Tonight is the session. This session is very timely for me. The subject is Sour Beer, and I just happen to have some sour beer activity to report tonight.
On January 1st, 2010 I made my first lambic. It was half barley and half wheat, made with old stinky hops and a variety of bacterial cultures and yeast (Brett B, Sour Mix, Lambic Blend, plus some US-05)
Since then, the beer has sat in my basement, covered in a brown paper bag, tucked in a corner, opened only a few times for flavor sampling.
Ever since the baby came a few months ago, brewing has been slow to say the least. So I’m facing a shortage. I might actually have to buy beer (gasp!). I feel like I’m the US Government about to default on my beer debt. I need a compromise to cover this gap.
So I sampled the lambic this week. It was pretty good. Rather barn-ish and overall funky. Sorta sour, bacterial I suppose. Not yet vinegar. I think that’s a good enough reason to take it out of the carboy and put it on tap. Especially given the circumstances.
For a while (right up to today) I was worried about where should I put it. If I kegged it, the keg and faucet could be bugged for life. If I bottled, the bacteria could keep working and make bottle bombs.
Ultimately, I kegged it. I’ve marked all the plastic I used in case I need to never use it for non-bacterial beer again. I’m using a picnic tap, which I’ll mark for Lambic and probably not reuse for normal beer. But then again I might try it to see if it really matters.
For now I’m just waiting for the beer to chill and carbonate before I can really dig into it. Then I’m sure it will save me from buying beer. Or at least it should minimize the amount of beer I need to buy.
Excerpt from brew day:
Boden (5 YO son): Daddy, you make beer because brewing beer is free, but buying beer costs money, right?
Daddy: Well brewing isn’t free, because the ingredients cost money and my time should be worth something, but it’s still a lot cheaper than buying it
Boden: But isn’t it a lot easier to just buy it?
Daddy: But brewing it is still a lot cheaper than buying it.
Boden: But all this stuff [the equipment needed to make beer] costs a lot of money probably
Daddy: Well I bought that a while ago. Look, I can make this IPA for $25 but if I bought this much IPA it would cost like $80.
Boden: … Daddy can I play on your phone?
The first Friday of every month is the Session, a group beer blogging project. This month is hosted by Beer and Firkins, and it’s a timely topic about the passage of time and what’s to come in the new year. Specifically: What will you miss about 2008 and what do you expect will excite you most in 2009, in the “Beer World”?
Looking back on 2008, it was an up and down year for beer. From giants merging to everyone emerging from the raw materials shortages relatively unscathed, a lot has been happening. Many breweries had many special releases, and fortunately, most of these are not one time deals. Most of the special releases are seasonal, so though I’ll miss them while they’re out of season, I can still look forward to their return in the coming year. But there are a few very special beers that only come out once. Ever.
As a fairly young man, I have never felt the restrictive shackles of prohibition. Unless you count the 21-year prohibition that everyone in this country is subjected to. I suppose that alcohol is a bit easier to come by in your pre-drinking-age temporary prohibition than it was during the thirteen-year dry spell. On the other hand, if we’re to believe the movies, perhaps the bar scene was as vibrant in the 20’s as it is today. Homebrewing would have been more than just a cool hobby. It would have been illicit pursuit of forbidden fermentation.
Normally I am not a big fan of holidays or national anniversaries. But then there’s something like this that goes totally under the radar of most people. So many people who enjoy the freedom afforded us by the 21st Amendment are simultaneously clueless about said legislation’s significance to their daily helping of liquid bread. Even as recently as last year, I myself was barely aware of the passing of this day. Though it’s likely I made full utilization of my right to drink beer on that day, it was not a conscious awareness.
This month’s session asks the impossible question: “What’s your favorite beer?”
It sounds like a cop out to say “The beer that’s in my glass” but so often it’s the truth. I am still new enough to the world of the best beer in the world that it remains my M.O. to get my hands on every different beer I can. With a liquor store like Gordon’s a few towns away stocking over 1000 different beers, it isn’t hard for me to find something new each time I’m there.
So it is with great apprehension that I observed the coming of this session. I tried to turn downstream and find a happy place, where the clarity would come to me. “What is my favorite beer?” I would ask myself.
I think that it does change from time to time. In fact, if you were to ask me tomorrow what it was, the answer might well be totally different. But here it is. Today’s favorite beer.
