Galaxy White IPA

Anchorage Brewing Company's Galaxy White IPA

This 750ml bottle was given to me as a gift recently and it was some very interesting stuff.  I haven’t had many White IPAs so I can’t say that I’m an expert in this rather interesting style.  From what I am led to believe, the White IPA is somewhat like a cross between a Belgian Witbier and a good old India Pale Ale.  Sounds just about perfect to me as the weather is starting to get hot and humid.  A nice wheat crispness is always a solid contribution to summertime brews.  Then I saw the kicker on the front of the bottle… “Bottled with Brett”.  This got me very interested.  Bottle conditioned using wild yeast, this, I thought, was going to be different.  The bottle also mentioned that it had wine yeast added and that it was aged in oak wine tanks.  At this point I honestly didn’t know what I was in for.  This beer was bottled in August 2012, so it has been bottle conditioning for almost a whole year.  I had a feeling that this was going to have a lot of Brettanomyces characteristics and maybe not quite the hop bite that it would’ve had at an earlier date.

I popped this baby open and started to pour.  I poured as slowly as I could, and yet I still got a full pint glass of head.  This beer was extremely fizzy and that’s not a bad thing for a summer thirst quencher.  I took a whiff and I was surprised at what I smelled.  I can’t say I’ve had much of an introduction to Brett beers up to this point but it was unmistakable.  An extremely funky, horse, barnyard, smell was overpowering the other aromas and I was already a bit scared to take a taste.  As I gave it a little more of a whiff I could tell that there were some fruity notes under that heavy blanket of Brett aroma but it was hard for me to get past it.  The taste was also extremely funky, much like the aroma but with a distinct wine note to it on the end.  There’s definitely some fruity stuff going on as well, but once again the wild yeast is definitely front and center and it is hard to separate it from the other layers.

This beer is complex, and not very approachable.  The other person that was tasting this with didn’t like it at all.  I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t too sure I liked it much myself since I was unaccustomed to the funky aroma/taste that this beer had in spades, but as I drank it, it started to grow on me.  I don’t think this would be a beer I’d drink all the time, but I would certainly love to taste a young batch and an older batch of this at the same time.  I think not only would it be fun to see how much the overall flavor changed in that time, but also to see if it would be easier to pick out the other notes in the younger beer in order to have a better sense of those flavors underneath the Brettanomyces flavor in the older one.

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From Macrobrew to Craft Brew

English: Bottle of Dogfish Head 90 minute Impe...

A road map to get from American Macro brews to beers like the one pictured. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know more than a couple people who drink nothing but Bud Light, and when they are offered a chance to drink a nice, interesting craft brew they decline.  Everyone has their favorites, be it beer, food, liquor, etc.  and they have as much a right to their opinion as anyone else.  Beers like Bud, Coors, and Miller are carefully crafted so that no matter where you go or what time of year it is, your beer will always taste the same.  That is a very tough thing to do and as much as some people make fun of those “big three” beers, they are extremely popular and the quality control is simply amazing.

I don’t drink the “big three” regularly, but sometimes, if I’m out with friends, I’ll begrudgingly share a pitcher of it (which gives me an idea for another off-topic beer post for the future).  Some people aren’t against trying new beer styles, but may just feel overwhelmed and might not know where to begin.  Others might find some styles of beer so different from the “big three” that they aren’t quite sure whether or not it is to their liking.  I think it might be helpful to maybe make a list of how to get from one end of the spectrum (macrobrew) to the other (experimental craft brew) without leaving someone to fend for themselves along a random path.  I’ll try to give a brief example of each grouping I make and give an example or two.  If you were to follow the list from top to bottom, you’d be making small steps along the path. Continue reading

Bavarian Pretzels + Witbier

Tasty!

Tasty!

