Friday, November 30, 2007

An English Barley Wine

The Beer:
Thomas Hardy's Ale
The Brewery: O'Hanlons of Whimple, Devon, England
The Style: English Barley Wine
ABV: 11.7%
Brewer's Description: Scarce, subtle and complex, Thomas Hardy’s Ale is the beer enthusiast’s equivalent of rare cognac. Bottle-conditioned to mature in the bottle like fine wine, this old ale/barley wine will improve with age for at least 26 years (and we’re still counting!). Not for the faint of palate, especially when young and brash, maturity brings an elegance of flavors unmatched by any other beer—if you have the patience to cellar it for at least a decade.
Color: Pours a rusty brown with almost no head.
Aroma: Some fruit: tangerines, currants. Spices are present as well: cinnamon notes and a touch of anise.
Taste/Mouthfeel: Very big, thick sweet malts. Some earthy spices are present. Woody and earthy hops balance out the sweetness of the malt beautifully.
Finish: Very coarse and bitter finish. Notes of toasted oak as well. Dry, woody lingering bitterness on the palate.
Notes: English barley wines tend to have less hop emphasis compared to their American brethren. They tend to use less finishing hops and and are usually not dry-hopped. Additionally English hop varieties are used rather than American Pac NW strains. This results in ales that have more emphasis on earthy, woody, and fruity tones rather than the bold citrus notes common in American versions.

Very interesting bottle donning an ornamental medallion. This was an enjoyable beer. The sweetness was strong, but not cloying. The alcohol made an appearance, but it didn't stay too long. For a beer that starts so sweet, the finish is surprisingly dry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

excuse the cellphone shot, I seem to have left my camera in Tampa

The Beer:
Hallertau Imperial Pilsner
The Brewery: Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts
The Style: Strong Lager
ABV: 8.8%
Brewer's Description: Yes, we're a little obsessed with hops. Every autumn for over twenty years, Jim Koch has traveled to one of the oldest hop-growing regions in the world, the Hallertau region of Bavaria in Germany, to hand-select Noble Bavarian hops, including the Hallertau Mittelfrueh variety. This special variety is considered to be one of the best in the world, prized for its unique taste and aroma. Samuel Adams® Hallertau Imperial Pilsner is a celebration of these extraordinary hops. This beer is one of the hoppiest in the world, without being overly bitter. With the first sip, you will experience an explosion of some of the world's finest hops. And we mean “explosion” in a good way. Brewed as a showcase for the hops, this bold brew highlights the spicy, citrus flavors and aromas of the Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops that are abundant in the recipe. The intense hops flavor is balanced with the slight sweetness from the malt. The brew remains pleasantly well-balanced from beginning to end, due to the quality of the hops, and continues to always be, well, "hoppy," providing hop lovers with an amazing beer drinking experience.
Available in 12oz. bottles.

Color: Dark cloudy yellow with a small white head that quickly dissipates and leaves lace behind.
Aroma: surprisingly fruity: white grapes, tangerines, and black currants with hints of vanilla and lemon grass. Some pungent, spicy herbal notes and sweet pale malts.
Taste/Mouthfeel: Some sweet malts initially. Flavors are not as complex as the aromas. Some light lemon notes and minor fruit. Very nice, stinging carbonation. Alcohol is very well masked.
Finish: The finish is long, dry, bitter, and delightful. Earthy dry resins linger on the back of the tongue and sides of the palate. The sweetness of the malts is obliterated by the hops backing up the finish.
Notes: A small, sterile font on the bottom of the label reads "ALE". This could be a frivolous government regulation or an indication that this beer actually uses top-fermenting ale yeast rather than bottom-fermenting lager yeast (as all true pilsners do). I found this interesting in that this beer is similar in many ways to a big IPA. The caramel notes and aromatic hops are missing but the finish is distinctively IPA. This is also incredibly fruity for a pilsner.

I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this beer. I usually do not enjoy noble hops (such as Hallertau and Saaz) when used in massive quantities, but Boston Beer Company has done something interesting with the Hallertau strain in this brew. The last Imperial Pilsner I drank was from the Odell brewing company. I found it to be entirely too sweet and to have an odd, overpowering, almost oregano-like herbalness to it. This brew manages to downplay the sweetness and avoid the heavy herbal notes in favor of fruits and pleasing bitterness.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beer Exploits in the Old Stompin' Grounds

I was in back in the Sunshine State for Thanksgiving and managed to consume a few ales that can not be had here in the Sooner State. Most were sampled with friends and family. I visited a bar called 'World of Beer" it was located in an affluent cookie-cutter neighborhood. The crowd was text-book "yuppie" but the selection of beer was the largest I have ever seen in a bar. Some 20-30 beers on tap, but a staggering 500+ beers in bottle, all proudly displayed behind glass in a ginormous (Firefox says this is not a word but the dictionary states otherwise) walk in cooler.

behold some low-fi camera phone shots of the establishment:

I took the parents a sampling of my home brew. Due to recent restrictions on liquid that are annoying travelers and padding Proctor and Gamble's wallet, I had to check the bag containing the beer. I didn't lose any soldiers in transit, no broken bottles. Some leaks, but my sloppy capping is to blame rather than the haphazard handling by the "throwers". I used this same dedicated "beer bag" to bring back some brews purchased in Tampa. I am happy to report that these also made it safely back and I will be reviewing said brews periodically in the coming weeks.

