In case you are wondering, I.M. Hammered Brewing is:
Mark -- Head brewer and drinker (brewer of over 65 batches of extract and all grain brews, drinker of many thousands of bottles and pints of beer), CEO and President of the finest Nano-brewery I know of, head bottle washer, and sanitation engineer
Liz -- Vice President in charge of bar decorating, keeping me from becoming too fanatical in my brewing habits, and is also known as "she who must be obeyed"
Michael -- Brewhouse assistant, equipment consultant, Chief IT Geek and self-appointed Official Beer Taster (great work if you can get it)
Schpankie -- Newest convert from fizzy yellow water to finely crafted beers and ales, adds little value to the brewhouse, but we like him anyway
Scooter -- The gas man (and I mean that in the kindest of ways) bringing propane and co2 when needed, also has keen interest in the brewing process
Knuckle Jefe -- Newest convert to brewing (has four batches under his belt), has began a start up nano-brewery in Kentucky known as "Double-Wide Brewing" with the catchy slogan of "double wide beers at single wide prices". Boy has a brilliant future in marketing. IMH is helping with equipment in the start up. We all work for beer, then again, why wouldn't we.
Parrot Pete, aka, Pappa Draft -- Bar designer, humidor raider, label celebrity, and Just because he should have been on the list the whole time.
We hope to make this site fun and informative and look for outside input, or inside output, whatever works.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
 
A Little Sleep In.....It Was 5 O'clock Everywhere.....Brewing Soo n, I Promise.....

Sleep:

I missed you on Friday and again Yesterday. Friday was because I slept in a
little bit. Yea, we got in a little late on Friday Morning, and yea, I was
tired. So you didn't really miss anything as I wouldn't have been much of a
writer (like I am the rest of the time or something) on Friday. Monday you
ask?? Well, that was a back to work thing. You know, the obligatory 200+
e-mails, piles of snail mail, requests for items you haven't thought about
in weeks, reports past due, you know, work. Well, believe it or not, I'm
pretty much caught up on all of that, and back in the saddle again. So look
for info, insight, and best of all, beer stuff right here on line at the
IMHBC web site.......

5 O'clock:

The annual trek part one, was last Thursday night at the Tweeter Center in
beautiful Tinley Park Illinois. We arrived there about 6:00pm after what
seemed like endless rush hour traffic in Chicagoland, but still with some
time to tailgate a little bit. The usual suspects abounded everywhere with
lots of grass skirts and coconut bra's. I started checking out the girls
too. There were all kinds of strange auto enhancements attached to
mini-vans and suv's including wings, fins, and various other aquatic animals
and vinifera. The Parrott Heads were their usual colorful selves adorned
with either Hawaiian shirts, or as little clothing as possible. There were
blenders with gasoline engines (I'm not kidding), and coolers filled with
ice cold Corona's everywhere (including ours of course). There were young
(and old) guys with boxes of beads attempting to get some of the females in
the parking lot to "earn" some strands of them, New Orleans style of course.
There were man made beaches, tiki bars, swimming pools filled with, well,
I'm not sure what some of them were actually filled with, and there was a
common thread to the music all of the boom boxes poured out. Grills
expounded the smells of one huge cookout and large pirate flags were flying
all over the lot in the noticeable and nice breeze that blew the entire
evening. Yes, it's another year of Jimmy Buffett and the throng known as
Parrott Heads adorning the parking lot of the venue, getting ready for their
annual rite of summer, a Jimmy Buffett concert. I must admit, I'm one of
them and have been for 25 years. I don't dress up nearly as much as I used
to, opting either for a simple Hawaiian shirt or tee shirt with something
witty written on it, shorts, a pair of fip flops (required attire), and
either beads (I don't have to "earn" them), leis, or some other wild or
weird stuff attached to my shirt. I do however still have a good time and
enjoy some of the best lyrical music ever written. You see, once (or in my
case two to three times) a year, it's okay to just let it all go and have a
little fun. It is that day when doctors, lawyers, bricklayers, clerks, even
bankers adorn silly outfits, probably have at least one beer or margarita
too many, and sit together in the sun as one to enjoy the music that Jimmy
brings the table. We all forget about our daily issues, forget about the
bills, forget about the leaky sink, forget about life for awhile as Jimmy
says in one of his songs. It is a time when a mix of country, rock,
calypso, reggae, and whatever else that is that Jimmy does, takes center
stage and we all sing along because we all know the words, and we all
understand that it's okay to just let go for one (or two) days a year. To
pretend that we live that carefree Carribean lifestyle even if for just a
few precious hours. And trust me when I tell you, it wasn't just 5 O'clock
Somewhere, it was 5 O'clock EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!

Oh, the show you ask. Stellar as always. Though he didn't play a couple of
songs that only he can cover such as Southern Cross, or Mexico, he did a
great job on the new stuff (which I like and think is very refreshing that
he went back to his original roots), and played with some real energy on the
older stuff. Though this isn't the best venue he plays at, the show rocked
and was very good, and I am looking forward to the trek, part deux, coming
up this Thursday at Starlake Ampatheater in Pittsburgh, a much nicer,
cleaner and better venue to see the show. Stay tuned for the results of
that one next week!!!! Wasted Away Again!!!!!!!!

Brewing:

I know, beer, beer, and more beer. That's what you want. I will be brewing
very soon. You can bank on it. I might even go to get ingredients today,
but probably on Friday. Jim, It's a big list buddy, but I'll be bringing
you beer!!! It will be the IPA, as I've been really enjoying those of late.
IPA's and Ambers. Don't worry, I'm still a Porter nut and that isn't going
to change any time soon. Parrot Pete's will make it's usual winter time
debut, I promise. In the meantime, it's time to start brewing, and I mean
really brewing. Look for two quick batches, and maybe three back to back to
back here in September, and then I'll really start brewing alot.....

Now, it's a Holiday Weekend coming up, so be sure you get your craft beer in
the fridge and get ready to char some animal flesh. Fall is just around the
corner and you don't want to totally miss out on Summer do you???? Get out
there and enjoy some beer will ya!!!!

Mark, the Brewer, and getting the brewing itch in a bad way.......

Thursday, August 26, 2004
 
Tasting The Fruits Of The Hunt.......Countdown To Margaritaville.......The Fun Continues Tomorrow........

Tasting:

After doing some serious beer hunting in Peoria, we were able to sit down and chill out and chill some of the brews we found. Here is a recap of the tasting session complete with information about the beers that we tried. This was a top shelf tasting and as you will see, the hunt was very successful. We found some outstanding prey and the examples of the styles were very well done. This is one of the best parts of this hobby and also very important. This is what teaches the homebrewer how to set up recipes to approach the style and the style guidelines. When you sample, you should think about the tastes that you encounter and what ingredients drive those tastes in a beer. That is part of the fun, trying to figure out what ingredients make up your favorite brews. Here's the results of the tasting:

1. Tabernash Weiss Beer -- Tabernash Brewing Co., Longmont Colorado.......This was labeled as a German-Style Wheat Beer. It was. The beer was a light golden color with a nice fluffy white head of foam. The beer was a little more clear than I would have expected, even after swirling the bottle and serving the beer mit hefe (with the yeast). The beer was not as estery as I have experienced before with say a Hacker Pschorr hefeweizen. The beer did have the nice tart phenolic character and leaned in that direction. There was very little bannana character in this beer. It finished tart and clean. The beer might have been a little old exhibiting a bottling date of June 2003. Overall it was a decent brew on the phenolic side of the wheat beer spectrum. I would like sometime to try a fresher example. Geek Boy was a little disappointed as he prefers wheats that have more of the bannana and green apple aroma and character. Guest taster Jeff was fairly neutral on the beer though he commented that it was easy to drink. Overall rating was Good Quality Commercial Wheat.

2. Jackman's American Pale Ale -- Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont Colorado......This was a very nice example of American Pale Ale. The beer had a nice flowery hop aroma followed by a big malt flavor and attention getting bitterness. The malt flavors then dominate with a nice crystal malt character to the finish. The finish was lean and clean with a drying hop flavor in the finish. The beer had a deep golden to amber color and presented very well in the glass. I like this beer very much and would love to try a draft example. Geek Boy was also impressed and liked the fact that it was hoppy and balanced with Malt flavors too. Jeff also liked the malt backbone in the brew and how it showcased the hops up front and balanced out on the back side. Overall rating on this brew was and Excellent example of APA.

3. Elmwood Amber Ale -- Elmwood Brewing Co., Elmwood Illinois......This is a deep amber colored American Style Amber Ale. This beer had a nice dark amber color in the glass with a nice aroma of hops and malt. The beer started and finished with the accent on malt, but had a stiff balancing bitterness and hop character in the finish. The beer also exhibited a big dose of crystal malt and perhaps had a pinch of roasted barley in the beer to accent the darker color. This brew was very satisfying to drink and would be a great session brew. I liked it very much and can't wait to taste it again. Geek Boy also liked it very much and was impressed with the overall malt character. Jeff also liked it because of the malt accent. This is a very good example of what a malty amber ale that is rich in character can be. The overall rating on this brew is a Very Good example of an amber ale.

