Red Eye Coffee Porter

The nuptials are over, and do you know what means? Time for beer! A special beer from Two Brothers, part of their Retro Series. As part of two Brother’s 15th Anniversary in 2012 they re-released 15 of their earlier beers. The Red Eye Coffee Porter was first brewed in the Spring of 2009 and due to popular acclaim was temporarily brought back in the fall of 2009. Now it is back as part of this special offering. It is a great example of American Beer recipe ingenuity. Take some rye, which is popular in German Brews, take a Porter from England, Americanize it, and throw in some coffee beans, not technically traditional in Porter, but we don’t take kindly to tradition in these parts.

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The days of summer are ending and that means no more ice cream shops, but fear not, take a sniff of this beer and you will be taken right back there. Take a sip. Yes I know. You still think that you are in the ice cream shop. I had to bring you back to reality, but you aren’t. Your probably sitting at home, but you are drinking Red Eye Coffee Porter and that is good.

You would kind of expect more bitterness from so dark a beer, but it is a big beer and the hops are downplayed, but as the beer warms up, the bitterness along with the spiciness from the rye really comes forward and rounds it out nicely.

The carbonation is very low, which is immediately noticeable as soon as you start pouring. The off-white head is small and does not last long. The lacing does not last on the glass. On the other hand, the body is big, real big. All of this contributes to the milk-shake like consistency of the beer. The color is of very dark brown, virtually black, and no light can make it through. This beer is thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m wishing that the beer wasn’t a limited release.

What should you pair this with you might ask? I paired it with the Great Gatsby movie, but your morning Wheaties (assuming you don’t have anywhere else to go after a 9.2% ABV beer)  would be an equally appropriate for this Coffee Porter.

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Kona Brewery Pipeline Porter and Chocolate Cake

With a name like Kona Brewery, you’ expect some quality coffee in this Porter. Believe me, coffee is exactly what you get. The label claims that there is Kona Coffee in the beer, one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Only coffee that is grown on Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the Kona districts of the Big Island of Hawaii is allowed be called Kona Coffee. Coffee, like hops and grapes, has terroir. This means that the location and conditions the plant grows in affects the taste and aroma of the plant. I have had some pretty good estate coffee from Hawaii, but this is probably the first time I have ever had real Kona Coffee.

The aroma is of coffee and toasty maltiness. If you closed your eyes and took a sip you might think that somebody switched out a mocha coffee for your beer. It has just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect amount of bitterness on the back-end. Exactly like a good mocha coffee. It is a very smooth beer with medium-low carbonation and a large mouthfeel. It essentially feels like smooth chocolate milk.

It went perfectly with a deeply rich chocolate cake. There is a reason coffee goes great with cake. It has to do with roasting. Coffee, chocolate, and malted barley  all have very similar flavors due to the similar process each goes through to get to their edible states. The cake was more fudge than your average birthday cake. A sweeter cake might have been better with something like a milk stout, but this cake was perfect with this bittersweet treat.

Founders Breakfast Stout for Breakfast?

What other time are you suppose to drink a Breakfast Stout?

It’s made with two different kinds of coffee, and there is a distinct coffee flavor.  It is very smooth, and tastes a lot like this particular Nicaraguan coffee that I enjoy (if you threw in a little chocolate and Irish cream). It is bitter, it is smooth, and it is massive in both body and alcohol. It certainly made my subsequent trip to Target a bit more interesting. I bet it would go great with a bowl of oatmeal.  I had no oatmeal, I instead had delicious doughnuts.

The first doughnut was sweet and intensely chocolate. It probably was a little too sweet to pair with the beer. I did think it improved the doughnut by cutting through the cloying sweetness. Fruit Loops covered the other doughnut. It tasted much better. Maybe that picture on the label is trying to tell you something. The fruit loop doughnut was a better balanced doughnut in general, and I enjoyed it a lot more. There is a reason you drink coffee with donuts, this is just a modern interpretation.

