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Messages - galapagos jim

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Classifieds / Homebrew Con 2016 ticket + banquet for sale
« on: May 09, 2016, 12:20:30 PM »
Due to an illness in my family, I won't be able to use my ticket to Homebrew Con 2016.

Unfortunately I missed the May 1 deadline for a refund, but AHA staff told me I can transfer it to another AHA member.

Would anyone like to buy this from me? The ticket includes the banquet and awards ceremony. Face value is $285; but please do make me an offer.

(I hadn't yet made travel reservations to Baltimore. You're on your own for hotel and such.)

Beer Travel / Re: RV Trip 2015
« on: June 13, 2015, 11:16:01 PM »
Banger Brewing on Fremont Street.
Hop Nuts Brewing in the Art District (south of Fremont).
Big Dog's Brewing in NW LV, if you get off of the strip.

Beer Travel / Re: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
« on: April 01, 2015, 02:58:28 PM »
Well, I'm back from Melbourne, so here's a travelogue. (When reading below, it may be helpful to note my perspective as being from the Pacific Northwest, very comfortable with highly hopped beers and experimental styles.)

Melbourne has an active and apparently growing craft beer scene. In fact, I just missed Good Beer Week in Victoria. Most of the breweries are outside the downtown core, but public transit is pretty good, just grab the Victoria PT, load up your PT card at 7-Eleven, and hop on a tram.

My general impression of craft beer in Australia (at least in Melbourne) is that there's a focus on traditional English styles with balanced flavor. The popularity of lagers does tend to shift the focus towards that style, or smoother-styled pale beers, very few porters, stouts, or dark beers. Belgian styles don't seem to have caught on; in that area I only recall a couple of wits and Belgian pales, no abbey or dubbel or golden. While there was a lot of good, on-style beers I did not find a lot of experimentation, with a couple of exceptions. Gravity tended to be on the low side, low 4's to 6's mostly, not much in the way of Imperial brews.

The most interesting part for me was the use of Australian and New Zealand hops with fruity, tropical aromas. This was used in pale ale by multiple brewerie to great effect.

One thing to note: beer is very expensive here, as is food. I paid about 12$AUS for a pint (about 9.60$US), and a burger or fish and chips will usually cost about 18-20$AUS or more (about 15$US and up).

Here's where I visited and my thoughts:

James Squire at the Portland Hotel - English style pub with excellent food. James Squire is a multi-location brewery owned by a larger company, with locations in other cities. Beer lineup was solid, mostly English pales and IPA. The porter was unremarkable. The 150 Lashes pale was a standout for me, great hop nose and smooth body. They also carry a cider and a perry, both sweet, that my wife enjoyed.

Rusty Water Brewing - Bistro across from the koala reserve on Phillip Island, about 90 minutes south of Melbourne. Food was good, but I wasn't impressed by the beer. The amber was undrinkable to me; tasted like far too much of a kilned malt, like honey or biscuit.

Thunder Road - I wandered in around 2pm in the middle of a active, working brew day. The bar is literally in the middle of the production floor, surrounded by fermenters and kegs and the brew house. Still, one of the brewers took the time to pour me a sample from each of their taps and explain the beer to me, in-between tending to his regular tasks. Friendly folks and an awesome space. The IPA here was more aggressively hopped than I'd had yet in Melbourne, but not quite a true West-coast IPA. I also sampled a freshly-kegged experimental Baltic porter which was tasty, but needed a bit more time to age and smooth out.

Temple Brewing - Near Thunder Road, Temple has a stylish pub and kitchen set across a glass wall from the brewery. The food was fantastic. The beers tend to be lighter and sessionable, all tasty enough, though I found the American stout a bit disappointing. The rye IPA paired well with the pork and chicken sliders.

Two Birds - I came in late here, as Two Birds is a bit outside of the city, but it was worth the trip. They've made some waves with their Taco Beer, spiced with coriander and lime, and though it was a tasty enough concoction that would've gone well with some tacos de lengua, it didn't taste particularly taco-ish by itself.

