Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Dinner: chicken schnitzel; spaetzle (German egg noodles which I made with a little help from my stepfather); and brussel sprouts in browned butter.
Dessert: anisplatzen and pfeffernuse (German Christmas cookies); and pumpkin ice cream.
I planned the meal with an emphasis on advanced food prep, which meant I'd be free to enjoy my Oktoberfest in a state of unrushed bliss, rather than hustling about the kitchen like a mad man. The only cooking that needed to be done at supper time was the dredging and frying of the schnitzel, the boiling of the spaetzle, and the browning of the brussel sprouts. In the words of Charlie Papazian, I was able to relax, not worry, and have a homebrew!
In fact, the Choctoberfest (named after Eric's chocolate lab, Wallace) ended up one of the highest rated among the bunch. The big winners in our unprofessional tasting were Blue Point, Weyerbacher, and the Choctoberfest. Some of the comments offered on our beer included: yeasty; great aroma; light amber, cloudy color; very drinkable (which is always good); sweetly balanced; and spicy flavor.Fast forward to today (November 21), and it's been a month-and-a-half since bottling and three weeks since Christmas in October. Since I'm finally almost ready to publish this post, it seems like an opportune time for another tasting! Therefore, without further ado...
Saturday, September 5, 2009
On August 23rd, my comrades and I attended the Northwest Brewfest in Torrington, Connecticut, and cut loose we most certainly did. I mean, how can you not when surrounded by 50 brewers, wielding 100+ of their best beers, who gleefully fill your 4 oz. plastic cup to the brim, over, and over, and over again. Another expression I like is, "When in Rome..."
The Brewfest was a riotous time, and the lineup of brewers in attendance included some of the big dogs of the craft brew world (Boulder Beer, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head, and Sierra Nevada) as well a local favorites (Thomas Hooker and Willimantic BrewingCo).
Even Kona Brewing showed up, which was fun for me because my wife and I honeymooned in Kauai, and Kona was our beer of choice!
The highlight of the day for me was sampling Sierra's Kellerweis, an open fermented American hefeweizen. (I can't be expected to remember its finer points, as we were 80% of the way canned, err, through the event, when we reached Sierra's table. Suffice it to say it stood out from the crowd...at least for me.) Here's an excerpt from this Beer Advocate article about the beer's unique brewing process:
Several years ago, the brewers began working with a unique Bavarian hefeweizen yeast strain unknown in this country. This amazingly flavorful yeast was so exciting that they began working on a recipe for a traditional German hefeweizen with the Sierra Nevada twist. Traditional hefeweizen is a style that seems deceptively simple, but in reality is devilishly complex. For years the brewers weren’t satisfied with the beer; something was missing. In a flash of inspiration, an epic trip was arranged. The brewers took a whirlwind tour through the legendary Bavarian wheat breweries to see what they were doing. It was there they realized the advantages of making wheat beer using the traditional system of open fermentation.My father-in-law (see pictures above) fell in love with three of the heartier brews being poured: Brooklyn's Local 2, Dogfish Head's Palo Santo, and Sam Adam's Dunkel. He's not a fan of hoppy beers, which explains his affinity to these rich nectars.
While the boys played at the Brewfest, Danger Kitten (my wife) and Cup O'Cake (Eric's wife) got together with their friend Linda for a little Bake Over, which you can read about on their blogs here and here. Needless to say, there's nothing like capping an afternoon of beer drinking with hot-from-the-oven baked goods. Except, of course, a nap.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Anyway, the show takes a nitty-gritty look at the mean streets, schools, docks, politics and media of Baltimore, through the eyes of the police, drug dealers, unions, teachers, politicians, and journalists who call the city home. It was a riveting show which we became utterly obsessed with, and which we sadly finished in June. And, our viewing of the final episode coincided perfectly with a visit from my good friend AJ and his fiancée, Amber, who moved to Baltimore this past year to teach, and who were on their way to Petoskey, Michigan (AJ's and my hometown) via Ann Arbor. As new Baltimoreans, we've encouraged them to give the show a try. But I digress...