Beer and Food Pairing: Charkoota Rye and Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops

I’ve wanted to try something new with pork chops. Mostly it has been brine, brine, and more brine, then grill. During my Good Eats watching, I saw him make a marinade application for pork chops that uses molasses.  That is good since I have molasses for the ginger snap cookies I made several years ago, and… nothing else. I mean, what do you ever use molasses for anyway?

I’ve had the New Holland Charkoota Rye Smoked Dopplebock since I recapped it after drinking half of the bottle during lent. The New Holland website is all about pairing this with pork, so I figured why not. I wasn’t sure the beer would will still be good, since the head space was now filled with oxygenating air instead of a barrier of CO2, but it seems to have done alright.

The Pork was a no brainer. It was almost like somebody designed the beer to go with this pork. The pork takes on a bit of smokiness, although not as much as with a proper barbecue. The beer takes your backyard grilled pork chop and adds the flavor of a nicely smoked pulled pork sandwich, with a tad bit more charring. The malt sweetness  of the beer mingled very nicely with the molasses and coffee flavors of the pork. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a second date between all the flavors.

The rice took on a lot of the flavors and sweetness of the reduction sauce made from the pork marinade. Brown rice generally has a pretty nutty flavor, and with the sauce it became almost like a nutty winter treat. Pairing it with the beer brought you right back to the middle of summer with campfires and Independence Day grill fests. It was kind of like Christmas in July.

I also had lemon glazed kale. I have never had kale, but it is a more hearty green than something like romaine, red leaf, or the other leafy greens generally used for salads. My theory was that it could therefore stand up to a more substantial beer than the Weiss and witbiers a salad would best with. I’m not sure it would have worked out so well if it  didn’t have that lemon honey glaze. It also had a pretty good kick from the red peppers and garlic, and I most definitely over salted it. In light of the over salting, the beer was a life (food) savor, as the sweet malt flavor blunted the saltiness of the kale.  If you remember from my last post on the beer, it has a very smoke forward taste and aroma, which I think at times is overpowering. The lemon glaze cut through the smokiness of the beer.  The kale turned out decently sweet as well from the lemon glaze. There was, quite frankly, a lot of competing flavors in the kale, and the beer did its job of bringing them all together.  I can’t really see the beer going with very many leafy greens, but if you cooked them with strong flavors like I did, then you might be good to go.

All in all, it was a pretty good meal. After I sent the dog away I was finally able to enjoy its full gastronomic potential, where the food and the beer became greater than the sum-total of their parts.

The Verdict on Kuyken’s Coffee Stout

It’s been a few weeks since I bottled Kuyken’s Coffee stout and I still haven’t shared anything about it. I cannot let this oversight go on any longer. To be honest I haven’t said anything about it because the first couple of bottles seemed to have something off about them. It had a sharp taste that certainly didn’t go with the rest of the beer. It seemed like the beer   had been contaminated somewhere along the line, and some nasty bacteria provided its own flavoring before it died from alcohol poisoning. It wasn’t entirely undrinkable, but I couldn’t really get over that off-putting flavor. A few weeks have passed and I brought some bottles over to my parents for Easter last week. There was no sign of any off flavor at all. It was saved. I had another one a few days later and it was just as tasty. That’s the great thing about bottle conditioning, in that the beer usually improves with age (up to a point).

Aroma

It mostly smells like coffee with some sweeter chocolaty notes.

Appearance

It is very dark brown to black. It has an off white or light caramel head, with good head retention.

Taste

It is pretty sweet towards chocolate malt, with lots of smooth coffee flavor. It is less bitter than what you would usually expect from a stout. It has the sweatness hit you up front with the small amount of bitter on the back. The lack of bitterness was my brother’s main complain.

Mouthfeel

It has a heavy mouthfeel, but very smooth with a ligther amount of carbonation.

Overall Impression

It is a little sweater than you would expect from a stout, but this probably has to do with the addition of coffee cold extraction coffee. It would go great with a brownie or something fruitier like a Raspberry Tart.

