Thursday, May 24, 2007

Favorite Hops?

I finally have room to grow hops of my very own. However, there are many varieties -- which have been your favorite varieties in making beer... because, come on, why would I grow them if I couldn't use them.

PS I can use them, right?


Monday, May 14, 2007

first beer judging

Back in December, my buddy Bernardo and I had intentions of brewing an imperial stout but ended up with a beer more reminiscent of a porter. So we called it an Imperial Porter. I don't think there really is such a thing according to BJCP guidelines, so I entered it into the BrewMasters Open at a local brew shop (several hundreds of entries total) as a "robust porter."

Actually, I read about the competition in April and decided it sounded interesting. The due date for entries was May 2. Guess when I remembered. Yep, on May 2 when I took note of the date in the morning. No way I was going to make it over to the brew shop to drop it off after work with Atlanta rush hour. Guess I get to go during lunch. But I have to go home to grab 2 bottles first. There goes an hour and a half. Good thing I have two consecutive hours for lunch/planning. Got to the store, or where I remembered the store being. I stopped going there when I realized I save gas money by paying shipping charges, not to mention that a guy closer to home started carrying a decent selection. Guess what! They've moved! Not far, but when you go the wrong way on the road to the new location the first time, you add an extra twenty minutes instead of five. Finally get to the place and drop off the entry. Pay the $6 entry fee and get the obligatory shop owner's good luck wishes. Make it back to work with six minutes to spare before the next bell.

So, the event was this past weekend. They finally posted results today. In our category, 11 entries. There we are at 3rd place in Category 12B with the Three Decade Imperial Coffee Porter. Sweet!! Pretty good turnout for a beer that was probably placed in the wrong category in the first place. Guess what the secret ingredient is. Yes, it is love.

Can't wait to get a copy of the tasting notes later this week.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Beer will save the world

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bull McCabe's, Durham, NC

Last night M and I took in the recently (April 24) opened Bull McCabe's, an Irish Pub in downtown Durham. Occupying the site of neighborhood favorite (to be fair, neighborhood only, but a very cool place nonetheless) Jo and Joe's, which closed last fall.

We just had a couple of pints, so I can't attest to the food (yet), but the taps, decor, and service are fantastic. At this point, I'd say this is probably the best overall place to grab a beer in Durham (I remain very fond of the Joyce and the Federal--Tyler's is great if you want to try 45 different beers, but I find it too fussy for my mood most of the time and the food is mediocre at best.) The 18 taps (plus 2 not in operation) had a nice distribution of selections from Ireland, England, continental Europe, and the States. None of the "Big Bad 3", which is always a plus. Off the top of my head: Guinness (naturally), Harp, Smithwicks, Belhaven IPA, Speckled Hen, Newcastle, Bass, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Carlsberg, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissen, Stella Artois, Pilsner Urquell, Brooklyn IPA, Highland Gaelic Ale, Yuengling, Shiner Bock, and a porter and cider that escape me at the moment.

We chatted with Malachy, one of the owners, most of the time we were there. Great guy--a born barman who can carry on a good conversation while monitoring the fluid levels all up and down the bar (there were probably a dozen or so patrons last night.) He hails from Sligo; I find Guinness just tastes better when the man or woman pulling it has the accent for it.

Bull McCabe's has also done a great job assembling (Malachy's words: "mashing togehter") a great atmosphere without resorting to shipping in the ready-made Irish pub kit from Ireland like so many do. The bar was bought on eBay from a place in Oswego, NY (it is 120 years old and beautiful), most of the seating was assembled from local antique dealers (old church pews, chairs, and tables) and the lighting also came from a local dealer. There are the standard Irish road signs and a big bookcase. The old tin ceilings are about all that remains of the previous occupant...and it all comes together very nicely.

Check it out:

Bull McCabe's
427 W. Main St
Durham, NC (one block from the Carolina Theater)