Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Publican Opens

Seattle's newest bar, The Publican (their website will be up soon), which is brought to you by the same people who helped create Brouwer's Cafe and Bottleworks, opened for business yesterday 12/28 at 10:00AM in Seattle's Tangletown neighborhood.  I managed to get down there after I was off work to check the place out and relax with a few beers and a bite to eat. 

The Publican has 22 taps, which primarily feature American craft microbrews.  They also have a large selection of cans, rather than bottles, as the can revolution seems to be taking hold in the craft beer industry (Personally, I prefer bottles to cans, but that's another discussion).  They also feature an impressive selection of liquor, including several bourbons, Scotches and over 35 different tequilas, for patrons who might be missing Bandolero, the establishment that preceded The Publican at the same location. 

The View From My Barstool At The Publican

While there, I ran into Matt Bonney of Brouwer's Cafe, who has been working hard to get The Publican ready to open.  He was talking to the patrons, making sure everything was feeling right and tasting good since, of course, this was their opening day.  We chatted for a few minutes, and I congratulated him on the opening, which seemed to be getting off to a great start. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Aging My Own Whiskey For The New Year

It's just three days until New Year's eve 2011.  Do you have any big plans?  I don't know for sure what I'll be doing this year yet, but I do know that I'd better enjoy myself this New Year's.  That's becuase I have decided that January will be a 'dry' month for me.

Firestone Walker's Proprietor's Reserve Series (I also have a XIIIth and XIVth Anniversary Ale)

I'm still working my way through my holiday beer selections, which consist mainly of the entire Firestone Walker Proprietor's Reserve series of beers (above) along with a few others, and I've also picked up an 'Age Your Own' whiskey kit from Woodinville Whiskey.  I'm looking forward to barrel-aging some of my very own bourbon whiskey and trying it out (the pre-barreled whiskey that comes with the kit is 110 proof bourbon mash).  Watch for a photo-heavy post soon, showing all of my Firestone Walker beers poured.

What You Get With The Woodinville Whiskey 'Age Your Own' Kit

A more detailed look at Woodinville Whiskey's website also shows that, from time to time, they sell used 5-gallon whiskey barrels.  These barrels have been used once only to age whiskey.  I'm seriously considering picking up a few of these barrels so I can try to barrel-age a few of my own beers.  Considering my love of oak-aged beers and spirits, I'd relish the opportunity to try and make an oak-whiskey-aged creation myself.  The barrels run $120 each and they should have some more available in February 2012. 

Woodinville Whiskey's Used 5-Gallon Barrels

I'll still be posting a few times in January to keep you all up to date on how I'm doing with my dry month, but I may not be posting as much regarding any beer events or specials in January, so as not to tempt myself too much.  My one 'slip' in January may be (by necessity) the once-weekly 'taste test' of my aging whiskey from it's micro-barrel.  But that will be less than a shot each time - just to check it's progress. 

Whatever your plans are for New Years, please drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Got Your Year End Beers Picked Out?

2012 is almost upon us.  As 2011 comes to a close, I'm looking back over many of the various beers I've had this year and trying to decide what my selections will be for around the holidays - especially considering the fact that I'm planning on a 'dry' January

You may already be aware that a few different places are celebrating the year's end with things like the `12 Days of Beer' (I believe this event is over now - sorry) or the Bottle Sale & Gift Wrapping event going on this weekend at Beveride Place Pub in West Seattle (Dec. 18th - 1-7PM).

(From Beveridge Place Pub's Website):
We’ll pull up rare offerings from the cellar from great breweries like Avery, Dogfish Head, Full Sail, Hair of the Dog, Harvieston, Hitachino, North Coast, Russian River, and more! We’re selling these rarities “to go” at retail prices! The selections will make perfect gifts for the beer geek in your life, even if that beer geek is YOU!  Bottle selection will be available soon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Could You Make It A Month Without Alcohol?

Wallet feeling a bit light after splurging on some great beers?

I really Love good beer.  If you're a regular reader of my blog, you probably do too.  Unfortunately, loving something that much often means you indulge in it quite a bit - sometimes to the extreme.  For example, I've had single weeks where I've spent well over $200 or more just on beer.  Granted, weeks like these are rare and usually due to beer events/festivals I'm attending and/or some great and sought after bottles have just arrived in my local bottle shops.  Still, at times the cost of keeping up with all the amazing offerings out there can definitely add up.

The 'Beer Gut' - Got One?

Then there is, of course, the issues of calories and carbs.  I'm already fighting genetics (from both sides of the family), but my caloric and carbohydrate intake from beer can't be helping either. Enjoying just a few beers a day can add hundreds of calories and quite a few carbs into your diet.  I could stand a one month break to try and loose a few pounds. 

Therefore, I've made a decision.  I'm going to attempt to make January 2012 a 'dry' month for me.  That is, I am going to attempt to drink no alcohol for the entire month - excluding, of course, the wee hours of January 1st, when I may still be enjoying some New Year's festivities.  While I do have the occasional drink-free day, I've never attempted a full month of no alcohol whatsoever.  I'm curious to see how much I'll miss it or if I'll actually crave a drink after a while. 

I'll keep you posted on my progress with a few blog posts during the month, especially if I should slip up.  But I'm going to do my very best to make it the entire month and have no alcohol from January 1st to January 31st, 2012.  Wish me luck!

Think I can make it?  Care to join me?  Thankfully, there are no major beer events in January, so I think it's a good month to pick for me to attempt this.  Now to figure out what I'll break my alcohol fast with on February 1st.  Hmmm.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Big Wood 2011

I just got home from the kickoff of the 2011 Big Wood fest at Brouwer's Cafe.  I attended this year's event with a few friends, so we could share our beers and have a chance to sample a larger portion of the available menu. 

