Skip to main content

2011 Review: My beer culture

2011 was a great year for my beer culture. There were a number of firsts for me this year and I think that my new experiences really helped me get a fully understanding of beer culture. I am going to break up this post into three sections to help better organize my thoughts; beer culture, homebrewing, and 2012 plans

Beer Culture

I certainty had a full year for my education in beer culture. I went to Europe for a week and a half and drank in half a dozen counties. Seeing how beer is treated overseas versus in the US was an interesting thing to see and I really want to go back to Belgium and Germany to enjoy more beer and beer culture. I also had the chance to meet Sam Calagione this year which was awesome as he is a role model of mine. I also attended my first beer festival this year and had an absolute blast. I can’t wait to go again next year.

Homebrewing

I started homebrewing almost five years ago and this year was by far my favorite. I turned out a lot of great beer and also added a lot of needed (alright wanted) equipment. I now have a kegerator, grain mill, and an outdoor propane burner. All of these items have added to my enjoyment or understanding of the beer brewing process.

2012 Plans

In 2012 I have a lot of things I want to do for the site and my own homebrewing. The first thing is that I want to move away from seasonal beers and try to get some wider release beers. The reasons for this are many, but it really boils down to two things, 1. Seasonal beers have been disappointing for me, and 2. this site gets visitors from all over the US and Europe, I want to review beers that my visitors can get as well so that we can share out experiences together.

On the actual site end of things I would like to clean-up the look of the site a bit and refine how I do the March Brewness competition/popularity contest. I would also really like to do a beer styles analysis to help me and my visitors break down the expected smells, tastes, and other characteristics from different beers. The final thing I want to do for the site is get more of my homebrewing documented. I didn’t post many recipes this year and I need to do a better job of that since I am producing some beer that I really enjoy.

On a homebrewing note I want to expand into lagers this year and I want to brew at least once a month. I would also like to try to duplicate some commercial beers just to see how well my brewing/tasting abilities are. The only other thing I hope to do in 2012 is keep the site updated on even days of the month. It’s a model that I have been trying to do for the past few months, and for the most part, I have done a good job.

Thank you so much for visiting BreweryReviewery. I really appreciate all of the comments and feedback that I get. I am well aware that there are many other beer review/homebrewing sites out there but it means a lot to me to see my visitor numbers grow each month. I hope everyone has a great 2012.

Do you have any 2012 beer plans?

2011 Review: Beer Reviews

I reviewed a lot of beer this year. To be exact, I reviewed a total of 96 beers. My first beer review of the year was #79 First Snow Ale and yesterday’s #174 was The Vixen Chocolate Chilli Bock. I still have a lot of beer that needs to be reviewed for the beginning of 2012, but I am very happy with my posting activity. According to my friend the calculator, I posted a beer review every 3.8 days this year, not bad for a one-manned beer blog especially considering the March Brewness took out entire month and a half of posting. Below I have put some links to my favorite beers of the year.

  • Lips of Faith Kick: Just an outstanding beer that I would love to have again if I could find it.
  • Leipziger Gose: Wonderfully sour and complex.
  • Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA: By far my favorite rye IPA that I have ever had. Just a great balance of flavors.
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru: Had it first in Belgium and discovered that I can get it in the US. It is a wonderfully sour, balanced beer.
  • Smooth Hoperator: This is just an outstanding beer and continues to be one of my favorites. It has bright citrus hops with a malt backbone to support everything.

If you were not able to tell from the list above, 2011 is the year of the sour beers for me. I never really enjoyed them in the past, but 3 of the 5 beers on my favorite beers of the year list were sour beers.

I have also gotten to try things from a lot of new breweries this year. When I was going through the list of reviews, there was one brewery that really stood out to me this year. Peak Organic Brewing Company would be my pick for “brewery of the year” if I could give such an award. Everything I had from them was fresh and crisp tasting. They do make a lot of hop forward beers, but they also make an outstanding amber coffee along with some other non-hop beers. I mentioned in several reviews that they were quickly growing on me, and that’s why I picked them as my brewery of the year.

