2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 710 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 12 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Beer for New Year’s Eve?!

This is a special post, as it’s not often I associate a specific beer with a specific holiday.  For many, ringing in the new year will be filled with toasts, and downing delicate, bubbly, pale wine from demure flutes.  Those of you who feel bound by tradition, but very much want to toast 2016 with beer, worry no more– I have your answer.  I give you, Bière de Champagne:

deus_story

The above beauty is brewed by Brouwerij (Brewery) Bosteels of Buggenhout, Belgium.  Touting 200 years of history, and multi-generational ownership, this brewery offers the logical and splendid alternative to fine champagne.  This is a relatively new style of beer which undergoes a similar process as champange, including the use of champagne yeast.  Mon Dieu!

What should you expect?  Taken from Bosteels site, a “light blonde to pale
golden beer, brightly scintillating, saturated and with extremely tiny
bubbles. DeuS is crowned by a fine linen white, meringue-like head.”

Notes in the aroma include fresh apples backed by mint, thyme, citrus, ginger, malt, pears, hops, allspice and cloves.

Ah, but what of the taste?  Bosteels provides an alluring description, “DeuS is delicate and complex. It glides over the tongue as smoothly as
silk and then blossoms into a creamy, tingling sparkle. DeuS is light and
vivacious and seduces you with the sweetness of a grape and the fruitiness
of a dessert apple. The finish is beautifully dry with a bare hint of tannin.”

I’ve been sitting on a bottle of this for about a year, waiting for just the right time to unwind the wire cage and pop the cork on this exotic brew.  I’ll be drinking this from a pilsner glass.  Anyone else going to join me on 12/31/15?

Additionally, if you’re celebrating with a different beer, I’d love to know what you’ve picked out.  Drop me a line, you just might invoke beer-envy in me.

I’ll be doing a review at about 12:02 am, 1/1/16, let’s see if I get the same qualities from the beer during my experience.

Sources:

Bosteels pdf

Bosteels website

and as always, BeerAdvocate

Dam good IPA

No, it’s not a typo.

On the docket: 11.2 oz. bottle of Brouwerij ‘t IJ’s IPA besy by:  6/2016.  Nice and fresh.

Poured into:  Man Skirt pint glass

S:  Cloudy gold body with a thick, bubble-ridden head.  Lace heavy and clingy, but the head is slowly receding as I admire it and type out the review.  Tiny bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass.  This unfiltered, unpasteurized beauty makes the buxom, inked woman on the bottle less interesting.

A:  Bright citrus of grapefruit, clean malt, and faint floral mélange.  Simple, subtle, inviting.

T:  The nose carries into the taste.  Bright citrus and a hint of pine come through in the hops department.  There is a touch of floral-ness, but only just.  The initial sweetness, while the beer is cool, is whisked away by the dry, bitter, and long finish of this Cascade and Citra-heavy brew.  As it warms, the sweetness sticks around for a second or two longer.

F:  Medium with nice carbonation, able to scrub your mouth and make you reach for your glass again.  Dry and bracing.

O:  Very pleasant take on the style from a brewery nestled into the most recognized city in North Holland- Amsterdam.  This is the first of a six-bottle gift set I received, all by this brewery.  Stay tuned for my next choice, whatever it may be.  Amstel Lite, this is not!

S:  4  A:  3.75  T:  4  F: 4  O:  4

Suggested food pairing:  Creamy cheddar cheese, summer salads, rare hamburger on brioche bun

Hop’solute Certainty: Fegley’s “TIPA”

On the docket:  Allentown Brew Work’s Hop’solutely

Poured into:  12 oz. draft offering at the bar/brewery poured into an ABW snifter

S:  Crystal clear burnished orange/amber body under a beige head that quickly recedes into a soapy island on top.

A:  I got quite a few tropical aromas including mango, guava, melon (my wife said grapefruit) plus a hint of heat and a caramel and toffee sweetness.  This brute is also dry-hopped with Amarillo and Chinook hops, what a treat to the nose.

T:  Wow!  An aggressive bitter hop assault of pine and dryness, and oh… did I say bitter?  I’ll chalk this up to the Cascade, CTZ, Summit, Amarillo, and Chinook hop bill.  After your senses recover, you can also get a nice sweet caramel to counter the hops from the Caramel malt, and even a touch of fruitcake-y sweetness.