Here is the full list of beers and prices at this year's Big Wood.  The selections I enjoyed today are in bold:

 All Beers are 12oz pours unless otherwise denoted:
Allagash Curieux .................................................... $7.00
Alpine Imperial Porter in Bourbon Barrels ........... $8.00
Anacotes BBN Imperial Stout ................................. $6.00
Anderson Valley BBN Gatlin Damnosis ................ $5.00
Avery Rumpkin (6oz) .............................................. $9.00
Big Time 2010 Bourbon/Oaked Old Rip ................ $5.00
Black Raven Gunbarrel Brl Aged Porter(nitro) .... $5.00
Boundary Bay Scotch Ale in Dry Fly Barrels ........ $5.00
Cantillion Framboise ’06 (6oz) .............................. $9.00
Cantillion Lou Pepe Kriek ’10 (6oz) ..................... $9.00
Deschutes Abyss ‘10 ............................................... $6.00
Diamond Knot Oaked Shipwreck XXXIPAcask ...... $5.00
Dogfish Head Burton Baton ................................... $8.00
Dogfish Head Palo Santo ....................................... $8.00
Double Mountian Wooden Nipple Belgian Triple . $7.00
Elliot Bay Bourbon Imperial Stout ....................... $6.00
Elysian Perseus Lost Sour ..................................... $6.00
Emielisse Jack Daniels BBN Stout ......................... $9.00
Firestone DBA ........................................................ $4.00
Firestone Velvet Merkin (unblended from barrel) .. $8.00
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout (6oz) .............. $8.00
Fremont B-Bomb .................................................... $6.00
Full Sail Black Gold ............................................... $7.00
Glacier Maker's Eisbock ......................................... $7.00
Great Divide Oaked Rumble IPA............................ $6.00
Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti ................................... $7.00
Hales BBN Way Heavy ........................................... $6.00
Hitachino Classic in Schneider Barrel ................... $9.00
HOD 2008 Fred Flanders ...................................... $8.00
HOD 2008 Michael ................................................ $8.00
HUB Barrel Aged Imperial Porter ......................... $7.00
JW Lees Calvados Wooden Firkin(6oz) ................ $9.00
JW Lees Sherry Wooden Firkin(6oz) ..................... $9.00
Laughing Dog BBN Dogfather ............................... $6.00
Left Hand Oaked Imperial Stout ............................ $5.00
Lost Abbey Ad-Lib ................................................. $9.00
Maritime BBN Imperial IPA ................................... $5.00
Maritime BBN Decompression Ale Cask ............... $6.00
Morte Subite Rouge ................................................ $8.00
Morte Subite Wit .................................................... $8.00
Nectar Black Xantus ............................................... $9.00
New Belgium Special La Follie Blend ................... $6.00
New Belgium Love in Wood Barrel @6pm ............ $5.00
Ninkasi Oaked Maiden Shade ................................ $6.00
North Sound BBN Imperial Porter ......................... $6.00
Oakshire Gin Barrel Saison .................................... $6.00
Pike Oaked Imperial Stout Firkin .......................... $6.00
Port Brewing Bourbon Santa’s Imperial Stout ....... $9.00
Port Townsend Barrel Aged Mabel’s Nitro............ $5.00
Russian River Supplication .................................... $8.00
Russian River Temptation ...................................... $8.00
Schooner Exact Hoppy The Woodsman .................. $6.00
Seven Seas Le Havre Belgium Winter In Oak ........ $5.00
Shmaltz Barrel-aged Blockhead ............................. $7.00
Sierra Nevada Oaked Triple ................................... $6.00
Silver City 2010 Fat Woody ................................... $5.00
Stone 2008 Elijah Craig IRS .................................. $6.00
The Bruery 3 French Hens ..................................... $7.00
Tilquin Geuze (6oz) ................................................ $9.00
Quite an impressive lineup, as you can see.  The standout selections from the offerings I sampled were:
Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin (Unblended from the barrel) - rich and complex.  Subtly different from the blended versions I've had before.
Morte Subite Wit - with pleasant vanilla and citrus notes.  I'll have to see if I can find some of this in the botttle.  Yum!
Schooner Exact Hoppy The Woodsman - a dark, oak, bourbon barrel aged beer where the bourbon flavor really comes through.  One of my favorite winter beers this year.
Big Wood continues tomorrow and through the weekend but don't wait too long, because the best and most popular selections will run out fast. 
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is 'Children Welcome' Really Such A Good Idea?

"Children under 21 welcome until 8:00PM".

It's a sign you see often these days, at more and more bars around the Puget Sound (sometimes it's 9:00PM, but the basic idea is the same).  It means, while visiting many local pubs, taverns and breweries, you'll often see teenagers, young kids and even babies around as you enjoy your drink(s).  What prompted this change, and is it really such a good idea? 

I first started seeing these signs pop up in a few pubs/taverns I frequent a little over a year ago.  One of the places I know, Big Time Brewery in Seattle's University district, installed a 'railing' around the bar area just to facilitate this rule (children under 21 must remain outside the railing that indicates the 'bar' area at all times - even before 8:00PM).  And now, it seems even more places are adopting this rule; the latest one being The Yard Cafe in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Old Wooly 2011 Release This Thursday

As a fan of big holiday beers, I'm already really enjoying the season.  With the likes of Hoppy The Woodsman from Schooner Exact Brewing, Jolly Roger Christmas Ale from Maritime Pacific Brewing, Elysian Brewing's Bifrost, etc. etc. I'm a very happy beer drinker this time of year.  And for Big Time Brewery fans and barleywine fans alike, it's that most wonderful time of the year.  This Thursday, December 1st, will be the annual tapping of Big Time Brewery's Old Wooly Barleywine.  I'm always a fan of this one, and I may be at Big Time this Thursday when they open to see if I can be the lucky one to get the first glass off the keg. 

Usually fairly hoppy, but with a solid and complex malt character to back it up, Old Wooly is a real treat for Seattle craft beer fans, as finding it outside of Seattle is extremely rare.  Big Time only bottles four of their beers (Prime Time Pale Ale, Atlas Amber, Coal Creek Porter and Baghwan's Best IPA), and they only sell those bottles at the brewery.  The only other way to get Big Time beers is in the keg or on tap at Big Time or other local craft beer bars that carry Big Time selections. 

In years past, every version of Old Wooly I've experienced has been brewed by Big Time's former head brewer: Bill Jenkins.  Bill has moved on and will be the head brewer at Elliott Bay Brewing's new location up in Lake City (due to open early next year), so I don't know for sure if this year's batch was brewed by Bill before he left or if it was brewed by Big Time's new head brewer (former head brewer at Pike Brewing and, incidentally, Bill Jenkins' brother in law), Drew Cluley.  They're both great brewers so it really doesn't matter.  I believe Drew may have told me earlier this year who brewed this year's batch, I just don't recall and I'm curious.  I'll have to ask Drew on Thursday.

Also, for those who've been living under a rock or don't follow my blog regularly, just another reminder that next Thursday is the Big Wood festival at Brouwer's Cafe.  I will definitely be in attendance, so maybe I'll see you there. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - Two Weeks Until Big Wood 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday - and a fun time shopping on Black Friday, if that's your thing. 

