[ Comments Off ] Posted on 11.08.08 under Aimée, Alcohol, Tasting

Brewers, if you’re reading this, I’m begging you. Please stop putting all your big beers in big bottles.

I am struggling with a bomber of Weyerbacher Blasphemy. I love twelve ounces of it. But the prospect of that second half of the bottle is sort of scaring me right now.

I understand that a big bottle makes a beer seem more special. And I think there’s a psychology that makes it easier to spend $10 on a bomber than it is to spend $20 on a four-pack, even though it’s pretty much equivalent.

But the thing is, my wife isn’t too into oak aged Belgian Quadrupels. If this were an IPA, like Avery’s Maharaja, then I could get some help from her, but it isn’t every day that you can find a beer-loving friend to split one of these big bottles with.

Session 18 – Anniversary Time

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 08.01.08 under Aimée, Alcohol, Pairing, Tasting, The Session

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.
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Brew Day: What Hop Shortage?

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 04.08.08 under Aimée, All-Grain, Angus, Brewing, Hops, IPA

For the first time since February 15th, I made some beer at home today. It’s just amazing how a baby can really eat up all your time that you used to have for things like brewing! Actually, it’s pretty amazing that I was able to brew today, just barely two weeks after the arrival of Angus. It was a real sacrifice by Aimée to have me brewing today, since it takes all day, and that leaves her with the pack all to herself. Not to mention that this is all for beer. Obviously, I could just go to the store and buy two cases of IIPA and two cases of a small IPA. But she’s nice enough to understand that I’d much rather make it.

I did a partigyle brew day. In order to make a 1.088 IIPA, I needed about 18 pounds of grain. I can mash 11 pounds in my five gallon cooler mash tun if I want to use a 3:1 mash (that’s 1.44 quarts per pound). I can squeeze 14 pounds in there if I want to use a lower ratio (1 quart per pound), but that’s a thick mash. I could use DME, corn sugar, or other adjunct fermentables to make up the difference, but a) it’s nice to make an all-grain beer, and b) it’s fun to do a partigyle.

What’s a Partigyle? 
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Drinkin’ Wife

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 03.29.08 under Aimée

A week ago this morning, my wonderful wife gave birth to our third and perhaps final child. Ever the vigilant mother, she didn’t touch a drop of alcohol all the time she was with child. This was naturally difficult, given that I touch many drops of alcohol all the time, and she also appreciates great beer. Especially towards the end, her desire for sweet hoppy beer became more prevalent. But she never gave in.

Since the baby has been here, I’ve been making a real effort to have one of each of the different beers I have on hand, so she can try each one. She’s been having a sip here and there of many of my recent concoctions as well as my recent IPA buying spree, and a few others I have around. 

After messing around for a week with just sips, my wife finally had nearly a whole beer in her own glass and everything! This is quite exciting, to have my live-in drinking buddy back at least a little bit. She had a glass of the PostNatal IPA, actually about ten ounces of it, in the fancy little Ommegang 10th Anniversary glass. Come to think of it, I shoulda taken a picture, but I just have the impression in my mind.

Even better, she’s pleased with the result. Of course, I’m asking her all sorts of questions: “Is it too dry?” “What about that slightly watery spot about 3/4 way through the sip?” “Do you think I should add a quarter ounce more hops at flameout next time?” And she’s just happy to have a beer.

Before too long, I know she’ll be giving me some great constructive feedback on all my beers.

It’s sure to beat Iris telling me, “It smells gross. Actually kind of fruity.” And it will also probably be more helpful than Boden grinning as he proclaims, “Beer!”

It’s a Boy!

[ 8 Comments ] Posted on 03.26.08 under Aimée, Angus, Iris, Stories

AngusAfter 40-something weeks, the baby finally decided it was time to come out of his warm little incubation chamber. On Saturday March 22nd, in the comfort of our own home, assisted by the excellent midwives of Birth and Beyond, we were joined by Angus “Gus” Brainard.

It is quite a unique experience having a birth in your home. First of all, it’s sort of like a family gathering – you really get a sense for just how small your living room can be. Especially when there’s a 100 gallon tub of water, two midwives, one helper, a mother-in-law, a sister-in-law, yourself, and a pregnant woman all in the room at the same time. Not to mention all the birthing equipment.

All in all it was an amazing experience, really close and personal and intimate, despite all the people there. Everyone there was completely in tune with the needs of Aimée as she labored to deliver the baby. It was quick and easy, and drug and intervention free. Natural birth, the way it was meant to be.

I offer this warning before you read on: I’m going to talk about the placenta, and show pictures.