4. Domaine DuPage French Country Ale -- Two Brothers Brewing Co., Warrenville Illinois......This in my humble opinion was one of the best tastings of the night. This is an amber colored Saison type of ale that was very interesting. It started caramel sweet and then had a nice balancing hop character that created a dry finish. It was very refreshing and had that Belgian or French farmhouse ale quality about it that was very different. This was one of the few beers that gave stats and this one weighed in at about 6% ABV. In my opinion, this was clearly one of the best of the night and it was very interesting to taste. Geek Boy was ready to buy stock in the company. Though this might not have been to Jeff's liking, he politely drank it and said he appreciated what it was supposed to be (as he chased it with an Old Style). The overall rating on the beer is an Excellent example of a farmhouse ale.

5. La Trappe Trappist Ale Tripel -- De Koningshoeven, Tilburg Holland.......This was the only import tasted during the session. This example was in a 25oz corked bottle. This Belgian was all that and a bag of chips. Weighing in at 10%+ ABV it had all of the accoutrments of a tripel. It poured with an almost effervescent head of foam and had a strong aroma of green apple, passion fruit, and alcohol. It was sightly tart on the tongue with a very strong malt presence followed by an alcohol warming. This finish was long and malty. Hops had to have been in there, but they didn't add much to overall character of the beer. This beer was a light golden color in the glass and was medium in mouthfeel. It was quite clear in the glass though I suspect there had to be a wheat addition to make such a creamy long lasting head of foam on such a big beer. I loved it as it fed my new found Belgian addiction in a big way. This beer also makes you feel warm all over as well from the big alcohol pop in it. Truely a slow sipper. Geek Boy simply said, "Wow!". I took that to mean he liked it. It took Jeff two Old Styles to get his wits back about him again. I also took that to mean something positive. This was a world class beer without question. Also, the beauty of this beer is that freshness isn't much of an issue as these tend to age very gracefully. The overall rating of this brew was Outstanding and World Class, even if I was the only one coherent enough to think it!!!!!!!

Jim, my chief brewing consultant from Country Wines, your one stop shop for all of your beer and wine making equipment and ingredients (shameless, unadulterated, and free commercial plug number 405) should get his tasting glass washed, because he will be getting examples of all of the above when I get home. Get ready Jim........

Margaritaville:

It really isn't a place, but rather it is a state of mind. An attitude if you will. In approximately 7 hours and 11 minutes from the time I penned this, I will be standing in the lawn at the Tweeter Center in Chicago to hear the 2004 License to Chill Tour version of the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band Show. As I may have mentioned yesterday, this is a milestone show for me as it will mark 25 years of following the exalted one around the USA. I have seen JB in many cities including, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Indy, Richmond, Cincy, Va. Beach, Cleveland, Columbus, Nashville, Louisville, and many others. It has been a long strange trip at times, but one I highly recommend. As long as Jimmy keeps doing it, I'm going to keep doing it. Thanks Jimmy for making the bad times seem better and the good times seem unbelievable. As a pseudo writer I appreciate the amount of time and talent it takes to be a song writer and a story teller, and how difficult that search for strange metaphors really is. Jimmy has an advantage over all of us writer wannabees as he has lived such an adventurous life, all he had to do was to tell the stories of his adventures in songs. I for one am glad he did, and I hope he continues to do so for a long time to come. You know he must be good when my 6 year old daughter loves the songs and sings along with her favorites (the most of which is One Particular Harbor). So here's to Jimmy, and here's to me celebrating 25 years of parrot head-dum. Remember this, at a Jimmy Buffett show, you are there with about 32,000 of the best parrot head friends you haven't even met yet. Parents bring their kids, and kids bring their parents. I'll see you later today in Margaritaville..................Hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere you know.............

Fun:

The fun will continue tomorrow with some sort of large roasted animal flesh and more family than the house can hold. It will be a throw back shell beach party, it will last way to long, and I'm sure I will have way too much fun. Check back tomorrow for a complete review of the Buffett show and the final Midwest Oddysey entry......

Remember, tune in tonight at 8 o'clock central time on www.radiomargaritaville.com to hear the same show I'll be singing and dancing to with 32,000 of my best parrot head friends, oh, and have a beer or something while you listen......

Mark, The Brewer, and will be wearing some strange type of sea creature or large colorful bird on my head later...........

 
Tasting The Fruits Of The Hunt.......Countdown To Margaritaville.......The Fun Continues Tomorrow........

Tasting:

After doing some serious beer hunting in Peoria, we were able to sit down and chill out and chill some of the brews we found. Here is a recap of the tasting session complete with information about the beers that we tried. This was a top shelf tasting and as you will see, the hunt was very successful. We found some outstanding prey and the examples of the styles were very well done. This is one of the best parts of this hobby and also very important. This is what teaches the homebrewer how to set up recipes to approach the style and the style guidelines. When you sample, you should think about the tastes that you encounter and what ingredients drive those tastes in a beer. That is part of the fun, trying to figure out what ingredients make up your favorite brews. Here's the results of the tasting:

1. Tabernash Weiss Beer -- Tabernash Brewing Co., Longmont Colorado.......This was labeled as a German-Style Wheat Beer. It was. The beer was a light golden color with a nice fluffy white head of foam. The beer was a little more clear than I would have expected, even after swirling the bottle and serving the beer mit hefe (with the yeast). The beer was not as estery as I have experienced before with say a Hacker Pschorr hefeweizen. The beer did have the nice tart phenolic character and leaned in that direction. There was very little bannana character in this beer. It finished tart and clean. The beer might have been a little old exhibiting a bottling date of June 2003. Overall it was a decent brew on the phenolic side of the wheat beer spectrum. I would like sometime to try a fresher example. Geek Boy was a little disappointed as he prefers wheats that have more of the bannana and green apple aroma and character. Guest taster Jeff was fairly neutral on the beer though he commented that it was easy to drink. Overall rating was Good Quality Commercial Wheat.

2. Jackman's American Pale Ale -- Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont Colorado......This was a very nice example of American Pale Ale. The beer had a nice flowery hop aroma followed by a big malt flavor and attention getting bitterness. The malt flavors then dominate with a nice crystal malt character to the finish. The finish was lean and clean with a drying hop flavor in the finish. The beer had a deep golden to amber color and presented very well in the glass. I like this beer very much and would love to try a draft example. Geek Boy was also impressed and liked the fact that it was hoppy and balanced with Malt flavors too. Jeff also liked the malt backbone in the brew and how it showcased the hops up front and balanced out on the back side. Overall rating on this brew was and Excellent example of APA.

3. Elmwood Amber Ale -- Elmwood Brewing Co., Elmwood Illinois......This is a deep amber colored American Style Amber Ale. This beer had a nice dark amber color in the glass with a nice aroma of hops and malt. The beer started and finished with the accent on malt, but had a stiff balancing bitterness and hop character in the finish. The beer also exhibited a big dose of crystal malt and perhaps had a pinch of roasted barley in the beer to accent the darker color. This brew was very satisfying to drink and would be a great session brew. I liked it very much and can't wait to taste it again. Geek Boy also liked it very much and was impressed with the overall malt character. Jeff also liked it because of the malt accent. This is a very good example of what a malty amber ale that is rich in character can be. The overall rating on this brew is a Very Good example of an amber ale.

4. Domaine DuPage French Country Ale -- Two Brothers Brewing Co., Warrenville Illinois......This in my humble opinion was one of the best tastings of the night. This is an amber colored Saison type of ale that was very interesting. It started caramel sweet and then had a nice balancing hop character that created a dry finish. It was very refreshing and had that Belgian or French farmhouse ale quality about it that was very different. This was one of the few beers that gave stats and this one weighed in at about 6% ABV. In my opinion, this was clearly one of the best of the night and it was very interesting to taste. Geek Boy was ready to buy stock in the company. Though this might not have been to Jeff's liking, he politely drank it and said he appreciated what it was supposed to be (as he chased it with an Old Style). The overall rating on the beer is an Excellent example of a farmhouse ale.

