28 April 2009

Dieu du Ciel Corne du Diable/Nils Oscar IPA (CAN/SWE)

Two IPAs from unexpected parts: Quebec and Sweden. Accordingly, both are on the pricey side.

Dieu du Ciel Corne du Diable: The devil's horn. It's in the style of "la cote ouest de l'Amerique du Nord," and it tastes it. Pretty golden amber with lacy head, it smells of Cascade dry hopping. Medium-to-full in body and lightly carbonated. Malty, hoppy (though nothing ridiculous), grapefruit and pine. Tingles the ribs afterwards. 

Nils Oscar India Pale Ale: A classier label, I think, although possibly a bit dull. This one also claims a US influence, with "American Amarillo hops to give the exotic aroma of tropical fruit." It seems lighter in color and in body (I didn't drink them side by side), and fizzier. It is in fact vaguely fruity tasting (not citrusy, as I tend to think of Amarillos), and maybe spicy/earthy. No IPA hop blast, but it's pleasant. What semi-spoils it for me is the finish, which is dry and in fact chalky. The effects of a less than fresh bottle? I don't know. I don't regret that it isn't an American-style hop bomb, although others may, but it loses points for the powder. 

For me, this is now two winners from Dieu du Ciel.

24 April 2009

Brewhouse Honey Blonde

Just in time for the warm weather, my Brewhouse Honey Blonde, modified for five gallon rather than six, and with WLP008 yeast rather than the enclosed Cooper's.

It turned out good. Orange-tinged, slightly hazy (though more clear than my picture lets on). It has what I consider to be more of a soda pop carbonation -- plenty of what feel like bigger bubbles -- which is more appropriate for this style.  The honey flavor is actually buried underneath what I think are yeast flavors. I probably should have used a cleaner yeast; then again, I kind of like this taste. Without it, it might be kind of a boring beer.

So thumb's up on the easy to make, but pricey, Brewhouse Honey Blonde.


22 April 2009

Mel Kiper Drinking Game

For diehard NFL fans who intend to spend all weekend watching the draft (I would be one but the weather supposed to be great): the Mel Kiper Drinking Game

Some of the rules:

1) Anytime Mel says this player is productive take a drink
2) Anytime he says this player is great value take a drink
3) Anytime a general manager says Mel Kiper has never worn a jock strap take a drink.

The "jock strap" debate was over the Colts taking Trev Alberts over Trent Dilfer in 1994. On hindsight, I'm not sure who was right. Alberts had his career ruined by injury, Dilfer kind of sucked (the Colts seemed better with Jim Harbough), but then piggybacked his way to a Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Kurt Warner went undrafted that year, so I suppose no one knew what they were talking about.

19 April 2009

Ellicottville Pantius Droppus (NY)

I noticed that Beerjanglin' gushed over this foray into big beer from Ellicottville Brewing Company (EBC), so I figured I'd give it a try. Pantius Droppus is an Imperial Pale Ale --  not an Imperial IPA. I wondered what that distinction meant, and then recalled that I didn't even like EBC's grapefruit rind pale ale.  So would this be just more of a bad thing? In addition, it's claim of a "robust Cascade dry hop" made me think I knew what I was getting into, nothing particularly original.

But then there's the sour, enough so that I wondered whether my bottle had gone bad. It turns out, others have noted the sour notes as well, so I'll assume it's intentional. Here's the thing: I have yet to "appreciate" sour beers, but I like Pantius Droppus a good deal. The sourness isn't overwhelming, but stands on top of other aspects of the beer: citrus and sweet-leaning malts, slight grapefruit bitterness underneath. The high alcohol doesn't comes through. It still leans more to sipper than gulper, but isn't oppressively heavy. 

About $7.50 a bomber for 22 ounces of 11.5% ABV isn't a bad price at all, and I greatly appreciate the uniqueness of Pantius Droppus, a beer that Biggus Dickus would have loved.

18 April 2009

AHS American Red Ale

This is my fifth batch of homebrew, although I haven't tasted my fourth batch yet (maybe tomorrow; I'm pretty patient). My first partial mash, using a kit from Austin Homebrew.

American Red Ale
5 lbs. Munich LME
1.5 lbs. Munich malt
1.5 lbs. 2-row
0.5 lbs. Cara-Munich
0.25 lbs. Special B
1 oz. Cascade (7.5%) each at 60, 15, 5. 
Windsor yeast

The grains smelled like Grape Nuts flakes.

