1.25.2008

It's Burns' Day.

Hey its Robert Burns birthday!

If you're out that way go to the Sly Fox event. They'll be releasing their Scotch and serving haggis. Sly Fox always seems to put together such fun events, and this is one I wish I could attend.

It's that day again--Kilts! Poetry! Haggis! And the release of Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale (both draught AND bottles this year).


Instead, I'll probably be making Shepherds Pie and drinking some Erie Brewing's Ol' Red Cease and Desist.

Both Beer Advocate and Rate Beer reviewers place this brew fairly middle of the road.

Funny story behind that name. The beer used to be named Red Ryder and Red Ryder Big Beer. After being ordered by the law to change the name from that of the famous BB gun maker, the brewers at Erie came up with the current name.

Here's a bit more on Erie's Scottish Ale from an older article in the Pittsburgh Trib.
This deep amber-colored ale has rich malt and caramel flavors and ample hop bitterness balancing a whopping 10.1 percent alcohol.


Want to do your own Burns Night? A good resource is this page from the BBC, which includes everything from a brief bio to recipes and even a limerick contest(!!!).

1.22.2008

Weekend Wrap-up Collage


Some hackwork in Photoshop.


Clockwise from top left: Pirate Puzzle, Hopping Frog BORIS, Airport Puzzle, Pint of Nugget Nectar, Pancakes with Blueberry-Maple Syrup
Center: North Country Brewing Catherine the Great RIS

Very, very cold here this weekend, so what better ways to pass the time.

1.21.2008

1.18.2008

The Nectar has Arrived!

Hoorah, its time once again for the yearly release of Troegs Nugget Nectar, truly one of my favorite. beers. ever. But wait, its not the end of February, is it?

This year Troegs released the Nugget early, way early. A scheduled release of February 1, but its in Pittsburgh on Monday and hear in Indiana, PA on Thursday January 17? I'm not sure if this is time travel trickery or what, but I'm not complaining. Its just as good as I remember and oh so fresh, having only been bottled about a week ago.

So whats this brew all about?

Troegs says:

Squeeze those hops for all they’re worth and prepare to pucker up: Nugget Nectar Ale, will take hopheads to nirvana with a heady collection of Nugget, Warrior and Tomahawk hops. Starting with the same base ingredients of our flagship HopBack Amber Ale, Nugget Nectar intensifies the malt and hop flavors to create an explosive
hop experience.

That sums it up quite well. Speaking of explosive hop experiences, am I right that the bottle neck label this year is a little different, more of a fireworks of flavor feel to it?

Photo evidence, as well as tasting notes coming soon.

Bottom line, go! Get some now!

1.14.2008

Linkage: Red Star Review

No time for a real blog today, so instead I'll just link you to Pub Crawlin's review of their brunch at Red Star.

I appreciate the first line:

You wouldn’t know it from their website, but the most fabulous brunch in southwestern PA is held on Sundays from 10 AM - 4 PM at Red Star Brewery & Grille in Greensburg.


That's my biggest gripe with the place, too.

1.11.2008

Linkage: How to Drink a Bottle of Beer.

Essential instructions, provided by Clipper City' Hugh Sisson. (Link via BA.)

Pour the beer straight down the middle of the glass, intentionally creating a thick collar of foam, degassing the beer a bit, and releasing the subtle aromatics. You will probably have to let the beer settle for a few minutes before you can fill the glass completely, but such patience will definitely be rewarded when one progresses to the next step – smelling.


This part is interesting, since I've always (except with pilsners) done the angle pour to the straight pour, as I've always thought that was a proper pour. Maybe I am just being impatient?

1.10.2008

Experimenting with Beer and Tripod

This is a Stoudt's glass filled with Otto's Double D IPA, fresh out of the growler.





A Day Trip to the North Country


As I mentioned Tuesday morning, I was heading north for work that day, to McConnell's Mill State Park, which luckily enough is nearby Slippery Rock, town of the same name as the Creek in the above photo, a very popular run for paddlers.

Slippery Rock is also home to North Country Brewing, one of the most aesthetically pleasing brewpubs I've ever been too. Its got a nice funky vibe, the place being entirely rebuilt from the ground up, mostly by hand. The craftsmanship is evident as soon as you see the place, let alone walk inside. There's a pretty heavy hippie-ness to the place, in menu, nomenclature and general attitude, but not so much that its annoying. Unfortunately, I was an idiot and didn't take my camera in, despite it being on the back seat of the car, so you'll just have to go see for yourself.

