Thursday, November 3, 2011

Round two

Rogness Brewing Company still needs your help. A new kick starter campagin with a more modest goal is now in the works. Use the widget on the right side of the page to head over to and show your support.

AHS sale!

Starting tomorrow (11/4/11) Austin Homebrew Supply will be lowering the qualifying order amount for free shipping from $100.00 to only $50.00. This won't last long so don't miss the opportunity to get a great deal on a holiday gift for the homebrewer in your life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

AHS Texas Wildfire Relief Recipe Kits

In the wake of the recent devastating wildfires in central Texas Austin Homebrew Supply has released 13 limited edtion recipe kits to benefit the American Red Cross of Central Texas. All profit generated from the sale of these kits will be donated to the American Red Cross of Central Texas which is helping with the relief efforts for the vitims of this tragedy.

So click here pick up a great new kit and knock back some suds with the knowledge that your homebrew helped those in need.

Friday, August 26, 2011

From brew street to oblivion

New Belgium happens to be a great brewery. Clutch happens to be a great band. When they get together for a collaborative project I wonder if the marketing team incepted my dreams and created this just for me. the brew is a perplexing Dark Sour Ale. I can't wait to get my hands on this stuff.

Read about it in more detail here Beer tyrant.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kick start my wort!

My friend and owner of Austin Homebrew Supply Mr. Forrest Rogness is opening a microbrewery here in Austin.The focus is one high quality small batches. With rye, porter, kolsch, and esb styles all in the works. Like with all new businesses capital is necessary to get things off and running. This is where you can help.

Kickstarter is a website that allows start up company to aquire capital through pledges by interested parties.

An explation from the Kickstater website:  " You may pledge any dollar amount (a minimum of $1) to our campaign, although we have specified rewards for different levels of giving, which may be found on the right-hand side of the page. If we receive at least $60,000 in pledges by October 21, 2011, we will receive the amount of donations ($60,000 or above) at that time, and we can purchase more equipment such as a steam generator, more kegs, a bottling line, etc.

In order to pledge, all you need is an Amazon account (it's free!). You will not be charged for your donation until October 21, if we meet our goal; otherwise, you will not be charged anything."

The rewards are proportionate to level of the pledge (think PBS pledge campagins but instead of a VHS tape of River Dance for a pledge of $50 you'll receive a Rogness t-shirt, pint glass, tasting glass, and sticker).

Here is the link to the Kickstarter page. So belly up for as little as $1and support craft beer!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Aaron recently harvested the Cascade hops that I planted last year. It was an impressive crop. He has already brewed a fresh hop ale with some of them, the rest he plans dry and save for later use. Some are headed my way and I can't wait to get my mitts on them. Here are a few photos.

 - Jay

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My new(ish) conical fermenter

This summer has been insanely hot here in Austin, with tempatures reaching into the triple digits nealry every day. This kind of heat makes it difficult to brew so I haven't produced a batch since May. Cooling Wort quickly when the water coming out of the tap is nearly 80 degrees is not exactly easy. Hopefully it will cool down within a month and I can get back at it. In the mean time I've been doing alot of reading and formulating recipies. I've also been able to pick up a few pieces of equipment that I'm very excited about.

Roughly a month ago AHS aquired the inventory of a homebrew store that had gone out of business. The bulk of the items were used. Amongst them was an 8 gallon minibrew conical fermenter. It was in good shape and I was able to pick it up for an excellent price.

It cleaned up easily. I replaced the 1" ball valve with a plastic one and the half inch valve with a stainless steel one. I also added a dial thermometer and used EcoFoil to insulate it.

I can't wait to get some brew in it and watch the airlock bubble away.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

AHS conical fermenter giveaway!

Austin Homebrew Supply is giving away a Blichman 14.5 stainless steel conical fermenator. Every order placed online during the month of June and July will be entered into the drawing which will be held on August 5th. In-store customers will need to fill out an entry form to be entered into the drawing, you can also fill a form to enter without making a purchase here.

This thing retails for nearly $600! If only I were eligable... damn.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AHS Memorial day sale

Austin Homebrewing Supply is have a 10% off sale on the top 10 most popular recipes. Which includes the new kit Apocalypso, a hoppy golden ale featuring a Calypso hops (a new breed). This sale will be over on Tuesday, May 31st so jump on this one.

 - Jay

Monday, May 23, 2011

Update: Belgian Pale Ale

Primary fermentation of the Belgian Pale Ale appeared to be finished last Thursday. The airlock was inactive so I gave it one more day (for a total of seven). When I returned home from work on Friday I racked the brew to a 6.5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation. 

I was nervous that with all of the little glitches I had on brew day that it may be undrinkable. Fortunately at the time of racking everything appeared to be great. The aroma, flavor, and color all were spot on. The attenuation wasn't as high as I would have liked to see. Specific gravity hadn't fallen as much as I had hoped (the sample that I measured was 1.021 @ 73 degrees). This leaves the ABV hovering right around 3%. 



