International Homebrew Project 2013

Oh, The International Homebrew Project 2013... I have been looking forward to doing this as soon as I heard about it. Especially since I missed out on a few years in the past. I thought that this year was even more perfect due to the fact that I have always wanted to brew a Burton ale... well, at least in current history and that is what was on tap for this years IHP.

The recipe was pretty simple, which lead me to believe that this would be a very simple brewday... sometimes I should just shut my big mouth when these things are going down. It honestly started great, but as time when on, oh, as time went on.

I have been wanting to make the move from pellet hops to leaf hops and since I found a good deal on Cluster, and I needed a ton of it, I picked it up and decided this would be my first step toward that switch.

There is nothing wrong with Pellet Hops, I have used them ever since I started brewing in 2009. I just love the look, feel, and smell of Leaf Hops. That was essentially what made this decision for me.

At first, I was just going to throw the hops in there without any kind of filter. When I first started brewing I used cheese cloth to contain my pellet hops but after time found it was unnecessary and just threw them directly into the kettle. I was told time and time again that this was a bad idea for this batch and I was going to ignore that advice but I had some cheese cloth lying around from way back when, so I decided to use it.

But anyway, maybe I should take a few steps back since there were some issues with this brewday. The Mash. Pretty simple and straight forward for this beer, but sometimes even that could go wrong. This was what I saw after I mashed in and everything seemed to be going so smooth, yeah, so smooth.

When I went to collect my runnings, the drainage tube immediately filled up with grains. I had no idea what was going on but I had my suspicions being this has happened to me before... and I was right. My hose braid came loose.

And that is not where my issues decided to end. After I got the boil rolling, I went inside and who knows what the hell I did... probably got on twitter, but who knows. I go back out to check on it and the boil has significantly slowed... I tried to turn up to heat to get it going faster and nothing... The flame decided to die out. I grabbed my other tank and then remembered, "Crap! I did not refill this one either!!!"... So now, I was faced with having no idea how to restart the boil and account for the time being I had already done my first hop addition...

Total fail to this point... and it sucks even more. With everything that has been going on recently, I ended up failing at completing the task... The beer is brewed, fermented out and everything but I have just been able to find the time to bottle it, keg it, or taste it... Still sitting in the fermenter... Though, this weekend may be the one. I should actually have time to brew and bottle up the remainder of one of my kegs and throw this one in there... and then I won't be able to touch anything until I get home in June... Woooo for out of state job training...

I will drop updates for this soon. I will probably do tasting notes of the post fermented beer tomorrow and add them here. Kind of missed the point of IHP but I really could not do anything about it...



1001 Beers: Petrus Oud Bruin

Beer Number 54: Brouweij Bavik Petrus Oud Bruin

I've been holding onto this beer for a while and seeing someone else drinking one is what made me pull mine out and crack it open. I guess there was no better time. A look at the history of this beer and brewery were interesting, but the actual process of making this one caught my attention more.
Oud Bruin, which is sometimes called "Old Dark" for export purposes, is a classic Flemish old brown ale that is part young and part wood-aged ale. The base beer, an aged pale, is matured in oak barrels for two years and blended with young brown ale to produce the Oud Bruin. This method of maturing beer has been a tradition in Flanders for centuries. The style of beer is typically moderate in alcohol and refreshing.
I really had no idea what to expect coming into this one, other than my expectations for the style, of course.

Petrus Oud Bruin poured a deep dark brown and it boasted a brown head. The nose was a bit fruity, like cherries and acidic. A bit of vinegar in the nose and slight alcohol hints. I was surprised how smooth this beer was. Very easy drinking. There was a little bit of vinegar in the finish and dark fruits opened this one up. I thought this was essentially a perfect beer. It is what it is and it was not trying to be anything more. One that should always be in stock around my place.

