Craft Beers

Aaack!  Mini-disaster.  

So I was convinced to get one of the cool new vapor locks for my carboy.  It looked neat and the concept is totally there. Unfortunately, the yeast was soooo happy that they generated (and are continuing to generate) a whole lot more CO2 then it was prepared for. I went downstairs to the cellar this morning to find krausen was blowing through the top of the brand new valve.  This certainly won’t do…  though at the moment there is no worry about back contamination (it was blowing enough pressure I could hear it hissing) when it starts to slow down there can be reverse air draw.  Not only that, my wife had some choice things to say about the puddle that was forming around it (I won’t repeat them here in deference to the dignity of my readers).

First the carboy went into a giant basin with the top loosely covered to prevent anything outside from getting back in.  Some modifications (and a quick trip to town for the appropriate hose diameter) and we have an old school water lock.  It worked great back in the day when I was making mash, so it should do for this.  When the more vigorous stage of primary fermentation is over I can recap the fermentation lock and let it finish out. 

Whew.  Disaster averted.

Went down to a friend’s house today to walk him though making beer for the first time.  Used my own recipe for beginners.  It has a good success rate and is just different enough to be crafty without scaring anyone new away (Old Mountain Bear’s Honey Brown Ale).

It rained on us several times (note the wooden umbrella pole in a couple of the pictures), but it is totally fun brewing outside.  As you can see in the last picture the little yeasties are happily scarfing up golden malt and honey while swimming in pure well water.  I have it down in my root cellar where it will stay quiet, dark, and a constant 65-70 (in the summer time).

While we were brewing outside our wives and a couple of their friends were having a canning peach palooza inside.  They canned peach jam, rosemary peach jam, and basil jelly.  All with fresh western slope peaches, and rosemary/basil from the garden.  I’m going to say that I love canning season!  My wife has already put up bourbon peaches for the season and apple butter is on the way.  Wahoo!

We split a growler of Cannonball’s Rosemary Sourdough Saison while working and while the wives were finishing up we made a fresh puttanesca sauce (hard to go wrong with just picked tomatoes and basil to start) on penne pasta.

I’m going to say it was an awesome day!

beer47:

Now on tap at the office. This anchor is a little too heavy to raise. @AnchorBrewing #raiseyouranchor #BeerPhotoFriday #craftbeer #summerbeer Taken on August 29, 2014 at 01:23PM with Instagram http://j.mp/1qc8PEV

Woohoo! Notice what kind of barrel it is in.

beer47:

Now on tap at the office. This anchor is a little too heavy to raise. @AnchorBrewing #raiseyouranchor #BeerPhotoFriday #craftbeer #summerbeer Taken on August 29, 2014 at 01:23PM with Instagram http://j.mp/1qc8PEV

Woohoo! Notice what kind of barrel it is in.

I had some one ask me what was in the beer fridge yesterday and I rattled off quite a few items.  When I got home, though, I started to poke around and see what I missed.  Low and behold, hiding in the back, wicked demon that he is, a bottle of 2013 Samael’s.  I had a bottle of this when it was fresh and loved it.  The question now is; how has it changed?
Samael’s Oak Aged Ale - Avery Brewing Company
This one pours out a dark amber color with a short off white head that dissipated very quickly leaving almost no lacing. It has notes of brown sugar, molasses, oak, dark rum, figs, vanilla, and dates.  Big mouth feel, with almost no carbonation and a strong sweet finish with a heavy alcohol bite.  This one started out as being fairly light on the hops and aging it brought out the malty sweetness with a vengeance.  I thought the fresh version had a hefty alcohol bite, and the aged mellowed it out quite a bit.
Truth be told I loved the original when it was fresh and I loved this one now that it was more then a year old.  The aging brought out a lot of the strong characteristics of the original.  Try it fresh or aged.  If the barley wines and big beers are on your list, you will think this bad boy is your friend.
English Barleywine | 16.90% ABV (2013)

I had some one ask me what was in the beer fridge yesterday and I rattled off quite a few items.  When I got home, though, I started to poke around and see what I missed.  Low and behold, hiding in the back, wicked demon that he is, a bottle of 2013 Samael’s.  I had a bottle of this when it was fresh and loved it.  The question now is; how has it changed?

Samael’s Oak Aged Ale - Avery Brewing Company

This one pours out a dark amber color with a short off white head that dissipated very quickly leaving almost no lacing. It has notes of brown sugar, molasses, oak, dark rum, figs, vanilla, and dates.  Big mouth feel, with almost no carbonation and a strong sweet finish with a heavy alcohol bite.  This one started out as being fairly light on the hops and aging it brought out the malty sweetness with a vengeance.  I thought the fresh version had a hefty alcohol bite, and the aged mellowed it out quite a bit.

