Tag Archives: Beer

Hoppy Brown Belgian Stout

Back in July I made my second beer using the Grainfather system. Not one to back away from going overboard a little, I decided to do a take on a stout and add a bit of Belgian flare. The idea was simple. Make a good stout, pull back on the grain bitterness a bit, and the use a golden Belgian ale yeast. The hops too needed to complement the yeast.

Choosing the grains was the easy part: pale, crystal, chocolate, and roasted barley. Yeah, but what kind of pale? American? English? Belgian? Being the Belgian influence needed to be recognized, the pilsner malt would be good. SRM of 2, so nice and pale. The amount? 12 pounds.

Deciding on the SRM level of the crystal was next. Using BeerSmith helped. A compromise here to keep the beer from getting too dark and too toasted: 40L at 12 ounces. Just a touch.

A regular chocolate malt was chosen at 350 SRM and the roasted barley at 300. For now, the debittered malt was skipped. After, this is a stout base, not a dark Abbey ale.

The total malt bill looks like so:

  • 12 lbs – Pilsner 2 row Belgian malt (2 SRM)
  • 12 oz – Crystal Malt 40L
  • 12 oz – Chocolate malt (350 SRM)
  • 4 oz – Roasted Barley (300 SRM)

Now for the hops

As we are already playing around with the yeast and target taste profile on the malts, why not the hops too. Usually a stout as very little, if any, hop flavor, but yeah, why not? For bittering, Northern Brewer is a good one. Here the alphas were at 8.5% and boiled for 60 min. Ahtanum has hints of grapefruit and other citrus flavors and dark fruits are wanted, so in go 2 ounces at whirlpool time. Alphas here were 6%, but with no boil time, they will impart no bitterness. Only hop pellets were used.

  • 1 oz – Northern Brewer (8.5%)
  • 2 oz – Ahtanum (6%)

The yeast was to be Belgian Golden Ale WLP570 from White Labs. The store was out of it though, so Wyeast 1388 was substituted. This is not an exact one for one swap, but it should be close enough for the first go.

Stepping the mash

Aiming for a better mouth feel this time, a I decided on a step mash. Strike water as 120 F and the mash started at 113 after dough in. The Grainfather is a recirculating system, so no water is added to increase the mash temperatures.

  • 113 F @ 20 min
  • 127 F @ 20 min
  • 140 F @ 40 min (mash switch setting)
  • 158 F @ 20 min (mash switch setting)
  • Mash out at 168 F for 10 min

Sparge water temperature was 170 F and enough to collect 6 gallons for boiling. The expectation is to lose 1 gallon during boiling.

The results were quite good. Give it a try with your system.

Happy brewing!

The End Of Beer Tastings

It was nearly five years ago that I first attended a beer tasting at Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield, Ohio. That night, Samuel Adams was the brewery visiting and letting everyone enjoy the fruits of their labors. It was October 10, 2009 and I had wanted to bring my brother as it was his birthday, but he had other plans, so I brought a friend.

We had the scheduled 10 beers, plus 2 others from a Sam Adams taste test. There were 2 more from the master brewery who had made a hop extract to mix with some of their sweeter beers. They were fantastic.

Back then, Jungle Jim’s was nearly the only place in town having regular beer tastings. Every month, they were well attended and people listened with great interest to the speakers. A few months later, I started to write about the Cincinnati Craft Beer scene for examiner.com. It was just the beginning of it all.

Since then, the various beer festivals have grown greatly. Jungle’s own beer fest on Father’s Day Weekend has grown to two days. Many bars and restaurants have small beer tastings and Friday night flights are not uncommon. With the opening of the Eastgate store, Jungle Jim’s now has pint nights on Friday evenings where patrons can buy a beer and walk around the store. The enjoyment of good beer is becoming common enough that having a special event feels no longer necessary. Alas, the tastings have become a victim of success.

The truth be known, over the last year or so it has been harder to truly enjoy the beer tastings. Many of the attendees are there to socialize and it is hard to hear the speaker, even with the use of the microphone. Bit by bit, the true beer nerds stopped attending as the crowds got larger. Then the crowds started to go other places and attendance this year become worse with each passing month. Before summer started, several tastings were cancelled due to lack of sign-ups. The trend was set and now it is done.

