Life and Brewing

Life & Brewing

Nagasaki Kolsch

Heritage series beer. Traditional German Kolsch with Ginger and honey elements.

“Life is what happens when you were busy making other plans….” – John Lennon

I have tried to brew at least twice a month regardless of whatever else goes on. I have managed to maintain that level, with the occasional third monthly brew thrown in for the entire winter and spring.. But, doing that, working a full time job and being a first time Grandparent has taken it’s toll some of my activities.

I have managed to brew my scheduled number of brews per month, but have been less creative than usual. I did a 12 gallon batch of my Nagasaki Kolsch, which turned out fantastic. It’s destined to be a regular at the brew pub when it opens. I did a 12 gallon batch so half went into the keg and half into bottles. I’ve decided that brews I am experimenting with go five gallons, brews I’m comfortable with go for the maximum. It’s nice having 12 gallons of a beer. It seems that five gallons goes way to fast if it’s a tasty brew.

Porter

My latest porter. It may become the base for a Russian-Cuban Heritage beer. I’m thinking mango?

I’m planning to work on more of my heritage series. I still have Russia, Cuba, Turkey and Austria to go. I am imagining a dark beer, maybe a stout with tropical fruit flavors, guava or mango perhaps. It would be in honor of My father-in-law, Jack, who started in Russia/Poland and grew up in Cuba.

Not sure what beers they have in Turkey, but I’ll keep trying.

For now, I’ll keep brewing every other week until I run out of room. Relax…Have a homebrew.

In fermentum veritas!

Brewday Preppers

The weather out here has been frightful, the fire, so delightful.

Okay, I know, wrong season, but hey, it’s really more of a winter song than a holiday song.  And with it snowing every two or three days, it has been a downright pitiful January and February for homebrewers in the Northeast. The only positive note is…At least it’s not Boston. (Sorry guys, but you may not see the driveway for quite a while)

So in the meantime, I’ve been prepping. Not Doomsday Prepping, Brewday Prepping! I have been pouring over recipes, ordering sanitizer, bottle brushes, tinkering with equipment. In short, going crazy. I pity my wife. If there’s a stretch of days where the weather is over 40, she may not see me again unless she wanders into the garage. (And don’t get between me and the brew kettles)

So I wait, and tinker, and read. Soon, real soon now……

Winter Doldrums

6076532_01bebb5fee_zSpring cannot get here soon enough. It isn’t the worst winter we’ve had; compared to last year, it’s downright mild. But it has been a cold January and February. Hence, the garage has been too cold to brew in. Yes, the propane burners make it tolerable, but getting to that point is pretty bad.

I prefer being able to keep the garage doors open while I brew, or even move the show outdoors. There’s nothing like the feeling of brewing on a nice sunny day wearing street clothes, sans coat. Moving about with a thick outer coat on is an accident waiting to happen. I am waiting to stand near the boil kettle and start smelling charring wool. I’ve heard it can happen. (My summer grilling experience isn’t complete until I’ve singed all the hair off my arms)

Soon, real soon. The weather will break, and so will my budget as I ramp up production. I have upgraded to a Keggle setup so it’s 12 gallons at a time from now on. I plan to bottle a good deal of it, and keg some as well.

One good thing about wintertime, it gives you time to plan. I have several new recipes I’d like to brew and can’t wait.

Soon, real soon now…..

Best Craft Beers – Consumer Reports

Was_soll_ich_werden_34You know you’ve arrived if you’re finally being rated in Consumer Reports

Best Craft Beers – Consumer Reports.

Until now, craft beer has enjoyed modest publicity, being reviewed in mostly beer oriented publications and local media. Yes, we’ve had the occasional national article. Being rated by Consumer Reports kicks it up to a whole new level. It means we matter.

Interestingly, CR defines craft beer as beer that is produced by “small, independent, and traditional” brewers and “produces at most 6 million barrels of beer a year.” Six million barrels? I think it’s time we come up with a new definition of craft beer. I like the “small and independent” but “traditional”? I would hardly call Sam Calagione “traditional.” Let’s go with innovative. Six million barrels? Maybe in the case of Dogfish Head, but I doubt Neshaminy Creek Brewing, a Great American Beer Festival 2013 Gold Medal winner for their Churchville Lager, produces six million barrels. BeerTrotter, a website that reviews GABF winners, has Neshaminy Creek at “…around 1,100 barrels brewed in 2012, the building may be churning out as many as 7,000 barrels within a few years.”

I have some issues with the article. Shock Top being listed as a CR Best Buy? It’s inclusion as a craft beer is appalling, but that’s what you get when you define a craft as under six million barrels production. Most craft beer snobs sneer at their inclusion. To their credit, CR includes a statement that they  “…included craft beers that market themselves as such.” That explains a lot, but made me wrinkle my brow a bit. I think they should have refined their definition a bit before undertaking this type of review.

So what makes a craft beer? I think I’m going to go with a paraphrase of Justice Potter Stewart’s quote on pornography, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“Craft beer”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”

What is your definition of a craft beer?

Happy New Year to you all

Happy New BeerWelcome 2015

2014 is officially in the books. No more can happen, bad or good that year. There were some high points, and some low points. But this is not where we discuss that.

One thing that has remained constant is beer. You can have one (or two) after a tough day at work to take the edge off. You can have several while celebrating a life event. What has changed over the years, is that the beer has gotten better. We are no longer tied to one of several mass-produced types of lager. We don’t have to settle for mass-produces mediocrity. The variety of beer out there, is staggering. Whether you like light beer that does have flavor, an amber with some bite to it, or a stout you can almost chew, it’s out there.

At times the choices can be daunting. Sometimes I spend more time mix and matching a six pack then I do in cooking the dinner for the beers. But I am rewarded when I take that first sip.

Lately, there has been some bantering on twitter about hops. Some consider the pro-hops faction to be beer snobs. Others want nothing but porters and stouts to be produced. All I can say is, be glad that whatever your preferences, you have a multitude of beers to choose from. We live in the Beer Days of Thunder. Breweries are opening at an incredible pace, each making a wide variety of types. If you can’t find a beer style that suits you today, you must not like beer.

Happy New Year.

In Fermentum Veritas

Charlie “Lightstone” Blitzstein

Joe Cocker – Dead at 70

Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker, Dead at 70.

RIP – Joe Cocker.

One of the formative musicians of my era has left us. My heart is heavy. Joe Cocker was, and is one of my favorite artists. His rendition of “The Letter” and “Unchain My Heart”

All I can think of is how to immortalize this talented man in a brew. I need to ponder this one a bit. I’m going to listen to his entire repertoire for inspiration. It’s the least I can do for such a talented man.

Any suggestions?

Pa. Agency Ruling Could Mean Home-Delivered Beer « CBS Philly

Pa. Agency Ruling Could Mean Home-Delivered Beer « CBS Philly.

Strangely enough, I remember beer deliveries to my grandparent’s house when I was very young. My grandfather received one case of Ballentine Ale every week. The beer distributor would drive down the street, stop, sling a case over his shoulder and put it in the back porch shed. He would grab the case of empties, collect payment and leave

Fifty years later, it’s now legal…..

Man turns to beer to fend off attack in Dorchester | Boston Herald

Man turns to beer to fend off attack in Dorchester | Boston Herald.

I think that every one of these here fifty United States of ‘merica need to pass, immediately, a Stand Your Brew law. Who knew that you didn’t need to brandish a firearm to defend yourself?

Seriously, beer gets maligned far to often. Here’s to a positive aspect of beer drinking. Now you can say, conclusively, that beer saved your life. And have data to back it up.