Maple Bacon Breakfast Ale

IMAG0136

Time to experiment!

I think once in a while it is good to go off the deep end and experiment with something completely different even if you know it will probably fail.  This beer is going to be one of those times.  While enjoying a few beers with a bunch of my friends, we started talking about different beer flavors that may work well.  The idea of a breakfast themed beer caught my attention and curiosity.  At the time I had no idea that Rogue makes a version of bacon maple ale.  When I found this out, I was disheartened but my resolve was unwavering.  When I looked at the reviews of the Rogue beer on BeerAdvocate.com, that’s when I wavered… but only for a second.  How much harm could one tiny, one-gallon batch of beer do?  Forget the fact that as I’m writing this I’m still not completely sure how I’m going to prepare the bacon, or the fact that I’ve read that getting maple flavor to stay in the beer and not be fermented out can be tricky.  Those can easily be overcome with a little research and common sense.  What can’t be overcome is the fact that I’m almost positive I added too much carafa II to the mash.  This could turn into a roasty mess. Continue reading

Advertisements

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

Hoppy versus Malty

I think it is rather fair to say that the US craft beer scene has been, for the most part, obsessed with hops for a very long time.  IPAs rule the roost and become more hop forward every year it seems.  My friend sent me an article, “Against Hoppy Beer“, and it made me reflect on the types of beers that I have made so far and the types of beers I like to drink while I’m out at a bar.  While the East Coast isn’t the beer capital of the U.S., I’m lucky to live close to many bars which serve primarily craft beer, and there is a bottle and growler store within walking distance where sometimes you can find some rare brews.  Most of their selections are usually Pale Ales, IPAs or other hop forward beers.  I can see how this can be intimidating to some beer drinkers, and that’s why the craft beer bar near me stocks Budweiser bottles along with its 24 kegs and two casks of fresh craft beer.

I didn’t make a beer with over 50 IBUs until my 5th batch.  In the grand scheme of things I had other beers which I was more interested in making first before going to the craft brewer’s mainstay.  Golden Ale, Hefeweizen, ESB, and Oatmeal Stout all took precedent over the good ol’ IPA.  I don’t think this was because I liked all of those styles more than IPA, it is just that I wanted to make beer that I couldn’t as easily find.  Let’s face it, when you’re starting out brewing you’re probably not going to be world class right off the bat.  It is going to be tough brewing a beer as good as Lagunitas IPA, or Goose Island Pale Ale, or one of the countless great Pale Ales available.

Some people would say, “The hops will hide imperfections in the taste of the beer so it would be a good beer to start off with.”  I can’t deny that, but I would rather make a clean, mild profile beer first in order to make sure all of my techniques are sound and that I’m not carrying over any bad sanitation habits from batch to batch.

My non-beer drinking friends all love the golden ale and the hefeweizen I made.  The people with a bit more beer savvy tended to like the ESB the most (Nobody has really tasted the IPA).  It frustrates me that my first batch is enjoyed more than my later batches but I think that probably is for the same reason I waited on brewing the IPA:  There simply are fewer craft beer choices in styles like golden ale (I’m not sure what style category I’d even put that one in) and ESB, so they are newer and different to the people tasting them.  I brewed the IPA well along my journey as a novice homebrewer because I can easily get 12 different outstanding IPAs by just walking a few blocks.  I didn’t brew IPA first because when I go to a bar with a regular beer selection the beer that is most palatable is usually an IPA.  It is already my go to beer so why not switch it up so that I can enjoy a beer that is different when I have that choice?

I’d say the article is missing the point.  Craft beer is made for beer fans.  IPA might not be a style that translates well to people who have never tried craft beer before.  If a person who knew nothing about wine went into a wine store and picked a bottle at random I think they would have a decent chance of picking something that they didn’t enjoy.  Why should beer be any different?  Maybe it would be a decent idea to put together a list of beers to progress through from the american big three through to the more niche beers.  Sounds like a  project I’ll have to try to take on.