I've always found the food here to be rather tasty, and while the service can be slow at times, usually when I am in a hurry, its worth the wait. The emphasis of the menu is on locally sourced ingredients as much as possible, with a generous amount of vegetarian options, as well. They also have some interesting choices beyond the typical pub grub fare, including this week's dinner specials: Paella Cakes, Portabella en Croute, Chicken Pad Thai, Wild Orange Chicken and Pork Andalusia. That being said, their burgers and sandwich are damn tasty too.

On to the beer! The one fault I (and others) have with North Country is this: there tend to be beer dry spells. They have their standard, always-on offerings, which range from just okay to very good, but there are times when that is all they are offering. When Nate, Dave and Justin did their mini-tour of Western PA, I think they came away a little underwhelmed with the beers. When I was their on Tuesday, they have on five, yes five newish limited release beers. If they were able to stagger those releases a little more, I think they would be more successful in wowing the beer geek community. Now since I got lucky, a few brief reviews follow:

7-Hop Imperial IPA
The brewer used 7 hops for this high gravity beer. If you’re a hop-head you will enjoy it. There’s a limited amount because we’re holding some back to age in the cellar for a while.
My, this one was tasty! The pour is hazy orange, an aroma is sweet honey and super hoppy citrus and pine, very aromatic.
The taste is full of hops and a nice background sweetness. A lot of good apricot flavor. Good mouthfeel and very drinkable, an excellent beer and quite possibly my favorite North Country beer.

The Other One
Our brewmaster’s version of old ale, A.K.A. strong ale. The malty characteristics mask the alcohol flavor.
Dark red brown, smell is of dark fruit, especially cherry. Taste is smoky and fruity with more of that tasty cherry flavor coming through. Kind of light in the body, but rather good.

Wee Heavy Imp Ale
A Scotch Ale, not to be confused with a Scottish Ale, this beer is maltier (sweeter) and a lot stronger in alcohol content.
Pour is dark red with a light tan head. Smell is smoky, peaty and malty. Taste is much the same, very much like a good scotch, a touch fruity and a bit of alcohol. Nice mouthfeel too, another good one.

Embalmer 2007
Back for a limited time, this batch has been aging since last January. Be careful our Barleywine has a high alcohol content--you never know what spirits you might see!
Pour is an amber brown, smell is kind of boozy along with some brown sugar sweetness. The taste has noticeable alcohol, some rich maltiness and a bittersweet hop finish. Not quite as complex or full-bodied as most barleywines, but rather good overall.

Now for the bad news, of the five new beers only one was available for growler fills. Reason being, I suppose is to keep the sales in-house. That does give more people the chance to try it, while at the same time boosting revenue, as a fill does cost less than an equal volume of sold pints. My thinking falls the way of, I'm already a customer in the pub and ready to spend more money to take some home. Business/economics not being my forte, I'm not sure what makes more financial sense, but rules are rules.

I did get a growler fill of the last new beer, North Country's Imperial Stout, Catherine the Great. Check back for a review of that beer soon.

1.08.2008

Nate Reviews My Steam Beer

Friend and homebrewer Nate takes a look, smell and taste of my steam beer. A quote:

Starts with a nice rounded soft maltiness that is gets hit pretty quickly with grassy & rubbery (phenolic) hops.

What I am not sure of is why I'm getting that rubberiness. Could it be the pellet hops?

I'll research more later, but for now I'm off to Slippery Rock, with hopefully a side trip to North Country.

1.07.2008

Review: Four Beers From Brooklyn



On the way home from work on Friday I stopped off at a local sixpack shop, one that also happens to sell singles. As soon as I walked in, the lady mentioned to me that they had some new stuff in the cooler. I've obviously been in there enough that they know I'm looking for more than the usual sixer. New to the Indiana beer market: Brooklyn Brewery.

They had four different brews in the cooler: Brooklyn Lager, Pilsner, East India Pale Ale and Brown Ale. I picked them all up along with a couple other new brews. I popped open the Brooklyn brews Sunday throughout the day, while watching the NFL playoffs (Boo Steelers!!!) and playing with the kids.




Brooklyn Lager is Brooklyn Brewery's flagship beer, the first beer they produced when they formed in 1987. A Vienna lager in style, the beer pours a rich amber with a nice fluffy head. Smell is a bouquet of floral hops. Taste is malty, with a medium full body, washed away with a light bitterness in the finish. A tasty beer, an excellent flagship and a very good foil to my mini-burgers and tiny twice baked potatoes, leftover from last night's Steeler debacle snacks.

Next up was Brooklyn Pilsner.







