In the pursuit of perfect homebrew, failure still makes beer.

Reviews

BABES in Boston: Off-Flavors Education for the Masses

What kind of fellow, in his right mind, would pay a local club good American dollars to drink bad-tasting beer? The kind of fellow that has had his fair share of home-brew shortcomings, and would like to learn more about what certain flavors mean in a beer. I had the opportunity to drink some Siebel Institute samples with the BABES club – Boston Area Beer Enthusiast Society.

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Poll: Boston Globe’s Best Boston Beer Bars… Bippity Boo

Because alliteration is the key to a great blog title, amirite?!

Seriously, this list is pretty spot-on. The author who threw down on the research for this piece was a) one lucky freelancer and b) pretty much knew his stuff. Take a look at the list and see which hangouts you’ve populated at one point or another, or find out some new adventure to go on.

There are some spots I’d love to try here. Lower Depths is right around the corner from Fenway, which makes a great alternative to the Cask & Flagon crowd-push pregame. On the other hand, Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale sounds like somewhere I’d take a special lady who’s into brew (trust me gentlemen, get yourself a gal who knows her beer).

What’s your favorite inebriation station? Poll below or comment to add it when it’s not there. Who knows, you’ll probably find your new weekend destination here. To think that I could do that for you! Amazing.


I’ve got that Slumbrew Millionaire Feeling

So as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve most recently become a Slumbassador. This moniker refers to the amicable members of the Slumbrew street team, who run your Slumbrew beer tastings and generally are delightfully quirky. Look for our patches and our happy demeanor all around the city, and even all over the NE region.

But, I’ll be honest in saying that while having all of the beers a few times before my first tasting assignment, I never really wrote down any notes. So, in an effort to bring the beer to more audiences and to help my own tasting perceptions, I sat down with a few friends and went through their current (but ever-changing) lineup of commercially produced beers.

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Wild Bar Wednesdays at Cambridge Brewing Company

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So busy drinking their own beer, they can’t even wipe the pint rings off their logo.

As an excuse to get out and about to catch up despite our busy schedules, my roommate and I have been embarking on weekly Wild Wacky Bar Wedneday trips. We’ve been kind of throughout Cambridge, but I can safely say that one of my go-to’s for anyone looking to snag a great pint for decent money and awesome atmosphere has got to be the Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square. (more…)


Why I Won’t Tell You a Beer is Bad.

Don't be that guy.

This post was inspired by Alan McLeod’s fantastic “A Good Beer Blog,” something I digest quite regularly. His post titled “How to Write a Good Review on a Very Bad Thing” is well-written and interesting. It also brings up a point I’ve always had a hard time communicating to others when I’m talking about beer. I’ve learned some of this from working in the restaurant industry for a seemingly short amount of time.

When describing a beer, meal, movie, or anything really, I hesitate to use the terms “bad” and “good.” These words describe a personal preference as opposed to the actual characteristics of the item in question. A pertinent example is when beer snobs insinuate that macro-brewed beer like Budweiser and Miller/Coors is “rubbish,” “horse piss,” “for white trash hillbillies,” and other terms of the like, they solely accomplish being derogatory. They are in essence imposing their opinions of a beer onto others, while holding court on all those who disagree. These insinuations both get in the way of the enjoyment of a truly awesome thing (beer!) and create a tension between the two opposing parties.

I try my best to keep away from telling others that beers are bad or good; I’ve worked hard over the last two years to develop my taste for beer, to pick out subtleties and balances, and to be able to identify characteristics of a beer that describe the beer itself and not my opinion of the beer. When others ask me for an opinion of a beer they are thinking of buying, I try to stick to these principles and describe the beer at face value – this way, he/she who extends the query can decide for themselves if they like what they hear (or taste). I, for one, am not a fan of your “farmhouse ale” saison. But I can describe one if I taste it.

If you tell me what kind of beers you are into regularly, I would be able to forecast whether you’d like a beer or not with moderate accuracy. I am young in the world of beer, and I am still learning, but there is a principle on which I try to balance all pillars of my life – respect the opinions of others, and they will respect you.

In short, every time I say to you “Bud Light has its place and time, for sure…” know that I’m not BS-ing you. It’s the truth – you wouldn’t drink a stout on a lawnmower in the summer. Or if you did, you’d quickly learn your (intestinal) lesson. But I’m only trying to quell your insistence that I’m a snob, and instead respect your opinions.


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Pouring a Perfect Pumpkin Pint

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From my “pipeline” to my palate. Oh, and merry almost Christmas.


Oh My Gah, It’s Been a Year Already. Decadance Aged Homebrew Review

So back in January I brewed a Chocolate Oalmeal Stout that I wasn’t particularly proud of. Reading about it here, I got some dirty astringency and other “green” flavors I wasn’t too proud of. Then again, it was only my 4th-ish batch of beer, and mistakes are usually going to happen in the early stages of learning to brew, hence the learning part. I didn’t think I was a good homebrewer. Much to my spritely young homebrewer-mind’s dismay, the only action I could take to salvage the beer was to… wait. Age it, my all-knowing beer club said, and all will come to pass.

I hated the idea! I wanted my stout to be delicious NOW! But I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. I socked it into my beer/liquor cabinet where it waited patiently. I forgot about it while I made more successful beers, and made a few more mistakes. The more I learned, the more I hoped that I could someday seek retribution from the hopefully-merciful god of fermentation and receive, in the wake of my newfound respect for beer, a miracle for the stout.