Today is my wife's birthday, so we're actually ignoring Thanksgiving this year and focusing on that instead (not an easy task, when just about everything is closed on Thanksgiving!)  So enjoy your bird, we'll be grilling up some salmon and enjoying some great beers.

I also wanted to reminder my readers that the Big Wood Fest is coming up in just two weeks at Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle, and Brouwer's has released a partial list of what you'll see on tap this year.  Here it is:

Some of the Bigwood Beers:
Alaskan Perseverance RIS
Allagash Curieux
Avery Rumpkin
Big Time 2010 Bourbon/Oaked Old Rip
Dogfish Head Palo Santo
Double Mountain Wooden Nipple Barrel Aged Triple
Full Sail Black Gold
Glacier Makers Mark Eisbock
Great Divide Oaked Rumble IPA
Hitachino Classic in Schnider-Wiesse Barrel
HOD 2008 Fred Flanders
HUB Bourbon Baltic Porter
Maritime BBN Jolly Roger
Nectar Black Xantus
New Belgium Love
Oakshire Hellshire II Oaked Imperial Stout
Port Townsend Oaked Mables Best Imperial Stout
Russian River Supplication
Russian River Temptation
Schooner Exact Hoppy the Woodsman
Shmaltz Barrel Aged Blockhead
Silver City 2010 Fat Woody
The Bruery 3 French Hens

Pretty impressive, and this is only a partial list.  Things kick off at 11:00AM on Thursday, December 8th.  I'll be taking the day off work for this one.  Will I see you there?

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Green Flash Brewery Expansion Announced A Year Early

Green Flash Brewing out of San Diego has been planning a brewery expansion since moving to San Diego in May of this year.  They had originally planned the expansion for 2013, with the assumption that their current production system could meet demand. 

It turns out that has not been the case.  Demand has increased faster than they had anticipated, and Green Flash has moved up their expansion plans to Spring 2012.  Once the expansion is complete, they'll be able to produce 45,000 barrels per year, as opposed to their current capacity of 14,000 barrels per year.  Here's the press release:

San Diego, CA - Nov 16, 2011        Today, Green Flash Brewing Co announced plans to break ground and expand within their San Diego-based brewery, just six months after beginning operations at the 45,000 sf Mira Mesa facility. The craft specialty brewer currently has the ability to produce 45,000 barrels per year and had anticipated this output would be sufficient to satisfy consumer demand until at least 2013. With an increase in sales volume nationally over the past six-months, Green Flash has exceeded sales forecasts, and is already operating at the brewery’s current full capacity. Over one year ahead of schedule, the groundbreaking for the expansion is now slated for Spring 2012 and will allow Green Flash to produce 20% more volume per year  (appx 67,000 barrels annually) by June 2012.   

The summer 2011 move from their Vista location allowed Green Flash to make a sizeable leap from producing just 14,000 barrels a year to 45,000. Green Flash has since focused on increasing beer varieties and on servicing the demand in existing territories.  They have added only a few small markets to the mix.  

“We specifically selected the Mira Mesa location with expansion potential in mind,” says CEO and Owner of Green Flash Brewing Co, Mike Hinkley.  “We have earmarked space in the facility for several phases of growth that we thought would begin in 2013. Obviously, I’m pleased to be in a position that necessitates early expansion. We are all looking forward to the possibilities of what next summer’s increased capabilities will present with regard to brewing new beers, fulfilling our existing demand and possibly expanding into a few new markets. ”  

As they move into phase 2 of expansion, Green Flash will continue to focus on meeting existing product demands, producing new beer varieties and will look at opening distribution in just a handful of small markets by the middle to end of 2012.    When all phases of expansion are complete, the Green Flash brewery in Mira Mesa will be able to produce 100,000 barrels per year. Owner, Mike Hinkley predicts they will reach this milestone late in 2013.
I'm a fan of Green Flash's hoppy libations, so it's great to hear how well they're doing.  I look forward to hearing when the expansion is complete.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Vanberg & DeWulf Coast To Coast Toast Is Tonight

Tonight at Brouwer's Cafe is an event called the Coast to Coast Toast.  This is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Vanberg & DeWulf importers of fine Belgian beers such as: Scaldis, Dupont, Foret, and Moinette just to name a few.

Here's a bit more info about Vanberg & DeWulf:

Vanberg & DeWulf are the original, most ardent and proselytizing importers of Belgian beers in the USA. It’s no wonder they’re called the “Belgian Experts”: ever since 1982, their mission has been to support independent, family-run breweries and indigenous beer styles that express the spirit of a place. The founders, Don Feinberg & Wendy Littlefield, were the first Americans inducted into the Belgian Brewers’ Guild. They published the first edition of “The Great Beers of Belgium” by Michael Jackson, and brought Duvel, Rodenbach, and the lambics of Frank Boon to the States. In the 1990’s they pioneered cooking with beer education at the CIA and The James Beard House. Don & Wendy conceived of and built Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, thereby constructing the first farmstead brewery to be built in over a century… on a former hops farm, no less. Their brewery Ommegang was the first brewery to make all bottle-conditioned, cork-finished, exclusively Belgian-style beers in America. Every beer in their current portfolio is a major or a minor classic.
I honestly don't drink enough Belgian beers, even though I really do enjoy them.  Perhaps this event will be a good way for me to rediscover some Belgian classics I've been overlooking or not getting enough of.  I'm not 100% sure I can make it tonight, but I'm sure gonna try and I'll at least have a few great Belgian beers today to celebrate.  Care to join me? 

If you can't make it to Brouwer's Cafe, you can celebrate by picking up a few good Belgian Beers at your local bottle shop.  Try looking at: 99 Bottles, Bottleworks, The Last Drop, or Beer Junction for your Coast to Coast Toast needs.  If you're in Portland, try The Beermongers
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Firestone Walker XVth Anniversary Ale TODAY At Brouwer's Cafe - UPDATED

As my regular readers know, I'm a big fan of Firestone Walker Brewing Company out of Paso Robles, CA.  My favorite beers in the World right now all come from their 'Proprietor's Reserve' series, which consists of:

  • Double Jack - Firestone Walker's Imperial IPA - and my favorite Imperial IPA, period.
  • Walker's Reserve Porter - With notes of toffee, caramel and bittersweet chocolate.
  • Abacus - Just one of Firestone Walker's amazing and complex barleywines (Soon to be renamed §ucaba (Abacus backwards)).
  • Parabola - A rich and robust stout with bold bourbon and tobacco aromas and a rich dark chocolate, charred oak flavor.
  • XIVth Anniversary Ale - A complex blend of six different FW beers, including Double Barrel Ale, Sticky Monkey, Parabola, Velvet Merkin, Goodfoot and Black Xanthus. Simply amazing. 
Well, I just got some great news about the next offering in the Proprietor's Reserve series.  I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Firestone Walker's XVth Anniversary Ale.  And now it seems my wait will be handsomely rewarded.  XVth Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker will be on tap at Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle Today: Monday, November 14th starting at 7:00PM. 

