Know Your Enemy

30 Dec

In an effort to appeal to more markets Anheuser-Busch has always adapted what they are selling to fit current trends.  This idea did not falter when American Craft Brewing took off, and as a result there are many beers out there that one would not think to be owned by this corporate giant.  This idea was pointed out in the documentary, Beer Wars, and the information is widely available on the internet.  The problem is that many people to not consider this to be a possibility.  Anheuser-Busch does not want most of their consumers to know all of the beers that they distribute: it makes them more money.

Below is a list of some of the beers that Anheuser-Busch makes that is not common knowledge: (I already consider it common knowledge that they own Michelob, so none of those beers will be listed.)

Bare Knuckle Stout

Beach Bum Blonde Ale

Demon’s Hopyard IPA

Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale

Mule Kick Oatmeal Stout

Any beer made by O’douls

Organic Wild Hop Lager

Pacific Ridge Pale Ale

Red Fox Amber Ale

Shocktop Belgian White

Winter’s Bourbon Caske Ale

Leffe Blonde Abbey Ale

Hoegaarden White Ale

Widmer Brothers

Tomahawk Amber Ale

Wilde Blue Blueberry Lager

Stella Artois

Rolling Rock

Red Hook

Boddington’s

This is not intended to be a complete list of the beers which Anheuser-Busch produces, it only meant to increase awareness for the consumer.  Do not be fooled into thinking that you are supporting a local or craft brewery when purchasing these beers, for you are in actuality supporting a corporate giant who would love nothing more than to snuff out the competition.


Porter vs Stout (what’s the difference?)

16 Dec

I am asked semi-frequently to give the difference between these two beer styles.  I believe that as people get more open to venturing into craft beer that they first stumble upon ales and then gradually work their way into darker brews.  Before this point when someone is just curious about darker beers they seem to have trouble distinguishing the different styles.

The large problem that leads to this confusion in style is that the style of both porters and stout are evolving and changing.

Porter originated from the mixture of a dark beer with a medium bodied one that was typically enjoyed by Englishmen with the professions of being Porters.  Mixing beers to get a desired taste was common practice around British pubs at the time and one combination grew in popularity.  This popularity grew at an alarming rate and at the right time in history.  England was just experiencing it’s Industrial Revolution and the world was quickly introduced the first mass-market beer: the porter.

The malts used in both porter and stout overlap considerably.  Each brewer, however, making porter has their own malt-bill that was different from other brewer’s.  Pale malt was typically used as the base, and from there only a few options remained: crystal malt, black-patent malt, chocolate malt.  Each brewer had a unique combination as well as a unique amount of each malt to be used.  This led to many different recipes that all made porter.  What made the distinction between porter and stout was the use of roasted barley.

Stout used the same malts as porter, for the most part.  The use of roasted barley, however, was generally restricted for stouts.  This was all well and fine until around the end of the 20th century.

A craft beer revolution began in the United States, as we all know.  Homebrewer’s were being inspired from European exports and started going “big-time” with their brews.  At this time recipes were being played with and new beers were coming to be: beers that didn’t fit traditional European style-guides.  This is part of what is beautiful about American craft brewing: it is an ever-changing and evolving world creating new and creative beers.  With this came a new change to the porter: the introduction of roasted barley.

End products of porter and stout created using roasted barley are still two very different things, however.  A new distinction was put in place, so that any porter made using roasted barley was to be called a “robust porter.”

Since the malt-bills are so similar in these two styles, their flavors often are similar.  I think that the only real distinction we are left with is that porters tend to be a little hoppier than stouts, and that is all I can really say as far as the difference.  The flavors will mostly be the same, porters will still tend to be a little lighter, more brown in color, and with hoppier profiles.

I don’t know if this really helps anyone out at all, just drink some porters and stouts and let me know the difference, you will be able to tell.

Merry Christmas to ME

15 Dec

YEAH!

A quick stroll into Oliver’s Brew Crew here in Albany led to my jaw dropping to the floor, followed by wide eyes and most likely a skip or two.  There in front of me was the holiday beer display.  What my eyes focused on amongst the plethora of red, green, malt and hops was Anchor’s Christmas Ale” Magnum.

$17 for a bottle of beer that has few rivals in size.  This guy could be the mutant cousin of a normal-sized wine bottle.  I’m serious, a person could rob a bank with a bottle like this.

I haven’t opened it yet as I am waiting for a time that I am doing something festive for the holidays.  As soon as I try it I will make it the beer of the day and let you know what I thought.

Pale Ale Brewing Adventure Part 3: The Finale

14 Dec

Forgive my use of flash but my apartment has some of the worst lighting for photographs at night.

Well, just as hoped:  I successfully created beer.

I was surprised with my results:

I predicted that the beers that would go wrong would be the pumpkin ale and the IPA.  The grapefruit beer I had no way of really knowing what to expect with and the pale ale I thought would be pretty solid.

