Wednesday, April 29, 2009

XX-Rated Beer

I typically don’t (and won't) write about being a woman who likes beer, or who likes beer “despite” being a woman. It’s not that I intentionally avoid the subject; to be honest, it's never occurred to me to write about it. While I do hope that more people expand their experiences with beer beyond macro “light” beers, that desire is not directed to a gender. Beer is a passion of mine that I’ve been working on for about a decade now (since discovering Sudwerk’s Märzen in college) and something I want to share with everyone. I love talking about beer, tasting it, learning about it, and encouraging others to try new styles.

I do recall feeling a bit of gender pride when I found out Bend Brewing’s award-winning Brewmeister was a woman. The same feeling welled up when I found out Moylan’s Brewing, one of my all-time-favorite breweries, also employed a female head brewer. But, really, it's the same feeling of pride I get when I meet another person from Oregon, who went to my alma mater, or who enjoys gin. All I ask for is consistently good beer, an occasional risk in trying a new style or recipe, and respect for the varied tastes and preferences of beer drinkers worldwide - regardless of gender. They can keep their pink boots. I like the shoes I have, thanks.

Anyway, I do have a point. Candice Alström hits the nail on the head in her recent article in BeerAdvocate magazine about women and beer.

Like Candace, I love beer. And that’s all that matters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Parkville Microbrew Fest Coming Up...

It pays to read others’ beer blogs today (props to Mar for mentioning this on the KC Beer Blog!). I was reminded of two blog-worthy facts today: Founder’s will be available in Missouri soon, and the Parkville Microbrew Fest is coming up in just a couple of weeks. This will be the 6th year for the festival, which will be at English Landing Park from 1:00 to 5:00 pm on May 2nd, 2009. I don’t know about you guys, but 4 hours seems like a challenge.

Here’s the official site of the beerfest. Looks like the cost of admission ($20) includes a tasting glass, a little cheat sheet for tasting, and – of course – samples! Food will also be available (for an additional cost).

There'll be "26+" breweries there and some live music. Here's the list from their website in a bit more readable (and clickable) format:

I'm kickin it old school; that's my first HTML table attempt since 1994. Hope you guys like it. Or at least get a good laugh out of it...

Maybe I'll see you there!

Founder's is Coming!!

And YES I am excited. STL Hops recently posted that MoBev would begin distributing Founder's beers around Missouri in early May. Derek with MoBev verified that they'll "begin selling Founders in KC the same day we begin selling Founders in St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia, Jefferson City, Lake of the Ozarks, Joplin, Cape Girardeau, etc."

Time to celebrate. I can already taste that Centennial IPA...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

An idea from Down Unda' for all-grain brewers

Those Aussies come up with some pretty clever stuff now and then. Vegemite... wine in a box... boomerangs... we have one more to add to the list.

John recently found some Aussie homebrewers online discussing the use of a large grain bag that allows them to mash in your boiling kettle. This eliminates the need to transfer water to the mash tun then back to the boiling kettle. The bag needs to be large enough to wrap around the outside of the pot (see pictures below) but clearly not too big. A couple of weekends ago we went on down to Joann crafts and bought the following items:
  • 2 yards of polyester voile (in the drapery section). It must be polyester - no cotton!
  • 1 nylon drawstring, 2 yards long (the one I got was about 1/4" diameter)
  • 100% polyester thread
I cut the voile in such a way that the bottom edge was at the fold of the fabric and the measurements were about 42" wide by 50" tall. I sewed up the sides & top hem (with a machine), strung the drawstring, and voila - brewing bag! I reinforced the bottom corners with several lines of stitching and double-stitched the sides, just to make sure it would be strong enough to hold some very heavy spent grain. This bag is big enough to use with a half-barrel keg if you like.

We've now made 2 batches with the bag, and it has cut off about 1.5 hours of our brewing time, inclusive of clean-up. We used to use the ol' Coleman cooler mash tun, but now we just mash right in the boiling kettle. Once the water is to the right temperature, we put the grain bag in and let the grain mash for about an hour. Once mashing is complete, we just remove the bag, squeeze as much liquid out as possible, then proceed with the boil. John's found that the mash efficiency has increased as well, so we'll be using less grain in the future as a result (our special bitter became an extra special bitter!).

Here are a couple of pictures I took right after we added the grain. The binder clips are just there to hold the bag in place while we ensured there were no grain clumps remaining prior to the mash. For reference, this is a 10-gallon kettle.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Stuff - Been there, not-yet done that

First, what's been in our fridge lately.

As Liquid Diets recently posted, Caldera Brewing out of my home state of Oregon has started to distribute to the KCMO area - with cans! They're sending their IPA and Pale Ale out our way, and boy is it tasty. Deliciously hoppy as west coast APAs and IPAs should be, these two beers deliver. We've spotted them at Gomer's Midtown and Royal on State Line.

Here's a video of Caldera Brewing Company's canning line:

Hey look! They're on 'can'did camera!


anyway. I picked up a bottle of Schmaltz brewing's He'Brew Jewbilation 12, which is an anniversary ale using the same number of grains, hops, and hop additions as years - and %ABV (yes, 12%!). If you're so inclined, you can read about the ingredients on their website or in pdf. This beer is amazing and not to be taken lightly. It pours a rich dark brown with a tan & quickly dissipating head. It smells sweet and rich and boozy, almost like port. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, tasting heavily of raisins and dark chocolate. Aftertaste is definitely bitter chocolate. This is one rich and complex beer!

This beer would go lovely with a giant plate of brownies (yes, giant) or maybe a black forest cake. Better yet, a plate of hearty cheese (3-year cave-aged gouda, for instance) with crackers, dried apricots, prunes and hazelnuts. Decadent!

And now for the not-yet:

We've been keeping an eye (or four) out for the 2009 Samuel Adams Longshot releases, but no luck so far. In case you're not familiar with Longshot, this is Jim Koch's nod to the art of homebrewing. Sam Adams invites homebrewers to submit samples of their homebrew, then picks four finalists from the submissions. The finalists then get flown to the GABF, where the two champions will be announced. The Samuel Adams brewery will brew the two winning recipes and bottle them as the Longshot series for the year.

This run is special, as there's a 2007 winner in the line-up - a Double IPA. This is, according to some, a clone of Russian River Brewing's highly-praised Pliny the Elder. In other words, west coast hop splendor.

Due to the hop shortage in the past couple of years, Samuel Adams was unable to source the ingredients necessary to stay true to the recipe. They gave the homebrewer, Mike "Tasty" McDole, the option to have his recipe brewed with alternate ingredients in 2008 or brewed with the proper ingredients in 2009. Clearly, he chose the latter and it's only a matter of time before we get the pleasure of tasting it! It'll be accompanied by a Traditional Bock and a Cranberry Wit.