Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hops and the Weather

6 comments
James Altweis posted a great read over at the Gorst Valley Hops blog. You should read it.
Okay...so the sea ice is melting and the glaciers are thinning out. The sea is becoming less salty and ocean currents are fluctuating. We knew this would happen based on the hotly debated data sets over the last 10-15 years.

What we didn't anticipate is the RATE at which this would happen. In the last 2 years the globe has experienced the beginning of nearly every predicted change outlined in these data...except that it was to happen over the next 50-100 years.
The gist of James' article is a very salient one. Hops are not exactly the most resilient and tolerant plant out there. Indeed, while hops do grow wild as a weed in some places, growing them on a commercial scale is not easy.

If you'll recall, a few years ago (2007-ish) there was a hop shortage and prices for hops were all over the place. Most of the blame, at the time, was put on craft brewers and the sudden surge of hoppy beers. This impacted in bottom line and made the price of beer go up [ed note: I noticed that when hop prices decreased, the cost savings weren't exactly passed on to the consumer].

As I understand James, you can expect the prices for hops to be all over the place in the next few years. Indeed, if I think I understand James correctly you can expect the prices for hops to be all over the place for the next ... well, forever.

Translating that for you, Mr. and/or Ms. Beer Drinker, you should expect to see beer prices continue to increase.

Yes. That's right. I'm a genius. I predicted that prices for beer will increase.

But, more particularly, the availability of some hops that simply aren't as drought resistant will be extremely limited. So, which hops are more drought resistant? Well, we can start with the proprietary, genetically modified selectively bred, hops (Amarillo, Citra, etc.). But not anyone can grow these patented hops; you need a licensed rhizome. Moreover, the patent holder often also insists on being the sole source of processing and distribution for the hops once they are picked.

So, if we keep going down this rabbit hole: the hops most likely to withstand drought are those that are most expensive and most difficult to distribute. Those IIPAs are about to get much more expensive.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Only A Little Silly

2 comments
OK, I admit, I don't get Twitter. Nonetheless, here at Madison Beer Review we dutifully have a Twitter feed that you can follow if you like: http://twitter.com/madisonbeer

Well, if you'll recall from this post there's a new tween sensation named Madison Beer (that's her real name, I guess) - she's even got the Justin Beiber stamp of approval. Well, guess who's Twitter profile is @MadisonBeer ?

I get some weird Direct Messages...some samples:

@JaiLukeBrooks69: @MadisonBeer What you do when you bored?
[ed note: I drink beer.]

@Amandaaaxox: Hanging out with @MadisonBeer at @thewantedmusic love this girl so much!
[ed note: I don't remember going to that show...probably drank too much beer]

@VogueSimpson: #IdLike2WakeUpAs either @selenagomez, @MadisonBeer or @CodySimpson's girlfriend.
[ed note: I'd like to wake up as Selena Gomez, too!]

@MorgynCallaway: @MadisonBeer please followw mee please please please!!:)
[ed note: two things, 1) "Morgyn"? Really? Are you in Lord of the Rings? Come on; 2) well...if you insist, but I don't think you're going to like it]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Audience Participation: Home Brewing

12 comments
Just out of curiosity - how many of you out there homebrew? Most of the MBR staff has, whether regularly or not. And, of course, Joe Walts writes our Five Gallons at a Time homebrewing column. Plus, believe it or not, homebrewing is hitting the big time as the White House has (re)started brewing!

When I first started getting into craft beer is when I first started homebrewing. I had these grand delusions of making amazing beer that would stand beside Dogfish Head and Stone and New Glarus. What I quickly realized is that I'm not nearly as good of a brewer as Dan Carey or Sam Calagione. 

But, it is a fun way to kill a Saturday morning. The amount of beer I brew, unfortunately, is directly related to the number of Saturday mornings I have to kill. Not only is it a good hobby, but, it's also the best way to learn how to taste beer, what each component brings to the flavor profile, what each step of the brewing process brings to the flavor profile; and, it gives you a full appreciation for the hard work that goes into keeping all of the equipment clean.

