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Keezer Part 1

Santa was nice enough to bring me a few things that will make me enjoy homebrewing a whole lot more. The big guy brought be a chest freezer, and a two keg setup! I’m pretty excited about it and I can’t wait to have my homebrew on draft. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I have with homebrewing is bottling. It takes forever, a lot can go wrong, and you have to wait till it carbonate to drink your beer. Bummer.

Soon enough I’ll have a fully functioning keezer with two taps and room for a third. The term keezer comes from the combination of kegorator and chest freezer. Some in the homebrew community dislike the name, I am indifferent. Anyway, I picked up a chest freezer off of Craig’s List for $80 and the thing looks beautiful. As a comparison a new model of the freezer runs for $150.  I will be keeping a journal of my progress with the keezer along with anything that I find helpful. The project should me pretty quickly since it isn’t very complicated.

I currently live in an apartment and power tools are not abundant, so I am going to make this thing with the use of two tools; a drill and caulk gun. Happy New Year and I hope everyone had a few good beers over the holidays.

Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

As I have said several times we recently moved from Texas back to the east coast. When we got to Texas, a year ago, I started reading Brewing Up a Business by Sam Calagione, the owner of Dogfish Head. About two weeks after I got into the book I lost it. I thought I lost it at work and the lost and found was empty so I counted the book in the MIA column. When we were moving I pulled out the dresser, and my book showed up. Awesome.

I just finished the book up this week and I thought I would share my review with you. First off, let me say that I really liked the book. The book tells the tale of how Sam started his brewery from brewpub, to the wonderful “power house” that it is now. I am interested in starting my own brewpub, so I found several parts of the book particularly interesting.

Another thing to know about this book, it isn’t really about beer. I love Dogfish Head as much as the next guy, but this book is more business oriented, which the title should tell you. Sam tells you about this business, why he did things the way he did, problems that they encountered, about the personality of the company, about about being an effective leader.

My favorite two parts of this entire book were when Sam talked about the creation of the moto for Dogfish Head and the leadership aspect of owning a business. Dogfish Head does what it does because they have a focused mission; Off-centered beers for off-centered people. They know that they are not hitting all of the market, and that is OK. Sam takes responsibility for mistakes that were made and offers solutions for business owners so that they do not do the same.

There are parts of the book that gets repetitive, but they are in there for a reason. Sam is showing how important that aspect is to his business. The most important thing to take away from this book is that Sam believes in his idea. As an entrepreneur you need to be willing to take risks and believe in what you are doing 100%. Sam shows that he did and still does in this book. It is an interesting read if you are thinking about starting you own company or want to see how a unique craft brewing came to being.

Craft beer: a hobby?

I have noticed that at the end of a few of my beer reviews I have noted how “this beer is a good one for people new to the hobby.” The question comes, is drinking beer a hobby? I would assume that some people would consider it a social problem or a moral problem, but I always just thought of it as a hobby. I’ve never really been hung up on the “is drinking wrong?” question (obviously) but is it wrong to think of something that some people despise of as a hobby?

I am not one of those people or drinks to get drunk. I drink craft beer because I enjoy the flavor and the variety. I am sure there is some aspect of knowing something that others don’t in there as well, but that is not one of the reasons I drink. I like to expose myself to new beers and becoming knowledgeable in a growing “field” is always a good thing. I just don’t know if I should consider it a hobby.

Do people who eat good foods think of eating a hobby? Wikipedia has this as their defination as a hobby:

A hobby is an activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, often in one’s spare time

Under that meaning, beer drinking is certainly a hobby. I enjoy it, I am interested in it, I take pleasure in it, and I do it in my spare time, Sounds good to  me. My wife and I have had this discussion before and I think (hope) we agree that it is a hobby. When you think of a hobby though it is generally more of an activity, not a bodily function. Like homebrewing, that falls under the traditional hobby. What do you think, is beer drinking a hobby or just a bad habit?

San Antonio Breweries: Blue Star Brewery

This is my first full day back from my trip to San Antonio. I really enjoyed the city, did not enjoy the heat or the humidity. As with any new place I go, I look to see what breweries are around so that I can visit them and taste what they have to offer. The first stop on San Antonio’s brewery list (of 2) was Blue Star Brewery. The brewery opened in 1996 and is located in the Blue Star Arts complex, which is essentially converted factories.

The general vibe of the place is pretty simple. There is a simple menu, none of the decorations are super complex, and the staff’s attire isn’t fancy. It is the kind of place I dig. My wife and I walked there as it was only 3/4 of a mile away from our hotel but my wife swears it was over a mile. All I have to say is that the GPS doesn’t lie. Win! When you walk into the place you are greeted by a line of stainless steel tanks and a seating area to the right. Behind a glass wall at the back of the building is the actual kettle and all of the “hot” parts of the brewery. The bar is backed with the stainless steel tanks.

The had eight different beers on tap when we were there, including one on cask. They had everything from a pilsner to a stout to an English IPA (cask and keg versions). Each sample glass we had came in at about $1.25 with a few of the higher ABV beers costing up to $1.99. Pretty standard prices from my experience.

The pilsner was solid with a nice light but flavorful body and a slight hop crispness at the end. The pale ale was on the more pine side of the hop flavors but it was solid. It also leaned a bit more towards the hop end of the balance. The amber was my wife’s favorite beer and was a solid amber with a nice malt component an a bready aftertaste. The stout was a real treat, very straightforward but balanced and a great, smooth roast flavor on the backend. The English IPA was more hoppy than what I was expecting. If was an American IPA it would of fit in better, but it did have a wonderful malt backbone that fully supported the hops. They also had a cask version of the beer which was excellent and really toned down the hops and brought out a nice malt complexity. The final beer was the King William Barley Wine which rocked in at 11% ABV. It was good, but I think there was too much heat in there to make it a smooth drinking barelywine.

Overall I really enjoyed the Blue Star Brewery. Since I have lived in Texas I have noticed that service at restaurants has been lackluster to say the least. The Blue Star staff was wonderful (our server was Allen) and always made sure that we had what we needed. My only real complaint was that their menu is very limited. We did commit one crime in ordering according to The Naked Pint, and that was that we ordered a pitcher of their amber. According to the book you should never order a pitcher. I don’t think it really matters and that’s why we did so. The beers were solid, the food was pretty good, and the service was outstanding.

curses

My curse as a beer blogger

cursesMy wife finally got back from chasing tornadoes with Vortex 2 the other day and last night we decided to go the the adult beverage store and get a few things. The problem was that I really didn’t need anything, we have a bottom of a shelf in our fridge full of beer. The problem, they are just signal bottles of multiple styles, brands, and kinds of beer. While it really isn’t a problem to have lots of beer, for a beer blogger it is a problem to only have one left of each beer if you haven’t reviewed it yet.

Thus my curse as a beer blogger. I have dozens of beers, but only one of each, so when I just want to drink a beer and not have to worry about doing a review, I am kind of stuck. I normally will get a six pack and put one aside and enjoy the other five. The last one is the one that all of the attention gets paid to. I get pictures, review, and really examine the beer. My wife told me that I need to start drinking more. Yes! I already have a backlog of beer review to post on this site and I have plenty of others still left to do. Anyway, the beer reviews are going to start flowing as my wife is encouraging my habit. Any other bloggers or causal drinkers have any problems with getting rid of the last bottle?