What goes better with beer than pretzels?  I suppose that is a question with different answers for different people, but I think beer and pretzels together make a great combination.  Around here, “soft pretzels” are simple to find: Sporting events, street vendors, even the grocer’s freezer have pretzels easily available.  the thing that most of these have in common is that they are “Just OK”.  Not a lot of taste, not a lot of texture, but yet they are still somewhat enjoyable.  I decided to scour the internet to find a simple pretzel recipe that I could cut down to a smaller size and test.  I stumbled upon this recipe and thought I’d give it a shot. Continue reading

Brooklyn Wort Contest

As much as I worried about my Strawberry Wheat beer and how it turned out, it seems some people liked it.  I used it as my entry to the Brooklyn Wort homebrew contest and it was in the top 30 entries.  I made it to the final round of the contest which will take place on September 8th.

This is the first contest I’ve entered and I’m pretty excited about getting this far.  I must now figure out what beer I will be brewing for the finals…  I have to give it some thought and come up with something that can vie for the top prize.  Updates of the process will be ongoing as the contest finals grow nearer.

Beer Updates

Today I’d like to take the time to give some updates on my recent beers:

Strawberry Wheat

I don’t think that I’ve had a real bad batch yet, but I was honestly worried about the Strawberry Wheat beer when I was bottling.  I’m not quite sure if it was because it was strong for a wheat beer (especially a fruit flavored one) or if it just had a smell that I didn’t think belonged.  One thing it had going for it early on was that it was an easy drinking beer that had a decent amount of alcohol in it.

Now that it has been about a month since I bottled this batch, the flavors are evening out nicely and the strawberry flavor, which started out as just a hint at the very back end, has a nice, full strawberry taste.  It isn’t as powerful as the Abita strawberry beer, but I wasn’t going for anything like that.  The carbonation is higher than usual, but I like that in my wheat beers.  I’d say this beer is a keeper.  There is definitely a confusing note in the aroma that takes away from my first impression when I bring it up for the first sip, but I’m not sure what it is.  Luckily, if I let the beer stand in the pint glass for a couple minutes before drinking, the aroma bets much better.  I’m probably entering this beer into the preliminary round of the Brooklyn Wort Homebrew Competition.  This will be the first time I have entered a competition and i think this brew is my most unique.

 

Spruce Brown Ale

This beer has been bottled, and conditioned for a couple weeks now.  I took an early taste after about a week’s conditioning and got some early thoughts.  This beer is much darker than I was expecting…  I’m not sure why I was expecting something lighter with the C120 and Dark LME I used, but this is approaching black in the pint glass.  The head foams a light brown, but obviously there isn’t that much of it right now since it hasn’t had time to fully condition.  The aroma is strong, raisiny, and burnt caramel.  There isn’t really any spruce notes to be seen unless I’m not certain what I should be looking for.  The taste right now is similar, sweet, plum or raisin, some burnt caramel, and not too much roasty flavor, which I’m just fine with.  There’s not a lot of hop flavor, just some balancing.  I’m rather sure this will turn out to be a solid american brown ale, but I’m not sure the spruce flavor will ever come out.  Even if there is no spruce flavor in this beer, the spruce still serves a purpose.  Spruce is high in Vitamin C and that helps to keep the beer stable over a longer period of time.  The jury’s still out on this one but the early feeling is that this one is going to be a solid brown ale.  Speaking of brown ales, two that I’d recommend getting your hands on would be Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale and Avery Brewing Co.’s Ellie’s Brown Ale.  Smuttynose’s is a bit more sweet, very complex, and at 6.7% ABV it is strong.  Ellie’s Brown is more roasty and has tastes of vanilla and nut that Old Brown Dog doesn’t have.  Either way, you can’t really go wrong with either.

 

I have a (hopefully) improved ESB in a secondary right now and I hope that the hot weather around here didn’t do anything to harm this batch.  I’m also getting ready to brew a Belgian Wit this weekend.  Belgian yeast strains can tolerate higher temperatures so this one was chosen more out of necessity than choice.  Updates on both of these to follow soon.