5. La Trappe Trappist Ale Tripel -- De Koningshoeven, Tilburg Holland.......This was the only import tasted during the session. This example was in a 25oz corked bottle. This Belgian was all that and a bag of chips. Weighing in at 10%+ ABV it had all of the accoutrments of a tripel. It poured with an almost effervescent head of foam and had a strong aroma of green apple, passion fruit, and alcohol. It was sightly tart on the tongue with a very strong malt presence followed by an alcohol warming. This finish was long and malty. Hops had to have been in there, but they didn't add much to overall character of the beer. This beer was a light golden color in the glass and was medium in mouthfeel. It was quite clear in the glass though I suspect there had to be a wheat addition to make such a creamy long lasting head of foam on such a big beer. I loved it as it fed my new found Belgian addiction in a big way. This beer also makes you feel warm all over as well from the big alcohol pop in it. Truely a slow sipper. Geek Boy simply said, "Wow!". I took that to mean he liked it. It took Jeff two Old Styles to get his wits back about him again. I also took that to mean something positive. This was a world class beer without question. Also, the beauty of this beer is that freshness isn't much of an issue as these tend to age very gracefully. The overall rating of this brew was Outstanding and World Class, even if I was the only one coherent enough to think it!!!!!!!

Jim, my chief brewing consultant from Country Wines, your one stop shop for all of your beer and wine making equipment and ingredients (shameless, unadulterated, and free commercial plug number 405) should get his tasting glass washed, because he will be getting examples of all of the above when I get home. Get ready Jim........

Margaritaville:

It really isn't a place, but rather it is a state of mind. An attitude if you will. In approximately 7 hours and 11 minutes from the time I penned this, I will be standing in the lawn at the Tweeter Center in Chicago to hear the 2004 License to Chill Tour version of the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band Show. As I may have mentioned yesterday, this is a milestone show for me as it will mark 25 years of following the exalted one around the USA. I have seen JB in many cities including, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Indy, Richmond, Cincy, Va. Beach, Cleveland, Columbus, Nashville, Louisville, and many others. It has been a long strange trip at times, but one I highly recommend. As long as Jimmy keeps doing it, I'm going to keep doing it. Thanks Jimmy for making the bad times seem better and the good times seem unbelievable. As a pseudo writer I appreciate the amount of time and talent it takes to be a song writer and a story teller, and how difficult that search for strange metaphors really is. Jimmy has an advantage over all of us writer wannabees as he has lived such an adventurous life, all he had to do was to tell the stories of his adventures in songs. I for one am glad he did, and I hope he continues to do so for a long time to come. You know he must be good when my 6 year old daughter loves the songs and sings along with her favorites (the most of which is One Particular Harbor). So here's to Jimmy, and here's to me celebrating 25 years of parrot head-dum. Remember this, at a Jimmy Buffett show, you are there with about 32,000 of the best parrot head friends you haven't even met yet. Parents bring their kids, and kids bring their parents. I'll see you later today in Margaritaville..................Hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere you know.............

Fun:

The fun will continue tomorrow with some sort of large roasted animal flesh and more family than the house can hold. It will be a throw back shell beach party, it will last way to long, and I'm sure I will have way too much fun. Check back tomorrow for a complete review of the Buffett show and the final Midwest Oddysey entry......

Remember, tune in tonight at 8 o'clock central time on www.radiomargaritaville.com to hear the same show I'll be singing and dancing to with 32,000 of my best parrot head friends, oh, and have a beer or something while you listen......

Mark, The Brewer, and will be wearing some strange type of sea creature or large colorful bird on my head later...........

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
 
Sticks And Stones And Broken Bones.......Eureka, We Found It........Beer Hunt Bounty.........Next Up........

Sticks:

Good Morning America!!!! Here we are in day 5 of the Midwest Oddysey. We are doing fine but we are slightly off schedule. What else is new and what else would you expect. Of course we're off schedule. Ya think!!! But the reason is different than you would expect. Yesterday was quite eventful. You see, Daughter Draft and Daughter Geek were playing, well roughousing. They were told to cease and desist the activity immediately. They didn't. The net result........a broken thumb and wrist for Daughter Geek. Sooooo, we spent a good portion of the day at the hospital getting Daughter Geek all casted up with a sky blue designer cast. All is forgiven and forgotten and everyone was laughing about it by dinner, but we had some drama earlier in the day. So if you think of it tonight, raise a glass to Daughter Geek and wish her a speedy recovery.........

Eureka:

Isn't that the phrase you use when you find something?? Well, I'm not talking about exotic beer here. What we found is Eureka, Illinois. For those of you out there who are saying, so what, here is why I consider this important. Little Eureka College is where one of the greatest and most loved presidents in history went to school. Ronald Reagan!!! They even have a Ronald Reagan museum. We stumbled upon this little place on US Route 24 heading west toward Peoria. If you are a Reagan fan, then this should be on your list. You never know what you might find......

Bounty:

Well, after all of the excitement of the broken bones and hospital trauma, Geek Boy and I found some time to go on a beer hunt. It was amazing how much ground we covered in such a short amount of time. And it is amazing at some of the outstanding beers we found!!!!!!

1. Rhodell's Brewing -- This was a little waterfront brewery and on premise. On premise means that you can go there and use their professional style equipment to make your own beer (for a fee of course). You can get hands on help and experience in making 10, 15, or 20 gallon batches. They have the ingredient kits available right there (convenient) and have a wealth of recipes. I was able to sample only one of their beers, though it looked like they had a good assortment. I tried the Celtic Red Ale which is of course an Irish Red. The beer had a deep red color from the addition of roasted unmalted barley and a big dose of crystal malt. Malt was the accent and the beer had just a hint of roasted flavor on the finish. My only fault with the brew was that it seemed just a little thin, but overall it was a pretty good example of the style. The waterfront should be a stop if your ever in Peoria as there are several good looking pubs and great overall beer selections availble on tap.

2. Peoria Hofbrau House -- This was a little hole in the wall kind of place just outside of town. It had in the German tradition a very subtle sign and was nothing to look at from the outside. Stepping inside the door, the place very quickly became unique, one of a kind and my kind of place. The decor was a little on the 70-ish side, but the smells coming from the kitchen were nothing short of spectacular. It was all about the wurst's. Then the beer selection was spectacular. They had three house brews, a traditional bock, a red lager, and a golden lager. Then they had DAB Dortmunder light and dark, Warsteiner, Kostritzer Dark Lager, Bitburger, Konig Lager, Hacker Pschorr Wheat and of course the obligatory Bud Light on tap. The bottled selection totalled over 80 craft and Euro imports and they had a beers around the world club. This is a jewel hidden away in Peoria and if you go there, seek it out, eat and drink a lot. They had soccer on the TV with several soccer fans inside watching the match and overall atmosphere was one of an old style bier haus in Germany. I tasted the Hofbrau Traditional Bock and it was an authentic bock style beer with a nice dark color, a beautiful white head of foam that hugged the sides of the glass. The malt ruled the day with a nice balancing bitterness. An inquiry led me to find out that this beer is made for them by the Burghoff Brewery in Wisconsin, a small craft brewer that does some contract brewing. I next went for the DAB dark. I like Dortmunder, but I have not seen the Dort Dark before. I have been missing a lot apparently because this was a great beer. It had a wonderful maltyness with german crystal evident and rich full bodied flavor followed by a clean finish. I loved this beer. Outstanding Stuff. Find this place if your in town and you will truely enjoy your stay there........

3. Retail Beer -- Beer retailed in the area nicely with real decent pricing. The selection was unbelievable!!! I found some beers from the west that don't distribute past this area and I can't wait to try them and tell you about them!!! Okay, I did try some already, but I'm running out of time so you're going to have to come back another day to read the information. Sorry about that, but trust me, it will be worth the surf back to see the site to read about some of these beers.

Next:

Well, tomorrow is my annual trek to pay homage to my mentor and lifestyle guru, Mr. Jimmy Buffett. I will be going to the Tweeter Center in Chicago for the obligatory tailgate and concert and this will be a landmark show for me. It will be my 30th overall show, and it will be 25 years of following Jimmy and the Coral Reefers around to enjoy the fun of being a parrot head. If you have never gone to one of these shows, you owe it to yourself to let down your hair, and go act like a fool for that one day of the year. Think of it as your own personal Fat Tuesday (even though the show might be on a Thursday or Saturday). Admonish those demons by having some fun with great music and lots of people in hula skirts and coconut bra's (typically what the men wear). Corona and Margaritaville Tequila are usually the beverages of choice throughout the parking lot, and trust me when I tell you, you have lots of parrot head friends that you haven't even met yet. Wish me a happy 30th/25th!!!!!!

Hey, you can join in with the concert live on www.radiomargaritaville.com, so there is no excuse.......

Now get some Corona, or whatever floats your boat and log on tomorrow around 8:00pm central time and well, I think you know the rest.......

Mark, The Brewer, and getting tired but still on the hunt......

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
 
The Oddysey Continues......The Highway View.....Fresh Old Style......Beer Hunting In Peoria......

Oddysey:

Like a great Greek Myth, we just keep on travelling around in our quest to find either immortality, or great beer. Now I've never wagered on anything as far as you know, but I'm guessing that we'll find the latter much quicker than we'll find the former. I also don't expect to see any cyclopians or hydra type creatures during our quest either. That's a shame, cause that would probably be quite fun too. Our journey today will take us into Peoria for said beer hunt, then we will saddle up the mini-van for another journey back to Chicagoland. Wish us luck and may the hops be with us.......