In January of 2007, I quit my job of eight years, sold my house, and moved over an hour away from all my friends and family. With just my wife and kids and cat I headed from inland Connecticut to the shore of Southeastern CT. It was shortly after that when I began making my own beer at home and really got into the beer cognoscenti scene. Not that I have achieved that status yet, but it was then that I began my journey towards it.
At the time, I was an IPA guy. The hoppier the better. Bitterness was what I was after. If my tongue didn’t ache from an alpha acid assault, I considered the beer “wimpy.” But I was starting to branch out a little. Just before I left Manchester, I found a great seasonal beer that I was in love with. Made by Magic Hat, it’s Roxy Rolles. It is a cold-weather seasonal. It is dark brown and quite hoppy. Sort of like a brown IPA.
I bought this beer by the case when I could, and lamented its departure when the spring came around and it was taken out of circulation. Just seeing the label of that beer makes me remember those days when our home here in Mystic was brand new and fresh. It brings to mind the absolute joy and freedom we were indulging in as we made the bold move to start a new life for ourselves.
I tried Roxy Rolles again this past January, but it just did not live up to the memories I have of it. Sure, it was OK, but it wasn’t the kind of thing I’d drink all month. This is another data point towards my opinion that a beer is more than just the beer itself, but it is the entirety of your life experience for that moment while you’re drinking the beer. Looking back at that time with that beer is a memory that I will always cherish of a great time of transition in my life.
Thanks to the Bathtub Brewery for hosting this month’s session and coming up with a nice topic that gave me a chance to reminisce for a little while here.
This month’s session is hosted by The Barley Blog, and the topic is “Happy Anniversary”, where we’re all popping the cap on a very special beer and giving it the review treatment.
Avery is one of my favorite brewers these days. It’s got a lot to do with the Maharaja and the Czar and their other gigantic beers. Even their normal beers are pretty good. I dunno, I just like Avery. Maybe it’s the foil around the cap that gets me? This session was a perfect excuse to open one of my cellared bottles of Avery Fourteen. That’s the 14th anniversary beer from our friends in Boulder. This beer was bottled in 2007.
Read the rest of this entry…
Welcome to this month’s session! Our gracious host today is Pfiff! The topic is drinking out of season beers.
For the longest time I was not a believer in seasonal beer. I was always just the type of person to pick whatever seemed good, regardless of weather. It was mostly IPAs at that time. What am I saying? I would drink IPA rain or shine, hot or cold. Even to this day, I feel that IPA transcends seasonal drinking. It finds a way to fit into any season.
But this is not about drinking in season.
It’s session time again. This time, hosted by Geistbear Brewing Blog. This month’s topic is beer festivals. I don’t have a lot of beer fest experience, but I have some very recent experience with a beer fest, and here are my thoughts on beer festivals.
Welcome to The Session. See our fine hosts Boak and Bailey for the full roundup of other posts on the same topic. Tonight’s post is about where the love of great beer began for me.
I am not like a lot of other people. I never drank beer in high school. All I ever seemed to see was yellow fizz, and it was gross. Even in college, beer wasn’t really high on my list. I was always too scared to try to use a fake ID before I was 21, and I wasn’t really too motivated to pursue what I thought beer was at the time.
My roommate in my Junior year tried to get me to like beer. He tried with some of the right stuff, too. He was a big fan of Bass. He tried with Sam Adams. He tried a few others. None really hit the spot for me. But I kept trying. Here’s where it gets fuzzy… but then suddenly one day it’s nickel night at the college bar and I’m getting drafts of Red Hook ESB for a nickel apiece and loving it. Come to think of it, they had a pretty decent beer selection in the late 90s at the Civic Pub.
So that would seem to be the end of it. I started on good beer and never looked back. But that wasn’t the case.
Today is the first Friday of the month, so it’s time for the Session once again. This month is hosted by British beer blogger Stonch. His selection for a theme reflects his approach to beer. Stonch is a dedicated pub drinker, and people are a big part of a pub experience. Thus beer people.
Regular readers will know that for the most part, my beer people are my kids and now my wife is back in the game. But it just doesn’t seem right to talk about kids as beer people. Fortunately, I do make it out of the house on beer-related items now and then. Today I went to the local homebrew shop to pick up ingredients for my next few months of brewing. Grain’s cheaper in bulk.