Showing posts with label Pale Ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pale Ale. Show all posts

April 12, 2012

Finally: Homebrewing in Panama!

At long last -- after a good ten weeks of buying, importing, and smuggling equipment and ingredients, I am officially homebrewing in Panama!

This also marks my first exploit into all-grain brewing. Instead of using a combination of malt extract and grains, all-grain brewing obtains fermentable sugars exclusively from malted grains. I used the "Brew in a Bag" (BIAB) method for this first attempt, eliminating the need for a big pieces of equipment: a mash tun. Instead of mashing the grain in one container and boiling the wort with another, the Brew in a Bag method allows you to do everything in one vessel.


First, let me introduce you to a few of my new toys:

April 8, 2012

Panama Brews Part 3: Una Noche de Cerveza

Last week, I teamed up with a couple other expats (Katie Garstin & Blayne Ladner) to present Una Noche de Cerveza. The mission: to jump-start craft beer culture in Panama City with an exclusive beer pairing dinner. Blayne generously opened up the Super Gourmet for the evening while Katie and I put together a menu consisting of four courses and five, 6-ounce beers to accompany each course:

March 6, 2012

Panama Brews Part 2: The Imports (or Are They?)

Panama City, located on the Southern access of the Panama Canal, is considered by many to be the economic hub of Latin America. Each year, roughly 14,000 ships pass through the Canal, which in 2011 generated some $1.7 billion in revenue for this developing country. These numbers will surely increase with the ongoing Canal Expansion Project. Not surprisingly, economic activity like this attracts international attention -- which translates directly to the selection on the beer aisle.

January 27, 2012

Cooking with Beer

One major benefit of being a homebrewer is that you often have a variety of really good beer on hand. This surplus of cerveza, while keeping you and everyone you know sufficiently buzzed, also lends itself to experimentation in the kitchen. Over the past couple months, I've used beer to make stir-fried brussels sprouts, spicy spent grain stew, and chocolate stout cupcakes.

Pale Ale & Garlic Brussels Sprouts

My girlfriend and I really love brussels sprouts. Sure, by themselves they're pretty bitter, but if you cook them right (for me that usually means lots of garlic), they're delicious. Plus, they're really good for you. Brussels have practically no fat (we'll fix that don't worry), are packed with vitamins C and K, have a nice dose of fiber and protein, and are low in the glycemic index. So, when I saw this recipe from Stone's new cookbook on BillyBrew.com, I knew I had to give it a shot - with a few personal tweaks, of course.

Steps 1 - 3: Steam 1 pound of brussels in salted water for about 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Slice the brussels in half lengthwise.

Brussels post-steam and about 6 cloves chopped garlic.

Steps 4 - 5: Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (that's good fat!). Start with high heat but take it down to medium before it starts smoking. Add 1/4 pound diced pancetta (the tasty fat!) and cook til brown.

Not good fat - but yummy fat.
Steps 6 - 7: Add 6 cloves of minced garlic. Turn up the heat and add the brussels. Stir fry for 4 - 5 minutes.


Step 8: Add a bottle of pale ale. Nothing excessively hoppy, because the beer will cook down and that bitterness will be condensed. The recipe calls for Stone Pale Ale, but since I didn't have any of that, I used some of my homebrewed Amarillo Pale Ale in a Stone IPA bottle. Is that wrong? I don't think so. Cook til the beer is almost all gone.


Steps 9 - 11: Use a 1/4 cup of vegetable stock to deglaze the pan, let it cook off completely, and transfer the brussels to a bowl or serving dish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with sun-dried tomatoes and parmigiano-reggiano cheese and serve!


Yup, I ate it all in one sitting.  The only thing I'd do differently next time is make sure that pancetta is nice and crispy.  Man, I'm getting hungry...

Spicy Grain Soup


Whether a homebrewer or a commercial brewer, one question that comes up a lot is what to do with your grains after they've been mashed. I suppose you could just throw them out with the garbage, but I usually compost my spent grains and trub. The grains, however, can also be used to make bread, cookies, or in this case, soup. I decided to hold on to some of my spent grains to use in this recipe from Food & Wine in place of the barley, bulgur, and rice.

Long story short, this soup came out great. Basically I skipped steps 1 and 2 from the original recipe because the grains we already cooked through the brewing process. You start by sauteing the onions, garlic, and chile peppers, roughly chopped because it all gets pureed in the blender later. Then comes the broth, cilantro, diced tomatoes, and seasonings. Just for fun, I substituted about half of the vegetable stock with some of my homebrewed chocolate stout.


