Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When in Texas...

Everyone gave me the same two bits of advice for things to do on my recent trip to West Texas: "Order one of those thousand-ounce steaks," and "have some Shiner Bock."

Although I managed to avoid the first (not easy, in a land where menus read: "Beef. And a few other things."), I decided I should probably have a go at the second. And so I did--twice, in fact; once on draft, and once from a bottle.

My opinion? While die-hard Texans (you know who you are) will probably consider this blasphemy, the verdict on Shiner Bock is: "meh." I really don't see what all the fuss is about. I mean, it's not bad; compared to your generic macro, it's much more flavorful. But I wouldn't rate it as particularly anything special.

Some of Shiner Brewing's other lineup, on the other hand, is quite nice. In particular, I enjoyed the two bottles of Black Lager I had. I didn't get a chance to try the Rauchbier (a smoked Helles), but I wouldn't hesitate to do so, if and when the opportunity presents itself.

In other news, this past weekend was Lochmere's Baronial Birthday. I had several things in bottle and on tap, and was pleased to sample the offerings of a couple of other brewers. But for that, you'll have to wait for my next post.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not a braggart, I...

But a braggot, maybe. I've been contemplating this one for quite some time, and am still not certain exactly what I'm going to do. I've got the honey--a full gallon of killer-bee honey, rich and tasty. To this, I'll add a basic beer-like concoction, and ferment. But what sort of concoction?

The grain bill is the obvious place to start. Malt will add a both color and a depth of flavor to the brew. But what to add? The BJCP guidelines seem to suggest that the braggot should be built off of a base beer style, but Ken Schramm indicates that it doesn't necessarily have to be so. I think that my course of action will be to do a basic, mostly light malt brew. I'll add some slightly darker grains, Special-B and/or a bit of Crystal 60L, just enough to add a reddish tint.

The hops are next on the hit parade. All of my sources call them "optional" in a braggot. I think a light hopping with something in a floral/noble bittering hop, just to cut some of the intense sweetness, is in order. Certainly nothing IPA-like; I'm thinking more the hopping levels of a mild ale, possibly even slightly less. I don't know necessarily what type of hops; perhaps a nice Hallertau?

Finally, there's the yeast to consider. Schramm's samples use Lalvin D-47, which supposedly flocs well and works to 12-14%. I think a better choice would be to start with a clean, alcohol-tolerant beer yeast, then perhaps finish up with something else in the wine variety, to "clean up" some of the residual sugar. A healthy lager yeast, combined with a cold ferment, could do marvelous things. But then, perhaps going straight for a wine yeast to start would be good. I'll have to play on Promash and look at starting gravity, attenuation, and alcohol percentages, then decide.

Lastly, while it's likely a while off, I'll need to consider containers. This won't be one to keg--it'll be far too strong for that. Small bottles will be in order. Perhaps after a light filtration and foce-carbonation. The bottles I've got on order from Shiloh Pottery will be lovely for presentation, too. I think I'll enjoy this process.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recent events

So, I returned last week from my previously-mentioned trip to Pensacola, Florida. Good fortune smiled on me, and I discovered a lovely place called "Hopjacks". I can't say much about it, beyond that it was one of the better bars I've found, and it had the added advantage of being a really cool pizza joint. The wait-staff/bartenders were all extremely friendly and helpful, which was a big plus. The pizza was great. The 36 beers on tap were good, too, not to mention the additional 50 or 60 or so bottled varieties. All in all, I'd rate it a 9 out of 10, were I the sort to rate these types of things.

This past weekend was Atlantian Coronation; we have our first Russian King and Queen (Tsar and Tsarina?). I was in attendance, with the majority of a set of full Russian court garb. It would have been a full set, but there were a series of delays, which resulted in the Shuba not being completed. All told, though, my Lady Wife did a spectacular job on it--I looked great!

I brought the Great Beer Cart to the event, as well; I had just gotten it all set up, when we were made aware that the site was dry--even though that particular fact didn't make it into any of the event literature... I had "intended" to tap the SMaSH Pale Ale and a Pils. Everything made it home, safe and sound, and I can now report that the SMaSH came out fairly well, with good malt-hop balance, while the Pils ended up nearly IPA-like in hoppiness. I shall have to revisit that recipe.

The upcoming weekend is a four-day, but I'm not yet certain when I'll be brewing next... I may have to attend the funeral of a close friend's wife, which really isn't the sort of thing to encourage the gaiety of a Brew Day. With luck (and planning), though, I can arrange one before Lochmere's Baronial Birthday at the end of the month.

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