Sunday, March 29, 2009

North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner

Very good pilsner. I probably got a somewhat aged bottle so the hops aren't really detectable but the body and taste are very smooth, grainy, a little bit of grassiness and a tiny bit of lemon. Proper high carbonation without having a carbonic bite to it. Like I said, all around very good and soft pilsner. Hopefully on my next Santa Rosa trip I'll be able to take a little roady up to Fort Bragg and try this stuff fresh on tap.

Your 80's flashback song of the day: I'm In Love with a German Film Star - Passions

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chupacabras Pale Ale - yeah it's scary

Upon arriving at our friend Pat's house last night to realize he was stocked only with SoCo and Bud Light, Loren, Timmins, and myself took a trip down the street to a local liquor store to pick up a 6-pack for ourselves (since Pat is perfectly fine with his SoCo and Bud). This little liquor store had a pretty good selection. We were faced with the decision to pick between Stone IPA, Ruination, Alaskan, Lost Coast brews, bombers of Bear Republic and that sorta stuff. We decided to pick up something new to us, a pale ale from Mexico, named Chupacabras Pale Ale. The first problem with this beer was that there was no price tag on it (nor any of their beers) and it ended up being like 10.99 for a 6-pack. F*cking ridiculous. The next problem was its taste. It wasn't a drain pour but it wasn't that great either. It reminded me of an IPA I made with old and oxidized hops along with scorching the wort a little too much. Yeah it had an old hoppy sorta taste along with a burnt caramel malt sorta thing. Anyway, I recommed this beer as a must avoid.

Another thing to note is that Nugget Nectar is still drinking very well (as long as you keep it in your fridge), and I really enjoyed this glass a lot more than I was enjoying it in January. Actually reminded me quite a bit of Firestone Union Jack. Speaking of which I may get to a bomber of Union Jack later today.

Stone Online Beer Menu

Stone has joined the trend in San Diego of offering an online, frequently updated tap list. It also has really cool features which lets you sort the list by brewery, beer name, style, city and state or country. The link will be found to the right under the category of "So Cal Pubs With Updated Online Tap Lists." Any pub/bar/brewery who has a website and doesn't do this is seriously lacking in catching on with this great new trend.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Holy Wit!

Tonight I came home from a reaaallly long day and opened up my first bottle of the Witbier I brewed a month or so ago (named Graduation Wit). I formulated this recipe using navel orange zest, lemon zest, and coriander along with the base malts of Pilsner, flaked wheat, and flaked oats. I am absolutely ecstatic about how this beer came out. It's actually the first beer that I'm really really proud of and would drink all of it myself, and it tastes so close to commercial examples of the style. There doesn't seem to be a weird astringency in the taste that I found in all my other brews (except one IPA really liked before infection took over). Maybe it's a coincidence that this was my first all-grain batch too? Either way, I brewed this for my graduation party (for the people who didn't want my hoppy beers) and I think family and friends will really love this beer... I can't find a flaw in it, at least as far as taste goes. I think it could use a bit more time to carbonate (I opened this one up after only 2 1/2 weeks) to develop a more effervescent feel. I'm still really stoked about this. It's all-grain all the time from now on.

Beer Dinner at the Cass House in Cayucos, CA

This coming Monday, March 30th, the Cass House in central California will be hosting a beer dinner. There will be 4 courses, each paired with a beer. The courses will include:
  • bistro salad with a truļ¬„ed quail egg and housemade headcheese
  • “mussels from brussels”,
  • belgian ale braised pork shank with hop infused croissant bread pudding
  • dark chocolate beignets.
Beers to be paired with the meals will be from Rogue as well as a couple house beers made by the chef and wine director. If you don't feel like heading back home afterward, the Cass House will give a 30% discount on rooms conveniently located upstairs.