For those of us who looked forward to each month’s chat with a brewer or someone from the brewery who was truly passionate about craft beer. It was a bit of release from the mundane and became an Untappd check-in game. Over the years, I was able to meet Larry Bell and Greg Koch. What great times those were. What great times they will remain. So long monthly beer tastings. We knew you well.

Surviving Friday Night

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard
Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Friday night session of the 2014 Cincinnati Beer Fest is over. The plan was to be busy brewing a batch of beer and chatting with the visitors. The latter happened many times. We chatted about the Cincinnati Malt Infusers, grains, hops, what it was like to be in a club, all the usual. The former didn’t happened.

Why not?

Well, snow happened. Traffic became bad and several people were late getting to the convention center. Items were forgotten. The logistics of the location of the booth was very difficult and too crowded. No tubs for ice bath. Lack of a stand to hold the electric brew kettle. Oh my.

Many of the logistics problems are solved and should be better for the Saturday session. I did discuss the recipe with several homebrewers, including Brian Jackson who wants to make an all grain version of it. Excellent. So back the ingredients came. Yeast goes in the fridge with the hops. Try again tomorrow.

This was the first beer fest I’ve ever attended without my camera. Even the first time I went to the Jungle Jim’s beer fest around Father’s Day as a participant, I  had my camera with me to take my own pictures. Last year I took mine to the Cincinnati Beer Fest and only took a few quick ones here and there. This year, it was very odd, but in the end, I liked it. Was able to chat with some beer enthusiasts, gave out some CMI cards and told people where we meet, and made sure some homebrewers interested in AHA took a copy of Zymurgy. It was a welcome change.

The drive home in the two inches of snow was a bit fun. The roads were not clear, but passable. Most of the way home I was trying to remember when I heard Craig Johnson recount the first Columbus Winter Beer Fest story of the after party. For the life of me I cannot remember when or where the telling happened, but I know it did. It had to be at least two years ago and it was warm. That’s all I got. It was a good time, both the fest after party and the place where it was told. Perhaps I’ll remember after sleep.

Not sure if the crowd was hampered due to the snow or not. The turnout seemed good and the participants were well behaved. Coat check was in the hallway outside of the large convention rooms. That seemed to go much better and those fetching their coats were not in the way of those trying to leave. Seems to be a much better way of handling the coats. After all, it is cold outside. A very good improvement.

As always Craig and staff, excellent beer fest. Your hard work shows.

Time to rest and get at it again tomorrow. And what happens if the demonstration has to get scrapped again? No worries, the beer will get made soon. After all, no one has tasted the recipe, not even its creator.

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Demonstration Red Rye Ale – 2014

English: Malted Barley, more specifically a &q...
English: Malted Barley, more specifically a “Crystal Malt”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last year, I volunteered for the Cincy Beer Fest, not really knowing what I was going to do. I knew I would no longer be doing photographs, but I figured I could help out with beer, setup, etc. I showed up on Friday night and helped out quite a bit: set out several tables full of tasting cups, checked ids at the door, gave out beer at the Kentucky Ale booth and even snapped off a few photos.

I didn’t like it.

Afterward, I realized how much I had come to like taking pictures at the fest. Being able to walk anywhere and interacting with the people was a great draw for me. Not doing that drained me and I didn’t like it. What now?

Until a few weeks ago, I figured I would not attend. Then I was asked to do a brewing demonstration for the Cincinnati Malt Infusers, the homebrew club I joined last year. Not fully knowing what it would entail, I said yes.

The last several days have been quite hectic coming up with all the equipment required. The convention center requires the use of electrical elements to heat the water and running a 220 volt line is too expensive. Fortunately, a member of CMI has a system we can use. Nice.

Recipe time. To draw people to the table, a high aroma beer was chosen. Starting with a pale ale, a few ounces of black patent malt were added to give the beer a reddish color. Ok, a red ale. What about rye malt? Yes, aroma and spiciness. Cool. A red rye ale. As there isn’t enough time to do a full mash, this is a specialty grain steep with extracts. It is a demonstration recipe too. That makes the name Demonstration Red Rye Ale – 2014. Let’s get to the details.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs light dry extract
  • 3.33 lbs can of amber liquid extract
  • 2 ounces Ahtanum hop pellets (5.20% alpha)
  • 1 ounce Mt. Hood hop pellets (6.10% alpha)
  • 1 lbs Crystal Malt (10L)
  • 1 lbs Rye Malt
  • 4 ounces Black Patent malt
  • 1 package American Ale II yeast (Wyeast #1272)
  • 1 teaspoon Irish Moss

