Monday, December 31, 2007

Dunedin Brewery

I have to be honest. I had almost written off this small Florida brewery. I received a bottle of their "Celtic Gold", a Kölsch-style ale for Christmas last year. Needless to say, I was not impressed. The beer was incredibly bland and plain.

I had heard rumblings that the brewery acquired a new brewmaster and I didn't want to pronounce judgment based on one beer I sampled out of a bottle. So Mom and I hit the road for Dunedin, a small town about 25 minutes outside of my parent's house in Tampa.

Dunedin was founded by two Scottish blokes, it gets its name from Scots the Gaelic Dùn Èideann meaning "Edinburgh" (the capital of Scotland). The brewery incorporates Celtic and Scottish themes into much of their decor and many of their beers. The two flags of Scotland adorn fermentation vessels as you enter the brewery. The sister city of Dunedin is Sterling, Scotland.

It's a local hang-out, tucked off the beaten path. Very atypical for a beach town in Florida. The building an decor is equal parts brewery, beach shack, and downtown loft. The barkeep was very friendly and knowledgeable, eager to talk beer. He informed me that they no longer bottle due to previous problems in quality control. They currently serve beer on site and also distribute kegs.

The beers on tap included:
Pictured: Piper's Pale and Christmas Farmhouse
  • Lowland Wheat Ale
  • Razzberry Wheat Ale
  • Apricot Wheat Ale -- Sampled out of a sample cup: Sweet, and fruity with a hint of sour wheat in the finish. Apricot nectar taste is very pronounced.
  • Redhead Red Ale
  • Beach Tale Brown Ale
  • Biere de Cafe -- Sampled out of a sample cup: Exellent coffee beer! Body is medium-light with rich cocoa and coffee bean notes. Reminds me of a coffee-infused New Belgium 1554 in that it has some mild roastiness without being anything like a stout or porter.
  • Piper's Pale Ale -- Ordered a pint: Very nice citrus/pine hop aroma. Caramel notes are kept to a minimum which allows the hops to shine through and allows this beer to remain incredibly thirst quenching. A great session beer, despite the 6% abv.
  • Nitro Stout (dry Irish stout)
Three seasonals were:
  • Bohemian Rhapsody Imperial Pilsner -- Sampled out of a sample cup: Aroma of lemon and orange peel. Medium mouthfeel with lots of fizz, backed up by peppery herbal and orange notes.
  • Brewmaster's Reserve I.P.A. -- Ordered a pint: Like a hoppier version of piper's pale, which is not a bad thing. Slightly more alcohol and more punchy citrus hops in the nose. Keeps in the theme of high drinkability set by the APA it's based on.
  • Christmas Farm Ale -- Ordered a pint: Funky and fruity with a robust caramel/biscuit backbone. Has some characteristic Belgian "funk", usually indicative of a secondary fermentation courtesy of wild yeast and/or bacteria. Some slightly sour, acidic notes balance out the Christmas cookie-like malt notes. I asked the bartender if any wild yeast/bacteria were used and he informed me that they were not! He did mention that the beer is re-fermented in secondary on sour cherries.
Guest Beers Included:

  • Rogue (John's Old Locker Stock) "Glen" - American Strong Ale: I was very surprised to see this on tap. I have never seen the "Locker Stock" edition beers on tap anywhere outside of Oregon.
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: always a solid choice.
  • Avery Hog Heaven o4' Barleywine (I didn't realize it was the 2004 vintage till I was typing this up!)
Overall, I was very impressed with the brewery. Great beer, ambiance, and a local crowd. I'd love to stay at a small getaway motel in Dunedin. Beach by day, beer by night.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Belgian Brewing in Greek Florida

Merry Christmas.

I'm in Florida visiting with my family for the holidays, but that hasn't stopped me from perusing new beer. I picked up a couple dozen bottles at the large wine/liquor depot. Last night I uncorked a beer and was marveling at how unique and enjoyable it was. Scanning the label, I noticed it is brewed in...Tarpon Springs, Florida? I was shocked. Tarpon Springs is a small Greek community located about 20 minutes from my parents' house in Tampa. I plan to visit there on my stay. For now a review of one of their beers will have to do:

The Beer: Lectio Divina
The Brewery:Saint Somewhere Brewing Company of Tarpon Springs, Florida
The Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 8%
Brewer's Description: Lectio Divina is brewed in the spirit of the abbey ales of Belgium. Brewed with the same care and attention to the Art of Brewing that is practiced in the monastic breweries of Belgium.
Color: Poured into Gator pint glass. Slightly hazy orange-copper with small white head.
Aroma: White grapes, apple cider, sweat, farmhouse smells
Taste/Mouthfeel: Thin, medium to high fizz. Lots of fruity esters and some grassy/sweaty notes. Some notes of exotic sweet cane sugar, apple juice, and ginger. Suggestions of white wine and a touch of woodiness and peppercorns.
Finish: Very tart and pronounced with citrus esters, no alcohol heat whatsoever. Some slight herbal hop as well. Finish is dry and satisfying.
Notes: This was a very enjoyable beer, not quite like anything I've ever had. It carries it's alcohol extremely well and is surprisingly easy to drink and refreshing. This almost reminds me of a Saison crossed with a Tripel. The beer has spicy, citrus, herbal, and grassy notes coupled with a typical Belgian "funk" that I describe as "sweat".

If I did not know any better I would think this is a genuine Belgian ale. I'm extremely impressed that a small brewery in Tarpon Springs is able to pump out such a wonderfully complex Belgian-style ale. Keep up the good work guys! This brewery could be well on-track to becoming the next Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.l

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ignorance to Beer Culture

I recently stumbled upon this blog post regarding beers the author(s) would never drink

I am constantly amazed by the ignorance of mainstream media to all things, including beer. The author(s) seem to have never even tried many of these beer. It reads like it was written on five minute google research.

6) Lambics are fermented with bacteria, and are enjoyed by many people. The sugar-infused lambics at Tapwerks Ale House where I work are very popular, especially with those that normally do not like beer.

5) I have never tried Randall before, but as a hophead and evangelizer of all things Dogfish Head, I'm sure I would enjoy the enormous hop aroma it imparts to finished beer.

4) You can find my review of Utopias here. I agree with them that is more like a cognac than a beer but it is still technically a beer. It's expensive but worth a shot.

3) I have had this pine ale before and it's delicious. Adding pine needles to beer was done before the widespread use of hops. It's not that far off when you think about it. Many hops impart pine-like character to beer.

2) I have never had this beer. I did have a toasted coconut porter at the Great American Beer Festival and it was fantastic!

1) Those who like light beer and enjoy livening it up with fruit slices will probably enjoy this. And this beer is aimed squarely at them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Triple IPA, an update

I have previously spoke about a Triple IPA I home brewed. The time has come to drink it.

The Beer: Shiva's Revenge
The Brewery: Rooftop Brewing Co.(?) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 8.2%
Brewer's Description: This Triple India Pale ale is based loosely on Russian River's "Pliny the Elder". Shiva's Revenge is hopped in the mash tun and then full wort hopped in the brew kettle. The ale is boiled for 90 minutes with bitter, flavor, and aroma hop additions. During secondary fermentation the beer is dry-hopped for 2 weeks using 3 different hop varieties. The clean malt backbone is provided by domestic two-row barley and caramel, carapils, and Munich malts. When all is said and done, Shiva is infused with over 2 POUNDS of hops delivering a massive 244+ International Bittering Units! Behold, Shiva: the Destroyer of Palates!
Color: Poured into a snifter glass. Pours a dark copper with red highlights when held to light. Solid 1 inch thick puffy, meringue head that lingers and leaves spongy lace down the side of the glass.
Aroma: Navel oranges and ruby red grapefruit dominate. Touch of lemon peal and subtle mango and strawberry aroma in the background.
Taste/Mouthfeel: Ample carbonation that gives way to green, vegetal hops. Bubbles give way to creamy smooth mouthfeel. Very faint caramel malts and some warming alcohol in the background with some minor astringency.
Finish: Initially crisp and dry. Gives way to colossal bitterness. Resins sting the mouth and stomp on the back of the tongue. Roof of the mouth is left dry and mouth-smackingly bitter.
Notes: This is easily the hoppiest beer I have ever made. I regularly brew a 49 IBU APA and I have brewed a 100 IBU IPA and 127 IBU DIPA. For this beer I aimed for massive amounts of hop flavor and aroma, and I think I succeeded. The aftertaste is so hoppy it sometimes feels like you ingested a small herb garden.

I also did not want his beer to be too "hot" and boozy. I was not aiming to make a thick, heavy IIIPA with a barley wine-class burn in the finish. This beer contains just enough malt to give it enough strength to hold all of the hoppiness. As a result the beer has a clean, dry finish and it is in no way sweet or alcoholic tasting.

