Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fermentin' Away

I think the photo says it all.

We've been re-using the yeast cakes from our beers, meaning that after we transfer one beer out of the primary fermentor to the secondary fermentor, we put a new beer--or wort really--right into the "dirty" fermentor, on top of yeast that's collected at the bottom of the fermentor. Some brewers will clean and rince the yeast and put it into a clean carboy, but so far we haven't had any problems. And we're not selling our beers to the masses. Yet.

It's still lager season. The Mai Bocks share a yeast, as do the the Schwarz and the porter. We should be able to get 6-8 beers out of each yeast packet we buy.

Thanks for the photo, Tony.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Winterfest 08

Winterfest, the annual winter celebration of Minnesota beer, took place last night at the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. Sponsored by the MN Craft Brewers Guild, Winterfest is known for showcasing many of the more unique--and often higher alcohol--beers of local breweries and brew pubs. Don, Peter, Ryan and Dawn were great drinking partners, always willing to share their grabs, meaning more samples and overall lesser quantity. The full program is here, and here's a list of my tries:

-Dry-hopped Maifest Kellerbier

Barley John's
-Munich Dark Lager
-Belgian Triple
-06 Dark Knight

Brau Brothers
-04 Dubbel

-Park P0int Pilsner
-Imperial Pilsner
-Gale Force Cranberry Ale
-Edmund Imperial Stout, Bourbon barrel aged
-Blue Label Grande Reserve, Pinot Noir barrel Aged
-Bellnickle Wheat Wine
-Hair O' the Monk
-Mr Spock Eisbok

Flat Earth
-Winter Warlock golden barley wine

Great Water's
-Trippel Braun

-Stagecoach Amber

-Prairie Porter
-Tripple Trouble

Minneapolis Town Hall
-Eye of the Storm
-Granny Triple
-Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
-Chocolate Rasberry Bourbon Stout
-Simcoe Pale Ale

Rock Bottom
-Fallen Angel Abby Ale
-Smoked Porter
-Silver Mullet Oatmeal IPA

-Cask IPA
-Cask Great Northern Porter
-Cask Winter

-Tea bagged Furious

Yup, 33 beers in three hours. Mind you, most pours were about 3 ounces. Your palate gets pretty burnt early on, so I generally tried to drink stouts and darker beers for awhile before switching to Belgian styles. My favorite stout/porter/ dark beer was of course Surly Darkness, but the ones from Town Hall were pretty good, as was the one from Fitgers. And the one from Barley John's was outstanding as well. Oh wait, that's all of them.

The standout Belgian-style beers were the Town Hall Granny Triple (aged on granny smith apples) or the Fitger's Blue Label Grande Reserve triple, aged in Pinot Noir barrels. I've long had a disdain for lambic-esque sour beers, so maybe this marks a turning point in my palate, as they both had qualities that I seem to have disliked in the past.

Another great event by the Guild. Good food (although bad setup), a mellow jazz band and I love the Landmark Center. Pics coming soon.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


You'll notice that the format for "Current Musical Endeavors" to your right has changed. If you're thinking of buying any of these albums, please link to them via my site and I'll get a few pennies. I was linking to previously, so I thought I might as well use their program and make a few bucks.....

Ah, capitalism.

Ah, the Internet.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

5 year olds for Obama

Dylan and I made the trek to the Target Center today, along with 20,000 other Minnesotans, to listen to Barack Obama tell Minnesotans why he should be president.

While Dylan enjoyed the train ride to the event, Golden Smog "opening" for Obama, the dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe after, I'm not convinced he was sold by the turnout, the speech or the enthusiastic crowd.

I was.

I was.

Caucus for Obama on Tuesday.

This Shit is Serious

Stouts have been on my mind a lot these past few weeks. Not just any stouts, but Russian Imperial Stouts. Imperial meaning big. Way big. Chocolate, toffee, roasted coffee, 10 percent big. They seem to have come to popularity in mid- to late-19th century, as the Empress of Russia was a huge fan of the style, importing stouts and porters for her and her crew. They can take extensive cellaring--25 years in some cases, but more often 3 or 4, or, if you're like me, a couple weeks.

I was working my way through some of the more readily available ones--Victory Storm King, Bell's Expedition Stout, North Coast Rasputin--to do a review, when I got an email inviting me to a private tasting of stouts at Thomas Liquors.

Now, I expected a few people, maybe 4 or 5 bottles. No, 8 people, 18 beers. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad that I left my bottle of 06 Dark Lord from Three Floyds at home for another time. This is what the end of the night looked like:
If you can't read the labels, those are imperial stouts from (L-R):
Southern Tier
Great Divide 07
Great Divide Oak Aged
Great Divide 04
North Coast
Bells Expedition
Bells Batch 7000
Nils Oscar
Fish Eye
Dog Fish Head
Missing from the the photo:
Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery

Lots of crazy shit there. By the 5th or 6th one, the ability of my palate to pass accurate messages to my brain was seriously diminished, but I think my favorites were the Bell's 7000, Stone, Great Divide 04 and Surly. All dark, syrupy but smooth, complex. Least favorite was the Sprecher.

[Ok I gotta get this out. Sprecher has a problem with their water, maybe their yeast, or something. Most of their beers have an after-taste heavy in iron. Not pleasant. At all. It's unfortunate, because they produce several great styles which have a lot of potential, if it weren't for the rural water taste. You know what I'm talking about.]

But I digress. If you want to take in one or two, I would suggest heading to someplace like The Cellars which sells single bottles. Or throw down the $12 - $14 for a sixer of Bell's or Victory, and store several away for a few years. If ya don't like 'em, give 'em to me in a year or two.