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Topics - erockrph

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I'll get to the point - this is the best Berliner Weisse I've had, by far. Every BW I've tried always seems to have some flaw - not sour enough, funky kettle-sour off-flavors, too much cereal/grainy character, too strong, too watery, etc. This one is spot-on in what I'm looking for in a berliner.

The color is very pale straw, closer in color to Pinot Grigio than beer. A finger of pure white head sticks around for a short while before collapsing. Aroma is fresh lactic/lemon, with a hint of doughy pils malt. Flavor is bright citrus and lactic tang, with a clean finish that reveals hints of grain. Mouthfeel is light, but there is enough acid pucker to keep it from being watery-thin. The acidity is perfect. It is quite tart, but not down to "instant heartburn" level. It is a perfect beer to put down in mass quantity.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Gigantic/3 Floyds - Crescendo of Doom
« on: October 19, 2015, 08:37:30 PM »
I'm kicking into the first of the commercial brews I got from HoosierBrew for Swaptoberfest. This is an IPL collab from Gigantic Brewing Company and 3 Floyds. Color is yellow-gold with a short white head. Aroma is citrus hops with some spicy notes. Flavor is more earth/pine/herbal with a touch of dank/onion. The fruitinees from the nose is much more subdued on the palate. Bittering is moderate for the style. Finish is crisp with some lingering pine resin.

Overall, this is a tasty beer. I don't pick up much on the malt front, and there isn't much fermentation character here to make it stand out as a lager. I find a lot of collab brews to be a bit unfocused, and I get that a bit here. I'm not sure what specific hop varieties they use, but they mention English hops in the kettle and German hops for dry hops. It's a cool idea, and well-executed, but nothing really stands out.

The Pub / Did you ever wonder...
« on: October 13, 2015, 04:55:15 PM »
...if brewers ever release a beer as a giant inside joke thinking "I wonder if anyone will actually buy this?"

...and then you slap down your credit card...

The Pub / Windows 10
« on: October 06, 2015, 07:15:46 PM »
Anyone else upgrade yet? I just upgraded my PC from Win 7 to Win 10 today. The new Start Menu will take a little getting used to, but we have Win 8.1 on our Surface so I'm a little familiar with it. I loved Windows 7, but I wanted to try out 10 for a bit before upgrading the Surface so I can walk my wife through it.

So far, my PC does seem a bit more responsive. My PC is getting a bit old (Core i7 860, 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM), and my Win 7 install was starting to get a bit sluggish. I've heard that Win 10 was lighter on the resources and my experience so far seems to match that.

Anyone have any pros or cons based on their own upgrade experience?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Farnum Hill "Dooryard" cider (Batch 1502)
« on: October 01, 2015, 08:48:48 PM »
It's not often that I have a cider that really blows me away the way a top-notch beer does, but this cider is quite remarkable. Farnum Hill makes some great ciders, but this batch of Dooryard is a standout, even for them.

What really stands out with this cider for me, is that for all the complexity the apple character is always at the forefront. A big turnoff for a lot of dry ciders I've tried is that they seem more like a dry wine first, without much apple behind it. This is definitely apple-first and something I want to put down in quantity

The nose is clean apple, with bright citrus and background notes of pear and floral aromas. On the palate, you get off-dry sweetness with moderate tannins and bright acidity. The acidity is clean citrus, yet soft, and well-balanced by tannin. It almost reminds me of a softer gueuze, minus the funk.

The apple flavor never disappears from beginning to end, with notes of lemonade, passionfruit and SweetTarts coming in and out. The body is fairly thin, but the tannins and prickly carbonation keep it from being watery. The finish is drying, with lingering acidity and apple skin.

I think this batch is in pretty short supply, but if you see this in a NH state liquor store I would snap it up right away. Great stuff!

Yeast and Fermentation / Wyeast 2278 for hop-forward lagers
« on: September 22, 2015, 07:51:58 PM »
I've been chasing my white whale for a while now - a hoppy lager that has the malt and fermentation character of a lager but the hop character of an APA. I've never quite been able to nail the balance I've been shooting for, but I think I found the missing piece in Wyeast 2278.