My only complaint is that the hops taste a little too "fresh". With time I expect the green and astringent flavors to meld and mellow. The ale has only been in the bottle for 3 weeks, very young for a beer of this strength and bitterness.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Utopias: A Review

While not the strongest beer ever produced, Utopias is the strongest beer in production. It's also the strongest beer ever made without using the Eisbock-technique. I recently sampled the brew at Tapwerks Alehouse and Cafe in Bricktown, Oklahoma City (2 ounce shots can be had for $9).

The Beer: Sam Adams Utopias
The Brewery:The Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts
The Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 27%
Brewer's Description: To create Utopias, the brewers at Sam Adams used traditional brewing ingredients including all four types of Noble hops, which add a slightly earthy, herbal taste. The spiciness of the hops really comes alive. In fact, Utopias MMII has even been described by some as almost "fiery" -- a fitting description for the strongest beer in history. Beyond the special brand of hops, Utopias features ingredients that truly set it apart from other varieties of beer. Utopias MMII contains caramel and Vienna malts for its rich amber color and several different types of yeast including a variety found in champagne. $100 a bottle and it's limited to 3000 bottles, which look like copper brew kettles.
Color: Poured into a shot glass. Brilliant, clear copper color. The bottle is just as opulent and excessive as it sounds. It's heavy and made of real copper, not a cheap commodity lately.
Aroma: Huge maple syrup followed by cognac and port notes. Intense sweet vapors sting the nostrils. Beer is completely flat (thus no head) and served at room temperature.
Taste/Mouthfeel: Deep, rich, sweet, and syrupy. Maple syrup dominates followed by pleasing walnut and toasted pecans. Other flavors present are honey, caramel, and toffee. No hop flavor whatsoever.
Finish: Very hot and stingy finish. You can feel the intense heat making its way to your stomach. The "fiery" descriptor given by The Boston Beer Company is dead on. The finish is also intensely sweet with no bitterness.
Notes: I expected this beer taste like jet fuel, but I was pleasantly surprised. The alcohol is strong but there are a wealth of other flavors. The neck of the bottle does indicate "ale brewed with maple syrup" and they must have used copious amounts of it. The pecan flavors are a treat, it literally tastes like fresh toasted pecans. This is definitely a beer to drink in small doses, it'd be a great dessert beer. Scratch that, I don't think I would consider this a beer. It's more like a "maple wine".

On a side note I have to chuckle at "champagne" yeast nod. It's done in a way that suggests champagne yeasts are sexy and exotic. They can be purchased at any home brew supply shop and are actually extremely cheap and common. Champagne yeast was likely chosen simply because it is the only strain that can withstand the extremely high alcohol levels without being killed off. Alcohol is a waste product of the yeasts' sugar consumption so they literally begin to drown in their own excrement.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Jerk Chicken

"Jerk" can be thought as "Jamaican BBQ". It's a very hot(traditionally from Scotch Bonnet peppers) and well-spiced (often thyme, nutmeg, allspice, cloves). I found the base for this recipe on Tabasco's website. I was so impressed with how well it came out that this has become a regular dish of mine.

  • 1.5lbs boneless skinless chicken breast.
  • 1/2 bottle Tabasco Habanero sauce (use A LOT less if you don't enjoy hot foods, probably a couple of teaspoons)
  • 2 tsp whole allspice (freshly ground, if using powdered, use half as much)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  1. Pierce chicken breasts repeatedly on both sides with a fork
  2. Add chicken breast to a large ziploc bag. Add all other ingredients to bag, seal, and mix well with hands being sure to rub the chicken until all breasts are completely covered.
  3. Marinate 8 hours to overnight. (I have marinaded for as little as an hour or as long as 3 days, I have found this to be the best period of time)
  4. Remove chicken from bag, discard marinade. Oil grill and grill till cooked all the way through. Serve with rice or other sides.

I chose to whip up this for a side:

Simple Mushrooms and Spinach

  • large handful of spinach
  • ~25 mushroom slices
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • pinch salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • splash of lemon juice (or a whole lemon squeezed)
  1. Melt butter on medium in a skillet. Once melted add garlic and let cook for one minute.
  2. Add mushrooms. Cook until golden brown or to desired doneness.
  3. Add spinach. Mix in well with mushrooms, coating the spinach with butter.
  4. Once spinach is wilted, add salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Allow to cook for one more minute.
  5. Remove from heat and serve!

Notes: As with most foods this hot, I recommend a very hoppy beer such as an APA or and IPA. I choose to pair this with New Glarus' IPA.

The clean bitterness and citrus/pine notes can hold up to the onslaught of heat provided by foods such as this one. The lemon notes in the spinach also complement the citrus notes of hte IPA nicely.