Bottling Kuyken’s Coffee Stout

This weekend Amy (one of the helper monkeys around here) and I bottled my third batch of homebrew. I guess I’m kind of working backwards since I’m starting with the bottling on the blog, but you’ll probably learn something, and in addition that means you could potentially taste the beer faster, since it should be fully carbonated in about 2 weeks.

I can’t remember when I decided that I should brew my own beer. I know it was during college since I started collecting empty beer bottles in college (only to throw them all away during a move). I also bought John Palmers book “How to Brew.” If you wanted to get into the craft, that would be the book to get. You could also get Charlie Papazians older book “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.”

So there I was several years after college at the Christmas of 2009 and I find myself with a shiny new homebrew kit. Unfortunately I’m largely at a field site for work and I won’t be permanently back home until June.

Lets get to the present times. I’ve got a few homebrews under my belt and a fancy new brew book “Radical Brewing” by Randy Mosher who seems to be a big fan of the so-called Belgium Reinheitsgebot “Experience, Creativity, and Knowledge,” as he always is pushing what you can do with a beer.

It’s time to step it up a notch, in that I’m not just brewing a pre-made brew kit, but I’m formulating a beer reciped based on radical recipes from the book.There is born, Kuyken’s Coffee Stout.

It starts with a solid American Style Stout recipe, and use some tasty Crystal Malts. Then, after primary fermentation you cold extract a few ounces of coffee and add it when you rack to secondary.

Ok, there was a lot of fancy spancy brewin’ terms in that last sentence. What the hell did I just say? I’ll go into more detail when I post about my next brew from the beginning, but here are some basics.

Crystal Malts: These are malts that are roasted in a rotating drum before kilning. They produce strong toffee-flavors. It will also add to the amount of residual sugars since some of the sugars from this malt are unfermentable.

Wort: This is basically the sugar solution you get from the malted barely and other ingredients, and contains the bitterness, flavor, and aroma of the hops. You then add yeast to this, which will ferment it, and you will get beer.

Primary Fermentation: After brewing your wort, you put it into some sort of fermentation vessel like a plastic bucket or carboy. Then you put in some beer yeast. After fermentation, you will sometimes siphon or “rack” the beer into another vessel that removes it from the yeast cake that developes. This is especially true if you want to mature the beer for a long time.

Cold extraction. To do this you take a bunch of coffee grounds and put it in a small amount of water for about a day in the fridge. Some people use cold extraction to make coffee which generally gives you a smoother less bitter coffee flavor than a brewed coffee. You can store this coffee for awhile and if you wanted to drink it you could mix it with hot water. The reason that this method is used for beer a lot of the time is so it doesn’t add any more bitterness.

To the Bottling!

The first think you need to do with clean and sanitize all of your equipment. I clean all my bottles as I used them, and then I generally put it into the dish washer which has a sani rinse feature, that will sanitize all the bottles.

Use what you got to make cleaning easier.

Then I clean everything else using a low suds oxygenated cleanser called Powders-Brewery-Wash. This is similar to Oxyclean Free. You could really use any unscented detergent, but the oxygenated cleaners barely needs to be rinsed and really are some of the best cleansers out there. Then you have to sanitize your equipment. You can use heat (like I use for the bottles), or you can use a chemical sanitizer. The most common one would be a beach solution, just remember that if you use a bleach solution you have to rinse it really good. I used a non-rinse sanitizer made by Star San, which won’t affect the head on your beer, but there are other brands out there.

A pain in the ass, but very necessary.

Sanitizing is very important for all your brewing activities. To make beer you generally want want one critter and one critter only, yeast. If you sanitize (kill 99.9% of critters), you will easily allow the yeast to kill off the remaining 0.1% of the critters. If you don’t, then other bacterias will start eating away at your beer and you’ll get all sorts of odd flavors. You won’t get sick, because the alcohol will eventually kill off most everything.

You then need to make a priming sugar solution. I completely forgot about this in the “excitement” of cleaning that I didn’t remember the priming sugar until after I started siphoning the beer into the bottling bucket and Amy asked when we put the priming sugar in. The answer of course is, before you start siphoning the beer into the bottling bucket so it mixes itself in good.  We quickly stopped the siphon and ran up to the kitchen to make it.