  1. The Beer: Olde School Barley Wine
    The Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, Deleware
    The Style: Barley Wine (Winter Seasonal)
    ABV: 15%
    Brewer's Description: Inspired by a tale of a cask doctor who brought sluggish ales back to life by suspending a fig in them. Brewed from 100% Maris Otter pale ale malt, a blend of fine hops and conditioned on dates and figs. User Instructions: open bottle, pour contents into two snifters. Enjoy. ALTERNATIVELY: Walk hand-in-neck with bottle into the middle of the woods. Use shovel to dig 2x2 hole three feet deep. Seal bottle in plastic bag. Place in hole and pack with dirt. Memorize location and leave. Return exactly one year later. Dig up bottle, open and enjoy
    Color: Deep amber with a light haze, head is almost non-existent
    Aroma: ethanol and extra sweet fruit syrup smells dominate the nose
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy. Beer starts off sickenly sweet, I thought I was not going to be able to finish this initially. Other flavors make vaguely noticeable guest appearances. Perhaps some apricot and/or mango nectars. Hot alcohol notes are present throughout.
    Finish: Some citrusy hop bitterness appears in the finish, but it is largely muted by the avalanche of over-bearing malty sweetness anf fusel alcohol notes. The sweetness is so thick that I would almost describe it as "slimey". It coats your palate with a film of syrup.
    Notes: I enjoy most of DFH's beers (as a brewery, they are one of my most admired) and barley wines are my latest obsession in the beer world. Naturally, I thought this would be a perfect match. I respect what they are trying to accomplish here, but this beer is entirely too sweet and generally "boozy" for me to enjoy (even as sipping beer). This sugar-fed jet fuel is worth a try if you're a die-hard barley wine fan, otherwise I would suggest skipping this beast. I suspect that a year or two of aging would temper the alcoholic notes, but I see the sweetness getting stronger as the hop compounds degenerate over time. Sam, if you're listening, please bring an aged sample to the Great American Beer Festival next year for further analysis.

  2. The Beer: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
    The Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of Chico, California
    The Style: India Pale Ale (Winter Seasonal)
    ABV: 6.8%
    Brewer's Description: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale represents a time honored tradition of brewing a special beer for the holiday season. There are generous portions of barley malts and fine whole hops of several varieties, creating a brew with a full, rich and hearty character.
    Color: Pours a ruby red with orange highlights, fluffy white head with lingering lacy suds on the glass.
    Aroma: Punchy grapefruit, some pines
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation that tingles the palate with grapefruit, citrusy bitterness. Bitterness gives way to some caramel sweetness but the emphasis is all on the hops.
    Finish: Dry, bitter, clean, and refreshing. Bitterness lingers in the sides of the mouth for almost an hour afterwards. This beer is bittered with Chinook hops and it definitely shows up in the finish.
    Notes: Holiday beers are usually contain some combination of spices, more alcohol, and more hops. Sierra Nevada's take is definitely the latter two. This is one of my favorite seasonals. For a beer of this strength and hoppiness it remains incredibly drinkable and refreshing. It's a peppy, bright, lively beer great for spirited conversations (and probably even some playful arguments) during the holiday season.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hops and Malt sans Alcohol?

I was mindlessly wandering the internet today, researching hops, when I stumbled upon this entry in Wikipedia: Julmust

It is an unfermented malt drink consumed in Sweden around Christmas time. It contains everything beer does with the subtraction of yeast and the addition of citric acid, color, spices, and preservatives. What would something like this taste like? If it's anything like unfermented beer, I'd have to pass. It's far to sweet to be a quaffable beverage.

The entry states that you can sometimes purchase the beverage at IKEA stores in the United States. The closest location from my apartment is down in Dallas. Fortunately my roomate has a borderline unhealthy fetish with the store and makes frequent trips. With a little luck I may be able to procure a bottle or two (and subsequently review it on this site).

Another curious aspect of Julmust: it can be "aged". A part of me wonders what would happen if you dropped some yeast into one of these bottles and attempted to ferment it. I'm going to go ahead and hypothesize that those "preservatives" would probably prohibit you from doing such a thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Scotch Crotch

Some months ago I brewed a "Scotch Ale". The names "Kilt Lifter" and "Tilted Kilt" were already taken. In their absence my brash sense of humor came up with the following:

I used a free clip art image of a cockatrice that I vectorized and modified, my family tartan (from the Ross clan). And a heraldry shield that I colored to match the Scottish flag.

So what is a Scotch Ale exactly? To answer this, we must first define Scottish Ale. A Scottish ale is more or less an English Bitter style brewed in Scotland. The differences in the two styles derive from differences in the climates of Scotland and England. Scottish Ales are:
  • Less hoppy: hops do not grow in Scotland and were very expensive to import.
  • Maltier: robust Scottish malts such as Simpson's Golden Promise malt (a malt also used in The MacCallan single-malt scotch whisky) are employed.
  • Cleaner: Scottish ales were often fermented at cooler temperatures (many at lager-like temps) as a result of the naturally colder weather in Scotland. This resulted in cleaner, less-estery (read: fruity) ales.
  • Smoky: historically barley was malted using wood-fired methods which gave the malts a BBQ like smokiness. This is one aspect of the style that is controversial among homebrewers. The style may get its smokiness from Scottish yeast strains or from the use of modern, peat-smoked malts.
Scottish Ales are categorized according to archaic taxes on beer of varying strengths. There are three "levels" of Scottish Ale, which are generally identical in ingredients and vary only in the quantity of them (resulting in the increasing strength). All exhibit a low level of fruitiness, a medium level of maltiness, and a dry, light roasted finish. They may also exhibit earthy and smoky flavors. The ales are generally light amber to burnt red in color.
  • Scottish Light/60 shilling: 2.5-3.2% abv, brewed as a blue collar "session" beer
  • Scottish Heavy/70 shilling: 3.2-3.9% abv, slightly stronger "session" beer
  • Scottish Export/80 shilling: 3.9-5.0% abv, brewed stronger to better survive export to foreign markets
A very strong Scottish style of beer is termed Scotch Ale, 90/100 shilling, or "Wee Heavy" (all are interchangeable terms). It is similar to Scottish Ales but is much stronger, maltier, and sweeter. Hop bitterness is still kept to a minimum. The smokiness may be non-existent to very apparent. Color ranges from dark amber to almost black. Strength can range from 6% abv to well-over 10%. Like Scottish ales, Scotch ales often have a caramel-to-molasses sweetness derived from caramelization in the brew kettle over long boiling periods.

