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Messages - skyler

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Commercial Beer Reviews / When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 15, 2016, 10:35:19 AM »
At 32, I am lucky to be young enough to have grown up with craft beer, but old enough to have seen how that industry has developed and shifted over the past 10-15 years. I remember when witbier seemed like a new and cutting edge beer style. I remember when the word "imperial" was on every label. And I remember when a bunch of breweries that are still around were "hot" and worth a trip out to wherever to visit. Some of these breweries sold out, then got ruined by their corporate overlords (Mendocino Brewing), and some went under, but some are still around, still making the same beers that made them famous, but I don't see them on tap in great beer bars anymore and I don't hear anyone talking them up anymore. Of course, plenty of the "hot" breweries of 2005 are even hotter now (Russian River comes to mind), but I wonder about these beers that I used to get excited to drink - that were a regular purchase for me ten years ago, but now seem so old fashioned.

Here's an incomplete list: North Coast Brewing, Lost Coast Brewing, Mad River, Rogue, BridgePort, AleSmith, Anderson Valley, and even Bear Republic (okay, Racer 5 is more common than ever in the bay area, but this brewery hasn't had a "hot" beer release in a decade, AFAIK).

Does anyone have any idea why these breweries seem to have lost their mojo? Is it us (the consumers) who have changed? Are they resting on their laurels? Have they just found a sustainable formula and stuck with it?

Ingredients / Re: 1450
« on: March 14, 2016, 10:19:51 AM »
I don't get any "malt-accentuation" from this yeast, but it does finish a little less dry than Chico. I would compare it to the Liberty Ale strain (WLP051, WY American Ale II, Imperial Independence Ale). I like it fine in hoppy or malty American ales, but prefer Pacman for its qualities (speed, flocculation, broad temperature range) and US-05 and BRY-97 for their convenience. I once read an old thread on another forum that said that 1450's Brewtek predecessor provided the strain to or got the strain from North Coast Brewing Co. It's been a while since I've had one, but I do recall Red Seal Ale having the same minor clarity issues and great mouthfeel that I have experience with 1450. And that is definitely a brewery known for their stouts, which does lead me to believe it is a great stout strain.

I am not a big fan of all the new fruity hops out there.  If I like them at all, it's only on combos with other hops  At Hop & Brew School last fall, Stan talked about adding Bravo into certain hop combos to bump up and meld the flavors.  I bough a bunch of Bravo and I'm gonna start experimenting with that.

I have never brewed with Bravo, but I have seen it compared to CTZ (dank, spicy, and citrusy to me) and Nugget (herbal, earthy, and spicy to me). Would you say that Bravo is more on the herbal/spicy side of things than the citrusy "IPA hop" side of things?

I never considered myself a hop-snob. I have enjoyed old world hops, C-hops, and the newer 2000-2009 hops quite a lot. My favorite single-hop hoppy beers have been made with Cascade, Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin, and Mosaic. In the past, the only really aromatically hoppy well-made beers where I haven't really enjoyed the hop character have been beers aggressively late-hopped with Galena, fuggle, Styrian Goldings, and Saaz - all what I classify in my mental palate as "spicy/earthy" and "non-IPA" hops. Could it be that the newest batch of hops are so candy-sweet that they need backup from "non-IPA" hops or is it just that adding some spicy and earthy elements helps balance them? I remember back when cascade was often blended with willamette or goldings to get a less overtly "west coast" tasting pale/amber ale. I suppose I will have to try the same thing with the pound of El Dorado and half pound of "Vinnie's Special" that I have in the freezer.

Ingredients / Re: Full Pint Malt experiences/reviews?
« on: March 14, 2016, 09:07:56 AM »
I know I'm resurrecting an old thread here, but I have brewed a couple beers with this malt now, so I figured I would chime in.

