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Beer Review #281 Dos Costas Oeste

04-04-02I have a new beer to talk about today and one hell of a story behind it. My wife actually picked out this bottle from a bottle shop near my parent’s house. We both love The Bruery and I have been itching to try something from Cigar City Brewing. She saw that this beer was a collaboration between the two and made it ours. The bottle has this to say about the beer, “a high gravity ale with coriander, ginger, and sweet orange peel, aged on grapefruit wood spirals.” It comes in at 9%. All of that sounds well and good, and then it came to opening the beer…

As soon as I opened this beer it escaped the bottle like a rocket, think coke and mentos. It splattered all over my kitchen ceiling, my countertops, and well, most of my kitchen stuff. It was clear that this bottle had an infection of some type that caused excess sugar that brewing yeast cannot process to be fermented. After an annoyed clean-up I had 4 oz. of my 750 ml bottle left. Awesome. I do want to note before I dive into the review that reviewing infected beers is not really my style. It clearly is not what the brewer intended it to be, but my 4 oz. was drinkable. So I reviewed away.

UPDATE: I contacted the brewery and they explained the situation to me. The folks at Cigar City (the actual brewer of the beer) did a wonderful job of making the situation right. The beer was recalled but some distributors have not returned what they were asked to. I have since contacted the bottle shop where I purchased it to let them know that they have potential bottle bombs on their shelves.

04-04-01

Dos Costas Oeste explodes pours a cloudy tan orange. There is no head thanks to what I noted above. The nose is sour with some slight hints of grapefruit. I also got some notes of pineapple, orange, and what I’m calling tropical funk.

The taste is funky. There is a slight toasty flavor upfront and then sourness comes in behind. The grapefruit from the wood spirals is also there but I didn’t get any notes of wood from the spirals. As most of the carbonation went out of the bottle when I popped the cap, the beer was pretty flat.

Even though this beer was infected and even though I only got a small bit of what I bought, I still like the overall flavor in this beer. It is very different and it didn’t taste infected. I’m not sure if it was supposed to sour like it did, but I didn’t think that it took away from the flavor at all. I wish I had a full bottle of this one to try and I hope that I get to taste a proper batch of this at some point in the future. Just remember, if you see this on the shelves and it has Dec 2012 on it, stay away and tell the store that it has been recalled.

Pumpkin Ale Brew Day

10-03-01I was tempted to call this post the brew day from hell because it was the most frustrating homebrew experience that I have ever had. I’ve been planning this pumpkin ale for a long time now and I was super excited to brew it. And then the brew day came. It started like a normal brew day but I was using some new ingredients that I have never used before. The first was a pound of rice hulls. I’ve never used them becasue I have never used enough of an ingredient to be cautious about a stuck sparge. For those of you who don’t know a stuck sparge is when the grains clog the openings at the bottom of the mash tun and prevent any liquid from coming out. In essence you have a bunch of wort stuck in the grain and no good way to get it out. With the addition of the pumpkin puree, also something I’ve never used before, I decided that rice hulls were a good idea.

Taking a few suggestions online I soaked them in warm water before adding them into the mash tun with the rest of my grains and pumpkin puree. The idea is to soak them first so that they absorb water and don’t steal any water from your strike water. Simple enough. The rice hulls expanded a lot more than I had expected, but that was alright because I still had plenty of room in my mash tun. Adding the rice hulls, pumpkin puree, and the grains all at one time was a bit of a challenge and I could of used a helper. Maggie the homebrew helper puppy was too busy playing with a towel to help me out this brew day.

After adding everything together I took a temperature reading and decided where my water temperature needed to be. I wanted to mash at 152. The first problem came when I realized that the pumpkin puree takes a lot more heat to warm up than the grains do. Grains instantly change temperature, pumpkin puree is much more resistant. My mash temperature came in much lower at about 142 degrees. Another problem came when I put too much water in becasue I wasn’t sure how to account for the pumpkin puree. I actually used bungee cords to keep the top of the mash tun on and prevent any extra heat escape.

