strain.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mayahuel Mild, January 10 2010

There's an upcoming session challenge for BJCP Category 11: Mild, Southern, and Northern English Brown. QUAFF has a club-only competition prior to an AHA national category competition. QUAFF chooses the best brew from the club and offers the winner reimbursement for shipping and entering the nationals. Shocked that my Oktoberfest was chosen in the fall during the club-only, I decided that it would be fun to participate in such events more often. In the spirit of my recent agave exploration and knowing that mild recipes may contain adjuncts, I'm throwing out a Mexican twist to this English category of beer by adding agave nectar.
When brewing a low gravity low alcohol beer, I feel that efficiency (of time and space) is compromised. Traditionally, brewers employed the parti-gyle strategy to essentially complete two beers in one session. This yields one strong beer and a more diluted mild beer from one grain bill. Seanywonton recently did this for brewing his mild, 2 Stouts, 1 Mash. You still need to boil twice but at least you only need to go through the time consuming process of mashing just once. I decided to to this with a twist by using a grain bill that would probably make a strong English ESB. I then split the runnings collected after sparging and brewed two milds in one day. Rather than making a strong and a mild using parti-gyle, I resorted to a more simple approach with two milds. I'm not even sure if a parti-gyle would work with my system since my mash tun has a limited carrying capacity. Brewing two nearly identical milds allowed me to experiment with a different hop amount and quantities of agave. While the first batch was in the kettle, the second half was stored in my insulated hot liquor tank.
I have to remember that entries are due to AleSmith by Friday, January 29th. Can someone remind me!?
The beer is named after the pre-columbian Aztec goddess of agave, Mayahuel, and our local tequilera, Cantina Mayahuel. Larry at the cantina hooked me up with a bottle of premium, secret sourced, agave nectar and I feel I've put it to good use (though I'm now empty and need to beg for more).
Mayahuel, the goddess of agave.

Mayahuel Mild, January 10 2010
10 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 60 Minute Boil

10lbs. Maris Otter Pale
1lb. Crystal 60
1lb. Crystal 20
1/2lb. Biscuit
1/4lb. Chocolate
Single Infusion Mash at 152°F

0.75 oz. East Kent Goldings 5.1% AA for 60 min. (2nd batch - 1 oz.)
1 Whirlfloc tab 15 min.
4 oz. Secret Source Agave Nectar at KO (2nd batch - 8 oz.)

White Labs WLP002 English Ale (vial to starter)

1st 5-Gallons OG: 1.036 @ 72°F FG: 1.012 @ 38°F ABV: 3.5%
2nd 5-Gallons OG: 1.038 @ 72°F FG: 1.011 @ 38°F ABV: 3.9%

Bottled out on 1/28 for the QUAFF club-only competition and to share with Larry at the Cantina.

Image Source:
Seler, Eduard. Mayahuel. Digital image. Mayahuel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia, 27 Aug. 2006. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

Trappistes Rochefort 6 8 10 Tasting Notes

I'm a little behind with a number of posts I've intended to write. Numerous inebriated adventures are awaiting upload and publish. This Rochefort tasting took place early August after having read Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus (Amazon link to Brew Like a Monk) during the summer. While this post was well overdue, subsequent posts are all related to the recent holiday drinking season.
Quick introduction: These were my written notes months ago and tasted the 6 and 8 one evening and the 10 on the following evening. I used a Corsendonk tulip glass for tasting which concentrates the carbon dioxide bubbles in the center. Any reference to "the book" below is Brew Like a Monk. During the tasting, I was reading Stan's section on Rochefort and his tasting descriptions. Check out Stan's blogs which are linked above.
Rochefort 6:
The book gives the vitals as - OG 1.072 ABV 7.8% (7.5% on the bottle) Attenuation 83% SRM 20 IBU 18
Light aroma with subtle malt sweetness and no perceivable hop. The head subsided within a few minutes. The light body and delicate malt sweetness lent to a bready after taste. Very digestible and refreshing with warming closing in. Towards the middle of the beer (half full or half empty), more bready toast flavors become pronounced with a alcohol warming mineral flavor that lends to tequila notes in the after taste (I must have had a good evening at the cantina the night before this). In my opinion, a fantastic beer!
According to the book, Rochefort uses Dingemans Pilsener, caramel malts, and pellet styrian goldings and hallertauer hops. "The monks weren't concerned about producing a commercially viable product, just a supplement for their vegetarian diets."
Rochefort 8:
The book gives the vitals as - OG 1.078 ABV 9.2% Attenuation 90% SRM 32 IBU 22
Head subsided at the same rate of the 6, quicker than expected. The head fell soon after taking the picture. The aroma has more malt and dark toast than the 6. There's a medium to dark toast bready flavors and alcohol is notes are apparent (as it should be with 9.2%). As the beer warms up, there's more alcohol in the aroma. Its not as sweet as the 6, more dry. There's noticeable use of adjuncts since there is less bready flavor and malt sweetness than the 6. Great beer though I prefer the 6.
Rochefort 10:
The book gives the vitals as - OG 1.096 ABV 11.3% Attenuation 89% SRM 45 IBU 27
Pours with a creamy beige head with more retention than the 6 or 8. The aroma has a very subtle malt sweetness and alcohol. The body is certainly bigger though it still remains very smooth. The 10 is bigger in every aspect than the 8: malt, body, alcohol, bitterness. There are also wine characteristics with tannins (in bitterness more than hop). I also taste roasted to charred caramel flavors, raisin, and fig. The book says Rochefort uses white and dark sugars along with wheat starch as their adjuncts. There's less carbonation than the 6 or 8 yielding a creamy texture with quick warming. Great strong beer though I have to go with the 6 as my favorite of the Rochefort lineup.