This recipe can be modified in numerous ways. Finely chopped onion can be substituted for the onion powder. Any number of sugars can be used. Table sugar, corn sugar, even molasses or honey. Nutmeg can be substituted for allspice, although I find allspice to have more pleasing flavors in this dish.

Friday, December 7, 2007

New Glarus Hop Hearty Ale

The Beer: Hop Hearty Ale
The Brewery: New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus, Wisconsin
The Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.1%
Brewer's Description: This Ale is brewed with the best of Old and New World hops. Then we infuse the aging tanks with a dry hop addition of Cascade and East Kent Goldings to bring home the hops! Expect this Ale to pour a glass brimming with rich caramel flavors along with an intense hop aroma
Color: Poured into Unibroue La Fin du Monde snifter. Dark caramel in color with a puffy white head that leaves lace behind.
Aroma: Pines, evergreens, grass
Taste/Mouthfeel: Fizzy (and surprisingly creamy) medium body with piney, clean-bitter hops up front. Gives way to biscuit notes, lightly toasted malts, and some caramelly sweetness.
Finish: Very clean, crisp, and bitter. Pine and some sour citrus with a subtle amount of earthy and herbal hops. Bitterness lingers but does not sting.
Notes: (This beer was purchased in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Unfortunately this brewery's beers can only be found in the badger state, although they are expanding the brewery in the coming months.) This is one of the beers that originally got me interested in hoppier, more bitter ales. It is very apparent that old and new world hops were used in its creation. Almost every major hop flavor component makes an appearance in some way. Pine, citrus, herb, and earthen notes are all present in this beer. Overall, what I enjoy most is the overall "cleaness" of this beer. It manages to be hoppy and quenching at the same time. This would make a great "session" IPA.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Eisbock

The Beer:
Kulmbacher Eisbock
The Brewery: Kulmbacher Brauerei (Schörghuber) of Kulmbach, Germany
The Style: Eisbock
ABV: 9.2%
Brewer's Description: The ice bock, also known as "Bavarian", owes its discovery to a coincidence. According to the chronicles of the Kulmbacher brewery, some time around 1900 an apprentice forgot on a cold winter day to carry two barrels of bock beer into the brewery cellar. The barrels stayed outside, were covered by ice and snow and weren’t discovered until the following spring. The barrels had burst and the apprentice was reprimanded. But the carelessness was a stroke of luck because under the thick ice coat, a bock beer extract remained, strong tasting and high in alcoholic content.
Even if the dark, tasty specialty is not produced in this spectacular way anymore, the chance that gave birth to this beer became a tradition. Today this beer rarity is brewed in a modern brewing and freezing process, but the incomparable taste is still the same and can always be enjoyed in winter months.

Color: Poured into Ayinger Celebrator glass. Dark chocolate brown with some deep red hues when held up to light. Minor suds on the surface, no real head. Label is "lazer" holographic in the same way that a really rad pog "slammer" is.
Aroma: Chocolate cookies, malted milk balls, some alcohol aromas.
Taste/Mouthfeel: Huge, thick sweet maltiness followed by a barrage of bubbles. Some toasted bread, anise, cinnamon, toffee, and brunt caramel round out the heavy body.
Finish: Finish will warm you from the inside-out. Sweet and alcoholic with no real hop bitterness. Some toasted nuts, burnt raisins, and maple syrup in the finish as well.
Notes: (My parents picked this beer up in Florida for me. It is unfortunately not distributed in my current state of Oklahoma) An Eisbock is made by taking a doppelbock and freezing it. The frozen water is then chipped away and the beer is melted once again. In a way this is a crude form of distillation. The beer is further concentrated empowering the sweetness of the malt and raising the alcohol levels. The second strongest beer ever brewed is a Japanese Eisbock.

This beer is a rare treat. Truly a beer for the winter it hides it's strength well until the finish. This is not a bad thing to me, I quite enjoy the warming se
nsation this beer provides as it glides down my throat.