10-03-02

I mashed for 60 minutes and then opened the ball valve to find a trickle of wort coming out. Crap. There was plenty of liquid in the mash tun, just not coming out of the front. I moved the grains around a bit and it started flowing a bit more. I collected about three gallons before it stopped again. I also added the 2 pounds of brown sugar when the wort started flow more to get it to dissolve better. The wort stopped flowing and I got my trusty strainer out and put it over the boil kettle. I then took a bowl and scooped out the grain and placed them in the strainer. Any liquid that was stuck in there trickled out, but I did not squeeze the grains to avoid any tannins from coming out in there. I emptied the mash tun out and captured another half gallon or so go wort.

I could not do a second runnings becasue the grains went from the stainer to the trash. I boiled what I had and added the planned hop additions anyway so I’m expecting the IBUs to be a bit higher than I wanted. I also added the same amount of spices that I had planned I use my kitchen sink to cool down my kettle since I do not own a wort chiller (yet!). My apartment has a duel sink setup that allows the water to overflow one and go into the other. It is a great solution for me to always have cold water running and the warmer water drain off. But today of all days, the apartment complex has some plumbing issues and the sinks start backing up. Not just in my sink but the 16 other apartments in the complex. I was ready to give up.

I finally got the wort down to a respectable level, 80 degrees, and put it into the fermenter. I added two different dry yeasts that have high flocculation (fall out of suspension) and high attenuation (eat a lot of sugars) characteristics. I took my gravity reading and it came in at 1.089. The ratio of brown sugar to wort drastically increased the gravity. I’m now looking a a pumpkin beer around the 9% ABV level. Could be good, could be really bad. I also tasted the wort to see what flavors were in there and man it was wonderful. Sweet, pumpkiny, and had the correct spice balance. Hopefully it comes out alright. The day after brewing the fermenter was whistling from all of the CO2 passing though the airlock. We shall see how this beer turns out but brewing it was a pain.

09-06-04-05

River Horse Brewing Company Tripel Horse Beer Review

09-06-04-06I have recently been getting into Belgians and River Horse Brewing Company’s Tripel Horse called to me at the six pack store. First off, I love the packaging. River Horse has funky packaging that mixes some old images with new graphic design, and I just love it. All of there beer labels have something in common but are also very distinct. That aside, lets get onto the beer.

09-06-04-05This is what the brewery has to say about their beer:

Notice a unique aromatic nose with a hint of vanilla esters, which comes from the Belgian ale yeast. Tripel Horse has a big body and rich mouth feel and finishes mostly dry with only a touch of sweetness. If you shy from some of the sweeter Belgian ales, we think you will enjoy this one. The palate improves with age, so keep some on hand and you can ride Tripel Horse down a new path with each opened bottle.

This beer rocking in at 10% which is not surprising for a Tripel. Right on the nose of the beer you get the yeast spicyness and alcohol. It pours an orangy color with a little brown. My camera does not acurarlty replicate the color. The beer is hazy when help up to the light, as expected, and you can see little particles floating throughout the beer, also as expected. It pours with a minimal amount of head that lingers around the side of the glass for the whole drink.

09-06-04-04On first taste there is an explosion of flavor. The yeast spice is obvious, but there is a ton of malt and a hint of sweetness. The back end of the drink is alcohol, but it isn’t super noticeable if you aren’t looking for it. It finishes dry in your mouth and leaves you wanting more. This beer is exactly what I wanted from a Tripel, it was high in alcohol, big in flavor, and had that Belgian wonderfulness that I have been craving. A few years ago I would of hated this beer, but my pallet has grown and gotten much better.

They say to age this beer as it will change a lot over time. I bought a six pack and drank the six pack within a week or so. It was just that good.

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Hard Cider experiment

09-05-15-02Back in October I was really getting going with homebrewing. I was making a new batch a week. Something sparked my interest and I wanted to try and do a hard cider. It didn’t sound too hard, there was no boiling, just combining ingredents and waiting for awhile. I read around and found a few ideas on what to use and the kinds of cider to look for.

