International Beer Day- Stone Ruination IPA

International Beer Day (first Friday in August) is a global celebration of beer, taking place in pubs, breweries, and back yards all over the world — It’s a day for beer lovers everywhere to raise a toast to our brewers and bartenders, and rejoice in the greatness of beer!

I actually wasn’t going to drink any beer today, but since I learned that it was International Beer Day I decided that I had to drink one of my bombers I’ve kept around. Stone Brewery Ruination is. It’s a hop forward beer, and I probably shouldn’t have been kept around for as long as it has, but it takes a special occasion to break out a semi-high alcohol bomber all by myself, and international Beery day is just the time to do it.

It pours a pale golden straw color, with a nice off white head, and a cloudy, homebrew-like appearance.

The aroma comes off as a wonderful citrus and pine.  It seems subdued from what it could be, but that is probably what happens when you keep a hop forward beer around for a few months.

The taste follows right along from the aroma. Citrus, pine, wood right up front. Not as sweet/mango/fruit that you would get from something like Citra, but very traditional American hop. Toasty malt coming up behind. The bitterness is very assertive, but despite the name, and the long warning on the bottle, it is not harsh. In fact, I think the word smooth would be very appropriate. It is not too sweet, but definitely not dry. There is also a nice warming alcohol feel, without any hot burning.

It is a great, refreshing ale for hot summer days. It goes great with a spicy stir-fry and smashed Chipotle sweet potatoes. In fact, you really need  to pair this with food that has very strong flavors, otherwise this beer will ruin all other flavors for you and you will just taste beer.

 

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The Little Imp’s Pale Ale

Take a look at this picture. I’m really moving up in the world of brewing, at least in terms of equipment. Santa Claus and the birthday version of Santa Claus (every once in a while being a Christmas Baby pays off) got me a fancy smancy Blichman Propane Burner. CostCo gave me a propane tank (after I gave them money). And I became a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Illinois, and I used part of the company bonus to buy a Spike Brewing 15 gallon stainless steel brew kettle (the rest goes to the Wedding).

Last weekend I brewed my first full-scale partial mash batch. If I get a big enough mesh bag, next time I will brew my first BIAB all grain batch. One day I might even do the complete traditional all grain.

It has been a little while since my last brew, and I’ve been having the itch, so I hit the local homebrew shop on Saturday to get the ingredients for my first Belgian Pale Ale (so many firsts).

There are a few differences between Belgian Pale Ales and the English and American Versions. I used Pilsner Malt extract instead of extract made from regular 2-row. I used Czech Saaz for the aroma additions instead of a British or an American Hop. These differences are important, but the real star of the show is the Belgian yeast used. If you used your regular brew pub yeast, all you are making is an ale version of a Pilsner. The Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey Ale supposedly comes from the Chimay Brewery, monk makers of world glass Chimay line of Beers. It will produce cloves and other esters, and have a delicious spicy note.

Ingredients
7 lbs of Pilsner Based Extra Light DME
1/2 lb of Munich Malt
3/4 lb of CaraMunich Malt
0.8 oz East Kent Golding at 60 Minutes
0.5 oz Saaz at 40 Minutes
0.5 oz Saaz at 15 Minutes

I also used my electrical skills to wire up a my old college fridge to use as a temperature fermentation chamber. I bought an STC-1000 temperature controller. It is about 100 bucks cheaper than a Johnson Controls temperature controller. Of course, those 100 bucks do buy you a plug and play ability and a display in Fahrenheit. That is nothing that some wires, electrical tape, and Google’s ability to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius can’t fix. After the first test batch I’ll solder the connection and throw some heat shrink on it to make a more solid commercial.

The Wedding Beer

My wedding is coming up in a handful of months, so it’s time to pick the beer. The wedding package comes with the usual Bud and Miller on tap, but there is no way I’d let my wedding have only the yellow fizz. I have a reputation to maintain of course. Good thing the venue promised that they can bring in cases of any beer that they can get through a distributor.

Wedding_Beer

With over 2000 breweries in the country, I have quite a decision to make. To help narrow it down, I am limiting it to Midwest beers. I would probably limit it to Chicago itself, but there is no way I’m going to take 3 Floyds out of the running. I think I will go for two types of beer, a hoppy lighter beer and more maltier darker beer, but I haven’t decided specifically on the styles. Even though I will ultimately only choose 2, I need a bigger list since my choices will ultimately also depend both on the price and the availability.

This is my list so far:

3 Floyds Gumball Head
Two Brothers Side Kick Extra PA
3 Floyds Zombie Dust APA
Pipeworks Brewery Unicorn Vs Ninja American Double
Pipeworks Brewery Cash for Gold Belgian Strong
Revolution Brewery Repo Man Rye Stout

I want to include some Half Acre, but most of their beer are seasonal, so that may cause a problem with the slow-moving purchasing apparatus of the venue. It also looks like I am heavy on the hoppy beers. I need to keep looking, and sampling (I know, so tough). Any ideas?

Fearless John’s Order of the Hop

A 15 Minute American Ale.

Fearless John’s Order of the Hop was a Chivalic Order or Knights. It seems he basically created it to have a drinking club for his friends. No better person to create a drinking club.  John the Fearless Duke of Burgundy is supposedly the  man who invented hopped beer. I created this beer for three reasons. I wanted to try the 15 minute APA that the guys at Basic Brewing Video came up with, I wanted to do a 1 gallon “6 pack” batch, and I wanted to try the relatively new (2007) Citra Hop.

