Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Like the Zombies said: It's the brew a Saisson

I wanted to make this because I wanted something light and a little sour. This will be great to drink in late August/ Early September. It is a Farmhouse Ale, so I can ferment it in my hall closet and it will do fine although it is perpetually 82 degrees in my house. I should get the damn air conditioner fixed, then I can make some lagers.

Zombie Saisson (After Dupont Saisson from Clone Beers)

Step mash in Sanke Keg with stainless false bottom.
July 19, 2009 @ 3:00
19 lbs. Pilsner Malt
1 lb. Vienna Malt (GWM)
2 lb. Wheat Malt

Began at 122, stepped up by adding hot water to 150
Sparge on the tall ladder @ 170
Problem: Sweet Wort overflow from 5 gallon bucket
Boil for 90 minutes
Added Belgian Candi Sugar and 2 oz. Super Styrian (90)
Added 1 oz. East Kent Goldings and Bitter Orange Peel (15)
Added 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (5)

5-6 Gallons pitched Wyeast Abbey yeast
3-4 gallons pitched Wyeast Saison Yeast
Both ferment at 70-75
Saison yeast began after 24 hours and only went for 36 hours
Abbey yeast took 48 hours but is still going after 3 day
Both yeasts were old. This was my first experience with Wyeast. One of the blister packs was busted already.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Long Beach Bike Friendly

Jul 3, 2008

The city of Long Beach today announced plans to develop two "bicycle boulevards" using a $330,000 grant from Los Angeles County.

The grant, made through the county Department of Public Health, will be used to hire a mobility coordinator and to plan the new boulevards -- streets that give preference to bicycles through the use of traffic circles, medians, bulb-outs and other elements. One will go east-west, and the other north-south, according to city officials.

"This grant will help us become the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States while promoting a more healthy and active lifestyle throughout Long Beach," City Manager Pat West said.

The new mobility coordinator will be tasked with encouraging physical activity and more healthy modes of transportation, city officials said.

Long Beach already has more than 30 miles of dedicated shoreline and river bicycle paths connecting the city with other portions of Los Angeles County.

A planned update to the city's General Plan, referred to as Long Beach 2030, envisages policies that would encourage biking, walking and public transit.

Los Angeles Fair Officials usurp California Fermentation Society

As an avid home brewer and self-proclaimed beer connoisseur, I jumped at the chance to serve beer at the Los Angeles county fair in ’08 for the California Fermentation Society, an organization of which I am a member. The previous year, one of the employees at the local home brew supply shared with me the finer points of this exciting duty. Obviously, since you are serving beer, you can drink as much as you want. That year Trumer Pils won the competition. This beer, that is now made in the U.S., Berkeley, I believe, is much better than Budweiser as far as pilsners go, but that is not saying much. I enjoyed a beer from Telegraph Brewing (Santa Barbara), Moylan’s (Novato), Marin Brewing Company, Boston Brewing, the Bruery (Placentia), Humboldt Brewing Company, and many others. The other great thing is the tips. I earned about thirty dollars in less than four hours. I didn’t spend my whole time serving because I took breaks, and I didn’t give away free beer, which one other guy did and that allotted him eighty dollars in the same amount of time. At the end of the night, I took home a T-shirt that reads “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” Benjamin Franklin. I was happy to have the shirt because I had given the same shirt to my mother recently. All in all, it was a very enjoyable night. Aside from the money and free beer, it is fun to be a bar tender. You get to assert a sort of power when you are giving people drinks. As a beer lover, I am truly grateful when a tasty beer sits in front of me ready to drink.

This year was different. The California Fermentation Society was dropped from covering the Beer Garden at The LA County Fair. The fair officials figured they could hire someone to run it and they could keep the left over profits. I wouldn’t blame them if the whole Beer Garden wasn’t the idea of the society to begin with. The society approached the fair almost ten years ago and proposed that they do this beer tasting. I am not sure if the competition itself was the idea of the CFS, but the tasting certainly was. The wine tasting garden is the result of the same phenomenon. Someone else set it up, and then the fair came in and scooped up the profits. The problem with this is that the customer suffers. The people serving will no longer be knowledgeable about beer the same way that the home brewers were. The prices are all guaranteed to go up. The worst part is that this was the only fundraising event that the CFS runs all year long.

I doubt they will go back to the way it used to be. Nothing does. Don’t skip the beer tasting if you go to the fair. I am sure it is worth the few extra dollars to taste some good beer amongst the money pit that is any fair. Last year there was great beers to be drunk. My advice: skip the fair. Take the kid’s to Beach Wood BBQ (Seal Beach) or Father’s Office, then go to Disneyland.

Sour Beer Article Dec. 07 ?

Pucker Up, Buttercup
by Lew Bryson |
Sour beer is difficult to make and difficult to like—but it just might be America’s next hot brew.