Of course this has just as much to do with the original gravity as it does the current gravity. I had trouble maintaining a high enough temp while mashing which in turn didn't allow me to reach the target original gravity of 1.050. This is the weak link in the process right now but I have a few ideas to improve the situation next time around. Hopefully the gravity will drop further. I would like to reach an ABV of around 4.5%, if not it should prove to be a very drinkable session beer that I'll enjoy in this warm weather.

 - Jay

In Secondary:
  • Belgian Pale Ale

Friday, May 20, 2011

Round beverage cooler sale

After a few happy hour libations and several sushi rolls my wife and I took a short walk around the Domain. While taking a short cut through Dick's Sporting Goods I noticed these 7 gallon round beverage coolers on sale for $29.97. They're shorter and wider than the normal 10 gallon coolers. I think that this would make the ideal for mashing All Grain 5 gallon batches. They should be large enough to mash 15lbs of grain yet small enough to maintain temperature rather well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Austin Homebrew Supply Stainless steel kettle sale

Austin Home Brew Supply has stainless steel kettles (including Polar Ware) on sale until the end of the month. Direct link can be found here.

 - Jay

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Belgian Pale Ale partial mash brew

For the first time in over six months I had the opportunity to brew. I had all of my equipment rounded up, the sight glass and thermometer installed in my kettle (thanks Kevin), the ingredients, and most importantly the time needed. So when I got home from work this past Friday afternoon I went straight to it. For my first batch in Texas I decided on a Belgian Pale Ale (one of my favorite styles). The recipe is my own and is loosely based on Ommegangs BPA. Here is what I came up with:

2.25lbs Belgian Pale Ale malt
0.5lbs Caravienne malt
0.5lbs Caramunich malt
0.25lbs Aromatic malt
0.125lbs Biscuit malt
3.625lbs Total

4.00lbs Extra Pale liquid extract
1.00lbs Munich liquid extract
5.00lbs Total

1.00oz Columbus (bittering)
0.5oz Styrian Golding (flavoring)
0.5oz Styrian Golding (aroma)
2.00oz Total

0.125oz Sweet Orange Peel

Wyeast Belgian Ardennes

I've decided to step back from All Grain brewing for a bit. Now that I'm on my own the already time consuming all grain method is compounded by not having a second (or third) set of hands to help. Yet extract brewing just isn't challenging enough anymore. So this leaves me in the partial mash neighborhood. The brew in a bag method just doesn't appeal to me. It feels too close to steeping specialty grains for an extract brew. I know that it is an actual mash but I need more control.

I have spent much of my free time (of which there has been plenty) since moving to Texas researching and developing a process for partial mash brewing. So after weeks of reading and picking the brains of co-workers I developed a method of mashing in a 5 gallon converted igloo cooler and doing a single batch sparge. Here is the process:

Day before:
  • Filter and pre-boil 7 gallons of H2O
  • Record ph of water (adjust if necessary for the style)
  • Create yeast starter
Brew day:
  • Sanitize all equipment
  • Heat up liquid extract to improve viscosity
  • Preheat mash tun
  • Heat mash water to 168 degrees
  • Mash in in at 166 degrees at ratio of 1.5 qts / 1lb of grain (target temp is 152 degrees)
  • Stir to insure that there are no dry pockets
  • Mash for 60 minutes stirring every 20 minutes record temp each time
  • Heat sparge water to 170 degrees
  • Batch sparge a single time with a ratio of 1.75 qts / 1lb of grain
  • Vorlauf
  • Drain to boil kettle
  • Add H2O to bring boil volume to 6 gallons
  • Add liquid extract and stir for several minutes
  • Increase temp and bring to a boil
  • Boil for 90 minutes
  • Add bittering hops at boil
  • Add flavor hops at 15 minutes left
  • Add aroma hops at 5 minutes left
  • Chill wort to < 78 degrees
  • Transfer to primary fermenter
  • Aerate for 20 minutes
  • Pitch yeast

Seeing as this was the first time that I brewed this recipe, the first time using my partial mash method, and the first time I used 90% of my equipment, I was expecting a few hiccups. Well, I got them.

The first issue was difficulty maintaining mash temperature. When I checked the temp after 20 minutes it has dropped down to 139 degrees. Much lower than I was aiming for. Mashing in any higher wasn't an option either. Next time I may mash out doors the entire time instead of starting in my kitchen where it is 72 degrees.

The next issue I ran into was the newly installed sight glass on my boil kettle kept boiling over even though the kettle itself never even came close to doing so. There was also a minor leak in the sight glass compression fitting. Should be a simple fix. I have to take it apart to clean it anyway.

The last real issue I had was scorching the wort. I thought that I was stirring frequently enough but Clearly I wasn't. I fished out as much of the scorched extract that was floating in the wort as I could and the rest was filter out by the strainer as I transferred to my primary fermenter. So hopefully it doesn't cause a terrible off flavor.

Some of the scorched extract from the bottom of the kettle.