After cooking this mixture for 45 minutes, it all gets pureed together. ***Let the soup cool a little before you blend it and be careful. You don't want hot soup to spill all over you, so fill the blender less than half way full to start with, blend in small batches, and hold the top on TIGHT. You'll end up with something like this:


Then come the mushrooms, black beans, carrot, zucchini and parsnips. Trader Joe's carries a bag of pre-diced parsnips and rutabagas that will work just fine.




For the last step, all I had to do was take a couple cups from my spent grains and throw them in the soup. There's still plenty of protein and fiber in those grains to make this a very healthy meal! Unlike what we have here for dessert...


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes


I don't have any photos from this experiment, but let me tell you -- these were pure evil, in the best sense of the word. My girlfriend and I made these right before Christmas using this recipe from the Food Network. Again, I used my chocolate stout in this recipe, but I'm sure Guinness will work just fine. The only tweaks we made were to use margarine instead of butter and to cut the powdered sugar in the cream cheese icing down to 3/4 cup. That was plenty sweet for us.


These turned out to be some of the best cupcakes I've ever had. They were super moist for days and the icing had flavor, not just sugar. From scratch is really the way to go.


So get in the kitchen already -- what can you make with homebrew or beer from your local brewery?

December 6, 2011

Chicago, IL - My Kind of (Beer) Town

Finally, I've had a chance to check out the city Sinatra's been singing about -- Chicago.

I was in the Windy City last week taking a Start Your Own Brewery course through the Siebel Institute.  The 3-day seminar was held at the Goose Island Pub in the Clybourn neighborhood and covered a wide range of topics, including business plan development, site selection and construction, brewpub operations, starting a packaging brewery, distribution, marketing, and much more.  The class was moderated by Ray Daniels, author of the highly-rated homebrewing manual Designing Great Beers.  For each segment of the class, Ray brought in different players from the Chicago and Midwest beer scene to talk about their experiences.  I was pleasantly surprised with both the breadth and depth of the course.  Hearing from people who had actually been successful in the beer business was both inspiring and eye-opening.

DAY 1 started with a brief overview of the course and introductions by each of the students in the class.  The 53 students came from all over the country.  I noticed the class was about 80-90% bearded male, a trend commented on here and inspiring this brewer and his blog.  Anyways, I digress.

October 3, 2011

Athens, GA: Terrapin Beer Company

It turned out to be quite the beer-soaked weekend in Georgia. On Saturday, my girlfriend and I visited the Terrapin Beer Company, makers of the tasty Terrapin Rye Pale Ale. I was curious to sample some of their other offerings.

We arrived at the brewery right around sunset, along with about half of UGA's undergrad population dressed in red. Undeterred by the crowd, we picked up our souvenir pint glasses and got to sampling. Terrapin had five beers on tap that day:
  • Terrapin Rye Pale Ale - The flagship beer, Terrapin Rye won 1st Place American Pale Ale at the Great American Beer Festival in 2002 (its first year in production).
  • Hop Karma Brown IPA - A combination Brown Ale and India Pale Ale, Hop Karma had a great balance of hops with caramel malts.
  • Hopsecutioner IPA - Aggressively hopped with a huge dose of citrus flavor.
  • Golden Ale - The most sessionable beer of the bunch, the Golden Ale went down smooth.
  • So Fresh & So Green, Green - This was my favorite. Wet-hopped with locally grown Challenger hops, it had a very unique hops flavor that was far from overpowering.

September 27, 2011

There's a New Brewery in NYC

I just found out from Twitter that's there's a new brewery in the Big Apple.  The Bronx Brewery started production this summer with their flagship Bronx Pale Ale (6.3% alcohol).  Has anyone tried it yet?

Click here for a list of where your can find it.

I wonder how the Brooklyn Brewery feels about the competition...


September 13, 2011

Oregano Hoptoberfest

As promised in my Oktoberfest post, it's time to fill you in on my latest homebrewing experiment: an Oregano Hoptoberfest.  It won't be an Oktoberfest so much as a Pale Ale -- an Oktoberfest is a malt-driven lager whereas this will be (hopefully) a hoppier ale.  With oregano.  The name I came up with is as much a salute to the season as it is descriptive of the final brew.  In any case, it's got a nice ring to it.

