Monday, January 31, 2005

I have a new hero...

And it's this guy.

He's on a mission to drink in 1000 different bars in 2005, and so far, he is way ahead of pace. Even if he fails (and I don't think he will), what he's producing is shaping up to be a great informal guide to bars in the New York metro area.

Stop by and wish 1000 Bars well.

(link via the Agitator)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Growing, slowly...

New beer blog links on the right.

If anyone has suggestions for what else they'd like to see here (in addition to more frequent posting), we're all ears.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Beer Saves Lives

Thanks to a car loaded with beer, a man whose car was buried by an avalanche managed to pee his way out.

I have nothing to add.

(via the Agitator)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

If you've got some spare cash... can plunk down $10,000 for a nifty canning machine for your home brews.

I don't think I'd be able to can my beer, though the logic behind it seems to make some sense.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fruity Ass Beer for Fruity Ass People

The question is who's gotten stupider, the mass market or the mass distributor?

Going against the grain in courting the young cocktail crowd, beermaker Anheuser-Busch Cos. is launching a new "brew" to go head-to-head with classic mixed drinks — traditional suds spiked with caffeine, fruit flavoring, herbal guarana and ginseng.

Fruity beer? Okay, maybe. I've always been a fan of the Belgian lambics and they're about as fruity as a beer can get. But where is A-B going with the root extracts and caffiene? It seems like combining beer, fruit soda, and Red Bull.

And how "fruity" is the name? B-to-the-E? Hip-hop market? But in their defense, "Crunk" was already taken.

Maybe this is what the new generation wants to drink. Something trendy. A little bit new age energy drink, a little bit old school brew. Of course, who ever accused A-B of old school brewing technique?

And maybe I'm completely wrong on this one, but I'm probably not.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Hello? Is anybody in there?

That's me knocking on the side of my head as I wonder what the hell I've been doing for the last month and a half. Sorry about the non-posting. I've been somewhat unmotivated to post with work, house and holidays all crashing in at once. It won't happen again, that I can assure you.

Now that things at the house are starting to get into shape, I've been getting antsy to brew in the capital of home brewing, Portland. I have a great opportunity here. So many outlets from which to draw information and experience, and my own house where I can set up a whole area devoted to brewing. Kind of a brewing workshop if you will. Mad scientist at work....HA-HA-HA!!!!

I've started doing some preliminary searching for resources in the area. Here are but a few that I've looked into thus far:

Oregon Brew Crew - A home-brewing club here in Oregon devoted to the "advancement of home brewing and beer appreciation". Sounds like my kind of club. I'm thinking about joining it, but need to look further into whether the $25 annual membership fee is justified. Seems pretty cool at first glance though.

The Beer Recipator - A collection of a million different beer recipes thoroughly organized into several categories.

And for anyone interested in the joining Lisa and me for some beer tasting this year, here's the schedule for the various beer festivals in Portland:

Spring Beer and Wine Fest - March 25-26, 2005
Portland International Beer Festival - July 8-10, 2005
Oregon Brewer's Festival - July 28-31, 2005
Holiday Ale Festival - December 2-4, 2005

Anyone thinking of coming up for these events, or anything else for that matter, is more than welcome to stay at our place while in town.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Via Enthalpy comes word of British PM Tony Blair injecting a bit of common sense into the UK's laws governing the hours during which pubs may opperate:

Blair insists the longer hours won't mean a spike in drunken violence.

Licensing laws now require most pubs in England and Wales to close at 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Blair says most people are law-abiding citizens who just want to get a drink at their convenience.

The government says flexible pub hours will result in a more relaxed attitude toward drinking. Many Britons slam down several drinks because of the early closing times.

All I can say is thank goodness that most laws governing the sale and distribution of alcohol in this country aren't federal. Well, at least not anymore.

Or should I say not yet?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Brian's Mole Porter (2004 Edition)

mole (MOH-lay, n.)--any of various spicy sauces of Mexican origin, usually having a base of onion, chilies, nuts or seeds, and unsweetened chocolate and served with meat or poultry. (source)

porter (n.)--a dark beer resembling light stout, made from malt browned or charred by drying at a high temperature. (source)

Living in Tucson has had a pretty dramatic effect on my palette. With regards to beer, it has made me learn to love the lager...because it's hard to drink much else when it's hotter than your core temperature outside, and cooling your house below 85 degrees during the day is a luxury on the order of having a nice new car. With regards to food, I have learned to love Mexican food. Real Mexican food, which is difficult to come by in most of the country.