Despite the issues I really enjoyed myself. I think that the process is solid and only needs a few minor tweaks. The biggest issue was reaching my target original gravity of 1.050. The actual O.G. was 1.044. I'm not terribly disappointed with that number but I know that it can be improved. Maintaing a higher mash temp and not losing fermentable sugars by burning them to the bottom of the kettle should do the trick. The yeast seems to be very healthy, the airlock is bubbling away at a vigorous rate.

It was a blast using all of my new toys. I especially like my new refractometer and 30' Immersion chiller. Both worked exceptionally well. I was able to cool the wort down to 75 degrees from 218 in under 25 minutes with an ambient air temp of 80 degrees.

I'll have an update in a few weeks once this batch has finished fermenting. I'm dying to try it so I can brew another batch and refine the recipe (and technique). I have a ton of styles lined up and am looking forward to brewing them all but I'm not in a race. I'm really concentrating on the quality of both the brew and the process. So the next batch I brew will be another BPA. After that I'm going to cover Amercan and English pale ales.

As always I'm open to any feedback so feel free to post comments or questions.
- Jay
In Primary:
  • Belgian Pale Ale

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale

So, I've finally gathered enough equipment to brew my first batch since making the move to Texas (Working at Austin Homebrew Supply for the past month has definitely helped the cause). I have been debating about which style to brew first. With summer on the way and temperatures already climbing into the mid 90's here in central Texas I don't want to brew anything that would be to big and heavy. I want to keep it refreshing. So I have decide to brew a series of Pale Ales. The first being a Belgian Pale Ale, with English and American styles to follow.

My new low-tech equipment and work table in the garage.

I've picked next Saturday (5/14/11) as my brew date for my first batch of BPA. I've spent the past few weeks developing a partial mash process that I am extremely excited to try out. I've also been pouring over several BPA recipes and weighing their strong and weak points against what I enjoy about the style. More on all of this in a few days.

My favorite example of a Belgian Pale Ale is Ommegang Belgian-style Pale Ale (even though it is brewed in Cooperstown, New York about 4 1/2 hours drive east of Buffalo). Not only is it a great example of the BJCP style (16B) it is a great beer in general, one of my favorites in fact. So today I'm going to spend some time with Ommegang BPA as it is the bench mark for my own brew.

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: Unknown

Vessel: Nonic (poured from an 12 oz bottle)

Appearance: The first thing that grabs your attention is the tremendous fluffy bone white head (which has impressive retention). As you drink the glass down there is a moderate amount of lacing left behind. This brew pours a clear golden color which appears to me to be around the 7 -8 SRM. Clarity is very good. It's a handsome pint. (5/5)

Aroma: Slightly sour yeast dominates. Biscuity malt blends moderate citrus notes. Low citrusy hop aroma  (4.0/5)

Flavor: Fruity with just a hint of peppery flavor as I first sip brew. Orange and grape fruit flavors begin sweet and finish just slightly sour. Smooth, sweet and toasty malt that finishes with a strong biscuit flavor that lingers on the palate. There is little hop flavor ( a taste a bit of cascade citrus likely from their addition as a dry hop). A nice hoppy bitterness finishes the sip and balances the malt perfectly(4.5/5)

Mouth Feel: Medium-light bodied. Perfect carbonation level for the style. Ever so slightly warming but no detectable alcohol. Clean and refreshing.(4.5/5)

Overall: I love this beer. Its balanced perfectly which is a rare treat. I can't wait to cool down with this in the July heat of central Texas. Usually I'm not a fan of lingering flavors but the biscuit left between sips is really nice. It's just sweet enough, just bitter enough and has a wonderful mouth feel. It is one handsome fellow when poured into a glass. (18/20) 90%

I'm excited to put my skills as a home brewer to the test next weekend. This isn't a big beer or anything off the wall. In fact Belgian Pale Ale is a wonderful style that is just the opposite. It is balanced in a way that is uncommon and that is where the challenge lies. Its takes a steady and light hand to create a delicately balanced beer. By using Ommergangs BPA as a benchmark I feel that over the course of a few batches I will be able to create an outstanding beer. Stay tuned for a post about the brew session, recipe and techniques next week.

 - Jay

P.S. Happy Mothers day

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brewery Lefebvre: Hopus Ale

Style: Belgian IPA

ABV: 8.3%

IBU: Unknown (but not nearly high enough)

Vessel: Tulip glass (poured from an 11.2 oz flip top bottle)

Appearance: Cloudy pale straw color. Tons of sediment floating in the glass. Beautiful fluffy white head with mild lacing. (4.5/5)

Aroma: Sour fruit notes with zero hop scent present (it is an IPA right?) Yeasty esters and mild malt similar to sour dough bread. I also detect a little bit of honey malt. No hop aroma at all (this is an IPA right?) (2.5/5)

Flavor: Reminds me more of a Trippel than an India Pale Ale. Strong sour ester notes. Almost no hop notes at all until a slight bitter finish washes down the back of your throat. Straw flavors that start moderately sweet but finish bitter and dry. Lingers on the palate. Not what I was expecting. (3/5)

Mouth Feel: Unexpectedly light bodied. Nice carbonation level for this perplexing style. Moderate alcohol presence that warms as it flows down the esophogus. (2/5)

Overall: Shes a pretty girl. I couldn't wait to taste her but upon the first sip I was confused. India Pale Ales are heavily hopped beers. Hopus has almost no detectable hop presence what so ever. So is she a Trippel then? No too sour and not enough body. Like most pretty ladies she left me perplexed, a bit disapointed and wanting for more.