Moon Dog - This is the brewery I would return to first. Very down home and closer to the style I'm used to. All the breweries before this had polished, well-designed tap rooms or restaurants, but Moon Dog looks like all of their furniture was picked up off the curb, or at least at a charity shop. But the real reason I like them is their willingness to experiment, such as God's Own Prototype Imperial Gose. IMPERIAL GOSE, people. They don't offer taster trays here, but I had a good long chat with the woman behind the bar and she happily gave me sips of their entire lineup. I settled down with their dark session ale (think pale ale crossed with a black IPA) and then the India brown ale, both very tasty.

Mountain Goat - Very, very busy on a Friday afternoon, with a pop-up burger stand in the large tap room. I had their steam ale earlier in the week and enjoyed it; very close to it's San Francisco predecessor, but much hoppier. Lots of seasonal and one-off beers available, and something in the Randall, and I can't remember now what I drank but I recall it all being tasty. This is probably the second brewery I'd return to, after Moon Dog (and luckily they're close together).

Little Creatures and White Rabbit - Both of these breweries are owned by the same parent company. We tried to visit the Little Creatures brewery in Geelong, but they closed early the day we were there. Instead we went to the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy on our last day, where they have both LC and WR beers on tap. It's a nice space, feels like a modern, hipster version of a German beer hall, and the food was (almost predictably for Melbourne now) very good. I had the Rogers bitter off the Randall filled with wheat malt and hops, and the White Rabbit dark and white beers, both somewhat in the Belgian vein.

Beer Travel / Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
« on: March 07, 2015, 04:05:15 PM »
I'll be in Melbourne for a week at the end of this month. I've never been to Australia, what beers and breweries should I put on my list?

Beer Travel / Atlanta
« on: September 13, 2014, 08:13:54 PM »
Going to Atlanta in a couple of weeks on business. Not much time to spend but may be able to squeak into a brewery or two in the evening.

What should I not miss in ATL?

Beer Travel / Re: Seattle's best IPA's
« on: August 08, 2014, 04:32:38 PM »
If you're downtown, to get to Ballard by bus take the RapidRide D line or the 15. Get off just after the Ballard Bridge to explore the local breweries.

For IPA's, I recommend Reuben's Brews. Adam is always experimenting but has some solid regulars. I'm fond of Hale's Supergoose, but it's not the most outstanding IPA you'll run into. Populuxe is also does well with IPA, often has them on cask and/or dry hopped; I love their their CDA/BIPA so much I (unsuccessfully) tried to clone it, though some find it a bit on the roasty side.

Or, make it easy on yourself and head to Ballard Beer Company (which is a taphouse) or Chuck's Hop Shop.

In the nearby Fremont neighborhood, hit up Fremont Brewing. They have an excellent line-up, IPA and otherwise. Fremont and Reuben's are my favorite Seattle breweries. There are several bus lines that go through Fremont, get on board in Ballard or downtown.

When it comes to Seattle IPA otherwise, I think of Elysian, Schooner Exact, and Two Beers.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC
« on: April 25, 2014, 02:28:04 PM »
Full scoresheets were not used for this competiton.  You'll receive checkbox scoresheets for each beer you submitted though via snail mail.

Thanks. I'll keep my eye out for Mr. Postman.

Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC
« on: April 25, 2014, 02:20:32 PM »
Scores are posted on the competition site.

I can see my score on the competition site, but will I be getting a full score sheet with more detail, like notes from the judges? I don't see a link for that.

New to this competition thing, eager to hear what the judges said about my beer.