If you live in the area, happen to be in the area, or just feel like taking a road trip, stop in for this great opportunity of food and beer in an area that generally gets left out of cool beer events like this. There may be more info to come on the "house beers" that will be offered.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ruination and that awesome Ruination Mug

My friend and cigar aficionado Spencer has found great pleasure lately in telling me every time he's drinking a Ruination out of his Ruination mug. See, I love this Ruination mug and I'm pretty sure Stone stopped producing them within the last year or so. I never bought one for myself, though I bought one as gifts for a couple friends (BBG- do you still have yours???). Anyway, he takes great pleasure in his mug and has even decided to start sending me pictures of his beers. I don't think I've ever gotten a "thank you" for introducing him to craft beer though. Ruination might've been the first beer I ever poured for him.

5th Rotation Done! Celebrating With Green Flash

I'm now 6 weeks from becoming a doctor (of pharmacy), and am celebrating the end of my 5th rotation today with a Green Flash Imperial IPA. This bottle is not as sharp as how it tastes on tap, but it's still packed with hops.

Another thing I want to give a shout out to is this awesome Homebrew Song. I've listened to The Brewing Network for some time now, mainly just to The Jamil Show, and then that show's sequel, Brew Strong. Recently I've started to listen to another one of their shows, The Sunday Session. It started back in 2005 so I've been listening to the archives. They usually end each episode with the Homebrew Song. I thought it was kinda hillbilly and lame the first time I heard it, then later in the day noticed myself singing it. Been hooked since.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The New Sam Adams Imperial Stout

Here is my first taste of something from Sam Adams' new Imperial Series, which includes an Imperial White, Double Bock, and what I have here- an Imperial Stout. Sam Adams describes the beer as having 7 different malts but not being a pure "malt bomb." Nope, this sucker has 50 IBU's of EKG hops added to balance it out and even give it a nice stiff bitterness. While it's certainly not the most by-the-numbers-bitter Imperial Stout I've had (many craft examples hit the 80's or 90's), we'll see if it balances out its big maltiness.

As I dive into this 316 calorie (gotta love the amount of info Sam Adams gives on their beers) and 9.2% ABV beer, I notice right off the bat the maltiness and the roastiness of this beer. The smell is pretty potent. That's a good sign. The body is dark- black, and the head is brown (actually darker than the picture indicates) very densly packed bubbles that sit on top the liquid for quite some time. This beer really reminds me of The Abyss by the way it looks. The smell is a bit roasty, but not over the top like a Speedway Stout that just explodes with a roasted coffee smell. There is caramel and molasses in there as well, and as it warms up I get a little of something fruity. The taste is interesting- the roastiness is held relatively low and other smoother dark malt flavors come out, giving it similarities to the malt profile you may experience in a Belgian dark ale. Still, it's an imperial stout and there's no mistaking that. A lingering bitterness is left on the tongue after the sip. This is a good beer. It's not over the top in any one direction but it's as solid as they come. One interesting thing is as I make my way through the glass I really start detecting no bitterness and it rolls through like a very low bitterness chocolate porter or something. I don't know if that's just how it is when it warms up for if you just build tolerance for the bitterness. That hasn't really happened to me with any other stout. It's easy to drink fast at first and you'll notice the alcohol hit you. Final score: 4.25/5

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Long Spring and Summer is Ahead

With USC football and basketball being done (the baseball program sucks now. That's like the Patriots or Lakers becoming one of the worst teams in the league) it's bound to be a long off season. I finished off the 2nd half of the USC vs. Michigan State nail biter today with a fresh Pliny the Elder. The guy at the beer store was right, Vinnie really did tweak the recipe recently and the bottles are coming out a lot better now (and more hazy). Must've been the change to the larger production facility up the road from their brewpub when they started bottling. This bottle was some great Pliny, much better than what I had many times during the Fall out of bottles (although still not as good as the freshest tasting Pliny on tap). For some reason, drinking Pliny during a USC game of any sorts never seems to work, so I won't be doing that anymore and I'll stick to my trusty Stone.

I feel like this whole blog is turning into just a bunch of pictures of Pliny. But it's so gorgeous isn't it? Like looking at Playboy girl, it just never gets old. It's not like this blog had much more to it than a bunch of pictures anyway.

Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA

This is a double IPA that focuses more on a strong malt presence and "C" bitterness and flavor. Kind of like Sierra Nevada beers. Sierra Nevada hops their hoppy beers almost exclusively with the "C's"... Centennial, Cascade, Chinook... and this Hop Henge has Centennial and Cascade in it. The combination they get of a strong maltiness and the "C" hop flavors reminds me a lot of Marin White Knuckle IPA, but Hop Henge is a little bit tastier. It's definitely a lot different than the bright hoppy flavored DIPAs like Pliny the Elder, Pure Hoppiness, Ruination, etc. This is more of an earthy and sweet flavor. It's not a bad beer, but I prefer those brighter tasting hops. I'll probably keep buying a bottle every year to see how it develops from year to year, since it is considered "experimental."

Deschutes Buzzsaw Brown

Brown ales have skyrocketed up my list of favorite styles within the last year from the bottom quarter to the top 3 or 4 of my favorite styles. I had Deschutes Buzzsaw Brown a few years ago at a bar, thought it was Ok but seemed to have a metallic twang I didn't like too much, so I never sought it out again. I've been meaning to give this Deschutes seasonal beer another chance, and finally got around to it after purchasing a single bottle of it at Hi-Times yesterday.

At 4.8% and with its tasty flavor this could be my ultimate session beer. It's not heavy on the palate but the nice light body of chocolate and lightly caramelized malts is really satisfying. This beer is generally available from January to March. If you're slowly shifting into more sessionable beers like I have been lately, you should definitely check out this high quality brew from Deschutes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bruery, Ye Olde Ship, Hi-Time Wine Cellar

Spencer and I took a trip over into Orange County for a little Bruery visit today. They still had some of their special beers on draft which I had been looking forward to. We started off with tasters of Cuvee Jeune, White Zin, and Melange #3. The Cuvee Jeune was sour and funky. It was crazy funky. Just how we like it. The White Zin was pretty sweet, wine-like... hard to get a feel for in a small sample. The Melange #3, a 15% ABV blend of 3 different bourbon barrel aged beers was freakin potent. It stings the nostrils. I liked it but am not sure how much I could ever drink of it. Spencer ordered up a full glass of the Melange afterward, while I ordered a glass of Saison de Lente. That saison has some crazy yeast flavors going on. There's also some interesting and strange flavor going on in it which I couldn't put my finger on. Either way it was very good, light and spicy.

For food we headed to The Olde Ship in downtown Fullerton right after to get some fish and chips. I've only been there once and it was 4 years ago but yes, it is still the best fish and chips I've ever had. And they are still amazing. We had pints of Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA as well and lets just say I won't be ordering anymore English IPA's unless I'm in England. Not like I didn't know I would be disappointed in the first place.

Then we trekked into Costa Mesa to grab some stuff at Hi-Time Wine Cellar. I swear I could spend hours just going up and down the liquor isles, into the walk in beer fridge, and down the isles of the wine cellar, even though I don't even really care about the wine. The place is just so cool. We hit the cigar department first (since it's right as you enter) and I picked up a Rocky Patel Winter Collection for $6.50. After that it was straight to the beer fridge and they had some great stuff in there. I picked up 22's of Firestone Union Jack (2/16 fresh!), Deschutes Hop Henge IPA, Green Flash Imperial IPA, Bison Gingerbread Ale (suppose I had to try this at some point), Telegraph Reserve Wheat (a berliner weisse I guess, can't wait to try that), a few Pliny the Elders (very fresh- 2/15!), a 12oz bottle of Sam Adams Imperial Stout, and a 12oz of Deschutes Buzzsaw Brown. Good haul I thought for only about $50. I would have picked up some Blind Pig but the freshest they had were 12/15/08, and the guy said he hadn't got any new cases in since then. Bummer- I'll have to hit up Whole Foods for some fresher stuff.

