Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Chincoe IPA

Sometimes you just want a really hoppy beer, but you don't want to deal with a 9% alcohol Double IPA in order to get it.

With this in mind, I decided to make a beer hopped more like a DIPA, but with the malt bill of a regular-strength IPA. In other words, a perfectly hoppy out-of-balance beer. Not necessarily an original concept, I'm sure, but it seemed like a good idea.

So here's what I came up with:

OG 1.060 FG 1.011
AA 80.9% ABV 6.4%
IBU 81 SRM 8

68% U.S. Two-row
26% Munich
4% Dextrine
1% Crystal 60
1% Crystal 120

0.5 oz Simcoe FWH
1.0 oz Chinook 60 mins
0.25 oz Chinook 30 mins
0.25 oz Simcoe 30 mins
0.25 oz Chinook 20 mins
0.25 oz Simcoe 20 mins
0.5 oz Chinook 0 mins
0.5 oz Simcoe 0 mins
1.0 oz Chinook dry hop
1.0 oz Simcoe dry hop


So, you can see why I dubbed this "Chincoe IPA." Between the IBUs and the high attenuation, this one finishes dry as a bone.

Next time, I think I'll load up more on the late hop additions -- like two or three times the amount. Maybe more dry hops too. OK, and maybe more character malt. But like I said, it wasn't supposed to be balanced. Just an extra hoppy beer of manageable strength.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Boo Skunk

I never ceases to infuriate me that brewers continue to package otherwise fine beers in green or clear bottles.

These bottles allow excess light to get through, thereby breaking down certain hop compounds into the same stuff that comes out of a skunk's ass. I'll dispense with the hard chemistry (click here for a discussion on that) but suffice it to say, this is not a desirable characteristic.

And yet, some of the world's finest brewers (Pilsner Urquell, Sam Smith, Spaten, Brasserie Dupont) insist on deliberately dooming their beers from the moment they go into the bottle. Why put in all the effort to make a great beer if you're going to let it go to hell on a liquor store shelf?

With all this in mind, I was more than happy to discover this TV ad from Sam Adams, which came out at least a couple months ago. I won't pretend to be a huge SA fan, but they clearly care about beer and they have the kind of marketing muscle to deliver an occasional public service announcement like this one. Bravo, Sam.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

GABF Winners Announced

The Great American Beer Festival -- which just wrapped up this weekend in Denver -- has announced its honorees for 2007.

Click here to download a list.

The problem I have with this competition, year in and year out, is that some of the country's top brewers seem to be consistently absent. Looking at past winners, it's clear the same collection of breweries enters each year. Add to that the fact that some categories hover under or around 10 entries in size, and it's clear that for whatever reason (logistics, entry fees, who knows), otherwise-worthy brewers are skipping the event.

Also, I can't help but feel an involuntary twinge of dismay that the country's biggest craft beer party is annually underwritten most generously by Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors.

This year, A-B's Redbridge took first place (out of eight entries...) in the Gluten-Free Beer category. The cynic in me wonders how much A-B pledged to increase their sponsorship in order to have that category created for this year's competition.

Nevertheless... I have to congratulate Houston's St. Arnold Brewing Co. for grabbing gold in the Kölsch category with their Fancy Lawnmower Beer. St. Arnold, and Lawnmower particularly, have always done well at the GABF.

Another repeat winner is Steamworks Brewing Co.'s Steam Engine Lager, gold medalist in the American-Style Amber Lager category. I've had the pleasure of trying this beer on a couple occasions and I found imminently enjoyable. Plus, I've met the Steamworks people; a nicer group of beer folks there ain't.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Keep Your Laws Out of My Beer!

Every so often I'm reminded to visit this charming little Web site that aims to break down much of the romanticism that seems to surround the so-called German "Beer Purity Law," the Reinheitsgebot:

"The Reinheitsgebot -- what a load of old bollocks"

Really, any respectful beer lover should be able to see right through this silly and hugely antiquated and inapplicable concept, which many German brewers, and some American ones (Gordon Biersch, for example) seize upon in an attempt to claim some kind of high ground when it comes to brewing.

Come on. Just brew your beer, and make sure it tastes good. That's about all I ask.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Hittin' Us Where It Hurts

Consider this the ultimate cost-of-living increase:

Beer prices are set to rise, due to jumps in the cost of malt and hops.

Read about it in the Wall Street Journal.

We homebrewers are already familiar with this reality. After pondering a bulk hop purchase for several weeks, I finally decided to pull the trigger -- but not until after hop prices had, in some cases, skyrocketed.

I'm not usually a sky-is-falling kind of guy. But let's face it: some of the specialty ingredients that we homebrewers covet are produced on a very limited basis. We can't afford to see hop varieties disappear or undergo exponential price increases. As crops fail and growers turn to more profitable options like corn, will the laws of supply and demand be enough to encourage new growers to step in?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I'm pleased with how my Kölsch came out. I wasn't too sure at first -- it was a little too fruity and definitely too cloudy -- but two months of cold-conditioning really seems to have done the trick.

Here're the vital stats:

OG 1.051 FG 1.011
AA 77.7% ABV 5.2%
IBU 24 SRM 3

93% German Pils
7% Wheat malt

16 IBU Tettnanger 60 mins
6 IBU Tettnanger 30 mins
0.5 oz Saaz 10 mins
0.5 oz Saaz flameout

Wyeast 2565 "Kölsch"

Next time I brew this I'll omit the wheat malt because, well, I don't like wheat anyway and I don't think it adds much. I think the gentle fruitiness of the yeast softens it out enough -- I don't need any wheat in there helping out.

I'm also tempted to brew this with White Labs 029 "German Ale/Kölsch" yeast. I suspect it'll be a little less fruity. I know others are satisfied with 2565, and I don't have any reason to think mine didn't come out just about spot-on, but what can I say, I like my yeasts crisp and clean.

Maybe I should just brew a damn lager instead and not expect Kölsch to be something it's not...

The problem with this style (and lagers, certainly) is that I don't have a dedicated lagering fridge, so any beer that needs to cold-condition must do so in my kegerator, and therefore take up valuable beer space. I just don't know that I have the patience to stick something in there for two months and not touch it when I could have a keg there that's ready to be consumed.

Extra fridge, anyone?

More on Kölsch:

From the German Beer Institute
From the BJCP (via Wyeast)
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