Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Prost to the 21st!

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

In case you’ve forgotten today is the 76th year that liquor has been legal in the US. The Volstead Act was passed on October 28 1919. By January of 1933 the Cullen-Harrison Act had actually made sessionable beers legal in the us, so the 21st wasn’t actually what made beer legal. So today raise a glass to the complete end of prohibition and remember Roosevelt’s words still ring true, “What America needs now is a drink.”

CapitolTaps has a good writeup about the 21st.
sorry about that. I did plan on linking, but I only had a few minutes to write something and spaced it

Check Your Facts

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

gThere’s a cartoon on theoatmeal that’s been making the rounds on the Internet that claims to have 20 Things Worth Knowing about beer. The problem is alot of the “facts” aren’t even correct and wouldn’t have taken much fact checking to get right. It’s been awhile since I’ve done some Beer Myth Busting so I figured it’s time to get at it again.

1) Babylonians were the first brewers

Babylonians were not the first people to brew beer. They didn’t invent it either. They did however write a poem to Ninkasi that described the process of making beer. This by no means make them the first brewers.

2) The Vikings believed a goat with magical beer producing nipples awaited them in Valhalla.

Heiðrúnis a goat with nipples that produce alcohol but it’s not beer. Both Heiðrún the goat and Eikþyrnir the hart grazed on the leaves of the tree Lærað. Heiðrún’s teats produced mead which ran into a culdron from which the Einherjar drank. The Einherjar were the warriors that died in battle and therefore recieved high honors.

3) Pilgrims stopped at Plymouth Rock instead of Virginia because they were low on beer

The pilgrims faced many challenges that prevented them from getting to Virginia. They were low on supplies, they’d arrived far later in the year then planned, and they couldn’t get any further south safely. A decision was reached and Plymouth Rock became their home. The myth arrives from a statement from one of the colonists “We could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer, and it being now the 19th of December”

4) India Pale Ale was hoppier and higher abv then all beers so it could survive the trip to India so the British troops could have their beer.

The actual wording of the myth is one of those stories that make you feel warm and fuzzy. There are multiple things wrong though so I want to really pick this one apart in a longer post at a later date. First off many beers at the time were highly hopped and high in alcohol. Secondly the British were shipping beer long before the IPA. If beer couldn’t survive ship voyages prior to the IPA then the British were just foolish for doing it. Thirdly the most likely theory for the idea of IPA is that a enterprising brewer realized that most ships returned to India empty since it was such a self sufficient colony. Seeing that profits would be higher in India due to low shipping rates and lighter alcohol taxes he jumped on the opportunity.

Holiday Ale Fest

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

large_holidaylogoWhy read another take on the ale fest? Why read yet another list of what one particular blogger will be drinking? Apparently because some people (lookin at you Beermented) think you guys want to here about it. Of course read Jeffs at Beervana since he posted his list today too.

Making my list is difficult. I won’t be able to get any work off for it so it looks like I’ll show up on Sunday afternoon. This means no special tappings for me and also the possibility of a beer or two being tapped out. Also I’ve chosen a new strategy. Normally when I go to a fest I take one of two routes. Either I look for beers that sound good regardless of availability or I take the route I took at the Spring Beer Fest this year which was make it an open to close affair and attempt to sample every beer.

This year I’m treating it more like a trade show. I tried to rule out beers that I can easily find and stock in the fridge, regardless of whether or not it’s a beer I want to try at the fest. I failed at that though. Another thing is I’m trying to limit myself to my 10 tokens this year and not purchasing extras. Beers that our one offs get priority followed by potential purchases. As a side note I talked with aformer blogger about us both tossing up our tasting notes from this fest.

Here’s my initial List of beers I want to try. Keep in mind it may change when I show up, and depending on tokens I may not try all of them.

Jim ’09

Jim is a one off festival beer every year and always seems to be worth trying for most people.


There are three baltic porters this year. Kronan is from Hopworks with Eel River and Lauralwood also bringing baltics. Of the three I trust Hopworks more to get it right. The other two are higher on the IBU’s and Lauralwoods is much higher in ABV then the other two. Hopworks it is.

Holy Herb

I’ve heard alot of great reviews of Upright, but the thing that cinches this as a certainty to try is it’s brewed with hyssop. I love herbal beers and look forward to this one.


Ninkasi can be hit and miss on quality and I’ve had a hard time with them. Their spring reign was one of my favorite beers this year though. Once again this is an herbal ale brewed with lavender, tarragon and heather.


Seven Brides is the only brewery that has really won my loyalty. Jeff is a great guy who is involved with and supports Salem’s homebrew community. Hopefully their Strong Ale is more on style then some of their other beers.

Lips of Faith

There are a couple of the series I’ve wanted to try and haven’t. Since New Belgium will be pouring them I will hit their station. I may not get a sample though depending on what’s pouring.