I recently brewed a lager using mainly Red X malt with a splash of Pils, with Mandarina Bavaria and Apollo as my hops, and using 2278 for my yeast. The beer finished crisp and dry, with a nice snap to the bitterness, but the malt flavor still came through and it left some richness in the mouthfeel. As a bonus, it had dropped quite clear on its own after 3 weeks in primary.

Hop flavor isn't as much as I had hoped for, but that might just be from my hop selection (which was primarily Mandarina), and quantities. I'm looking forward to trying this again with some more potent hops and a 80:20 Pils/Munich malt bill.

If you're looking for something different than Chico for an APA, this yeast would probably make a nice choice. Using an accelerated lager fermentation schedule you could have something ready in close to the amount of time needed for an ale yeast. It's probably the best option of all the lager yeasts I've tried for an IPL as well.

Ingredients / Brewer's caramel
« on: August 30, 2015, 12:00:30 PM »
I have a couple of bottles of Brewer's Caramel en route from the other side of the pond. I've been wanting to play around with it for a while. Of course, I really have no clue how to use the stuff. Outside of Ron Pattinson's vintage recipes, I can't say I've come across any recipes calling for it. I've always assumed you add it to the boil, although the site I bought it from says to add it to finished beer.

I'm thinking I'd just take a basic brown ale or ESB recipe and go from there. If I can use this post-boil, even better. That way I can split a batch 2 or 3 ways to see what happens with increasing amounts of caramel vs none.

Anyone have any insights or experience as to how I'd use it?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Medusa Brewing Company
« on: August 17, 2015, 05:33:53 PM »
I met up with some friends up in Hudson, MA a week ago for a night out. It was my first time in that area, but it's a recently gentrified old mill town with a really promising food scene that is developing. After a great dinner and dessert, we ended up at Medusa Brewing Company. We have a lot of brewpubs down my way, but this was the first nano/taproom style brewery I've been to. The taproom was a decent size and clean & well-maintained. Entertainment was a dude on mandolin playing an eclectic mix of tunes (I don't remember his whole set, but there was some 70's Bowie at one point).

Anyways, onto the beer. They had a really nice selection, with many sessionable brews and only a couple of IPA's (one being a session IPA). I started off with Sir Terry, which is a 3.8% dark mild that goes down really easy. There were toasty/nutty malt notes with hints of fruity esters and roasty chocolate. It was a little more watery than I'd like, but there was enough of a mineral character to dry out the finish and counteract that wateriness. I made a note that it would be killer on cask. I think the carbonation level may have made it seem a bit thin.

My buddy had their 80/-. I didn't take any detailed notes, but it was damn good. I remember thinking that this is what Belhaven must taste like fresh at the brewery.

Then I had Fermette, which is a 6% saison, dry-hopped with Sorachi and Centennial. My friends (who are admittedly not beer nerds like me) all made "the face" when they tried it - "not my tastes". Then I tried it. I made "the face", too. My notes read "Lemony, soapy, meaty. Something went wrong." Soap is almost definitely the hops. I'm not quite sure where the meaty thing is coming from. I always hear that this is an autolysis issue, but any time I've experienced that it's been in an overaged beer and it's been closer to soy sauce. This was more like chicken broth.

Overall, I was pretty happy with Medusa. I will definitely stop back in next time I'm in the area. But man, I wish they would have dumped that batch of saison. They're fairly new (open less than a year from what I've been told), so I hope they learn that it's OK to dump a beer. It's less expensive in the long run to lose a batch of beer than to lose customers.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Paulaner Original Munich (Helles)
« on: August 13, 2015, 09:23:26 PM »
There is a fairly new liquor store in my area that I recently discovered. They have a very solid craft beer selection, but it's not huge. There's no mix-a-six section collecting dust, everything is in the fridge. There may not be the hugest selection, but what they have is cold and fresh. I mention this because Paulaner Helles is a beer I'd never touch at the other bottle shops in my area, as it is typically stored warm and not likely to be turned over very quickly. So when I saw it in the fridge at Big Gary's, I snapped it right up.