When brewing Kilted Koch, I was still brewing extract-based beer. This means the majority of the fermentables were derived from a malt syrup. I used an ungodly amount of said syrup and steeped Simpson's Golden Promise malt along with a pinch of roasted barley and peat-smoked malt. My aim was to give the beer a malty, roasty, and smoky character that extract alone could not provide. To add additional complexity, I boiled for three hours instead of the usual one. For hops I used a small amount of East Kent Goldings at the start of the boil.

In my humble opinion, this is one of the most solid beers I have ever made. The beer has a wonderfully rich molasses taste (many people think I literally used molasses in the recipe), a deep maltiness, and finishes slightly sweet with a twinge of whisky-like peatiness. The beer is deceptively smooth and it wears its 10+% abv gracefully. I hope to brew an all-grain version of this beer whenever my current keg runs out!

Monday, November 19, 2007


It says "food" in my banner, so here it goes:

I love curry. A few days ago I decided to attempt to make some of it. I've always been leery of making Indian food. I've tried it in the past, and while the results were good, there was something missing.

So I did some searching around on, made some user recommended adjustments, and came up with this:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped (a red would go better, but I'm too cheap)
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic-ginger paste
  • 3 tablespoons hot madras curry powder
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons of Indian "extra hot" chili pepper (if you do not like your curry hot, I recommend using much, MUCH less.)
  • "splash" of IPA (optional/just for fun)

  1. Heat skillet to medium and add curry powders, garlic powder, and paprika. Let toast, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add olive oil, onions, shallots, and green peppers. Sautee until shallots and onions are browned.
  2. Add chicken, yogurt, milk, bay leaf, ginger root, and garlic-ginger paste. Bring ingredients to a boil, then allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add chili powder, garam masala, and IPA and simmer for an addtional 5 minutes.
  4. Serve with basmati or jasmine rice and naan bread.

The recipe worked out great. Lots of hot spiciness and a rich creamy texture. I found it fitting to pair this with an IPA. The extreme levels of hop bitterness present in the style are able to compete with the insane heat of the curry. The beer I chose was the recently released: Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop Ale.

Formerly known as simply "Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale", I first consumed this IPA at the Rogue Ales Public House in Portland, OR. I was surprised to hear on the McNellies Beer Blog that the beer is being distributed to the great state of Oklahoma. Previously, this IPA was only available on draft, and was rarely found outside the Pacific NW region of the US.

The beer competed with the curry nicely. The mouth-smacking bitter finish competed nicely with the heat of the Indian chili powder. As far as fresh-hop beers go, I still vastly prefer Great Divide's Fresh Hop Pale Ale. It's a much more aromatic brew. I felt the aromatics were a tad lacking in Sierra Nevada's brew. Also the caramel malts seem to muffle the hops too much for my liking.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Winter Warmers

Last night, I had a couple of friends over. We brewed what I hope will blossom into a magnificent barley wine. To stay toasty, we sampled two monstrous beers:

  1. The Beer: Old Numbskull
    The Brewery: Alesmith Brewing Company of San Diego, California
    The Style: Barley Wine
    ABV: 10%
    Brewer's Description: Bottle conditioned.
    Old Numbskull is AleSmith’s first barley wine offering. You may find the name "Old Numbskull" curious. Barley wine has its origins in England and tradition is to begin the name with "Old": Old Nick, Old Sampson, Old Jock, etc. Tongue-in-cheek is often the spirit in naming a barley wine. After drinking a glass or two, you may agree that Old Numbskull feels like a fitting description. It also reminds us of the Three Stooges, one of the greatest comedy teams of all time, so it's meant to bring a smile even before the first taste. Exotic fruit aromas, along with clean ethanol, caramel, honey and toasty notes are
    present in the nose. At five months of age, the Numbskull flavor begins malty and the hops become more evident from the middle to the finish and linger nicely in the aftertaste. The aroma notes also show themselves in the flavor.
    Color: Deep ruby with red hues, small white head.
    Aroma: mango, grapefruit, alcohol, sweet malt
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Medium-full mouthfeel with soft carbonation. Sweet caramel maltiness in the front, followed by bread toffee. Fades into papaya, passion fruit, dragon fruit, and some plum notes.
    Finish: Finish turns to bitter grapefruit peel, citrus oil, and pines. Lingering bitter finish in the sides of the mouth.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Portland, OR. An outstanding barley wine, and an outstanding beer in general. I really enjoyed the rounded flavors that melded together on this one. Initially this brew is extremely sweet, but the citrus/pine punch comes in to keep the beer from being excessive. Sure to warm your core on brisk holiday nights. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on it!

  2. The Beer: Allagash Curieux
    The Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company of Portland, Maine
    The Style: Abbey Tripel/Wood-aged beer
    ABV: 11%
    Brewer's Description: Allagash Curieux is a unique beer that was aged for 8 weeks in Jim Beam Bourbon Barrels. In July 2004 they brewed a batch of the Triple and placed it in Bourbon barrels from Kentucky. December '04 bottles labeled as 11% ABV.
    Color: Poured a cloudy gold
    Aroma: Sour, sweaty, funky, vinegar, wood chips
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Ample carbonation dances on the tongue. It quickly subsides and gives way to a puckering punch of sourness. The body is peppered with strong notes of cedar, sawdust, and oak. Suggestions of juniper, pine needles, spruce tips. Perhaps just a touch of mint.
    Finish: Dry and sour. Leaves the mouth puckering. Some hints of bourbon and some stiff alcohol.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Portland, OR. This beer was certainly an experience. I'm glad to have tried it, but I could do without taking this little taste-bud assault in the future. Truly unlike any other beer I've tasted, I think I would have enjoyed it more sans barrel aging. The wood and the sourness (from Brett, I'm guessing) really overpower the crisp and estery notes of the tripel struggling to get out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

High Alpha Brewing at a Low-Yield Time

A week ago today, I decided to brew a Triple IPA. I did not think much about the coming shortage of hops, I had a bunch stock-piled in the freezer from beers I meant to (but never did) make. Now, one week later the time has come to move the beer to the secondary fermenter and dry-hop it.