The comparisons to continental pilsner malt are off - this is more akin to a British pale malt. I got more color from it (in a SMaSH), than I ever got from Fawcett or Simpson's MO or GP. Also, the salted popcorn thing isn't how I would describe the flavor, but I understand where they're coming from. I would describe it more as bready. However, where I find maris otter, optic, halcyon, and golden promise to all be pretty smooth and slightly sweet compared to, say GW Pale Ale Malt; this malt is not only sweet, but very bready and bold. I used it in a strong US-hopped bitter (SMaSH w/Ahtanum) and in an American brown ale. In both beers the base malt stood out too much for me. I won't be buying it again, but I could see it working in smaller quantities in place of Vienna malt, perhaps.

Ingredients / Balancing "New New School" Hops for Hop-Forward Beers
« on: March 12, 2016, 11:51:20 AM »
A post a while ago led to a discussion about blending El Dorado with CTZ. Then I drank a 100% El Dorado IPA at a local brewpub, followed by an "experimental IPA" that has continued my curiosity about the newest generation of American hops.

Other than Mosaic, which I think tastes and smells like Simcoe mixed with Amarillo and CTZ (a glorious combination), most of these newest varieties of hops have seemed odd to me. Calypso, El Dorado, Azacca, Belma... the list goes on. Last night I drank an IPA at a brewpub that I know to make great IPAs, and this new "experimental" IPA tasted like French lavender candy. I imagine there were so many of the newest new school hops in it without the dank, herbal punch of something like CTZ or Simcoe to balance it out. I appreciate the high oil content in these hops, but they seem imbalanced on their own.

So I want to know if I can make better, bolder hop-forward beers with these newer varieties of hops in blends, or if I should just stick to the tried and true. Can I get something really special by mixing the perfume-candy of El Dorado and Calypso with the Cannabis-Grapefruit punch of CTZ? Should I be pulling out the Apollo to balance out the Belma? How is everyone else utilizing their newest new school hops?

I am tentatively planning an Apollo/El Dorado/CTZ (2-2-1) DIPA to see if mixing dank with candy gives me what I'm looking for.

Ingredients / CaraFoam and CaraHell vs CaraPils and C10
« on: February 25, 2016, 04:16:54 PM »
I am working on putting together a "Blonde IPA" inspired by Pfriem. I would like to mimic the malt flavor I get from the carahell, but get a lighter color. Is carafoam the closest thing? My software shows me I can get 3.8 SRM from 5.5% carafoam. I have used the malt in the past, but not as the sole specialty malt, so I am a little concerned.

Ingredients / Re: Pale Ale hops - something different
« on: February 25, 2016, 03:48:50 PM »
Honestly, I like just about every oily hop as an aroma edition. Summit, Apollo, CTZ, Citra, Nelson Sauvin... My favorite hop profile in a pale ale that I have ever produced was a blend of Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin, and Summit (3-2-1, I think). But I find Nelson and Simcoe too difficult to obtain cheaply, so I rarely use either.

Interesting stuff. In the past, I experimented with flameout vs <180F for the whilrpool addition and found the <180F left a much better, bolder aroma. I had never even considered 170F vs 120F. My next thought is to try both in an IPA. Maybe something like FWH/60/5/170F for 20 mins/120F for 20 mins.

I am planning a "Blonde IPA" in the near future (inspired by Pfriem).

Water chemistry is another one. I've lost count of the homebrewers I have known who couldn't believe I used barely-treated tap water (when several excellent local breweries have done the same thing) and then were stunned by the quality of my beer made without complex recipe-specific water profiles.

BTW, I used to fret about my water until I moved and lost all my salts and just had to "wing it" for a couple brews. I have seen little evidence that a complex water profile improves anything over "get the right pH range and be done with it."

That article made me think about the crotchety homebrewer who slavishly decocts and secondarily ferments and everything. I imagine opposite sides at an AHA rally with no-sparge multi-ethnic hipster 23 year-olds of both genders on one end and old white men on the other with signs that say "MAKE BREWING GREAT AGAIN!"