Brouwer's also says they have another little 'surprise' in store for us on that evening, but for now they're keeping us in suspense as to what the surprise might be.  Frankly, I'm hoping they'll put on a keg of a rare beer from Firestone Walker known as 'Sticky Monkey'.  It's a beer they usually only make for blending purposes, but I was fortunate to have some on tap at Brouwer's last year after the Firestone Walker & Homebrew Chef collaboration dinner I attended back in May of this year. 

I'll also be dropping by Bottleworks in Seattle this morning, as soon as they open, to grab a few bottles of XVth Anniversary Ale.  They should also have some rare XIIIth Anniversary Ale available, so I'll grab a few of those as well.

I still have at least one bottle each of Parabola, Walker's Reserve Porter, Abacus (Soon to be renamed §ucaba), some XIVth Anniversary Ale at home.  Once I get my hands on some XVth Anniversary Ale (and some XIIIth Anniversary Ale) bottles this year, I'll have to pick up a Double Jack, have a few good friends over and have an all Firestone Walker Reserve Series tasting.  Talk about a beer-gasm!  I'll have to see what kind of menu I can come up with to accompany this incredible lineup.  My compliments to the Firestone Walker Brewmaster and to their master blenders. 

I will definitely be at Brouwer's Cafe tonight to get some XVth Anniversary Ale on tap (and, perhaps, splurge on a bottle of XIIIth Anniversary Ale as well).  Will I see you there? 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Alaskan Brewer's Night, The Release of Firestone Walker XV & Coast & Coast Toast At Brouwer's Cafe

There are three exciting events coming up over the next week or so at Brouwer's Cafe, so mark your calendars and set some time aside. 

The first event is tomorrow night, Tuesday the 8th.  It's Alaskan Brewer's Night at Brouwer's, where Alaskan Brewing will have 8 dedicated taps available.  There will be no Alaskan Amber, but there will be their IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Smoked Porter (which was just released this year on November 1st) and their 25th Anniversary Perseverance Ale (A Russian Imperial Stout).  An Alaskan Brewing representative will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have. So if you're a fan of Alaskan Brewing, this is your night.

Another event, not fully featured in this article, will also be happening on November 10th at 6:00PM, when Brouwer's will be tapping two JW Lees Wood Barrel casks: one a port cask and the other a lagavulin cask. 

Next up is an event I've been eagerly anticipating: the release of Firestone Walker's XVth Anniversary Ale.  It arrives in WA state this year on November 14th (check with your local bottle shop), and Brouwer's will have XVth Anniversary Ale on tap starting at 7:00PM, which is quite rare. 

Also availble that night at Brouwer's in the bottle (for consumption only at Brouwer's - they don't sell bottles to go) will be Firestone Walker's Parabola stout as well as their XIIIth Anniversary Ale and their XIVth Anniversary Ale.  I've never had the XIIIth Anniversary Ale myself, so I might just have to order a bottle while I'm there, and/or see if they still have any available at Bottleworks or any of my other local bottle shops. 

As well as enjoying the release of XV at Brouwer's, I also plan to pick up a few bottles at Bottleworks as soon as they open on the 14th, as well as a few bottles of XIII if they still have any.  I'm planning on taking off work early that day just for this event.  You can learn more about the blending process for Firestone Walker's XVth Anniversary Ale HERE

On a frosty day sometime this winter, I'm also planning to get together with a few good friends and have a Firestone Walker Proprietor's Reserve Series tasting including: Double Jack IPA, Walker's Reserve Porter, Abacus Barleywine, Parabola Stout, XIIIth Anniversary Ale, XIVth Anniversary Ale and XVth Anniversary Ale.  With that much good beer around, I might just have to pull out my smoker in the dead of winter and make some good BBQ to accompany these fine libations. 

The day after the release of Firestone Walker's XVth Anniversary Ale at Brouwer's will be an event called the Coast to Coast Toast.  This is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Vanberg & DeWulf importers of fine Belgian beers such as: Scaldis, Dupont, Foret, and Moinette just to name a few.

Here's a bit more info about Vanberg & DeWulf:

Vanberg & DeWulf are the original, most ardent and proselytizing importers of Belgian beers in the USA. It’s no wonder they’re called the “Belgian Experts”: ever since 1982, their mission has been to support independent, family-run breweries and indigenous beer styles that express the spirit of a place. The founders, Don Feinberg & Wendy Littlefield, were the first Americans inducted into the Belgian Brewers’ Guild. They published the first edition of “The Great Beers of Belgium” by Michael Jackson, and brought Duvel, Rodenbach, and the lambics of Frank Boon to the States. In the 1990’s they pioneered cooking with beer education at the CIA and The James Beard House. Don & Wendy conceived of and built Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, thereby constructing the first farmstead brewery to be built in over a century… on a former hops farm, no less. Their brewery Ommegang was the first brewery to make all bottle-conditioned, cork-finished, exclusively Belgian-style beers in America. Every beer in their current portfolio is a major or a minor classic.
I honestly don't drink enough Belgian beers, even though I really do enjoy them.  Perhaps this event will be a good way for me to rediscover some Belgian classics I've been overlooking or not getting enough of.  Care to join me?  As you can see, there's quite a bit to get excited about the next week or so at Brouwer's Cafe. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

International Stout Day & IPA Cask-O-Rama - UPDATED!

Today I attended the 6th Annual IPA Cask-O-Rama at Beveridge Place Pub, but not until after I celebrated International Stout Day at Brouwer's Cafe

My Schooner of Old Rasputin Stout on Nitro

I kicked things off at Brouwer's Cafe with a North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin Stout on Nitro.  Yum, yum!  I followed that up with a Left Coast Brewing Voodoo American Stout, which was also quite good.  I had lunch at Brouwer's too, but didn't have much else to drink there, since I knew I'd be heading for the Cask-O-Rama in a few hours. 