15 Minute Pale Ale

It is a very straight forward process.  You basically throw the specialty grains in the water and take them out when the water reaches 170 deg. F. Then add the DME. Once the water is boiling, throw twice as many hops in as you would with a regular boil. This is because, as the name implies, you are only going to boil 15 minutes.  Twice as many hops you ask? 15 minutes isn’t half of 60 minutes. You are correct, but alpha acid isomerization isn’t linear. Approximately half the isomirization occurs in the first 15 minutes.

1 gallon batch

The most common batch is a 5 gallon batch. Sometimes a smaller batch is useful. It takes less time to boil 1 gallon of water. You can easily do a full boil. You can experiment, and if the experiment fails, you only waste a gallon of beer instead of 5.

Citra Hop

The Citra Hop is a relatively new variety of hop. It was released in 2007, and at an Alpha Acid of around 12-14% you can consider it as both an aroma hop and a bittering hop. It has an interesting aroma and flavor of citrus and tropical fruits.

Here is my particular recipe:

Target OG: 1.054
Measure OG: 1.055
Target IBU:

1 lb 2.5 Extra Light DME
3.2 oz Crystal Malt 60L
0.50 oz Citra Hop at 15 Minutes
0.40 oz Citra Hop at 5 Minutes
0.50 oz Citra Hop at Flame Out

I underestimated the boil off you can get with only a 15 minute boil, so I ended with an original gravity of 1.068. I used Beersmith to figure out how much water to add, and diluted it down to 1.055. I threw it in a 1 gallon jug and put it in my closet. The hops should really showcase in this beer, and I hope it lives up to its namesake.

I should have used a blow off tube.

Alabama Right to Brew

Basic Brewing Radio is one of the regular Podcasts I listen to. Usually James, the host, interviews homebrewers who have done interesting brewing experiments. Sometimes he interviews beer industry people. This particular episode is different. He basically gave us a recording of the Alabama State House debate of a bill that will hopefully make homebrewing legal in the last of the 50 states. If you don’t mind feeling dirty, I suggest you listen to it. There is constant fear mongering from people who seem to think Lucifer himself invented alcohol, where every other statement out of their mouth is an invocation about how they are good Christians who represent good Christian communities, despite wanting to do some very un-Jesus like controlling of your life. I imagine that if you could go back in time to late 1917 and early 1918, you would probably hear very similar arguments in the state house debates on whether to ratify the 18th Amendment.

Listen to the Episode Here.

Alabama Right to Brew

I guess those politicians don’t dare too much.

Work has taken me to Alabama and Tennessee many times over the last year, and I have become vastly aware of the quagmire of laws regarding alcohol, not the least of them being the strange creature known as a dry county. Unheard of in the Midwest. A dry county does not prohibit procession of alcohol, as similar laws prohibit possession of other drugs, but it does prohibit the sale of alcohol in the county.  It’s strange, because the people I meet down there don’t seem to think of alcohol as the devils juice, so I wonder how out of touch these politicians are.

Does the current law stop people from homebrewing? One of the politicians in the audio who decided to support this bill this year even pointed out that they are probably already brewing anyway. Mississippi has had at least one homebrew club since before their homebrew legalization bill passed two weeks ago. Why not Alabama? During national prohibition many of the former breweries that survived prohibition did it by selling malt syrup. Baking uses malt syrup, but probably the most popular (and “unofficial”) use was for homebrewing beer.

The bill did pass the house by a good margin and now moves to the Senate. It is not a perfect bill. The federal limit for homebrewing is 100 gallons a year (200 if more than one adult lives in the house), but this bill would allow  60 gallons a year (15 gallons every 3 months), and none in dry counties. At least it is progress. It only took 34 years for it to get this far in Alabama.

Now if the US could just end the ridiculous quagmire of regulations required to open a brewery, and the draconian double dipping tax system that first taxes the brewery per a barrel, and then taxes the cosumer with the increased liquor sales tax when he or she buys the beer, we could really live in a beertopia.

Mother’s in the kitchen, washing out the jugs;
Sister’s in the pantry, bottling the suds;
Father’s in the cellar, mixing up the hops;
Johnny’s on the porch, watching for the cops

Happy Beer Day

80 years ago today, alcohol prohibition ended in this country (USA). At the time, beer and wine under 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% ABV) became legal to drink. Alcohol by weight (ABW) became popular because the numbers are smaller than alcohol by volume (ABV) and it looked better to people who would control your life. If you look on a beer bottle, it more than likely has ABV, but ABW continued in this country until relatively recently.

To celebrate, I decided I should drink a beer that most definitely would have still been illegal 80 years ago. At 8% ABV it is still illegal in several states. Legunitas Hop Stoopid. A real celebration of what beer has become, despite the serious and long-term damage alcohol prohibition did to the country.

Take one sniff and there is no doubt that this is a seriously hoppy beer, not for the new beer fan or the faint of heart. You immediately get the grapefruit you are so used to from American hops. You also get the pine and grass of the American Northwest. You can almost smell the bitterness, but really that is just intense pine.

After a longer winter of stouts, porters, and milds, the hops assaulted my tastebuds. The taste rides right down from the aroma. Grapefruit, mango, pine, grass. It’s a little sweet, and not too terrible bitter.

It had a smooth mouthfeel and medium carbonation. The appearance is a clear dark golden color with a white head and good lacing.

This is a first-rate double IPA. I can already see myself drinking this on a hot afternoon in the dog days of summer.