So, as I was ramping up to get back into home brewing and planning my first recipe in a few years (likely an Oktoberfest), I was wondering how many of you out there homebrew? How long have you been doing it? What's your favorite recipe that you've made?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Five Gallons At A Time: Lautering Wort Losses

0 comments
Based on figures from the Siebel Institute of Technology, I've assumed for years that each pound of dry malt in a mash retains about 0.185 gallons of water. After taking a handful of measurements at home and at work, I concluded that the actual value is closer to 0.155 gal/lb (to Siebel's credit, my old assumption was based on their value for spent grain water retention plus a fudge factor-y variable of theirs that I accounted for in the same place). The obvious use for this variable is to help plan how much water you'll need for brewdays, but it affects other parts of the brewing process as well. For example, the gravity and volume of each runoff in a batch sparge is a direct function of how much wort is reatained by the grain. Because I use batch sparge simulations to generate my brewhouse efficiency table, its accuracy depends on spent grain wort retention. The values in the table have been updated accordingly.

For water planning purposes, it's important to differentiate between lauter tun deadspaces that contain mash and deadspaces that contain wort. In a lauter tun with a pipe-like manifold, the volume below the manifold contains mash. Because a mash will compact if you keep lautering after adding all of the sparge water, you can assume that all of your wort (aside from what the grain retains) will be squeezed out of the deadspace. In other words, these types of losses are included in the 0.155 gal/lb number. The space underneath a false bottom, on the other hand, contains mostly wort. Even if your lauter tun drains from the bottom, the grainbed will try to hold the wort beneath the false bottom like a finger covering a straw. If any wort manages to escape, it'll be grainy and shouldn't be lautered anyway. As such, the volume beneath a false bottom should be treated as a deadspace regardless of your vessel's outlet location(s). These deadspaces represent equipment losses, and I assume that wort lost to equipment geometry is equal to the total volume of deadspaces that contain primarily wort. To calculate total wort loss for a given mash, I add the equipment loss to the volume of wort retained by the spent grain.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Narragansett’s Move to Wisconsin

1 comments
As was reported last week, Narragansett Brewery is now shipping its beers, both cans and draft, to Wisconsin in its first move away from the East Coast.  I was lucky enough to have a few questions answered by CEO Mark Hellendrung regarding the move into Wisconsin.  In case you are looking for a little background on the company, here is some info from the Facebook page: “Narragansett Beer is New England's oldest beer, founded in 1890. It was the #1 beer New England from 1919 through the 1970's and the official beer of the Red Sox for over 30 years. It's now the 50th largest brewing company in America and was winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2008 World Beer Cup and First Place at the Great International Beer Festival in 2010.” It also has a rather famous moment in Jaws.

One of the interesting things noted in the press release was that Mark has family history in Wisconsin, so adding that to the overall craft beer climate and it’s no surprise that Narragansett is choosing to expand into the state.  “I think beer drinkers today are looking to experience different beers more than ever.  The choice to start in Wisconsin was based on my personal affection for the state and the tremendous distributor partner we have in Beechwood,” Mark said, adding, “I know firsthand the great beer tradition in Wisconsin, probably greater than any state in the country, and I trust Wisconsinites will appreciate the great quality and tradition from our company.”

I had to ask him to briefly reflect on his experience in Wisconsin and it was clear that he had a lot of fond memories in southern Wisconsin and Madison. “My Mom's family is from Watertown and my Dad’s family is from Oconomowoc.  Both of them went to UW-Madison, as did my brother. Every summer we would drive there for two weeks of vacation.  My Grandpa Schmidt’s favorite beer was Blatz, and, when I was young, lunch was summer sausage, limburger cheese, and I’d split a Blatz with my Grandma Schmidt.  To be honest, growing up I was as much of a Brewers fan with Harvey's Wallbangers as I was a Red Sox fan. There aren't many big college football programs here in the east, so the Badgers are still the team I follow.”

So what can we expect from Narragansett? Mark tells me that the beer geeks will “respect the quality of our craft styles and then choose our lager because they're somewhat tired of the mega mainstream lagers.” In case you are wondering, Narragansett currently brews a Fest, Porter, Bock and Summer in addition to their lager, light and cream styles.

