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Messages - The Professor

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The Pub / Re: Any banjo players here?
« on: September 19, 2010, 07:57:41 AM »
I never learned to play the banjo but have always loved it (I'm mainly a piano / keyboards guy). 

One of these days though I will dust off this old "banjolin" that a long departed friend gave me many years ago.  It's probably more than 75 years old, a bit smaller than your average banjo (but not by much) and looks like one, except it is eight stringed and tuned like a mandolin.  It doesn't need major work and I've already spoken to a luthier about it and the job won't be too terribly expensive. 

Hopefully I'll finally learn to play the thing before the ol' arthritis gets worse!

Beer Recipes / Re: Porter vs. Stout
« on: September 19, 2010, 07:50:32 AM »
If the brewer says it is a porter, it is a porter.
If the brewer says it is a stout, it is a stout.

My viewpoint.

Thank you.
As usual, someone has stated my opinon much more concisely than I am able.   ;D

Beer Recipes / Re: Porter vs. Stout
« on: September 18, 2010, 01:59:37 PM »
Take a gander at the BJCP guidelines:

An interesting read with some useful suggestions therein, as long as one does not consider it to be the definitive 'last word' regarding "styles".
The list is quite helpful in a broad sense if you're entering amateur competitions,  but outside of that the 'guidelines' should most definitely be taken with a large grain of salt.

I guess I'm old fashioned. Just give me a beer and a pretzel.  ;)

I'm with you.
And a nice thick rasher of double-smoked bacon on the side would make it a meal.

The Pub / Re: Brewpubs that serve BMC
« on: September 15, 2010, 05:49:59 PM »
Have to agree - I just don't think a Brew Pub should serve BMC. Now, a fancy beer bar is a different story. But a Brew Pub - no way. I can certainly see having guest taps for other craft brews. But never BMC.

Absolutely right.   
In my travels I've been in a number of brewpubs and restaurant breweries that did this,  and seeing a Bud or Coors tap at a brewpub is to me a 'red flag' ...if they feel the need to do that to stay in business, then their own beer is probably pretty bad (and that was indeed usually the case).

Any brewer worth his salt should be able to produce a clean, crisp, and lighter style lager or ale as part of their offerings.
That is, after all, what most beer drinkers want...and there's nothing wrong with that.  They should simply offer a house made beer that would aim to satisfy the crowd that feels the usual "craft" style brew has "too much flavor"  (I once heard someone in a bar describe "craft" beer in exactly that manner   :o). 

If a brewpub wih BMC taps is  selling more Bud and Coors than their house-made beer, they would probably do better just to sell off the brewing equipment anyway.

Beer Recipes / Re: English IPA tips
« on: September 14, 2010, 06:08:13 PM »
On the English IPA thinking.  I am drinking one I made last Sept. based on a Whitbread circa 1900 recipe that Kristen England posted on the "Shut Up About Barley Perkins" blog by Ron Pattinson.

This has turned out be be a drinker!  The last round of dry hops make it a really good IPA.  Ant Hayes is right, these benefit from aging.  One other thing, the SO4 was only about 275 for this one.

There were 2 Oz willamette and then later 2 oz styrian goldings for dry hops after aging for one year.

Well there you go. 
I feel validated now, since I've been extolling the joys of a well aged IPA here and elsewhere for years.  To me, the aging is one of the things that  define IPA. 

I somehow missed the entry on the "Shut Up about..." blog covering the Whitbread IPA, but it's interesting that the formula you cite --the one  Kristen contributed to Ron's excellent blog-- compares quite well to the specs of my beloved Ballantine IPA.  The OG reported is in the same ballpark, the IBUs were similar (though perhaps slightly higher on the Ballantine version), and the aging period for the beer (in wood) was one full year at the Newark brewery (and even when the brand initially moved to Cranston, RI). 
The intense aromatics of the Ballantine would reflect the late dry hopping (and in their case, liberal use of distilled hop aromatics).

Seems to me that the similarities to the Whitbread would confirm that Ballantine was indeed telling the truth about their IPA being brewed from an authentic British recipe.   Apparently all of their products got a bit of a makeover when their new brewmaster arrived from Scotland after the repeal of prohibition. 
All I can say is, "...he done good..."

The Pub / Re: blantons
« on: September 14, 2010, 04:37:06 PM »
I've tried it only recently and I heartily concur...that sure is some mighty nice bourbon.  Great balance and really smooth drinking (especially since I don't like my whiskey on ice).

I vote 'yes'.

The Pub / Re: Where are you?
« on: September 14, 2010, 04:33:58 PM »
Al, you and I must have been in Ames and Ia. City at about the same time.

Very likely, Denny.  We may have even passed each other on the street or even drinking beers from the same keg!  :o
Small world...

The Pub / Re: Where are you?
« on: September 14, 2010, 12:52:59 PM »
Iowa City, Iowa!

I'm not sure why mine doesn't show though, I have it in my profile...