Sang Noir

I’ve never made a secret that I like sour beers. Sang is a Flanders Red

Barrel-Aged Old Baba Yaga

This beer just sounded intriguing since the day I first checked the regular beer list so it’s on my list

Very Ill Tempered Gnome

I’ve been on a Barleywine and Old Ale kick lately so Barleywines will be sampled. This is probably numero uno on my list of barlywines to try with the lost barrels of mirror mirror coming in second

So far these are the priorities although North III, Velvet Merkin, or Scaldis Noel may easily be subbed in

Influencing Tastes

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Friday night at f/stop Niki was bartending, and she brought up an interesting point. How much does what we’re supposed to taste influence what we’re supposed to taste?

Back when Dennis brought Hop Yard Dog to our brewers dinner I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised because it was an amazing beer, but because it had much more hop flavor then his test batch that I tried. On the list of pale ales I’d stock it didn’t even make the long version, but it was better then that test batch. Last week though Dennis kegged this pale ale and Kirk purchased a keg to pour at f/stop.

First night I was there when the Hop Yard Dog was on tap Kirk and I dissagreed on wether or not it was a good pale ale. Thinking he could convert me I guess Kirk got me a taster of it so I could try it. First thing I noticed upon smelling the beer was a slightly soured milk odor. The bad part was it carried the taste associated with that smell onto the back of the tongue. I described the taste and smell to Kirk and he looked at me funny, then later he tried the beer again. When he did he noticed the same thing.

Friday rolled around and once again Hop Yard Dog came up, this time with Nikki pouring and Chuck at the bar with me. Both Chuck and I got tasters of the beer so I could prove that the smell and flavor were there. Chuck didn’t notice anything on the smell, but on the taste he found it, right where I’d said it would be on the back of the tongue.

Nikki pointed out though that both Chuck and Kirk had tried the beer previously and never noticed the flavor or odor. So, could my telling them what to look for caused them to find it? Or when they knew what they were looking for was it just easier to find what was there?

Play Dead Mac

Thursday, November 5th, 2009


The beer that started it all for me was a MacTarnahans Blackwatch. I still remember trying it and falling in love with dark beer. I also remember thinking that it had a dry dusty aftertaste. It wasn’t very surprising that Obsidian Stout quickly took over as my favorite beer not long after. Sadly my initial experience with MacTarnahans was doomed to be repeated over and over. I’d try one of their beers and find it almost likeable, but still every single one had some quality that either killed it, or there was nothing memorable about the beer.

Now enters Humbug’r. I tried this beer back during Salem Beer and Wines winter seasonal tasting. Like most people I found the art an instant turn off, but I’d told myself I’d like it anyway. After all, all the Portland bloggers keep talking about MacTarnahans attempting to reinvent themselves and make better beer. Also, none of the bloggers I’d read had given an overly positive review of it yet so I thought there would be some hope. After all, they’d all said Grifter was either ok, or good. They’d also said the same of Lip Stinger, and both times I thought the beers had failed.

When we did taste Humbug’r there were some initial positive reactions from some people. For the most part though people found it generic. In fact I think that was the exact word Steve described it with. Even when we compared it to another porter on hand we couldn’t find anything that distinguished it. I walked away with Humbug’r filed away in the not worth buying category and just left it at that.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I began seeing positive reviews. I swung by Beervana and seeing the title thought for sure Jeff would call it for what it was. Jeff it turns out gave it a B. I thought a C would be generous, but then I thought “Hey, difference in taste right?” Going through the comments though I saw Bill gave it an A. Now I’m thinking  I must’ve had to much to drink that night, or maybe my sense of taste was off. After all, I ranked WinterFish last. (Then again so did everyone else in the group and that beer’s managed a B on Beeradvocate) Still, several of the other people there thought Humbug’r was average. Apparently two other commenters on Beervana weren’t ecstatic fans of it either.

So what is the verdict? Does MacTarnahans new seasonal make the grade? Is it just personal taste? Or is this what Doc Wort was talking about when he would call Portlands bloggers “Cheerleaders”?

As a side note Humbug’r is a B+ on Beeradvocate with one review, and an overall 3.09 on ratebeer. Reading the ratebeer reviews though there is a 2.4, 2.5, and a 2.7. One of which mirrored our experience with Humbug’r. Cathcacr pretty much summed up my opinion with their review.

A Glimpse Into The Past

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Because wordpress is stupid I recomend you click the title to view the actual post. For some reason wordpress won’t let me define the table to fit within the perameters of the main page.


Sorry there hasn’t been any updates for awhile. Between work, meetings, and a viral infection I’ve been battling posting here has been an arduous task. So please forgive both the lack of updates, and the fact that this one is another post on history.