Then I realized the strains I had settled on for my recipe were in short supply. After doing some scrounging around at home brew shops and online I eventually was able to get my hands on some Columbus, Chinook, and Centennial hops. All is well with the world again. Here's a summary of what the currently nameless hop-bomb is composed of:

  • American 2-row barley malt
  • Cara-pils Malt
  • Caramel 40 malt
  • Corn sugar
  • Mash Hop: Amarillo
  • Full Wort Hops: Chinook, Amarillo
  • Bittering Hop: Chinook
  • Flavor Hops: Centennial, Columbus
  • Aroma Hops: Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial
  • Dry Hops: Amarillo, Cascade, Columbus
  • WLP001 California Ale (5 gallons)
  • WLP007 Dry English Ale (5 gallons)
Original Gravity: 1.072
IBU: 214

Expected ABV: 7-8%

Today, I'm going to brew a mammoth Barleywine using of the Triple IPA yeast cake. Barleywine is a style I have never brewed before, largely because my love of this style is a recent revelation. I am aiming for a grapefruity, citrus, bittersweet beer that improves as it warms. Rouge Old Crustacean, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, and Great Divide Old Ruffian are my inspiration. Here's some background on the monstrosity that will be keeping me warm through the Oklahoma winter:

Name: The Ancient One

  • American 2-row barley malt
  • Munich malt
  • Cara-pils malt
  • Caramel 60 malt
  • Caramel 120 malt
  • Bittering Hop: Chinook
  • Flavor Hop: Centennial
  • Aroma Hops: Centennial, Cascade
  • Dry Hop: Centennial
  • WLP001 California Ale (5 gallons)
  • WLP007 Dry English Ale (5 gallons)
Anticipated Original Gravity: 1.110-1.120
IBU: 96

Expected ABV: 11-14%

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pan-Seared Pilsener Sirloin Tips with Herbed Pecan Orzo and Shiitake-Blue Cheese Sauce

Here is my latest preperation from "The Best of American Beer & Food":

Sirloin Tips:
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin tips
  • 1 cup Pilsener (I used my Belgian-style pale ale)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp hot red pepper sauce (I used 4 tsp of Tabasco Habanero)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (I used sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Herbed Pecan Orzo:
  • 1 cup orzo (I could not find orzo, so I used 1.5 cup of mini penne)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp salt (used sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted (I preheated the oven to 300F, spread on cookie sheet and let bake for 10 minutes, removed and chopped in food processor)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped (I have discovered these are about 5 times cheaper at an Asian grocery)
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and finely sliced (I used some nameless brown mushrooms I found at the Asian market. The workers there were Vietnamese and could not direct me to the shittake mushrooms)
  • 3 ounces of Pilsener (I used the fabulously cheap Lion's Head Pilsner)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (sea salt)
  • 2 tablespoons flour (used whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (used Gorgonzola, as I prefer its taste)
    Rosemary sprigs for garnish

  1. Marinate sirloin tips in a large ziploc bag with Pilsener, Worcestershire, pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. At least 20 minutes (I marinated for 48 hours)
  2. Cook pasta in according to packaging instructions. Strain and add butter and herbs, mix well, set aside, and cover to maintain heat.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Brown sirloin tips for 1-2 minutes on each side or until brown. Remove, set aside, and cover with aluminum foil. Do not throw out marinade!
  4. Melt butter in skillet used to cook steak. Add shallot and mushrooms. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in beer and allow to completely absorb and evaporate. Add salt and flower and stir to coat. Add reserve marinade and boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently or until the liquid is reduced by half.
  5. Cut sirloin tips into strips and return to the skillet. Cook until desired doneness (1-4 minutes).
  6. Arrange pasta on serving plate. Pour steak and sauce over the top. Sprinkle with cheese crumbles and garnish with fresh rosemary.
The recipe turned out excellent. This is an extremely hearty meal. I was surprised by how quickly I was full and how much I had left over. The book notes that this makes 4 to 6 servings, which is about right. The flavors all meld beautifully. My only complaint is that it came out a bit too salty. I will probably omit the salt editions next time as the beef broth and Worcestershire provide enough salt on their own.

The book recommends pairing this dish with an American dark lager or nut brown ale. I paired it with my own doppelbock "Liberator", and I have too say that the maltiness was a bit too much when coupled with the hearty mushroom sauce. I agree with the book that a nut brown ale would be a perfect complement to the toasty, nuttiness provided by the pasta while still being light enough to cut through the thick sauce.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hop in

Hops can be harnessed in beer using a myriad of methods. But first, a Reader's Digest version of how beer is made:

  1. Cracked grain (e.g. malted barley) is added to a large vessel called a mash tun. Hot water (150F-160F) is added to the tun and the grain is allowed to steep at this temperature for about an hour.
  2. The liquid is drained off the grain, leaving the grain behind. The sweet liquid is called "wort". As the liquid is being drained, more hot liquid is being used to rinse the grain, this is called sparging.
  3. The wort is then transferred to the brew kettle where it is brought to a boil and boiled for 60 minutes or more. Hops are added and let to boil for varying times depending on the application.
  4. The wort is rapidly cooled to room temperature using a chiller. Once room temp is reached the wort is transferred into a fermenter. Yeast is pitched into the beer and mixed.
  5. The yeast-infused wort is then aerated with oxygen to make fermentation more vigorous.
  6. The beer is allowed to ferment, anywhere from 2 weeks to several months. Once fermentation is complete the beer may be aged in a cold vessel, then kegged or bottled.

Mash Tun Hops: Added to the mash tun and steeped with the grains during the mash. The aroma hops are usually used for this application. This adds extra hop flavor and aroma.