I don't know a whole lot about the history of this particular style but it seems to me to be a bit of any oxymoron. I'm a huge fan of Belgian beers and of IPA and hopus set my hopes high yet failed to deliver much about what I enjoy about either style.

Was it a bad beer? Not by far. Would I seek it out again? Yes, because I need more time with this one to figure her out.

Give Hopus a try. If anything its different and won't leave you bored. (12/20) 60%

 - Jay

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jester King / Amy's Black Metal ice cream!

Beer, awesome.
Ice Cream, awesome.
Black Metal, awesome.
Black Metal Beer Ice Cream, Uber awesome

Two great Austin area companies Amy's Ice Cream and Jester King Craft Brewery are collaborating on what I would refer to as Craft Brewed Ice Cream. Amy's has done a few beer Ice creams in the past Shiner is usually easy to find at most Amy's locations. This one is a bit more exciting though.

Black Metal Imperial Stout Ice Cream from Amys IceCreams on Vimeo.

I'll let you read it from the horses mouth here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quick update.

This past week I began working for Austin Homebrew Supply. My In-laws were in town too. It was a good but exhausting week.

I'm currently working in the wearhouse. My primary duties include measuring and milling grain for kits and custom orders. I'm greatful to have my foot in the door and I know there is great potential for me there. The crew is great to work with and I'm looking forward to learning from them.

As if to confirm that I'm on the right path I cracked open a fotune cookie last night and it simply read beer.

I'm planning on brewing in the next few weeks. I'm thinking mini mash to get back into brewing mode. More updates soon.

 - Jay

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Texas Carboys club brew-in

This past saturday Mr. Joe White hosted the Texas Carboys club Brew-in at his home in Leander, TX. Three 7 gallon all-grain batches in 6 hours. Everything was brewed in preparation for the club picnic on May 21st. The brews were a Pale Ale, Porter, and a Weiss beer.

I arrived a bit late and ended up having more to do with the clean up than the brewing but I enjoyed myself all the same. I don't have the recipies to share but I will try to get them in time for my post about the club picnic.

 - Jay

Friday, March 18, 2011

New toys.

44 quart stainless steel kettle with spigot and 55,000 btu propane burner with 16" frame. Both from shipped to me for under $170 in only three days.

If you're interested the kettles with spigots are available in two sizes 36qt and 44qt. There are also many sizes available with out spigots and a wide variety of propane burners to choose from. I did alot of shopping and this kettle is definately the best value that I could find. Its a nice thick gauge steel and feel much nicer than others I have seen and cost less than half of what Blichman or Polarware kettles go for. Use discount code bcc10 for 10% off of your entire order.

 - Jay

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Belgium: 1554 Enlightend Black Ale

New Belgium is quickly becoming my favorite brewery. They consistently produce exceptional beers. Although I may not be the biggest fan of everything they create that is more of a matter of style preference than a reflection on the beer itself. Every New Belgium beer I have consumed had one thing in common; balance (something that seems to be lacking in many contemporary pints).

As the American market for interesting beer continues to move away from imports and towards American craft brewed beer the consumer is bombarded with variety. This has lead me to sample a few pints that just didn't get it quite right. There seems to be an endless selection now a days. Don't get me wrong this is a great thing. Variety and experimentation are what keep me passionate about home brewing. The issue is more a matter of refinement than variety, and with so many choices on tap one or two are bound to be a bit less refined than the rest.

I love American craft beer, I want to work in the American craft beer industry. This resurgence of passionate, talented brewing in America is amazing. Yet sometimes I'll try something new and wonder why the hell something so out of balance is on the market. I'm a bit of a hop head but that doesn't mean that I want my tongue to be assaulted by every Pale Ale and IPA I drink. There are those exceptional few that balance bitter and sweet better than the rest. This is kind of refinement is something that a larger proportion of imported beers have over American craft beer. With New Belgium Brewing however, there is both variety and refinement.

Before transplanting my life to central Texas my exposure to New Belgium had been limited to the occasional 12oz bottle of Fat Tire (which may not be the most exciting brew in the world but is damn good all the same). For this session I'll be reviewing 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.

