Getting this thing up and running again. Stay tuned for a whole new blog. Same poor writing, same great beer.Hope everyone at homes hasn't lost anything to frost bite. Just got done with a huge dinner with the family and mixing up a bottle of tasty Athol Brose.Cheers all and have a great holiday!
I just talked with Brian from Rock Bottom of Bellevue about some final recipe adjustments and we are ready to brew Saturday at noon. I'm pretty excited as it seems like to guys at Rock Bottom have a lot of wiggle room and creativity. For a corporate owned brewery and restaurant,they are A-OK in my book. They turn out some great beers and I have been pretty happy for the most part and I know Brian will do our Saison justice.
Mark Emily's awesome Kolsch will be on tap starting tomorrow at Rock Bottom Seattle. I have had the pleasure of trying the original a couple of times and new it was a winner from the get go. Great job dude, and I can't wait to try it tomorrow!
Last but not least, welcome back Geoff Kaiser who has been on vacation to Italy for the past couple of weeks (bastard). Hopefully after all of the great wine and food he experienced over there,he still has an appreciation for all of the great beer and food we have here in out little corner of Washington. I need to rush out and get some beer in him before he completely turns into a cork dork. There still might be time if we hurry! Welcome back dude. We have some heavy pint lifting to do.
As most of you may know, beer has taken a back seat for the past couple of months due to a few circumstances. Unfortunately Rodney is sustaining some back injuries and is trying to take it easy. He's doing great, but no more heaving 55lb grain bags up the stairs for a bit..I for one am in the process of trying to get into the best shape of my life after my back surgery and have cut beer drinking out for special occasions. There seem to be a lot of special occasion lately though. Our huge drop in cooler took a dump and we are somewhat limited on cold storage right now, but we are making due and have plans for a brewery revamp very soon, so come over and help get rid of some of our old stuff. We'll be back up and going in a couple of weeks.
So the good stuff: Saison Du Beacon took first place in the Belgian/French ale category at the Pro-Am competition. It was picked up by Rock Bottom Bellevue to be scaled up and entered in the Great American Beer Festival. I'm pretty stoked I must say. This is not only an honor, but it's also going to be a kick ass time. There is a bunch of us going down to Denver this year and is going to prove to be a great time no who wins what.I'm rooting for Mark Emily and Kevin Davey though. We'll all be down there rooting for each other. I will post the date of the tapping party when the beer is ready. Should be a great time.
I just worked the Seattle International Beer Festival this weekend and have to say it was an awesome experience.Yes, I carried a radio and wore a shirt that said "Beer Police" on the back. Probably got called a douchebag by a couple of people, but for that weekend, the few and the proud of us were above the law. Beer Police Brewtality. Lots of incredible experiences and I went away with some new friends as well. I won't have to worry about hotel rooms when I go down to Portland anymore:)
I just had the pleasure tonight of attending a dinner/beer pairing at Smith on Capitol Hill hosted by New Belgium Brewing. I was lucky enough to sit next to Peter Bouckeart and chat about brewing and the industry for a bit. If you have never heard of Peter, he's a pretty incredible guy. He doesn't believe in beer style, so some of you guys who read this would get along with him very well...Talk about artistic and passionate..jesus.
So future brews coming up in the future:
Out house IPA. You know it and love it. It will be here soon.
A series of Belgian Strong Ales, hopefully ready by Octoberfest along with a few others yet to be decided.
Funky stuff. No Lambics yet, but we do have a surprise up our sleeves that will rock your world. We have a 100 percent Brettanomyces Wit beer that is pretty awesome right now.
More Saisons of course. My favorite style.
I gotta run. Lots of stuff to do this week. Putting together a beer pairing with some of the best food in all of Seattle for the winner of the Belgian Category of the Novembeerfest competition. Yes, believe the hype. This place is that good (Hillary can I get an amen sista?)especially at the hands of Jimmy.
Last but not least, let me give a shout out to the soon to be opened Big Al Brewing. Alejandro, Jerome, Eddie and Noel, you guys are going to be great. We're all behind you and there to help make this place great.
I'm a slacker I know. My soapbox has been in the shop for repair, but now that it's out, we're ready to get this thing going once again. Yet another thing to waste time at work browsing over. More to come! Lots of really exciting news. BTW, we're going to Denver baby! Saison Du Beacon is in the Pro-Am..GABF here we come again.
The first couple of brews, a 60 Shilling (Mac 60) and an 80 Shilling) Mac 80 turned out excellent and have one them a couple of awards. These beers pack a lot of flavor into a malty, earthy, low alcohol beer. A long cool fermentation with a traditional strain of Scottish yeast lends a subtle smokiness and a smooth drinkability.