Turns out people do read my blog, because AJ showed up in Ann Arbor bearing this little medley:
He got the idea from this earlier post. (See #28.)
AJ brought me this six-pack of Maryland brews after reading my blog, and in honor of his kindness, and my disposition toward strong beer, I decided to taste (and write about) the barleywine...
The six-pack is long gone, but the gesture lingers on. Thanks, AJ, for pulling a solid.
Below Decks Barleywine (10% ABV)
Clipper City Brewing Company
Appearance: Ruby, deep reddish copper, lacy head that dissipates quickly.
Aroma: Malty, spicy yeasty.
Taste: Strong and warming, a malty kick in the teeth! Smoothly carbonated, neither flat nor over bubbly. Alcohol lingers on throat and nose, spicy and fruity but quickly covered by the booziness.
Overall Impression: My head felt warm after three sips, perfect for savoring on a winter's eve by the fire, not so perfect for consuming between innings at a softball game.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Today I'm writing about my first homebrewing experience: Bella Wheat - a Bavarian wheat beer I brewed on February 29, 2008.
And on November 14: ...Elena and I chilled and drank the last bottle of Bella Wheat. The beer matured into what Elena describes as "thick and caramely." I was impressed by the head that developed, and the rich, sweet aroma. The sweetness approaches unpleasant, with subtle cidery hints. The effects of priming sugar over time? In any case, the character of the beer is much changed from the beer I brewed and drank this spring. This is an argument in favor of setting aside a few beers from each batch to sample over time. In this case, 9 months later.
Bell Wheat was my first born, and consequently holds a special place in my heart. I was very proud to share that beer with friends, family, and coworkers, even though the process was simple enough for a toddler to pull off and the final product reminded people of anything but wheat...
I'm think about brewing another Wheat, or maybe a Saison, this summer, once Elena and I move back to Connecticut in July. One tempting recipe I found recently was for an Apricot Wheat, which called for pureed apricots and sounded like a real summer hit. I found the recipe while surfing Bryon's blog. The recipe was offered by Hunington in response to the all important question, What should I brew for a summer family get together? Good question Bryon. And great answer Hunington. Stay tuned...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Out of kindness, or is it an aversion to promoting mediocrity, I won't bother naming the third brewpub; but, the other brewpub, Arbor Brewing Company, is great. I'm particularly fond of their Sacred Cow IPA, which tastes a little like apricots and pine needles (in a good way). A real summer treat! Elena, who happens to be an excellent baker and happens to have an excellent blog devoted to her baking adventures (no, I am not above shamelessly promoting my wife's blog), really likes ABC's Brasserie Blonde, a citrusy, orange-hued Belgian ale flaunting a subtle spiciness.
As a former English teacher, I'm a big fan of analogies. The best analogy I can come up with to compare Grizzly and Arbor (ABC) would be high school cross country teams...just hear me out. ABC is the well coached team with a stable of finely conditioned athletes. From top to bottom, they know how to compete and win more meets than they lose because of their depth. In other words, you will rarely be disappointed with a pint from ABC. Grizzly, on the other hand, won't win many meets, because the few star runners (and no Prefontaines, mind you) on the squad are not enough to compensate for the slackers. Their Bearpaw Porter is pretty good (a B+ on Beer Advocate), but I've had a few duds, too.
Today's pint, however, is not one of them. I'm drinking Wee Owen's Roggen from the rotating tap; a beer and a style - roggenbier - I hadn't heard of before this afternoon. Beer Advocate describes roggenbier as a traditional German style rye beer with a pronounced spiciness and a slightly sour flavor. I'm not getting much rye from the beer, and the color is sort of a hazy peach (as opposed to the coppery/red you'd expect in a rye), but there is a pleasant citrus flavor mingling with a mild sourness, accompanied by a fruity aroma and a yeasty, chewiness, all balanced out by a mildly bitter finish. Probably wouldn't win awards in the "rye" category, but a yummy brew, nonetheless.