The site will be void of updates for a bit as I am about to head out on a much needed vacation. If you follow me on Facebook you would know that I am heading back to Europe this summer. My wife and I are doing a Mediterranean cruise, so we are not going to be in beer areas per say, but I’m still looking forward to it. I’ll make sure to jump all over the reviews when I get back and also share some of my travels. Until then,
I have reviewed a number of Kona Brewing Company beers in the past with generally good results. I rarely see a new beer from them on the shelves of my local beer store so I grabbed a few bottles of Koko Brown when I saw it. The bottle says that it is an “ale brewed with toasted coconut and natural flavorings added.” I’m not exactly sure what natural flavorings they are talking about but I have had a beer with toasted coconut before and found it rather enjoyable.
Koko Brown pours a clear light brown color with a thin white head that quickly disappears. The nose is packed with strong coconut. I didn’t get any hops or anything else for that matter, just coconut. I was expecting some malty sweetness, but the coconut outshines it if it is there at all.
On the first taste I got what the nose promised, loads of coconut. There was also a lot of sweetness with a bit of caramel mixed in there. Again I didn’t taste any hops and this beer stays extremely sweet. I don’t have much else to say about the flavor of this beer as coconut and sweetness is really all it offers.
This is a one bottle beer for me. The coconut was over the top along with the sweetness. There was no balance to this beer. Instead of giving some hints of coconut this beer hits you over the head (repeatedly) with it. If they dialed back the coconut a good bit they would have a better beer. I think that I’ll stick to the normal Kona lineup as this one didn’t do anything for me. Continue reading →
Today’s beer comes from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York. It is a traditional Farmhouse Saison ale that comes in at 7.7% ABV. I was a bit confused when I looked at this bottle as it has all of the Ommegang markings, but the label says that this beer was brewed in Belgium by Duvel Moortgat, NV. According to some info that I was able to find on the net, Ommegang will outsource some of their beer to the Duvel Brewery whenever they have to do changes and/or construction on their brewery in Cooperstown. The last time that I was able to find this happening was in 2011, so I don’t know if I got an old bottle or if they are doing additional changes at the brewery.
Hennepin pours a beautiful blond color with a creamy white head. The beer pours clear out of the bottle with some sediment at the bottom. Against the instructions on the bottle, I swirled my second glass of this to see what the yeast tasted like with the beer. The nose first hits with a nice malty sweetness and then flows into a wonderful light Belgian spice. Nothing on the nose was overly aggressive and seemed to be in balance nicely.
On my first taste I was ecstatic to taste how creamy and flavorful the malt was. Sometimes Belgian beers become too much about the spices and not enough about the malt (particularly US versions). This beer had a wonderful, semi-sweet, grainy body that flowed nicely with each sip. The Belgian spices are solidly there, but well balanced with the hops. I recently reviewed another Saison that I considered to be the “poster child of what a Sasion should be” and I think this beer could fall into that realm as well.
This beer is really outstanding. Everything is in perfect balance and it is packed with flavor. I’m going to be buying another one of these beers shortly and maybe even attempting be make my own Saison. I really can’t say enough kind words about this beer. Brewery Ommegang puts out some great beers, but this might be on of their best achievements. Continue reading →
I was recently watching a special on CNBC about Costco. I have no business watching CNBC as my money is not tied to the stock market and the only thing of value that I own is a car, but I’m really interested in business for some reason. CNBC does a great job of finding successful businesses and showing the story of how they became successful. I eat this stuff up as someone who wants to open their own brewpub one day. Usually I like seeing how a unique, but good idea can become a great success story, but still have major hurtles to overcome. Call it the American Spirit, but I dig it.
While watching the Costco special they had a 10-15 minute section about wine sold at Costco. Apparently Costco offers around 200 different types of wine at their stores while local liquor stores generally stock 2-3 times that amount. Wine is a big part of their profit margin and makes up about a tenth of their business. The reasoning behind carrying a smaller selection is to not overwhelm the consumer and help them find a solution quickly. It also helps the consumer discover new brands and styles more easily. It’s an interesting take on business that Costco also applies to all of their departments.
It really made me think about the local beer store that I visit. They have an outstanding selection of beer with 400 or so “normal” beers and a rotating seasonal selection of about 50. Some would call me lucky (and believe me I’m lucky), but when I think about it through the Costco lens it doesn’t make sense. How many IPAs does a beer store need to offer to keep people happy? IPAs are particularly bothersome because with more selection comes an increased chance of beer sitting for longer. IPAs lose a lot if they sit unrefrigerated for too long.
As a craft beer nerd I love going into my store and finding new beers to try, but someone new into craft beer may actually be turned off by the intense selection. Now my store is really good about asking if you need help, but I don’t know if that applies everywhere. Surprisingly the demographics of Costco and craft beer drinkers is interchangeable. So that leads to the question is less selection of craft beer a good or bad thing?
Personally, I want more selection as I love having more choice. I think that most craft beer people would agree with me as well. Would you rather have a smaller selection, say 200 different beers, with the promise that they are fresher and better rotated?
It has been super hot here for that past few days and I have been itching to brew something. The combination of heat and the perceived need to brew something light and refreshing lead me to try my had at a Belgian Wit. I haven’t tired to brew a Belgian beer in almost two years, and I’ve never brewed a Belgian Wit.
My recipes are generally a combination of research and simplicity. I find that many homebrewers often like to add 300 specialty grains because the grains add “something special” to their beers. I’m more of the mindset of, “breweries probably don’t add too many grain to their beers as they would cost to much to make, so I shouldn’t either.” I’ve been known to go crazy from time to time, but in general I like the KISS approach to brewing. For this beer, I kept the grain bill simple, but I added some ingredients that I have never worked with before to the mix. You can see my recipe below:
5 lbs. Pilsner
4 lbs Wheat Malt
.5 lb Oats
1 oz Hallertau (3.0% AA) @ 60 min
1 oz Saaz (2.6% AA) @15 min
.5 oz Bitter dried orange peel @ 5 min
.5 oz Coriander @5 min
I only went with three types of grain on this one with a slight edge to the Pilsner malt as I wanted to keep this beer out of a 50/50 ratio with the wheat. The wheat malt is still over 40% of the grain bill but I also wanted to try out oats as I’ve never had a chance to brew with them before. I’m hoping that they help give this beer a more silky character. The hops are pretty traditional European hops with low alpha acids and serve to help keep the beer in balance but are not intended to add any significant flavor or smell contribution.
The end of the recipe is where I was most excited. I’ve tried dried orange peel before but it has been almost four years and I thought this would be an excellent recipe to try it in again. The coriander is there to help the Wit be a bit more assertive in the spices that the yeast give off. WLP410 is on of White Labs seasonal releases that is only out there for May and June. It is rumored that it is the house Brewery Ommegang strain. It apparently has less phenolics then a typical Wit yeast strain and gives off more esters. It also doesn’t ferment as fully but I figure that the Coriander and esters will help give the beer a drying feeling at the end instead of leaving it overly sweet. The projected stats for this beer can be seen below:
Expected OG: 1.046
Expected FG: 1.011
Expected ABV: 4.5%
Expected IBUs: 14.5
I brewed this beer prior to posting this recipe and I did pretty well getting an OG of 1.042. I did make a mistake with the orange peel and coriander as I added them with my last hop addition instead of at the 5 minute mark.