Narragansett has been undergoing rapid development in the last few years. Back in January, Brewbound reported that the brewery would be hopefully open by December, and, in an update on that progress, Mark tells me that they “hope to have a big announcement in the next month or so” regarding the brewery. “We've accomplished a lot of great things since we got the beer back seven years ago, and re-building the once-proud brewery will be the ultimate achievement on our comeback trail.”

Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to answer a few questions! Everyone out here is going to be looking for their chance to grab a 'Gansett.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Great Taste Pre-Parties - The Final List

3 comments
So, if you didn't know, The Great Taste of the Midwest is next week. Maybe you've heard. Anyway, some people are getting kind of excited about, so below is a list of all of those places where you can find said people.

[ed note: this list has been updated, and will continue to be updated from this point out, so bookmark it, keep coming back, whatever it is that you do]

Do you want proof that Madison Beer Review has the best readers in the world? BAM! Thank you John Parker!

View Pre-Great Taste of the Midwest: Friday in a larger map
Wednesday Night

Tallgrass Brewing Co. (KS) at The Malt House (starts at 6pm, 2 casks tapped at 8pm - 8-bit w/ Peach & Mt. Hood; 8-bit w/ Apricot, Liberty, & Mt. Hood)

Oskar Blues (CO) at Dexter's (Bourbon Barrel Ten Fidy and food prepared with Oskar Blues Hot Sauces)


Thursday Night

Furthermore Beer (WI) at Star Liquor (Free Tasting; 4pm - 7pm)

Summit Brewing Co (MN) and B Nektar Mead (MI) at Dexter's (3-5 taps of Summit and 4 of B Nektar)

Founders (MI) at Coopers Tavern (5pm)

Oskar Blues (CO) at Up North Pub (7pm)

Lagunitas (CA) at Jordan's Big 10 Pub (7pm)

August Schell Bus Tour (7pm - 12am): 7-8pm: Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry; 9-10pm: Schellter Bar n Grill; 11-12am: JB’s Italian Grille


Friday Night

The Beer Spot at Brickhouse BBQ with Central Waters (WI), Shorts (MI), and Nebraska (NE). (Central Waters and Shorts are each planning on filling 15 lines (Imperial Spruce Pilsner, Snozzleberry Griffen, and Soft Parade, among others), with Nebraska filling 10 again this year (Barrel Aged Hop God, Romancing the Cone, among others))

Pearl Street Brewery (WI) at The Majestic (w/ Sexy Esther, T.U.G.G., and DJ Nick Nice; raffling off a pair of tix to the Great Taste!)

Bell's (MI) at Maduro (of course)

Capital Brewery (WI) at Capital Tap Haus (6pm; Autumnal Fire release)

Revolution Brewery (IL) at Essen Haus (Polkaholics and $2 half-liters of Revolution beers)

Great Lakes (OH) and Lakefront (WI) at The Rigby

Furthermore (WI) at Natt Spil (5pm; Natt Stock, Oak-Aged Fatty)

Three Floyd's (IN) at Argus

Founders (MI) at Glass Nickel Pizza (Atwood; for sure on tap: Frangelican Brown, Devil Dancer, and 2011 KBS)

O'So Brewery (WI) at The Malt House (6pm - 9pm; oud bruin) and Forequarter (9:30pm – close; Oud Bruin, Grand Cru, Rusty Brett, Bourbon Barrel Night Train; Lemongrass Wit)

Red Eye (WI) and Bull Falls (WI) will also be at The Malt House (6pm - 9pm; lots of special barrels and special batches including a Lemongrass Rye from Red Eye)

Potosi Brewing Co (WI) at The Harmony Bar (5pm)

Tallgrass Brewing Co (KS) at The Up North Pub (5pm; Area 51 IPA, 8-bit w/ Raspberries cask, Nintendo and Bluegrass; Tallgrass owner and headbrewer also on-hand)

DeStihl Brewing (IL) at Brasserie V (6pm; St Dekkera Reserve, Black Torrent, Hopweizen, others)

Dave's BrewFarm (WI) and Lake Louie (WI) at The Old Fashioned (6-9pm; brewers outside; music and $3 taps inside)

Central Waters (WI) at Star Liquor (Free Tasting; 4pm - 7pm)

Goose Island (IL) at Madison's (6pm)

