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Beer Review #58 Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale

Day three of our week of Flying Dog and today we bring you Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale. There are a lot of Pale Ales out there today and the take on them can be very vaired. Depending on how the brewer designs the beer, it can be malty with slight hops or less malty with a fair bit of hops. Doggie Style does a nice job of giving a good malt body while also delivering on the hops. The hop component might be punched up a bit because of the fact that they dry hop this beer with “buckets full of Cascades for an unrivaled hop flavor and aroma.”

Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale pours a nice amber color and is perfectly clear. It also comes with a large off-white head. The nose of the beer hits you with hops. And they are bright hops. When I say bright hops I am referring to the fact that they smell fresh and clean. Often when hops age they have a staler odor to them and don’t really hit your nostrils. Bright hops on the other had have an unrivaled smell and you can feel the difference in your nose. Behind the bight hops is some slight malt.

On my first taste I was surprised about how much malt I could get. There was a nice mix of caramel in there as well. Soon after was the hops. The nice thing about this pale ale is that the hops are there, but do not overwhelm the beer. It is such a well balanced beer. The sweetness of the malt and the dryness/bitterness that comes from the hops mix and do a wonderful job of equalizing each other while not canceling each other out. I also noticed an ever so small hint of so heat (alcohol) in there.

The mouthfeel is light to medium and has good carbonation. Overall I would say this is an extremely drinkable beer. I enjoyed it a lot. It comes in at 5.5% ABV and rocks 35 IBUs. I generally tend to lean away from pale ales as the majority of them I have had recently lose all sense of balance and just overdue it with the hops. Not Doggie Style, it is wonderfully balanced. I could drink this in the fall, spring, or summer. If you are looking for a great example of a Pale Ale this is a beer for you. (more…)

Beer Review #55 Full Sail Pale Ale

When my wife and I look our honeymoon to Portland, Oregon we had our first taste of Full Sail beers. Since living in Texas, I have gotten to taste them more regularly since they distribute here. Full Sail Brewing Company is based out of Hood River, Oregon and is completely employee-owned by 47 employees. Full Sail Amber is one of my favorite amber beers, in fact I think it may be the most classic example of an American Amber Ale out there. These guys don’t mess around when it comes to making quality beer.

Full Sail Pale Ale pours a bright amber color with a nice white head that lasts all the way through. As you expect from a pale ale it is perfectly clear. The nose has some nice hoppy aromas with bits of sweetness from the malt and also a few bready smells as well. Very clean and nice to say the least.

On the taste of the beer you will get the malt sweetness up front, with come bread/caramel, then followed by the hops. The hops are very crisp and leave easily and without any fuss. Some of the bread flavors hang around long after the hops are gone, which I really enjoyed. Unlike some Pale Ales that try to be something special, this one seems to take a straightforward approach and succeeds very well. The whole KISS principle worked very nicely here. The balance was perfect and the taste is everything a pale ale should be. Unlike an IPA where the hops leads the way (but should still be balanced) a pale ale can be slightly hop forward or slightly malt forward. This one leads a bit towards the hop end, but the balance is right there.

This brew is medium bodied and is slightly creamy. In terms of drinkability it is spot on. A wonderfully drinkable beer great for any time of the year. As I said before nothing on this beer jumps out at you and says this is something “wild and crazy” but it is a great example of a wonderfully brewed pale ale. I highly recommend it, I don’t think you will be disappointed. (more…)

My brewpub: What kind of beer?

As I think about my brewpub more and more I have a few issue that come up in my mind. The current thing I can’t get out of my mind is what kind of beer to serve. While this is probably step number 52,561,021 and I am really on step 1.5 I am a beer guy, can I can’t help it. I also tend to get ahead of myself when I am excited about something.

My question breaks down into to parts; what kind of beer to offer and do we have set beers along with seaonals? The kinds of beer to offer doesn’t seem very tough, I enjoy all beers and I really like making different styles. I don’t want to “sellout” and make styles that are selling well, I want to make quality beers of my choosing. Of course the “typical” beers are going to be there; stouts, IPAs, Pale Ales, Porters, Ambers, etc. Yes there will be the occasional Imperial Russian Stout or something oaked or something else that is something different than what you see in a bottle.

The big question in my mind is to offer a year-round selection of beer with a few rotating specials or do we always keep a rotating selection. I’m going to go out on a limb (and I have nothing other than my own observations to support this) and say that 95% of brewpubs have a few set beers and then fill up the rest of their taps with seasonal beers or special beers. I have only ever been to one brewpub that has a new and different beer on tap each week; Bube’s Brewery. I talk about Bube’s last week, and the constantly rotating selection of beer always had me coming back.

There are a few problems with doing this though. You never really have a set cost, as your ingredients are always changing. When coming up with a budget for your brewing expenses it would be nice to have as little guess work involved as possible. I would imagine customers would also like to come back and have a certain beer when they come in. It can help build your brand and also increase repeat customers.