The casks all lined up on the bar

I arrived at Beveridge Place Pub rather early, since I know how crowded the place can get during this event.  I was glad I arrived early too.  By 5:00, a full hour before the Cask-O-Rama kick off, Bev. Place was getting pretty full.

The choices for this year's Cask-O-Rama

Everyone was looking over the selections, which had been placed out along with the taster trays for everyone to mark their selections for the servers.  And speaking of that, I'd like to give the servers at Beveridge Place a big thank you.  The place was, literally, packed; and with everyone ordering taster trays of 6 beers at a time, the servers were kept extremely busy, but they kept up and did a great job.  Thanks guys! 

My Cask-O-Rama taster tray

My taster tray consisted of the following choices:

  • Airways Steel Drum IPA
  • Elliott Bay Lake City Way IPA
  • Iron Horse Imperial IPA
  • North Sound Hop Chop IPA
  • Port Townsend Hop Diggity IPA
  • Sound Humulo Nimbus IPA

They all had their particular charms, but my favorite of the choices on my tray was the Humulo Nimbus IPA by Sound Brewery.  It's the lower-right glass (#19) on the photo above of my taster tray.  It had a prominent hop nose and pleasantly assertive hop flavor with just enough malt and carbonation to back it up.  My #2 was the Iron Horse Imperial IPA and #3 was the Port Townsend Hop Diggity. 

Cask beers are generally served warmer and less-carbonated than usual.  In fact the Humulo Nimbus was fairly low on carbonation, as you can see by it's lack of head in the above photo.  But it had just enough carbonation to carry the aromas and flavors.  Unfortunately, there was one selection on my tray where the carbonation level was just too low.  The Lake City Way IPA from Elliott Bay might have been a good IPA, but its almost total lack of any carbonation provided no effervescence to carry the hop flavors or aromas well.  I usually like most Elliott Bay beers and I believe I know the brewer who created this batch, so I'm hoping it was just a packaging issue or a problem with this particular cask. 

Tonight was also the night that Beveridge Place announced the results of their 'Hoptoberfest' competition.  The winning beer will become their house IPA for the next year.  And the winning beer this year was....... (Drum roll, please!): Lucille IPA by Georgetown Brewing Company.  Congratulations to Georgetown Brewing! 

It was nice to start the day off rather quietly with a couple of stouts at Brouwer's for International Stout Day, where they hadn't gotten crowded at all yet, and then to finish things off at Beveridge Place, which was absolutely packed by the time I was getting ready to head home. 

I had a great day and I'm already looking forward to my next event, which will mostly likely be the arrival of Firestone Walker's XVth Anniversary Ale on November 14th.  It will be on tap at Brouwer's Cafe (which is rare - I'm really looking forward to it), and it should be available in bottle shops around the puget sound also starting on November 14th. 

 (Original post is below.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

California Trip Postponed

This is heartbreaking news for me, as I was really looking forward to this trip.  However, due to unforseen personal issues that have arisen just recently, I will be unable to make my December trip.

During this trip, in addition to visiting some family and spending New Years in Las Vegas, I was planning on visiting the following California Breweries:

  • Sierra Nevada Brewing - Chico, CA
  • Mendocino Brewing - Ukiah, CA
  • Russian River Brewing - Santa Rosa, CA
  • Lagunitas Brewing - Petaluma, CA
  • Marin Brewing - Larkpsur, CA
  • Moylan's Brewing - Novato, CA
  • Firestone Walker Brewing - Paso Robles, CA (And Buellton, CA)
  • Port Brewing/Lost Abbey - San Marcos, CA
  • The Bruery - Placentia, CA
  • Stone Brewing - Escondido, CA
The only one of these breweries I've been to before is Marin Brewing in Larksupr, CA.  Most of the others didn't exit yet when I moved from California up to Washington state years ago.  So, I was really looking forward to finally getting to the source of some of my favorite beers.

Though the trip must be postponed for now - I definitely intend to re-organize things agian as soon as possible.  Perhaps next summer - or the same time next year.  I'll keep you posted.

If any of my readers manage to visit any of these breweries, tell them Beer Monger says hello and have a pint for me!

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beveridge Place Pub's 6th Annual IPA Cask-O-Rama Is Almost Here

Do you like hops?  Do you Love hops?  Are you a true 'hop head'?  Then this is definitely an event for you!

Starting this Thursday, November 3rd (and running until Saturday, November 5th), is Beveridge Place Pub's 6th Annual IPA Cask-O-Rama.  During this hop-filled event, the bartop at Beveridge Place is covered with casks of various hoppy beers from around Washington State. 

Last year's list included:
Anacortes IPA
Black Raven Trickster
Big Al IPA
Big Time Bhagwans
Boundary Bay IPA
Diamond Knot IPA
Dicks IPA
Elysian The Immortal
Fish Organic IPA
Flyers Afterburner
Fremont Interurban IPA
Hale’s Mongoose
Harmon Pt. Defiance IPA
Iron Horse IPA
Leavenworth Hodgsons
Northern Lights IPA
Pike IPA
Rock Bottom Hop Bottom
Schooner Exact 3-Grid
Scuttlebutt IPA
Skagit River Scullers
Snipes Mt.
Snoqualmie Wildcat IPA
Two Beers Echo

Quite a list!  And this year's lineup should be at least as impressive if not more so.  Things kick off Thursday at 6:00PM at Beveridge Place Pub. 

Of course, you might want to head down to Beveridge Place tonight or tomorrow too, so you can vote on their annual Hoptoberfest IPA competition - which Beveridge Place uses each year to select their House IPA for the coming year.  To cast your vote (From BPP's Website):

  • Come to BPP and order a liter of IPA (OK, a pint is acceptable, too)
  • Get a ballot (one vote per person per day)
  • Repeat as necessary
  • From Oct. 4 – 14, you can nominate any Washington-brewed IPA, even if it’s not currently on tap (no “Imperials”)
  • From Oct 15 – 24, BPP will provide a primary ballot with the top eight nominees
  • From Oct 25 – Nov 1, BPP will provide a general election ballot with the top three from the primary
The results of this year's Hoptoberfest competition will be announced at 8:00PM on Thursday, November 3rd, during the IPA Cask-O-Rama.  I'm gonna do my best to be there on Thursday; how about you? 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Planning A December Trip To Some California Breweries - UPDATED 10/28/11

Updated 10/28/2011 - The article below has been updated with a few more breweries we'd like to try and visit during this trip.  We may not be able to hit them all, but we're sure as hell gonna give it a good try!

