Great American Beer Fest: The Vicarious Experience


The Great American Beerfest kicked off yesterday in Denver. While most of us can't attend, we can still see what's going on thanks to our beer geek friends who use social media.  I used a website called Storify to curate this post. Enjoy!




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Review: Irish Red, Samuel Adams


Irish Red

Stats:
  • Style:  Irish Red Ale
  • Bitterness:  25 IBU
  • ABV: 5.8% ABV
  • Malts:  Two-row Harrington, Metcalfe, and Copeland pale malts, and Caramel 60
  • Hops:  East Kent Goldings, English Fuggles, and Hallertau Mittelfrueh
  • Calories:  190 per 12 oz.
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description:  "The gentle rain and fertile soil of Ireland helped inspire this style of ale, known for being remarkably balanced.  Pale and caramel malts give Samuel Adams® Irish Red its rich, deep red color and distinctive caramel flavor.  The sweetness of the malt is pleasantly balanced by an earthy character from the East Kent Goldings hops.  Samuel Adams Irish Red finishes smooth and leaves you wanting to take another sip.”  — Samuel Adams

Random thoughts:  I'm just starting to profile fall beers, and the winter seasonals are suddenly emerging onto grocery store shelves. What happened to fall? Worry not, you won't be reading about holiday brews on this blog for at least another month. I've got plenty of fall seasonals lined up. This beer is part of the Samuel Adams Harvest Collection variety pack.

The tasting:  Deep copper in color, slightly hazy, with an off-white head that dissipates fairly slowly.  Aroma of light caramel malt—that's about all I got. The aroma was weak. This is another malt-forward beer. Caramel and toasted malts dominate the flavor and it has a brown sugar-like sweetness that emerges in the middle along with a light earthy hop bitterness. It's medium bodied,  moderately carbonated, and has a creamy mouth feel. Light alcohol emerges in the finish and the hop bitterness kicks into a higher gear at the end.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  The malty flavors of Samuel Adams Irish Red remind me of the Oktoberfest style. While the malt sweetness and lingering bitter finish were a bit too much for my personal tastes, I think this is a solid choice for the fall season.

What's your favorite Irish Red ale?


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Review: Mana Wheat, Maui Brewing Co.


Mana Wheat
Maui Brewing Co. — Lahaina, HI

Stats:
  • Style:  Wheat
  • Bitterness:  18 IBU
  • ABV: 5.5% ABV
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Hersbrucker
  • Sampled: 12 oz. can

Description:  "An unfiltered, freshly handcrafted American-style wheat ale infused with Maui Gold Pineapple. Our crisp and refreshing wheat ale is lightly hopped to allow the fruity sweetness of the pineapple to shine. The yeast stays in suspension making the ale traditionally cloudy.”  — Maui Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:   This is the first beer I've profiled from Maui Brewing.  Maui is the only Hawaiian brewery that brews and packages their beer in Hawaii. Everything is shipped to the continental U.S.  This is part of my series on beers with fruit.

The tasting:  Gold in color, very hazy, with a white head that dissipated fairly slowly. Aroma of pineapple, wheat, yeast, and lots of spice. Due to the spices, I would have thought it was a Witbier if I was tasting it blind. Flavor of tangy wheat, pineapple, and clove. There's a mild sweetness from the pineapple and the presence of hops is minimal in aroma and flavor.  Mana Wheat is light bodied, softly carbonated, and has a crisp mouth feel. It finishes dry with flavors of pineapple and clove.  

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.  The pineapple flavor was noticeable. I think Maui could have gone overboard and made it too sweet.  I'm glad they didn't.  The pineapple flavor, however, was not clean and seemed to be a bit muddled amongst the spices. The fact that it reminded me of a Wit was not a turnoff, but was certainly expected. In the end, this beer was more of a novelty to me than one I would go back to regularly.

Have you tried Mana Wheat other beers from Maui Brewing?


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Stone Smoked Porter Homebrew Recipe


Stone Brewing Co.’s new book, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance is officially released today. My full review is forthcoming, but here's a sneak peak of the book

Stone and their publisher, Ten Speed Press, have allowed me reprint three recipes from the book.  Last week, I posted the recipes for Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine and Stone Pale Ale and Garlic Stir-Fried Brussels Spouts. The recipe for Stone Smoked Porter is our treat for the day!

The recipe below reference page numbers from the book. Follow the typical homebrew procedures in these instances.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Copyright © 2011 by Stone Brewing Co. and Randy Clemens, Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: John Schulz Photography.