Keep as much air out as possible.

Priming solution is basically a simple syrup. You just want to add some sugar into the beer so the remaining yeast can ferment it in the bottle and create C02, hence naturally carbonating the beer. This simple sugar won’t add any flavor or body like the wort does.

So we make some and cool it off as quick as possible. Then pour it into the secondary fermenter with as little splashing as possible. After fermentation you want to aerate the wort as little as possible. Adding air to the beer will give you oxidized flavors, which tastes like cardboard. Generally if you have a beer for a long time, you will get these flavors eventually because the bottle cap can only keep out so much air, but by aerating the beer you’re going to get them a lot faster.

Yes that is an MGD box.

So now the beer is in the bottling bucket with a spiget. The tube and the bottle filler have been placed on it. Then I fill each bottle up to the top which after you take out the bottle filler out will give you the perfect amount of head room. You want to leave about an inch on top, which after carbonation will fill with C02 and protect your beer from air.

Amy Sumrall, bottle capper extraordinaire.

Then you take the bottle capper and cap each bottle. It takes a little bit of time, and you have to wait 2 weeks for it to carbonate, but then you will have tasty tasty beer. Yes there were a few snafus, but you’ve got to relax, don’t worry, and have a homebrew.

Bottled Beer!

Murphy’s Irish Stout

The last post was one of the lightest beers (at least in color). Now we go to one of the darkest. Murphy’s Irish Stout. The beer brewed from a blessed well in Cork, Ireland. Although the beer we get here in the States is brewed under contract in England.

Murphy's Irish Stout from the Widget Can

Most people first experience an Irish Stout by drinking Guinness. In fact, before the 80s it was probably one of the only decent beers you could find in this country. Murphy’s is in the same style of beer, and maybe has been less susceptible to the general decharacterization of beers that the whole world went through.

When I first came across dry stout (in the form of Guinness) we all convinced ourselves that this was such a heavy beer, kind of like a meal. Of course, compared to the Miller High Life that we had been drinking up until then, to us, it was the pound cake of beer. Of course now I know that Irish Stout is one of the smallest beers. It rarely has an ABV above 5%, and the final gravity, or level of residual sugars left after fermentation is very small. Hence why it is a Dry Stout, and not a sweet stout. This of course means the mouthfeel tends to be lower.

And like most Irish Stouts that we get in the US, the canned version has a nitrogen widget which simulates the nitrogen commonly used to pump Irish Stout from a keg. This is mostly the reason Irish Stouts have that Ice Cream creaminess.

Of course, this isn’t the same beer as Guinness. Murphy’s tends to be slightly sweeter and less assertive than Guinness or even Beamish. Guinness once had an advertising slogan “Guinness, the beer you’ve been training for”. Murphy’s advertising retort “Murphy’s Irish Stout – No Experience Required.”

Aroma

A very roasty malt, with coffee and chocolate ice cream notes. There is no hint of hops at all. It kind of smells bitter, if bitter could be smelled. My guess is that it could be the acidity.

Appearance

It is opaque and very dark brown or black. It has a creamy light brown head.

Taste

The first thing you notice is that it is very creamy, like  a milk shake. This of course comes from the nitrogen widget, and wouldn’t be noticeable in the bottled version of this beer. This gives me a perceived sweetness that I think comes from the creamy texture. It also helps that this is one of the sweeter dry stouts. It has a roasty toasty flavor and has some coffee notes. It also has a bitter flavor which comes from the highly roasted malts. It’s the same reason that dark French roast coffee is more bitter than lighter City Roast coffee. No noticeable hop flavors.

Mouthfeel

 Creamy light mouthfeel with light, almost unnoticeable carbonation.

Overall Impression

A great beer, that has a good roast flavor. It went perfect with the Italian Beef sandwiches. A dry stout like this is almost a required ingredient for a nice homemade beef stew. It has very similar and complimenting flavors to the other ingredients of the stew and will really round out the taste.