Looking forward to uncapping some of those great beers for the USC/MSU game tomorrow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Still Riding the USC Rollercoster

In the first round of NCAA Tournament today USC dominated Boston College in the 2nd half to earn a 72-55 win after trailing by a couple buckets at the half. That would be USC's 6th win in a row overall. I started off with a Green Flash West Coast IPA and transitioned to a much worse Full Sail IPA in the 2nd half. The Full Sail had the classic Full Sail aroma- like band aids and metal. I've now had like 3 or 4 beers from them and each one smells the same. The taste wasn't horrible but it was like a below average, yet drinkable, pale ale. The last time I had a Full Sail beer (the lupulin fresh hop one) I said I was done with Full Sail. Now I guarantee I will not buy their inferior products anymore. The Pac-10 came out pretty clean in the first round, I believe they were 5-1, though I generally never root for any other Pac-10 teams... Stag you know I'm looking at you :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lucky Baldwin's Special Belgian Night, Thursday March 19th

From Lucky Baldwin's Newsletter... (This will be at the Old Town Pasadena location)

Come and meet Charles, the owner of the Het Anker Brewery in Mechelen, Belgium. The brewers of the Gouden Carolus beers:- of their beers, we will have on tap:-

1. Gouden Carolus Van de Keizer Blauw
2. Gouden Carolus Noel
3. Gouden Carolus Triple
4. Gouden Carolus Ambrio
5. Gouden Carolus Van de Keizer Rood
6. Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor

Also, we will have a vintage keg of the Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of The Emperor.

Come along and enjoy some great beers and say Hi to Charles on THURSDAY 19TH MARCH AROUND 6PM!

No Irish Beer For Me, Thank You

Nope, not a Guinness, just a nice glass of 14 month old homebrewed Porter. Yeah, I just happened to have the day off today.

Good words to use instead of "drunk"
Pissy Eyed
Trolley Eyed
Steve McKenna'd

This bottle of Green Flash West Coast IPA right here is only significant because it may be the single best bottle of beer I've ever had. I've had like 4 beers already from this 6-pack but for some reason this one tasted so amazingly good, and I had to bump up it's score to a 5/5 on my BeerAdvocate scale. It was like a tropical fruit explosion. I don't know, maybe there's just some magic hidden in the Victoria Gastro Pub glass.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bear Republic Apex Double IPA

Had some lunch at Beachwood BBQ today. Started off with a nice refreshing saison- Lost Abbey Carnivale which is light and has a nice Belgian yeast phenolic taste to it. Still one of my favorite saisons. After that I tried the Bear Republic Apex double IPA. This beer took home the bronze at the biggest and best DIPA festival- the Bistro Double IPA Fest- last month. If it was blindly judged to be better than Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Ruination, Pure Hoppiness, and Hop Stoopid then I had to try it (none of those beers got gold or silver).

This beer pours a clear orange (it's actually a smidge lighter and clearer than the low quality Blackberry picture indicates) and has a really nice pungent but delicate fresh hop pellet type aroma. The smell gives off the impression of amazing hop freshness, although it doesn't burst from the glass like crazy. The taste is in one word "tasty." The hops don't blow you away and the bitterness is very low. But you do get a real nice smooth hop flavor out of this, and that hop flavor is very juicy. I think I've described a few beers as having a juicy taste to it, a couple of those being Alpha King pale ale, O'Brien's IPA. It's a solid combination of sweetness and citrusy hops I think. That Apex was very good overall in flavor, but if you're looking for a hop kick in the ass it may not do as good of job as a Green Flash Imperial IPA or Pure Hoppiness.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Woooo Hoooo #2!!! Celebrating with Supplication!!!

That final score right there means USC is PAC-10 TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS! They beat Cal, fucla, and ASU on consecutive days and guaranteed themselves a place in the NCAA tournament. Today USC came back after trailing by 15 at the half. I'm celebrating with another barrel-aged cherry beer today, this time being Russian River Supplication.

The victory party continues. We headed down to Pacific Wine Merchants, a little bar/wine & beer store that I've done a review on, and had pints of Stone IRS (only $5.50- nice!) to pair with our Rocky Patel Decades. Great pairing I must say. The chocolate and spiciness of the Decade goes very well with the rich dark and slightly acidic malt of the Stone IRS. They also had Stone Pale Ale on tap (they only have 2 taps there and a nice bottle list- ie. Pliny, Pig, GFWCIPA, Dale's Pale Ale, Racer 5, etc etc), so it was a good night to go to PWM. Since the place closes around 9 on Saturdays we're now heading out for some more beers, chips, and we picked up a Rocky Patel "The Edge" to share at Lucky Baldwin's.