Stone Smoked Porter

5 gallons (about fifty-four 12-ounce bottles or thirty 22-ounce bottles)

  • 10 pounds, 0.8 ounce crushed North American two-row pale malt
  • 1 pound, 2.5 ounces crushed 75L crystal malt
  • 10.7 ounces crushed chocolate malt
  • 4.9 ounces crushed peat-smoked malt
  • About 9 gallons plus 4 cups water
  • 0.71 ounce Columbus hops (12.9% alpha acid)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Irish moss
  • 0.60 ounce Mt. Hood hops (6.0% alpha acid)
  • 1 (35 ml) package White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast or WLP002 English Ale Yeast
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons light dried malt extract

Clean and sanitize everything. Did I mention that already? Good, because I can’t stress it enough: clean and sanitize everything.

Mashing 

In a 10-gallon insulated cooler, combine the crushed malts with 3 gallons plus 13 cups of 173°F water. The water should cool slightly when mixed with the grain. Hold the mash at 157°F for 10 minutes.

Add 2 gallons plus 2 cups of 182°F water. The mixture should come up to 165°F.

Lautering and Sparging

Lauter the mash according to the instructions on page 159. Once the liquid is lower than the level of the grain, begin to slowly sprinkle 3 gallons plus 2 cups of 168°F water over the grains to start the sparge. Continue sparging as instructed on page 159.

The Boil

For safety’s sake, set up your propane burner outside. Set the brew kettle of wort on top and add water to bring the wort level up to about 6 gallons plus 12 cups, if needed. Bring the wort to a rapid, rolling boil. As it begins to come to a boil, a layer of foam and scum may develop at the surface. Skim it off and discard. Once the wort is at a full boil, put a hops bag containing the Columbus hops in the kettle and set a timer for 90 minutes. Stir the wort frequently during the boil, and be watchful to avoid boilovers.


At 15 minutes before the end of the boil, stir in the Irish moss. When the boiling time is over, turn off the heat and put a hops bag containing the Mt. Hood hops in the kettle. Cover the kettle and immediately begin cooling the wort quickly (see page 160).

Pitching the Yeast and Fermentation

Once the wort has cooled to 72°F, discard the spent hops and check the specific gravity of the wort with a hydro-meter. The target starting gravity is 1.065 (16 Plato).


Transfer the wort to the primary fermentation bucket according to the instructions on page 160. Pitch the yeast (or prepare a yeast starter) according to the instructions on page 160.

Allow the wort to ferment through primary and secondary fermentation (see page 160) at 72°F until it reaches a specific gravity of 1.018 (4.5 Plato).

Bottling

When you’re ready to bottle, clean and sanitize the bottles, caps, and bottling equipment. Put the dried malt extract in a medium saucepan and stir in just enough water to dissolve it. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool slightly. Proceed with bottling according to the instructions on page 161.

Variations on a Theme

We’ve come up with a few slight changes to the Stone Smoked Porter that we like to make from time to time, just to keep things interesting.


Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle: Put 0.42 ounce of chopped dried chipotle peppers in a hops bag, add it during secondary fermentation, and allow it to steep for 3 days (or more or less, depending on how spicy you’d like your brew to be).

Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans: Place 0.42 ounce of split, scraped, and chopped Madagascar vanilla beans in a hops bag, add it during secondary fermentation, and allow it to steep for 3 days (or more or less, as you wish).

I've finally decided to start all-grain brewing and will make Stone Smoked Porter at some point.  I'll split the batch and make the regular and vanilla bean versions.  But first, I'll make Stone Pale Ale.  If you want the recipe for that, you'll have to buy the book.  Happy Brewing!

To learn more about the book, or to order online, please visit Amazon or your favorite bookseller.  In the nature of full disclosure, if you order the book using the links on this page, Amazon gives me a referral fee (at no added cost to you).


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Review: Perseverance Ale, Alaskan Brewing


Perseverance Ale
Alaskan Brewing Co. — Juneau, Alaska

Stats:
  • Style:  Russian Imperial Stout
  • Bitterness:  50 IBU
  • ABV: 9.0% ABV
  • Original Gravity: 1.093
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Special Ingredients:  Birch syrup, fireweed honey, alder-smoked malt
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle
  • Full Disclosure:  Sample provided by brewery

Description:  "To celebrate their quarter-century milestone, the Alaskan Brew Crew wanted to create a beer that was big, bold and brewed with ingredients from Alaska that could be enjoyed fresh or cellared to be brought out to remember the anniversary for years to come. The Russian heritage still present throughout our state make this Russian Imperial Stout a tribute to all that makes our beers truly Alaskan.”  — Alaskan Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:   We've been to Alaska twice and I've had the pleasure of visiting Alaskan's brewery and tasting room both times. Brewing beer in Juneau and shipping to the lower 48 is not easy.  I wrote about some of Alaskan's logistical challenges during my last visit.  When we first visited Alaska, we rented a car and drove south to Homer. As we drove, we noticed a beautiful red wild grass, which stretched for miles and miles. It was fireweed. Alaskan used honey made from fireweed in this beer. Pretty cool.