Brew Kettle Hops:

  • "Full Wort Hop": This hop is added to the brew kettle as the wort is being transferred from the mash tun. This allows the hop to steep in the wort before it is boiled, contributing more hop flavor and aroma to the beer. Once the brew kettle is filled, the hop addition goes through the entire boil.
  • Bittering Hops: These hops are boiled for an hour or more. They are used only to bitter the beer and contribute no flavor or aroma.
  • Flavor Hops: These hops are boiled for about 30 to 15 minutes and contribute hop flavors to the beer and medium levels of bitterness.
  • Aroma Hop: This hop is boiled for 15 minutes or less. It primarily contributes hop aroma and some flavor. Bitterness contribution is minimal.
Alternate Hopping Methods:
  • Dry Hopping: Adding aroma hops into the fermenter post-boil. This imparts huge hop aromas to the beer without adding bitterness. The hops are left in the fermenter for 2 weeks or more.
  • Wet Hopping/Fresh Hopping: Relatively new process by which fresh hops are used in place of the traditional dried hops and hop pellets. This adds a unique "green" aroma and flavor to the beer and adds unique and pungent aromas. Process was first used by Sierra Nevada for their Harvest Ale.

To India: With Love

The India Pale Ale (IPA) style started in England. The country was occupying India and ale had to be shipped around Africa, through the Cape of Good Hope, to the English colonies there. Pale ale was popular at the time and the beer was having trouble "surviving" (read: not spoiling or souring) the long ocean voyage. Brewers began to make a special export pale ale for troops in India. It was similar to a pale ale but stronger. To aid preservation of the beer, this pale ale contained more alcohol (for its preservative effects) and more hops (for their mild antibiotic effects). This new style came to be known as India Pale Ale.

From India to America

American craft brewers began to take this idea and run with it. Punchy Pacific Northwest-grown hops are far more potent than their brethren across the pond. The "American" India Pale Ale was born. In place of the earthy and fruity hops used in the English version, the state-side version contained bolder, stronger, citrus-type hops (such as cascade, chinook, and centennial). The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) now distinguishes between English-style and American-style IPAs.

Birth of DIPA
Fueled by the "bigger, bolder, better" mentality, craft brewers in the states continued to push the envelope. More hops! More alcohol! Stronger hops! Dry-hopping! Wet-hopping! Continuous hopping! This new, stronger, and more bitter IPA came to be known as an "Imperial" or "Double" IPA. The first example of this style is often considered to be Blind Pig IPA, brewed by the late Blind Pig Brewing Company. Head brewer Vinnie Cilurzo has since started another brewery, Russian River, and has re-acquired the rights to the Blind Pig name.

Double is beginning to take over in usage. "Imperial" was first used to describe "Russian Imperial Stout", a stronger version of English stout beer brewed for the imperial court in Russia. Imperial is often used to mean "a stronger version of" in craft brewing e.g. "Imperial Red", "Imperial Pilsner", etc. However, there is a growing movement to call these "double" in place of "Imperial". Many craft brewers feel using the "Imperial" descriptor for anything other than stout is incorrect.

The Unquenchable Thirst for more Bitterness
Craft breweries continue to push even further on hops and alcohol levels of their IPAs. Some breweries have begun making beers which they label "triple" IPAs. This style has yet to be officially recognized by the BJCP (it can be thought of as an intensely hoppy barleywine in some regards), but that hasn't stopped adventurous craft breweries from brewing massive 10+% abv, 100+ IBU monstrosities of hoppiness.

Notable IPAs:
Bridgeport IPA, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Stone India Pale Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Surly Furious, Odell India Pale Ale

Notable DIPAs:
Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA, Russian River Pliny the Elder, Stone Ruination IPA, Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, Great Divide Hercules Double IPA, Pizza Port Lou P. Lin, Pizza Port Hop Suey Double IPA

Notable "Triple" IPAs:
Russian River Pliny the Younger, Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA, Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Addition by Subtraction

Ever since I have been doing 10 gallon batches of home brew I have been splitting each batch into two equal-sized partitions. In doing this, I can use two different yeast strains on the same recipe and compare the final results.

Almost 5 weeks ago I brewed what is termed a "heather ale". This is a historical Scottish style of beer in which heather tips are used in place of hops. The use of hops in brewing is a relatively recent development in the grand history of beer. Some even say the first beer contained heather.

Problem: I had neglected to rack this beer to a secondary fermenter for far too long. I kept putting it off. I like to time my brewing so that I can syphon a week-old beer off of the yeast (and into the secondary fermenter) and immediately syphon a freshly brewed beer on to the yeast cake. I had planned to ferment an imperial milk stout on the yeast cakes of the heather ale, but I could never make the time, didn't have the equipment, etc.

Yesterday, I gave up on reusing this yeast. I decided I would just rack the beer into secondary and pitch some fresh yeast when I brew the imperial milk stout. I didn't want to risk off-flavors associated with leaving the beer on the yeast for an extended period of time.

The two yeast strains I used were White Labs Irish Ale Yeast (WLP004) and Wyeast Scottish Ale Yeast (1728). I began to siphon the beer off the Irish Ale yeast, I took a sample for taste and to take the final gravity reading (it was 1.010). Tasted great, no off-flavors. Had a delightfully smooth and creamy mouthfeel with a finish that is both biscuity and flowery.

Then I did the same for the beer on the Scottish Ale yeast....

Something was wrong, the aroma was sour. I took my sample out and continued to siphon the beer into the secondary fermenter. Once I was finished I sat down and tasted it. It smelled of sweet vinegar and cherries! The taste was tart and sour with a touch of sweetness. The beer is contaminated with some sort of organism. Which one it is, I'm not sure. The taste is very similar to that of Flemish-style sour ales such as Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne.

I'm trying to figure out how half the batch became contaminated. This little mistake will still be bottled and aged (possibly on oak chips), I'll probably enter this happy accident into some home brew competitions as a Flanders red and see how it fairs.

Here are the front and back labels I cooked up for the heather ale. I used a picture my friend over at We Are Cartographers took of my traversing Holyrood park in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tasting Beer: Some Starting Points

I used to find it silly and pretentious, the way some would describe beer. The more varied my taste for beer has become, the more my sensitivity has grown. As you expand your love of beer and sample increasingly challenging beers, you will begin to appreciate nuances you never noticed before.