Timmins goes a little overboard with the wine sometimes. It's amazing how I was able to even get him into beer. If he's not chugging a Pliny the Younger (yes he did and it's f'd him up), he's chugging some Merlot ("I will not drink any fucking merlot!!!"). Did I mention USC IS PAC-10 TOURNAMENT CHAMPS???!!! What a great day. It'll still be a huge battle for us to win even our first game in the tourney, but at least we're in and are guaranteed at least some fun.

We made a quick stop at Lucky B's, and after looking at the tap list, which consisted mostly of leftovers from their Belgian Beer Fest, we decided to put the decision making into the hands of our favorite and trusty bartender Chris. I said "give us something fresh and hoppy" and he went to the fridge. I turned to Spencer and said I guarantee he comes back with a Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA. He indeed came with a Blue Dot IPA and it was the hoppiest and freshest tasting Blue Dot I've ever had. It's easily up in my top 5 favorite double IPA's at the moment. About 2 minutes later he asked what else we wanted, and we left the decision with him again and he came back with a Hair of the Dog Adam [old ale]. That beer was excellent. Dark fruit, the ever so light roastiness, a nice hop resin that stuck to the tongue but didn't overpower the other great malty flavors in it, and this beer just had an amazing balance to it. He had served us a bottle of Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws barleywine a few weeks ago which was also an awesome beer from this brewery, although it was much more fruity than Adam. Gotta say, Hair of the Dog makes some fantastic beers (as if beer geeks didn't know that). We're starting to see a little wider distribution from these guys, as most Whole Foods carry 4 or 5 of their beers. There are a couple more I need to try, such as Ruth or Fred. Can't wait to try these soon.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wooooooooo hooooooooooo!!! (and Red Poppy)

It's a little too late to be cracking a cold one right now, but you can be sure I'll be celebrating tomorrow. My big win celebration beer for USC basketball is Lost Abbey's Red Poppy, since we also beat ucla last year on the day of the Red Poppy release.

This year's Red Poppy is such a beautiful beer. It bursts with tons of sour cherry flavor, a puckering sourness and a dry finish. Absolutely glorious. The only negative with regards to this beer is that I can't afford more of it, because I'd drink it every day. A perfect beer to celebrate a win with over that other school across town.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA

As I said a couple days ago, it's almost unreal I haven't tried this beer in the 5 years I've been geeking out on craft beer. I actually did buy a 6 pack of it for my undergrad graduation party when I first got into craft beer but it was for my IPA loving friend known as the Baltimore Beer Guy. I didn't like IPA's back then so it was all for him. I digress. This beer is good. It's not the best beer in CA, in fact it probably wouldn't even crack my top 10 California IPA's, but that doesn't mean it isn't solid and tasty (it only means CA makes some kick ass hoppy beers). Upon pouring this beer the aroma strikingly resembles Stone Ruination. I'm sure there are Centennial hops in this, so maybe that's why. That aroma changed a bit over the course of the 12 ounces, and what I mainly get is a floral sweetness, maybe a little orange. The taste delivers a good amount of hop flavor, as an IPA should. Pine dominates with a sweet floral finish. The main knock I have on this beer is its body- it's too slick for my tastes. It feels like that slickness interferes with some of the bite, dryness, and even seems to shield some of the carbonation. I'm rating it a 3.85/5. Just about average for an IPA for me. Actually, as I think about it, the taste really reminds me of Alesmith IPA, one of the few California IPA's I generally don't prefer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hamilton's 2nd Saturday - March

Hamilton's has started this thing where every 2nd Saturday of each month they offer free food (all you can eat basically) while featuring a brewery for $3.50 pints. February showcased Karl Strauss, this month is Alesmith. I'm not a fan of any of that food they are are serving but that's a great list of Alesmith offerings.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Trader Joe's Mission St. Beer Reviews

The first of the (Firestone brewed) Trader Joe's Mission St. series, this is the Pale Ale. It clocks in at 4.6% ABV. In 3 words it can be easily described as a hopped up Corona. The aroma carries a grainy smell with a bit of dried leaves. The taste has a grassiness from the hops along with the lightest malt presence you can imagine. I really feel like I get a macro lager type taste, so I'm wondering if they used corn or rice in the the malt bill here. This beer was bottled on 1/14/09, so while sitting on the Trader Joe shevles didn't do it any favors, it certainly wasn't a complete gonner in terms of freshness. I'm all for a blanaced pale ale, it doesn't need to have a huge hoppiness to it, so my main criticism here would be the total lack of flavor on the malt side and a mouthfeel that was so watery it was almost absent. I give it a 3.2/5, or a C+.