Procedures

  • Crack the grains and place into a grain bag large enough to hold them. Remember they will expand when wet.
  • Heat 2.5 gallons of water to 150 degrees. Place the grains in the water and steep for 20 minutes. After time, remove grain bag, allow to drain and discard.
  • Fill kettle to 6 gallons of water and turn heat to full.
  • Once wort starts to boil, place the Mt. Hood hops in. Total boil time is 60 minutes.
  • When 20 minutes to go in the boil, place 1 ounce of Ahtanum into kettle.
  • At 15 minutes to go, place 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss into kettle.
  • After 60 minutes of boil, turn heat off and allow wort to settle. Place the remaining ounce of hops into kettle.
  • Cool wort to 70 degrees and take specific gravity reading. It should be around 1.044. Rack to fermentor, aerate for 10 minutes and pitch years. Cover and place airlock. Ferment for 2 weeks and bottle or keg, as desired.

It is recommended that the boil hops are placed in a bag. Try and enjoy. See you there.

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Nut Brown Ale by Mount Carmel

A new beer review. This time, the Nut Brown Ale from Mount Carmel Brewing in, well, where else??? Mount Carmel, Ohio. Let’s get going.

The Nut Brown Ale from Mount Carmel is the first of their beers I tried. At the same time, I met Mike Dewey at the Jungle Jim’s International Beer fest. He gave me a taste of the beer of which he was the most proud and believed to be his best.

When at proper temperature, the Nut Brown delivers a good balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness, with a hint of maple. The balance plays through to the end, living a slight lingering bitterness. The finish is very clean.

There are several ideas for food pairings, including a breakfast minded selection.

Banana and Walnut pancakes
Maple syrup (the real stuff)
Whipped Butter
Thick cut bacon

Cheddar Bacon Cheeseburger (Applewood smoked bacon and sharp cheddar)
Home fries (sea salt and spice medley)
Coleslaw (carrot over cabbage)

Replace grilled chicken with the cheeseburger

Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Fresh vegetable mixture with Spinach, carrots, onion and some radish

Have you tried this beer? Have other pairing ideas? Want to see a particular beer review? Subscribe and leave comments.

Mount Carmel Brewery Website

Video review by the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner.

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Wit Ale By Rivertown, A Beer Review

Beer vendor
Beer vendor (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

One of the many hats I wear is the one of Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner. It is a heavy hat and one that falls off from time to time. As more and more breweries open in Cincinnati, and perhaps someday one run by yours truly, there is much beer to review and it is well passed due.

The full review is available on the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner blog: Beer Review: Wit Ale by Rivertown Brewery. So, why mention it here just to post a link back? Because, duh!

There is also a video review of the beer.

To be more informative, because being the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner is a part of who I am and this blog is about all the wonderful things I do and wish to share. This blog is about my opinions and observations. This blog is about coming together to walk the road to the future together. So, it’s about more than me. It’s about us.

Through the pages of the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner blog, one is taken on a journey through craft beer, history of Cincinnati, beer and food pairings, menu ideas, local Cincinnati beer related events and festivals. Yeah, it has all that.

Again, why all the repeat?

Because, it is necessary. Read all the stuff. Share all the stuff. And the pages will get better.

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Pushing The Reviews

Perhaps I’m learning more about Search Engine Optimization or perhaps I’m lucky. My article about former classmate Edwina Marquand is now the first link when searching for her name. In a future article I’ll be sure to do the same for another former classmate by the name of Kevin Pelch. After all, he is the one who gave me the nickname Ropeman in the 10th grade. It is a name I used proudly for years until Anne Langley gave me the one of Brainmuffin. That, however, is writings for another time.

As many readers know, I also write as the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner. As the Cincinnati beer scene is going crazy these days, it is quite a bit keeping up. Several breweries have opened over the last few years, including Listermann’s (yes, the home brew supply place), Mad Tree and Double Barrel. Oh, what to do.

Well, it is time to do reviews. Not of one beer from each brewery. No, that wouldn’t feed my OCD very well. It is time to review everything available. Oh great…more text to read. Yes, but also video reviews. Pictures of beer (posted to Flickr too). After all, it is time to combine all my passions into a single, directed future. It is time time to combine beer, photography and writing. After all, Charlie Papazian was the one who pushed me to start on Examiner and it is high time his recommendation was rewarded.

