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: June 7th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Homebrew, Kolsch | No Comments »
I’m brewing a couple of batches of Kolsch for a friend’s wedding in September, which is fun and I’m excited they want my beer. When I brewed this Kolsch for my own wedding, I foolishly sanitized the bottling bucket and failed to rinse it absolutely clean. That batch was undrinkable as it had the distinct taste of Star San. Not wanting to experience this again, I figured I should get started just in case something goes wrong.
Well, so far it’s much darker than I want it to be. The lady at Let’s Brew convinced me that 1lb of dry amber malt wasn’t that dark, since they didn’t have the 2lbs of extra light malt I needed. Stupid me! I mean, seriously, it looks like a dark amber or a light brown ale right now, and it’s 90% wheat and extra light malt extract.
This has also convinced me to buy a propane burner for brewing, rather than continue to use my stove top. The burner and range top got super hot yesterday, which makes me think my beers are carmelizing and all becoming darker than they should be. So my next Kolsch batch will be brewed al fresco. Here’s hoping it all turns out alright!
Posted: April 17th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Beer Reviews, Craft Brew, Dubbel | Tags: abbey, Belgian, Dubbel, Hopworks | No Comments »
Since I can’t make it to the Cheers to Belgian Beers festival this year, I’m taking a little time out to try Hopworks’ brew for the event. The Dubbel Suplex is a rich Belgian Abbey-style ale brewed with the Wyeast 3822, Ingelmunster yeast strain per this year’s festival rules.
Served in a tulip glass (they called it a chalice) on account of being 8.1% alcohol (can you imagine a couple of pints of that?), it sure is a pretty beer. Dark amber, red hues, clear like a ruby, with little head retention (a little foam around the rim of the glass). The up front aroma is of alcohol then warm malt and a hint of spice, like cloves or nutmeg.
It has a bubbly medium mouthfeel appropriate for the style, not too creamy or flat, but not too effervescent for the flavor. There’s a lot of malt and spice flavor, with a little caramel sweetness. A bit rich, but not overwhelming. There’s a slight tartness or tang in the finish that clears the palate and keeps the beer from being too sweet and sticky.
The Dubbel Suplex is pretty right-on for abbey style, and has matured nicely. I almost wonder what it would be like if aged in a bourbon barrel, but that might be over the top, making it too sweet and rich to drink in any quantity.
Posted: April 16th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Beer Reviews, Craft Brew, Pale Ale, Specialty, What's that in your fridge? | Tags: coriander, ginger, Pale Ale | 1 Comment »
Since I’m still on the lookout for good ales brewed with ginger, I had to grab a bottle of Laughing Buddha’s Ginger Pale Ale. It’s brewed with ginger and coriander, so be ready for it to taste a little like a grand cru. The aroma is strongly of savory ginger, some spice, and a hint of malt. It pours clear and the color of copper-tinted honey. It’s not over-carbonated, and has a medium bubbly mouthfeel much like you’d expect from a pale ale. The ginger flavor is definitely present, both up front and in the finish, but isn’t astringent.
This is actually an ideal beer for a warm spring day – full enough to take the chill off you when the wind blows, but light and crisp to compliment the warmth of the sun on your face. I could see it pairing nicely with sushi, or even udon. Something that doesn’t have strong spices that would overwhelm the ginger notes.
It reminds me a lot of the experimental ginger hefeweizen I brewed a couple of months ago, only more carbonated. I hope that my brew gets a bit more bubbly!
Also, it turns out that Laughing Buddha had to change its name to Trade Route Brewing due to a legal dispute. Since the brewery is in Seattle, I’ll have to check it out the next time I go north.
Posted: March 21st, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Experiments, Gluten-free, Homebrew, Mead | No Comments »
Lehua blossom, source of delicious honey
I just got back from a week on the big island of Hawai’i, home of Pele’s volcanos and the Ohia tree with its gorgeous red lehua flowers. Lehua honey is especially delicious, more buttery than any other honey I’ve tasted, and we thought it might make a good mead. So we returned with 10lbs of lehua honey in our checked baggage (yep, it’s ok to bring honey back to the mainland, but you can’t bring bees – go figure) and dreams of tasty mead.
Since you need 15lbs of honey to make 5 gallons of mead, I’ve added 2.5lbs of pasteurized agave syrup and 2.5lbs of raw agave syrup to lighten the color and flavor of the mead. I figure it worked well with the first mead, so why not try it again? I’m also going to pitch kolsch yeast along with champagne yeast with the hope of duplicating the success of my first mead-making accident. It turned out to be fantastic mead!
So here’s to Ohia and Lehua, whose love are making this (hopefully) wonderful mead possible! Cheers!