In 2012 I have a lot of exciting beers planned to review and I hope to cover a wider variety of beers as well. I also hope to not cover as many seasonal beers in the coming year as I have been getting disappointed by many of them (the fall seasonals in particular). I have a lot of winter beers to review, but once I am done with them, I don’t think that I will seek out other seasonals.

How was your 2011 beer drinking? Do you have any new favorites or suggestions for me to try in 2012? Please share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments section below.

Beer photography

I’ve gotten a few e-mails in the past two months asking about the ways that I take my pictures for this site. I am in no way a professional photographer, but I do like taking pictures of things and playing with camera equipment. I added some new equipment to my setup in the past few months and I think they quality of the pictures has really made a big turnaround.

The first thing that I added was a lightbox kit. A lightbox basically gives you the ability to control the background and lighting in one easy sweep. The background is long enough for the object of the photograph to be placed on. The lack of edges gives the photograph the look of having an endless background. It also can let it look like it is floating in air. I have my lightbox pictured below along with the lights I use to brighten it up.

If you look at the images I posted when I first started this site you can see that they look very different. The original location I took my pictures was in the kitchen of my college apartment. I picked this spot because it had good lighting and a white background. As you can see from the picture below the colors are good, but the lighting reflects things I don’t want in the picture and you can see various kitchen tools/equipment. My favorites are the power outlet on the right and the spatula on the left.

When I was in Lubbock, Texas I also took pictures in the kitchen. The lighting was good, but the background was not. As you can see in the pictures¬† below there is a defined corner and the picture is not level. The counter top wasn’t close to level, which made getting a level picture difficult.

In addition to the lightbox I also purchased a low-end digital SLR. This gave me the ability to control everything on my camera. Unlike most point and shots, a digital SLR gives you the ability to fully customize each setting to get an optimum picture. I still have a few things that I want to do with my current setup, but I feel that the quality of the images on this site have drastically improved since its beginning.

Quick site updates

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve made a few changes to the site in the past few days. First, you will notice that there is a header image at the top of the page. I have removed the old logo on the right sidebar and moved some of the more important things up towards the top for better viewing. In addition to the visual changes I have made some changes on the back-end which should make the site feel a bit “snappier.”

Everything should be loading faster now. Please let me know if you notice and changes in the speed of the site. In addition to the speed changes, what do you think of the new header? Is there anything that you would changed? I’m just looking for some general feedback in order to make the site better.

One other other place that has received some updates is on our Facebook page. We now have a “vanity” URL found at facebook.com/breweryreviewery. If you don’t “like” us already, I highly recommend doing so as we will be giving away a few things to our Facebook fans starting in August. For some reason Facebook is not allowing me to set a profile picture right now but I hope to have that sorted out shorty.

Thanks for any feedback and for stopping by the site.

Beer Review #108 Karnivel Kolsch

It seems like I just reviewed a Stoudt’s beer, but their Karnivel Kolsch is their official spring beer. I think a Kolsch is a excellent style of a spring or summer beer. They are generally very delicate in flavor, and light on mouthfeel. They deliver things from both the ale and lager world. A Kolsch is an ale that is lagered, giving it similar characteristics to a lager. It has the fruity esters of an ale, with the crispness of a lager. Kolsch is a style that a lot of craft beer drinkers pass over, but it really hits the spot on a hot day.

Stoudt’s Brewing Company of Adamstown, Pa brewed a nice sessionable beer with this Kolsch. It comes in at 4.8% which makes it devilishly drinkable. This beer pours a very pale blond color and has a thin white head. To the untrained eye, it looks like a Coors Light. The nose is the first thing that would alert you that this beer is nothing like a Coors Light. It has some nice toasty and biscuity odors along with a slight hop aroma.

On the first taste I noticed a nice light malt character (good sweetness) followed by a surprisingly strong and balanced hop bite. The biscuit flavor kicks in on the aftertaste. There was some fruit flavors in there as well. The important thing to remember with a Kolsch is that it is not going to scream flavor, but deliver it in a delicate fashion. I found this beer wonderfully easy drinking and loved every part of it. It has a lot of flavor even though it is not in you face. Karnivel Kolsch should be running out in stores soon, so grab it while you can. (more…)