For instance, I never liked hoppy beers for years. I kept giving them a chance every few months, and now my favorite styles incorporate massive amounts of the little flowers. The last remaining style that I disliked was "barley wine", a bittersweet mega-alcoholic brew. This is now one of my favorite kinds of beer. I appreciate it in ways I never thought I would.

Here is a descriptive guide for what to look for in tasting beers. These are words I've read from other sources (such as the late, great, Michael Jackson) as well as words I have just come up with from my own experiences. I must warn, many of them are probably not what is legally considered "English".

Hop-derived aromas/flavors: floral/flowery, citrus, fruit salad, grapefruit, water melon, lemon, orange, peach, strawberry, black currants, woody, earthy, herbal, oregano, piney/pine needles, resiny, sappy, grassy, catty (cat urine/litterbox), lemongrass, sweat

Malt/sugar derived aromas/flavors: biscuit, cracker, bread, rye, wheat, corn, toast, toasty, roasty, coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, cocoa, toffee, grainy, cookie, dough, caramel, burnt, smoky, sweet, creamy, malty, molasses, rummy, cidery, dark fruits: raisins, prunes, dates, plums, figs, hay, anise, liquorice, tobacco, nutty, almond, bourbon, alcohol, wood/oak, brown sugar, meat/bacon/BBQ/campfire, maple syrup

Yeast/fermentation dervied aromas/flavors: spicy, white grapes, phenolic, cloves, bananas, black pepper, coriander, citrus, smoke, estery(fruity flavors), sweat, yeasty, "funk", vinegar, sour, horsey(saddle blanket), barn flavors, tart, leather

Other random aromas/flavors: coriander, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, anise, fennel, tea, perfume, rosehips, fruits(added to the beer), chamomile, chocolate, juniper, spruce, heather, ginger

Negative flavors and off-flavors (in some styles of beer these may be desirable, most of the time they are not): vinegar, sour, tart, cooked corn, vegetal, astringent (think biting into a grape stem, sucking on a tea bag), cidery, wet cardboard, soapy, barn flavors, horsey, medicinal, band-aid, buttery/butterscotch(this tastes like a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly to me, in fact it is in ingredient in that candy and is the cause of "popcorn lung"), meaty, metallic/blood, solvent ("hot"/harsh alcohol flavors), cloying (sickenly sweet/syrup), stale, musty, stale, skunky

Moutfeel: sticky, smooth, fizzy, tingling, soft, flat, thin, thick, creamy

Finish: crisp, fruity, sweet, bitter, lingering, malty, hoppy

General take-aways:
  • Always pour beer into a glass first (style-appropriate glassware is another discussion all-together). Drinking from a bottle does not allow the beer to hit all flavor centers on your tongue and over-emphasizes the bitter taste-buds on the back of the tongue.
  • These adjectives are just a starting point. If you think a beer tastes or smells like something, write it down!
  • Try joining a site like ratebeer or Beer Advocate to keep track of your notes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Shallot and Stout-Glazed Steak with Cumin-Pepper Onions

This is the latest recipe I have constructed from "The Best of American Food and Beer". It turned out excellent, save for the fact that I over-cooked my steak. I share a grill with three other apartment units and something was amiss with the propane. I began cooking the steaks on high, and it was barely warming the meat. I came back 5 minutes later, still nothing. I could literally touch the grates with my hands. Fast-forward 5 additional minutes, huge flames, steaks searing to death, nice.

The steak:
  • 5 large shallots, thinly sliced (I used 3, these are quite expensive)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter (I used unsalted)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 ounces American dry or sweet stout (I used my 1.5 year old vanilla bourbon imperial porter)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 lbs skirt steak, trimmed (I used top sirloin)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  1. Melt butter in saucepan. When all butter is melted simmer in shallots and garlic until garlic turns golden
  2. Add bay leaves, beer, tomato paste, Worcestershire, sea salt, pepper and whisk together. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaves. Add 1 cup of sauce to plastic bag with steak and marinate 6-8 hours (I left it overnight). Keep remaining sauce in a separate container and refrigerate.
  4. Allow sauce to come to room temperature and whisk in vinegar and orange juice. Grill steak to desired level (well done for me unfortunately), brushing steak with sauce for the last 2 minutes of cook time. Serve with cumin-pepper onions.
Cumin-pepper onions:
  • 3 large yellow onions sliced into 1/2 inch thick medallions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I used 1/2)
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (I used 1/2)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Drizzle onion medallions with olive oil. Mix together all powdered spices.
  2. Place on grill under medium-high heat. Grill until tender, turning once. Be careful when flipping, as the onions do not want to stay together!
  3. Remove onions from grill and lightly dust with spice mix, add more as desired.
This recipe was very tasty. The glaze on the steak was delicious. I will definitely be making this again, it's a shame I had to have it with well-done steak (I'm more of a medium-rare kind of guy). The spices blend nicely into a pungent/spicy/sweet/salty/meaty concoction that adds nice flavors to the onions. The book recommends pairing this with an American Pilsner or Dark Lager beer. I had neither of these styles on hand so I paired it with homebrewed Belgian-style pale ale, a very clean-tasting brew with a slight biscuit note in the finish. Any light, crisp, refreshing style of beer should pair nicely with this dish. These types of beer are highly carbonated and cleanse the pallet, which allows for better enjoyment of the roasty steak and spicy onions.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Zymurgical Lexicon

The following is a list of beer terminology and general "beer geek slang" that is frequently used on this site. It will be continuously updated as new terms arise.