Beer Travel / Re: Las Vegas road trip: where to fill my growlers?
« on: April 24, 2014, 04:46:10 PM »
Got back from this trip a couple of weeks ago. Here's a recap:

First brewery stop was Ruby Mountain Brewing, south of Wells, Nevada. Can't say enough good things about this place, which is almost literally in the middle of nowhere. Had a great time chatting with owner Steve over samples of his amber, pale, and porter. I liked the amber, which is unusual for me, but this one is dry and hoppy and not sweet. More like a hoppy brown with a little extra oomph in the caramel. If you're in the area (NE Nevada), I highly recommend giving Steve a call. Mind that the brewery doesn't have a tap room or regular hours, and it's on his personal property, Angel Creek Ranch on Hwy 232 (not where Google Maps thinks it is). Drive past the house and park next to the brewery.

During the next week in Las Vegas I didn't have time to get out to breweries, but was happy to see that the craft beer invasion was in full bloom there. The Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay had a good tap selection and a phenomenal bottle list. At the new Linq mall next to the Flamingo there is a Tap House Grill, though we ended up at Brooklyn Bowl instead, sipping Brooklyn Brewery suds. On our last day in Vegas we did get out to a couple of breweries.

Banger Brewing is the new kid in town. Located on the Fremont Street pedestrian mall, downtown. They're small but have a comfortable tap room. Their beer was good, with some flaws but lots of potential. I had a good chat with an enthusiastic guy behind the bar (owner/brewer?), who took me over to the glass-walled brewery when I started asking questions about their water filtration and other processes. Really nice folks there and I'm looking forward to visiting them again next year.

Then we drove out to Tenaya Creek. I wish I could give a better report, but I was very disappointed. The beer was mediocre, nothing inspiring or interesting. The seasonal Baltic porter was... meh. The tap room is an uninspiring tavern, with noisy video poker in the bar and cigarette smoke hanging in the air. We got some relief on an outdoor patio, though it's next to a busy street so a bit noisy. Overall it's not a place that I'm going to hurry back to.

After all that I never did get any growlers filled in Nevada. But on the way back we stopped at Sierra Nevada, Ninkasi, and the Lucky Lab in North Portland, so I got my fills. ;)

Equipment and Software / Re: Speidel Fermenter
« on: April 22, 2014, 06:59:10 PM »
I've also got the 8 gallon Spiedel. I like it. It's light, the handles make it easy to maneuver, cleans easily, and it's got enough headspace on a 5-6 gallon batch that I don't need to worry about a blowoff tube.

I use the spigot. Some people don't because infectious crud can grow in there if you don't clean it thoroughly. Case in point: a couple of batches ago I drew a gravity sample after filling the fermenter, and when I came back to transfer to keg the spigot was black and nasty. I siphoned that batch out. Last weekend I made sure to spritz the spigot with Star San before putting it down to ferment.

One more note: there's almost exactly 1/2 gallon of dead space at the bottom, below the level of the outlet. So if you do use the spigot that's how much you'll lose unless you tip the dregs out.

Beer Travel / Re: Las Vegas road trip: where to fill my growlers?
« on: March 10, 2014, 06:12:50 PM »
Our timeshare is walking distance from Ellis Island.  The beer there is cheap (I think is was $8 a growler).  We have one of their growlers every night.  During football games they discount the beer even more.  It was like $2 a pint then.

Not the best craft beer in the world, but they brew it on the premises.

Thanks. I hit up Ellis on a past trip, and I recall the beer being OK, and the wheat specifically being passable. It was by far the best of the in-casino breweries.

Any suggestions for off-strip?

Beer Travel / Las Vegas road trip: where to fill my growlers?
« on: March 08, 2014, 08:59:20 PM »
Every year in April the office is sends me to Las Vegas for the big convention. This year, instead of flying, a buddy and I are going to road-trip it between Seattle and LV and back. This means I'll get to bring back some growlers!

I'm kinda familiar with the Vegas beer scene from previous years. I plan to hit up Big Dog's because I liked them in the past, and Tenaya Creek because I've never been there. What else?

We'll try to hit breweries on the road, too, but we're likely going to stay off the main highways. No set route and recommendations welcomed.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: a great brew day with new kolsch recipe
« on: December 20, 2013, 05:01:38 PM »
I ferment my Kölsch (Wyeast 2565) at 59F and it always comes out great.

