Tag Archives: India Pale Ale

75th Street brewery review

Saturday was a birthday celebration and therefore had to have some part of it spent drinking delicious brew. This year it was decided to try out a local microbrew. The 75th street brewery doesn’t have an extensive history but has been around long enough to establish itself as one of the few great local brewpubs. Let me get this out of the way and say that there was no bad beer.

I elected to start with a sampler. No better way to quickly survey the landscape of their beers than to try as many as you can as cheaply as you can. At a $1.50 apiece, a sampler of six beers was ordered. The current seasonal, the wheat, the IPA, the stout, the Irish red, and the raspberry wheat.

The first to be tasted was current seasonal. It may well be the now cliched Pumpkin beer but it is not cliched in taste. Starting light on the pallet, the spices used fully compliment the pumpkin instead of masking it. It was nice, eminently drinkable, and a little filling.

I then dove into the raspberry wheat. This is a beer to write home about. Effervescent with a tart zip that clears away all other tastes it leaves the mouth wanting more. I could easily find myself losing an entire day to drinking this.

I began to mix it up, jumping between the wheat and red while leaving the IPA and the Stout to the very finish. The Irish red was good, drinkable beer but nothing spectacular jumped out at me while it was washing down the appetizers. The same can be said of the wheat. An excellent beer for those who like the style to the exclusion of all others, while the rest of us will find it simply good in terms of taste and refreshment.

My personal feelings are that stouts need to be drank slightly warmer than most other beer and to be paired with food. Which is why I didn’t touch it until my fish and chips came. I moved on to my favorite type of beer, IPA. And it was good, very good. It was so enjoyable that the next time our waitress came by I ordered a pint to help finish off the meal.

A quick aside: Making a good IPA can be harder than some think because of trying to find the right balance between the sweet and bitter. Too bitter and the sweet comes out as sour . Too sweet and the hops disappears into the beer. Too sweet can paradoxically also lead to the brew having a sour aftertaste as well, something you never forget the first time it happens. So when you find a good IPA that gets the balance right, getting the mix between the bitter hops and sweet malt, that is something to celebrate. This, in my opinion, is an IPA to celebrate.

Finally, the stout was the only beer left. There is much to like. The creamy texture. The dark roasted caramel tastes. But there was also one thing to dislike. The smokey bite. It seem to hit at the wrong point in the drink. Just as I am getting to the transition between the cream and the caramel, the smoke would bite down hard which was particularly jarring. Having a drink with food did somewhat blunt the sharp edge of the smoke it did not disappear completely and makes me think that there was more going on with the beer than at first sip. While not for me, I can see where a stout with this sort of bite would find an appreciative audience.

This trip and the wonderful beer will definitely get me to go back a second time. It’s simply a matter of finding the time to do so.

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Beer Review II

I am reviewing two beers today, New Belgium’s Hoptober Golden Ale and Schlafy’s Dry Hopped APA.

New Belgium Brewing Co’s Hoptober Golden Ale

Another recent release, New Belgium’s Hoptober Golden Ale provides everything that the name promises. The hops are incredibly floral in nose and in taste while providing a delicious bitterness that first struck the sides of my tongue before traveling back and down my throat. Further drinking produced the expected sweet aftertaste of malt as the hops exited. As for looks the name again tells you everything you want to know. I will note that I detected a bit of a redish hue when first poured into my glass. The carbonation was perfectly balanced proving not too heavy or too light of a mouthfeel. Only the thinnest of heads covered the top giving me quick and ready access to the delicious beer underneath.

My verdict: If you like IPAs and the other beers of New Belgium, then you should try this one out. It’s not too heavy and not too light, happily celebrating a middle ground of wonderfully complex flavors.

