Friday, February 14, 2014

SF Beer Week 2014 - Part Two

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Yes… SF Beer Week has completed! Officially it completed on Sunday, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I saw that it was celebrated well into the following day in honor of our Founding Fathers on President’s Day! Well, here’s a “quick” recap of how we celebrated the last half of Beer Week… $teve & Dizzy style…
Wednesday – Elevation 66 Brewery Assist
Wednesday morning, we arose at 4:15 AM to go join Super Dave & Big Ben at Elevation 66 Brewing and help them with a batch of their East Bay IPA. Since this was our third time helping out, we got to do a little more than last time… and hopefully by about a dozen more times they’ll probably just put us to work & supervise drinking their breakfast beers… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Once again, they shared little tricks of the trade… and they had a recent issue of Beer Advocate magazine… and there were a few things that peeved Super Dave. See, Super Dave used to work with Pyramid Ales a few years back… and the person that they interviewed/referenced in the article about union workforce wasn’t even there three years ago… and she wasn’t even there when Pyramid ran into a bit of an issue (big recall on large batches of tainted nasty beer) but… okay, apparently it was just a horribly written article because it didn’t really say anything solid, just a lot of conjecture beating around what really happened, kind of blaming the incident on unions, and the cover girl wasn’t even there for it. I assume it was because she was a blonde with tig bitties alone.

Our super-sized boiling pot...

Mmm... smell-o-vision hops...

Hot girl cleaning out hot spent grains...

Super Dave & Big Ben are also “traditionalist” brewers… in that, they aren’t into all the new-fangled recipes like chocolate this & apricot that… they just want to make great beer. Their recipes are magnificent in their simplicity. They’d read something like “Two-row malt, some specialty grains, hops, same yeast for all beers they make, period.” However, with the different recipes, they are able to create some great beers from IPA to Kolsch to Stout… and a few variations involving barrel aging or using rye, etc. So when we were reading another article about breweries that open twitter accounts to come up with recipes… and the “brilliant” ideas that come from it are Blood Orange Green Tea Sours (no joke) or Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Stout or something like that… they were not impressed. Luckily they feel the same way about beer that we do… it should be beer. There are some things to be said about giving what the customer wants… but they want good beer too. If they’re wanting Blood Orange & Green Tea in their beer… then they’re probably not a discerning pallet… nor will they probably be repeat customers because you’d probably make them a ridiculously horrible beer. Dogfish Head makes some… interesting beers… but that’s part of their appeal & they’re fairly established… but they also have 90 Minute IPA available anywhere that you can try their more unique selections too… and even then, it may not necessarily be your “cup of tea” but it’s a good beer that’s gone through their meticulous preparations & screening processes. Elevation 66 Brewing is VERY small… but they make great solid beer on a consistent basis… and that’s why they’ve been doing pretty well for themselves. I’m truly honored to be learning from them… and hopefully someday we can make them proud with our adventures.
Thursday – Bourbon Barrel Porter Tasting
Thursday night, after struggling to find advertised Dogfish Head Ales at Hops & Hominy and a theatre showing of “The Thin Man” at El Cerrito Theatre being sold out… Dizzy & I decided to just grab some Indo-Nepalese food, rent “The Thin Man” (review on my other blog), grab a few Dogfish Head brews at BevMo & head to my place for a little early Valentine’s Day celebration. However, that’s not why you’re here… to hear about our relationship… you’re here for the beer, not the gang bang. The Dogfish Head that we were “allowed” to try (single bottles only) were Midas Touch (alleged 2,700 year old ancient ale recipe from a drinking vessel near the tomb of King Midas that kinda tastes like a mix of beer, honey & wine ABV 9%) and Palo Santo Marron (unfiltered brown ale aged in 10,000 gallon handmade Paraguayan wood vessels ABV 12%). Both were really good… obviously not the traditional kinds of beers that Super Dave & Big Ben would probably love… but Dogfish Head does usually make fine brews though sometimes just REALLY out-there exotic & semi-pretentious. Still though, I’d try them again for the right price.
We also shared one of our Bourbon Barrel Porter bottles since they were about ready, being almost nine weeks since the original brew day. We were a little skeptical with how it was going to taste for a few reasons. First, due to the holidays, the primary fermentation was four weeks instead of the usual two weeks in the recipe. As mentioned in previous posts, this shouldn’t be a huge issue… but a mild concern. Then it spent about three weeks in secondary fermentation… and luckily there was still some good yeast action (bubbles in the airlock) at first, but then really slow towards the end. Secondly,  we added high alcohol bourbon & yeast tends to die out when the alcohol content reaches a certain point. That was my thought for the slow bubbling towards the end. Thirdly, there’s always a little concern in the bottling process when you mix in the sugars to reactivate the yeast, hoping that it’s all uniform through all the bottles, hoping that all the yeast were already dead from OD’ing on fine Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and just that all the steps along the way were done in a manner that will produce the best beer possible. Yeah, I’m kind of a Nervous Nellie when it comes to MY booze.