Highway:

The trip down state in Illinois is unbelievably scenic. As we drove down I-55 the view to the left side of the road was corn fields and grain silos. The view to the right was soy beans and grain silos. This was for as far as the eye could see in both directions. I actually at one point thought I could see myself driving off on the horizon, just beyond the soy bean field and before the corn field started. Trust me when I tell you, it is flat here. No, you don't understand the concept of flat until you see central Illinois flat, unless of course you are talking about Iowa or Kansas flat, then you might know what I mean.....

Old Style:

I have been known to wax poetic on this site about an old world type of brew called Old Style. Well, I was swilling a few of those puppies last night out of long neck bottles. This is quite a treat because even though I get this brew in the east, it is always in cans. It is way better in the long necks. I will probably have to get a couple of drafts in Chicago before we head home too. I like beer hunting, it's fun!!! We also sipped a couple of Leinie's Lagers last night. This is a nice golden lager made in Wisconsin. Miller actually owns this brewery now (I know I have a Miller product boycott, but I had to make an exception here), but it doesn't look like they've screwed up the production of this beer too badly yet. Nice color, some malt and hop presence, and a clean finish with the accent on malt. Drinkable. There, Miller product boycott back on!!!!!

Peoria:

The main reason for our presence here is not actually to hunt beer, but to visit with my favorite Geek Boy Micheal and the rest of the Geek Family. It was good to char some animal flesh, swill some Old Style, smoke a couple of fine hand rolled cigars, and just basically catch up on life in general. Today we will venture into the great city of Peoria, Illinois and see what that brings to us. Later today it's off to Chicago again. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for an update of what we found in Peoria. Will we find some good beer?? Will we get that last sixer of something very special. Will Geek Boy find the holy gadget?? Will we not find any beer but have to mash corn grits into hootch instead. Will the holy grail turn out to be the holy hand grenade?? For answers to these and more questions about, well, beer because that is what I know the most about, tune in tomorrow and every week day for as the Beer Bottle Turns. Oh, I'm sorry, I guess I digressed a little bit. See you in Chicago tomorrow!!!!!!

Go on your own Beer Hunt and tell what you find. Just email the brewer at the link provided at the top of the page. Come on, you know you want too. You know how to link. You just point the pointer at the link section.....and click.......

Mark, The Brewer, On on the prowl for the next great beer............

Monday, August 23, 2004
 
Good Morning From The Great Midwest......Indiana Fermentables......Next Stop, Peoria......

Midwest:

Good Morning America!!! Greetings from the great city of big shoulders, Chicago, Illinois. Let the oddysey begin!! We got in here yesterday about noon and the party started about 12:05!! It really went down hill after that. For the next week, I will be reporting in while I'm on the road. IMHBC goes mobile!! I hope to do some serious beer hunting while I'm out here, and by golly, as you will see in the next couple of segments, I may already have found a couple of gems. You don't want to miss any of this, and for those of you who already know about the stuff that I find, well, too bad, it's all new to me. I should be posting information on beer and breweries that I find all week, so be sure to check in every day for more fun and frivolity, or at least a little knowledge.......

Indiana:

I wasn't a straight shot here. We actually spent a little time in the great state of Indiana. And there is a lot to report from there!! Now I know this is a beer site, and I do my best to taste and give beer drinking and brewing advice. But when I find a gem I have to tell everyone about it. I am thinking that it is not just about beer sometimes, but about good fermentable. Well, we got to spend the afternoon at a little craft winery in Angola, Indiana that I would put on my must visit list if you are planning to pass through that area!! The name of this little gem is the Satek Winery (unabashed, unadulterated, totally free business plug number 403). I don't know the exact address, but suffice it to say that if you ask anybody local, they can tell you where it is. Actually it is very close to the Fremont area outlet mall off of interstate 69. Anyway, you can go inside and they may have as many as 20 wines available for tasting, and all of them for sale. We had a great time (yes we tasted them all) and ended up leaving with an entire case of wine. The wines range from a sweet and enticing 20% ABV port to a wonderful oaky Chardonay. There is everything in between. They have a nice dry Merlot that was wonderful and a big Cabernet as well. The simple 101 Lakes White made with grapes they cultivate themselves was a very nice semi-sweet white table wine that could be enjoyed anytime. The wine maker is usually there and loves to talk wine and fermentables with anyone who is interested. The college kids that run the tasting room are not only very nice and friendly, they are obviously trained in wine styles and have a nice working knowledge of the operation. If you go through this area, do yourself a favor and stop in. The wines are also very reasonably priced. We bought a 12 bottle case that ran the spectrum including the port, 2 bottles of the Chardonay (which I recommend), 2 bottles of Merlot including the very special bottling, and the total was $134. This is very reasonable for craft wine of this quality, and that includes an automatic case discount of 10%.

But that's not all for Indiana!! I also discovered a couple of great beers. I told you this was going to be a working vacation!! The name of this mini micro brewpub is Mad Anthony's Brewing in Fort Wayne Indiana (Shameless, unadulterated, and totally free plug number 404). What I found was a wide assortment of ales and lagers. I tried two of the brews which I found in six paks at a local liquor store. I tasted the Old Woody Pale Ale, and the Amber Lager. I was impressed with both beers. Old Woody lives up to it's name with a big bold hop presence that had a woody and citrusy quality about it. I am guessing some cascade, but there was something else in there like columbus or centennial and it was in there in quantity as this brew was a hopfest. Not to worry though as the beer also had a nice balancing level of maltyness in the backbone. The finish was clean, dry, and short. This was a good beer and one that I could drink over and over again. A very nice job. The Amber Lager was also a tasty beer. It has a large malt flavor including what must be a big dose of a medium crystal malt. That really came out in the brew. I would almost compare the flavor of this beer to an Irish Red Ale. It was lightly hopped with the accent on the malt. A good beer. The only thing I could say negative is it might be a little too sweetish on the finish, though it does finish cleanly. All in all, a very positive tasting of these two beers. Mad Anthony's gets my seal of approval and if in the Fort Wayne area, I suggest giving it a try. Thank's to Sister Draft for her hospitality and for pointing out these Northeastern Indiana gems..........

Next Stop:

Today the oddysey should take us to the great city of Peoria, Illinois. I don't know what we are going to find, but it looks like a nice day for a little car ride. I heard a rumor that some really fine beers are available there and that there is a local pub that is a must stop. We'll see. We'll see. As we progress, we will end up back here in Chicago and later in the week, I hope to do some serious beer hunting. Check back this week because you don't want to miss a thing. And because you have become hopelessly addicted to this site.....

On a side note, congrats to Chilly Draft as he has become a hopeless craft beer nut. When I get phone calls in the middle of a Saturday morning to have the beauties of packaging and taste of a fine pub ale extolled to me, along with the wonderment of the widget technology described in great detail, you know that it is a successful conversion of another disciple!!!!

Now go get some craft, regional, or good old fashioned homebrew and get to the tasting!!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and on the prowl for fine fermented beverages in the Great Midwest..........

Friday, August 20, 2004
 
Can't Bear To Keep This Quiet.....

Quiet:

Here is something to make your day a little more pleasant. This is a true
story about one of our ursine inhabitants on this planet.....

Bear downs 36 beers, passes out at campground
Rainier, not Busch, the beverage of choice for thirsty black bear
The Associated Press
Updated: 7:26 a.m. ET Aug. 19, 2004
BAKER LAKE, Wash. - When state Fish and Wildlife agents recently found a
black bear passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort, there were some
clues scattered nearby - dozens of empty cans of Rainier Beer.

The bear apparently got into campers' coolers and used his claws and teeth
to puncture the cans. And not just any cans.
"He drank the Rainier and wouldn't drink the Busch beer," said Lisa Broxson,
bookkeeper at the campground and cabins resort east of Mount Baker.
Fish and Wildlife enforcement Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can
of Busch, but ignored the rest. The beast then consumed about 36 cans of
Rainier.
A wildlife agent tried to chase the bear from the campground but the animal
just climbed a tree to sleep it off for another four hours. Agents finally
herded the bear away, but it returned the next morning.
Agents then used a large, humane trap to capture it for relocation, baiting
the trap with the usual: doughnuts, honey and, in this case, two open cans
of Rainier.
That did the trick.
"This is a new one on me," Heinck said. "I've known them to get into cans,
but nothing like this. And it definitely had a preference."

A bear after my own heart!!!!!

Drink some beer, will ya!!
Mark, The Brewer, and bearly able to keep a straight face......

Thursday, August 19, 2004
 
Thursday Blues.....How Sweet It Is......I Need Beer (To Talk Abou t).....

