Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Recipe: Summer Saison - Bring The Light & Ruff Ryder's Anthem

After killing my non-Brett version of the Spring Saison in a matter of weeks before even getting to review it, I needed to get a new Saison on tap. I also wanted to play with a few fun Brett strains I recently acquired as well as a few I had already (by bottling with a single strain per 6 pack). I also needed to have more than one keg of the Saison to drink so I had it on tap for at least a month if not longer. So I pushed my system to the max, a 17.25 gallon boil in a 17.5 gallon kettle, and 14+ gallons of beer in my 1/2 barrel keg fermenter (15.5 gallons). Other than being a little low on volume upon kegging (sampling and stealing a qt worth to force carb fast in a 1 liter soda bottle), it went really well. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review: Not So NE IPA

The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry.  When I planned to make a NE IPA I used the techniques I had researched.  Flaked Oats.  High Chlorides.  A stone fruity yeast that tends to be a low floccer.  No fining agents.  Boat loads of hops in the whirlpool and fermenter.  The resulting beer came out nice and hazy, not milkshake thick, but opaque for sure... for a couple weeks.  Time, cold, and gravity worked to pull it clear enough to read through.  Luckily for me, it has made the beer taste much better.  While it was young and hazy it tasted phenolic, enough that I thought that my Brett strain might have taken up residence from the fermenter.  The tartness from the acid malt was also a little more present.  After clearing it has lost the phenolics and the tartness has backed down to a juiciness.

Appearance:  Pours a nearly bright orangish gold with a dense white head and streams of bubbles that continue to reload it.  Thick and sticky lace grips the glass with each sip.

Aroma:  A juicy bouquet of hops pop from the glass.  Grapefruit, orange juice, peach, guava, with pine and resin filling it out.  The hops are sweet, like a ripe orange.

Taste/Feel:  The hops follow in the flavor, yet lower than I would like.  Low to medium flavors of citrus, peach, and resin, finish in a resin laden medium high bitterness.  Sweet malts help with the juiciness as well as a lightly tart finish, like a grapefruit.  The body is creamy and smooth giving way to a light finish which is washed away by the carbonation and bitterness.

Overall:  Although it isn't a NE IPA, it isn't a West Coast either, but it is a damn tasty beer.  The hop aroma is big and inviting, but could use some extra oomph from a secondary dry hop (this one only got fermentation hopping).  It needs a little more bright, raw, nose in the bag, hoppiness.  The mid palate hoppiness needs some work as well to carry through between the nose and the finish.  Body and carbonation are spot on.  Acid malt is out of place.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Recipe: NE IPA - Haze Craze

I have a knack for brewing IPAs that non IPA drinking folks really like to drink.  I’ve always brewed my IPAs with a restrained bitterness, dry finish, but softer mouthfeel, and leaning heavy on finishing hops.  I don’t brew these so that non IPA drinkers will drink them, I brew them because I much prefer them to the bulk of the IPAs I can get here in the PNW.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to get a well-made and bitter IPA, but I only tend to have one.  We recently got Founder’s here in Oregon, and I had an All Day IPA.  It literally took me all day to drink it.  It was out of balance, with an edgy bitterness that made the finish firm instead of refreshing.  When I drink an IPA, I want each sip to leave you wanting another.  I crave balance.  So once I put down the alien hop juice Brett IPA, I naturally was drawn to brewing a NE IPA.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Recipe: Spring Saison, the Return of Dupont

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.  Well, what if life doesn’t hand you lemons?  What if you don’t care for lemonade?  What then?  What if life has lead you down the road of trying to open a Brett only brewery and then to the end of the road whence you realize it isn’t going to happen?  What do you make with that?  You make a Saison with your favorite strain that happens to not be Brett.  That’s right, I decided I needed to apologize to me great friend Dupont for abandoning him for so long.  And the reward is wonderful.  I hadn’t been this excited to brew in over a year.  The beer has been on tap less than a week and my wife is already telling me to brew it again.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Opening A Brewery Costs Too Much

Life.  It’s what happens every second of every day.  It happens to all of us, whether we like it or not.  It can help all of our plans run smoothly, or it can derail them all.  And we have no control over it, no matter how hard we try.  The only thing we can do is choose to sit and scowl at life for what it brought us, or accept life as it comes and be grateful for what we have.

Just over 2 years ago I changed the focus of my brewing and this blog significantly.  Everything became about brewing towards opening a production brewery.  Much of my money was put into test batches, securing names, setting up websites, printing business cards, designing logos and label art.  Much of my time was sunk into thinking about concepts, floor plans, and business strategies.  Much of my dreams were filled with new releases, toppling overpriced and rare “specialty beers”, serving the community.  Then life happened.