Bock and Brown Sugar marinated Steak

Here's yet another recipe I found over at Allrecipes:



  1. Use a fork to poke holes all over the surface of the steaks, and place steaks in a large baking dish. In a bowl, mix together beer, teriyaki sauce, and brown sugar. Drizzel sauce over steaks, and let sit about 5 minutes. Return bottle of beer to refrigerator.
  2. Sprinkle with 1/2 the seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder; set aside for 10 minutes. Turn steaks over, sprinkle with remaining seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and continue marinating for 10 more minutes.
  3. Begin preheating grill for high heat. Remove steaks from marinade. Pour marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook for several minutes. Bring beer out of fridge.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill steaks for 7 minutes per side, or to desired doneness (3 minutes for me). During the last few minutes of grilling, baste steaks with boiled marinade to enhance the flavor and ensure juiciness.
I recommend using a doppelbock/bock or stout/porter for this recipe. The bock will lend some extra sweetness while the stout/porter will add some roasted notes. The marinade lended a pleasing sweetness that wasn't over-powering. The juiciness of the steak still shines through the the salty/spicy/sweet balance of the marinade.

I paired this with the remaining beer. The alcohol in the bock was great at cleansing the greasy fat of the steak. The oak and vanilla complemented the sweet notes in the glaze nicely.

I have to say this is possibly the best marinade I have ever had, and it's extremely quick and dirty. Highly recommended!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bourbon Barrel Bock

The Beer: Bourbon Barrel Bock
The Brewery: New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus, Wisconsin
The Style: Doppelbock (wood-aged)
ABV: N/A (I'm guessing around 9%)
Brewer's Description: Sublimely elegant this toffee toned bock is rich with a blend of Wisconsin and German barley malts. Over four months of resting in oak bourbon barrels gives this beer a wonderfully smooth body that will improve and mellow with age. Should you choose to enjoy this classic today, you can expect a treasure of vanilla, oak and carmel notes to be bolstered by hops from France, Slovenia and Germany. Wild Brett yeast sings in harmony to the tune of Bock. 20 degrees Plato OG makes this bourbon barrel a masterwork to remember.
Color: Poured into Ayinger Celebrator glass. Brilliant, clear, rich copper with a very minimal white head.
Aroma: Ethanol, bourbon, sweet malt.
Taste/Mouthfeel: Lots of oak and bourbon up front. Gives way to subtle, warming toffee and some suggestions of vanilla. No hop presence to be found. Body is very thin for this style.
Finish: Some warming alcohol in the finish with a touch of oatmeal cookie. No hop bitterness. Also some sweaty tang in the finish, likely caused by the Brett. If you can taste this it's something you will either enjoy or despise.
Notes: This beer was purchased in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Unfortunately this brewery's beers can only be found in the badger state, although they are expanding the brewery in the coming months. This was surprisingly thin for a doppelbock. I usually expect this style to be robust and malty, but the emphasis here was more on the bourbon notes augmenting a thin body. The alcohol definitely makes you aware of its presence, this is certainly a sipping beer. As I find myself saying with many wood-aged beers, I'd be curious to try this beer sans the barrel aging. I made an excellent marinade with this beer, more on that tomorrow!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Surly Santa's Stash

Today I'm brewing a winter seasonal beer, often called a "winter warmer". These brews are usually more generous in all facets. More alcohol, more hops, more malts, and often with the addition of holiday spices.

My recipes is loosely based on a porter crossed with an old ale. I'm attempting to create a beer with a solid malty-sweetness accented by toffee, caramel, and a touch of dark chocolate. I am not using any roasted barley, as I want to avoid getting into coffee/expresso flavors. I'm using the Munich and Vienna malts to provide maltiness, caramel malt for sweetness, and flaked barley for head retention and body.

Hops are only used for bittering in this recipe. I want the emphasis to be on the malt and the subtle spicing rather than any hop aromas or flavors. I have read that the magnum strain is a very "clean" bittering hop, I'll be using it only to balance the sweetness of the malt.

I am a huge fan of White Lab's Edinburgh Ale yeast, I used it in my Scotch Ale (Kilted Koch) which is one of my favorite beers. The strain is very adept at emphasizing the maltiness of the beers it ferments. For the other half of the batch I will be using a yeast strain I cultured from a bottle of Alesmith's Old Numbskull barley wine. I was drinking this when I brewed my last beer, saw a huge yeast cake at the bottom and decided I would try and grow it. It seems to have worked, but I have never tried this before so I'm a bit nervous.

  • Domestic pale 2-row malted barley
  • Domestic Vienna malt (4L)
  • Domestic Munich malt (20L)
  • Caramel 20L malt
  • Molasses
  • Domestic Chocolate malt (400L)
  • Bittering: Yakima Magnum (14% AA)
  • Flavor: None
  • Aroma: None
  • Dry: None
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-2 ounces crushed juniper berries
  • 1 lb molasses

Target Original Gravity: 1.075
Target Final Gravity: 1.015-1.020
IBU: 52
Color: 20.0 SRM

Target ABV: 7-8%