After that I took a step up to the Mission St. IPA. This is what the pale ale should have been. It definitely carried a more malty base, which actually tasted a combination of a caramel and toastiness. The hoppiness was in there, but nowhere near the standards we are use to in terms of most of the well crafted IPAs in the country. In fact, this beer was very similar to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but with a lower bitterness. The aroma was devoid of any major hop aroma. There is a reason 6-packs of these beers cost $5.99, so I get that they won't be loaded with flavor. This one gets a 3.55/5, or a B.

Even at their very low prices, I'll still be spending the extra $4 to get a 6'r of Green Flash West Coast IPA, Racer 5, or Stone IPA.

Nostalgic Visit To Trader Joe's

The first beer store (using that term loosely) that I went to when I got into beer 5 years ago was Trader Joe's. I had heard that they let you make mixed 6-packs, so I went and bought a Trader Joe's Vienna Lager, North Coast Red Seal Ale, Spaten Optimator, and a Rogue Dead Guy Ale. Those were the good old days. I happend to be there today and took a quick glance at the beer isle. Their selection hasn't gotten much better, in fact it's probably a little worse, but I managed to put together a 6-pack of 5 beers I've never tried.

  • Trader Joe's Mission St. Pale Ale
  • Trader Joe's Mission St. IPA
  • Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA
  • Full Sail IPA
  • North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner
The SD Booze Reviews crew has told me good things about that Trader Joe's Pale Ale, which is brewed by Firestone, and I believe won a medal at the GABF for American Pale Ale (under the name Mission St. Pale Ale). I was really surprised to see a Mission St. IPA sitting right next to it so I snatched up a couple of those. As for Hop Ottin' and Scrimshaw, I have passed on these beers for years now, and I don't know why. As for Full Sail, I've had a few beers from them and haven't enjoyed them at all, but I figured I may as well give their IPA a try just to round it out. Plus, the 6 pack was barely over $7. Good deal if they turn out to be fresh (the Mission St. beers are fresh as the bottling date on the bottle indicates, the other beers are more of a mystery).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Blind Lady Alehouse Update - Glassware

There was much talk after the Blind Lady Alehouse opening concerning their beer pours and glassware. Apparently many people thought they were being short-changed because the glasses were being poured with lots of foam and room in the glass. But according to owner Lee Chase, this is the preferred method of pouring a beer at Blind Lady. They want the volume of beer you order to be served in a glass big enough to handle a good deal of foam, the way a beer should be poured. Up to this point they were using temporary glassware, and finally just received the special glassware they had ordered long ago. The new glasses are 21.5 oz glasses that can comfortably support pours of 16.9 oz's with a good deal of foam. Pretty cool I say.

And also:

And, of course, the Blind Lady's first house beer-- Automatic #1 will continue to be available until the batch runs out! This is the Organic Belgian single ale, with Ginger, Coriander, and Toasted Oak that I brewed at Mission Brewery last month. Complex and Refreshing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

That's a $50 bottle of beer

A couple of friends went down to SD today and Blackberry'd this pic to me. Looks like they are enjoying some fine beers! That'd be a little too rich for my wallet right now.

Homebrewing Thoughts

A sinus infection has put me out of commission for a while but I felt like doing a little beer-related writing. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of beer things by next weekend but I'll have to play that by ear. In the meantime I've been focusing a lot of time on homebrewing. I bought a Beersmith subscription a couple weeks ago and I've been addicted to it since then, putting together a bunch of recipes that I want to brew in the next few months. I really like doing 3-3.5 gallon batches because it costs less, it's less to bottle, and I can even do some all grain recipes at this size. But being the novice I am, I'm always looking for suggestions or discussion regarding homebrewing. There are a few really good homebrew discussion boards that I frequent: HomeBrewTalk, Northern Brewer Forums, The Brewing Network Forums, and MoreBeer! Forums. I also love to listen to The Brewing Network programs, namely The Jamil Show and Brew Strong. Not only are both immensely informative but these guys are great entertainment.