Well, let me assure you now, that after the first taste test of our BB Porter… that it’s pretty f**king FANTASTIC!!! Comparing it to other professional level barrel aged porters & the like, there’s the smooth malty porter flavor and that smoky essence from the wood chips & the bourbon aromas going through your nasal passages… and a little added bonus is the distinct hoppy notes. See, because this was only “aged” in our setup for about two months, the hops are MUCH stronger (though still fairly low on the IBU scale) than those that are really barrel aged… because those are usually aged in the barrels for 8-12 months, sometimes more. The bitter notes from hops tend to lose their potency fairly rapidly. That’s why many of the IPA’s in their bottling have some notes on them that say stuff like “Keep refrigerated” or “Enjoy as soon as possible for maximum hop flavor”. It’s not JUST because they want you to drink it & then get another six-pack the next day (though it’s definitely a good angle) but it’s because they want you to get the most out of your hoppy beverage… and not think that their product is sh*t because you didn’t enjoy it in a timely manner. Beer isn’t wine… unless it’s barleywine or stuff like this… but those aren’t made for their hoppiness. Now you know… no need to thank me, just pay it forward. I’m merely the messenger.
Bourbon Barrel Porter
All-Grain Kit
5 gallons
Mash Ingredients
9.5 lbs
English Maris Otter
1 lb
Weyermann Pale Wheat
1 lb
English Chocolate Malt
1/2 lb
English Black Malt
1/2 lb
English Dark Crystal
1 oz
Chinook (60 mins)
1/2 oz
US Goldings (15 mins)
1/2 oz
US Goldings (5 mins)
Danstar Windsor Ale Yeast
Secondary Ferm Add
2 oz
Medium-plus toast American Oak cubes
16 oz
Maker's Mark Bourbon
Mash Schedule
Single Infusion
Saach' Rest:
152*F for 60 mins
170*F for 10 mins
Cook Date/Primary Ferm
Secondary Ferm
4 weeks (later than normal 2 wks)
7 weeks (typically 6 wks)
First Taste
9 weeks
Fantastic! Hoppier than most barrel aged on pro level
May get better with age too, still young
Possible new favorite thus far
Real barrel next time? Not just wood chips & Maker's Mark?
Experiment with other liquors?
So yeah, our porter was pretty fantastic… and we’re also pretty excited to see how it might improve with a little age. Also, we were really psyched about sharing our Homebrew with the Guild at an event later in the week, so that they could give us notes on our process & beers that we’ve made… and with this being our first all-grain recipe… ugh, just SO EXCITED!!! I feel like we’re doing so good for how new to the game we are & learning so much from so many great people and published or online resources. YAY US!!!
Well, that should do it for this entry. Next time, we'll talk about our Valentine's / President's / Chinese New Year / SF Beer Week Closeout Weekend with a few festivals, tastings, sharings, parties & whatever we run into. Have a great weekend everybody!!! Happy Valentine's Day!!!

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