Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bacon Explosion and Beer--Steelers Super Bowl Party Time

As you may know, I have an intense love of bacon and beer.

What sort of beer do you think would go good with the Bacon Explosion. I'm thinking I.P.A. The more imperial the better.

Peevish or Not, you decide

Is it too peevish to expect beer bottles at least rinsed before returning? Put another way, I've found chicken feathers, peat moss, chaw, corn, and pancakes at the terminus of bottles. Is this too much to ask?

Reminiscing about the Mojave Desert

I was just thinking about my last (and first and only) visit to the Mojave desert, just about this time of year in 1980. How long was I there? Hmmmm, six weeks? No, too long; but at least four weeks. Gallant Eagle `80 it was. 121st signal battalion, the Big Red One, First Infantry Division.

You know, the desert is a place you gotta experience if you have the chance. The scale of it is so hard to gauge on first experience that it's just amazing. Looking out across the floor of a valley between two mountains, it's so easy to think that the distant mountain is only two or three miles away, when in fact it's 20. While there, me and a buddy were at a point where we could see the Goldstone observatory to the west and at a lower elevation than we were, and we decided to hike closer to get a better look. Well, 1/2 hour of fast hiking later brought us no closer to it than when we started.

Also, dispel any preconceptions you may have of the desert being dry and parched. Down on the floor it can be 80 during the day, but up on a 5000 foot mountain, you're liable to get snow. At least in January.

I remember just coming in to town and this is where I learned of Bon Scott's death--saw it on the front page of a local paper. May he R.I.P.

After concluding the games, and cleaning and loading our equipment onto train cars (yes, flatbed train cars) for the trip back to Kansas, we had some time to waste as we waited for our stick to go out. Our first sergeant told us not to get into any trouble and warned us that there would be hell to pay if we found some. Well, being 19 and full of piss and vinegar, sure `nuff we made our way over to the PX and found some in the form of two grocery bags of good vinegar and other spirits. We proceeded to spend the afternoon in the barracks squirreled away in a corner with the wall lockers encircling us like the Great Wall, drinking and playing Spades.

You know, things couldn't get much better than this, right?

They did.

Here comes the first sergeant, striding cockily, short, with something to prove, regulation moustache not lower than or past the edge of the upper lip, making his rounds to check on things, and he finds us holed up in the back. Standing over us, he takes one look at us sitting down low on our duffle bags, then at the cards, and then at the bottles which we weren't fast enough to spirit away. And then, like Moses himself come forward to the 20th century, down from the Mountain, the sunlight forming a halo behind him, he picks up the bottles, looks at the labels, shouts: ``I told you guys no drinking!'' raises them over his head and in one swift motion smashes them to floor where they shatter into a hundred pieces. We were speechless. ``You guys just earned yourself the last stick back to Kansas after you load all the gear onto pallets and then all the pallets onto the planes.'' And we had to do just that before we could step onto and sit down on a plane and go back.

But it was worth it.


Road Trip

Will be embeerking on a road trip today if the weather cooperates to try as many beer bars as I can before Sunday night.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Prez P.A.

Secondary fermentation is underway and still proceeding albeit slowly. Unusual to me since last time, fermentation had ended by the time I racked into secondary. It has never been a vigorous fermentation this batch: moderate at first, then gently stabilizing to slow and steady. I'll have to keep an eye on this to see what's going on. Perhaps I should take a gravity reading tonight to see where it's at. I'm shooting for 1.020.

Christmas in January

T-Bone and I happened by One Guy Brewing yesterday to celebrate Christmas. Actually, I was honored by him treating me to share in his Christmas present of a One Guy Brewing gift certificate.

I was delighted to see the Pale Ale on tap as I had never tried this in any of the earlier releases of it in the past year. Offered along with that, was the Atomic Punk I.P.A. and the Berwick Lager.

I began with a shaker of the P.A. which turned out to be a delight of refreshing, straw colored elegance. A very nice blend of maltiness and a slight hop flavor brought about by the East Kent Goldings hops (I think--need to verify this). I could easily drink a lot of this and enjoy every sip!

The P.A. was followed by the extremely popular Atomic Punk. So popular in fact, that at one point every stool had one in front of them precipitating the automatic engagement of the playing of Atomic Punk on the boom box! I tried this on initial release last year and loved it then. This version, according to Guy, has a bit more Amarillo hops. To me, it has a bit more of a piney, grapefruity, characteristic in my nose and in taste. Not obtrusively overwhelming, but indeed excellent. I ended up bringing a growler home.

One Guy as you may know is approaching its one year anniversary of being open. (Today as a matter of fact.) I won't be in town next weekend but I trust that stopping by then will beer a beery rewarding experience!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Traveling to Utah?

Here's an interesting article on the brew pub scene in Utah. The one near Zion Canyon caught my eye--I want to check it out when I go west.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Beer Swap

Swapped one of each of my BOTM bottles with J, for a espiègle Flying Dog Horn Dog, a refreshing Cascade-laced Sierra Nevada 2007 Anniversary Ale, a Mad River Brewing Company Jamaica Brand Red Ale, and a Peak Organic Brewing Company Nut Brown Ale. I've tasted none of these `cept for the Red Ale, so I'm in for a treat! Thanks J.

I'm something of a fan of Sierra Nevada as I think they usually hit the hop and malt balance just right. I couldn't have found a more opportune time to validate this statement than when racking this morning and I've discovered that the Anniversary Ale is no exception to this rule.

By balance I tend to like something on the order of 60-40, but who's counting anyway?

