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?

Big brew week

Big Week

Have been busy this week. Brewed a second batch of the English Pale Ale for home consumption last Sunday. Tuesday, brewed Josh’s Wedding brew, to serve at his reception. It’s a Honey Ginger Kolsch. A perfect marriage of Eastern European and Japanese flavors. Can’t wait have Josh and Mirela try it and see the looks on their faces. Looks like a surefire winner.

Today I’ll transfer the Pale Ale to the secondary and a little after the Honey Ginger Kolsch stops bubbling away, I’ll transfer that to the secondary.

Met with the Riverside Brew Club last Monday. We’re planning on entering a lot of competitions this year. The guys seem to like my Raspberry Mocha Stout and want me to enter it around. Think I will. It’s a good beer, rich and hearty.

This week, I uncapped a bottle of my Pepper Porter. I know, it’s early, only a week in the bottle. Deep rich color, silky mouth feel, and a subtle but insistent presence of peppers. Still a bit under-carbonated, but that will pick up in a week or two. It’s a beer that will only improve with age.

Pepper beer would go great with any spicy food; Mexican, Indian or even American Barbeque.

Festina Peche

imageOne of my favorite Dogfiish Head brews. Crisp, sour notes and savory. Love this beer. I was not a lover of sour beers but after brewing an apricot wheat beer, I decided that they weren’t so bad. After finishing the batch, sharing the brew with friends and family, I grew to appreciate them. There’s another apricot wheat in the works real soon…

And probably, a peach sour beer as well.

 

Pilgrimage

Heading off to Milton, Delaware then Rehobeth to pay homage to the granddaddy of breweries and brewpubs, Dogfish Head. Actually, taking my son, Josh for a guy’s weekend/bachelor party. Accompanying are Brother Jordan, Cousin Alex, and future Brother-in-law Austin.

I’m dying to try some great brews and food.   DFH has been an idol of mine for a while as they set the standard for innovative beers. Their Festina Peche is absolutely to die for.

I will be writing about the brews we sample and what we see.

Later people.

Charlie