Yesterday marked Tim's 100th brew, and we all went down to hang out and help he and Rodney with the epic end to the series: The Wee Heavy. These beer have huge malt flavors, caramel, dark fruits, and will usually knock your kilt off with the alcohol strength.
Lots of brewers and friends showed up to support Tim and Rodney (there was also free food and 6-7 beers on tap, so that might have helped too!) and a good time was had by all. Here's a few pictures.
Decoctions are a very long process that takes patience and elbow grease. A few guys who showed up who were interested in trying it on their own brewing systems, were thoroughly convinced it was not for them after seeing what was involved. The amount of grain used surpassed the amount one mash tun would hold, so we hauled our brewing system down and simply mashed and decocted on two separate systems, lautered and sparged into one boil pot to get the volume (10 gallons) that was desired. Everything worked out great with a final gravity of 1.098, Tim is hoping this beer will be in the 10 percent range if all goes well with fermentation.
Like they say,"If it's not Scottish, it's Crap!". I strongly agree.
Tis the season for high alcohol beer. Strong Ale, Barley Wines and everything in between. Beery blogger and fellow Beacon Hill resident Geoff Kaiser is doing a great job on following what is going on around the area in what proves to be a sadistic but fun punishment to the liver. He and his girlfriend even found time to stop by on a double batch day to help dough in on a batch of our hop-blitzkrieged IPA.
Later in the evening found Rodney and I doing cellar work after brewing. We transfered our Robust Porter(roasty and chocolaty!), Berliner Weisse (getting nice and sour!) and took a sample of a very special beer that is becoming very complex.
Almost a year ago we brewed a Belgian Dark Strong. The yeast fermented this beer very quickly so it originally came out kind of hot (alcohol) so we let it sit to mellow. Almost 6 months later I got a wild hair and decided to dump a mixture of raisins reduced in Tawney Port into 5 gallons. We let it sit for another couple of months, then Rodney kegged it. The sugars from the raisins have naturally carbonated with some left over yeast in the keg. The beer is dark, rich and fruity, and very drinkable at over 10 percent.
I will try and somehow get this into some bottles and get it out to a few of you. Definitely one of the best beers we've turned out, and exceeds our standards for what a Belgian inspired beer should taste like. I think I'm going to go sneak another taste...
Rodney and I have been thinking about making an interpretation of a Dubble for a while now, and we're about ready to brew it in the next few weeks. We've been talking about flavor profiles and what we want to achieve.
A Dubbel is a very sneaky beer. Rich malts, fruits and chocolate with a velvety mouth feel. Complex beyond belief (at least the good ones are). A good Dubbel should be very attenuated and drinkable, but not thin, rich and warming.
We have a pretty good arsenal of tricks up our sleeves. One in particular is the use of Belgian Candi Syrup. As far as getting close to traditional, this is the stuff that is actually used. It is more or less a product of centrifuged caramelized beet sugar. Sugar is traditionally used in Belgian beers to increase the alcohol without increasing the body too much. These sugars and syrups also lend a ton of complexity to the brew.
So it has been decided to make a simple Dubble recipe, and to carry on our habits of experimentation lately, split the batch. Half will be left alone, corked and bottle conditioned. The second half will be taking the train on down to funky town.
5 gallons will be inoculated with a Lambic culture of all sorts of funky little critters and micro biota to age and sour over the course of a few months. After the first couple of months a concoction of cherries soaked in Bourbon, then reduced and caramelized and added to everything else a la Tim Hayner's Burnt Bourbon Cherry Stout, (I like to call it Haynerized, or Haynerizing the syrup). I present to you : Maker's Mark and the Funky Bunch.Not to be confused with these guys...
I'm hoping to achieve big fruit profiles in this beer, with a subtle tartness to balance out the richness and dark fruits with a hint of bourbon in the back ground. This may turn out to be a disaster, but it could be off the hook.This is what I love about brewing.
We brewed a variation of a Robust Porter last night, lots of British Chocolate malt, with a tad of Roasted Barley and a nice addition of East Kent Goldings hops to balance things out. The 10 gallons were split between an Wyeast 1056, a neutral ale yeast and White Labs 002, an English ESB yeast. Kind of an experiment, we will compare the flavor profiles between the two. I am definitely expecting the 1056 to finish clean and really showcase the chocolate and roasted barley, and attenuate pretty low. The WL002 should finish a little higher and have a much more fruity taste. Time will tell. Hope to put half on tap and half and bottle half and give to friends.