Style: Belgian dark ale

ABV: 5.6%

IBU: 21

Vessel: Tulip glass (poured from a 12oz bottle)

Appearance: Deep brown almost black with a slight reddish tint. Proudly pours with a half inch head which holds throughout most of the session. Great lacing. A beautiful beer. (5/5)

Aroma: Roasted malt, Coffee, Tobacco and earthy undertones. (3.5/5)

Flavor: Big time Chocolate malt going on here. There are also some toffee and roasted malt flavors present. Moderately sweet and mildly hoppy. Yet despite the malt level and sweetness the flavor is clean and light. No alcohol flavor present. (4.5/5)

Mouth Feel: Light bodied with a clean carbonation feel. Mildly warming alcohol feel. No astringency present. (4.5/5)

Overall: In one word, smooth. When you pour a pint of 1554 and notice its deep brown almost black color and its soft creamy head you expect a full bodied malt explosion. This is not the case here. This is a dark Belgian Ale that manages to be light, and dare I say refreshing? Everything about this brew was pleasantly surprising. Completely delicious and well balanced. 1554 may just become one of my staples. (17.5/20) 88%

 - Jay

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Texas Carboys meet up at the Thirsty Planet Brewery

Back on February 26th Rachel joined me to my first meeting with the Texas Carboys home brewing club. We were fortunate because this one just happened to take place at the Thirsty Planet Brewery in south west Austin (the same neighborhood that Jester King Brewing is located in). Normally club meetings take place at The Dig Pub a great little beer & wine bar located in Cedar Park.

The Carboys were inviting and down to earth. I felt comfortable from the start. I think I met about half of the group (some members did not attend and others I did not have the opportunity to introduce myself to). I'm really looking forward to future meetings. This was a great opportunity to see new parts of Austin and get to know people that share my love of beer and brewing. Beer geeks are my kind of people.  

Brian Smittle owner / brewmaster of Thirsty Planet gave the group a tour of the brewery after we sampled home brews and libations provided by the brewery.

 - Jay

Monday, February 28, 2011

Biggest news yet!

Earlier this year I wrote about the AHA sanctioned competition Amber Waves of Grain. The competition took place this past weekend. well unfortunately I was unable to attend due to the 1600 miles between the competiton venue and myself but Aaron did on saturday.

Aaron entered several beers that brewed on his own since I moved, along with the Bavarian Dunkelweizen and Fruit Cake Ale that we brewed last autumn. I knew that he was going to enter the Dunkelweizen but I just found out today that he also enter our Fruit Cake Ale when he called to tell me that it took first place in the Holiday Beers catagory! Click here to view the competition results page. If you scroll about half way down you'll find the Holiday Beers catagory. All of the beers were entered together under Aarons name (less mine) so that is the way it appears in the results.

This is a compete suprise. I was unaware that it was even entered and I haven't even had the opportunity to taste it yet (it was not finished fermenting at the time I left NY). My In-laws (Aarons parents) are coming to visit my wife and I in a few weeks and they are going to bring a few bottles down. I'm really honored to have done so well in an AHA sanctioned competition. This makes me miss brewing with Aaron even more.

 - Jay

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout

On a side step from my reviews of the New Belgium: Lips of Faith series and Spoetzl: Shiner Family Reunion I indulged myself with a pint of  Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout. This is one that I've been aware of for as long as I can remember yet for some reason I had never rescued it from the cooler until now. Brewed with both chocolate and chocolate malt to earn its double chocolate moniker. This is a real treat that I'm glad to share.

Style: Sweet Stout

ABV: 5.2%

IBU: Unknown

Vessel: Pint glass (poured from a 14.9oz bottle)

Appearance: Creamy suede colored head that starts at 1/4" and slowly deflates into the black as night liquid below. Wonderful lacing. (4.5/5)

Aroma: Reminds me of stepping into a fine chocolatier and the scent of quality chocolate poruing over my senses. Layers of roasted barley, oats and sweet tobbacco rest beneath the chocolate. Very faint hop note with a mild sweetness in the background. (5/5)

Flavor: Everything is in balance here. Rich chocolate flavor but not too sweet. Complex roasted barley malt with notes of coffee, bitter coccoa, and sweet tobbaco (like a fine dessert cigar). Minimal bitterness complimnets the malt perfectly. Slight burnt toffee and coccoa lingers on the palate for a moment but fades by the next sip. (4.5/5)

Mouth Feel: Medium / full bodied and velvety smooth. Perfect carbonation level for a stout. Not warming or astringent. (4.5/5)

Overall: This is about as good as it gets. I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to try it. Normally I would be rather critical of using such a strong word as Luxury in the name of a beer, but in this case the term is justly deserved. Easy to drink yet bold and left me wanting more. Big bang for the buck here too. Great quality and very reasonably priced. This has ascended to the upper echelon of drinking porfolio. My lust for it is insatiable. (18.5/20) 93%
 - Jay

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Truffle Truffle

I stumbled upon a company named Truffle Squared this morning and I'm glad I did. They produce some creative gourmet candies that I'm itching to get my hands on. "What does this have to do with beer?" you might ask. Well Truffle Squared has a line of chocolates entitled super bowl collection, which combines three of my favorite edibles on earth chocolate, pretzels, and beer.

The candies are produced in four different forms; beer & preztel marshmallows, beer & pretzel brittle, beer & pretzel truffles, and beer and pretzel caramels.