Brooklyn Pilsner is brewed in the pre-Prohibition American style, meaning its very rooted in traditional German malts and hops, Perle and Hallertauer. Man, this poured just like a good pilsner should, straw colored and full of carbonation, a nice puffy head blossoming over the rim of the glass. Spicy hops in the nose, though not the explosion of aroma I get from some other pilsners. Still it's pretty tasty and quite drinkable.









Later that afternoon, while having a snack with Zach and Ella, I popped open the East India Pale Ale.
We cut up some Golden Delicious apples, some Wisconsin Cheddar and threw some Triscuits on a plate. Worked out very well with the IPA, which is definitely an English-style brew. Brooklyn chose to show off East Kent Goldings on this brew, making it both grassy and citrusy. There's a nice maltiness to balance out the hops, as well. What's funny, I got Zach into swirling and sniffing his cup of grape juice.





Last up was the Brooklyn Brown Ale, the first Brooklyn beer I ever had, and really THE beer I think of when I think of Brooklyn Brewery, along with their delicious Black Chocolate Stout. Had this one with dinner, grill-roasted turkey and baked potatoes. Worked together pretty well, the malty nuttiness complimenting the grill char and the hops quenching the smoky saltiness of the crisp chicken skin. A very good example of an American brown ale.






All in all, I enjoyed each of these beers. I'm not sure I'd buy them all regularly, but they are good examples of their styles and a welcome addition to small town western PA.

1.04.2008

The Session #11 Doppelbocks: Troegenator Double Bock

This month's edition of The Session is being hosted by Brewvana, with the theme 'Doppelbock: the Illuminator'.
For my contribution, I chose to focus on one of my favorite doppelbocks, or double bocks in the case of Troegenator. Brewed by Troegs Brewing Company out of Harrisburg, in the center of this fine state of Pennsylvania. I'm certain Troegenator was the first doppelbock I ever tasted and remains a go-to for the style, not only due to its availability (found on tap at a certain bar in rural PA that's home to the 'World's Largest Burger') but its high quality and great taste.

Troegs describes Troegenator as:
The Troegenator Double Bock, is a dark, strong lager (8.2% abv). It pours into a glass with a bronze to brown color, fluffy white head and bready malt aroma. The Troegenator leaves a rich, warming feeling and subtle spicy flavors. The style, Double Bock, dates back a century or so ago. During periods of fasting without solid foods, the Monastic brewers relied on the double bock; a stronger, richer beer to fulfill their basic nutritional needs. Known to them as "liquid bread," a double bock has a strong malt aroma and chewy rich body. Traditionally these brewers ended the name of their double bock with the suffix "ator", ex. Celabrator, Illuminator, Subliminator... In the spirit of the tradition we give you the Troegenator to provide warmth and richness through the early spring months. A double bock of epic proportions, beware, the Troegenator is deceiving smooth and delicious.



The Troegenator I poured for this Session was picked up at a place that used to have a less than reputable beer selection. They recently expanded their offerings and added a singles cooler, as well.

Here's to Troegenator and the Trogner brothers for recreating a fantastic example of a classic German beer and making it readily available in rural(ish) Pennsylvania. Prost!

1.03.2008

Storm's A-comin'!


Clipper City Heavy Seas Winter Storm Category 5 Ale

We've had our first touch of snow since November(?) in the past few days. Nothing too heavy, but the Category 5 is tasty nonetheless. Plus, who doesn't like pirates?

Is It Possible to Dry Hop for Too Long? Plus, a Homebrewing Update

Last night I bottled up my Imperial Amber, 38 bottles total. It had been in secondary for a month, having been transfered onto the two ounces of Cascade on December 2nd.

What I am wondering is this: did I defeat the purpose of dry hopping by leaving it in the carboy too long?

Meaning, is there a limit to the mount of time you can dry hop? A point at which the process tapers off and then starts to fade?

I'm interested to see how this one tastes, if it turns out "like the others", I think its time for a switch of some sort, either with process or ingredients. What do I mean by "like the others"? Perhaps the beers are too young, my mature batch having only been in the bottle for a month and a half (bottled 11/14/2007).

I've tried a bottle of each of the other brews and while they are both still quite young: a month in the bottle for the Imperial Steam and less than three weeks for the IPA.

After tasting my Steam beer, Dave talked to me about his use of liquid malt extract and the flavor issues he had using it. We also talked about priming with corn sugar versus dry malt extract.

That leaves me with two variables to improve (at least), but I'm thinking I may hold off on brewing again to see what these current brews turn out like.

That being said, there's no reason I can't keep charging forward, improve on those two aspects and see what happens.

1.02.2008

Res-ale-utions


East End Snow Melt Winter Ale

or... Happy New Beers!

Things to do for 2008:
Post more.
Brew more.
Take more 'artistic' beer photos