Schlafly Dry Hopped APA

A nearly local brew its origins lie across the state in St Louis, home to friends and family. Not as hoppy as the New Belgium there is still a strong presence of the good stuff. However this beer has one thing the HGA did not. A strong malt presence. In fact, if I were to name a single defining characteristic of this beer, that would be the malt. The hop is strong in the aftertaste as the beer is going down my throat but it is not what meets my pallet at the beginning. The beer is slightly cloudy but has a strong golden amber color. It is incredibly effervescent making it very light in taste. The head is thick and it took several minutes to go down before I started drinking. There was not much nose to the brew and I was hoping for something which would announce the amount of hops in there. But again, I found it lacking.

Verdict: Not great, but not bad either. Strong fruity notes from the malt covers up the hops. Overall, I would say that it was not as good as the New Belgium reviewed above but still very drinkable.

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Doing some math…for Beer

A new and hopefully on going project I am pursuing is producing “micro-batches” of beer. I am defining a micro-batch as any brew that is in the one to two gallon range. This is a way I can test out recipes. To see if a certain combination of grains tastes as good as I think or if the combination of hops is good for IPA use. This is to check out these ideas before scaling them up to full 5-gallon (and beyond) batches.

Amongst the first things to figure out is the amount of ingredients needed. Calculations are needed to figure out how much grains and malt are needed to include in such small batch amounts. There are recipes calculators on the web, but most of these are calibrated for 5 gallon or greater amounts. For good reason. This is temperature sensitive stuff I am dealing with here. Get it too hot and I can ruin it. If I fail to get it to hot enough I run the chance of having the batch spoiled by bacterial invaders.

The reason larger batches is easier to work with is because of physics. Water takes a lot of energy to heat up. 4.1855 J/(g·K) to be precise. That’s Joules per gram-degree Kelvin. What that says is that for every cubic centimeter of water you want to raise 1 degree Kelvin (or Celsius), 4.1855 Joules of energy need to be added to that cubic centimeter.

Let’s scale that up and apply it to the situation here. 1 litre of water is 1000 cubic centimeters. To get the entire litre of water to come up 1 degree C you need to give it 4.1855 x 1000 Joules of energy, or 4185.5 Joules. If you start off at around room temperature, say 25 deg C, and want to get to to 100 deg C, the boiling point of water, multiply that by 75 for a total of 313912.5 Joules. To do an amount of water for a normal hobby batch of beer, you’d have about 19 liters of water for a grand total of 5964337.5 Joules.

It helps to know how much heat your cook-top puts out. Thankfully, most cook-tops are rated in Watts and a Watt is Joules per second meaning we don’t have to worry about unit conversions. For instance if your cook-top outputs 100 Watts at its max setting, you’ll need 59643 seconds to get that water up to boiling. Which is just over sixteen and a half hours. Obviously most cook-tops have a better output than that, so check your owner’s manual to see what yours is rated at.

Back to the beer.

How much of the ingredients do I need?

It depends on what I choose to use. In this case I am going with DME or dry malt extract. Being able to get it in small quantities helps but if I could not get the small quantity, I know that it has an excellent shelf life and only needs a dry cool area to be stored in, making easier to store than it’s close brother, liquid malt extract.

If I were going with a normal five gallon batch, I could use a few calculations to figure out how much I need to get. To figure that out, I need to know how many points that DME gives when dissolved in water. You can go here to see where I got some of the information. The DME I got from the store, Bacchus and Barleycorn, is rated at 42 points. That also gives me some idea how much alcohol is going to be in the final. Of course I should be getting a hydrometer one of these days so I can tell exactly how potent my beers are.

Hops is the final consideration. How much?

Considering that I normally hop with 2 to 4 ounces, a quick calculation shows that I only need a few buds. However, I bought a full ounce of Mount Hood pellets. They have an AA of 3.9 which is low but given that the whole amount is going into only a gallon of beer, they’re still going to be fairly potent. Hopefully those who try this with me like IPA as much as I do. Current play is to boil half and then dry hop the other half at the end. It should be very good.

I’ll make an update after I get this going and will have some pictures documenting the process.

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