The tasting:  Black in color, with a dark tan head that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving no lacing on the glass. Aroma of smoked malt, espresso, molasses, and alcohol. The flavor mirrors the aroma with the addition of dark chocolate and plum. I'd recommend you drink Perseverance at room temperature. Some of the subtle flavors are more noticeable and I thought everything melded together better when served warm. It has a definite bitterness, but it tastes like it comes from the smoked malts, rather than the hops. It's medium to heavy in body, with a creamy smooth mouth feel. It finishes with smoked malt and warming alcohol.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  I love it when breweries make anniversary ales and 25 years is worthy of a special beer.  Perseverance fits the bill.  The brewery integrated several uniquely Alaskan ingredients to create a memorable brew.  I expect this will only get better over time. At a retail price of less than $9, it won't break the bank if you want to buy a bottle or two to age.  That's what I plan to do.  Maybe I'll hold on to it until Alaskan's 30th Anniversary—assuming I can wait that long...

Have you tried Perseverance or any other Alaskan beers?


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Alaskan Fireweed

Stone Pale Ale and Garlic-Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Photo courtesy of Stone Brewing Co.

Stone Brewing Co.’s new book, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance is being released on Tuesday, September 27.  I’m working on a book review, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peak

The book is full of beer and food recipes.  Stone and their publisher, Ten Speed Press, are allowing me to reprint three recipes from the book. Yesterday, I posted the official homebrew recipe for Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine. Today, we're going to learn how to take lowly brussels sprouts to a new level!  So grab two Stone Pale Ales (one of you, and one for the brussels sprours) and enjoy! 

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Copyright © 2011 by Stone Brewing Co. and Randy Clemens, Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: John Schulz Photography.


Stone Pale Ale and Garlic Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

Serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side dish

Did your folks used to force you to finish your brussels sprouts before excusing yourself from the table? Or maybe they threatened to withhold dessert until you gagged the last one down? Turns out all they needed to do was cook ’em in beer and we would have eaten ’em right up! After reaching this brilliant culinary epiphany, we’ve come to love brussels sprouts so much, we’re even licking our plates clean! Ma and Pa would be proud.

  •   1 pound brussels sprouts (about 4 cups)
  •   1/cup canola or vegetable oil
  •   1/pound pancetta, diced
  •   6 cloves garlic, minced
  •   1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) Stone Pale Ale
  •   1/cup vegetable stock
  •   Salt
  •   Freshly ground black pepper
  •   Finely diced tomato, for garnish
  •   Shaved or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Set up a steamer with 1 to 2 inches of salted water and bring the water to a rolling boil.  Put the brussels sprouts in the steamer, cover, and cook until slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the brussels sprouts to a large bowl of ice water to halt the cooking and preserve their bright green color. Let them cool in the ice water for about 1 minute, then drain. Lay them on a clean dish towel and pat dry. Cut them in half vertically, right through the core.

In a large wok or cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn the heat up to high, add the brussels sprouts, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the beer and continue to cook over high heat until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Deglaze the pan by adding the vegetable stock, stirring and scraping up any browned bits that may be affixed to the pan.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the tomato and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.


 
So fire these up for dinner tonight and make your mama proud!  If you’re ready for another beer recipe, you’re in for a treat.  The full recipe for Stone Smoked Porter is up next.

To learn more about the book, or to order online, please visit Amazon for your favorite bookseller.  If you order the book using the links on this page, Amazon gives me a referral fee (at no added cost to you).  Although the book can only be pre-ordered at this point, the publisher told me it’s already headed for a second printing. So if you want the book without delay, get your pre-order on!


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Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Homebrew Recipe


A few weeks ago, I shared a first look of Stone Brewing Co.’s new book, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance.  I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I’ve seen enough to know that if you like Stone’s beer, you’ll love the book—especially if you’re a homebrewer!  Recipes for 18 Stone beers and 19 favorites from Stone World Gardens and Bistro are included.

To give you a taste of what’s in the book, Stone and their publisher, Ten Speed Press, have granted me permission to reprint three recipes from the book in their entirety!  So compliments of Stone Brewing Co., here's the complete recipe for Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine!

The instructions below reference page numbers from the book. Follow the typical procedures in these instances. If you’re a homebrewer, you’ll know what to do!

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Copyright © 2011 by Stone Brewing Co. and Randy Clemens, Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: John Schulz Photography.


Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine

5 gallons (about fifty-four 12-ounce bottles or thirty 22-ounce bottles)

·         21 pounds, 9.6 ounces crushed North American two-row pale malt
·        14.4 ounces crushed 60L crystal malt
·         About 10 gallons plus 8 cups water
·        1.69 ounces Warrior hops (15.0% alpha acid)
·        ½ teaspoon Irish moss
·        1.94 ounces Crystal hops (3.5% alpha acid)
·        1 (35 ml) package White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast or WLP002 English Ale Yeast
·        1 cup plus 3 tablespoons light dried malt extract

I can’t stress it enough: clean and sanitize everything.


