A Fresh Start

Inspired by the work of our friends, the Schulz's, paired with a fresh start in a new zip code, we have decided to re-vamp our brewing operations. In the first year of brewing, we tried to do too much in too short of time. In previous posts, I've talked about our maximizing quantity at the expense of quality. This is something that we feel needs to change.

The work of the Schulz's has been really inspiring. They've been able to make great tasting beer while keeping their fridge stocked and friends satisfied. We can personally confirm that several of their brews are top quality and could rival larger handcraft breweries. Now that we moved closer to them and share the same timezone, we will hopefully join forces on future brews and advance on our techniques.

Speaking of moving, we have moved from our Grand Forks, ND location to a place in Charleston, WV. Because of this move, our inventory has been completely wiped out allowing us to have a clean slate. Now that we do have space in our kegerator, I've had the thought of trying our hand at a lager. An empty kegerator will allow us to ferment a carboy of lager at the temperatures necessary (around 40-50F). Currently, we are looking at brewing a black lager. The only question is: mini-mash, all-grain, or extract? To be continued....

Presents and Porters

"A pint of plain is your only man"
- Flann O'Brien

Today, Christmas Eve, I decided to go out shopping for last minute Christmas presents and swing past the local beverage purveyor. I thought a festive spin on the time-honored tradition of drinking whilst wrapping presents would be to build a six pack of porters to taste. Somehow I only ended up with four porters and two other seasonal types.

Here is the list (and some thoughts):

Anchor Brewing Co., Anchor Porter:
A very good beer from an excellent brewery. Initiates with a cocoa and malty flavor that quickly gives way to a bitter, spicy finish. Buy it again? Yes, mainly to feel cool and support this San Frannie brewery.

Rogue Ales Brewery, Mocha Porter:
Tasty quencher that looks dark and tastes even darker. Starts smooth but very quickly transitions to a bittersweet taste similar to a 70% cocoa bar. Aftertaste is much the same as the aftertaste of a double shot of espresso. Esspresso and bittersweet chocolate, theres really almost nothing better than those. Buy it again? Even though I enjoyed it, probably not because Rogue makes so many other delicious options I'd choose first (I'm looking at you Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar).

The Boston Beer Co., Holiday Porter:
We all know Samuel Adams and most of us love their brewing prowess. This Holiday Porter is a tasty beast and sweeter than the aforementioned porters. Starts out big and malty, nearly a stout of sorts, but it gives way to a bitter flavor that lingers for several minutes. Tasty? Yes. Buy it again? Yes, I am a Samuel Adams fan.

Bell's Brewery Inc., Porter:
Oddly, I feel this is the least offensive porter I've tried in terms of bitterness. The initial tasting of this porter is smokey and sweet, maybe even a bit smokier than others so far today. The malt flavor is big enough that it never really gives way to the residual hopiness that can bring the hard bitterness of other porters. Ultimately, this porter ends up being a bit too sweet for the porter category and some may say it shares resemblance to a flat cola. I wouldn't go that far. Buy it again? Yeah, but wouldn't seek it out. And much like Rogue, I like other offerings from the company more (ahem, Bell's Two-Hearted).

So there you have it, a new post about Porters and very little about presents. Happy Holidays to everyone who may read this and hopefully the new year will bring many new posts and new brew concoctions.


Kegerator/Keezer Project

The freezer waits in the basement, the kegs and CO2 sit empty, and patience is waning. So whats the hold up on the kegerator construction? This little $80 beast:

Its a digital temperature controller that overrides the internal thermostat of the freezer and keeps the contents (kegs of beer) from reaching below freezing temperatures. Some people may ask why didn't you get a refrigerator instead of the freezer? To that I answer because the freezer offers more room and thus more versatility as to what goes in. With the added space of a chest freezer we can store two 5 gallon kegs, a CO2 tank with dual regulators and possibly another fermentation vessels so that we may venture into the wild world of lagers. I will certainly keep you all posted on the sometimes continual, sometimes stalled progress of this project. We will have a first tap ceremony for our friends.


Beer Reviews and Lots of Them

We will break away from our traditional review style to do a quick and dirty review of 6 beers. Recently, we visited the twin cities and stumbled across a wonderful bottle shop on the way to the dog park. The bottle shop: Blue Max Liquors. The contents: 1,2oo+ varieties of beer and 300+ varieties of whiskey. Two purchases we are particularly proud of were several six packs of Magners/Bulmers Irish Cider that we could previously only find in Ireland, and a 2006 Bigfoot Barleywine from Sierra Nevada to compare to the 2009 variety. We also bought a mix six of several styles and brands which will be reviewed below.