AA: abbreviation for "alpha acid". Measured in a percentage, alpha acids are the component in hops the contribute bitterness. "High alpha hops" contribute more bitterness than lower alpha hops and require less quantity to achieve the same level of bitterness.
ABV: abbreviation for "alcohol by volume", the percentage of a beer's volume taken up by alcohol. ABV can be converted to alcohol by weight(ABW) by multiplying by .79, the density of ethyl alcohol.
ABW: abbreviation for "alcohol by weight", usually only used for describing the alcohol content of "3.2" beer. ABW can be converted to ABV by multiply times 1.25. "3.2% ABW beer" is thus 4.0% ABV.
Adjuncts: ingredients in beer that are not one of the traditional four (water, hops, barley, yeast). Common adjuncts include corn, rice, and many sugars. These are often used by large breweries to cut costs and lighten the color and flavor of beer. Belgian brewer's use sugars to increase alcohol content and add flavor.
AHA: abbreviation for the American Homebrewers Association, started by homebrewer Charlie Papazian.
Ale: One of two types of beer, brewed with top-fermenting ale yeast at warm temperatures ( usually in the 60F-80F range.) Ales usually have fuller, fruiter flavors when compared to lagers.
APA: abbreviation for "American Pale Ale". A yellow to deep amber colored beer with a hoppy bite. Used to distinguish from an English Pale Ale. APAs usually contain citrusy American-grown hops as opposed to the more earthy, woody, and lemon grass hops of their overseas cousins.
Aroma Hop: hop addition added at the end of the boil, usually for the final 5 minutes or less. It adds hop aroma to the beer. Synonymous with the "finishing hop".

Barley Wine: I strong, alcoholic ale typically containing 8-14+% abv. The style is characterized by a bittersweet finish. The high levels of remaining sugars are balanced by very aggressive hopping rates. Barley wine is a beer, not a wine. It gets its name from the wine-strength levels of alcohol. In the US many barley wines must be labeled "barley wine-style ale", to note that they are a beer and not fermented fruit juices.
Bitter: a mild English pale ale of low alcoholic strength and moderate hop presence, meant to be drank as a session beer. The weakest of the three English pale ales (bitter, best bitter/premium bitter, and extra special bitter).
Bittering Hop: hop addition added at the beginning of a boil, usually boiled for 60 minutes or more. It adds bitterness to the beer.
BJCP: abbreviation for "Beer Judge Certification Program". A program founded by homebrewers to more objectively evaluate and review beer of varying styles.

BMC: slang abbreviation for "the big three" breweries that make up the majority of market share. Anheuser Bush(Bud), SAB Miller(Miller), and MolsonCoors(Coors).
Bottled Conditioning: process by which beer is naturally carbonated in the bottle by a second fermentation; usually used in Belgian-style ales and by many US craft breweries.

Cask Ale: synonymous to "real ale", a type of ale (usually a bitter) that is served at cellar temperature from a cask. The beer has very little carbonation resulting in a creamy mouth feel. Cask ale is prevalent in the United Kingdom and is served at some US craft breweries.
Charlie Papazian: Founder of the American Homebrewers Association and the Great American Beer Festival. His book "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing" is the best selling homebrew book of all time.

Dry hopping: the process of adding hops to the fermenter in addition to boiling them in the kettle. This immensely increases hop aroma without adding any bitterness. Hop pellets, dried whole hops, or fresh hops can be used in this manner.

ESB: abbreviation for "Extra Special Bitter", a type of strong English pale ale. English pale ales differ from American Pale Ales (APAs) by having a more balanced flavor profile. English pales are often maltier and more balanced while APAs are more hop focused. The hops used also differ; APAs use citrusy American hop varities(Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, etc.) while their English brethren employ more earthy, woody English varities (such as East Kent Goldings and Fuggles). ESB is the strongest of the three English pale ales (bitter, best bitter/premium bitter, and extra special bitter).
Esters: fruity flavor notes produced during fermentation at higher temperatures. Lower fermentation temperatures will result in lower ester production, and a "cleaner" tasting beer.

Fermentation: the process by which the sugars in beer are converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide gas by brewer's yeast.
Filtered: beer that has been processed to removed yeast from suspension.
Finishing Hop: see aroma hop
Flavor Hop: hop addition added to brew kettle with 15 to 30 minutes left in the boil. It adds hop flavor to the beer.
Final Gravity: gravity of beer post-fermentation.

abbreviation for Great American Beer Festival
Gravity: short-hand term for "specific gravity"
Great American Beer Festival: annual beer convention held in Denver, CO. It was started in 1982 by Charile Papazian. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded for various beer style categories.

Hop: Flower from the hop bine that contributes bitterness, flavor, aroma, and stability to beer.
Hophead: slang term used by homebrewers for those that enjoy excessively hoppy beers.

IBU: abbreviation for "International Bittering Units", a metric used to measure the hop bitterness of beer.
IPA: abbreviation for "India Pale Ale", a more hoppy and alcoholic pale ale. When England was occupying India, they would ship pale ale out to the troops stationed there. They began to realize that if they brewed a pale ale with more alcohol and hops(both preservatives) that the beer would survive the long ocean voyage around Africa better. This became what is now called the India Pale Ale.
Imperial: a beer designation for: "a stronger, hoppier version of". The term originated with Russian Imperial Stout, a strong stout beer brewed for the Russian court. It has become a commonplace descriptor for IPAs and is gaining acceptance for stronger versions of red/amber ales. Many microbreweries are beginning to use the term" double" in place of imperial, this is not to be confused with a "Dubbel" which is a dark Belgian style of beer.

Krausen: foam that forms at the top of the fermenter during vigorous fermentation.
Lager: One of two types of beer (the other being ale). Lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting lager yeast at cold temperatures, usually in the 50F-60F range. Lager comes from the German for "to store". These beers go through an aging and conditioning process post-fermentation at temperatures close to freezing. Lagers are generally "cleaner" tasting than ales, with less off-flavors. It should be noted that lagers are not necessarily stronger/weaker in alcohol nor ligther/darker in color than ales.
Lagering: the cold-conditioning period that lagers and some ales go through post-fermentation.

Malt: synonymous to "barley" and "barley malt"; a cereal grain that is mashed in order to extract sugars which are then fermented into alcohol by yeast.
Mashing: process by which crushed malt is rested or steeped at one or more temperatures in order to exact sugars from the grain. After mashing the grain is "sparged".

Original Gravity:
gravity of beer prior to the onset of fermentation.
Real Ale: see cask ale
Reinheitsgebot: German beer purity law that was originally drafted in 1516. It specified that to be considered beer a beverage must contain only: malt, hops, and water. Later, when the brewing process became better understood at the microscopic level, yeast was added to the list of ingredients.