Please post back when you taste the results (it sounds delicious). I haven't heard of this malt before. Can you share your recipe?

Beer Travel / New York beer report
« on: October 22, 2013, 03:48:09 PM »
Just spent a few days in New York on vacation. Here are a few notes about the breweries and beers I found.

Singlecut Beersmiths in Astoria, Queens was the big hit. They're small and have been open less than a year. Bit of a pain to get to; take the 7 train to the end of the line in Astoria, then walk about a mile further. Don't mind the walk, it's a good neighborhood and worth the travel distance. They have dedicated lagering tanks, and their lagers were pretty good. The Olympic White Lagrrr especially, and the rum-barrel aged schwarzbier on nitro was a standout. For music fans, there's a well-equipped stage above the office and a selection of vinyl behind the counter.

Brooklyn Brewery was a bit of a hassle. Don't get me wrong: the beer was good and the brewery space was nice. The problem was getting there from Queens; subway track work required transferring to a shuttle, and I wasn't sure which station to use and then had trouble with my MetroCard... By the time I got to Brooklyn it was 6pm on Saturday evening and the tasting room was packed and loud and the line for beer was almost out the door. You have to go through a two-step process, buying tokens first at the merch booth (it sounds like a hassle but it makes the beer line go a lot faster). After I got my beer there was no place to sit, so I hung out next to the fermenters. On the upside, another lonely beer geek was on the bench next to me, so I made a friend.

Everything I drank from Brooklyn (both at the brewery and elsewhere in the city) was solid, but didn't impress me in the way Singlecut did. Belgian pale, saison, bier de garde, Oktoberfest. There's an AHA discount at Brooklyn but I completely forgot about it when I was there.

Peekskill Brewery was recommended to me by the barkeep at Singlecut. I had Sunday free, so I grabbed the 10:30 Hudson train from Grand Central. Train tickets cost about $23 round trip, and it was worth it for the scenery alone. It was an easy, pleasant 45-minute train ride along the Hudson River with the leaves just putting on their autumn coats. PB is in a renovated old building just a short walk from the train station and there's a lovely park on the river, across the street. The beer was fairly good across the board. They had a lot of IPA's. Dream of the 90's is a coffee IPA, and yes, coffee and hops can work together. The Simple Sour was also pleasant, a subtle version of a brett beer. I didn't like their single-hop Centennial, though. Very rough hop character. The food there was only OK. Decent burger but terrible onion rings.

In the city I was surprised by how easy it was to find good beer. I had figured it would be like Vegas, a beer desert served only by macros, but it was much the opposite. Pretty much every place we went had local taps or at least bottles. We happened upon the outdoor Madison Square Eats festival and had a relaxing first night in New York drinking and eating underneath the Flatiron Building. Before our requisite Broadway show, we found a beer bar called Three Monkeys at 54th and Broadway; they have a well-curated tap list and tasty food.

All the beer I remember having was solid (no specific comments): Ommegang Scythe & Sickle, KelSo nut brown, Southern Tier 2x stout, Blue Point Toasted (Vienna) lager. There were some other beers, not necessarily local, but I've lost them in the haze of memories from the trip.

The only disappointment that I had is while there are many breweries in New York City, few of them have tap rooms. It seemed to be only Singlecut, Brooklyn, and a handful of brewpubs in Manhattan. I presume that New York licensing laws make taprooms difficult. But at least I know now that it's not hard to find a tasty, local pint in New York.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Gorgeous Brew Day
« on: October 18, 2013, 03:19:12 PM »
On the drive from Bend to the coast there's a pretty spectacular lava field.  Is that it?

That's definitely not the Newberry Crater flow; you have to take a road east off highway 97 to get there. Well worth the trip. I see a couple different lava fields on the map west of Bend, so you'll have to be more specific about which highway you're referring to.

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