My recipe was inspired by the Oregano Pale Ale recipe in The Homebrewer's Garden, which you can find here on the Brewlog.  I made some changes to try to get the beer closer to an IPA, but with still a bit of German influence:

6 lbs Golden LME
1 lb Organic Munich Malt 10L (catch the German reference?)
1 lb Organic Caramel Malt 20L (gotta love organic)
.75 lb Smoked Malt
1 oz. Northern Brewer hops for 60 mins
1 oz Centennial hops for 30 mins
.5 oz Tettnanger hops (German) for 15 mins
1 oz fresh, locally grown oregano for 15 mins
.5 oz Tettnanger hops for 5 mins
Wyeast American Ale yeast

Estimated IBUs: 65
Estimated ABV: 5.8%

Alright, so there's a lot going on here -- some malts to give the beer a copper color and a hint of smokiness, some stronger American hop varieties paired with a more mellow German one, and of course the oregano, which I found to be pretty pungent.  I'm very curious to see how it all turns out.  Here's how things went down on brew day (exactly two years after my first brew day!):

Here are the different hops and the oregano, all ready to go, in the order that they'll be added to the boil.  The camera flash really brings out the difference between the hops.

Then we mash the grains (in other words, steep at around 150-155F for 45 mins):


Next, the grains are strained from the wort and rinsed with hot water: 


We add some filtered water to get the boil volume right, then add the liquid malt extract:


Now we're cooking!  The hops start going in, following the recipe schedule:


Now the oregano.  I had this straining bag that's gonna save me the trouble of trying to remove the oregano leaves.  I tasted some of the run-off from the bag and boy was it bitter!:


At the end of the 60 minute boil, the wort cools, the yeast gets thrown in, and then we wait.  I should be
 able to bottle this batch in about two weeks, then it should age for about a month to let the oregano mellow out.

I'll keep you posted!

UPDATE:

10/24/11 - Oregano Hoptoberfest placed 2nd out of 12 entries in the Spice, Herb, and Vegetable Beer category at the 5th annual Virginia Beer Blitz!

September 4, 2011

Afton, VA - Blue Mountain Brewery

I visited Blue Mountain Brewery last month with on a day-trip to Charlottesville, VA. I was particularly interested in checking out this brewery for its hop farm, where they grow Cascade and Centennial hops to use in a couple of their beers. Blue Mountain sure had a great location, with fantastic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains all around. Only about 20 miles west of Charlottesville, the place was doing pretty good business.

It was about 105F that afternoon, so cold beer was definitely in order. We opted for a couple of flights, which included (from right to left) Blue Mountain Lager, a Belgian White Ale called Blidö de Blanche, Rockfish Wheat Ale, Full Nelson Pale Ale, Mandolin Artisanal Ale (a Belgian Tripel), and a Kölsch.


To pair with our sampler, we got a cheese plate of local meats and cheeses as well as a selection of fruit. The salamis and cheeses really helped to bring put some of the beers into context.

The Classic Lager was just that - classic - and very refreshing. The Belgian ales, the Blanche and the Mandolin, were respectable. The Blanche was very light, making use of a champagne yeast, which seemed to give it a bit of lemony tartness. The Mandolin, on the other hand, was pretty sweet, with strong caramel and toffee notes. The Kölsch seemed very accurate to style, with a malty lager/pilsener taste accented by noble Hallertauer hops. The Rockfish Wheat was very nice for 100 degree weather - it was a filtered wheat so lighter bodied, crisp, somewhat sweet, with a hint of citrus. My favorite of the bunch though was the brewery's flagship beer, the Full Nelson Pale Ale. Using the brewery's own Cascade hops, this beer was just what the doctor ordered on that sweltering afternoon. Copper in color, it had a nice malt background with a burst of fresh Cascades - very well balanced.

Sufficiently cooled, we stepped outside to check on the hop vines real quick. We had just an hour to make it to Starr Hill Brewery before it closed for the day...


August 31, 2011

Beer Book: The Homebrewer's Garden

The Homebrewer's Garden: How to Easily Grow, Prepare, and Use Your Own Hops, Malts, Brewing HerbsThis book was written for the true Do-It-Yourself-er. The Homebrewer's Garden is all about growing and using with your own ingredients for making beer. The authors explain clearly and in depth what it takes to grow hops, grains, and herbs for your homebrew. Included are diagrams and complete instructions for:
  • building a hop trellis
  • planting hops rhizomes and caring for the bines
  • building an oast (for drying your hops)
  • growing over 40 different herbs to use in your beer (including basil, coriander, mint, and rosemary)
  • growing, harvesting, and malting your own barley and other brewing grains
The authors also include over 25 recipes to get you started brewing with your homegrown ingredients: Mixed Berry Porter, Oregano Pale Ale, Ginger Ale, Quinoa Bitter, Chicha de Jora, Pumpkin Ale, and Dandelion Stout, just to name a few.

Whatever your skill in brewing, this book will open up countless new possibilities! Check it out!