Blues:

Well, it's Thursday and I really don't have anything to talk about. I hate
when that happens, but I just haven't tasted, brewed, seen, or read about
anything that is worth talking to all of you about since yesterday. Hey,
nobody said it was easy to put quality information onto a web page daily.
This is like work. What I really need is some help from all of you. Tell
me what you've tasted, seen, read, or brewed lately. I'll be glad to share
it with others here and give you, the working homebrewer full credit (even
an official free unadulterated plug number). I am so looking forward to
getting into the fall brewing season and getting the kettles fired up.
That's another story for another day........

Sweet:

Since it's a really slow information day, I'll just insert another
homebrewing tip right here. I mean, this is supposed to be a site dedicated
to beer and homebrewing right?? Yea, it is. So here you go. Today's topic
is sugars. Now, every homebrewer who has ever researched or read anything
for at least 5 minutes about homebrewing has been told, "don't ever use
table sugar in your beer!!! It will ruin it with off flavors". Well, I'm
here to tell you that this is not exactly true. Sugars have been added to
brewing kettles as long as beer has been brewed. In fact, there are a lot
of beers that use simple sugars in the kettle that are available
commercially now. Some of them might surprise you. Brews like
Boddington's, Bass, and Samuel Smith's all use sugar in their recipes.
What?? You're shocked to hear that?? Well, it's true. The use of sugar is
very common commercially, and you as homebrewers can use sugar in the kettle
too. As with everything else in homebrewing, there are some general
guidelines that you may or may not want to follow when using sugars. Here
is what I suggest (and I am not the reigning authority on any of this for
sure). Sugar has the effect of lightening the body of your brew and is
highly fermentable, so it will boost the overall alcohol level in your beer.
This is where people miss the point. If you are adding sugar to turbo boost
your alcohol level in your beer, then you will add too much and ruin your
batch. If you are using sugar to enhance your beers flavor, body, and color
profile, then you are on the right track. First and foremost, never make
sugar more than 20% of your total fermentables. I suggest an even lower
level taking it down to 10% or less. Choose sugars that will enhance your
beer. Putting table sugar into a porter that you want to have a full bodied
taste doesn't make any sense. But putting 4 oz of brown sugar or 1 oz of
molasses into your porter makes all of the sense in the world as these
ingredients could enhance the flavor (brown sugar and molasses both can add
a rum hint to a dark ale) and color of the beer. A pub ale like
Boddington's adds just a hint of regular table sugar to bring the body of
the beer down slightly and to add a little complexity to the overall flavor
profile. It is a delicately flavored beer anyway, and the sugar gives it
just a little bit of complexity making it very tasty indeed. Belgian
Dubbels and Tripels all enhance their flavor and color profiles with sugar
additions. They also use sugar to enhance the target gravities. I know
what I said above, but if the sugars are kept to less than 20% of the
fermentables, you shouldn't have any problems, however this level will thin
and lighten the character of your beer. Belgian tripels are generally very
light in character. The Belgian brewers also use sugars that are different
from standard table sugar (and you should too).

That brings us to another thought about sugar. There are many kinds of
sugar and each can add a different character to your finished brew. As
mentioned above, the Belgian brewers don't use table sugars, rather they use
a type of sugar called candi sugar. This is cooked confection sugar that is
slightly carmelized. Light candi sugar is clear to a slight yellow in
color. Dark candi sugar is brown in color and rich in character. Light
candi sugar finds it's way into tripels while dark candi sugar usually
enhances dubbels. This type of sugar adds flavor, complexity, and color to
these Belgian brews. There are an abundance of sugars out there, from dark
sugars like molasses to extra light sugars like corn sugar. Most of them
are suitable for brewing. Just remember that the darker the sugar, the more
color and flavor properties it will add to your beer. I suggest
experimenting with some sugars to see what their effect is. Make a 5 gallon
batch of 1.040 wort and split it into two kettles. Hop it lightly and in
one kettle add corn sugar to the brew to 15% of the total fermentables, and
in the other kettle add a dark sugar like brown sugar or dark candi sugar to
15% of the total fermentables. This should bring your wort up to about
1.047 total gravity. The addition then is approximately 1/2 lb of sugar in
each kettle. Ferment the split batch out and bottle. See and taste the
difference in the two beers. Note the color difference and body difference
of the two beers. This will give you a feel for what sugar additions will
do to your finished products. Experiment and most of all, have fun and make
some good beer!!!!!!

Talk:

Yea, like I said earlier, I need to brew real bad. Part of why, is so that
I have some beer to talk about. You know, beer styles, flavor profiles,
mash techniques, and all of that other stuff. This summer brewing hiatus
was not totally planned and it has actually been a reasonably cool summer so
brewing would not have been so problematic either. Well, as I said
yesterday, I hope to avenge all of that with a pretty aggressive brewing
plan for the fall and early winter. Heck, I like fall brewing anyway. The
days are cooler and there is less wild yeast and other contaminants in the
air to worry about. The temperature in the fermentation room holds a little
more steady in this weather and stays down a little lower in the 66 degree
range making for cleaner beers that aren't as estery. Jim from Country
Wines, your one stop shop for all of your beer and wine ingredient and
equipment needs (shameless unadulterated free plug number 402) wants to brew
a big batch (probably 20 gallons) of dunkelweiss in September and I'm all
about that too. IPA's, a Duvel clone, porter, ambers, bitter, ESB, and all
of the rest are going to be on the schedule too. There, I don't feel so bad
now. I'm going to have a lot to talk about here real soon!!!!! And you'll
have a lot to read about too!!!!

So get a cold case of fest or something festive.....and get to it!!!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and remember how sweet it is to brew a lot...........

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
 
Midwestern Brew.....Homebrew Tip.....Confessions Of A Beer Drinke r.....

Midwest:

Greetings on a Wednesday morning. It's another beautiful summer day and I
like it like that. Next week is going to be fun. I will be traveling to
the great midwestern city known as Chicago, Ill. Why is that going to be
fun you ask?? Well, the beer of course. In Chicagoland, I can taste some
really good brews that I can't get where I live. I will be able to taste
the latest from Goose Island, Three Floyd's, Sprecher, and Bells. It will
be fresh and good. I'm stoked!! There are also some imports that don't get
this far east or are hard to find that a bigger city like Chicago gets. I
plan on doing some serious beer shopping while I'm there. Oh, and not to
forget extremely fresh Old Style, that light lager that I like so well.
Yep, it is going to be some serious fun shopping for hard to find brews in
old Chi-town. I will also get to watch some Cubs baseball (probably on TV)
and there is an outside chance I'll get some more cigars from that island
south of Miami (ISOM). So be sure to check in next week as I will be
posting while on location, and giving everyone the lowdown on the brews I
find in the great midwest!!!!!!!!!!

Tip:

In my quest to become better at brewing every time I brew, I do a lot of
research reading and study. As I have spoken about here many times and I
hope any of you who brew regularly know, sanitation is really the key to
good brewing. If you take decent ingredients, apply reasonable technique,
and apply fanatical sanitation you will always, and I mean always, make
decent beer. That said, here is some information on sanitizers that you
might find interesting. I have been using Iodophor, or tamed iodine
solution, to sanitize for a long time. It is supposed to be odorless and
tasteless to the beer. I'm not so sure any more. As my taster becomes more
and more in tune with beer flavors and styles, I am often now finding a
slight off flavor that I believe is iodophor in some of my beers. It might
just be a hint of it, but in my mind, it is there. I will probably still
use iodophor as my "go to" sanitizer, but I have started looking for
potential alternatives. Bleach is totally out. It never rinses and always
causes off flavors, though it is one of the best sanitizers there is. I am
out on that. That leaves only a couple of options. You can use the newer
oxygen sanitizers, alkali sanitizers, or acid based sanitizers. There are,
as usual, consequences of each. The nice thing about iodophor is that it is
usable on all surfaces, won't hurt your metal or soft rubber equipment, and
is brutally effective sanitizing with only a couple of minutes of contact
time. That is why it is used in hospitals to sanitize surgical equipment.
Oxygen based sanitizers work, but aren't as effective on all microbes,
require much longer contact time, and always leave that shadow of a doubt.
Alkali products are really more cleaners than sanitizers, but with overnight
contact and a good rinse, will work in a pinch. That leaves acid based
products. The two that come to mind that currently are readily available
are Star-san and Sani-Clean. Star-san is a very good product that sanitizes
in 1 to 2 minutes of contact, and is generally okay to use on your soft
metals, plastics, and soft rubber equipment (though I wouldn't let anything
soak overnight in it) for shorter contact times. Always wear gloves as this
is acid based. It is effective. The rub is that this product foams up
dramatically. That is okay for plastic as if there are bacteria harboring
scratches, the foaming will infiltrate them and help eliminate bacteria.
But foaming can be a pain too causing delays and requiring rinsing. The
other product, Sani-Clean is new. It is basically Star-San without the
foaming. It does take more of the product to work, but it is very
effective. Price might be a big determinant as to what you use. Iodophor
is the most cost effective of the bunch, but Star-san is only incrementally
more expensive. Because it takes more product, Sani-Clean is somewhat more
expensive to use. Use of Iodophor, Star-San, or Sani-Clean are your best
bets and the products that I would recommend. Buying in bulk saves cash on
all three products. Whatever you chose to use, be sure to adhere to solid
sanitation practices in your brewing, and your beer will be good every time.