Ah yes...Iowa City!   I spent quite a few lost weekends both there as well as Ames, back in the early 70's (both the parties and the music scene there were usually better than where I was going to school in Storm Lake).   The weekends were a bit of a fog, but I did almost always make it back to Stormy Creek in time for Monday classes.
Fun times they were. 
I managed to get back to IA for a visit a few years ago, for the first time in more than 25 years.  Amazing to me how much things have changed out there since my time there  in 1970!

All Grain Brewing / Re: umami water treatment
« on: September 14, 2010, 11:47:04 AM »
Did it once a while back after reading some of the first reports about umami for the same reason's the OP is thinking.

Didn't really notice much of a difference in the beer except a sour salty thing. Never saw the need to repeat the trick.

That sounds about right... I don't even like the effect MSG has in most  prepared foods (and I can always tell when it's in there).  I think both the frenzy over the healthfulness of it and supposed allergic sensitivity to it (which is in reality very rare despite people's paranoia) is overblown...  but by and large I still think it is  a totally dispensable ingredient for any food, and the contribution to beer flavor would likely be akin to a salted meat broth.  It may be naturally derived, but I don't consider it a natural ingredient and probably wouldn't want it in my beer anyway.

Then again,  on the other hand maybe I should follow the advice I'm always dishing out and just try it before I make a judgement... I guess one could add some to a single serving of a finished beer to assess the affect. 

Still,  it seems to me that MSG in beer would be just as bad as putting saccharine or other artificial sweeteners into it.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Re: Saranac Pale Ale
« on: September 11, 2010, 08:35:13 AM »
They have definitely had a QC issue . . . I had a Black Forest Lager back in May at the Memphis Zoo Brew that was pure vinegar. Bad enough that the server was more or less warning . . Sample at your own risk.  :-\

I think most of the Saranac products are solid and well made beers.

I think though that the inappropriate "sourness' you experienced is usually more the fault of the bar and their handling of the beers than a fault of the brewery.
Especially considering that Saranac comes from Matt Brewing Co, which has been around long enough (100+ years) to know how to avoid such problems.

Now,  if it were beer from a small micro, I might not be so quick to blame the bar since I've had some firsthand experience with freshly tapped kegs of smaller brewery beer exhibiting really bad off flavors and/or unintended sourness.  I think most small brewers are savvy enough to invest in efficient and quality cleaning and filling equipment in order to avoid such problems, but there are some that probably cut corners and wind up with a result such as this. 

In the case of your bad Saranac experience, I'd wager that the "cellarman" was not taking care of the lines properly,  or using an air/co2 mix (not all that uncommon in establishments looking to save money on co2) ...or a combination of both.

Beer Recipes / Re: English IPA tips
« on: September 08, 2010, 02:55:41 PM »
Burtonise the liquor.
Floor malted Maris Otter pale malt only (low colour if you want to be authentic).
No other malts.
Perhaps a little sugar in the grist - up to 10%.
English hops  - I suggest Kent Goldings - lots of them, but keep it balanced. (OG 1.070, 50 IBUs - or thereabouts)
English ale yeast that ferments dry - Nottingham is pretty reliable
Age for 18 months, and then dry hop.

That's the way to go, and pretty much how I've done it for years.  I don't think I've ever aged it for 18 months...usually more like 12.
But  it's worth the wait, and that wait is  a good excuse to brew it regularly.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Blow out tubing?
« on: September 04, 2010, 08:13:11 PM »
I haven't used a blowoff tube since the mid '80's.
Invest in  a 6.5 or 7 gal carboy for your ferments and the blowoff tube (and all the beer it potentially  blows out) will be a thing of the past. Give the fermentation more room, and the blowoff tube is totally unnecessary.

The only way I see a blowoff tube as an advantageous thing is if you can rig it so it is mounted stable at the top of the fermenter, so the beer and some of the yeast  it blows out can recirculate, as in the old Burton Unions systems, such as the ones Bass once used;  when they "modernized" and stopped using it, it robbed their beer of it's unique character.  (But that's fodder for a whole 'nother thread!)

The Pub / Re: Worlds Oldest Beer Found?
« on: September 04, 2010, 05:49:21 AM »
Pretty neat...and yes, I would be curious to see the results of an analysis of a sample. 
Being 'stored' for so long out of the light and in the cold environment of the sea floor,  the results of the analysis could be very interesting indeed.  A tasting would certainly not deliver the true original flavor of the product, but given the enhanced preservation environment of the apparently well sealed bottles,  a taste  would at least give some clear hints as to what this beer once was.
Really fascinating.

Kegging and Bottling / Re: Bottle Caps
« on: September 03, 2010, 06:23:38 PM »
I'd say give it some time...and keep it is a warm enough environment for the remaining yeast to do its thing.  The type of caps you use should have no bwaring at all on the carbonation.  I use the o2 absorbing caps regularly on strong beers meant for keeping, and the beers can last for years.   
The o2 caps are great and worth the minimal extra cost (they only cost me an extra dollar or two per bag of caps. 
The trick to their effectiveness, I'm told, is to not allow them to get wet before applying them.  And again...they have no affect on the carbonation whatsoever as long as they're on tight.

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