On the road again.  I can't wait to get on the road again!  My wife and I haven't had a decent vacation in quite a while, so this year, we're going all out.  I like to think of it as a sort of warm up for the Beer Monger World Beer Tour Project, which I hope to get off the ground in a few years. 

This December we'll be making a drive from Seattle all the way down to Tuscon, AZ to visit some family.  Along the way, we've planned several brewery stops and a few gourmet food stops and will be ending our trip (before the drive home, that is), by spending New Years in Las Vegas. 

After a quick stop at Gustav's German Restaurant in Vancouver, Washington for a great, authentic German meal, our first stop will be at Hair of the Dog Brewing in Portland, Oregon.  We've been there before, but wanted to drop by on our way South to fill a growler or two with some Adam and perhaps some Doggie Claws barleywine.  After a quick visit, we'll be back on the road, headed down towards California. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fly-PA, Rare Drafts, Alaskan Brewer's Night & Big Wood

Big Wood 2011 At Brouwer's Cafe:
I'd also like to give my readers early notice of the 2011 'Big Wood' fest at Brouwer's Cafe on December 8th.  This is one of my favorite annual events, which features a plethora of wonderful wood-aged beers all available on tap.  Things get going on Thursday, December 8th at 11:00AM.  Yes, a Thursday.  I might see if I can get the day off work just to attend. 

The Big Wood fest will likely be the last local event I'll be able to hit up before I leave for my vacation in mid-December.  It should be a wonderful trip, with lots of brewery stops planned along the way

UPDATE 11/2/2011 - It has just been confirmed that Firestone Walker Brewing Company's XVth Anniversary Ale will be at this year's Big Wood fest!  I'll definitely be there! 

Fly-PA Launch:
First up is the launch of the first beer from Seattle's first and only cooperative, member-driven brewery, Flying Bike.  Their 'Fly-PA' IPA, which was brewed by Baron Brewing in Seattle (FB has no brewing facilities of their own yet), will be going on tap tomorrow, Thursday, October 27th, at Pillager's Pub on Greenwood Ave. in Seattle.  The beer will also be going on tap soon (but not necessarily by tomorrow) at Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle and Fiddler's Inn up near Lake City. 

Things should get under way at Pillager's Pub around 7:00PM tomorrow, and Flying Bike is encouraging everyone to come out and give Fly-PA a try. 

Rare Drafts Night At Beveridge Place Pub:
While Fly-PA may not be on tap at Beveridge Place Pub by this Thursday, you might still want to make your way over to West Seattle anyway, as Bev. Place is having a 'Rare Drafts Night'.  Beers on tap will include:
-Deschutes The Stoic
-Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada Life & Limb II
-Cascade Bahri Date Bain
-Black Raven La Petite Morte
-Big Time Ave Rat Malt Liquor
-Diamond Knot 666 Imperial Bavarian

That's a pretty impressive lineup.  I may just have to stop by there myself on the way home from Pillager's Pub for a few rare goodies! 

Alaskan Brewer's Night At Brouwer's Cafe:
Next up on November 8th, 2011 is Alaskan Brewer's Night at Brouwer's Cafe.  There will be 8 dedicated Alaskan Brewing taps available.  There will be no Alaskan Amber, but there will be their Oatmeal Stout and their 25th Anniversary Perseverance Ale.  An Alaskan Brewing representative will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Board Membership & The Waiting Game

This past Saturday the 22nd of October, I was officially selected as the next member of the Board of Directors for the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery.  It's been a long road since I first joined Flying Bike as member #12 earlier this year, but I'm ready to take a leadership role and do all I can to help Flying Bike move forward and become a great success. 

It seemed clear at the annual meeting, that the members desire more communication from the Board of Directors regarding what's happening with the cooperative 'behind the scenes'.  As someone who's only been a member up until now, I fully agree.  During my time on the Flying Bike Board of Directors, I intend to do all I can to make the activities of the Board as transparent to the members of the cooperative as possible. 

Fly-PA Judging Last Month at Pillager's Pub

Next up for Flying Bike is something very exciting.  Our first beer is going on tap!  For those who members who didn't get a chance to try it out at the annual meeting this past weekend, gather your friends and acquaintances and come on out this Thursday, October 27th, where Fly-PA will be on tap at the following locations:

Pillager's Pub
8551 Greenwood Ave. N
Seattle, WA  98103

Beveridge Place Pub
6413 California Ave. SW
Seattle, WA  98136
(West Seattle)

Fiddler's Inn
9219 35th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA  98115

Also, this past weekend, I took my long-anticipated BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) exam.  It was a three-hour written exam, but I was so busy writing the whole time that it felt like it was only about 15 minutes!  The test consisted of several 'essay' style questions and four beer tasting/judging challenges, done at half-hour intervals after the first hour of the exam. 

It's an extremely challenging exam, and the three-hour time limit may sound long, but it's not!  The test requires a vast amount of knowledge regarding all the various styles of beer, the 'classic' examples of what each of those styles should encompass, as well as an extremely thorough knowledge of the entire beer brewing process - all the way from grains to glass. 

Now I play the waiting game.  Unfortunately, the BJCP is so backed up in scoring exams, that I won't have my test results for approximately six months; a long time to wait.  Due to this, however, the BJCP is changing the format of the test next year.  The test will be given in two parts starting next year: The written part which, for the first time ever, will be available to take in an online format, and the tasting portion, which will have to still be scheduled and attended in-person like the current exam. 

I'm hoping I did well enough my first time taking the exam to get 'Certified' status, which requires an exam score of 70% or higher; no easy task.  Otherwise, I'll likely be 'Recognized' status, which requires an exam score of 60% or higher.  But I can always take the exam again next year in the new online format. 

My whole motivation for taking the BJCP exam has been to increase my own personal knowledge about beer and the brewing process, mainly so that I can better articulate my various beer experiences and tastings to my readers.  There is no other benefit to me or to any other BJCP judge beyond the personal satisfaction of gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to continually improve our beer tasting and evaluation skills.  And, though I have now taken the test, the journey is not over.  I'll continue to learn more and improve my tasting and evaluation skills, so that I can provide better information to my readers about all the various and wonderful beers out there to try. 