Doo Dah Doo Dah Day

Doo Dah Day this morning when I racked into the secondary fermenter and dry hopped with 1.5 oz of whole Cascade, let's see, .25 oz of Simcoe®, .25 oz of Cascade and .25 oz of Amarillo pellets.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Prez P.A. Fermenting!

My latest try at coming up with an P.A. that has the taste and aroma that rivals say Victory Hop Devil, Lancaster Brewing Company Hop Hog, or One Guy Atomic Punk, is happily fermenting away happily.

I'll post my recipe here, but early indications are that I may have hit the mark with this one. My guess is that it will come in at a nice 7.5% ABV with a 70 IBU placing it right at the upper edge of this style. Three varieties of hops and my first attempt using liquid yeast.

I was surprised by the small amount of yeast that ended up going into the wort. Based on the size of the package I was expecting more than that but there was perhaps only one or two ounces. I usually hydrate my dry yeast and end up with a creme of perhaps a quarter cup, so this was some difference. Presumably there are about the same number of active cells in the liquid versus rehydrated dry. The liquid is quite a bit more expensive than dry ($9 vs $2.5). Is it worth it? I don't know.

Beer of the Month Club

I received the first installment of my beer of the month club yesterday and there's enough in there to warm any Polish boy's heart!

From the domestic shaker there's a local beer: Lancaster Brewing Company Winter Warmer Ale. If this is as good as some of their other beers like the Hop Hog I.P.A. and the Milk Stout, it will definitely be a treat on any of our cold winter nights!

That is followed by Sand Creek Brewing Company and their English Style Special Ale. I haven't ever tried a beer by these boys out of Wisconsin, but I'm a big fan of English beers so this one sounds interesting.

From my homeland, much to my delight I pulled a bottle of Łomża Mocne from the 12-pack shipping carton. This is a strong (Mocne is pronounced Muhhtz-neh and means strong) ale from the Łomża Brewery in Eastern Poland. Only ever having had beer from the Żywiec Brewery, this should be a great point of comparison. As I recall the Żywiec beer that I had tasted before was a pilsner and quite light. With this Mocne coming in at a nice 7% it should be an awesome ale!

Finally from Croatia, there's a Karlovacko Svijetlo from the Karlovacka Pivovara (brewery). I've never tried beer from these fellows but it's a pilsner of the Czech variety, so it should be tasty.

Thanks S!

Beer Sales Dropping?

There is some evidence that beer sales are dropping. At least for the big guys.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Followup to Beer Price Stability

Weyerbacher states that the price of packaging went up in 2008--glass and cardboard.

Though our costs for Hops and Malt have not decreased we have experienced increasing costs in cardboard and glass, all packaging went up in '08 as a matter of fact.

Well, all commodity prices went up in `08 until they started to deflate towards the end of the year. For example, I scrapped a Dodge Neon for the unheard of price of $400 early in the year. Right now they're offering $300. That's a 25% drop.

I read somewhere the costs to produce and sell beer can roughly be split into thirds: 1/3 for production costs (labor, energy, malt, hops, water, yeast, etc.); 1/3 for packaging and distribution; and 1/3 for marketing. I would bet that this breakdown is for Coors, Miller, and Budweiser, and not your average craft-brewer. It would be interesting to see the breakdown for a craft-brewer.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weyerbacher Keeps Beer Prices Constant for 2009

While this is better than prices going up, shouldn't they be coming down? Almost everything else is coming down in price--have you gone shopping lately? I see no reason why raw material prices for brewers should be any different and I expect that commodity costs for brewers are less now, too. For example, the cost of natural gas for boil energy, malt, hops, etc.

With jobs being lost and belts tightening everywhere, at some point any person reaches a limit as to what they can afford to pay and eventually good beer will be purchased less and the demand for good beer will drop. If that happens, the only way for the brewer to stay in business is pass on his cost-savings, or live off his past profits until he goes out of business or demand picks up.

I'm not picking on Weyerbacher, any and all beer prices should be coming down. And I'm not going to say I feel I'm being gouged. I feel lucky to still have a job and at the same time be able to enjoy great beer. And I'm not one to be happy when anyone, individual or small business, gets hurt by the economy.

Brewers are special people--artists really, not normal industrial manufacturers. The world would be far less elysian if we didn't have them. And their artistry, embodied in their beers, like all art, is expensive. Breweries and the brewers who operate them may in fact be cultural institutions reflecting the hope, achievement, and history of the local people, and worth preserving. Ok. Maybe not directly, but facilitators of the cultural institution we call the tavern.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. What do you think?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Best Christmas Present!

S surprised me once again with a gift membership to a beer of the month club. In years past she delighted me with memberships to the combination import/domestic club, then the all-domestic craft club, and now, the all-import club.

I have very fond memories of the past beers of the month. My first Kulmbacher Eisbock--1/4 of a litre and I was feeling it! Otter Creek Copper Ale: Yummie!

S, you always know the way to my heart and you're the best. I thank you, and my taste buds thank you!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

But who can really wait for the price of beer to drop?

Just saw this over at Minyanville.

Psychology of Deflation

Of course, all of this talk of economic stimulus is moot if the psychology of deflation has taken hold, a psychological state where dollars are saved in anticipation of ever lower prices. A state of mind kind of like, this:

""Forty to 50 percent [discounts] used to excite me," the 43-year-old writer said. "Now, I want at least 70 percent." Turner says she has taken advantage of 75 percent discounts on children's clothes in recent weeks and is willing to wait to get the same type of deals in the coming months."
"Stores Worry Holiday Sales May Be Permanent" - MSNBC

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

May you leave all swill from `08 behind,
your servant none too subtly to remind,
may the pleasures of beer not be declined,
as you crawl into the year of `09.