The pumpkin ale is delicious.  The 1 gallon batch only yielded a small amount of beer do the large amount lost from sediment.  The final product still has a lot of sediment in it even after pouring from the bottle straight through a wire mesh into my pint glass.  The taste is full of strong pumpkin flavors with light spices.  I am fairly satisfied with this brew, though I would definitely do some tweaking before attempting it again.

The IPA did not turn out very strong.  It tastes different from the pale ale, but not in a good way.  I am pretty sure that adding the additional cascade hops during the secondary introduced some new yeast/microbes.  I feared this, but at the same time not enough to prevent it.  The beer is drinkable and fortunately I do not have a lot of it to get through.

The grapefruit beer is very interesting.  It is alarmingly bitter but the malt provide a subtle balance of sweetness.  I don’t want to give the impression that this is a complex beer: it is straight grapefruit flavor punching you in the tongue.  It’s weird, and could use some tweaking in future batches but it is interesting enough to try and doesn’t make for a bad beer at all.

The pale ale was surprisingly nice.  Nothing spectacular, it is very typical and doesn’t overpower or shock in any way.

Overall, this experiment should be labeled a success.  I got to try out breaking a recipe up and altering secondary fermentations to make some unique beers.  This was a good first batch that could lead to some nice beers with changes made in the future.

Beer Pancake Bonanza

13 Dec

4 beers, one recipe and 5 satisfied, formerly-hungry friends.

So, the recipe was the constant in our experiment.  The beers varied in styles and hence, in tastes.

The recipe comes from CraftBeer.com, and was posted by Mike Burns of Twisted Pines Brewery.  His recipe used a Raspberry Wheat Ale, we simply substituted our four beers.  Take a look:

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ cup white sugar
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Beer
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Combine your dry ingredients and then add in your wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Then you have pancake batter and should know what to do with it from there (put it on a griddle or pan, wait for bubbles, flip, remove and enjoy.)

The Beers:

 

Left to Right: Ommegang's Three Philosophers, Troeg's Dreamweaver, Well's Banana Bread Beer, Lost Coast's Tangerine Wheat Beer.

The two best pancakes came from the batters that included Well’s Banana Bread Beer and Ommegang’s Three Philosopher’s.  My personal favorite was Three Philosopher’s: the dark fruit flavors came through and made for a nicely textured, thick pancake.  The Pancakes that used the Banana Bread beer tasted like delicious banana bread pancakes, no shock there.  I didn’t really notice any tangerine flavors coming through from Lost Coast’s wheat beer, and the Troeg’s Dream Weaver Wheat just couldn’t compare to the culinary orgy created by pancake melding with Three Philosophers or Well’s Banana Bread Beer.

For more information on the pancake extravaganza check out my friend (and fellow participant’s) blog, Foodonia.

Crazy Cool Coasters

6 Dec

[BONUS POINTS FOR ALLITERATION]

As mentioned in my previous post on recycling bottles for homebrew some labels were left in tact from the soaking process.  These labels provided the grounds for a very simple and easy craft project that yielded some decent beer coasters (I suppose that the coasters would work for any beverage but I am not going to pretend that mine will get the chance.)

Home-made Beer Coasters

The project was too simple to even list directions.  Basically, once you have the labels go buy yourself some thin particle board and some wood glue and get measuring and cutting.  Coat the surface of the particle board with glue, lay the label on top of it (if you don’t know how to glue things onto flat surfaces perhaps you should rethink the project entirely) then do a thin layer of glue over top of the adhered label.  Make sure that you buy water resistant glue so that it will hold up during use.

The Pangaea and Brown’s cherry-raspberry labels were fairly larger than your average coaster size.  I am just telling people that they are meant to hold multiple drinks in order to discourage drinking alone.

Thanksgiving Traditions

26 Nov

Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays I greatly enjoy.  I personally don’t get too wrapped up in religion so many holidays hold little spiritual meaning for me.  The holidays that make sense to me are the ones I enjoy the most: Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.  Perhaps these are stupid reasons but I like Thanksgiving because I believe it is important to be grateful for how much we have and I enjoy eating the traditional foods and eating a lot of it.  (I like the other listed holidays for very similar, simple reasons, but that is another story and potentially a future post.)

I find myself getting into traditions (something semi-new for me) and this year I really started settling myself in.  My number one Thanksgiving tradition is listening to Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Thankfully, no planning is necessary for this tradition to happen.  I always have to travel for my meal on Thanksgiving and every radio station is playing this song at least once a day.  I just kept hitting my search button until I found it (about a 2 minute operation.)

My second tradition is pumpkin pie.  I have to have it on this day, no other pie is an adequate substitution.  This year I brought the pumpkin pie and I think I did an okay job baking it.  My recipe originated in the November issue of Bon Appetit.  I changed one part of it: it calls for a 1/4 cup of scotch which I did not have.  I did have, however, a bottle of Saranac’s Pale ale, and well you see where this is going.  It came out great and you’ll notice I have no photos: the pie was consumed before a chance arose to document it.  Here is the recipe:

I used a frozen crust, make one if you want but I didn’t have the time.