And so, we come to this beer. "Winter" in Tucson is a pretty mild affair, but that magical time between October and March where it generally isn't hotter than balls is precious to a man who loves his ales, porters, and I do. (It's also the only time when the house is consistently cool enough to brew.)

I had the idea for a mole-inspired porter last year, and took a crack at it. I was a bit too timid with the chiles, though, and ended up making a really delicious but otherwise unremarkable porter. Which hardly counts as a "failure" in the strictest sense. Still, I wanted to capture the rich, bittersweet/smoky/spicy essence of a really good mole negro in a beer.

So this year, I went all out.

The result is definitely NOT timid. You have to like your spice to enjoy this beer. At the risk of tooting my own horn, this beer is an ideal companion to Mexican food. (We had a few with dinner down in Puerto Penasco over New Year's, as a matter of fact.) As you can see from the picture above, it is ruby-black in color with a dark cream-colored head. Smoky aroma. The beer starts spicy (like really spicy, not hoppy-spicy), then roasted malt and smoke with a hint of chocolate, then a long, slow "afterburn". The spice lingers in your mouth for quite a while afterwards, as anything made with jalepenos generally does.

If you want to try your hand at this, here's the recipe. The following is for a 5-gallon batch, though a pretty significant volume is lost by bottling due to extremely high rate of sedimentation. (I'm also assuming a basic knowledge of brewing terminology and techniques...if you have questions, please don't be shy about asking!)


3 lbs. plain dark malt extract (Munton's)
3 lbs. plain extra dark malt extract (Muntons's)
1/2 lb. chocolate malt
1/2 lb. black patent malt
1/2 lb. 40L crystal malt
1/4 lb. roasted barley (all the above grains are domestic)
1/4 lb. rauche (beechwood-smoked) malt (German)
1 oz. Willamette hops (pellets, 4.8% alpha)
1 oz. UK Northdown hops (pellets, 6.7% alpha)
6 oz. Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa powder (German--any cocoa without any additives should substitute)
2 Tbs. Mexican vanilla extract (Mexican vanilla is generally stronger than what is made in the U.S.)
2 sticks fresh cinnamon
2 Tbs. ground nutmeg
7 ancho chiles
7 chipotle chiles
2 fresh green jalepenos
British Ale yeast (White Labs)

Soak the dried chiles (anchos and chipotles) in warm water for at least 2 hours to soften them up.

Steep grains in ~2 gallons water for 30 minutes at 150 degrees F.

Remove and sparge grains. Bring to a boil. Add extract, cocoa, vanilla, and bring back to a boil. Add hops and boil for 45 minutes.

Split all the chiles in half. Add them along with the cinnamon and nutmeg to the final 20 minutes of the boil. (For a less spicy version, don't split the chiles.)

Cool to 75 F. Dilute to 5 gallons. Pitch the yeast.

Original gravity was 1.062. Ambient temperature was 70-75 F during fermentation. I did 5 days in primary, 10 days in secondary, and then an additional 6 days in a tertiary fermentation to clarify. (I've mentioned it already, but it bears repeating--this recipe produces a LOT of sediment. Use good aseptic technique and it won't be a problem.) Gravity at bottling was 1.018, 6.0% ABV.

Let it condition in the bottles for at least 3 weeks before drinking. Longer is better. Last year's version was good out until at least 6 months from brewing. The one I'm drinking as I write this spent about 6 weeks in the bottle, and it's great.

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, para adentro!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Stumbling out of the gate...

Jebus...nearly a month without a post. I swore I wouldn't let this happen.

Note to self: never start a new blog right before the holidays.

I still have a couple of winter ales to taste...which I'd better do soon, because it's mid-January in the Old Pueblo and I've already quit wearing a jacket to work.

Also, a post on my 2004 Mole (that's MO-lay, as in the Mexican dish) Porter is forthcoming. Recipe included. Don't miss it.

Chris? Ken? Donde estan?