Truth be told I loved the original when it was fresh and I loved this one now that it was more then a year old.  The aging brought out a lot of the strong characteristics of the original.  Try it fresh or aged.  If the barley wines and big beers are on your list, you will think this bad boy is your friend.

English Barleywine | 16.90% ABV (2013)

One of the girls at work lives in the upper Midwest.  When she went back home she searched out a couple of interesting brews to bring back for us all to try.  I’m not sayin’ that the name Horny Goat had anything to do with her choice but after having met her last boy friend…
Horny Goat Red Vixen - Horny Goat Brewing Co.
This one pours out a clear red gold with a fairly deep white head that left discernible lacing in the glass.  It had notes of caramel, toffee, biscuit, wild flowers, and very mild citrus.  It had a thin mouth feel with light carbonation and a very sweet, but smooth finish.  
I am not sure what a Vienna Lager is supposed to taste like (my definition says sweet in the first line), but this was (to me at least) surprisingly sweet with very little hop bitterness to it. I normally look for something a little bit different when I am choosing for myself. That said, it was very popular with everyone at work that also liked fruit essence beers (blueberry, sweet cherry, peach, etc…). It is quite possible (maybe very likely) that I am not the right audience for this composition.  I know that this brewery is reported to do quite well for a small regional (nothing like local beer).  I would be interested in trying something more along my taste preferences
Vienna Lager | 5.40% ABV

One of the girls at work lives in the upper Midwest.  When she went back home she searched out a couple of interesting brews to bring back for us all to try.  I’m not sayin’ that the name Horny Goat had anything to do with her choice but after having met her last boy friend…

Horny Goat Red Vixen - Horny Goat Brewing Co.

This one pours out a clear red gold with a fairly deep white head that left discernible lacing in the glass.  It had notes of caramel, toffee, biscuit, wild flowers, and very mild citrus.  It had a thin mouth feel with light carbonation and a very sweet, but smooth finish.  

I am not sure what a Vienna Lager is supposed to taste like (my definition says sweet in the first line), but this was (to me at least) surprisingly sweet with very little hop bitterness to it. I normally look for something a little bit different when I am choosing for myself. That said, it was very popular with everyone at work that also liked fruit essence beers (blueberry, sweet cherry, peach, etc…). It is quite possible (maybe very likely) that I am not the right audience for this composition.  I know that this brewery is reported to do quite well for a small regional (nothing like local beer).  I would be interested in trying something more along my taste preferences

Vienna Lager | 5.40% ABV

Last Friday one of the guys dropped off some stuff at Breckenridge and saw that they were bottling the winter warmer beers.  Not being one to waste an opportunity he picked up a case for the office. I couldn’t resist opening one up and trying a beer that was less than a day old. 
Before you tell me it is to early for winter warmers we had snow on Mount Evans last night and it got down to the low forties at my house.  It is fall at 8000’ ft elevation!
Christmas Ale - Breckenridge Brewery (Fall 2014)
This one pours out a clear amber with a nice off white head that dissipated quickly leaving thin but well defined rings.  It had notes of allspice, brown sugar, apple, orange, and caramel.  It had a big mouth feel, with a fair amount of carbonation and a slightly bitter finish.  The alcohol came through with a somewhat aggressive bite, but it is a winter warmer after all.
I enjoyed it quite a bit, and will be pleased to try the other bottle (pictured) on another cold and snowy day.  I think this one will be a hit this fall.  As a seasonal it drops into the category of an old, but welcome friend of a brew, come back for a visit.
Winter Warmer | 7.40% ABV

Last Friday one of the guys dropped off some stuff at Breckenridge and saw that they were bottling the winter warmer beers.  Not being one to waste an opportunity he picked up a case for the office. I couldn’t resist opening one up and trying a beer that was less than a day old. 

Before you tell me it is to early for winter warmers we had snow on Mount Evans last night and it got down to the low forties at my house.  It is fall at 8000’ ft elevation!

Christmas Ale - Breckenridge Brewery (Fall 2014)

This one pours out a clear amber with a nice off white head that dissipated quickly leaving thin but well defined rings.  It had notes of allspice, brown sugar, apple, orange, and caramel.  It had a big mouth feel, with a fair amount of carbonation and a slightly bitter finish.  The alcohol came through with a somewhat aggressive bite, but it is a winter warmer after all.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, and will be pleased to try the other bottle (pictured) on another cold and snowy day.  I think this one will be a hit this fall.  As a seasonal it drops into the category of an old, but welcome friend of a brew, come back for a visit.