The waiting game was finally played out when Thanksgiving rolled around this year. I was looking for a delicious, warming beer to complement my impending after-turkey coma, when it hit me – I still had homebrew in the closet! Aged homebrew, the most coveted of all homebrew! On the day of giving thanks, the moment I opened the bottle cap my feelings of nervous excitement came to a point. I couldn’t wait any longer.

Nectar of the chocolate-loving gods.

I tweeted my delight after sipping the first trappings of this truly decadent homebrew:

I was in heaven. My wish was granted. My beer had bettered ridiculously with age! The added Belgian Chocolate ingredients finally came through with a silky texture and dark chocolate taste that was complimented, surprisingly, by a citrus flavor. It reminded me of something you’d find in a Ghiradelli chocolate bowl at your grandma’s house. It finished with an amazing roasted malt and coffee flavor, which lingered until your next sip. It was a beer I could submerge myself in.

So lesson learned: sometimes patience is the most important ingredient in homebrewing.


Samuel Adams Barrel Series, Special Tasting: 13th Hour Imperial Stout

The fabled Sam Adams Barrel Room, Tun #1

I was lucky enough yesterday, thanks to the folks at Pintley, to draw a chance to attend a private release party for Sam Adams tentative new offering, 13th Hour Imperial Stout. I say “tentative” because they don’t know how or when it will be released yet. I got to zip over to the Sam Adams Brewery today after work for this event, and what a fantastic event it was.

The 13th Hour Imperial Stout is a funky derivation on an “old” standby, the imperial stout. After talking to Andrew, a staff brewer at Sam Adams, I gathered that they decided in order to round out the bitterness of the usual recipes of a stout, they would add something funky to it: Brett and Lacto. Oak barrels purchased from Portuguese spirit-makers and stacked away in the Barrel Room, a room that is almost never opened to the regular tourists (but boy am I a lucky man!), were borne with these brewer’s magic creatures to sour the beer. Multiple batches of the Imperial Stout Recipe were aged for periods of time and blended together for the idealized flavor profile, and 140 BBL of the brew was kept under lock and key.

After having the opportunity to taste this bewitched brew, I have agree that the Brett and Lacto souring flavors added an interesting dimension to the stout, laying solidly on the palatte in front of the characteristic bitterness and dark, fruity, coffee malt flavor; this sour tinge gave a new angle of enjoyment to a style that is already one of my favorites. It’s definitely not a beer for everyday drinking, but it’s a great piece of brew to share with friends, and paired nicely with the sharp cheddar, the dark chocolate, and the salted caramel belgian waffles (yep, that’s right, be jealous) they offered free with the release party.

A sample cup of 13th Hour, so funky it sounds like an Earth, Wind, and Fire "Best Of" album.

Apart from the beer tasting, we were able to cast our vote for one of two unreleased beers from Sam Adams, an Oaked Amber or a Maple Pecan Porter. The voting has been going on  since the spring, and will end in October, and the winner will be offered as a component of the Winter Variety Pack. I personally voted for the Maple Pecan Porter, but I was told that the Oaked Amber has “gathered a large following” already and will probably win.

The choices for "People's Taste" or something... whatever, it was free beer.

We also took some silly pictures in the Biergarten.

Hop vines stripped clean of their wares

Quite tasty, old chap, cheerio!

Trying to sneak *out* of the Biergarten? What a lunk.

All in all, every little bit the experience I was looking for! Thanks again to Pintley for the heads up!


Exciting new offering from Harpoon

A nutmeg, sweet, cinnamon and sugar smell like pumpkin bread out of the oven… Not too bitter but enough to complement the sweetness… A decent body… This is pretty good! Woohoo Boston area beers!

Harpoon Pumpkin UFO


Favorite Breweries?

A friend and I were querying each other last night whilst brewing more beer: What is my favorite brewery?

An important question indeed for any craft beer consumerist aficionado, I have a tough time answering that question. I’m of the school of thought that I can’t really have a favorite, or else I’d be stuck drinking only that brewery’s beer and never experience all that the beer world has to offer. Like food, wine, music, or species of Pokemon, everything should be assessed and appreciated for what it brings to the table and what the positives and negatives are.

This being said, I think it’s ok to have a solid brewery to come back to every once in a while, to sample several beer offerings they have available to you. In my case, that brewery is Southern Tier.

A Variety 12-Pack offering from the NY-based brewery

I have yet to try a beer from Southern Tier I haven’t liked. They have their solid year-round beers like 2xIPA (8.2% abv), Phil & Matt’s Extraordinary American Ale (5.7% abv), and 422 Pale Wheat (5.8% abv). Seasonally they offer such delicious concoctions as Hop Sun Summer Wheat Beer (American Wheat Ale; 5.1% abv) and Old Man Winter (Old Ale; 7.7% abv). But the features that put me over the top is their zest for experimentation and their fantastic imperial ale lines. Imperial Choklat Stout (11.0% abv) made with bittersweet Belgian chocolate tastes like cold, fresh liquid chocolate madness. Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale (8.6% abv) is always flying of the shelves in October. Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout (9.6% abv) with vanilla bean is a fantastic after-dinner treat (but not in large quantities, it’ll make you sick). These are just the beers I’ve had personally – the list goes on and on.

 
So, what is your favorite brewery? Does it produce a bottle of beer you can come back to after weeks and reminisce like old friends? Does it produce palatte-punishing IPAs and watch you cry while you make bitter faces? Is it organic and green-minded? Is it nano-scale or macro-scale? I want to hear from you folks in the comment section – I’m always looking for new brews to infuse.