I'm looking forward to putting some of my sharpened tasting skills to the test this December, when I hope to visit as many of the following breweries during my vacation as possible.  I plan to contact each brewing I'm going to visit beforehand, to see if I can setup some interviews and get you all as much 'inside' information as I can:

Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. - Portland, OR

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Chico, CA

Russian River Brewing Co. - Santa Rosa, CA

Lagunitas Brewing Co. - Petaluma, CA

Moylan's Brewing Co. - Novato, CA
(Moylan's is the 'Sister' brewery to Marin Brewing below.)

Marin Brewing Co. - Larkspur, CA

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. - Paso Robles, CA

Stone Brewing Co. - Escondido, CA

Whew!  I hope I'll have time to hit 'em all. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The 7th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Fest

Today, my wife and I attended day 1 of the 7th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival at Elysian Brewing's impressive new Georgetown brewing facility.  We were preparing for grey skies and the possibility of rain, but instead found a beautiful, sunny day where a huge crowd enjoyed a wide variety of pumpkin-influenced beers from both local breweries and from breweries across the country. 

A few of the tanks at Elysian's impressive new brewing facility in Georgetown

Food at the festival was provided by mobile food vendors: Where Ya At Matt, Snout & Co. and Skillet.  To satiate our sweet tooth, we had Bluebird Ice Cream (and yes, they had a few different varieties of pumpkin beer ice cream!) and Mighty O Donuts.  Yum, yum!

Having pre-paid tickets for this event wound up being a real advantage.  Pre-sale ticket holders were allowed in just after 11:30AM, while those purchasing tickets at the door had to wait until noon before they were allowed to start tricking in.  Even by about 6:00 when we left for the day, there was still quite a long line of people waiting to get in. 

My Jack-O-Lantern Great Pumpkin Fest taster glass

We tried to sample as many different pumpkin beers as we could, as well as the pumpkin donuts and some Dark Of The Moon pumpkin beer ice cream.  I'll detail my tasting notes for each beer we tried in a future post very soon, but some of the standouts for me were: Pumpking by Southern Tier Brewing Company, Pumpkineater by Howe Sound Brewing, Punk'n Bbomb from Fremont Brewing and Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head Brewing. 

Lynn with The Great Pumpkin

As 4:00PM approached, we prepared for the tapping of The Great Pumpkin.  The crowd surrounding the pumpkin just kept growig & growing until it was tapped, and this year's batch was pretty darn good! 

Since the Geogetown area is undergoing some road constrution, finding parking was a bit of a challenge.  So, for those planning to attend tomorrow, I suggest you get there early, especially if you don't have pre-paid tickets! 

For those planning on attending tomorrow, I'll see you there! 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Real Life Can Be An Intrusion At Times

As my regular readers know, I'm currently taking a BJCP study course, designed to help increase my beer knowledge and beer tasting skills.  Unfortunately, I've been so busy with so many other things in my life lately, that I haven't been finding enough time to study for the class/exam nearly as much as I should be.

At our last class, we were given a 1 1/2 hour take-home practice exam.  If I were to take that practice exam right now, I'd do fine on much of it, but there's also quite a bit I wouldn't be able to complete.  I need to be able to clearly differentiate between different (but similar) beer styles including aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel, know the history of at least one major ingredient of each sub-style, name commercial examples, and describe the similarities and differences between the sub-styles. 

And that's just one question.  There are several other that go into a lot of detail regarding specific styles and their attributes.  I think it's one of the most difficult portions of the exam to prepare for - becuase you never really know what beer styles will be on the exam. 

I really don't like to make excuses, so I'll just admit it.  I simply haven't been finding the time to study enough. Between my regular job, getting my house on the market, looking for a new place to live, brewing/bottling for a few upcoming beer competitions, running for the Flying Bike Board of Directors, etc. etc. I have quite a lot on my plate right now. 

I've thought about dropping out of my BJCP class and trying again when I don't have so many other things going on to distract me, but I haven't decided yet.  I'd like to try to spend the next few weeks studying hard and trying to get caught up in preparation for the exam (which I've already paid for anyway), before I decide if I think I can handle the exam of not. 

One of the reasons I'd like to take the exam now (this October), is that it will be the last time the BJCP Certification Exam is given in it's current format.  It will be changing next year to a 2-part format, with an online written exam (timed to make it more difficult, since it's essentially an 'open book' test that way), and a scheduled tasting portion, where your tasting and evaluation skills are measured.  Honestly, it may be easier to get certified taking the exam in the new format next year, but I'm hoping to get at least one crack at the old format before it goes away.  I believe it's a more difficult exam and, even though I'm struggling a bit right now, I like to challenge myself.  And right now, I'm facing a challenge. 

So, please excuse that I haven't been posting as often lately, but that may continue for a few more weeks, as I try to ramp up the amount of time I'm devoting to studying for my BJCP exam.  Wish me luck.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Classes, Competitions, Elections & Oktoberfest

BJCP Certification Classes:

Over the past few weeks, I've been busy cramming my head with craft beer knowledge.  The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) is about more than just tasting beer.  It also requires that you have a strong understanding of the entire brewing process for all major styles of beer, from malting grains all the way to the glass.

I've had four classes so far, covering various topics from malting and kilning grains to the mashing process, what enzymes and reactions take place at what different temperature ranges, how different water chemistry and other factors can have a major influence on the finished beer, etc. etc.  As I've been saying all along, it's a lot to learn. 

Next week we have no class due to a schedule conflict, so I'll be using it as a self-study week.  We were given a partial practice test to work on to help prepare for the real exam coming up in October, so I'll be going over that in detail next week.  Also, luckily, there have been enough cancellations that I have made it from the waiting list into the October exam.  So no matter what happens, I'll be taking my first crack at the BJCP exam this October.  I'm hoping for a score of at least 70 for my 'Certified' ranking, though I'll take a 60 if that's all I can get ('Recognized' rank).  The first few mini practice tests I've taken in class tell me that I still have a lot of studying to do.

My Fly-PA Entry Is In:

Last night, I finally dropped off my 'Summer Snob' Imperial IPA entry for the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery 'Fly-PA' competition at Larry's Brewing Supply in Kent.  I'm pretty happy with my entry.  Since bottling it for competition a couple of week back, I've been drinking it myself and sharing some with friends.  I've gotten lots of positive feedback and accolades, so I'm hoping I'll do well in the competition.  It would be great if, somehow, I managed to win & my Imperial IPA became Flying Bike's very first beer. 

At this point, I have no idea how many other entrants I'm up against, but Flying Bike has announced that the judging will be taking place this coming weekend.  So, hopefully, we won't have to wait too long for the results.  Wish me luck.

