Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finally - #IHP2015 Truman's Double Stout

This past Saturday, Mrs V and I hosted a little soiree at our place, ostensibly to christen the patio we had built last autumn, but it pissed down from about 11am so we were restricted to the kitchen, which is where the best parties happen anyway.

At the beginning of the day I wasn't sure whether my version of the 1860 Truman's Double Stout would be ready. Having tired of bottling batches of beer, I have started using my 1 gallon cubitainers, which I refer to as 'caskitainers', more and more, and I had 2 caskitainers of stout sitting in my cellar. As I say though, I wasn't sure if I wanted to inflict the beer on friends without having tried it myself, beyond the sample from packaging the beer, which was pretty damned delicious.


A few jars to the good later, I decided to throw caution to the wind and pulled out my little homemade beer engine and the first of the caskitainers. With everything hooked up, I poured myself a sample...


My goodness, this was nice. Huge great dollops of bittersweet chocolate, kind of like the 1lb bars of Belgian dark chocolate you can buy at Trader Joe's. In the background lingered a roasty bite that stopped the beer from being cloying, and the came through in the finish an assertive hop bite. The body was full and luscious, bordering on lascivious, and the densely creamy head could almost convince the unknowing drinker that it had been served through an abomination nitro tap, actually there was a little kink in the line which caused an effect not unlike a sparkler, the natural way to drink cask ale anyway.


Suitably emboldened, I offered our friends glasses of the beer, which went down very well, much to my relief, and so we finished off a caskitainer and a half. Thankfully I still have half a cask in the beer engine, and with no extraneous oxygen getting in, should still be in fine fettle when I finish it off tonight...

Every prospect pleases, and I might have to brew more of this.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

In Praise of Contract Brewing

Most Saturday mornings I do the weekly shop, often while Mrs V is running more miles than I care to imagine. It's become something of a semi-regular routine, she runs, I go to Trader Joe's in Charlottesville. I like Trader Joe's in general, and not just because they have good Nurmburger bratwurst actually from Germany, or because they have a pretty good cheese selection, there's just something nice about shopping there, especially right at opening time when it is quiet. Our local branch also has a reasonable beer selection.

Thus it was I decided I should try all Josephsbrau beers they had a available and got single bottles of their hefeweizen, dunkelweizen, Bohemian lager, Vienna lager, and Spring Prost maibock. Over the past week I have drunk them all and found them all to my liking, and in that I am really not surprised. As I understand it the beers I bought are brewed under contract by Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, and in my experience Gordon Biersch brewers are well trained and reliable, Jason Oliver at Devils Backbone being a prime example.


With the price of independent beer seemingly climbing ever upwards, with scant regard sometimes for the beer actually being worth drinking, it is good to know that I can get a six pack of well made, quality beer for $6.50 rather than $10.


This all got me thinking about contract brewing and that it is actually a good for consumers when stores are contracting good 'craft' breweries like Gordon Biersch for Central European styles, Firestone Walker for the Mission St series, and Unibroue for their Vintage Ale. It is good because it means that well made beer doesn't have to become the preserve of those who can afford it. It's also something of a challenge to craft beer in my opinion, in that breweries need to justify the price of a six pack in quality terms to make me willing to spend the extra 42%.


So let's have more stores taking a leaf out of Trader Joe's book and having their own brands of beer, made by reputable breweries with a focus on quality and reasonable price. Oh and while they're at it, perhaps Traders could sign up a brewery to make a best bitter for them? Timothy Taylor for example....

Friday, April 10, 2015

Announcement for Session 99 - Localising Mild

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. (You can find more information on The Session on Brookston Beer Bulletin).
The topic for May's edition of The Session is Localising Mild.

Each May CAMRA in the UK encourages drinkers to get out and drink Mild Ales. This May is the first, as far as I am aware, American Mild Month, which has 45 breweries, so far, committed to brewing mild ales. Of those 45 breweries some are brewing the traditional English dark and pale mild styles, while a couple have said they will brew an 'American Mild', which American Mild Month describes as:
a restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present, shine through

An essential element of the American Mild is that it uses American malts, hops, and the clean yeast strain that is commonly used over here. Like the development of many a beers style around the world, American Mild is the localisation of a beer from elsewhere, giving a nod to the original, but going its own way.

That then is the crux of the theme for The Session in May, how would you localise mild? What would an Irish, Belgian, Czech, or Australian Mild look like? Is anyone in your country making such a beer? For homebrewers, have you dabbled in cross-cultural beer making when it comes to mild?

The first Friday of May is also the first day of May. May Day, or International Workers Day, and it is apt that a beer style closely associated with the industrial regions of England should be the theme for the Session. Have at it folks!

To participate in the Session, write a post on the topic of Localising Mild, and leave a comment here with a link to your post on or before May 1st 2015, and I will include it in my Round-up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

#IHP2015 - How Not To Get Project Done

There is a carboy in my basement filled with a wonderful looking black liquid that promises much, if the raw wort was anything to go by. The carboy is still holding my version of the International Homebrew Project 2015 beer, a double stout from the 19th Century originally brewed by Truman's in London.

I have no defense other than being mildly frustrated that the Prime Dose bottle conditioning product from Northern Brewer is out of stock (an excellent product that has cured all my packaging woes, and works great for cask conditioning as well!) and I haven't seemed to find the time for packaging beer of late, including the Extra Alt-Pils that is still in the lagering tank!

Anyway, while I may suck at shit done and organised, others do not, including Szabolcs from Hungary who wrote about his version of the beer here, as well as taking some seriously nice pictures.

If any of the other brewers that made the beer have written up posts about their versions, drop me a line or put a link in the comments.

As for me, I will package it one evening this week into my little casks and write about it in a couple of weeks once it is properly conditioned.