Monday, April 14, 2014

Hudson Highland Heather and Hibiscus Hopped Homebrew

Starting with Maris Otter and 2 ounces of Heather to hop it before the Notty yeast, this offbeat home brew batch was like Scottish economics itself, a smooth enterprise with so few bubbles in the airlock that I opened it about 8 or 15 times to see if we had liftoff, Houston.

The result at this point of the primary fermentation was thin, clear red color (from the hibiscus) and a bit floral, if that's how Heather can be described.

Heather is a very common plant in Scotland. It was used in many traditional beer recipes 100s of years ago, but never really enjoyed much commercial success, particularly because it was outlawed by the British Crown in the 1700s, when hops were made the only permissible bittering agent.  So Heather, and certain hallucinogenic qualities the grow on the fungus that grows on the flower.

Well, that was a long time ago, and heather is on the market, but sadly, most of the recipes are all but gone according to Randy Mosher in his outstanding brewing book, "Radical Brewing".  He's included a recipe there that calls for a pound of honey in a secondary fermentation phase, which I've used for inspiration. 

It's now doing a second fermentation with some dried hops, and elements that impart a very little oak flavor.

Ironically, after brewing the batch, I ran across a Smuttynose Scotch Heather ale in Stamford, CT Fairway, but didn't taste it so the inspiration is just the elements we put in it, not anything I've ever had with which to compare.

So we are half way there.

We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Captain Lawrence Coffee Stout, Firestone's Wookey Jack and a Peche Lambic

Captain Lawrence Coffee-Expresso Stout is another great coffee beer being brewed in Westchester.  It's got a thick, fun froth, deep dark color, and a great coffee aroma and mouth feel.

This is an outstanding beer, that keeps getting retired at, where it's been rated an 88, which is probly low. 

Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA is also an outstanding taste experience by every measure, if less memorable than the Captain's expresso stout, especially when it comes after the first.  This is also an outstanding beer, with a moderately thin malty mouth feel.

Beeradvocates rate it a 95, which is about right.

The Peche Lambic is what it is-- a prefect version of itself.

Moar Good Beerz at Peekskill Brewing: Wakeup Call, The Aristocrats and Bow Before Zod

Peekskill's Brewing's Wakeup Call, The Aristocrats and this week's Bow Before Zod highly hopped cask ale are outstanding ways to wet your whistle.

Wakeup Call is one of the best Coffee beers I've ever had, so if you see it somewhere, don't hesitate to fill 'er up.  At Beeradvocate, 21 samplers rate it a 91, which should mean something if "16 is as good as a mathematical infinity", as my statistics professor used to remind us.

But The Aristocrats is an outstanding example of a Wild Sour with a fast froth, nice golden color, thin bitter mouth feel, and powerful citrus aromas and flavaz.  It's a great addition to the menu with Peekskill's award winning Simple Sour right beside it on tap. 

No word on whether the name came from the Disney movie or the taboo crushing stand up comic's challenge to tell the most filthy joke they can conjure.  With a flavor that sour, I'm thinking it's more taboo defying than in line with Uncle Walt's legacy.  The Aristocrats rates an 88 with 12 members sampling at

Bow Before Zod has a whopping ABV-- somewhere around 10%-- but it's aroma and flavor are off the charts bitter hopped, but with a thick malty mouth feel that somehow makes it well more drinkable than those thin Belgian deals that typically go off at 10% ethanol.

The froth is outstandingly entertaining, as you can see pictured here, so there was a bit of a wait as it came freshly pumped out of the beer machine.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An Old Homebrewed Stout in a PET Bottle Surfaces

So here's a stout I brewed, god knows when.  It has to be a year and one half old, a kind of chocolate-cherry number that's been kept in a chilled space winter and summer, but not freezing.  

I love PET bottles for lots of reasons, but this is one-- the preservation of a beer seems way better in these bottle than glass.

It had a giant head, strong earthy aroma, pitch dark color, nicely bitter if balanced flavor, but a kind of thin mouth feel, which could have come from using cherry juice to carbonate the bottle.  It convinced me that I need to either follow recipes closer, or just use way more Maltodex and or Lactose when I use these liquid malt extract products, which I did with this batch, way back in 2012.  Nevertheless, I liked it better than Keegan's Mother's Milk I bought, which I liked very much.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When it's 13 degrees outside on Fat Tuesday, What Can You Do, But Review Heady Topper

It's "allegedly the world’s best beer" according to Fritz Hahn blogging at the Washington Post, citing information he gathered from the soaked masses at  The Alchemist's Heady Topper is one of serveral VT beers featured tonight at a tasting he's covering in DC being blasted out on the tweetz.