This beer just hits all the marks for me. It has a wonderful rich, bready malt character to it. It is well attenuated, but not as bone dry as a pils. The carbonation level is also backed off a bit compared to other lagers. It isn't crisp and bone-dry, but that plays to the maltiness well, and it is still dangerously easy to put down in quantity.

What I really enjoy about it is the malt character. With most pilsners I get a malt character that reminds me of uncooked pasta. The Paulaner is different. It reminds me more of a french baguette. I would love to brew a beer with this same malt flavor, but I can't quite think of a grain that would get me there. If I had to guess, I'd wager that Paulaner has this malt made to spec and it's probably in between Pils and Vienna malt somewhere. I also wonder if yeast strain comes into play here. I can't think of a Paulaner beer that I haven't loved when I've had a good/fresh bottle of it.

The Pub / Are these cherries?
« on: July 06, 2015, 06:23:07 AM »
I came across some trees on my property in the past few weeks that are covered with fruit that look like small cherries. I am hesitant to forage for any berry that I haven't positively identified, especially red ones that i have no prior experience with. But man, do these things look just like tiny cherries.

Does anyone have any experience/thoughts on these:

Commercial Beer Reviews / Pilsner Urquell in brown bottles!
« on: June 23, 2015, 08:32:13 PM »
Apparently I missed the memo, but PU is being sold in brown bottles in the US now. I haven't had Urquell in years since I have a longstanding boycott of green-bottled beer. I bought a 12-pack as a backup brew for my son's birthday party in case my Maerzen was too "dark" for any BMC drinkers (it wasn't, the keg kicked just as the bulk of the crowd left). I was happily surprised when I opened the case and the bottles were brown.

What a damn good beer this is. It is crisp and smooth, and loaded with hoppy goodness without being clinging and resinous. And the hop burps are unlike any American Ale. At 4.4% ABV this might just be the perfect lawnmower beer.

Other Fermentables / Island Mist fruit wine kits
« on: May 30, 2015, 11:47:13 AM »
Has anyone ever tried one of these? Label Peelers has them 30% off today, since Winexpert is instituting minimum pricing starting tomorrow. I wasn't thinking of brewing one straight-up, but rather using them as a base for a light, carbonated melomel (in the vein of B Nektar's Zombie Killer/Kill all the Golfers/etc.). I'm just wondering if these are OK, or if they're lousy Boone's Farm ripoffs.

Yeast and Fermentation / Orval dregs
« on: May 27, 2015, 05:59:17 AM »
I was under the impression that Orval filtered out their house yeast and added Brett at bottling, but I have a starter going with some Orval dregs and now I'm not so sure. I stepped it up last week and now the starter is really roaring along. It has a huge frothy krausen, and is pumping out quite a bit of CO2. It smells Bretty and fantastic (apple/pineapple/cherry), but it definitely looks more like a Sacc fermentation. Either this is a mixed culture, or it's the world's most vigorous Brett strain.

Does anyone know if there's Saccharomyces in Orval dregs? Anyone make a starter from Orval before? I was planning on pitching this along with some US-05 in a lambic-style brew, but if there's already some Saccharomyces in this culture, I'll probably pitch the whole starter into primary.

Other Fermentables / Small Batch Wine Kits
« on: May 01, 2015, 12:01:10 PM »
I know I'm not the only one here who has an interest in dabbling in brewing some wine. Northern Brewer has a new lineup of 1-gallon wine kits that looks interesting. Right now they're running a deal where you get an extra kit of chardonnay if you buy their starter kit (which already includes a wine kit of your choice). Not a bad deal for $80 - two 1 gallon wine kits, and just about all the equipment you could need. It looks like all you need to provide is the bottles. I don't drink a lot of wine, so the smaller kits are actually pretty tempting to me:


The Pub / Aged spirits in a week
« on: April 26, 2015, 11:23:10 AM »
This was a very interesting read. I don't see technology like this necessarily replacing traditional aged spirits, but it certainly would provide an avenue to enable new distillers to get into the picture a lot more easily:

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