Twenty years ago I was a home brewer—mainly because I was living in places where Genesee Cream Ale was considered exotic. I made my own beer, and I drank a lot of other guys’ home brews. Sometimes they were pretty good, sometimes only okay, and sometimes they were flat-out eye-popping, pucker-till-your-cheeks-meet sour. If I brought this up, I’d usually be told, quickly and defensively, “Oh, it’s actually a Belgian-style.” I’d nod, try to look knowing...and then “misplace” that glass as quickly as possible.

What used to be considered a mistake is now a small but fast-growing niche in American craft brewing. This year, the Great American Beer Festival, for 25 years the preeminent American beer competition, added two new categories for sour beers to the judging (the first was created in 2002). Now, in addition to all the breweries that have added a sour beer to their lineup, there is at least one craft brewery, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, Michigan, which makes only sour beers.

“Good” sour beer is largely differentiated from “bad” sour beer by virtue of intent and intensity. When you plan for sour, you formulate a beer with enough body to balance the tart heart.

The Belgian sour beers, which have been around for centuries, and of which Rodenbach is probably the best-known example, are interesting and balanced, with wood and fruit notes that make them refreshing and rewarding. The brewers age their beers in unlined wooden vessels instead of modern stainless-steel ones, and the wild yeasts and microflora that live in the crevices of the wood work on a different schedule and agenda than plain, standard beer yeasts: The results are more complex and much more tart.

American craft brewers started experimenting with sour back in the mid-’90s, usually attempting to copy Belgian lambics, beers that can exhibit combinations of sharp acidity and barnyard funk. New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado, has been using some of the profits from burgeoning sales of its smooth and popular Fat Tire Amber Ale to build up a large wood-aged sour beer program during the past seven years, starting with the beautifully multilayered and aptly named La Folie. “Follow your Folly,” the brewery encourages customers.

Brewers have taken direct inspiration from the phrase and the landmark beer. You’ll find a rapid ferment of ideas about sour beers in many corners of the country, like at Russian River Brewing, in Santa Rosa, California, where brewer Vinnie Cilurzo has been on the front edge of American brewing for years and is generally acknowledged as the first brewer of the massively hopped double-imperial I.P.A. style. About a month ago, I was lucky enough to get a sample of a sour ale he brewed for the 20th anniversary of the landmark Toronado beer bar in San Francisco: a balance of sweet malt and dry cherry, with a smooth veneer of oaky tannin to pull it all together—a masterpiece. As most brewers do with these beers, Cilurzo charges a premium price to reflect the costs of the longer aging and the difficulty of the brewing process

The question is whether sour beers have a wide enough appeal to make them a viable new market segment, even at niche levels. “Sour” seems crazy as a descriptor to attract people to a beer, but so is “bitter,” and that’s one that has made a lot of friends for beer. I.P.A.’s, the bitterest of beers, make up the fifth-largest category for craft brewers, and the competition among brewers is to see who can stuff the most bitterness into a beer and have it still be enjoyable. That bodes well for sour, which has a parallel dryness on the palate. (Sour is like biting the fruit of a lemon; bitter’s more like biting the peel.)

“I may be optimistic, but I think sour beers are the next I.P.A.,” says Ron Jeffries, owner of Jolly Pumpkin. Jeffries’ beers are all oak-aged, soured by contact with the wood. The beers, sold in large, beautifully labeled bottles bearing names like La Roja, Bam Bière, and Oro de Calabaza, are not paragons of consistency, but that’s part of their appeal, and they are generating serious buzz among beer geeks.

I recently blogged about a delicious sour ale called Moxie from New Holland Brewing in Holland, Michigan, and got a rapturous response from veteran Oregon beer writer Jeff Alworth. “Sour is the new hoppy! Okay, maybe not, but sour is my fave note, even before bitter.”

Still, sour mania has its drawbacks, chief among them being cost. Jeffries’ beers are widely considered to be underpriced at $8 for a 750-milliliter bottle; others are in the area of $20 a bottle, and the rarer Belgian imports go up from there. These sourific wild yeasts and bacteria aren’t just sour, they’re slow, and some of these beers take 18 months or more to come to proper fruition. They’re also tenacious; brewers have to take extra care to isolate them from the rest of their brews or risk cross-contamination and an all-out funkification of their entire brewery.

There’s also the substantial risk that no one will want to buy them. Make no mistake, these beers are challenging. There’s a pretty steep acceptance curve, although once you develop a taste for them, there’s nothing else that can substitute.

There’s a bright side for brewers though. Given the skyrocketing cost of hops, sour beers offer a way to keep both geeks and brewers happy and interested. It’s cutting-edge stuff without the constant worry over supply issues: There’s always more yeast and bugs. Maybe sour will become the new hoppy by necessity.