Posted: December 1st, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Beer Reviews | 1 Comment »
Since I’ve got what I hope turns out to be a reasonable Oktoberfest-Märzen fermenting right now, I figured it was a good time to refresh my tastebuds on what the original style from Ayinger tastes like. I remembered it being a pleasantly malty, coppery, well balanced beer that suits these dark winter days quite well. A little glass of late-summer/early-fall sunshine to cheer us up!
From the bottle, it pours clear and the color of sun-baked straw; golden and a little toasty. There is a little head retention and some foam lacing on the sides of the pint glass. The aroma is of malt and a hint of corn and spice, with a slight alcohol and ester edge to it. It has a fairly delicate mouthfeel, not a strong carbonation but just enough to tell you that the beer isn’t flat and make it feel alive.
The flavor is definitely malty, a little bit sweet, with a slight metallic tang on the finish. A slight hoppy bitterness at the end keeps the sweetness from being cloying, drying the flavor out quite a bit. There’s a bit of an alcohol and corn or grain (think Grapenuts) flavor, which I’m sure is from the malts used.
So, I remembered correctly! It’s a sunny, warming beer that I’d look forward to drinking in the fall and winter. Here’s hoping mine turns out even remotely this well.
Posted: November 6th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Beer Reviews, Specialty, Stout | No Comments »
Ah, fall in Portland. The season for darker, interesting, and wacky beers. Bring on the stouts, the bourbon-barrel releases, and the winter warmers!
Roots Brewing has released a chocolate habañero stout; a stout brewed with chocolate malt, chocolate wheat & five pounds of coco nibs in the mash, boiled for two hours during six pounds of organic free trade semi sweet chocolate syrup made by Alma Chocolate is added. After fermentation they dry hopped with 100 chopped habañeros. For those of you not in Portland, Alma Chocolate is a local chocolatier that makes fantastic, interesting, fancy chocolates.
On first pouring, this beer has a chili pepper aroma along with dark malt notes — just as you might expect — and a medium head that dissipates fairly quickly. This isn’t an oily Guinness, it’s more in the vein of a dry Irish stout. It is completely black, not even a hint of wan Portland afternoon light gets through this pint.
As it warms, the flavors definitely improve. On my first taste, this stout was dry, not very chocolatey, and I couldn’t taste the habañeros at all. Now that it’s been warming for a little bit, there’s a definite spiciness up front and in the finish. Swishing it around in my mouth makes my gums tingle with spice – both weird and interesting in a beer. If you’re expecting this to be a sweet chocolate stout like Young’s Double Chocolate stout, you’ll be disappointed. This has more of a cocoa nib chocolate character rather than a bittersweet chocolate flavor. The sweetness is more apparent after 30 minutes of warming, so come in for a pint and relax a while to let the flavors come out.
The spice level definitely grows over time, more of a nice slow burn that lingers than a sharp up-front heat. I can also taste the chilies in the finish, which give a slightly toasted note to the flavor.
All in all, this ended up being a pretty interesting stout. I’m not sure the habañeros were necessary, though the warm tingle on the back of my tongue is nice on a blustery Portland day. I almost want the chocolate to be more prominent or sweeter since it’s muted by the black malt of the stout and the chili flavors. However, this had the potential to be a really weird beer, and instead it was a tasty and interesting beer.
Keep up the experimentation, Roots!
Posted: September 15th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Homebrew | No Comments »
It’s not that I haven’t brewed anything this summer, it’s that only one in five beers turned out to be drinkable. What happened?
Sometimes yeast doesn’t work out
I made 4 batches of kolsch intended for a friend’s wedding. Two of those batches used a different recipe from the others. All of them had the exact same character flaw when I went to bottle the beer. It all had a plastic, astringent flavor that at first I thought was a sanitizing problem. But four batches later, all with the same problem, it can’t be sanitizing that’s to blame. I’m pretty sure it was the yeast, the sole constant in the mix. I used White Labs Kolsch yeast each time, purchased at Let’s Brew – the same yeast that lead to an off-tasting and funny-smelling kolsch last summer. All previous successful kolsch attempts have used Wyeast liquid yeast smack packs.
A coconut porter that could use more coconut
The lone brew that did work out was a coconut porter, though the coconut notes are very subtle and add more of a mocha flavor and richness than anything. However, this did end up being a really great beer! I used Sparrowhawk Porter from Joy of Homebrewing as a base, then added 11oz of toasted Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes (unsweetened) in the secondary fermenter and “dry hopped” the coconut for a week or so. I also used dry malt extract instead of corn sugar to prime the bottles, and the result is a really creamy, smooth beer. I’ll definitely try this again, perhaps with a brown the next time.
Back in the saddle
I’ve spent enough time feeling sorry for myself, and it’s time to brew again. I think a wit or other Belgian style is up next, which will be delicious in the fall!
Posted: June 24th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Events & Tastings, Newsworthy | 1 Comment »
It’s getting to be that time when I plan out what beers to try at the Oregon Brewers Festival at the end of July, so it’s handy that they put together a more robust list this year than in previous years. Now the list has name, style, description, ABV, and IBUs. Nice!
Now I wish someone would tell the breweries that we don’t need so many types of IPAs, and that maybe, just maybe, they could bring an interesting specialty beer or two instead of the same stuff they bring every year. If I can buy it in a bottle at New Seasons, do you really need to have that as your OBF entry? I think not.
Posted: June 8th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Homebrew | 1 Comment »
Behold: My glorious Brewatorium!
I’ve always brewed on my stovetop, relying on the electric burners to make my beer turn out great. But after a couple of beers that were darker than I’d like, I decided to put some money toward a propane burner that I could use outside. I found a propane cooking burner at Outdoor Warehouse for $55, but the propane tanks were all $70. I figured I might try the Blue Rhino propane tank exchange program at Fred Meyer, which is $54 for a first-time empty tank, and $24 for refills. That still seemed a little steep, so I checked their shelves and spotted a 20# propane tank for only $38. Woah! The 11# was $75, so I decided the clearly returned 20# tank with a dent in it was a real steal. I filled it up at the U-Haul 4 blocks from my house for $16 (5 gallons). Nice!
We’ll see how the beers turn out, but so far I’m pretty excited. The liquid boils much more quickly, which I think will result in less carmelization for lighter beers. Plus, it means I’m outside for brewing in the spring and summer! No more steaming the house up on nice days. And I can play fetch with the dog while it boils. Everyone wins, everyone’s happy! Later this week I’ll try the Kolsch again, since it came out far too dark on the stovetop. Here’s hoping the propane burner solves that problem.