Monday, September 24, 2012

Sixpoint Brownstone

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of brown ales. Never have been. I love English Porters. I love Ambers/Reds. But the brown, nut or otherwise, have never been a great love. In fact, they have been the opposite of love. The brown ale is one of those styles that I've just never been able to get with. But, like many styles that I don't like - I keep trying them anyway, because you never know.

So, when I was out the other night and met the Sixpoint rep, I was excited to try the Sixpoint Crisp (a pilsner much in the style of the inimitable Victory Prima Pils). Jake (that's the name of the Sixpoint rep, by the way) then recommended that I try to the Brownstone. While I reluctantly obliged, I warned him that I'm not a fan of the brown ale.

At the time I had a sampler glass, so I had a sample. I can happily report that I was pleased with the results. Surprising not only Jake (who, really, wasn't all that surprised) but me.

Sixpoint Brownstone
BA(89). RB(91).

Appearance: A healthy, dense, tan foamy head sits regally on a body of tanned leather; the lacing is very pretty.
Aroma: I could smell the hops and brown sugar as it poured out of the can. The typical American aroma hops are front and center while the malt slips through cracks and smells of ginger snap cookies and multi-grain bread
Flavor: The hops are, again, front and center but the malt sweetness, caramel flavors, and slight nuttiness come through strongly in the finish
Body: A nice strong medium-ish body, the finish is a mixture of the hoppy resin and the caramel malts which leaves a nice, sweet, residual flavor but is never cloying
Drinkability: A typical fall-time beer; you probably aren't going to drink 8 of them, but 3 of them while gathered around a bonfire is certainly within the realm of possibility
Summary: Finally! A brown ale I can get with! This will definitely be in a regular rotation, and would fit right in with some of my other favorite fall and winter brews such as Surly's Furious, Bear Republic's Black Bear Stout, and Augustiner Doppelbock.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Five Gallons At A Time: Turbid Mashing

I don't have the vengefulness or organizational skills to maintain a list of pending threats, but I do remember them occasionally. Like this one about turbid mashing (side note: a follow-up on my daughter is here). Mwahahahaha!

When I brewed my first lambic in the summer of 2011, I used Wild Brews as my guide. The book is great, but feeding its turbid mashing instructions to my calculations resulted in wildly different mash temperatures:

Book                        Me
113 degf          113 degf
126 degf          149 degf
149 degf          172 degf
162 degf          182 degf
172 degf          181 degf

I ended up following the book's strike volumes but ignoring its strike temperatures, and I'm glad I did. By trusting my math and adjusting my strike temperatures accordingly, my mash temperatures turned out very close to the book's recommendations. The only issue, which I've had with both of my batches to-date, has been removing enough wort from my mash tun for the first stage of enzyme destruction. In both cases, I tried a bunch of methods before settling on pressing down on the mash with the lid of a wide pot and pouring the pooled wort into the auxiliary kettle. The first time, it was simply messy and frustrating. The second time, it was messy and frustrating and my final lauter got stuck. Next time, I'm going to ignore the book's strike volumes and dough in with enough water to perform all of the lauters without special equipment. My turbid mash calculations (Turbid_Mash.xlsx at the usual place) are already configured as such, but you can adjust the rests if you want to be a hard traditionalist.

Aside from reading Wild Brews and using my mash calculations, my only other recommendation is to heat the wort in your auxiliary kettle as quickly as possible. The goal of turbid mashing is to ensure that your final wort is starchy, and having the wort in your auxiliary kettle spend too much time at starch conversion temperatures will defeat that purpose. I may have made that mistake with my second batch, but time will tell. For what it's worth, my first batch tasted like flat Cantillon Gueuze after a year in a carboy. Much better than I expected! If the second batch doesn't turn out as well, I'll keep it out of my gueuze blend and either find another use for it or dump'er in the name of hack science.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No, Seriously, It's Not A Joke

What do Portland (OK, technically Eugene) hipster brewers do to be more hip than Portland hipster drinkers? Make Midwestern beer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

End of Summer Summer Beer - O'So 3rd Wheel

O'So has a new bottle on the shelves called "Third Wheel". The label has a picture of some "dude" (you can tell because his O'so hat is backwards) doing an endo with a three-wheel bike. The yellow, orange, and red label calls it a Belgian-Style Blonde.

I like blondes (the beer, not the girls; I mean, I like blonde girls, too, but Mrs. MBR is not such a girl); or, I like the theory of blondes. In practice, I find I'm not as big of a fan as I think I should be. So, why? Well. I like flavorful light beers. The English Mild, the Kolsch, and the Pilsner are among some of my favorite styles. But I also like my beers dry. And American-ized versions of Belgian beer tend to be very sweet.

This is strange, but I think there's a few reasons for it. First, and I'm sure some technocrat will correct my horrible science, I think we over-do the "Belgian-y-ness" (is that a word??). In other words, Belgian beers, from Belgian, rarely taste like Americans think they do or make them as. Maybe it's our weird adherence to "style" maybe it's the fact that we only have access to a small (very small) handful of "Belgian" yeasts. But, most American-Belgian beer tastes the same to me; American Tripels often taste like little more than "Imperial Blondes". Whereas, Belgian beer rarely has the sameness that Americanized versions exhibit.

So, all of that is a weird introduction to a beer I haven't tasted. But, I do keep trying American Belgian Blondes because, well, I want to like them.

O'So 3rd Wheel
BA (NA). RB (NA).

Appearance: Poured into a classic tulip glass, the head disappeared before I could get the bottle turned upright, but for a brief moment it was white and foamy; otherwise, a dull straw color in the glass with decent clarity; barely noticeable carbonation
Aroma: Strawberries and peaches are first, followed by a slight bread crust aroma
Flavor: Bright and flavorful with hints of strawberries and raspberries, a mild aged grassy hoppiness is definitely present
Body: light, but does retain some sweetness in the finish
Drinkability: it would be way too easy to drink a six-pack
Summary: I'd like a little more carbonation to break up the sweetness, but it is definitely not overly sweet and cloying like what I mentioned above; while I like the six-pack I have, I probably won't rush out to buy another (it didn't grab my attention that much), but I'd definitely not shy away from telling someone they should grab some and would more than happily drink more!