August 24, 2011

Brewing 101: Amarillo Pale/Amarillo Peach

Since my previous post on homebrewing, I've been mighty busy visiting breweries in North Carolina and Virginia - and working on my next batch of beer.  Several of you offered some good tips, so I made a few modifications to the recipe.  If you're interested in making your own beer, this post will give you a taste of what's involved.

Here's the updated recipe for what I decided to call Amarillo Pale and Amarillo Peach:

1 lb. Flaked Wheat
1 lb. Organic Carapils Malted Barley
3 lbs. Briess Pilsen Extra Light LME (liquid malt extract)
3 lbs. Wheat LME
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 oz. Amarillo hops for 60 mins
1/4 oz. Amarillo hops for the final 15 mins
1/4 oz. Amarillo hops for the final 5 mins
WLP001 California Ale Yeast
The 5 gallon batch is to be divided into three parts, two of which will utilize locally-grown, hand-picked peaches as adjuncts.


1.  The first, least glamorous, but probably most important, step in making beer is to sanitize everything that may come in contact with your beer.  Otherwise you risk getting bacteria or wild yeast in your beer that could ruin the whole batch.

2.  Steep the grains if you have them.  In this case I did a "mini-mash" using a pound of flaked wheat for body and a pound of organic Carapils malted barley for flavor and fermentable sugar.  I put the grains into a gallon of water and did my best to keep the temperature between 150F and 155F to pull the enzymes from the mash without over-cooking them.


3.  Next, strain the grains, reserving the water (now called wort) and wash, or sparge, the grains with hot water to make sure you get all the good stuff out.  You can discard these spent grains now - mine go straight to the compost.


4.  Then mix in the malt extract and turn up the heat.  I used 3 lbs extra light liquid malt extract and 3 lbs wheat liquid malt extract, hoping for a light-colored beer with a decent amount of alcohol content.  Most homebrewers lack the equipment necessary to process 10-20 pounds of grain, so a malt extract, either driy (DME) or liquid (LME), is an easy way to get fermentable sugars into your wort.   Homebrewers might start with all-extract recipes and work their way up to all-grain as they become more proficient.


5.  Now the countdown begins.  I boiled the wort for 1 hour, adding the hops at different points in the boil to achieve bitterness, flavor, and aroma.  I chose Amarillo hops to (hopefully) complement the peaches.

Hops for homebrewing usually come in pellet form.
6.  When the boil is over, cool the wort to less than 90F.  Move to your primary fermenter, add enough water (preferably filtered) to make 5 gallons.  Take a reading of the Original Gravity (to calculate alcohol content later), then pitch the yeast.

7.  Over the next several days, the yeast will feed on the sugars in the beer, thus producing alcohol and CO2.

8.  About halfway through fermentation, move your beer from one container to another, adding any additional ingredients that you may have.  In this case, peaches, which I had already sliced, pitted, and frozen beforehand.  Amarillo Pale got no peaches, Amarillo Peach got two, and Amarillo Double Peach got four.

Amarillo Peach on the left, Amarillo Pale, and Amarillo Double Peach.
In ten days or so, we'll bottle it up!

July 30, 2011

Homebrewers: Need Your Input for My Next Batch

Up until this point, I've only made beer using a pre-made kit or recipe.  I've made some minor modifications here and there, but I think it's time to build my own recipe from scratch.  Here's the plan:

These guys are going in...
I'd like to make a good summer beer - a pale ale, not too hoppy (something that would sell well).  I'm planning on dividing the 5 gallon batch and experimenting with adjuncts.  In the largest container I'll have the basic recipe - the only additive will be a cup of light brown sugar to the boil.  In the two other containers I'll add hand-picked peaches from a local Virginia farm, peeled, pitted and frozen, with different proportions in each of the smaller containers.  What do you think?  My main question is, what type of hops should I use?  I think I want to finish with Willamette, and maybe use Cluster, Centennial, or Tettnang to bitter.  What's your suggestion?  Feel free to comment on the blog or Facebook, or send me a message on Twitter.  Thanks!

Here's my recipe so far:

0.5 lb Flaked Wheat (mashed)
0.5 lb Flaked Oats (mashed)
4.5 lbs Briess Light LME
2.5 lbs Briess Wheat LME
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 oz Centennial hop pellets at 30 mins to go
0.5 oz Willamette hop pellets at 20 mins
0.5 oz Willamette hop pellets at 10 mins

WLP041 Pacific Ale Yeast

0 peaches per gallon on secondary A
2 peaches per gallon on secondary B
4 peaches per gallon on secondary C

Estimated OG: 1.068
Estimated FG: 1.017
Estimated ABV: 6.6%

July 29, 2011

Live from Legend Brewing Company - Richmond, VA


The last time I wrote about Legend, I was reporting from Barret's Seafood Restaurant in Williamsburg.  This time I'm going straight to the source.  To start things off, I went with the old standard, Legend Brown Ale, which according to the Legend website poll is preferred by over a third of responders.  To chase that down, I ordered a pretty respectable Kabob sandwich with a side of Brown Ale sauerkraut.  Believe it or not, you can actually taste the beer's influence on the kraut.  I understand not everyone is a fan of boiled cabbage, but if you appreciate the German culinary influence I suggest you give it a shot.

