I saw a show today on DIY network that wifey was watching. It was about outdoor rooms. It was pretty cool. The thing that caught my eye was (of course) the outdoor bar area they featured.
I could see from the first aerial shot leading into the scene that the guy had two (or maybe just one) draft tower(s) coming out of his outdoor bar setup. I was immediately dragged into it, waiting for the details of powering, cooling, pressure balancing the tap(s).
I was let down when all they showed was that it was a single tower with a single handle pouring some swilly macro beer. All that money and effort in the greatest outdoor party “room” ever to serve Budweiser? That’s his prerogative.
Anyway, it got me dreaming of the time when I’ll have some bar space that’s fancier than a used fridge with some tap handles coming out of the door in my largely unfinished basement. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate fire pit patio with outdoor TVs, just a cozy little basement bar with some wood paneling or even a drop ceiling. And obviously a serious draft beer setup serving up a wide variety from lite beer to lambic, accompanied by the appropriate educational materials.
Rather than run out of beer or more correctly, rather than drink all my lambic in a few short weeks, I decided to *gasp* buy some beer today.
Red Hook IPA was a good deal at $12.99 for a 12-pack and I felt it stood a good chance at tasting pretty good.
Apparently I’ve been living under a home-brewed rock for half the past decade or so. Because I’ve missed many iterations of Red Hook’s packaging. I should have known that the alliance with AB would have meant more than better distribution and regional brewing. There’s also the marketing power (e.g. selling packaging)
So I definitely recognize the first one. I have a vague sense that maybe one or two of the middle three existed. And I hold the final one in my hand. It’s cute. The bottle seems so small and light, but yet it is 12 ounces. The caps are fun and have different things under them, like a Magic Hat (but no words).
Oh and the beer. It’s actually pretty good. At first it smells (and therefore tastes) like perfume. That’s a flowery dry hop I guess. I wonder which one. Google is not an immediate help. Willamette? Cascade? I’m not sure either sounds right.
The bitterness is underwhelming, and the overall hop presence is soft and fragrant. I normally like a harsh/abrasive piney/fruity hop presence. Simcoe/Amarillo/Columbus. But this is still pretty good. At 6.5% ABV, it’s in the sweet spot for an IPA, IMO. I can see how this is a good compromise for a brewery that knows how to make great beer, and also needs to appeal to a rather wide audience. I would definitely get this again, should I nearly run out of beer some time in the future, or find myself out where this might be an offering on draft.
A good solid B+/A- in my unscientific book. Way better than $15.99 for 12 Sam Adams any day.
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?