947 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



1001 Beers: Curieux

Beer Number 53: Allagash Curieux

After opening Allagash Tripel Reserve, and hearing that it may or may-not be the base beer for Curieux, I figured there is no better time to open this one than now. Right After I had the Tripel. I mean, what is the worse that can happen?
"I wouldn't call it a mistake," Rob Tod, the founder of Allagash Brewing, says of his groundbreaking barrel-aged tripel Curieux, "but it was a total accident." For reasons that only a brewer can appreciate, Tod insist on bottling his tripel reserve in special corked bottles imported from Belgium. When a bottle shipment was delayed in mid-2004, the brewery found itself with a supply of the strong golden ale that would either have to be moved or tossed. He scanned the brewery floor and his eyes fell upon some used wooden Jim Beam bourbon barrels that he'd planned to save for a batch of his dark and malty dubbel. "We didn't think a tripel would be a good fit at all," Tod says. "For some reason, you think of a dark beer as a better match with a barrel."
This beer has been in production ever since and I have never heard anything bad about it at all. Must have been the perfect little accident for Allagash. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Curieux poured a slightly hazy, golden color with a small, fluffy white head. Great rising carbonation throughout and you pick up plenty of fruit in the nose. There are some light whisky notes in there as well. On first sip, I thought the flavors came across as pretty strange... though, it really worked.

Everything was mellowed out quite a bit but came together. The sweetness, honey, light fruit, a bit of yeast and burnt flavors and notes of oak. I really can only describe this one by tasting it. Seriously magical. This is a beer that cannot be passed up.

948 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



1001 Beers: Tripel Reserve

Beer Number 52: Allagash Tripel Reserve

I have never had a beer from Allagash I did not like. I have only had a few from their collection but the ones I did have were fricken fantastic. I have had mixed experiences with Tripels in the past, so I hope this one lives up to the greatness I have come to expect.
This classic Belgian-style tripel--one of Allagash's original core brands made without funky ingredients--earns undying praise from beer fans. No unconventional brewing processes and no secret ingredients--unless you count the yeast. Tod won't divulge any details about the strain, possibly because it is clearly vital to the golden ale's complex layers of flavor. The brew kettle sees only two-row malt, candy sugar, and light unassuming hops--the same base any practiced brewer from Flanders would employ. Surely, they alone are not responsible for the sweet, honey and fruit flavors that roll across the palate.

For this beer, I decided to get really fancy and poured it into this wine glass. I know, right? Setting this one up to be even more fantastic then it probably already is. The Tripel looked really thick as I was pouring it into the glass. Almost like honey and the golden color helped to push that across as well. A very small, fluffy white head formed on top and it carried a very fruity and phenolic. That spice and a bit of yeast presence with hints of apple really took the initial experience of this beer to places I was not expecting.

I thought this beer came across pretty nice and creamy. Based on the nose I was expecting a lot of crazy flavors but everything was quite subdued, muted, and mellow. Low carbonation and honey, apple, pears come together before dissipating into the background. A beautiful beer that hides its 9% ABV. A great example of the style.

At first, the apples in the nose kind of turned me off to this one. I am not really a fan of apples in my beer but there was no denying how amazing this one was. There is nothing more to do or say than grab another one. A win for Allagash, and a win for 1001 Beers.

949 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



1001 Beers: Oatmeal Porter

Beer Number 51: Highland Oatmeal Porter

This beer pretty much completes my collection of Highlands Year Round beers. I am missing the Black Mocha Stout but I doubt that one would be hard to find. I have seen this brewery all around and who knows, maybe I will check the out when I get to Asheville...
Highland Oatmeal Porter was born out of the failed attempts by the Asheville-based brewery in North Carolina to create a lager as a companion for its flagship Gaelic Ale. Founder Oscar Wong and brewmaster John Lyda had already dumped three consecutive batches of lager that did not live up tho their standards. The pair agreed that Highland Brewing, which released its first beer at the end of 1994 from a brewhouse that was using reconfgigured dairy equpiment, just could not afford to dump a fourth batch of lager. Instead, the base lager was blended with roasted grains and oatmeal. A new beer was born, and it quickly became a favorite.

The Oatmeal Porter was a deep dark brown color, though it appeared amber when you put it up to the light with a well formed brown head. It carried a big roasty nose with some chocolate notes. Based on the descriptions and history of the creation of this beer, I was not expecting something so robust. Not saying it is a bad thing but I just thought it would be a pretty mellow beer. A little hop bite and quite a bit of dark malt character came through. A very surprising beer. Not many North Carolina beers made the list, but this one can hang with the selection that did make it in.