I'm going to order some of the beer & pretzel truffles and pair them up with an imperial stout. I'll review them when I get my hands on them. You can do so here.

 - Jay

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Belgium Brewery Lips of Faith Series: #1 Vrienden

This past weekend I discovered Spec's. After my wife and I went out for dinner we wandered across the parking lot and into a Spec's store to check it out. They have a great selection of wine, spirits, gourmet food, and beer. I ogled over the coolers until a New Belgium bottle that I had never seen before caught my eye. I decided to pick it up along with a few others and see just what it was all about.

I am a huge fan of New Belgium brewery. They produce some really high quality and interesting brews. That is why I have chosen to highlight their Lips of Faith series.

When I was living in New York their products where all but impossible to come by. In fact they have scarce if not non existent distribution in the north eastern United States. In Austin, TX New Belgium beer is readily available just about everywhere. Which I am very pleased about because New Belgium Abbey and Ranger IPA are two of my favorite beers right now.

The Lips of Faith series focuses on creative small batch brewing with exotic adjuncts and spices. There are also some "collabeeration" brews. Which brings me to my first pick in the series.

Vrienden (Collaboratively brewed by New Belgium and Allagash)

Style: American Wild Ale

ABV: 8.5%

IBU: 12.2

Vessel: Mug (poured from a 220z bottle)

Appearance: Beautiful deep copper color that is mildly hazy and appears to be around 17 SRM.Creamy honey colored 3/4 inch high long lasting head with great lacing. (4.5/5)

Aroma: Sour and floral with fruity notes through out. A bit more citrus than strawberry but both are detectable. (3.5/5)

Flavor: Tart and a bit on the sweet side. I found very little malt flavor, although I did detect a bit of Carmel and grain. Alcohol flavor was very present. I didn't detect any hibiscus flavor but I swear that I could taste the endive. Bitterness and alcohol linger a bit. (3.5/5)

Mouth Feel: Medium-light bodied and slightly warming. Mildly astringent. Carbonation level seems a tad high.(3/5)

Overall: Vrienden is Flemish for "friends" and that is how I think this should be enjoyed. Crack open a 22oz bottle and split it between three or four friends while snacking on crackers and warm Brie. This one was difficult to compare to a particular style because I found it to be closer to a Gueze than an American Wild Ale. That is the beauty of it though. Is it its own new style or an abomination? That is for each individual to decide and that is why I love craft beer. Traditon and Innovation battling back and forth across that palate.

I feel that this could stand to be a bit less sweet and a have a bit more body. Where this brew really stands out is in aroma and appearance. It looks beautiful in the glass and has a wonderful aroma. The label boasts that it is brewed with brettanomyces and lactobacillus which is all well and good but I doubt that most people even know what either is. Let alone have any idea what they do for the brew and if it is better because of them. I for one do not and I did not detect any flavor or aroma that was completely new to me. So it seems like a bit of a silly marketing gimmick. I'm looking forward to trying others from the series. (14.5/20) 72.5%

 - Jay

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spoetzl Brewery: Shiner Kosmos Reserve

For the second in a series of six Spoetzl beers I've chosen Shiner Kosmos Reserve. As disappointed as I was in Shiner Old-time Alt I am equally as pleased with Shiner Kosmos Reserve. The brew is a dry hopped American pale lager named after the brewery's founder Kosmos Spoetzl. It can only be purchased as part of the family reunion mix pack. Kosmos Reserve was originally offered in 1999 and from what I've read it was a very different brew with a much higher alcohol content (although I cannot find ABV% or IBU specs on either edition).

I do find it odd that they have chosen to market to very different beers under the same name. Maybe the assumption is that the original was offered in the last millennium and people have forgotten about it. Still I haven't had the first edition produced under the name Shiner Kosmos Reserve so I'm approaching it with an open mind and I think I was able to judge it objectively.

A little history on Mr. Kosmos Spoetzl and the Shiner brand. Kosmos Spoetzl was born in Bavaria and immigrated to Shiner Texas. He purchased the Shiner brewery in 1915. His marketing philosophy was simple: A good beer will sell itself. So he set out to brew the very best beer he could.

Style: Dry Hopped American Pale Lager

Vessel: Pilsner Glass (poured from a 12oz bottle)

Appearance: Straw colored with a hint of copper appears to be about 7 or 8 SRM. Average head that holds for a decent amount of time. The lacing is quite nice. (3.5/5)

Aroma: Citrus hop notes that are high for a lager (yet not that hoppy compared to other styles). Subtle biscuit note but overall very little malt aroma. (2.5/5)

Flavor: I find the combination of clean yet complex maltiness and unusually high hop flavor (for a lager) a pleasant combination. The malt complexity reveals itself more with each sip. It is slightly sweet for a lager with hints of bread flavor. Mild hoppy after taste that lingers for a few seconds after each sip. Very slight hint of alcohol that is barely detectable. (3.5/5)

Mouth Feel: Medium bodied with average carbonation. Crisp and light on the palate. (3/5)