Here are some reviews of what we bought (keep in mind these reviews were compiled in the same day and may come with some grammatical errors):

Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale (7.6% ABV) - California
This beer pours dark red/amber with a light head. The nose is a toffee with light biscuit and a faint citrus. The delicious taste conjures thoughts of an IPA, maybe even a lighter version of an IPA. Because of this distinction, the heavy use of malt on the front end is balanced very well with the abundance of hops on the back end. Citrusy hop taste seems to linger on the back of the tongue for a good while. Higher alcohol content is not apparent in the taste, but is in the feeling after.
Would we buy it again: Hell yeah, great beer! All year beer.

Victory's Golden Monkey Trippel Ale (9.6% ABV) - Pennsylvania
This trippel pours honey pale with a light white head. The nose has loads of spices with some banana and bread hints. It actually almost reminds me of the aroma of fresh baked banana bread (weird, I know). The taste is a little more robust than other traditional trippels we've tried. Honey shines through as a dominant flavor with banana and clove taste as well. The alcohol is very well hidden on the back end, but once again felt internally.
Would we buy it again: Ehhh... maybe, but only because trippels are lower on our list. Great Spring beer.

Founders Red's Rye P.A. (6.6% ABV) - Michigan
This rye pale ale pours a deep red and very clear with a heavier head that dies fairly quickly. The nose is of deep rye and some hints of citrus hops. The taste initially was similar to the Laguntas Imperial Red Ale but with the subtlety of rye on the front and almost overwhelming flavor of citrus hops on the back end. The hops play such a large part in this beer that it almost takes away from the rye malty flavor I'd love to delve deeper into. The citrusy hops hide all signs of alcohol and leave a bitterly delicious flavor long after the initial taste.
Would we buy it again: Yes, but we would not seek it out individually. Great for the Summer or dead of Winter.

Lagunitas Censored (The Kronic) Rich Copper Ale (5.9% ABV) - California
This copper ale pours an invitingly clear and reddish copper with a thin head that dies quickly. The nose is rich malt and toffee/caramel with subtle nutty hints. The hops are very very subtle or almost non-existent. The flavor is sweet and malty and nothing short of delicious. Hearty malt flavors do eventually subside and give way to citrusy hop flavors on the back end.
Would we buy it again: Definitely, we loved the heavy malt character. Great for late Summer through Winter.

Brau Brothers Cream Stout (5.0% ABV) - Minnesota
This cream stout pours about as black as any beer can with very little head to speak of. The nose of roasted, almost burned barley with very little chocolate or coffee. The hops are subtle and provide very little support to the body of the beer. The roasted barley creates a great mouthfeel on the front with a nice toasty flavor but soon falls quickly with a semi-watered down finish on the back end. No hint of alcohol present at all.
Would we buy it again: Probably not, partially because we've had so many other better stouts. Good for many occasions, not including special beer tastings (similar to Hamms).

Lake Superior Brewing Company's Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout (?% ABV) - Minnesota
The oatmeal stout pours black, as far as I can tell, with a very thin head. The nose is of roasted but not burned barley with a slight nuttiness. The hops are subtle here as well but shine through a little on the end. A little coffee flavor comes through with some cola as well. Oat creaminess is kind of lacking considering this is an oatmeal stout. Flavor is a little flat towards the finish but not as much as the previous Brau Cream Stout. No hint of alcohol.
Would we buy it again: Probably, although its no on the top of the list. Good for many cold season days.

That's all we have and we are done... beer is delicious.

And we're back...

Since its been so long since the last post, we won't even try to catch you up on the progress we've made. Here are just a few snippets of things from the past few weeks:
- We've tried several beers from around the globe.
- We recently visited Summit Brewery in St. Paul and Northern Brewer (the homebrew equipment store)
- We have caps with our logos on them! (Pics to be posted soon)
- We've been brewing sporadically and are getting geared up for the fall season with brews like:
- Apfelwein
- Smoked Porter
- Noble Nobody's Amber Ale
- Oktoberfest Ale
- We will also start to replicate some of our past successful brews (Anth na Roigh Irish Red, Muckalee Oatmeal Stout, and Noble Nobody's Amber Ale)
- We expect to be acquiring a chest freezer that we will modify into a two tap kegerator.
- We will be attending the Happy Harry's Beer Fest Saturday, August 29th.