Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pomegranate Wheat Beer was somewhat successful

In August, I brewed up a batch of wheat beer.  It seemed to go well.  I had gone to the  Brewmaster's Warehouse and asked for a pretty basic wheat recipe. He suggested one called American Golden Wheat, and that seemed to do the trick. I came home with 3 pounds of wheat extract, 2 pounds of Briess white wheat grains and 2 pounds of Briess 2 Row Brewers Malt. the white wheat and brewers malt would be put in a bag and placed in the hot water to steep in a process called mashing. As you can see from the photographic evidence, I was very studious about this process.  I also had couple different types of hops for added flavor and aroma.  I used Cascade and Centennial. But then, once the boiling was done I added my own variation on this wheat beer.  I added 1.5 quarts of pomegranate juice.  The resulting wort was a lovely peachy color blending the pink of the juice and the gold of the wheat beer concoction.  It looked like this...

Then, well, I got distracted. Once the yeast was pitched and the carboy was stored in a cool place, I got kind of busy doing other things.  I should have bottled this beer early September, but I didn't. Lots of people gave me advice - and as you might expect, all of it was different. Some people said I had probably already ruined the beer and it should have been bottled directly on schedule. Other people said you can't ruin the beer by letting it sit too long and it'll be fine.  I just wasn't sure what to expect.  When we finally had time to bottle, I decided that because of the uncertainty, I wanted to bottle it in one liter grolsch bottles. Mostly because I hate bottling, but also because if it was bad I didn't want to have wasted an entire day filling 12 ounce bottles.

Well, yesterday we were ready to taste the pomegranate beer experiment. And you know what...? It was delicious. There was only one major flaw in the brewing. I had put too much water in the carboy resulting in less alcohol content. I know what I did and I won't do it again, but for now we have a tasty light beer to enjoy.  The beer is crisp and clean and the pomegranate isn't excessive but gives it just a nice tartness.  It was thoroughly enjoyable.  I am actually looking forward to sharing it with friends. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Have Never Met A Stranger…at the bar.

Recently, I was out with some friends and we went to a great little bar in Decatur Georgia called the Thinking Man Tavern. I was there with people I know and love and we enjoyed conversation and beer and food and it was a great time. Of course, that kind of bar experience is always fun. But I got to thinking about what happens when you don’t have your social network on hand.

Occasionally, I find myself at the bar alone or maybe just myself and Matt.  I treasure those experiences just as much as a great night out with great friends. The reason for that is that beer helps you make friends. Not in an “I’m really drunk so I’m going to fall all over you, stranger” kind of way, but more in appreciation of the art of craft brewing.
Just last night, I found myself on my own for dinner so I went to the Taco Mac closest to my work. It was Thursday, so it was Pint Night and I wanted to get my beer glass.  I sat down at an empty chair at the bar and ordered my requisite Beer of the Month and settled in. I pulled out my iPod and connected to the Internet, perfectly content to amuse myself. But then, the two people to my left started talking about being from Michigan so I politely smiled and told them I was from Michigan as well. I didn’t want to interrupt the rest of their conversation, but occasionally they would draw me back in. We talked about sports teams and colleges and a few other things. But then I started to talk with two guys on my right – a Father/Son drinking team. They were both kind of new to the Beer Club so we started talking about what kind of beers they liked. They were surprised by how much I knew about beer, but that was because I reached the next benchmark of the beer club – I get a tee-shirt and glass mailed to me now. I enjoyed the conversation, truthfully more than I enjoyed the beer…but that is a slightly different topic.
But I got to thinking about how the art of beer seems to bring people together. My last post was about getting to know some other guy at the bar when they sat down at our table because we were leaving. We didn’t end up leaving because the discussion of beer and music was so engaging. You always have at least one thing to talk about – Beer. When you go to places the specialize in craft brewed beers, you tend to meet other people who also like craft brewed beers. Sometimes if you dig deeper you’ll find other things in common with these strangers. And truth is, you will probably never see them again but just that hour or two of great conversation can really make your day.
Now in regards to the beer. I’ve recently tried two local breweries newest additions and one I loved and one…not so much.
At the Thinking Man’s Tavern I was able to try Wild Heaven’snew quadruple called Eschaton. It was absolutely delicious. I try really hard to be able to describe the flavors of beer, but this one was really complex. It was a dark beer, but not overly heavy. It was a sweet beer, but not cloyingly so. It tasted of brown sugar and molasses and some mild fruitiness. Since it is a high gravity beer, it is served as an 8 ounce poor. This is good; I might have kept drinking it because it was so delicious. It is funny – I don’t often find myself describing beer as “Delicious.” Usually I use adjectives like “good” or “tasty”. But for some reason those didn’t adequately describe Eschaton. Wild Heaven is only one of several new breweries taking over the Atlanta market. If you find yourself in our fair southern town, make sure you try the local beer.
But not this one...
I’ll admit, I am a gigantic fan of local Red Brick Brewery. Their Brown is one of my go-to beers. So at the bar last night when I saw they had the brand new Vanilla Gorilla Porter, I wanted to give it a try. I didn’t want just a sample, though she would have given me a taste. I wanted to try a whole one, and get the additional points on my beer club card (which is what put me over the edge to getting to the next level). The bartender described it better than I ever could. It tasted like Bacon and Ice Cream. And not in a good way. There is a trend now to brew Smoked beers, and I have to admit that the flavor is not among my favorites. Vanilla Gorilla, as you might imagine, is a Vanilla Smoked Porter. I think it might have been a fantastic vanilla porter. It might have even been a good smoked porter if you’re into that sort of thing. But the combination of the meaty smokiness and the sweet vanilla was not good for me. Thanks, Red Brick, for trying something new. And the next time you try something new I will give it a go as well. But for now, I’ll just be over here with my Red Brick Brown.