Sunday, July 15, 2007

Into the Keg

3/14: Kegged the Red Ale. Dryhopped each keg with an ounce of Amarillo. Terminal gravity was just a touch high. Maybe it'll dry out a little further. Tastes nice though. Quite firm bitterness, raisiny malt flavors and light fruity esters.

I think I might toss all my kegs and start over. Couldn't get the liquid tube of the second keg to stay pointed straight down the keg. It kept twisting. Son of a Beeotch. Aw, maybe I'm due for a coupla keg reconditioning kits. Although tossing out all those ungrateful MF's sounds appealing.

I'll have to forego brewing the beers for the wedding party. Not enough time. Plus too hot for brewing. Oh well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sketches of Belgium

The grand detailed post reflecting on our recent trip to Belgium is feeling a little over-ambitious. We're deep into extra hours at work and spending any more time in front of a computer keyboard than I absolutely have to is a bit "Not so much" right now. Anyway, here's the Fisher-Price version:

Checked into Brussels June 13th for a two night stay. Our first meal in Belgium was mussels and frites at Chez Leon washed down with Mort Subite Geueze. Hit Delirium (spent two evenings "in residence"), Poechenellekelder (awesome little cafe and great staff) and the Cafe Mort Subite. Dinner at t'Spanakopke, desert was an assortment of sorbet made from beer (Wit, Kriek Lambic and an amazing spot of Maredsous 10 - delicious). Picked up the rental and sped North to Antwerpen (should have followed Dons' advice and went with the GPS option). Stopped at Het Anker for lunch. In Antwerpen, checked into the Hotel Rubens off the Grande Place. Maredsous 10 and Liefmans Kriek on draft at Kulminator. Went for the 20 year old bottle of Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus (musty, mushroomy and heatburny). After dinner beers at Pater's Vaetje. Lunch the next day at the DeKoninck cafe. Then off to Ghent. Beautiful city. Dulle Griet and Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant housebeers; light, mildly sweet pale Blonde and a dryish, bitter effervescent pale beer. Both very tasty. Off to Brugge for three nights. Checked in to the Hotel Erasmus. First class accomodations, first class kitchen and great location. Found t'Bruges Beertje, Cambrinus, De Halve Maan Brewery and Cafe Vlissinghe. Met a very kind and generous local gentleman at the Beertje who offered to give us a walking tour of Brugge. Two mornings of amazing walks through the town telling the story of Brugge. We spent one day out of town and drove out to the North Sea coast, then off to Trappist Westvleteren for lunch at the De Vrede. Simply amazing; beautiful lunch of the Brothers' cheese, pate and bread along with their profoundly delicious beers. Peak experience for sure. Last Supper in Brugge was at Den Huzzar; recommended by our new friend Paul. I had a delicious Brugge specialty of braised pork cheek with grapes. Rich and intensely flavored. Washed down nicely with the Bruges' Zot. From Brugge to Mons. Our first serious brush with the language barrier. Mons to Rochefort. On the way went west to pay our respects to Brasseries' Dupont and Dubuisson. A few rounds of Saison and samples of the new Moinette fruit beer (flavored with green apple and black currant; tart and pleasantly sweet). Lunch at the Dubuisson cafe. Overcooked food. But the Cuvee de Trolls and the Bush 7% were very nice. Checked in at Rochefort. Dinner at the Hotel Luxembourg Cafe. Nicely prepared Entrecote (a little tight for medium) with frites accompanied by a few rounds of Trappist Rochefort beers. From Rochefort out to Orval for a stroll through the ruins of the old Abbey. Lunch at the Cafe down the road; the 6.5% Orval was quite a bit milder than what we get here (Brett character was light and faintly pineappley) and the Petite Orval was particularly nice (mild Pale Ale, well hopped with elegant Sulfate notes). Off to Luxembourg city for the National Holiday Party. And Luxembourgers know how to party. The whole town is roped off and turned into a beer garden. Beer stalls and sausage vendors on every block. Tons of music; the whole gamut of rock bands and DJs all over (some really good ones too). Very pleasurable experience wandering around with a half liter of Bofferdings (crisp and creamy Pils with faint hints of Kolsch) in one hand and a hot and juicy smoked Mettwurst in the other. Very civilized. Hung out to watch the fireworks, more accurately we hung out and got fireworked on. Luxembourg to Houffalize. Paid our repects at Brasserie LaChouffe. Stayed at the Hotel du Commerce in Houffalize, very nice accomodations and the staff was very forgiving about our lack of French. Back to Brussels. On the way a stop at the Drie Fontainen Cafe for Sunday lunch. Young Lambic and Faro off the handpump, real tart with firm acetic flavors and the same flavored with sugar syrup. Checked in at Brussels. Toured Cantillon. Another couple rounds at Delirium. If I had been paying attention earlier in the trip I would have got onto the La Rulles Estivale a lot sooner; light bodied, pale & hazy, effervescent, intensely bitter and dryhopped. Excellent. Got some shopping out of the way, mostly chocolate to take back with us. Chocolate covered candied orange peel from Planet Chocolate is the best. Though the girls on duty were shocked when we mentioned pairing beer and chocolate. Found the one restaurant in the city that has Pho on the menu. Nice. Adieu to fair Brussels and off to the airport. Delayed flight meant having to spend a couple hours washing down Neuhaus chocolate truffles with half liters of Leffe Blond. Darn. In all our trip to Belgium was amazing.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Something Reddish

6/30: Brewed 10 gals. of beer for our week at Kalaloch in August.

10# 2 Row
5# Marris Otter
5# Munich
2# Honey Malt
1# Biscuit Malt
1/2 #'s each; Special B & Crystal 120

Made an attempt at a Batch Sparge and the efficiency was just 65%. Bummer.

1 oz. 13.3% alpha Simcoe @ 1st wort
1 oz. 11.5% alpha Magnum + 1/2 oz. 13.1% alpha Chinook + 1/2 oz. 17% alpha Columbus at 60 and 30
1 oz. 8.9% alpha Amarillo at 20 and 10

Pitched the Wyeast 1098 British Ale. One of my favorites; good attenuation, malt and hop accenting and a nice flavor profile overall.

I'll dryhop each tank with an ounce of the Amarillo for added dimensions of hoppiness. I'm expecting a firm bitterness from this beer and the dryhop should compliment nicely.

We'll take a tank of Saison with us too.

I'm soo looking forward to hitting the Coast. This has been a yearly trip for ages, we missed it last year and this year will make up for it. Campfires, beach walks, toss some horse shoes, fly a bit of kite, afternoon naps, lotsa hearty home brewed beer and good food. My favorite camping lunch is cold roast chicken, hard white cheddar and Stoned Wheat Thins washed down with lashings of good home brewed beer. Hmmm.