Mashing

In a 10-gallon brew kettle, combine the crushed malts with 7 gallons plus 1 cup of 161°F water. The water should cool slightly when mixed with the grain. Cover and hold the mash at 148°F for 90 minutes.         

For safety’s sake, set up your propane burner outside. Set the brew kettle of mash on top and heat to 160°F, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Turn off the heat. The mash will continue to increase in temperature to about 165°F.

Lautering and Sparging

Lauter the mash according to the instructions on page 159. Once the liquid is lower than the level of the grain, begin to slowly sprinkle 3 gallons plus 7 cups of 168°F water over the grains to start the sparge. Continue sparging as instructed on page 159. 


The Boil

Set the brew kettle of wort on your outdoor propane burner and add water to bring the wort level up to 7 gallons, if needed. Bring the wort to a rapid, rolling boil. As it begins to come to a boil, a layer of foam and scum may develop at the surface. Skim it off and discard. Once the wort is at a full boil, put a hops bag containing the Warrior hops in the kettle and set a timer for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Stir the wort frequently during the boil, and be watchful to avoid boilovers.

At 15 minutes before the end of the boil, stir in the Irish moss. When the boiling time is over, turn off the heat and put a hops bag containing the Crystal hops in the kettle. Cover the kettle and immediately begin cooling the wort quickly (see page 160).


Pitching the Yeast and Fermentation

Once the wort has cooled to 72°F, discard the spent hops and check the specific gravity of the wort with a hydro-meter. The target starting gravity is 1.103 (24.5 Plato).

Transfer the wort to the primary fermentation bucket according to the instructions on page 160. Pitch the yeast (or prepare a yeast starter) according to the instructions on page 160.

Allow the wort to ferment through primary and secondary fermentation (see page 160) at 72°F until it reaches a specific gravity of 1.016 (4 Plato).

Bottling

When you’re ready to bottle, clean and sanitize the bottles, caps, and bottling equipment. Put the dried malt extract in a medium saucepan and stir in just enough water to dissolve it. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool slightly. Proceed with bottling according to the instructions on page 161.



There you have it—the complete recipe for Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine!  But wait, there's more!! Next week, I’ll re-print the recipes for Stone Smoked Porter and Stone Pale Ale and Garlic Stir-Fried Brussels Spouts.

To learn more about the book, or to order online, please visit Amazon or your favorite bookseller.  In the nature of full disclosure, if you order the book using the links on this page, Amazon gives me a referral fee (at no added cost to you).

So to all the homebrewers out there, get busy brewing!  Winter is quickly approaching and Old Guardian will help keep you warm!


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Review: Octoberfest, Samuel Adams


Octoberfest

Stats:
  • Style: Lager (Märzen)
  • Bitterness: 15 IBU
  • ABV: 5.3% ABV
  • Malts: Two-row Harrington and Metcalfe pale malts, Munich-10, Moravian, and Caramel 60
  • Hops: Tettnang Tettnanger and Hallertau Mittelfrueh
  • Calories: 187 per 12 oz.
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: "Brewed with five varieties of malted barley for a big, rich flavor. The first thing you notice when pouring a glass of this seasonal beer is the color. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest has a rich, deep reddish amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. Samuel Adams Octoberfest masterfully blends together five roasts of malt to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee. The malt is complimented by the elegant bitterness imparted by the Bavarian Noble hops. Samuel Adams Octoberfest provides a wonderful transition from the lighter beers of summer to the heartier brews of winter. — Samuel Adams

Random thoughts: Oktoberfest started last Saturday. I celebrated by attending a bike-in beer festival called BiKETOBEERFEST. You can celebrate the season by drinking one of the many recently released Oktoberfest brews. This beer is part of the Samuel Adams Harvest Collection variety pack.

The tasting: Deep amber in color, clear, with plenty of effervescence. It has an off-white head that dissipates slowly. Aroma is very malt forward—mainly the caramel and toasted varieties, along with some toffee and light grassy hops. The flavor is very similar to the aroma. It has sweet bready malt in the middle that's balanced by spicy and grassy hop bitterness. Octoberfest is light to medium bodied, has a smooth mouth feel, and finishes with caramel malty goodness. It’s crisp and very drinkable.

Rating: 4 star. Really Good! I want this again! I like Samuel Adams because their beer is consistently solid and is widely available across the country. So when you’re ready to celebrate Oktoberfest, strap on your lederhosen and grab a Samuel Adams Octoberfest!

What's your favorite Oktoberfest beer?


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