Saturday, March 27, 2010


Just a quick love note to say that I'm having a great beer right now. We were in Lambertville today and the lovely R picked out a mixed six for me, one of which is Yards Brawler. It's 4.2%, has great chocolate and caramel flavors, a little bit of fruity English ale yeast character, and finishes with just the right amount of bitterness. A little dry, not too sweet. Great stuff.

The brewery calls it an English style "s*ssion ale". I'd call this a Mild, if ever there were a bottled one from an American craft brewery.

And on a great night of boxing on HBO and Showtime, the label fits right in. (I've got Abraham in a late round TKO over Dirrell tonight, by the way... but I can see a Dirrell decision too. Can't wait.)

Wonderful Word of Wines in Lambertville is a great, great store... for beer too! Plenty of bomber selections, mix-a-six, etc... Awesome.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Good afternoon. Today I came across an interesting article on the ever-escalating ABV of the American craft beer. You may link to it here and give it a read yourself.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with the title of the article - that the American session beer has met its untimely death. I just think that the ones out there are getting absolutely no attention while everyone goes bonkers for all of the special releases and big ABV beers. I guess that in a way that's to be expected. And it's kind of hard to argue with the success since American craft beer has been hugely successful over the last few years in a tough economy and when overall beer sales are down.

I'm just really happy any time I see something in defense of session beers (even though I hate the word "session" with a passion). There seems to be a correlation between a beer's ABV and the hype that surrounds it. And I agree with a lot of the commenters on the article who say that most of the big, hyped beers aren't really that great. It seems to me that people see an ABV or a special ingredient or process and approach those beers with a different mindset. Like they're already in love with the beer before they've even sniffed a glass of it.

Me, I'm the opposite. I'm a skeptic. If everyone is talking about how cool and great it is, chances are I'm already making up my mind that I'm going to hate it. So the moral of the story is that you can't trust me or anything I say. Be skeptical of the hype, but more importantly, be skeptical of me. Don't ever accuse me of giving you bad advice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good thing I didn't wear sweatpants today

So I'm in the Hoboken train station this afternoon waiting on a train to go and meet R. From there we're on our way to Cricket Hill to claim a few bottles of their new barrel aged porter - Paymaster's Porter agen in Four Roses whiskey barrels. And it's a sin to pass up the opportunity to have a beer on the train. That's why they have a liquor store in there for crying out loud!

So I walk up to the refrigerator and what do I see? DAB. And not just any ol' DAB, DAB in cans. And not just DAB in any ol' cans, DAB in... TALLBOYS!!!

Speechless. And happy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

F Yeast Starters

I've been through the paces with yeast culturing and growing a pitchable slurry of yeast up from an agar plate and all that. It's a lot of work. It's very time consuming and you have to be extremely careful with your sanitation practices. Quite frankly I just don't have that kind of time to dedicate to the hobby these days.

At the same time, I love to have a low gravity 3-4%ABV beer on hand at all times. I know it's completely counter to the direction that the whole craft beer movement is moving - big beers, huge beers, huger beers - but it's what I really enjoy more than anything. A nice, flavorful, drinkable beer that I can put away a few of without sitting down to take notes about how "complex" it is. And I haven't said the "S" word for a reason - I hate it, I think it's goofy.

And also at the same time, I like to re-pitch my yeast. I like to brew several batches in a row with the same strain instead of culturing up enough yeast for each different style I'm going for. Again, it's more time consuming and more expensive to brew with a different yeast every time.

So... where am I going with this....

With those thoughts in mind, I figured to hell with starters. Why not have my low gravity beer be my starter. Instead of making a starter I bought two vials of WLP007 and today I brewed an English bitter. The yeast slurry from the fermenter will be re-pitched for my next three or four batches. And instead of dumping a bunch of starter beer/wort I'll have five gallons of beer to show for it.

I worked off of the Jamil book for the recipe. Crisp Maris Otter is the base malt with 1/2 lb of Weyermann Cara Aroma and 1/4 lb of Briess Special Roast. The Cara Aroma is a dark crystal malt. 1/2 oz of Kent Goldings added at both 10 and 0 min remaining in the boil.

After this beer I'll be brewing a Pale Ale with Nelson Sauvin hops, an IPA with Centennial and Amarillo (thanks, Lee, I'll hook you up), and an English Brown and/or my Oatmeal Stout recipe.

I'm just glad to have the yogurt fork incident behind me.