On the other side having a rotating selection of beers has benefits as well. While you don’t have the cost control you do with the other method, you do always have something new on tap. Releasing a new beer each week could really keep people coming back and build your brand in a different way. Speaking from a brewing stand-point you don’t get bored brewing the same thing each week. But for the people who seek consistency and have a favorite beer that they come in for, this doesn’t really work for.

Part of the decision also depends on how many taps we will actually have available to use. My plan is to start with four taps and grow into eight or so. I always want to have a “House Ale” that will been on tap no matter what. With the House Ale adding a anchor beer the other three taps will rotate. Once we are able to expand the taps I would then start have four or so year-round beers and having the other four be whatever we feel like making. I think this satisfies both groups of people who are there for the beer. We can keep things the same and different at the same time. Anyone have any different thoughts on this or any suggestions?

The Homebrewers’ Recipe Guide

10-23-01When I first started doing 5 gallon batches of homebrew I picked up two books. The first was the Joy of Homebrewing and the second was  The Homebrewers’ Recipe Guide. I figured that the JoH was a great teaching book but didn’t have a lot of recipes, and  I wasn’t totally ready to start formulating my own, so a recipe book was the next best thing.

The Homebrewer’s Recipe Guide was the book I went with after looking though several in the homebrew shop. There were other books out there with 300+ recipes and others that catered to making clones, but this book had a good mix of original recipes and some clone ones. The other thing I really liked was that it offered holiday and seasonal beer recipes.

It comes with “more than 175 original beer recipes” and a lot of helpful hints to help you out along the way. The other thing that I really liked is that the beers are broken up by style. You can easily choose a style that you want, and then go for a specific recipe in that style. Most styles have three or more different recipes to choose from. The book is broken up as follows:

  • Bitters, Pale Ales, and Other Regional Ales
  • Brown Ales, Porters, and Stouts
  • Lagers
  • Bocks, Doppelbocks, Barleywines, and Strong Ales
  • Fruit, Herb, and Smoked Beers,
  • Holiday and Seasonal Beers
  • Brewery Copycats
  • Meads, Lambics, and Ciders
  • Food and Beer, Beer and Food

Clearly there are a ton of options and it even ventures into meads, ciders, and food recipes. All of the beer recipes are extract based but if you are an all grain brewer you could easily convert everything over to make it work for your needs as well. I have probably outgrown the book for recipe purposes right now, but I do refer back to it for the Brewer’s Tips and for some guidance on recipe formulation.

A lot of homebrewers put down recipe books because they don’t think the books really deliver on what they say. They might be right, but this book gave me a lot of guidance and helped me along my brewing experience. The recipes I used from the book always turned out pretty good. I think the biggest thing I learned was how to develop my own recipes. You can see how a beer is put together from a recipe book, and what flavors you should be looking to develop in a particular style of beer. That is where this book was the most help to me. I still pull it out from time to time to help me out. Charlie Papazian does the foreword for the book if that is any indication of the quality of it.

Kona Brewing Company Fire Rock Pale Ale Beer Review

09-03-06-01Last summer I was in Hawaii and had the joy of the Fire Rock Pale Ale. I haven’t had it since August, but I ran across a six pack here in Texas and I knew I had to try it again. Let me start off with what the brewery has to say about its beer:

“Fire Rock Pale Ale is a crisp, refreshing “Hawaiian-style” pale ale. Its signature copper color results from the unique blend of specialty roasted malts. The pronounced citrus-floral hop aroma comes from the liberal amounts of Galena, Cascade & Mt. Hood hops added to each brew.”

09-03-06-08I like that they refer to it as a Hawaiian-style pale ale because  I believe it is the only pale ale made on the islands. I remember reading the following somewhere, but I am unable to find it now, so bear with me. The brewery is located on the Big Island and there beer there is only served on the islands. The company is environmentally conscience and has another brewery on the mainland that produces beer for the rest of the beer for the states. If you know if this is false or true please let me know.

09-03-06-04Anyway, Fire Rock Pale Ale has a wonder aroma to it. It is mostly hops on the nose and a very citrusy hops at that. It pours a copper to light orange and has a bit of haze to it. The head on the beer is great, it diminishes somewhat, but lasted through my entire drink.

For a pale ale, there is a lot of body on the drink. Nice and malty with the hop carrying through the beer. It finishes smooth and the hop sits on your tounge for a bit. Unlike a lot of American Pale Ales this is a balanced beer that isn’t overly hopped. I think the biggest thing with this beer is that it is very drinkable. I remember sitting by the pool at my hotel with a six pack of this stuff and just loving the day away. If you happen to run into a six pack, go ahead and pick it up, I don’t think you will be disappointed. (more…)