Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere

posted on November 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Biere

Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Biere

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a chance to try another ale from Jolly Pumpkin – Bam Biere, a farmhouse ale, similar to a saison .

It started sweet smelling with a hint of sour.  It started out a bit tart but finished clean and funky with a bit of sweet.

I enjoyed Bam Biere.  Have you tried it?  What did you think?

Tailgating With Homebrew – Part 2

posted on November 22, 2010 at 12:22 am by Ken Valley in Homebrewing

Friends Tailgating with Homebrew

Friends Tailgating with Homebrew

With college football season nearing the end of the season, we take a look back and reflect on how the season went.  On the field, things didn’t turn out exactly the way we had hoped, but at least we had a great time tailgating.

This year, we got together every Saturday with our friends, just like last year, and had lots of food with homebrew.  Three of us divided up the weeks for home games, and made up a batch for each week to bring to the tailgate.

Some of the different beers we made included a saison, a honey red ale, an Oktoberfest, a trippel, and a Boston lager clone.  Each of these beers went very well with the smoked pork shoulders, homemade pretzels, and other food we had.

Here’s the best part: at one point during the season, we started designing a “homebrew keg totem”.  Although it never materialized, by next year, we should have it built and ready to go.  The design is a twelve-inch diameter PVC pipe, 5 to 6 foot high (which isn’t easy to find).  It has two beer taps, and on the back, there’s a post to connect the carbon dioxide tank.  It will look like our school mascot, and going to dispense our delicious homebrew.

What’s your favorite tailgating beer?  Have you made or had homebrew for tailgating?  Let me know!

Beer Brewing for Winter

posted on November 16, 2010 at 9:49 am by Ken Valley in Homebrewing

Granny Smith Apples in the Caramel Apple Tart

Granny Smith Apples in the Caramel Apple Tart

Over the past three weeks, every Sunday, I’ve been working tirelessly on increasing my winter beer reserves.  With family coming to town for Thanksgiving, and an “Ugly Sweater Party” the beginning of December, I had a lot of beer to make.

Starting off, week one, I made a saison, and one of my specialties, caramel apple tart.  The previous time I made the caramel apple tart, I used a sour mash, but decided to use a less time consuming method of adding acid malt the last ten minutes of the mash.  Here’s the all-grain recipe (let me know if you want more details):

  • 6 lbs 2-row malt
  • 3 lbs Munich malt
  • 0.5 lbs Crystal 40 malt
  • 0.5 lbs Special B malt
  • 1 lb Acid malt (10 minutes left in the mash)
  • 1 oz Willamette hops (60 minutes, 3.5% AAU)
  • 1 oz Willamette hops (10 minutes, 3.5% AAU)
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples (Julienne’d in the secondary)
  • California Ale-type yeast (I used WLP001)

The last time I tried this beer, it was a hit at our engagement party, so much so that everyone kept asking when I would make it again.  It’s a nice, slightly tart beer with an aroma of apples and a hint of caramel.  It has a very refreshing finish, and leaves a bit of “tart apple” in your mouth.

Week two, I made a nice Belgian Wit and a Samuel Adams Boston Lager (as an ale) clone.  These four beers, along with an Oktoberfest done a month ago, give us plenty of beer to have around the holidays.

However, not being satisfied with these for our holiday party, this past Sunday, I made an Oatmeal Cookie Ale (with vanilla and cinnamon), and a Gingerbread Cookie Ale (with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves).  I know I’ve said how I dislike spiced winter beers, but I had to make an exception, especially when I keep the spices to a minimum.

Have you made or had any out-of-the-box beers lately?  Let me know!

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

posted on November 9, 2010 at 2:06 pm by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

In this year’s Samuel Adams Winter Classics 12-pack, Samuel Adams has expanded the scope of their Chocolate Bock.  Previously, the Chocolate Bock could only be found in Limited Edition 25.9 ounce bottles.

The beer smelled sweet, with a scent of chocolate.  With the taste, it was a smooth, malty bock that had a hint of chocolate flavor that comes from the Ecuador cocoa nibs that the beer is aged on.  The chocolate was not too overpowering, and was subtle.  It was just enough to let you know it was there.

I’m glad to see Samuel Adams added Chocolate Bock to the Winter Classics as a seasonal beer.

Have you tried the Chocolate Bock?  What did you think?

New Belgium 2 Below

posted on November 4, 2010 at 11:22 pm by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

New Belgium 2 Below

New Belgium 2 Below

Ah, winter ales.  Thank goodness for New Belgium to shake up the traditional idea of a winter seasonal ale with 2 Below.

2 Below is not your normal run-of-the-mill spiced winter ale.  In fact, I don’t even know if they use any spices.  What they do use is subtle hops and lightly roasted malts, for a pale ale-like flavor that is very balanced.

At first, you get a nice scent of earthy hops.  The taste is slightly malty, with a clean hop profile as it hits the back of your tongue.  According to the packaging, the brewery chills the beer to a near-freezing state, which makes the beer very clean and nice on the palate.

I enjoyed this beer quite a bit, and it is very close to being one of my favorites.

Have you had 2 Below?  What was your impression?  Did you like it as much as I did?

Samuel Adams Winter Classics Variety Pack

posted on November 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm by Ken Valley in Beer Reviews,Craft Beer

Samuel Adams Winter Classics

Samuel Adams Winter Classics

Note: this info is for the 2010 version of the Winter Classics pack. The 2011 pack is located here.

Now that the calendar has turned to November, many breweries are starting to release winter beers.  Maybe it’s just me, but letting go of the malty goodness of a fall beer and jumping into spicy winter beers makes me wish it was still fall.  Spiced beers have never been a favorite of mine (I’m looking at you, pumpkin ale), but luckily Samuel Adams hasn’t gone overboard with the spices in this year’s Winter Classics Variety Pack.

In the pack, there are 2 bottles each of:

  • Boston Lager
  • Holiday Porter
  • White Ale
  • Chocolate Bock
  • Winter Lager
  • Old Fezziwig Ale

Looking through the pack, the only one I would consider unpleasantly spiced would be Old Fezziwig Ale, but luckily, Samuel Adams has learned to turn down the spices a bit to make all of them drinkable.  I like the fact that the Chocolate Bock has been included, and the Cranberry Lambic has been removed.  It’s also good to see an appearance from the White Ale, since it’s no longer the Samuel Adams spring seasonal beer.

Have you tried the Winter Classics Variety Pack?  Which ones in the pack do you like?  Which ones don’t you like?