Fritz sounds like he's speaking in air quotes when referring to the big data there, almost as if there's a mistrust of the statistical approach to finding great beer. Kind of the way some folks think of "The People's Choice Award", I suppose.  Not exactly a high class Oscar, is it?

According to his biography blurb on the Going Out Guide at The Washed Post, Fritz also writes about everything "from Civil war battles to sailing classes"... so there's that and that.
But having been down this fermented river before, I concur with those proud few on (and too, where Heady Toppy is rated #1 out of the top 250 beers), who count themselves lucky where Heady Topper is concerned.  See,

It may just be the best hop experience in the world... you know, I mean, with a nod to FFF's epic Zombie Dust in Indiana and this tasty, delicious and amazing Half Acre epic Daisy Cutter in Chicago, or Tall Grass' 8 Bit in Kansas.  There's a lot of great beer in many states out there.

Nonetheless, according to Fritz at the Washed Post, tonight a bar in DC is hosting a VT Beer tasting event, for which it's charging $35 doll hairs to taste beers that are only available in VT... unless you can monkey your ass to VT and bring back the liquid gold for a limted release.  Very hush hush you know.  Just you, me and the readers of The Washington Post's "Going Out Guide" know about it.  You'll find that here:

All this prompted hillarious tweeting on the subject of these black market, out-of-state tastings from the yet another best beer in the world (one you literally have to drive the farm to taste)--  , followed.  

And since it's Fat Tuesday, it put me in the spirit, prompting me to damn the 13 degree day and dig into the snow to make a snow table, then go to the vault to peel off one of my prized cans-- The Alchemist's Heady Topper for a little show and tell.

Fat Tuesday-- the day before, a celebration of all death to the flesh, with lent impending, you know, when we all give up something important to us to show our devotion to God, albeit maybe not as vital for survival as beer.  Although I like to drink these as I take off my boots near the trunk of the car after a few hours X Country skiing, Fat Tuesday is also a good day to drink a beer "to die for", as they say in parts of Brooklyn, cooled in 2 feet of snow.

Heady's froth and aroma were absurd-- as was the drinking temp--  I fully recommend taking your cans into the snow bank to bring down the temp.  I think the aroma chased birds away out there on the deck, mild to sharp cheese, the good stuff, way better than the government offers to celebrate a birth (as the writers on the FX series "Archer" put it last night) or McDonald's puts on burgers.  The hops are the show here, and they are storied and layered in aroma and flavor, so you don't even realize that you are smelling and tasting something that's probly strong enough to melt the paint off your car.

The color, you can see-- hazy golden hues. The flavor, like the aroma, storied and layered, balanaced in bitterness and sweetness, all of which is contrasted as it floats upon the malt like different parts of, say Puccini's Turandot.   It really is something to see... smell, and taste.

At 8% ABV, you'll need to pump the brakes, as I found out after the phone rang and I had to speak in a way others could understand after a pint of it.

Alchemist's Heady Topper is sure worth a trip to VT, especially if you're going up to ski anyway.  It's only really available there, so you'll need to bring it home if you plan on enjoying some in a snowbank in other states.

But if you can get it in DC at a bar looking to capture the beer geek marketz for a fee, I say, what would Frank Underwood to, right?  Use it to wash back a few episodes of House of Cards on Netflix before the phone and cable companies drive it into a forced sale in exchange for cheap bandwidth.

By the way, talking of DC, according to there's another extraordinary beer event taking place inside the beltway today, March 4th that should be of interest to beer geeks within driving distance, and backed by another storied, out of state brewery that is not in VT or Maryland: Bell's.

So, I'll just leave this here:

Tuesday - March 04, 2014 @ 04:00PM / Ends: Tuesday - March 04, 2014 @ Midnight
Beer & Food Event
Birch & Barley / ChurchKey, Washington, District of Columbia  (202) 567-2576

4 PM

Bell's HopSlam Cask Tapping + BBCK's Final HopSlam Kegs & Cases!

Let’s get right to the details: this Monday, we will tap the one and only Cask of Hopslam to hit the DC market this season. We’re tapping it right at 4pm and once it’s gone, it’s gone until 2015…so come early!

In addition to the Cask version, we’ll also have our final Hopslam keg of 2014 as well as our final bottles of Hopslam.

There is no admission for this event, and all Hopslam on Cask & Draft will be priced individually by the glass and in 4 oz. taster pours!

The Bell's Hopslam Beer List:
Hopslam (Cask)
Hopslam (Draft)
Hopslam (Bottles)