Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best beer Xmas gift EVAH

My beautiful and wonderful wife, being the beauty and wonder that she is, had a friend secretly ship the above selection of beers. This may not be so great for those of you out there on the west coast, but for this east coast beer guy I can't think of anything better.

For those who don't know, these are all mostly beers from the acclaimed Russian River Brewing Company. Included in this shipment was one bottle each of Pliny the Elder, Temptation, Damnation, Redemption, Blind Pig, Damnation 23, and Triple Exaltation, and 2 bottles each of Consecration and Supplication. And a bottle of Triple Exaltation from Eel River Brewing, another fine West Coast brewery (whose bottle label and beer name make it easy to confuse with a Russian River beer for the less than careful observer)

I have wanted to try these beers for years and kept hoping I would one day stumble upon them at the local package store. I had given up hope and thought that my only shot was to make a trip out west and try them at the brewery. While a trip to "Wine Country" would still be superb, I'll happily enjoy these beers while sitting here in not-so-snowy-yet New England.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking forward to January

The fall semester is finally behind me - just a few finishing touches before submitting grades. Christmas is just ahead and my shopping is almost done (yeah, yeah, I know there's only like 3 shopping days left). And that leads us into January. I have big plans for January:

1) long overdue updates of my local wild yeast "saison" and my sour, cranberry, Brett experiment

2) tasting notes for my last batch (back in August!!!), an Irish red ale, and for my 2011 Empirical Series brew, an oaked, imperial porter

3) description of my brew day process - an unusual (I think) all-grain, 3.5 gallon batch, pseudo-parti-gyle technique

4) recap of January's brew days (see below)

In addition to posting more, I am hoping to get in three brews during the month. This is ambitious for me, but I want to make up for some lost time. The brews I want to do, in order of priority:

(updated to accurately reflect what I DID end up brewing)

1) Belgian Tripel - after my wife mentioned how much she liked Chimay White after having it for the first time, I decided I wanted to take a shot at brewing my first Tripel.  Given it was a new style for me to brew, it immediately jumped to the top of the priority list.
 1) 2) Altbier - I've made an altbier each of the last two Januaries, which is when my cellar and garage are at the right temps for a cooler fermentation and a brief lagering period. I'm not yet fully happy with the recipe, so I am going to tweak it again. Of course, it's the first day of winter and outside temps approached 60°F today, so who knows if I'll have the right temperatures for this.

2) Wild yeast Kölsch - I think the wild yeast I collected would work well in a kölsch recipe and I am interested to see how the yeast handles a cooler fermentation temp. This, of course, assumes that the yeast I have stored in my fridge is still viable.

3) Kölsch - This brew got pushed into March.  Also, I opted against using my wild yeast for fear of it being too old, so I decided to stay more-or-less traditional and instead used yeast harvested from this year's Altbier.  I used a new-to-me hop, Opal, for this, so it isn't quite traditional.  I am also seriously toying with the idea of dryhopping with more Opal. I guess it might not be so traditional after all. 

3) 4) Funky Oatmeal Stout - I was actually gearing up to brew this recipe back in September, before brewing and blogging took a backseat to prepping lectures, grading papers, and driving to rinks across New England. Might as well proceed with it now.  Since this brew also got pushed into late-March I decided it wasn't really the right season to brew an Oatmeal Stout, so I decided to take this in a completely different direction and fermented it with a mix of yeasts - an English strain, a Belgian strain, and dregs from a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin's Madrugada Obscura and from a bottle of Russian River Consecration.  I'll let it sit for a while.  Maybe it will be ready for next Fall.

Well, that's the plan. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Four months and counting

I had such BIG plans for brewing this Fall. Amazing how plans can fall apart. Between a rather time-intensive teaching schedule and an equally time-intensive hockey season for my son (you wouldn't believe me if I tallied up the number of hours spent in various rinks, not to mention driving to and from them) I haven't been able to rake the leaves in my yard, never mind finding 5 hours to brew. I still have the bag of grain for the oatmeal stout I was getting ready to brew in September. I thought I was going to have time back in the beginning of November, so I went ahead and made the yeast starter for it. That's currently taking up space in my fridge.

The semester ends soon, so maybe I'll find some time to brew. Of course I still have those leaves to rake (thank goodness we've had such unseasonably mild weather - actually, I'm rather dismayed by it - 70 degrees in December isn't normal or right). I still have to get the Christmas tree up too. And buy some Christmas presents. Perhaps January will work better.

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