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Hop use suggestions
« on: February 23, 2016, 03:18:02 PM »
Does anyone think El Dorado would play nicely as the sole late hop in a reasonably dry porter/stout?

How about pairing El Dorado with Citra and CTZ, 2/2/1 in an IPA?

Ingredients / Re: Question About Grain Storage
« on: January 02, 2016, 03:10:50 PM »
A few more details:

I store in two ways:

1. For base malts, I use vittles vault pet food storage containers that can comfortably fit 49-50 lbs of grain. 25 kg bags need to be used down 5-10 lbs before they will fit into the storage containers.
2. Unopened whole sacks of base malt can sometimes sit (above ground) for as long as a couple months before I open them up. Meanwhile, smaller amounts of specialty grains will sometimes sit in ziploc bags inside the vittles vaults or just on top of them - usually the only specialty grain that I keep for longer than a few weeks is Carafa Special II.

Here in Portland the humidity is pretty high, but the grain will be kept dry in the storage containers. I know to adjust strike temperature and to keep the grain dry. My only concern is the storage temperature, because the temperature can go below freezing and I want to know if that means the grain will be damaged in some way. It sounds like it isn't an issue for Steve Ruch, who lives near me, so I suppose it's not a problem.

Ingredients / Question About Grain Storage
« on: January 01, 2016, 12:17:28 PM »
My wife and I bought a house last summer, and I've been storing grain in the garage. Previously, when I lived in apartments, th grain was stored in whatever temperature it was in the apartment. This meant the grain was stored generally no colder than 58º F on a cold day when I was at work and no warmer than 85º F on a hot day because we had no air conditioning. It has dawned on me that my garage gets below freezing from time to time here in Portland - and that I am now storing my grain at a much colder temperature. Should I be concerned?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Stone Pale Ale 2.0
« on: June 22, 2015, 12:34:24 PM »
As a lukewarm fan of Stone Pale Ale, I was looking forward to the new version, assuming it would be hoppier, drier, and maybe lighter in color/abv. I was wrong on all counts. Anyway, here's how it would go down if I was judging this one in a homebrew comp.

Poured from bottle

Aroma - mild orange and grassy hops, sweet malt, lightly fruity (from hops or yeast) 5

Appearance - Deep gold/light amber, clear, thin head 3

Flavor - Biscuit and sweet malt upfront, then excessive bitterness. Not very hoppy, but there is a distracting slight orange and herbal hoppy quality reminiscent of orange juice from concentrate. Maltier and less aromatic than 1.0 and simultaneously too bitter and too sweet without striking a balance between the two. 6

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body, nice carbonation. A bit big for the style. 3

Overall impression - This doesn't taste like a more modern or updated pale ale, but like an amateurish attempt at showcasing Mandarina Bavaria. Fermentation character seems clean enough, but otherwise this beer is unbalanced. I suspect the malt base would make for a pleasant beer if it were much less bitter, but the bitterness combined with low hop aroma makes this very fresh bottle taste like it has spent the past two years in the back of the refrigerator. 4

Score: 21/50

This as a replacement for the overpriced-but-delicious Stone Pale Ale 1.0 is very disappointing. Yuck.

Beer Travel / Re: Latest can't miss suggestions for Portland please
« on: June 14, 2015, 09:01:44 AM »
My favorites are Breakside, Deschutes, Hair of the Dog, and Hopworks. The Commons and Upright are good for unique Belgian styles. Cascade is also a good spot for sour beers. I also like Migration and Bridgeport for happy hour, though neither will blow you away with their beer (good, not great).

Places I would skip: anywhere owned by Rogue, Alameda, Tug Boat, Baerlic, Base Camp, Occidental, Kell's (obviously).

10 Barrel got bought out by Anheuser-Busch, but the beer is still excellent and food is good. McMenamin's has crappy beer, but they are fun places to watch movies or play pool.

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