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03-25-00

Beer Review #321 Wake Up Dead Nitro

03-25-02Left Hand Brewing Company has just started to be carried again at my local beer store so I have been trying a whole bunch of their stuff recently. I love their Milk Stout and their Nitro Milk Stout. I saw Wake Up Dead Nitro the other day and I grabbed it quickly. It’s a Russian Imperial Stout that comes in at 10.2% ABV.

Wake Up Dead Nitro pours a jet black color and comes with a thin tan head. The bubbles are super small thanks to the nitrogen carbonation. The nose is pretty blank. I really struggled to get anything from this one. Generally you expect some chocolates and roast and maybe even some hops, but I didn’t even get a hint of caramel off of this one. Weird.

On the first taste I was blown away by the malt flavor. There are lots of dark chocolates and roast going on. Some heat comes into the mix as the drink moves to the halfway portion. I also got some raisins and cherries which added a nice layer of complexity. There are some dark fruits that mix in at the end along with the return of the dark chocolate and the bitterness that it brings.

I very much liked this beer. It has a nice, complex malt and is everything that an Imperial Russian Stout should be. I wish it had a bit more on the nose, but I don’t know if that’s do to the nitro carbonation. If you are looking for a solid stout that has some ( a lot) of strength, this one is for you. (more…)

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…)

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?