There are also a few other homebrew competitions coming up soon in the area, so I may enter my IPA into more than one contest.  I bottled a few extra bottles just in case I needed more for other competition entries.  I may even bottle some of my Oktoberfest soon for a 'Novembeerfest' competition coming up in November. 

Flying Bike Board Member Elections:

Also coming up soon will be the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery Board Member elections.  I've been campaigning for a position on the Flying Bike Board of Directors, and all the candidate profiles are up for viewing on the Flying Bike website.  We're still waiting for the current Board to announce the date(s) for the election, but I'm hopeful that I will soon be a member of the Flying Bike Board of Directors.  You can also see my video appeal for your vote HERE.  Wish me luck. 

Oktoberfest Is Almost Here:

The first official day of Oktoberfest this year is September 17th.  In 1994, the schedule for Oktoberfest was modified in response to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd (which is the case this year), then the festival would go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). 

My regular readers know that I've had my Oktoberfest lager (the first lager beer I've ever made) conditioning in a keg in my beer fridge since June of this year.  I brewed it in early May and wanted at least a 3-month long lagering period before serving the beer.  I haven't tasted it since moving it to the conditioning keg back in June but, at that time, it tasted great and should only get better over time.

This year, I plan to do things up right by making a full, traditional German meal on September 17th.  Right now, my menu consists of J√§gerschnitzel, K√§sespaetzle and Red Cabbage.  I'm also considering making some German pretzels for appetizers.  To do those right, I'll have to pick up some lye.  True German pretzels are dipped in a lye solution just before baking.  It's what give them that distinctive texture and flavor that says you're enjoying a real German pretzel. 

Until then, I'll keep studying my BJCP materials, enjoying my Summer Snob Imperial IPA, and hoping for the best in both the Flying Bike Fly-PA competition and the Flying Bike Board Member elections. 

Also, don't forget, the annual Hopfest at Brouwer's Cafe starts THIS Friday, 9/9.  Don't miss it! 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flying Bike Board Member Elections Are Coming

Since it went public earlier this year, I have been highly involved with a new venture; the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery here in Seattle. 

If you've been following my posts, then you already know what Flying Bike is about.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, Flying Bike will be Seattle's first cooperative brewery.  We do not yet have a physical location, but have a membership over 400 strong and growing.  We're hoping to have a location secured and have our doors open by late 2012.  Things are in the early planning stages now for location, brewing system(s), taproom or brewpub, etc. 

Currently, we're gearing up for our first homebrew competition.  It's an IPA only competition (English, American or Imperial IPAs are acceptable), and it's only open to members of the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery.  The winner of this competition will have their beer scaled up and brewed by Three Skulls Ales here in Seattle.   Though contract brewed, this will be Flying Bike's first official beer.  I will be entering an Imperial IPA into this competition myself, so wish me luck. 

Also, coming up fast are the Flying Bike Board Member elections.  There are three board positions opening up, and I am running for one of them.  If I am elected, I will have a more direct say/influence over the direction things will take for the Cooperative.  And since I'm highly motivated to see Flying Bike succeed, I'm very eager for this opportunity. 

I've been drumming up support among the Flying Bike members by attending events, spreading the word about Flying Bike and my desire to be on the board across the web, in area breweries and beer bars, etc.  I'm trying to build a buzz, that Beer Monger (Aka: Michael Dieterle - me) is very serious about this and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make Flying Bike a success.  You can view profiles for all board member candidates here:, and you can view my video appeal for your vote on Youtube here:

If all goes well, I hope to be one of the three new members of the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery Board of Directors.  So wish me luck, and if you're a Flying Bike member, please vote for me.  Thanks.

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Patience Is A Virtue

Back in April of this year in a post titled, "Patience & Planning Ahead", I posted about the necessity of patience in the brewing and fermentation process.  I think, with my latest batch of IPA, I have finally realized the true benefits of patience and planning. 

Back in late June, I brewed an IPA for a competition.  The competiton is the Fly-PA IPA competition being put on by the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery.  It's a cooperative members-only competiton to find Flying Bike's 'flagship' IPA beer.  The winner will have their beer scaled up and contract-brewed by Three Skulls Ales here in Seattle.  It's a rare opportunity for a homebrewer, like myself, to not only have their beer featured at a local pub, but to create what will be the first ever production beer created for the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery; an important milestone for any brewery - or brewer.  I brewed a nice and hoppy Imperial IPA, with a final acohol level somewhere in range of 7-8 percent (7.75% ABV). 

A Beautiful Imperial IPA

The Imperial IPA I brewed stayed nestled in it's primary fermenter at 68 degrees for a full three weeks before I moved it from the fermenter to a 5-gallon keg for conditioning.  I had intended to let the beer condition for just a week or two before dry-hopping it, but I got so busy and sidetracked that I didn't get around to dry-hopping it until about a week ago (August 17th); which means the beer was allowed to condition for about 4 1/2 weeks before being dry-hopped.  This was not a bad thing. 

The beer was not carbonated during conditioning.  I only placed a gentle blanket of CO2 at 10PSI into the keg just after filling it, and then disconnected the CO2 line.  Two days after adding the hops (in a 'hop sock') to the keg, I began carbonation. 

Last night, I got the first true taste of the finished beer - dry hopped an all.  I was very pleased.  I can honestly say that this may very well be the best IPA I have ever brewed.  It was also the first batch where my wife, Lynn, was my assistant brewer.  So it was a great milestone for her as well. 

The aroma, appearance and flavor of my IIPA were all right where I wanted them to be.  I had to stop myself from going back for more.  I want to let the beer sit a few days longer, and then I'll bottle some this weekend for the competition.  After that, I can begin enjoying the rest for myself and bring some to a few friends for them to enjoy as well. 

I used a brand new recipe, concocted from scratch by myself, for this batch.  It is definitely a recipe I'll have to try again.  I had originally planned to use Simcoe hops for this batch, but I was unable to find any, so I used a combination of different hops as a 'substitute'.  Now, I have my hands on some Simcoe from this year's crop, so I'll have to try the Simcoe version as well and see how it compares to what I've got now. 

So wish my luck!  If I'm fortunate enough to win the Fly-PA competition, it won't be long before you'll be able to taste my beer on tap right here in Seattle.  If I don't manage to win, perhaps you'll be able to taste some anyway... but you'll have to find me!  ;) 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there!