I wanted to brew, but I didn’t want to run a business.  Looking for a partner with the skills to run the business end of a brewery that would love my vision and want to see it flourish proved difficult.  Financing wasn’t going to be that big of an issue, I had people lined up, but the looming doubt was whether they would actually be on board for my vision or if they would want to steer it all another direction.  As the process went forward, I found that brewing the same recipe over and over again had become a chore, so much so that the thought of brewing a batch at home didn’t excite me much at all. 

Then the biggest hits came.  My son had been struggling in school during this whole time, and he began to lash out during class.  He is a very emotional young man, much like his Daddy, and he has a difficult time expressing those emotions properly.  When he is frustrated, the whole world knows it.  One thing that seems to impact his behaviors and emotional regulation the most is time with dad.  The more time he gets with me after work or on the weekends, the better his following days at school become, and the more “normal” he acts at home.  The busier I get, the more he struggles.

While all this was going on my best friend was launching a brewery with his brother.  I’ve been blessed to journey with him in the launch of his brewery, assist on brew days, kegging, bottling, quality control, and many other aspects during this time as well.  One thing I know for certain from watching him: if I open a brewery I will not be there for my son(s) when he/they need me.  I can’t love my family the way they deserve and in the ways they each need individually and collectively if I am working 80+ hours a week to fulfill my dreams. 

I had this grandiose vision that I could do the brewery with a restaurant and have it all super kid friendly so my family could come in after school and hang out with me on the nights I had a release or needed to work late.  Being a part of my buddy’s brewery work has shown me that isn’t possible.  You are always having to either focus on the beer you are working with or on the patrons drinking it.  I asked my son one day if he wanted to go to the brewery after church and have lunch and a Daddy Date, usually one of his favorite things, and places to eat (the food cart stationed there).  He told me he hated the food and the brewery.  After some probing, he finally said that he really likes both, but when we go there I ignore him to talk about beer with all my friends (people I run into or the employees).  If I couldn’t make real time for him at a brewery I frequent but am not truly involved with, how could I make real time for him if I owned and operated it?

I still would love to open a brewery, some day, maybe once the kids have grown up and moved on.  Then maybe I’ll open a small brewery, making the kinds of beers I want to drink and sharing them with the people that want to drink them with me.  Until then, I’ll make those beers at home, when I can, and drink them with my friends and family that love my boys as much as I do.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Brewery Trial Review: Session Saison: Tragic Magic

I recently tried using a fining agent on my beers to see if they would impact the flavor of the finished product.  Specifically, I took my Saison and split it at packaging.  Half went into the keg on the fining and was then racked off the fining onto the dryhops in a second keg.  The other half was dryhopped before being racked into a second keg with the fining agent.  The attempt was to see if dryhopping prior to fining or after fining altered the dryhop contribution at all.  My blend of yeast has a tendency to transform hop oils so the thought was if I removed the yeast it would have less impact on the hops.  As far as the Noble hops on this Saison, the results were rather negligible.  There is no discernible flavor or aroma difference.  The only real difference is the appearance.  The dryhopped after fining beer has, well, hops in it.  After a few weeks of sitting in the keezer, the hop particles in the bottom of the keg keep on coming.  They don't seem to be compacting on the bottom and staying there. 

Pours a clear pale gold with a hint of orange under a dense and tight white head that falls way too quick for a Saison.  Thin ring leaves mild splattering on the glass.  Bubbles flutter up the glass.

Herbal and floral hops with a hint of spiciness lead the charge giving way to an earthy yeast note.  Pears and citrus with a touch of pineapple esters and a rosey alcohol float atop crackery malts and wheat with a light rye.

Pears and citrus give way to earthy phenols and a rye bite.  Crackery and rustic malt rear up behind notes of floral and spicy hops.  Bitterness is high and a little off putting as well as the hop flavor.  Complex to say the least.  The malt is medium low while everything else fires on medium high.  Lots of flavor for such a small beer.  No astringency.

Light body with bone dry and very bitter finish.  Bubbles dance on the tongue, no alcohol bite.

Crushable high flavor session beer.  The complexity is right where it should be for a Saison.  The bitterness and hop flavor are a little too high as they linger too long into the finish instead of cleansing the palate.  The head needs better retention for sure.  These kegs have had some issues with foam which I think I have fixed with by insulating the collar on the keezer.