Over all: This is a brew I could consume on a hot day or an afternoon at the lake. It is easy to drink and offers more than your average American lager without straying to far from the style. I've read a few reviews that were not so kind to Kosmos Reserve but I found it pleasant, crisp and easy to drink. To each his own because every palate is different. If it was available on its own I would buy a six pack for a hot weekend in the summer, but overall it does not stand out enough in the vast universe of craft beer to pursue again. A hoppy American lager is a nice surprise to a style that I consistently find bland. (12.5/20) 63%

 - Jay

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spoetzl Brewery: Shiner Old-Time Alt

During my various trips to Texas I've enjoyed Shiner Bock and 101 many times. Now that I live in the biggest red state on the map I've found that Shiner has quickly become my go to session beer. I've always been one for buying local and Spoetzl is about a heck of a lot closer than a lot of other breweries so I'm considering it local. Their beers are always of consistent quality and very reasonably priced. Last evening I picked up a mixed case of Shiner entitled the Shiner Family Reunion. The case includes six different styles: Blonde, Bock, Hefeweizen, Kosmos (Dry hopped Lager), Black Lager, and Old-Time alt (Dusseldorf Altbier).

It's been quite some time since I've written any reviews. This seems like a good place to start. I'm going to review each of the six beers included in the Family reunion starting with Shiner Old-Time Alt.

Instead of rambling on about my thoughts as I have done in the past I'm implementing a standard by which I will review beers. I've decided to use four categories. Appearance, Aroma, Flavor, and Mouth feel. Each category will be scored on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 - Terrible, 2 - Poor, 3 - Average, 4 - Good, 5 - Excellent) for a total of 20.The score will be totaled and averaged against the total of 20. Anything that scores below 60% is something that I would not consume again. Each beer will be compared to the standard of its respective style. This should make it much easier for the reader to follow. So, onto the first one.

Shiner Old-Time Alt.

Style: Amber Hybrid beer - Dusseldorf Alt

Vessel: Nonic (poured from 12oz bottle)

Appearance: Crystal clear copper color that appears to be about 17 SRM. Does not hold a head like a Dusseldorf Alt should. In fact the head was almost nonexistent, it collapsed entirely in a matter of seconds. (2/5)

Aroma: Clean with a rich aroma of malt. Low peppery hop aroma. (2/5)

Flavor: Bitter hop flavor balanced by a moderate crisp malt character. Bitter dry finish. No alcohol flavor present. (3/5)

Mouth Feel: Medium bodied. Not warming or astringent. (4/5)

Overall: This particular brew reminded me more of an overly malty Special Bitter than a Dusseldorf Alt. I did enjoy it but it doesn't quite hold up to the standards of its style. I was especially disappointed in the weak head because Dusseldorf Alts are known for a rich creamy long lasting head. I would not seek this out for a second session. (11/20) 55%

 - Jay

Amber Waves of Grain.

Back in mid October Aaron and I brewed a Bavarian Dunkelweizen from extract. I neglected to post about it then because of my school work load. We bottled it and were able to serve it at my Graduation / Going away party right before X-mas. It went over well and was the favorite of all the home brews that we served (which included the Oak aged Barley Wine, Kitchen sink Pale Ale, and All-Grain Pumpkin Ale).

I found that it had a strong banana bread flavor and notes of vanilla typical for the variety of yeast we used (Wyeast – 3068 Weihenstephan). Full bodied and malty just like it should be. I found it just slightly bitter for the style. Looking back we should have either used less hops or boiled them for about 15 minutes less. It was the first time that we brewed a Dunkelweizen so lesson leaned. We didn’t quite reach the attenuation we were aiming for but I estimate the apparent attenuation was around 67%.

Here is the recipe:

Bavarian Dunkelweizen

15-B Dunkelweizen

Author: Jay

Date: 10/14/2010
BeerTools Pro Color Graphic
Size: 5.0 gal

Attenuation: 66.7%
Original Gravity: 1.060 (1.044 - 1.056)
Terminal Gravity: 1.020 (1.010 - 1.014)
Color: 20.93 (14.0 - 23.0)
Alcohol: 5.26% (4.3% - 5.6%)

Bitterness: 18.7 (10.0 - 18.0)


6.0 lb CBW® Bavarian Wheat Powder (Dry Malt Extract)
0.5 lb Caramunich® TYPE I
0.25 lb Carafa Special® TYPE II
0.25 lb Chocolate Malt
1.0 oz Vanguard (5.0%) - added during boil, boiled 60.0 min
1.0 ea WYeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen


Ambient Air: 55.0 °F
Source Water:  Poland Spring Bottled water 60.0 °F
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.12

Aaron has just informed me that he has just entered it in an AHA sanctioned competition, Amber Waves of Grain XV. The competition takes place on February 25th and 26th. I'm excited to be a part of this, unfortunately I won't be able to attend because the competition is back in Buffalo.

I'm not sure how well our brew will fair. The original and final gravity readings were both slightly high for the style. Regardless it will be cool to have some professional feed back. I'll post the results when I get them.