Back in January my friend Brian who was in town from Baltimore came over and we brewed a simple batch of Belgian Strong Pale Ale using two yeast strains, which still needs to be named. He's more creative than I am so I'll leave that up to him (we will call it Genesis). The batch sat in primary fermentation for 3 weeks and then in secondary for 2 weeks. It cleared up pretty nice in that time. Last weekend I checked the bottles (which had been carbonating for 7 days) and noticed I had cracked one during capping. So that this thing didn't become an accident waiting to happen, I carefully uncapped it and poured it in a glass to examine the flavor and aroma to this point. It was at room temp and it wasn't close to fully carbonated but what I could tell was that it had an awesome fruity smell from the two Belgian yeast strains we used. The taste also seemed pretty good, although I hate tasting uncarbonated beer at room temperature. At this point it has about another week to carbonate and then it should be good to go. I'm real excited about this one.

The beer I brewed last weekend, which I've name Graduation Wit, is done fermenting and I'll probably transfer it to bottles next week. I have no idea how it will turn out. I think I hit the malt profile pretty nicely, with equal parts of Belgian Pilsner and Flaked Wheat, with about 10% of Flaked Oats thrown in. The spicing was the hardest part to figure out. In all the recipes I researched online there was quite a difference in the amounts of corriander being added. I think I ended up adding about 0.4 oz for this 3.3 gallons. In addition, I didn't even bother getting Curacao bitter orange peel, so I used about 0.5 oz of zested Navel orange peel and 0.25 zested lemon peel. We'll have to wait and see if this brew turns out to be good.

I think my next beer will be an IPA based loosely on Alpine O'Brien's IPA. Obviously the hops are amazing in that beer, but there is a rich (but not sugary) maltiness to it as well. And it's also dry, as it should be. I don't know what they use other than pale malt (and probably some Crystal 40L), but I'm thinking they may throw some Munich or Vienna malt in there. I may email Alpine to see if they would give me any tips on this. As for hops, I'm leaning towards a combination of Amarillo and Cascade, with some high alpha Nugget for bittering. I don't have a huge range of hops available to me so I gotta work with what I can.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Southern California Beer Happenings In March

First, Stone has put 13th Anniversary Celebration tickets on sale as of NOW. The date is set for Saturday, August 22nd, and will be at Cal State San Marcos again. Tickets are $35. Check Stone's website for more information.

On March 6th, Churchill's in San Marcos is having their Hopocalypse with some great IPA's on tap. List includes casks of Ruination and Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA, plus other great IPA's such as Pliny the Younger, Poorman's, Racer X, and Hop Henge to name a few.

O'Brien's will be tapping casks of two Sierra Nevada beers in the upcoming weeks (when do you ever see those?). The first is Chico IPA on Thursday, March 5th and the second is an imperial porter on March 12th. There will also be a cask of Green Flash Imperial IPA to accompany one of these.

O'Brien's is also having another mini Russian River night on Friday, March 6th. A keg of Pliny the Younger will be tapped at 11am and will be accompanied by other draft and bottled Russian River beers.

Also on March 6th, The Bruery in Placentia will hold their monthly "first firkin Friday." This month it will be Saison de Lente. You can enjoy it on Saturday the 7th too. On Saturday, March 14th they will have a pre-St.-Patrick's-day celebration of sorts. It will be a Belgian Saint's Day, and involve a new special beer.

For St. Patrick's Day, Churchill's will be putting Guinness, Harp, and Smithwick's on tap to go along with offerings such as Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, Ballast Point Sextent Oatmeal Stout, and Firestone Velvet Merkin.

Pizza Port in Carlsbad will be holding their annual Belgian Beer Party on March 28th (session 1 is 10-4, session 2 is 5-11). It's the only event across this nation where you can drink Belgian beer while feeling like you're standing in the middle of a Bad Religion concert (ie you can't move around).