Sankey keg: the most common type of keg used to store beer. It is usually made of stainless steel (although aluminum and rubber are sometimes used) and Holds 15.5 gallons. Half of a barrel is equivalent to one sankey keg.
SG: abbreviation for "specific gravity"
Sparging: process that occurs after mashing in which spent grain is rinsed with hot water to extract any remaining sugars.
Specific gravity: also called simply "gravity", specific gravity is the ratio of the density of beer to the density of water. The specific gravity (SG) of water is 1.000. The gravity reading of beer before fermentation (Original Gravity or "OG") can be used in concert with the gravity of beer post-fermentation (Final Gravity or "FG") to calculate the alcohol content of beer. Unfermented beer has a higher gravity because it has more sugars than fermented beer (wherein sugars have been converted to alcohol).
SRM: abbreviation for "Standard Reference Method"; used for measuring the color of beer.
Style: a category developed to more easily compare and categorize beer. "Stout" is a style of ale.


Trappist: beer that is produced at a trappist monastery with direct supervision of the monks, it can be of any style. Currently there are 7 trappist monasteries: Chimay, Westmalle, Westvletern, Orval, Achel, and Rochefort in Belgium with Koningshoeven located in the Netherlands. These are not to be confused with “abbey ales” which are brewed under the name of a monastery which has been licensed to a commercial brewery.

Unfiltered: beer that has not undergone filtering and retains residual yeast from the brewing process, can sometimes result in a cloudier beer. Wheat beers and often unfiltered.
Wort: pronounced "wert", beer that has not yet undergone fermentation. It is a very sweet liquid.
Wet Hopping: using fresh-from-the vine hops rather than processed hop pellets or kiln-dried whole hop flowers. This imparts a different "greener" hop aroma compared with using processed hops. Breweries will often make "Fresh hop" ales in September (right around hop harvest time) using this technique. The hops are often over-nighted to the brewery to ensure freshness.
Yeast: single-celled fungal organism that consumes sugars and expels the by-products ethanol and carbon dioxide. It is used to ferment beer, cider, wine, and is part of the production of spirits.

Zymurgy: the study of fermentation. Also a quarterly homebrew magazine published by the American Homebrewers Association

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Those Jack-o-Lanterns have to go somewhere

This is the time of year when we see the microbreweries (and even some of the big boys at B[ud]M[iller]C[oors]) churn out their pumpkin brews. Pumpkin can be added to a beer in many ways. During the mashing process, boil, fermentation, or post fermentation. Brewers can use extracts, mashes, or whole chunks of the pumpkin flesh. I've recently sampled a few such offerings, here are my impressions:

  1. The Beer: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
    The Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, Delaware
    The Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable/"Specialty" beer (ale)
    ABV: 7%
    Brewer's Description: Punkin' Ale is a full-bodied, spiced brown ale brewed with baked pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale is named after the annual Punkin' Chunkin Festival held near Lewes, Delaware the weekend after Halloween.
    Color: Bright copper with a thin white head
    Aroma: allspice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, some faint malt notes as well
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel with tingling carbonation. Spices up front: stinging allspice and nutmeg followed by a bready, crusty malt backbone and some mild pumpkin meat. Lots of rich caramel malt and some toffee in the body as well.
    Finish: Drying finish with some cinnamon and biscuit notes. Begs the mouth to be moistened with another sip.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Texas. I really enjoyed this one. The spices typically used in pumpkin pie are more prevalent than the actual pumpkin flavor which is slightly muted. I didn't mind that much and I really enjoyed the spiciness of this beer. That said, it's not for everyone. I have several friends that do not enjoy this beer. The relatively high alcohol content is well hidden by the spices.

  2. The Beer: Pumpkin Lager Beer
    The Brewery: Lakefront Brewery, Inc of Wilwaukee, Wisconsin
    The Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable/"Specialty" beer (lager)
    ABV: N/A
    Brewer's Description: Pumpkin Lager is brewed with pumpkins in the mash, spices added during the boil, and lightly hopped. The rich speciality grains and lager fermentation combine to produce the taste and the texture of pumpkin pie.
    Color: Light, cloudy orange with thin wispy head
    Aroma: sweet caramel in the nose with some funky pumpkin notes
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Light fizzy mouthfeel. Sweet caramel notes up front with some medium pumpkin meat. Taste is oddly vegetal.
    Finish: Finish is rather flat. Slightly clean and lager-like finish, not much bitterness to speak of. Suggestion of pumpkin guts.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Wisconsin. I was a little disappointed with this offering. This had much more of a raw pumpkin flavor while the Dogfish beer was more reminiscent of pumpkin pie filling. Spices are kept to a minimum and the body is very thin, refreshing, and quaffable. This is at the expense of the deep rich caramel notes exhibited by the Dogfish brew.

  3. The Beer: Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale
    The Brewery: Coors Brewing Company(MolsonCoors) of Golden, Colorado
    The Style: Spice/Herb/Vegetable/"Specialty" beer (ale)
    ABV: 5.77%
    Brewer's Description: This amber-colored flavored ale is brewed only in the autumn and combines the flavor of ripened pumpkin and spices with traditional crystal malt.
    Color: Brilliant clear bright amber with fluffy cream head

    Aroma: Minimal aroma, very faint pumpkin chunk note as it warms
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Thin and highly carbonated mouthfeel. Some faint cloves and caramel, with the majority of the flavor being a vegetal and pumpkin.
    Finish: Clean and dry with no bitterness to speak of. Some light cinnamon and coriander notes.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Oklahoma. This was a generic tasting beer with some pumpkin added. Spices are very mild and pumpkin is the most notable flavor note. Very mild caramel notes (from the crystal malts). Not an offensive beer, but very ordinary.

I hope to sample more pumpkin ales in the future. I enjoy snagging some seasonal releases and noting the various angles brewers take on them. Some of these beers would be great compliments to the cornucopia of holiday goods that await us!