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Beer Review #255 KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

12-26-03I have one of those “mystical” craft beers for today’s review. It is a hard beer to get and is highly regraded my many in the industry. Founders Brewing Company made a massive imperial stout (11.2% ABV) and then aged it oak bourbon barrels for a year before bottling this bad boy. The amount of time and effort that goes into making a beer like this is impressive. Finding one to actually try is equally as impressive. A special thanks to my buddy Mike who got this beer for me.

KBS pours a jet black color and has a tan head that quickly fades into the inky liquid below. The nose is packed with lots of chocolate and a bit of roast. There is bourbon present, but it’s not a crazy amount of bourbon like Victory’s Dark Intrigue. I didn’t get any hops on this one which was a slight surprise as it comes in at 70 IBUs.

On the first taste I got blown away by the amount of dark chocolate flavors being thrown at my mouth. There is a good amount of bitter baker’s chocolate followed by a slight roast on the end. There is some bourbon flavor, but it is rather muted and adds a nice depth of flavor to the beer. As the beer warms up the heat comes out more, but it is by no means a negative in the beer. All of the flavors really sing together and meld in the most wonderful of ways.

As expected for an imperial stout, this beer is very thick and creamy in the mouth. It’s a wonderful sipping beer that you can enjoy for long stretches. This beer is strong, bold, and balanced. I can really see why this beer is so loved and I will buy it at any chance that I have to get it. (more…)

Coffee Amber Ale Recipe

I’ve been in the mood to test my homebrewing skills a creativity a bit and I decided that a coffee flavored beer that is amber in color was an excellent challenge. Most coffee beers are stouts or porters, which makes the color addition from coffee unnoticeable. What I wanted to do is make something similar to Peak Organic’s Espresso Amber Ale. It’s an excellent beer and captures the espresso flavor and keeps the color not black.

My homebrew store recently started carrying coffee malt so I decided to give it a try. It comes in at 175 °L, which is pretty dark. After purchasing a one pound bag of it I did find that it has some coffee aroma, but not enough. My wife is a big coffee drinker and grinds her own beans. This lead me to take 4oz. of cold water and 10 whole coffee beans. I put the beans in the water and left them in the water for a week. I dumped the results before I realized that I should grab a picture, but the color addition from the whole bean was not very high. However, the aroma and taste were very noticeable. Better yet, the aroma and flavor additions happened after a day or so, and the color didn’t change until day three.

I then structured a recipe around what I wanted to the malt to taste like. I knew that I wanted a toasty, roasty flavor. I also needed some sweetness to balance out the harsh roasted flavors. I had some crystal malts on hand to give some sweetness and light color additions as well as half a pound of Carabrown to give a toasted flavor. Below is what I came up with.

  • 10 lbs. 2-row
  • 1/2 lb. Carabrown (60 °L)
  • 1/2 lb. Coffee malt
  • 1/4 lb. Crystal 80
  • 1/2 lb. Light brown sugar
  • 1/2 oz. Magnum @ 60 mins
  • 1/2 oz. Magnum @ 15 mins

The final beer is expected to have the following specs:

  • OG: 1.059
  • FG: 1.015
  • ABV: 5.83%
  • IBUs: 36.5
  • SRM: 17.37

According to Wikipedia and a number of other sources that I checked amber ales can fall in anywhere between 15-33 SRM. I went on the lighter side so that any color addition from the whole beans would still keep the beer in the proper range.

I plan on fermenting the beer in the primary for two weeks and then move it over to a secondary. Two days before kegging I will add a handful of whole coffee beans to the secondary that were sanitized by sitting in whiskey or vodka for a day. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. It’s a very non-typical beer for me as I generally don’t like adding extras to a beer. I’ve made one coffee beer before, a stout, and it turned out wonderfully. I hoping that I will like this one just as much and that I learn some things from it. It’s always fun to test yourself and take a bit of a chance.

Beer Review #227 Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout

Today’s beer review may seem like an odd choice, considering that it is summer and that the mercury is already in the mid eighties before noon. It is an odd choice, but I’m also an odd beer drinker. I like have big beers in the summer. I know a lot of people reserve stouts for the fall and winter, but I like them year round. They are one of the few styles that agrees with me all of the time. Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout, say that five times fast, is brewed by Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. I’ve never been a giant Leinenkugel fan, but I do like that they put an a vast array of beer styles and, like Sam Adams, they generally have something new to try each time I visit the beer store.

This imperial stout pours a jet black color with a creamy, but fading tan head. It pretty much fits the mold of every imperial stout that I have ever had appearance wise. The nose has a bit of heat which should be expected for a beer that comes in at 9.5%^ ABV. There are some nice notes of chocolate and roast in there was well. According to the bottle this beer was brewed with 11 different malts and 3 different hops. I didn’t get any hops in the nose and I was surprised at how many malts go into this one. As a homebrewer I’m a fan of KISS, and keeping my malt bill as simple as possible. I find that my beers tend to get a bit “muddy” tasting when I use to many ingredients. I was really looking forward to trying this one to see if my own bias was correct or not.

The first thing you notice when tasting this beer is a good helping of chocolate and roasty flavors. There is some heat that falls into the beer about halfway through. A spicy hop character then enters and finishes out the beer on the backend. I didn’t notice any particular muddiness to this one and it tasted along the lines of most imperial stouts that I have had. I didn’t get any caramels or strong sweetness that I was expecting and the hops were toned down to reflect this lack of sweetness. Also, like most imperial stouts that I have had, this one is thick and creamy in the moutfeel department.

Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout is pretty decent and smooth. For a style that is really open to interpretation, this one sits on the tamer end of things. I found it to be presentable but not aggressive in any particular area. I would be trilled to brew something like this and I think this beer is a great introduction to what a Russian imperial stout should be. (more…)

Beer Review #165 George Washington’s Tavern Porter

Being a native Philadelphian, now living in Delaware, I try to support the local breweries. Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia is one of the breweries that I try to buy from on a more regular basis. They are quickly becoming “Philadelphia’s brewery,” and for good reason. This is my first review of Yards on this site, but I have had their beers on a number of occasions and I have found them to be pretty enjoyable.

My first experience with Yards was in college when I purchased a variety pack from them. Something was wonder with their bottling line as all of my beers were over-carbonated and gushed out of the bottle. Soon after this happened I tried a six pack from them and everything was as it should have been. It wasn’t a great first impression, but even with the problems, the beer tasted good.

My father-in-law gave me a bottle of George Washington’s Tavern Porter not too long ago and told me to give t a try. This beer is part of their “Ales of the Revolution” series. Great name. This porter is modeled after a recipe that was supposed to be George Washington’s own.

The porter pours a dark brown and has a nice light head as well. The nose is tick and malty. There is some slight roast in there along with lots of chocolate. On my first taste I was happy to find that my nose didn’t lie about the flavors in the beer.

Chocolate was found in excess, along with some slight roast on the back-end of the beer. There was some hop character to this beer, which I believe was Fuggles. The hops gave a slight, but nice hop kick at the end. This is a “chewy” feeling beer without being chewy. The creaminess that is found in the mouthfeel really works with all of the flavors.

I really dig this beer and I’m looking forward to the next time that I get to try it. It is a wonderfully drinkable beer that is rich in flavor, but not filling, like a stout might be. I really want to have this on a cold winter night. (more…)