F:  Oily, slick, and coating.  There’s a prickly carbonation that helps to scrub the palate, easing you into the next sip of this 11.5% abv behemoth.  It ends with a bone-dry finish that enables you to go back for more.

O:  Crazy, fun, fresh offering at the location.  Drink with care and a smile.  Reminiscent of an American Barleywine or Strong Ale, because technically, there is no such thing as a “triple IPA” and that’s fine by me.  I’ve read other reviews that give this beer such a hard time.  Try it fresh from the tap at the Allentown location, you might think about it differently.

S:  4  A:  4.5  T:  4.25  F:  4  O:  4

Suggested food pairing:  Pasta Primavera, buffalo wings with bleu cheese, carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting

A Weighty Subject: Beer Gravity

A good friend of mine, who drinks quality beer, but lacks the geek-love I have for it, asked me via text message:  “What do these crazy numbers mean on my beer?  Plato?  What is FG?”

That, my craft-drinking crew, is gravity.  Specifically degrees Plato (named after the German scientist, Dr. Plato) and Final Gravity.

As a general rule, the higher the °P (degrees Plato) or FG, the more alcoholic the beer.  Also, higher Plato or FG usually indicates a sweeter, fuller beer.  I say general rule, because yeast and temperature complicates this issue.  Both Wee Heavy Scotch Ales and Belgian Tripels are high gravity beers, but Tripels are quite crisp and dry, rather than full and sweet.

To provide an easy explanation as to the actual numbers, 10 °P means a wort (beer before it’s beer) is 10% solids.  To get a rough sense of what that means in terms of abv (alcohol by volume) 10 °P ~ 5% abv, like a typical German Pilsner.  12 °P is ~ 6% abv.  The ratio is not algebraic, but logarithmic, since 19 °P is ~ 10% abv.  Imperial Stout anyone?

The gravity measurement involves the density of the liquid in relation to water.  Water is 1.0 gravity, adding wort to the liquid raises the gravity.  There is a rough ratio, as with °P.  1.050 (or simply 50) beer will contain ~ 6% abv.  Again, it’s not a perfect relationship.  1.055 (or 55), and increase of just .005, results in an abv of ~7%.  That small increase moves a beer from say, a session-worthy amber lager to an American style IPA or stout.

To make things even more complicated, many European brewers, use the Balling scale, or like the Belgian brewers, use Belgian degrees.  When you see 8° on a cork and cage 750mL Belgian brew, it’s really 1.080, likely a Belgian Strong Dark, or perhaps a “Quad” coming in at ~10% abv (sip with care).

I hope this sheds a little bit of light on the topic.  For more info (and in order to cite my sources) visit:

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher

Plato to SG Conversion Chart

Top Fermented (a blog)

Specific Gravity

Malting and Brewing Science

 

Big. Beer. Barleywine.

On the docket:  Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (part of the BIG BEER Series).  Bottle conditioned, and brewed in 2013.  Excellent- pre-aged.  No waiting needed.

Poured into:  Jester King Snörkel snifter.

S:  An opaque tawny, brown body sits below a quick-rising khaki head.  After a minute or so, the head dies down, sitting tight and sudsy.  I’ve not even had a sip, and there’s lacing on the glass, medium bands of beauty.

A:  This big beer boasts fig, caramel and pine in the initial aroma.  Further inhalation provides sweet malt and certain fusel booziness.  It smells characteristic of an American Barleywine.

T:  The taste mimics much of the aroma, adding a bit of earthy, spicy hop signature.  The malt sired toasted brown bread and caramel.  When on the cold side, the alcohol is masked.  When warm, it’s easier to detect.  Bitterness helps balance out the sweetness.

F:  Some carbonation present, enough to keep the sweetness from dominating and creating fatigue.  Medium body, dry bitter finish that lasts and lasts.  Woo!

O:  In addition to being a favorite style, I also appreciate that this example produced by a respected American brewer bridges the gap between treacle-sweet English BWs and hop-bomb, abrasive US versions (fresh Bigfoot comes to mind).  Thus one hits all the marks- hoppy, boozy (in a good way- not hot and solventy), nice initial sweetness.  A fine example of the style.

S:  4  A:  4  T:  4.5  F:  4  O:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  Creamy goat cheese, braised beef, spicy Thai or Indian curry (if you’re the masochistic type)