Confessions:

Okay, last night I walked into my house and decided I wanted a beverage.
But a thought went through my head that resembled rebellion. Rebellion to
the point of considering it sacrilege. Could it be??? No, I'm not having
that thought?? Yet there it was again. In the confessions of a beer
drinker mentality, I have to tell someone. Oh, the shame of it all. Well,
here it goes. The thought that went through my head was, "I'm tired of beer
and don't want one". Oh my, what have I done?? What have I thought to
myself. Can this be happening. Is it just a temporary thing, or is it
permanent?? I was actually a little uneasy. What should I do?? Well, I
opened a bottle of Mt. Gay Barbados rum and mixed some with club soda and a
lime. Surely this will satisfy my want of beverage for the evening and I
can get to sleep with my psyche in tact. Nope, didn't get it done. In
fact, it wasn't even very good. Now what to do. I sat and contemplated for
a while. It took some eye opening reflection. I realized that it was okay
to not want a beer. I know, it is what I do, write about, and generally
have a passion for. How can I turn my back on this wonderful beverage that
has given me sustenance for so long. Oh the shame!!!! No, wait, I hear a
voice in my head. It is telling me to get back to the basics. That beer is
that wonderful mixture of science and creativity. That I must remember
where it comes from and how it is made. To digress to thoughts of brewing
the best I ever have. Then there it was. That craving returned. I
immediately ran down to the pub and poured an imperial of Angry Dog Amber.
Surely this will bring me back into the fold. This is one of the best I
have brewed and a style of brew that I love. This wonderful amber colored
ale. Oh Dog, bring me back. Bring me back home. I held the glass in front
of me. In a trembling motion I took a sip. I waited. And then, there it
was, the feeling returned, the love of all that has to do with the brewing
of fine hand crafted ale. I was back. Back into the fold. Back to a state
of beer evangelism, the doubts removed. Thank you "Dog" and thank you beer
in general. It's great to be back from my moment of doubt........The
confessions of a beer drinker that turned out okay. I'll never stray again
Gambrinus, I promise..........

Mark, The Brewer, and doubting I'll ever not want a beer again.........

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
 
Yea, I Tasted It.....Fresh Sierra Nevada.....Will I Ever Get To B rew.....

Yea:

Well, I hope everyone is having a good week so far. As for me, I couldn't
be doing any better if I tried. You see, the Penn Pilsner keg (the official
guest tap at the IMHBC brewpub and shameless unadulterated free plug number
401) went empty so I had to make that little trip to the brewery on
Saturday. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but the name Octoberfest
on the bottled beer to go wall. Now that's what I'm talking about. So of
course, I added a case to my keg order. Gotta do it you know!!! Well, I
got it home and had some other errands to take care of so I put the bottles
into the downstairs fridge and beer keeper until I returned. After about
four hours of toil on various projects, I opened the door and they felt cold
enough to me. Now let me tell you, there are only a few things that get me
real excited. The beginning of football season, both college and pro, for
example. Well, the release of the Penn seasonals is in that category, let's
call it category 5 excitement!!!!!! I wasn't disappointed. This beer is
really good this year. In fact, I think it is better than last year. They
made it a little lighter in color this year and it is also a little lighter
in body which is a good thing. It is clearly a different brew than this
seasons Maerzen. It was a light amber in color with a hint of malty
sweetness and hallertau hop in the nose. The beer starts very malty with a
sharp balancing bitterness that is clean and nice on the tongue. The malt
flavors of caramel and toffee take the stage followed by some hop flavor
(very much in the background) and a clean smooth finish. This one just
might be a classic. I can't wait to get some of it on tap. Another job
well done, and I don't look for this brew to be around long this fall. I
will do my best to help get rid of it I can tell you that!!!

FSN:

No, not Fox Sports Net, fresh Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. My illustrious
cousin, Chilly Draft, had the shear joy last week of going to California and
enjoying fresh Sierra Nevada Pale Ale all last week. I'm so jealous I could
just have a beer or something. In his words, "it was pretty good". YA
THINK!!!!!!!! It must have been nice to drink some of this beer without it
sitting on a truck for 7 days in 90 degree heat while it was transported to
a hot warehouse here in the east to sit for another 2 months or so before
being placed in an illuminated cooler awaiting someone to buy it. All of
that distribution nonsense is so bad for the beer in the bottle, it's a
wonder we can stand to drink any of it. He was drinking beer that was
probably just freshly bottled, made a 1 hour journey to the retailer from
the brewery and was purchased within 72 hours of bottling. Okay, that might
be an exaggeration, but you get the idea on the problems of distribution of
a fragile food product like craft beer. Heck, Chilly might not even realize
just how lucky he was to drink such a fresh world class brew.....Hey Chilly,
cheers to ya bud and I hope it was good.....

Brew:

Here we are, over 7 weeks with no brew day. It's killing me too. And it's
going to be at least another 2 to 3 weeks before I can get a brew done. I
don't know if I can wait that long. I might just have to try to squeeze in
a late night brew or something. I am having brewers withdrawal symptoms I
think. I can tell you this. Starting on or about September 12th or so, I
am going to become a brewing maniac!!!! I hope to make at least 10 batches
by the end of the year. Aggressive you say, a fine goal it is, says I. I
want to brew in no particular order, a Duvel clone for Christmas, a couple
of amber beers, a couple of IPA's, all-grain wheat, porter, bitter, dunkel
Weiss, and anything else that my brain can concoct. So get ready, cause
there's going to be some brewing going on over the course of the next 4
months!!!!!

Now get out there and find a good Octoberfest and, well, send it to me, er,
ah, I mean, drink it, yea, drink it, that's what I meant to say......

Mark, The Brewer, and still feeling 'fest-ive........

Friday, August 13, 2004
 
Cabo Wabo.....ISOM.......Octoberfest Release......

Cabo Wabo:

Well, I have to tell you all one more time about the beautiful Baha
peninsula. I promise not to rub it in, er, ah, I mean, to talk about it
anymore after today. You have to go there. It is the best vacation
destination in Mexico there is, bar none. I have been to Cancun and
Cozumel. They are absolutely beautiful when it isn't hurricane season.
But, the natives don't like us, there is civil unrest and abject poverty is
evident. The other item that I don't like is that every snotty nosed 19
year old from the USA that has never worked for a dime in their lives is
there drunk what seems like all the time. I know that isn't the case, but
it seems like it. It has become difficult to like it there and it is our
(meaning US citizens in general) own fault. On the west coast in Cabo, it
is clean, nice, and the Mexican people who live there are genuinely friendly
happy folks. They are fun loving, very smart, and have the warmest,
sincerest smiles I have ever seen. Mainland Mexican's go there for their
own vacations. The economy looks to be humming along with lots of
construction, car dealerships, and bustling commerce. The roads are brand
new and the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. It is a family
oriented place (unlike Cancun) and families can go there and feel safe and
have fun. The airport is modern, clean, and large enough to handle the 20
or so flights per day that arive and depart. There is security and police
in plain view in the towns and on the resorts. If you want to go on a nice
relaxing vacation in Mexico, you gotta look at Los Cabos. We stayed at the
Presidente Inter-Continental Los Cabos. The hotel was spotlessly clean and
manicured to the hilt. The food was very good and the service even better.
It was all inclusive and that included your adult beverages. They consisted
of Corona on tap and whatever top shelf liquor you like. The price was
cheaper than Cancun for a similar venue and package. Do yourself a favor
and forget about Cancun. Go to the west coast side. You'll be very glad
you did.......

ISOM:

What is ISOM you ask?? It is an acronym meaning Island South Of Miami. It
just got belted with Hurricane Charley a scant 24 hours or so ago. The
reason that I mention this place is that even though this is a beer site, I
have to tell you about a certain rum that I got to try. It is called Hav.
Club, and it has got to be the smoothest, best tasting rum I think I have
ever had the pleasure of sipping. I tried both the blanco, or white rum,
and the yellow label or aged 3 years variety. Both were outstanding. I
simply tasted them with a splash of club soda and a twist of lime. Just
because this is a beer site doesn't mean that I can't appreciate other
spirits as well. It is true that I don't indulge in spirits very often.
This might only be the second or third time this year that I have sipped a
distilled spirit of any type. I have to tell you though, this was truely
the benchmark rum. I know that Bacardi and Appleton's is very good. I also
know that Meyer's dark is outstanding as well. Add to that list this little
spirit from that ISOM. You can't get it here due to the banana republic
politics that we employ with regards to that little ISOM, so don't even try
looking for it. But if you get abroad, ask for it. If you find it, you
must try it. Don't ruin it by mixing it with coca-cola. That is not going
to get you the best appreciation. On the rocks with a twist, or with a
splash of club soda, or just straight water. That is how you will
experience the flavor profile of this gem. If you find it, don't pass up
the opportunity to try this forbidden fruit from that little ISOM........OH,
and you might want to get a matching cigar if you know what I mean........