950 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



1001 Beers: Kodiak Brown Ale

Beer Number 50: Midnight Sun Kodiak Brown Ale

While I had the IPA from this brewery not too long ago, I was happy to see that their brown ale made it into this book. It is not a style we see much of today. Though, one I really enjoy. When I first got into beer I was not impressed with the big, hoppy, and outrageous IPAs. I fell in love with some of the more passionate and flavorful offerings. So it is nice when I find something that takes me back to the beginning.
The Kodiak Brown Ale was its very first beer and has been the best-selling Midnight Sun beer ever since. It's brewed with the traditional malts of a Norther English Brown: pale and chocolate malt. The hopping rate is also along the lines typical for the style, at 24 IBUs, but with rather more unusual hop varieties: German Perle and American Willamette. These hop varieties gives the brown ale a decidedly nontraditional taste profile, which adds to its very unique character.

I do not think I have ever had a beer named after a bear before, but here it goes. I wonder if it will shred away at me or if I should play dead... hmmm...

Kodiak Brown Ale pours, as you would expect, a nice deep brown with a pretty good looking tan head. Sweet malts on the nose with a bit of caramel and a little bit of a toasted nut character. The initial taste was sweet and a little burnt. This beer carried a medium body and a strong carbonation kick in the back. Toasty, spicy, a solid brown ale.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit. A very different beer from what you typically find out there and what is talked about today. I hope there are others in the book that just hang onto the simplicity of what beer really is.

951 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



The Session: Balance

That is a funny thing now that I have to look back on it.

Not saying I did not have balance before but if I ever wanted to do anything beer related, whether it be homebrewing, a festival, or just out for a few drink all I would have to do is say it and go. SWMBO honestly did not care. Well, some questions would be asked; i.e. Do you work? Anything important going on that conflicts? Where is it? How much does it cost? What are you getting me? Basic questions that usually ended up in me at a brewery or a tasting of some kind.

Not too long ago there was a new addition to my family that calls for a greater investment than a puppy.

She claims nothing will change and I will be able to do the things I have always done, but I feel that is not exactly true. I feel this event is forcing me to bring even more balance into my life. Not that it is a bad thing, I just have to figure out how to keep all the new events in line.

When this blog started, it was about me, my adventures, & my adventures in homebrewing. I think that the blog will also work out as a medium to keep my beer life balanced from my non-beer life. Planning out brews, planning out events, planning out anything that used to just be spur of the moment and still have fun.

So far things have been great. Maybe I was worried about nothing. SWMBO suggested going to a local brewery a few weeks back for lunch. I was hesitant because I thought it would just end up as a cry fest. The worst that happened is that I got a taster of a beer I did not like on that encounter. Granted, I know this was just a test run and things will not always be this easy but maybe figuring out what I can and cannot do will not be as hard as I suspected.

Some things have already seemed to be a major challenges that must be worked out. The first night home, trying to eat dinner, was insane. Even cooking dinner together has proved to be difficult but I guess that is what it is all about. Finding and maintaining the balance in our new life. In every aspect.



1001 Beers: Oerbier

Beer Number 49: De Dolle Brouwers Oerbier

Oerbier is one that I have been looking forward to for some time now. I have seen it around and had it suggested to me time and time again. After seeing the little guy on the front of the bottle, I knew I had to pick it up, too. He is just too happy for me to not want to drink this beer. And surprisingly, the cost of this bottle does not break the bank.

One thing that always stuck me as odd about peoples experience with this beer is they said there was no way for them to tell the freshness of the bottle. I had no issues finding it, see.

Not that I feel it really matters, though. People typically hold onto Belgian Strong Ales for a while but the brewers have their own idea of how long this beer should sit around before you actually drink it. Once again, I have failed.
Four Malts, dark candy sugar, and locally grown Golding hops are used to ensure the beer's typical Oerbier character. The brewery recommends aging the brew for a couple of years before drinking, preferably at 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8C), as it does in its own cellars. This is quite a turnaround in attitude since the first editions of Oerbier carried a best-by date of one hundred days.

Oerbier was cloudy and murky. An amber-brownish tone with a big tan head. Very fluffy, though. A funky, phenolic nose that brought on a lot of fruity notes. There was a slight twang in the this, but again, not sour. Quite malty with dark fruits hanging around and an unexpected sweetness.

This one didn't do it for me. Maybe the misconception of this being a sour ale threw me off, but I know a lot of people are going to be down my throat for not finding this as awesome as they did. I still have one other version to try and since this is relatively inexpensive, I think I am going to grab another bottle to store away, since that is how it is now recommended to be served. I know I missed the initial 100 day mark, but that would be an interesting time to try as well... Oh, trying to follow the brewers directions.

952 Bottles Of Beer To Go!