Toppling Goliath (IA) at Dexter's Pub (11am; 8-10 taps, a firkin of Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout [3pm], and a special 1/6 bbl of Morning Delight [9pm])

Vintage (WI) "Rarities and Archives" at Vintage Brewing Co (3pm - 7pm; Whitney Way; featuring a new Blackberry Tart; Sun D’Appled; Oude DeVille #1 – a soured Belgian barleywine aged in rye whiskey barrels, Oude DeVille #2 – aged in apple brandy barrels, Alpentraum – a smoked weizenbock, and scores others)

Lagunitas (CA) at Coopers Tavern

Oskar Blues (CO), Hinterland (WI), and New Holland (MI) at Tipsy Cow

Sand Creek (WI) at Genna's (4-6pm) and Drackenberg's Cigar Bar (7pm)

Left Hand (CO) at Come Back Inn

Sixpoint (NY) at Merchant (Spice of Life Single Hops)

Dark Horse (MI) at Alchemy

Summit Brewing Co (MN) at The Echo Tap (7pm)

House of Brews (WI) at House of Brews (Tours starting at 3pm) and also Lucky's on Regent (7pm)

Blind Pig Brewery (IL) at The Mason Lounge (7-10pm; Raspberry Wheat, Belgo-American IPA, The Mysterious 200th Brew - an Imperial stout with vanilla, bourbon oak, and coffee)

August Schell (MN) at Dotty Dumpling's Dowry (7-10pm; cheese and sausage pairing at 9pm; Meet and Greet 5th and 6th generations of owners)

Summit Brewing Co (MN) at Echo Tap (7pm)

Saturday

Vintage Shuttle to Great Taste (11:30 and 12:30; Whitney Way)

Vintage After Party (Rarities and Archives; 5pm - 8pm)


Sunday

Vintage "The Day After" Brunch and Growler Specials (10am; Whitney Way)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Great Taste Pre-Parties #3

2 comments
The pace of returns is slowing to a trickle ... I will post a comprehensive list when I think all that are coming in will be in.

Friday

Dave's BrewFarm (WI) and Lake Louie (WI) at The Old Fashioned (6-9pm; brewers outside; music and $3 taps inside)

Great Taste Pre-Parties #2

0 comments
Wednesday Night

Oskar Blues (CO) at Dexter's (Bourbon Barrel Ten Fidy and food prepared with Oskar Blues Hot Sauces)


Thursday Night

Furthermore Beer (WI) at Star Liquor (Free Tasting; 4pm - 7pm)

Summit Brewing Co (MN) and B Nektar Mead (MI) at Dexter's (3-5 taps of Summit and 4 of B Nektar)

Founders (MI) at Coopers Tavern (5pm)

Oskar Blues (CO) at Up North Pub (7pm)

Lagunitas (CA) at Jordan's Big 10 Pub (7pm)

Friday Night

Central Waters (WI) at Star Liquor (Free Tasting; 4pm - 7pm)

Goose Island (IL) at Madison's (6pm)

Toppling Goliath (IA) at Dexter's Pub (11am; 8-10 taps, a firkin [at 3pm], and a special 1/6 bbl of Assassin [late night])

Vintage (WI) "Rarities and Archives" at Vintage Brewing Co (3pm - 7pm; Whitney Way)

Lagunitas (CA) at Coopers Tavern


Oskar Blues (CO), Hinterland (WI), and New Holland (MI) at Tipsy Cow

Sand Creek (WI) at Genna's (4-6pm) and Drackenberg's Cigar Bar (7pm)

Left Hand (CO) at Come Back Inn

Sixpoint (NY) at Merchant (Spice of Life Single Hops)

Dark Horse (MI) at Alchemy

Red Eye (WI) and Bull Falls (WI) will also be at The Malt House (6pm - 9pm; with O'So; lots of special barrels and special batches including a sour wee heavy from O'So and a Lemongrass Rye from Red Eye)

Saturday

Vintage Shuttle to Great Taste (11:30 and 12:30; Whitney Way)

Vintage After Party (Rarities and Archives; 5pm - 8pm)

Sunday

Vintage "The Day After" Brunch and Growler Specials (10am; Whitney Way)