At long last the WAHA website has been launched. There has been much activity in the past couple of meetings and things seem like they are coming together. With a very knowledgable and kind dude named Steve Antoch, I will be assisting him with the educational aspects of WAHA. Basicaly touching on things such as theory, recipe formulation, techniques, equipment...all that good stuff. Steve came up with a great idea of a mentoring map. Someone who is just starting out can contact an experienced brewer via an online push pin style map that is in their area. The two parties can agree on a date and get together and brew a batch. Another cool idea is to have a Trouble shooting/ Evaluation Program that integrates the map as well. If someone wants objective feedback for a certain beer or is having problems with off-flavor, they can be set up with a judge in the area to help them out. I'm excited to be part of this and to try and help out! Big Al took me under his wing a few years ago and I have made it my mission to try and do the same for others in the name of good beer. Check out the website and the yahoo group. Join up and get brewing.
What a whirlwind month and a half it's been. I have been resurected from my gimp like state and am now back on my way to being a strapping,somewhat young lad.
Competition season is right around the corner, and there are lots of plans for entering a couple of beers that are now ready, and also plenty of oppurtunities to hone the judging skills.
I was thinking the other day, and taking the BJCP study courses and then the exam has been the single most important thing I have done as far as brewing goes. It isn't all about making sure every beer tastes exactly the same and then ridiculing others that are sub par.It shouldn't be perceived as pretentious or snobby, and it isn't a secret beer society gestapo. The test is extremely hard and I'm sure others agree with me, there is a certain satisfaction when finished, and I came out of the classes with some people I didn't know previously who I am proud to call friends.There are always certain personalities (as with anything else) that can give something fun and educational a bad name.I've kind of started to notice though that they are the ones that haven't brewed anything to enter, or don't brew anymore. Hmmm.Competitions and the BJCP are a good thing(and lots of fun!), and there is a whole new group of judges coming up that are going to be very helpful and offer good feedback. After all, we will be judging each others beer in the same competition!
Coloring out of the lines (as Tim says) is extremely important, and is one of the things I like so much about brewing. Being artistic and having the balls to go for it. Push the envelope. Throw caution to the wind.Sometimes you have to go for it and learn what works and what doesn't.No one wants to be stuck drinking the same amber ale day in and day out.A couple beers we have made have turned out pretty awesome from a crazy spice addition or pushing the limits of the yeast.
I think it is very important to research the style (or base style) of the beer one is going to be brewing. Rodney and I will usually sit down with a couple of good commercial examples and discuss what we like and don't like about it, and come up with some ideas on how to achieve the flavors, aroma, and body that would make the beer drinkable and enjoyable. I try and research the history of the beer and learn about what made it how it is today, how it has changed, what others have done to improve on it as far as yeasts and brewing techniques.What is a good base recipe to start with? What characteristics will certains specialty grains contribute or hinder in this beer? What kind of hops do I have access to and will they be too cloying and cause this to be unbalanced?
Yeast management, propagation, and good fermentation techniques are key as well.If you have access to plenty of fresh, healthy yeast, or the ability to build up your own, you've halfway won the battle. Vinnie of Russian River has written a few times, and said to Adrian and I while touring the brewery, is you have to know what the yeast can and can't do for you.
If you have the ability to duplicate a beer to style time after time, then you have no excuse not to put your own twist or signature on it.Sure, it can get boring drinking textbook beers, but I have come to respect someone who can do it. They have done their homework and researched the history of the recipe. The same goes for someone who takes a shot in the dark and ends up hitting it out of the park. It's a fine line I suppose...
I can sum up what brewing means to me in a quote I read and is kind of my mantra, and hope to have this painted on the wall of my brewery someday....
"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist." -St.Francis of Assisi
After a rather long break from brewing, we brewed our Berliner Weisse on Sunday. With only 11 lbs. of grain for a 10 gallon batch, it was our smallest beer to date with an original gravity coming in at 1.030. This beer was not boiled, but brought up to a temperature around 210. 10 year old Hallertauer hops were used at first wort (beginning of sparge) to add some preservative qualities, but little to no flavor and bittering.The wort was then cooled with our new monster immersion chiller, and then inoculated with a blend of a clean german ale strain, lactobacillus, and brettanomyces.This should be ready to drink by late spring and should be fully matured by summer. A perfect refreshing low alcohol beer for a hot day.
I will be updating very soon. Lots of cool beer stuff happening lately!