While I was attempting to recover I decided to do some more reading in “Fermented Alcoholic Beverages, Malt Liquors, Wine, And Cider”. This book was written by an assistant chemist named C.A. Crampton in 1887. The book covers some brewing basics, but mostly covers what the writer calls adulterations. The book is dry reading, but interestingly it includes consumption figures on alcoholic beverages. Here are some of the numbers that Crampton gives. All numbers are in US gallons

Year Gallons of Beer Produced Gallons of Beer Imported Total Wine and Spirit Consumption Beer Consumption per Capita Wine/Spirit Consumption per Capita
1840 23,162,571 148,272 23,310,843 71,244,817 1.36 4.17
1850 36,361,708 201,301 36,503,009 94,712,353 1.58 4.08
1860 100,225,879 1,120,790 101,346,699 202,374,461 3.22 6.43
1870 203,743,401 1,012,755 204,756,156 296,876,931 5.3 7.69

For the sake of saving hours of data entry I thought this 30 year span would fit my purposes today. Back in September I postulated that lager beer saved brewing. I’m not the first to toss this theory out. In fact prior to the last 40 or so years it was generally accepted that lager beers made brewing the profitable business it is today. Granted back in September I said finding data on consumption and production prior to 1810 couldn’t be done. Turns out I just couldn’t find it because no one really publishes those numbers. Well that and the national numbers weren’t really kept track of until 1810.

Looking at the numbers on the chart though it’s easy to see why people attribute lager to the rise in beer consumption. The 1850’s saw the first massive immigration from Europe. Nearly 1 million German immigrants fleeing impending economic issues came here, often arriving with money, and were able to start businesses in their new communities. This also gave them purchasing power. Many of Americas German breweries were founded during this time frame too. Throughout the 1840’s it wasn’t uncommon for immigrant breweries to fail after short periods. Some managed to last, but the numbers weren’t high. When the mass waves of immigration hit Americas shores though the ones that had survived could not pump out enough beer for the masses. Breweries like Stroh and Best’s were founded by immigrants who saw opportunity and Americas beer revolution began.

How Long Do I Wait

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

I wish I’d brought a camera to Starbucks today.

PicturesOnce a month I head over to Starbucks for a meeting. Starbucks isn’t on my list of favorite places, but that’s neither here nor there. The reason I wish I had a camera was that I brought 3 220z bottles of my Gooseberry Herbal Saison to the meeting, all of them sealed in pink wax. The bottles looked great, and the reactions were great to, both from people at the meeting and the people at Starbucks.

The reason I bring this up is that Mark wondered about the wax seal. I explained that the wax seal allows the bottles to age for years without going bad. His next question was do I have to wait a few years to drink this.

Sometimes I forget that homebrewers have the  privilege of tasting a beer throughout the aging process. We can try our beers fresh out of the carboy, and regularly after that for over a year. When I give homebrew out I sometimes forget that people don’t have the ability to taste a beer over and over to determine when it tastes the best.

So that begs the question, when do you open a bottle of beer your given? Especially if it’s one that you’ve never tried and there’s no birth date stamped on it. The answer is whenever you darn well please. Honestly, if I’ve never tried a beer I want to know right away if it’s worth taking up fridge space. Also as I’ve discovered with the Saison I handed out today yeast can be fickle. So I guess what I’m wondering is why do we worry?

You guys have any thoughts?

Best BMC Recipes

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

from theweeklybrew



Might as well spend my last two days of BMC week doing some fun posts. Here are a couple of my favorite BMC clone recipes from some homebrew forums.

1)  Some two-row and some rice solids. As for hops, show the wort a picture of Hallertau for about 20 seconds. Then lager.

2)  2.5lbs 2-row
3lbs flaked rice
.1oz Cascade 60mins
wyeast 2035
before bottling, piss in the bottling bucket to taste.
should be about right

And of course the obligatory horse reference

Find a beer you like, pour into a bucket. Have horse drink said beer from bucket, collect from other end. Chill for that “pure” beer flavor.

You No Touchey

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

From Theweeklybrew

With the beer fridges stock descimated it is time to rebuild, and since I haven’t gotten my rye started that means commercial beers rather then homebrew shall stock it’s shelves. The problem is the beers I’ve stocked the fridge with so far are ones I don’t want to open for a while. Just yesterday I added an ’07 saison, another bottle of Black Butte XXI, and a bottle of Fullers Vintage Ale from ’06 that I found mixed with the ’08 series.Sometimes it’s worth digging around at the bottle store to see what you can find. All of these are beers that would benefit with further aging, and I can therefore not bring myself to open them. So while the fridge has beer once again it’s all beer I  can’t touch. This is a serious dilemma. I need something other then Anchor Steam and Deschutes Green Lakes for drinking in the evening. I also really want to crack that bloody saison! I tried another bottle of it a month ago and it was superb. I guess my problem is that many of these great beers I like are ones that taste best with some ageing, and I just can’t bring myself to open these beers anymore. It’s really getting to be a problem. Why oh why did I ever decide to start ageing my beer? Why can’t things go back to the way they were when I drank everything without even considering the benefits of ageing it?

Pliny At Venti’s

Sunday, August 9th, 2009


Quick thing, as of Sunday evening Pliny the Elder has been tapped at Venti’s. Pliny is an amazing beer and is worth swinging by for some. So if you live in Salem/Keizer get your butt over there. JR predicts it won’t even last till Tuesday, and I have to say he’s probably right.