 

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The Growing Cincinnati Beer Fest

The 2013 installment of the Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest has come and gone. This year continued the tradition of growing and growing. The crowds were bigger. The events louder. The beer list, about the same.

This year saw me passing out beer and checking ids. I did take a few photos here and there, but as I was not the official photographer, there will not be much posted. There will be none of Facebook. There might be a few on Flickr. No idea.

The event has now grown to alienate many of its early supporters. The crowds are now to the point where peace and calm have to be maintained. Some puked near the Kentucky Ale booth. Someone else pulled down the Brew Monkey’s large mug display. A guy tried to pick a fight with security. All in all though, still a well behaved crowd.

 

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The End Of An Era – Pictures Of The Cincinnati Beer Fest

A selection of Samuel Adams
A selection of Samuel Adams (Photo credit: BrainMuffin)

It all began quite well. In the summer of 2009, the Cincinnati Beer Fest was being held for the first time at Roebling Point. Previously held in the Winter time, this was also the first time it was during the summer. Wanting to practice taking pictures of people, I wanted to attend and then wonder around capturing the event. I contacted the fest organizer, Craig Johnson, and he asked me to be the official photographer. This was a start of a partnership that would last 3 years.

The 2009 Cincinnati beer fest came and went. In February of 2010, the third annual Cincinnati Winter Beer fest has become too large for the hotel in Covington. For the first time, the fest was actually held in Cincinnati. Again held in a hotel, it quickly overran the facility, though many had fun. I again took pictures and had a great time meeting fest goers and talking to brewers.

The summer of 2010 was interesting. Craig Johnson wanted to do something different. In October, he conducted a fest on the Purple People Bridge. The setting was unique and it promised to be a good fest. The weather on the 10th was near 80, sky was clear and the crowd did other things. Still good pictures and good conversation.

Columbus also came on the menu for beer fests in 2010. Expanding in the May, the first was well attended and held over two days. The Columbus fest would grow to include the winter as well.

The beer fests of 2011 grew in attendance, beer selection and choice of events. The fests were held in Cincinnati and Columbus. The pictures were great too.

The year 2012 started as normal. The Columbus fest in January and the Cincinnati fest in February. In need of setup help, I arrived in Columbus hours early to do my time. The Cincinnati fest also took some extra time. I climbed the Leinenkugel’s truck to get great shots of the crowd. I wrote an Insider’s Guide To Surviving the Cincinnati Winter Beer Fest. All was well.

The summer Columbus fest was the beginning of the end. Though I could not attend anyway, I was not asked to take pics. It was a bit thrown together, so I figured it was an oversight. Then the Columbus Winter fest came and went. No call. Now the Cincinnati beer fest is close and I’m not taking pictures.

It is the end of my era as fest photography geek. I may still be there as a beer slinger, but it is not nearly as fun. Being able to walk among the crowd, talk to the attenders, chat with beer industry insiders. That’s what beer fest means to me. I may have to find new meaning.

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Tomorrow Will Be Epic

Budweiser promotional beer girl at a sporting ...
Budweiser promotional beer girl at a sporting event, the Canadian Grand Prix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is late. I am drinking a 4-Play Porter by Shades of Pale Brewing Company. I am blogging. It is our last night in Utah.

Tomorrow, or should I say later today, it will be a rather early rise. Packing, breakfast, some souvenir shopping and then off to Arches National Park. We went there tonight to look at the stars. I took a few photos. I’ll post links once I’ve processed them.

The porter, by the way, ain’t too bad. Here in Moab, they do have a Microbrewery. Been there three times. The beers are good and the food is excellent. The gelato is unbelievable, especially the vanilla. I digress.

Tomorrow is also our long drive back to Salt Lake City. At the end of that drive, however, is the epic portion of this whole trip. That is when we arrive at Epic Brewing Company. I’ve been looking forward to this since we decided to visit Utah. Yes, it is the last day and I still have to drive to turn in the rental car. Yes, I cannot over indulge. Yes and all that. The tour and lunch will still be Epic, no matter what. After all, it is Epic Brewing!

Already in touch with Epic Brewing as the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner, I look more than forward to the visit. I’ll get to talk to the brewers, see the facilities and taste the freshest beers possible. All in a state know more for Mormons than beer. Yes, it will be Epic.

So, cheers everyone. Pictures will be taken. Ideas will be exchanged. Beers will be tried. Epic-ness will be had.

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