When you are making a cider the most important thing to do, if you are buying your cider, is to make sure that it has no preseratives. If it does, it is not going to ferment and in a few months you will have spoiled cider. Some people go through the trouble of mashing their own apples, collecting the jucies and all of that. For a first try, and possibly only try, I was not going to attempt that. I went with the following recipe:

  • 5 gallons apple cider from local orchard
  • 2 lbs honey
  • 2.5 lbs brown sugar
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • Champagne yeast (homebrew store was out of cider yeast and I had read champagne yeast would be fine)

09-05-15-01I went with the sugars to add a little flavor and alochol. The powdered sugar wasn’t something I was going to the store to get, but it was a buck for two pounds, so I figured why not? I got home and put two gallons in my boil pot. I wanted to raise the temp to around 120 degrees so that the sugars would disolve more easily into the soultion. The remain liquid I put into a sanitized bucket. Once disolved, I combined everything and let it sit for a day as was recomended by some research.

A day later I added the yeast and waited for things to happen. Another day passed and fermenation had clearly begun. The smell of rotten eggs is apparently pretty common, and I got to expericene the smell for myself. It was very strong and stayed for about two weeks. My original plan was to have this ready for Thanksgiving (heck I gave myself two months), but I quickly learned this stuff takes forever. After two and a half months it was ready for transfer to a secondary. It sat there until the end of April when I finally bottled it. It had fully cleared as you can tell by the pictures and it smelled pretty wonderful.

09-05-15-03I might of made a mistake when bottling, I put it into 22 oz bottles. I never got a good gravity reading on this with my hydrometer but I’m guessing it is in the 12-15% range, if not a little higher. I did not carbonate the bottles for fear of putting the wrong amount of sugar in there and the yeast has been dormant for a few months. I believe there are still some unfermented sugars anyway becasue it tastes a bit sweet and the cold weather came early this year, mean my closet with the access to the crawl space was pretty chilly. I’m waiting a little longer before I try a bottle for myself but I enjoyed what I tasted when I was bottling. I don’t know how good it is compared to other ciders but I enjoyed it and I think I would try it again given the chance.

Victory Brewing Company Sampler Beer Review

09-05-14-05

A few weeks ago a few friends and I went to Victory Brewing Company for a tour as part of one of our brewery tour weekends. We actaully stopped a Victory twice during the day; once to grab brunch and again to grab a drink before heading home for the day.

Victory has recently redone their enitre eating area and it looks amazing. There is copper everywhere, the bar is amazing, and the beer selection is out of this world. On our visit there were over twenty beers on tap and six beers in casks. Yeah, that’s a lot of beer. I got a sampler to split with one of my friends and we chose six wonderful beers. We had three beers from the cask and three from the tap. 09-05-14-02

Tap

  • Old Horizonal
  • Wild Devil
  • Storm King

Cask

  • Hop Wallop
  • Hop Devil
  • Baltic Thunder

09-05-14-03I’ve had most of these beers before but there is something about drinking at 11 o’clock in the morning in a brewery with the smell of yeast around you that makes everything better. Later in the day I also had a pint of Moon Glow, which was wonderful.

A few quick notes about the beers. Old Horizonalwill kick you in the mouth and the alochol is super high, even in the taste. Storm King is much better when it gets a little warmer and the roasty flavors start coming out more. Baltic Thunder is a solid beer that is a perfect fit for early spring. You can see my notes on Hop Wallop here, but it is fantastic on cask. Hop Devil on cask puts the beer into a new category. Finally Wild Devil is basically the same as Hop Devil with a few minor differences. Victory gets very crowded on weekends, esipcailly around dinner time. If you visit, I would suggest going early, when the smell of yeast is still in the air and yuppy cologne is not.

09-05-14-01

If you don’t get the last image, you need to watch Entourage on HBO.