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Video Tasting: Magic Hat Lucky Kat IPA

[ 4 Comments ] Posted on 03.20.08 under Aimée, Boden, IPA, Iris, Tasting

Magic Hat Lucky Kat IPAI’m back with another video tasting. This time, I have stepped up the personnel even more than before. I have virtually a posse tasting this beer with me. Actually, I’m the only one that manages to take the glass and put it to my lips to drink some, but the others look and smell with me. As you might expect, I have not only brought along Iris and Boden to the tasting, but Aimée has joined in, too. That’s right; both kids and the wife and the beer. It was a crowded camera lens tonight. Hopefully I pulled it off.

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Green Beer

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 03.17.08 under Aimée, Fun

Green BeerIt just wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without some green beer, would it? I guess some Guinness could also make it official. Oh yeah, and some corned beef and cabbage.

Well we couldn’t find an “all natural” corned beef, so we went with chicken. But Aimée cooked up some cabbage along with potatoes, onions, and carrots. Sort of like a little St. Patty stew. It was tasty.

I also didn’t make it to the store for some Guinness so I went with my closest homebrewed option, a Baltic Porter. It was black-colored, at least. I almost went with the Imperial Stout, but that seemed a bit over the top.

Then, I had to do it. I had to make some green beer. I had food coloring from making Cherry Sparkles pink. The pack had red, green, blue, and yellow. Seems strange that it would have green, even though it has blue and yellow. I’d think you could make something green with equal parts of blue and yellow. Anyway. It was just what I needed to make green beer.

I’ve been making green things left and right the past few days. Green eggs. Aimée made green pancakes. Green water. Green seltzer. This green thing is fun.

So there you have it: green beer. The photo is above. This is my Stonington Memorial Summer Ale (an American Wheat beer, and actually the base beer that was pinked to become Cherry Sparkles) with a dollop of green coloring in it. It actually made my tongue green! Ha!

Super Pretzel!

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 03.15.08 under Aimée, Pairing

I am going really upscale tonight for fine dining. Aimée is very late in her pregnancy (actually coming up on 41 weeks) and is turning to early-pregnancy-like cravings. Today is soft pretzel. I went out and got some frozen soft pretzels, called Super Pretzel. Just the plain old soft pretzels. Cooked in the toaster oven in four minutes. Easy as pie. And perhaps as tasty as pie. Better in some ways. Paired with some organic yellow mustard and a Sierra Nevada ESB. Sometimes simple is good.

Video Tasting: Cherry Sparkles

[ 2 Comments ] Posted on 03.06.08 under Aimée, Boden, Brewing, Iris, Tasting

Last week’s video tasting still sits on the (hopefully un-reformatted) hard drive of my laptop which is currently in the capable hands of my nearest HP Service Center. In case you’re wondering, they’re waiting for a part and are projecting that I’ll have it back on 3/12/08. Complaining over.

Today being Thursday, I took up my favorite weekly beer tradition and did a video tasting. Another one with the kids. Including the kids is…interesting. It makes the whole thing a lot less predictable, and a lot more editing-intensive.

I have already written about Cherry Sparkles here before. It’s a cherry wheat I made in honor of my daughter. It has a little cherry syrup and a lot of food coloring gel to give it the slightest cherry aroma and flavor and plenty of pink color. The base beer, my American Wheat, is always a favorite amongst my friends, and I’ve put Strawberry in it in the past with pretty good results. Cherry Sparkles is beer-ish, fruity, and refreshing. It is my way of asking summer to come as quickly as possible. This beer is best enjoyed in warm weather above 70 degrees. So time to turn up the heat and crack open a Cherry Sparkles beer.

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The Color of Beer

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 02.26.08 under Aimée, Brewing, Iris, Zok

Pink Beer!In my continuing efforts to appease all the members of my immediate family. That is, Aimée and Iris, I made a beer in honor of Iris. I already told you all about Aimée’s yesterday.

Iris gave herself the nickname “Cherry Sparkles”. At first it was just “Sparkles”, but then she discovered maraschino cherries, and it became “Cherry Sparkles”. She often introduces herself as Iris Cherry Sparkles Brainard, which almost always confuses the person she’s talking to, especially if it’s another kid.

So I decided to make a “Cherry Sparkles” beer. That is, beer with cherry. I had luck adding fresh strawberries to my Stonington Memorial Summer Ale, an American Wheat Beer I have made a few times. Everyone always loves the un-fruitened beer, and I figured Sam Adams makes a Cherry Wheat, why not me? It may not sparkle, since there’s all that wheat protein making haze, but none of my beers are particularly sparkly anyway.

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