Monday, March 23, 2009

Apocalypse Wow!

For my next beer, I wanted to try something a little more complex that the pale ale that I did last time.  I have been really getting into the complexity of porters lately, so I decided I wanted to experiment with the versatility of this dark ale.  After a lot of tasting beers at saucer, I decided I wanted to make a vanilla porter.  Breckenridge makes a very good one, and, if you can get it on draft, it's even better.  So, with the help of my friend and fellow brewer, Mike, I set out to embark on a journey along the Nung river, into the heart of darkness of all porters.  The Apocalypse Wow.  

Like I said, I really wanted to experiment with this beer and try to add in a bunch of crazy ingredients.  Taking a page out of The Joy of Homebrewing, I decided on the perfect recipe- Goat Scrotum Ale (not making this name up).  Apparently, this beer was made hundreds of years ago using the same ingredients as today.  However, unlike the name suggests, we did not add any goat scrotum.  It's not really goat scrotum season anyway. 

As you can see from the above picture, this was a very dark beer, even after the addition of all of the water to make the full 5 gallons.  We used roasted barley and black malt in addition to brown sugar, molasses, and chocolate to achieve this beautiful color.  Here is the full list of ingredients that we used.

5 lb Dark Malt Extract
1 lb Crystal Malt
1/4 lb Roasted Barley
1/4 lb Black Malt
1 lb Corn Sugar (for the boil, not for bottling, of course)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Molasses
1 cube Baking Chocolate
2 tsp Gypsum
1 oz Cascade Hops
1/2 oz Tettanger Hops

The first thing we did was pop open a homebrew and played with this dog, Roxy.  

Roxy is an awesome dog.  That is all.

Ok, so we heated up 2 1/2 gallons of water 
to 150 degrees and steeped the grains for 30 minutes.  The water turned very, VERY dark much to our delight.  We took out the grains and steeped them to get even more of the flavors out of our precious grains.  After that, we added our malt extract, sugars, molasses, gypsum, and baker's chocolate.  We brought the pot to a rolling boil and added our boiling hops.  The recipe called for 1 1/4 oz of boiling hops but the cascades came in 1 oz increments.  Since we were only using 1/4 oz of the tettanger hops, we put some of the tettanger in place.  

With 2 minutes left into the boil (60 minutes total), we added 1/4 oz of the tettanger hops.  We cooled down the wort and pitched the yeast (Nottingham) into the bucket.  The original specific gravity was 1.055.  Should make for a really nice beer in about a month.  

After about 18 hours, I checked the bucket and was happy to see it was already bubbling a lot.  The yeast is very active and, because the batch was so sweet, they should have a lot of food to convert into precious alcohol.  Good news for me!

Wow, thats a lot of wort.  Although the head is hiding it, there is sweet, dark beer in there.  Darker than Col. Kurtz's heart.

Trying to get the boil with no boil-over.  This was a bit of a worry because we put so much water and ingredients into the pot.  But no problem because Mike is a natural.

Mike trying to aerate our beer after we pitched the yeast.  He looks so happy, and he should be.  Before too long, we will be drinking this yummy beer.  

Friday, March 13, 2009

100 Down, 100 to go

Well, I finally had my 100th beer at Flying Saucer this week.  For those of you who don't know, Flying Saucer has something called the UFO Club.  Basically, you have to drink 200 beers and you get a party for you and your friends plus your name forever immortalized on a saucer (along with a quote).  Anyway, I'm halfway there which got me a free "Biggie Beer."  I got a Lone Rider Shotgun Betty, which I was very happy with.  Another local brewery from Raleigh, this hefeweizen is the first beer from Lone Rider and is now offered all over the Triangle.  Although sweet, it was still very easy to drink, even drinking 22 oz!  It's good to have another great brewery in this area.  I can't wait to see what else they have to offer.  

Since I got my first beer for free, I decided to splurge a bit and go for a bottle I have been meaning to try for some time now.  Stone Smoked Porter was the next beer on my list.  This dark, gothic beer was one of the best I have ever had.  Again, one of the darker porters I have tried, but very complex and full of many flavors.  The first flavor that stood out was the smoke.  It was almost as if I was sucking on hickory chips, which is understandable why Stone says it would go great with BBQ.  The malts were also wonderful.  It gave the perfect balance of chocolate and coffee aromas.  I also really liked Stone's mantra on the back of the bottle.  Not verbatim,  but they pretty much say, they don't make this so everyone will like it, but they make it so some people will absolutely love it.  Guess I am in that second group.  

Friday, March 6, 2009

Beer Tastings

While I still have yet to start on  a new batch, (soon, I hope) I figured I could talk on a few of my latest beers tried.  

First of all, due to a generous beer grant from my friend Matt, I was left with a sample pack of Flying Dog.  I have yet to find a Flying Dog that I didn't like, and I always love looking at the work of Hunter S. Thompson (although after too many, some of the art begins to freak me out a bit).  The bottles only add to the "Flying Dog Experience," something that gets lost in the pints of the Saucer.  My favorite from the mixed pack has got to be the Road Dog Porter.  Very robust malted flavors in this beer.  The chocolate aromas really come out when I poured it into a glass (Flying Dog glass complements of drunken Flying Saucer night!).  Road Dog only makes me want to try Gonzo Imperial Porter even more than before, so I might have to make a stop at Peace Street Market in the near future.  Old Scratch Amber is also worth noting.  There is nothing very complicated about this beer, and it sure does go down smooth.

Highland Black Mountain Bitter: One of the more unique beers that I have tried lately.  Highland is another brewery that I can always seem to count on.  Being local makes it even better.  Hopefully, I can make it to a tour sometime.  According to the description, this beer has grassy hops with a finishing hint of butter.  I loved the earthy hops (with some citrus) because I actually did get tastes of grass (which is one of my favorite smells).  I probably would have never thought butter, unless I read it, but I was able to recognize it.  

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot: Wow, what a beer.  Served in a smaller glass, (thank goodness) this barleywine style beer really defined "sipping beer."  There was almost too many flavors in it to the point of it not being enjoyable, although not as bad as Dogfish Head's 120 min IPA.  I would like to give this beer another try, again when it is cold outside.  However, I have to say, I was not as impressed as I had hoped to be.