Saturday, March 31, 2007

St. Paul's old and new

Today I swung by one of my old haunts, Thomas Liquors on Grand and Prior in St. Paul, to pick a bottle of Mephistopheles. Part of Avery Brewing's The Demon of Ales series, Mephistopheles is a double stout pulling 15% abv and 107 IBUs. Yikes! At eight dollars for a 12 ounce bottle ($18 at select bars), it's going in the basement for a few months.

Speaking of select bars, be sure to order a Flat Earth Pale Ale the next time you're out. Flat Earth Brewing is St. Paul's newest micro, committed it seems to pushing the brewing envelope. Their pale ale is a very drinkable Belgian-style ale, and is absolutely fabulous.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Go blow yourself!

For the first time in months, I made a visit to Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis on Friday. I was looking forward to the Masala Mama IPA or one of their tasty cask brews. But alas, they were out of both of these. As much as one can "settle" at THB, I did just this for an amazing India Brown Ale, which reminded me a little bit of Surly Bender. I also sipped on a Pot of Gold Potato Stout, a stout brewed with--you guessed it--potatoes. Don't scoff; it was as solid as a stout as they come.

In homebrew news, the airlock on my Saison blew off on Friday afternoon, requiring me to leave a conference early to clean up the kitchen. See, as yeast eats sugar, it produces foam and gas, which has to go someplace. Generally a simple airlock will suffice (see photo), allowing air to leave the carboy but not re-enter (oxygen is the leading cause of bad beer!). I'm guessing all the extra sugar I added was to blame, and it couldn't leave the container quick enough, so it forced the lock (and the extra foam) to shoot out the top, and onto my floor and wall. So from now on I will use a blow off tube, which goes from the carboy into a bucket of water. Lessons learned.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

'Tis the Saison

The Saison is in the primary fermenter! I strayed from the original recipe and added some Belgian candied sugar for more flavor and alcohol (yeast + more sugar = alcohol). The original gravity--the first measurement to determine alcohol content--was aboout 1058, so this should weigh in at 6-7%.

Darren was along for the ride and helped me drink my second to last bourbon barrel porter. I shoulda waited to open the first bottle because it is so much better now than it was two months ago. Expecting this, I'm saving the last bottle for next winter.
As is the custom we imbibed on a specialty brew during the brewing, choosing Maudite from Unibroue, a strong amber ale. Unibroue, from Canada, only brews Belgian-style beer, and is always wonderfully consistent and cheaper than their Belgian counterparts. La Fin du Monde is another favorite.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Spring is in the air

Yikes! Almost 3 months since my last post. The 2007 Legislative Sesssion has wrangled me away from Capitol Brewhaha, but it's worth it, as the state will hopefully do some good things for kids. In an attempt get the blog back on track, I need a new hook, for my readers and for me. Because this is really about me. So I'm following Jane's lead, and will be doing shorter, to the point, posts, but still keeping with quality you've come to expect. On to the beer.

I've recently completed some time with high gravity ales (read: lots more character and alcohol), which in turn lead to the start of a nice collection of Belgians, Barley Wines, Bourbon Barrel Ales to cellar for a couple years. The cold and snow are leaving, and with them, the heart warming nine- and ten-percent extreme beers.

In preparation for Spring, I'm making the switch to some lighter beers. So I picked up a sample pack of Sam Adams. Six different kinds of beer, and I found not only their flagship Boston Ale and Lager, but also a couple Honey Porters, Scotch Ales and Brown Ales. A few surprisingly well-done darker stronger beers to help with the transition. Nice. Also check out their six-pack of homebrew competition winners for a great sampling of beers.

Also in preparation for the warmer weather, I'll be brewing a Saison this week. Just in time, since my heavenly bourbon barrel porter is running out. I'll keep you updated.

Back to the sampling!