The AHS instructions specified using a stockpot (and large grain bag) for the partial mash, but I used a 4-gallon cooler (and grain bag).  I figured this would hold the heat better, but (a) I forgot to pour hot water into the cooler ahead of time to raise the internal temperature, and (b) the grains and strike water (two gallons) barely filled half the cooler. So I lost more heat than I think I should have, finishing the 45 minute mash rest just below 150 degrees. But I don't know if that's a big problem with a mini-mash. My OG was 1.057 instead of the expected 1.053, but I don't trust my gravity readings that closely. 

The whole thing has smelled strongly of Cascades from the first day until bottling day (today). That's the "American" part, but I wonder if AHS adjusts its recipes for AA, with 7.5% is on the high side for Cascades. Windsor yeast is known to leave a fairly high FG, which is part of the reason this isn't an APA, I guess. The yeast was slow to get going, which worried me a bit. Last known gravity was 1.020 (expected 1.014), but my hydrometer broke so I didn't get a bottling day measurement.

Four weeks in primary, no secondary, and now it will be three weeks in the bottle before I crack one. I do like this mini-mash procedure and look forward to using it more, probably with more grains and less extract. Possibly I could try an all-grain half batch, but my weak electric stove limits my ability to boil too much wort.

13 April 2009

Lake Placid Ubu Ale (NY)

This beer's claim to fame is that Bill Clinton tried it and liked it so much he asked the brewery to send a few growlers to the White House. Clintons successor drank so much alcohol as a young man that he lost his privilege by the time became President. Somewhat predictably, this has lead some to think there's a rule that the President should never drink. And all this after Obama was accused of disliking beer, and drinking anti-union beer, and lord knows what else.

Ubu was (is?) the name of a chocolate labrador retriever. The beer is described as a strong ale (7% ABV), which I think is a fairly open style. It's dark -- slightly ruby -- and comes across as a bit stout-like, but not of the dry, highly roasted variety. There's chocolate malt evident and a slight sweetness that doesn't stay around too long. Medium-bodied. Ubu is an easy-drinker, a session ale despite the ABV. Tasty, if somewhat nondescript.

09 April 2009

Thomas Hardy's Ale 1998 (ENG)

L@@K VINTAGE! 1998! 

Looks like a bottle of this recently sold on ebay for $17.87. It's expensive, but not that expensive, though in auctions it only takes one person to overpay. 

Thomas Hardy pours a dark amber -- clear unless you tip the yeast in as well -- but I can't get much of I head. I could smell the underside of the cap all night: raspberry-chocolate, mmm! First taste of the ale is nothing like that, however. In fact, I primarily detect licorice. Also, a strong peppery, spiciness distinguishes this from other barleywines I've had (its 12%). Brown sugar, fruit, slight sweetness, just a whole lot going on. All in all, an excellent barleywine, but not above and beyond all the others I've had (e.g., Old Foghorn).

BTW, here's a piece from the late William Brand on the history of this beer. It looks like my bottle was in between Eldridge Pope's and O'Hanlon's brewing. The bottle only says 'Thomas Hardy Brewery Ltd." I'm somewhat proud to see, as is the case with Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, there's an American distributor at the heart of the fight to keep this ale flowing.  

06 April 2009

When my time is up...

Just so you know, when I go, if this woman shows up a my wake, let her stay: 

Sheriff's deputies said a Texas woman started a brawl at a wake in Arkansas when she arrived with a beer can in her hand. The woman, 52, faces a third-degree domestic battery charges, as does another woman, 46, over the March 29 fight. Deputies said the first woman arrived at the Christies Chapel Church with a beer can in hand and that she refused to leave.
People in Arkansas are just so prissy about stuff like this.  

04 April 2009

Coney Island Albino Python (NY)

Some craft breweries don't even bother with lagers. Shmaltz has a whole specialty line of them. Albino Python (with its slightly salacious label art) is a singular beer: a "white lager brewed with spices," a witbier brewed with lager yeast. Who else brews one of those?

The lager yeast is bound to make a difference, but on top of that, Shmaltz uses an atypical blend of spices: ginger, crushed fennel and orange peel. No coriander? And how many other beers use fennel? (Although fennel is licoricey like anise, which isn't completely unusual in beer.) To me, the spices definitely dominate any citrus fruit elements, and I'll definitely believe it's ginger and fennel. There isn't much malty backbone here, and the hops aren't bitter, but instead appear to add a somewhat rough and dry finish. It's crisp, and would work well with grilled chicken or fish or something like that.

Albino Python is, first and foremost, different. It's also pretty good, better than most lagers. But I don't like it quite as much as a well-made white ale.