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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.

Belgian Wit Recipe

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
  • Yeast: WLP410

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.

Beer Review #177 Schlafly Christmas Ale

This will be my last “post-Christmas beer” until November or December. Schlafly Christmas Ale is brewed by the Saint Louis Brewery of St. Louis, Missouri. I find it interesting that Schlafly is the brand name of the beers made by the brewery. I don’t know if they have plans in the future to produce other lines of beer, but they are currently only producing the Schlafly brand of beers. Their Christmas Ale means business and comes in at 8.0% ABV. According to the bottle it is “brewed with orange peel and cloves.”

With the wording on the bottle, I was expecting a Belgian-like ale as those two ingredients are often used in Belgian-style beers. Upon further investigation, I found that this beer has a few other ingredients in it that would knock it out of Belgian contention. In addition to the ingredients listed above it also has juniper berries, ginger root, and cardamom as adjuncts into the beer. Needless to say, I was looking forward to tasting this one as it sounds like there is a lot going on.

The nose is very herbal, with cloves dominating most of the smells. There is some slight caramel and toffee peeking though along with some slight bitter orange odors. After my first taste I was surprised by how light the malt flavor was in this ale. The orange peel is in there towards the end of the malt flavors but the clove is really the strongest component to this beer. There is a lot happening before the cloves come in, but I honestly couldn’t place my finger on what all was happening.

I thought this beer had a nice mix of flavors, even if I couldn’t identify them all. The cloves are strong, but they really do a nice job of substituting for any hop flavor that would normally be in the beer. I liked, but not loved this one. If you dig cloves in your beer, this one is for you. (more…)

Beer Review #80 Old Fezziweg

Samuel Adam’s is probably the largest brewery in the World who puts out seasonal beers. They don’t only put out one seasonal beer, but generally several. Winter time usually brings out their Winter Lager, but Old Fezziweg is another seasonal favorite from Boston Beer Company. This beer is a traditional winter warmer and comes in at 5.9% ABV. It is also brewed with several spices including ginger, cinnamon, and orange peel. Those spices and ingredients are typical of a winter warmer style beer, particularly an English version of the beer.

Old Fezziweg pours a dark ruby color with a thin tan head. It is clear, but dark enough to not alert you to the brewer’s skill. The nose is a bit flat, but there is some ginger in there. I also picked up a bit of heat, but it could of been from the spices. Overall there isn’t a lot going on upon first inspection. The taste is malty with some slight roast. The ginger again presents itself but I was unable to really find the other spices. There was a bit of a bite on the end, but I attributed it more to hops than spice.

This ale is pretty drinkable but it isn’t packed with flavor. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really suit my palette. I think this beer is nice for newcomers to craft beer because it is very reserved in terms of flavor. As a “seasoned” craft beer drinker I thought this one was a bit too “mass produced” feeling. It is a good beer, but I wanted more of everything (flavor, aroma, aftertaste, etc..) from it. Pick it up and try for yourself. It is a good starting point for beers of the style but there are other examples out there. (more…)