TWIB – Pilsners, Habaneros and Beer Fiction

This Week in Beer (TWIB) is a feature where I’ll highlight some craft beers I had during this past week mixed with some related (and unrelated) thoughts. Yes, it’s a play on the name of the show This Week in Baseball which I grew up on and loved.

Port City Downtown Pilsner

With the warm weather here to stay, I decided to pick up something refreshing. I found a six-pack of Port City’s limited release Downtown Pilsner at the Wine’ing Butcher and scooped it up. After a long week and a great dinner I realized I had downed four of them in succession. It has a crisp flavor made from 100% Pilsner malt and 100% Saaz hops and is highly sessionable at 4.8% ABV. Pick this beer up while it lasts.

Hardywood Chocolate Heat

Hardywood is a newer brewery in Richmond, Virginia. My wonderful wife grabbed their Chocolate Heat and Bourbon Sidamo for me when she there recently. Chocolate Heat is a Double Chocolate Milk Stout that is brewed with local chile peppers (including habanero peppers!!).

I’ve had a few “peppered” beers before and would rank this one pretty high on the list. The heat was apparent but didn’t completely overtake the chocolatey-maltiness. I can’t wait to open the Bourbon Sidamo…

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April Dirty Thirty Day 12 – Long Trail Pollenator

Today’s April Dirty Thirty craft beer review is on…

Long Trail Pollenator

Long Trail Pollenator

Long Trail Pollenator

Critical Information:

  • 4.6% ABV
  • English Pale Ale

My Experience:

– POUR

Poured from bottle into tulip glass. It has an orange glow to it with lots of bubbles and an off-white head.

– SMELL

It has a nutty, caramel malt aroma. Is there also some grape in there? It reminds me more of an autumn beer than a spring one.

– TASTE

It starts with some crisp hops and finishes with some sour, floral malt flavors. It has a pretty light body as well.

– FOOD PAIRING

Hurray, it’s finally spring! No more bundling up to walk the dog. This beer calls for some outdoor grilled BBQ chicken. Has to be the thick BBQ sauce (that’s Memphis right??).
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April Dirty Thirty Day 9 – DC Brau and Union Craft Brewing Yonder Cities

Yesterday was a whirlwind where I unexpected ended up at Mad Fox Brewing Company for a semi-private tour with the owner and the G.R.I.S.T. homebrewing club. Needless to say, getting this review up was not at the top of list of things to do after being out of the house for almost 20 hours. My previous review schedule is now going to shift but it was well worth it. So yesterday’s April Dirty Thirty review was on…

DC Brau and Union Craft Brewing Yonder Cities

DC Brau and Union Craft Brewing Yonder Cities

DC Brau and Union Craft Brewing Yonder Cities Farmhouse IPA

Critical Information:

  • 6.7% ABV
  • Limited Release

My Experience:

– POUR

It was poured off tap at Rustico into a tulip glass. It has an opaque yellow color with limited carbonation and a white foam head.

– SMELL

It gave off an aroma of bananas, cloves and spices mixed with an explosion of hops.

– TASTE

In a word, wonderful. It was hoppy but not over-powerful. It has a rich, spice kick to it. The bananas eventually work their way in. It has a good, light weight to it. The flavors stick around and you don’t want them to go away.

– FOOD PAIRING

So far each beer I’ve had in this project I’ve drank alone with no pairing — either in the afternoon before dinner or late in the evening well past dinner. Last night I didn’t want to starve so I ordered a basket of thick cut fries with truffled Parmesan. Not a bad combo. I was going to take a picture but when I thought about it I realized most of the basket was gone and you would have just seen an empty, metal tin.

– OVERALL THOUGHTS

Yonder Cities is dangerous. It’s dangerous because I could easily down quite a few of them and at 6.7% ABV this is not a session beer. Being off tap probably helps but I still really enjoyed this beer.

Score: 8/10

Congratulations for being a part of the April Dirty Thirty project. Keep the tweets and comments coming, you’re doing fantastic! Remember to use #AprilDirty30. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this beer, what you had tonight, what you’ve tried recently, anything.

One new beer a night for a month. Review it. Share it. Expand your beer knowledge.

Homebrewing, it’s for people who can’t cook

I can’t cook. Like I really can’t cook. I tried grilling a chicken breast a few weeks ago when my wife was coming home from work late. You know what she came home to? A house full of smoke, dog barking at the blaring smoke detector and me yelling at a pan full of burnt chicken. So why the hell would I think I could brew beer? Must be the hardheadedness I get from my dad.

I had a free weekday, no work and no wife, and saw the homebrewing kit I’ve had for months starring at me. I popped the DVD in and watched the poorly made and poorly instructed training. Went out to the store to get a thermometer and decided to give it a shot. 48 or so Irish Stouts on their way!

Here’s my adventure:

The Setup

Homebrew Setup

Homebrew Setup

After having to do a load of dishes to empty the sink, I sanitized my pot and various equipment using the Easy Clean provided in the kit. I placed everything I could think of out on my island and surrounding countertops. I read and reread my notes and warned a friend who just started homebrewing that I’ll probably be frantically calling him over the next couple hours.

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Will this theory help you enjoy new beers?

Unless you’re brand new to beer (nothing wrong with that though) you know that hops are measured on a scale of bitterness. IBUs, International Bitterness Units, measure the bitter alpha acids from hops that are isomerized and dissolved during the boil.

Some beers, like Hefeweizens, have IBUs of 10-15 while Double IPAs will go to 80+ IBUs.

Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink has a great graph in chapter four that shows the relationship of IBUs to Original Gravity (think the amount of alcohol in a beer. Yes, it’s more complicated than that but now’s not the time.). What I noticed that was generally the hoppier the beer, the more Original Gravity, OG, is has. Mosher describes why a lot better than I am able to.

So looking at the chart I came to this hypothesis: if you enjoy a certain beer, wouldn’t you enjoy a beer with a similar hoppiness-to-OG?

I challenge you to try this experiment. Ladies Hefeweizen lovers – try a Doppelbock. Pale Ale fans (like myself) – try a Maibock. And IPA buffs – try an Irish Dry Stout.

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