Octoberfest:

It is that time of the year again!!! I love it!!! The Octoberfests are
getting released for our tasting pleasure. And one of the best made in the
USA is already available to the imbibing public. The Penn Brewery
Octoberfest is in the stores now (shameless unadulterated free plug number
400) and you better not miss it!! It doesn't get any better than this brew.
I haven't tried this years release yet, but not to fear, I will do just that
and publish a full report as soon as I can get over to the brewery and have
a pint. I'll let you know as soon as I know. I can't wait!! For the
uninitiated, an Octoberfest and a Maerzen beer are nearly the same. One is
to take the early season chill off of you and to celebrate the harvest in
the fall. In Germany, Octoberfest is actually celebrated in September.
Those wacky Germans. Anyway, Maerzen is a brew made to celebrate the rites
of spring and it's coming, and to take the chill off you before the weather
warms. Both are celebration lagers meant to be partied with. They are
amber in color generally, sweeter with some crystal malt addition, and
hopped enough to balance letting the malt flavors dominate. They are also a
little higher in octane than a normal German lager. Don't miss one if a
local produces it in your town. And don't miss any celebration that goes
along with the brew's release. You'll miss out on some real fun!!! There's
always lots of singing and dancing and refills at a full fledged Octoberfest
celebration. Happy Octoberfest to all, and let me know if you have a local
fest bier of note in your town by emailing me on the link at the top of the
page!!!!!!!

Have a great weekend!!

Mark, the brewer, and in a whatever-fest mood most of the time..........

Thursday, August 12, 2004
 
Corona Draft..............Mexican Brew Of Note.................Tr opical Lagers..............

Corona:

I think I'm a little more with it today. Less effects of jet lag and I
actually feel somewhat rested from sleep last night. Could it have been the
Penn Pilsners I sipped while watching baseball????? Nah, just some good
sleep. And while I slept I think I kept dreaming about watching those kegs
stamped with the famous Modelo brewery stamp with the Corona caps covering
the tap valves as they were being loaded into the coolers at the various
bars on the property of the Presidente Inter-Continental Los Cabos Resort
(shameless unadulterated free plug number 398). That's right Corona on
tap!!!! Is this the same beer that is purportedly sold in the USA in the
clear bottles????? Well, yes and no. This would have been fresh beer, that
is, non pasteurized beer rather than the heat treated stuff we pay $25 a
case for. This brew also looked to be a little deeper gold then the
imported bottles. All of that said, you will be hard pressed to find a
better thirst quencher on a 99 degree day, including the finest German
wheats. If you haven't had Corona fresh and on tap, then you really don't
appreciate it. In fact, often when we get it here in the states, it's
already light struck (skunked for the great unwashed) and has that very odd
aroma and flavor that we all have come to know from most imports that spend
time in the hulls of ships during the summer months (I know people who used
to think Heineken was supposed to taste that way). At the end of the day,
this brew completed it's mission critical: to quench my thirst in the hot
Mexican sun. And that's about all you can ask for from a beer. This stuff
was quite good and I feel much better as a person and beer lover for having
had the opportunity drink it fresh and on tap. The American lagers don't
get it as I will explain a little later on today...........Viva La
Corona!!!!!!!! Gracias Modelo!!!!!!!!!!

Brew Of Note:

Another Mexican made beer of note that I must mention is a brew called
Pacifico Clara. This is another fine example of the south of the border
brews. It is another of these tropical lagers made with the purpose of
giving you some taste while quenching a thirst caused by very hot
conditions. It succeeded at doing this for me too. There isn't a lot to
tell about this brew other than I liked it and like most of these tropical
lagers, goes down as easy as water but with some beer flavor. If Bud could
taste this good, I might even drink that on occasion. AB doesn't get it and
neither does Miller or Coors for that matter. But our friends at Pacifico
and Modelo sure do. Good job on making a light lager that works for me.
Why doesn't the evil empire and the two wannabe brewers, Corn Water Inc. and
Tasteless Brew Inc, get it??? Good question!!! See the next topic and I'll
try to explain..........

Tropical Lagers:

Why are these tropical lagers generally better than the typical American
Standard lagers???? Well, let me tell you. It is a matter of style.
American Standard lagers attempt to somewhat resemble the classic German and
Czech style pilsners. Where they miss the mark is with the high level of
adjuncts, corn and rice, that the American brewers put into these beers.
These brews often have up to 50% adjuncts compared to their Euro
counterparts that are made with all barley malt in the grist. The American
brewers also use so little hopping, just enough to bitter, that they have
become a watery shell of what the German and Czech pilsners are. Now the
Mexican and South American brewers approach their tropical lagers a bit
differently. First, the majority of the master brewers in these large
commercial breweries are either German brewers who have moved there, or are
classicaly trained to brew in Germany. They understand the brewing process
in the "German Way". Secondly, the style of beer that is the basis for
these tropical lagers is not the classic pilsner, but rather a style known
as Dortmunder or Dortmunder Export. This brew is decidedly different than
pilsner, often having much more body and decisively more hop presence. They
are often golden to deep golden (almost approaching amber) in color and are
made to quench the thirst of the working man back in the German industrial
area of Dortmund where there is a lot of heavy industry and mining activity.
To adapt to the tropical climates of Mexico and the northern parts of South
America, these brews are lightened slightly with adjunct (usually maize) to
maybe 25% to 30% of the grist and then aged up to 6 weeks in cold tanks for
smoothness. Lighter colored versions are a little lighter in body such as
Corona and Pacifico. There are also some more fuller bodied brews such as
Dos Equis and Negra Modelo that approach a light golden amber color that are
actually even closer to the original Dortmunder style and are very
satisfying to sip. At the end of the day, these beers blow away American
Standard Lagers and are far more satisfying to drink in any weather. The
four brews I have mentioned here scratch the surface as there are many
brands out there that aren't even available in the USA (the Brahma family of
brands comes to mind), but these four are a good jump off point. Most
everyone that drinks beer has at least tried Corona at some point in time.
Due to the fragile nature of this beer in clear bottle packaging, I strongly
suggest a shot at the other three mentioned. Dos Equis and Negra Modelo are
widely available across the USA with Pacifico available readily in the
western half. Tecate is another that you could try, though in my humble
opinion is a level below the others mentioned. Find a good Mexican
restaurant and you will probably get a good selection to try. Have fun and
don't be afraid to pair these beers with some authentic Mexican
quisine!!!!!!

Uno Cervesa Fria Por Favor!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and yes the Penn Pilsner (shameless, free, and
unadulterated plug number 399) tasted just as good as I remembered. ( Five
days of Mexican beer only isn't enough to corrupt my love of fine ales and
lagers from around the world).............

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
 
Back From Vacation...........Much More To Come...............It W as Hot...........

Back:

Well, here we are back from our great adventure. Yes, we were on Vacation.
Yes we had a great time. Yes, the weather was there (and not here in the
northeast) and it was sunny and gorgeous everyday we were there. Where were
we you ask??? Why, sunny Los Cabos, Mexico of course. Actually Los Cabos
San Jose was the official moniker of the town in which our resort was
located. It was at least 95 degrees every day we were there with plenty of
UV rays to go around. We didn't care!!! Not with my new Mexican best
friend Zacharias around to take care of us. He was the bartender at the
"Delphin Barre" or Dolphin Bar. That was the swim up bar in the main pool
of the resort. Zacharias made sure that we had plenty of ice cold Corona
DRAFT to keep the sun at bay. More on that later this week. It's good to
be back, but I will assure you that we will be going back to this place, but
more on that later too..........

Much More:

In fact, there will be much more information about Los Cabos posted here
this week. If you have ever been on a cruise or to Cancun Mexico,
fuhgetaboutit!!!!! Go to the west coast next time!!! Nicer, cleaner,
friendlier, less crowded, less rowdy, and very scenic and beautiful. You
also virtually eliminate any chance of rainy days slowing down your
vacation. I will post up some other information as the week progresses,
including some of the Mexican brews I was fortunate enough to try, and some
of the resorts that we saw that were nothing short of spectacular.........