 - Jay

Friday, February 4, 2011

How Beer Saved The World


When you grow up on the ass end of lake Erie you deal with snow from November through April. Not just snow, tons of snow, bitter cold, and wind. That's just how it is in Western New York. When you grow up in Central Texas you deal with brutal dry heat from June through October. If either place gets the opposite weather pattern rest assured that all hell will break loose. That is exactly what I woke up to this morning. 

A local news headline read "Two deadly crashes on I-35 overnight: Hundreds of crashes reported during storm" because of half of an inch of snow! I don't think that half of an inch counts as snow back home. This type of weather happens once every ten years in Texas so I understand when people do not no how to handle it. Yet why on earth so many of those who cannot safely control a vehicle in snow decided to take to the roads and play bumper cars this morning is beyond me.

Snow is no big deal to me, but I still don't like it. In fact it's a major part of why I moved south. The cold, wet, white misery is just no fun. Snow has a way of making everything less enjoyable to me. That said I'm not afraid of the stuff and have driven through some terrible snow related conditions. Back home three feet is the norm. Here in Austin half an inch is Snowmageddon! My wife even got the day off of work today. Everything here is shut down.

My Boston Terrier Bugatti in our back yard at 8:30 this morning.
Here is a link to a local Austin, TX news station with some stories about the "storm" just to give you an idea of what a big deal an accumulation of now is here. To contrast that here is another link to a local Buffalo, NY news station.

Here are some videos that I think capture the mood to keep you entertained while snowed in.

My advice no matter where you live is stay inside and enjoy a nice porter or abbey ale until it melts. If you enjoy snow then strap on your skis or snowboard and call me in April.

 - Jay

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Still hunting

Like many recent grads I'm looking for work. I spent the afternoon driving around the greater Austin area handing in resumes and filling out job applications. I really want to start working again. I've got 2 1/2 years worth of drive stored up waiting to fuel a business.

I had two specific destinations on my employment hunt;  Austin Homebrew Supply and St. Patricks of Texas . St. Patricks of Texas sells commercial fermenting and brewing equipment mainly to wineries. Austin Homebrew Supply is exactly that. A homebrew supply store. They have a very large and impressive facility that I was not expecting. The place was huge. Really cool store. I was in full beer geek mode while I looked around. I couldn't leave a place like this empty handed but I didn't have much to spend so I picked up the latest copy of Zymurgy and a new book that caught my eye. Beer Captured by Tess and Mark Szamatulski. I'm particularly excited because there is a section entitled The marriage of food and beer. This section has several recipes but there is one I can't wait to try called Yeasted beer pizza crust. I've been loving my new pizza oven and this makes it even better. I'll bake one up and post how it went next week.

It is my goal to find a job that I enjoy rather than just collect a paycheck. I know the statement sounds idealistic and naive (especially in the current economy) but I assure you that it is neither. I am passionate about beer and I know that I will be an asset to whomever hires me. I'm aware that jobs are hard to come by now a days. I also know that I didn't walk away from an established and secure position to spend the next three years in college only to come out and head right back into something that I do not enjoy. This is my chance to start fresh and I'm going to capture it.

 - Jay

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Rusty Z is one today. Knock one back for me.

I'm celebrating with my dogs, a bottle of Shiner Blonde, and the new Crowbar album. The page has been upgraded and updated for the second year. I've got some big plans. Stay tuned and stay thirsty.

 - Jay

House Bill 660

There is a lot of talk going on in the Texas brewing community about a proposed bill that would improve things for both consumers and producers of beer. The laws involving beer are different in Texas and New York. I'm still learning about what can and cannot be done. For example when I hosted a tasting back in NY I was only allowed to pour 2oz at a time up to four times for a total of 8oz. When I attended the Jester King grand opening patrons were allowed three full pints! That would never fly back in NY. I've got some researching to do because I'm very curious about this subject as it could (hopefully) become an issue that I will have to deal with professionally.

Here is a link to the bill

 - Jay

Monday, January 31, 2011

33 Bottles of beer

Way back last February I posted about a cool pocket sized tasting journal named 33 Bottles of beer. The note book is sold in a package of three (which worked out perfectly at one for each of us). My first entry was on March 11th 2010. It was Lagunitas Hop Stoopid in a 22oz bottle. It's been a while so I don't remeber it all that well. I commented that it was good for the price but not the smoothest IPA. I haven't had it since so it must not have left that great of an impression on me.

On January 21st 2011 I logged my 33rd entry in true Texas fashion with a bottle of Lone Star beer. I know that it's cheap and not exactly complex but you know what? It's easy to drink and true to its style (American Lager). I like this stuff. I know it isn't the type of thing that beer geeks would get excited about but that doesn't discredit it one bit. I'm sure I'll be consuming many a Lone Star come summer. 

So many new beers to try here in Texas that are not distributed back in NY. I'll be ordering some new journals shortly. I doubt it will take me as long to fill one up this time around. At 3 for $10 these things should be in the pocket of every beer geek.

You can get your own here.

 - Jay