Next up, a cask-conditioned Pale Ale: smooth, with a substantial foam head and dominated by citrus and floral hop notes.  Given that this beer is made with four varieties of hops, it does demonstrate a pretty complex flavor.

And to round things out... I sampled a Smoked Chocolate Stout, and while I dig the smokey beers (something of a novelty in the States right now), I'm not too keen on drinking a whole pint of it at the end of a session.  Maybe at a barbecue.  I'm going for the IPA instead.

Surprisingly less hoppy than the Pale Ale, clear and golden, it's a little spicy and has the mouthfeel of a lager.  I like it!

Unfortunately, Legend only offers tours on Saturdays at 1pm, so I won't get a chance to see the inner workings of the brewery this time around.  I'll have to make that happen next time I'm in the area.  Stay tuned!

July 21, 2011

Atlanta, GA: Sweetwater Brewery

Like Ray Charles I had Georgia on my mind, so I went down to Atlanta to visit my girl and check out the Sweetwater Brewery.  Many a Sunday afternoon in college were spent enjoying 2-4-1s at the Broadway Brewhouse in Nashville with a basket of chipotle chicken wings and a glass of Sweetwater 420 (this may sound familiar - my first beer review took place under similar circumstances).  I was pumped to see where the beer I remember so fondly was created.

June 12, 2011

Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Brewing Company's Collaborative Groove #1

Inside the CBC tasting room.
As a thank you gift to volunteers, the American Craft Beer Festival organizers treated us to a 'Beer-unch' at Cambridge Brewing Company, located just outside of Boston near the campus of MIT.  CBC joined forces with another brewery and an urban winery from San Francisco to create their 'Collaborative Groove #1.'  The teamwork paid off and produced something unlike I'd ever had before.

This was a pale ale made with Citra hops and gruit, a term for a mixture of herbs that was used for flavoring beer before the common use of hops.  It had a peachy aroma, cloudy orange color, not much head, and a slight piney taste of hops.  There was also something very familiar about this beer, but it took several sips to realize that it tasted like sangria.  Sure enough, this beer was aged in wine barrels to give it a very unique flavor.

A couple of CBC's specialty brews, La Saisonniere
and the Charles River Porter.
More and more, craft breweries are expanding the definition of beer.  While the Germans have a law requiring them to stick exclusively to water, grains, hops, and yeast, it has become common in the States to see beers made with just about everything under the sun (Dogfish Head is a pioneer in this respect).  Aging beer in wine or liquor barrels is also becoming popular.  Of course it's a hotly debated topic among brewers, but as far as I'm concerned, if you can do it as well as Cambridge Brewing Company does, I'm all for it.

June 10, 2011

The American Craft Beer Festival

This Saturday I had the pleasure of volunteering at the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston, Massachusetts. With over 100 breweries serving over 500 different beers, this was a beer-lover's smorgasbord. I volunteered at two sessions and in return received a free ticket to the event - food included.  Most of the breweries were from the New England area, but they had a few from as far away as North Carolina, Colorado, California, and even the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Just one row of brewers from the American
Craft Beer Festival
I was able to sample 25 different beers, from milk stouts to hefeweizens, chocolate porters to barleywines. Here I was thinking I had a more or less complete understanding of beer styles, but I came across several new concoctions, some new to me, some just plain out of control. A Berliner Weiss, I discovered, is a wheat beer, but unlike a hefeweizen, this one is tart with strong hints of lemon. I sampled a bacon beer, which unfortunately was not as good as it sounded. One of my favorites was the Mango Pale Ale from St. Johns Brewery in the Virgin Islands. The beer that blew me away the most: the North Carolina-based Duck Rabbit Brewery's End of Reason, a strong Baltic Porter that tasted very much like chocolate and raspberries.

All in all it was a very educational experience. I got to speak with several brewers and sales reps. What's more, was just the general impression I got of how big this craft beer movement has grown. The American Craft Beer Festival had three sessions with around 5,000 attendees each, at $45 a ticket, you do the math...

Thanks to BeerAdvocate.com and Harpoon Brewery for putting on a great fest!