Hot:

By the way, did I mention that it was hot???? Yea, it was, but there was
always a very nice ocean breeze to help dispel the heat. There was also the
Mexican lagers made specifically to quench the thirst and help hydrate the
system, though I still would recommend plenty of agua during the day. If
you don't drink plenty of water you will become what I call a "Drunkxican".
That would be simply an American that didn't drink enough water during the
day while imbibing cold Mexican beer. These individuals also speak their
own language. Okay, you really don't want to know. I will be talking more
about these Mexican brews in the days to come, the styles that they emulate,
and why they are so well suited to the hot climate found in the areas where
they are popular. You will be very surprised when you hear what they are
and why.........

Ohhhh, Mexico....I've never really been but I'd sure like to go....

Oh, oh, oh, oh, Mexico,

I think I'd like to go now........

Thanks James Taylor!!!

Get some brew and get better hydrated..............

Mark, The Brewer, and realizing it might take a couple of days to get
re-used to the normal beers I drink........

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
 
Good Sampling.......Closed For A Few Days...........Back To The B each.........

Sampling:

Wow!!! It has been a wild couple of weeks!! The good news is that I
finally really got a chance to sit down and taste a couple of my own brews
without any interruptions. The Angry Dog Amber is back in the house and I
must admit is better than ever. I have become quite partial to amber brews
specifically ESB type ales. I know, imagine that.....Anyway, this brew
turned out better than I could have imagined. The hop and malt balance I
believe is the best I have achieved with this recipe and it goes down real
smooth. The foam is a brilliant white and lasts and lasts. Okay, so I'm
patting myself on the back a little bit, but I think I deserve it.....The
other brew that I finally got a chance to really taste was the Anchor's Away
Cali Common. It also turned out to be a very nice beer. I like the hop
character from the Northern Brewer hops and the brew really is rich. The
California Lager yeast did a nice job and this is a brew that I will be
making in winters to come. I have really enjoyed it and the yeast worked
very well in 60 degree range conditions. I recommend it if you can control
temps to below 66 degrees. Two good batches going at once on tap and I
really like it like that.......

Closed:

The pub will be closed for a couple of days. The neighborhood may not
recover, but that is just the way it has to be. I will be away so not only
will the pub be closed, there won't be any wit and wisdom on this site until
next week sometime. Sorry. I know that I have been a little erratic
posting of late and I promise to do a better job in the very near future.
Things will get back to normal, well as normal as they can get, and then we
will let the brewing begin!!!! I am looking forward to a very aggressive
brewing season this fall as I have some real good recipe ideas that I want
to try. Get ready, cause I am.........

Beach:

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said it was time to get to that one
particular harbour, even if it was a new one???? Well, that's the reason
the pub will be closed for a few days. I am going to get some wind in my
face and some sand in my shorts. I know you'll miss me, but I gotta go
back, to the islands, or the mainlands on the ocean, or to a sea of despair,
or somewhere where I don't know where I am or where I'm going, or something
like that. I believe it was Frank Bama who said that a good captain is
never really sure where he's going until he gets there, and then he still
isn't really sure (you can always pull in somewhere and ask for
directions)......Anyway, I'll be all tan when I get back, so until
then....aloha Spicoli, and aloha Mr. Hand.....

Stock up on some brew, because without my daily ramblings to read, you're
gonna need some!!! Open, tilt, smell, sip, smile, repeat............

Mark, The Brewer, and hearing mother mother ocean, calling
me......................

Monday, August 02, 2004
 
THE Extra Special Bitter........Summer Ale Sampling..........The All Grain Bug............

Bitter:

As most of you probably already know, Bitter is a family of English Ales.
They range from lower alcohol brews with a nice residual sweetness and
balancing bitterness simply called bitters, to hopped up pale ales with
gravities starting in the 1.060 range known as India Pale Ale. In the
middle of the range is a member of the family that is known as Extra Special
Bitter, or ESB. ESB is a really nice beer. It is a convergence of
ingredients that brings the bittering hops and some flavor and aroma hops to
the front of the flavor profile. They don't dominate, but they have much
more say in the overall flavor of the brew. It is quickly becoming one of
my favorite styles and I seek it out whenever possible. These beers tend to
be amber in color due to a healthy addition of mid range crystal malts
usually in the 40 to 60 LOV range. They usually have bittering, flavor, and
aroma hop additions and have opening gravities in the 1.044 to 1.054 range.
These beers have a nice malt character with a bitterness that is in the
front, but not overpowering, usually a mild hop flavor and a nice floral hop
aroma. My favorite hops to use in this style are of course the classic
English hops Fuggles and East Kent Goldings. I also make a more
Americanized version that uses Tettnanger and Willamette in some heavy
handed additions (see Angry Dog Amber on the recipe page).

Why am I telling you all of this?? Because I have found the holy grail of
ESB. It is the Benchmark that all other brewers should attempt to get to in
a classic ESB. That would be Fuller's ESB imported from London. A few
weeks ago I wrote a review of Fuller's on nitro. Very good!! Well, I just
had Fuller's on regular CO2 this past weekend. I have to tell you that it
was even better. What a beer. Beatuful off white to tan head of foam that
hugged the glass all the way to the bottom. A clean clear amber in color
the aroma is decidedly malt including the crystal addition with a hint of
caramel. The aroma also has a faint floral hint that must be from East Kent
Goldings hops. The flavor starts with a caramel and honeyed malt flavor
that is abruptly balanced by clean hop bitterness. I don't know the
bittering hop, but would guess Challenger, Fuggles, or possibly North Down.
The beer finishes malty and clean with a hint of hop flavor, and a bit of
sweetness at the end. It begs you to sip it again. I love this stuff!!!!!
Thank you Piper's Pub (free and unadulterated plug number 382) for cellaring
and serving this fine ale perfectly. The only way this could have been
better is if on cask. Seek it out and drink it and you might have a new
favorite style too.......

Summer:

Speaking of sampling, I had the opportunity to try two summer beers this
past weekend too. The first was a surprise and a beer that I didn't even
know existed. The other was one that I have been wanting to try. Both hit
the mark in terms of taste and drinkability.

The first was Anchor Summer Beer. I didn't even know they made a summer
beer. Well, you have to drink a pint of that if you find it right?? So I
did. I wasn't disappointed. The beer was a nice golden color, clear, and
had a nice white head of foam. The clear character made me wonder if there
was a wheat addition in this beer or not. The flavor was clean and tart,
then bitter. I am guessing coriander and lemon zest in the boil somewhere.
The beer was nicely spiced with only traces in the flavor profile, and there
was a nice tart finish. Definately a warm weather beer and one that would
be good in a session. I was impressed, and really not surprised. All of
the Anchor products are always very good.

The second was Bell's Oberon Ale. This beer poured with some haze as the
wheat addition was evident. This beer is a cross between an American Wheat
and a Wit beer. It seems like every time I try to describe a Bell's beer, I
say it is a cross between several styles. Anyway, this beer is real easy to
drink with the spice additions even more muted. It finishes tart and clean
and begs you drink more of it. Very enjoyable and as all Bell's beers are,
probably leathal on the back end if you drink too many of them in a session,
which I highly recommend doing. This was good and I will drink this beer
again.

If you find these two on a hot summer day, you gotta try them. Again, you
won't be disappointed. These are two very nice summer brews from two most
excellent craft brewers.........

Bug:

To all-grain or extract. That is the question. I recently brewed an
extract wheat beer. The finished product was a very serviceable wheat beer.
It is clean and drinkable and has all of the characteristics of a wheat. It
is tasty and there will eventually be none of it left. Was it my best???
Not even close. Not after brewing so many all grain beers, it just wasn't
up to my current standards. That is how you can gauge where you are in your
brewing efforts. Try an extract batch after you have been all grain brewing
for awhile and you will find that you probably made a very good extract
beer, but it just isn't up to the standards you now have for your brewing.
That is what happens to you. You catch that all grain bug and you are
doomed to a life of sparging and srubbing tuns. Do you really care about
that?? Nope. You willingly do all of the work required. That's part of
the bug. I have had some recent conversations with other brewers who have
caught the bug. They have contemplated going back to extracts to save time
and use less equipment, etc, etc.......I explained to them that in the
winter, you have lots of time to brew because of the bad weather. The time
excuse is really not a good one. I have always been of the impression that
if you really want to do something, anything, you can MAKE the time to do
it. Time is relative and you have more of it than you think. Do you really
have to watch all of those Gilligan's Island reruns???? I doubt it.

Anyway, raise a glass those of you with the "bug". You can't get well from
it, so you might as well harvest the fruits of your labors. It is the best
way to treat the "bug", that is with fine hand crafted all grain homebrew in
your favorite glass with all of your jealous friends and neighbors. You
know they wish they could be you when they taste the beer. My advise??
Keep all grain brewing and take your "medicine" for the "bug" daily (wink
wink, nudge, nudge)......

Now, get a good home or craft made beer and, aw, you know the rest.........

Mark, The brewer, and yes, I'm going to brew again real soon.........


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