Winter Warmer | 7.40% ABV

I love porters and plenty of the people I work with (both in and out of the company) know that.  Most of them have spent time and perused the bottle collection filling the shelves in my office.  So when our account rep had a chance to get an interesting porter (that he knew he hadn’t seen) while at a customer’s brewery - he made sure some showed up on my desk!
Shake Chocolate Porter - Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub
This one pours out a velvety black with a tremendous amount of carbonation, it looks like a nitro when it hits the glass.  it had a tall tan head that dissipated quickly leaving thin lacing rings.  It has notes of chocolate, vanilla, cream, coffee, and hazelnut.  It has a medium mouth feel,with a thin velvety sweet finish.  The name totally nails it. This tastes like a chocolate shake.  It is very heavy handed with the chocolate, vanilla, and cream, but “wow” is this different.
My wife was totally intrigued and suggested we make a float with the last bottle.  A plan I intend to make a reality when we next hit the grocery store and can get double vanilla bean ice cream. 
If you like dessert beers, cream stouts, or any of the chocolate stouts/porter you will probably love this.  I’m afraid that I will have to add another brew to my “I should get some of that” list.
American Porter | 5.90% ABV

I love porters and plenty of the people I work with (both in and out of the company) know that.  Most of them have spent time and perused the bottle collection filling the shelves in my office.  So when our account rep had a chance to get an interesting porter (that he knew he hadn’t seen) while at a customer’s brewery - he made sure some showed up on my desk!

Shake Chocolate Porter - Boulder Beer / Wilderness Pub

This one pours out a velvety black with a tremendous amount of carbonation, it looks like a nitro when it hits the glass.  it had a tall tan head that dissipated quickly leaving thin lacing rings.  It has notes of chocolate, vanilla, cream, coffee, and hazelnut.  It has a medium mouth feel,with a thin velvety sweet finish.  The name totally nails it. This tastes like a chocolate shake.  It is very heavy handed with the chocolate, vanilla, and cream, but “wow” is this different.

My wife was totally intrigued and suggested we make a float with the last bottle.  A plan I intend to make a reality when we next hit the grocery store and can get double vanilla bean ice cream. 

If you like dessert beers, cream stouts, or any of the chocolate stouts/porter you will probably love this.  I’m afraid that I will have to add another brew to my “I should get some of that” list.

American Porter | 5.90% ABV

My wife stopped by and filled up a growler at Upslope (have I mentioned that I have the best wife ever?).  When she called and asked what I wanted I told her to get something I hadn’t had before.  I can’t say I am unhappy with what she got and I am sure it tastes better in the Upslope glass.
Thai IPA - Upslope Brewing Company
This one pours out a hazy golden yellow with a short white head that dissipated quickly leaving very spotty lacing.  It has notes of lemon grass, grapefruit, basil, biscuit, ginger, and lavender. It has medium mouth feel with fairly light carbonation and a citrusy, clean, sweet finish.  The lemon and sweet malts pop on this one and the hop is clearly present, but not over powering.
If you are a hop head you will not be happy with this choice (if you are expecting an IPA).  If someone had asked me to guess what this beer was I would have said it was a Belgium Style Pale Ale, possibly an American Brett. Naming conventions aside, it is quite tasty and absolutely rockin’ with my spicy green curry. Fresh mint, basil, and hot peppers - whew!
I would have this again, and paired with the right foods it is an excellent choice.  I do love seeing the smaller local breweries try new things, and this is certainly different, and good.
Belgian IPA | 6.50% ABV

My wife stopped by and filled up a growler at Upslope (have I mentioned that I have the best wife ever?).  When she called and asked what I wanted I told her to get something I hadn’t had before.  I can’t say I am unhappy with what she got and I am sure it tastes better in the Upslope glass.

Thai IPA - Upslope Brewing Company

This one pours out a hazy golden yellow with a short white head that dissipated quickly leaving very spotty lacing.  It has notes of lemon grass, grapefruit, basil, biscuit, ginger, and lavender. It has medium mouth feel with fairly light carbonation and a citrusy, clean, sweet finish.  The lemon and sweet malts pop on this one and the hop is clearly present, but not over powering.

If you are a hop head you will not be happy with this choice (if you are expecting an IPA).  If someone had asked me to guess what this beer was I would have said it was a Belgium Style Pale Ale, possibly an American Brett. Naming conventions aside, it is quite tasty and absolutely rockin’ with my spicy green curry. Fresh mint, basil, and hot peppers - whew!

I would have this again, and paired with the right foods it is an excellent choice.  I do love seeing the smaller local breweries try new things, and this is certainly different, and good.

Belgian IPA | 6.50% ABV