For the filling:

3/4  cup [packed] golden brown sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup of Pale Ale

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

 

Melt butter in medium sized saucepan and add salt and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Stir frequently until sugar dissolves into the butter.  Continue stirring until mixture turns dark brown.  Remove from heat, stir in pale ale and whipping cream.  Mixture will bunch up, add back to heat and continue to stir until every harder piece dissolves into the mixture.  Remove from heat and chill to room temperature.

Stir in remaining brown sugar with pumpkin puree in large bowl.  Add eggs and then spices.  When properly mixed add in caramel mixture and stir in completely.

Fill pie crust with filling and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.  Cool to room temperature and serve.

 

Lastly, my newest Thanksgiving tradition (I’m starting it now) is to have a Biere de Garde with my meal.  This year’s beer was a success: see Thanksgiving’s Beer of the Day.  Light, fluffy and very cleansing.  This beer worked well with every dish and I have to make it part of my holiday.

Pale Ale Brewing Adventure [part 2]

24 Nov

My pale ales have completed their primary fermentation stages and are ready to be re-racked for their secondary.

The pumpkin ale has maintained it’s pumpkin aroma and a beautiful orange hue, however, we added a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice for some added flavors.  A lot of this beer has been sacrificed to sediment, and after re-racking to a new fermentor we had what seemed like a half gallon left.

The 4 gallon batch of pale ale has gone it’s separate ways for the secondary: 1 gallon to become grapefruit ale, 1 gallon to be an IPA, and 2 gallons to remain pale ale.  The grapefruit flavor was added by means of a fruit extract.  We only added half of the container we purchased for fear of making our beer too bitter or overpowering.  The IPA got some wet cascade hops thrown in to impart some citrusy-hop flavors.  Lastly, the 2 gallons of pale ale was simply re-racked and left unaltered.  The secondary for this batch will add clarity to the beer, but probably not much of anything new as far as flavor.

After another week of fermenting these beers were ready to be bottled.  At this point sugar is added to the beer then it is capped and allotted time to carbonate.  The final result was 3 large bottles of our pumpkin ale, about ten beers each of the grapefruit and IPA variations and around 20 bottles of straight-up pale ale.

On the 30th our beer will be ready to drink.  At the time of bottling we tasted the IPA and the grapefruit ale.  The grapefruit ale was very interesting: the first sip tasted peppery and buttery, as you continued to sip, however, the citrus taste began to come through.  Over all this one was quite bitter and will hopefully take on enough sweetness during bottle conditioning.  The IPA was nice, the added hop flavors were subtle and the beer tasted balanced and not too overpowering.  I look forward to trying them all at the end of the month, look for a post on the results!

Recycle your Bottles at Home

22 Nov

Every Homebrewer is faced with a slight dilemma: after brewing 5 gallons of beer you have to put it somewhere.  If you’re small-time like me then you are probably not set up with a kegging system and have to rely on bottling.

There are several options on how to go about this: you can buy bottles from homebrew stores that come without labels, or you can reuse empty bottles that you have drained yourself.  I do the latter because, number one it is cheaper and, number two it becomes a game to find cool bottles that I can reuse for my own beer.

Coolest shaped bottles I have found: Samuel Smith bottles are larger and darker; Sierra Nevada bottles are more stout shaped, same as Anchor Brewing Co,; Schneider weisse bottles are taller but pretty narrow and elegant looking; larger, almost wine-sized bottles can be found but you have to make sure that a regular sized bottle cap will fit, wine bottles won’t work but a nice fit is any larger bottle put out by Dogfish head; I have a lot of really old Genesee pint bottles that are tough to come by nowadays; I also have a really nice, older Sapporo bottle that is pretty large and most definitely in charge.

Don’t bother with twist-offs, there are of no use and should be returned for deposit money.

I have tried various ways of getting labels off and I haven’t noticed much difference in effectiveness.  I have tried baking soda and soap mixtures which seem to work fine and I hear the Oxyclean really does the trick, but that isn’t a product that I own so soap, hot water and maybe some baking soda is my solution.  What I can tell you is what brand’s labels come off the easiest and the toughest.

Tough Ones: Brooklyn labels are, in my opinion, the worst.  You can let them soak in your solution overnight and they are still incredibly resistant to leaving the bottle.  I don’t bother with them anymore, I would rather have the deposit than deal with that headache.  In general, American craft beers are tougher.  I am not sure if we use more adhesive, or just superior adhesive but the labels are stubborn.  Samuel Adams is not the best, but can be done.  If you don’t mind scraping some paper and scrubbing off some glue residue then grab some Sam.  Any beer bottle with foil on it presents some scraping, but is very doable.  Bottles in which the label has been etched or adhered in some other way present problems as well.  Stone Brewing Company’s bottles must remain with their demonic icons in place, I don’t bother trying to make those bottles naked.

Easy Ones: For the most part, when German brand beer bottles are soaked the labels just slide off.  Leave the bottles in the solution for about an hour and when you return the labels will be floating on the surface waiting for you.  Brand’s I have tried: Paulaner, Spaten, Ayinger.  Goose Island is the same way, again I don’t know if it is less adhesive or inferior adhesive but the labels just jump right off of the bottles.

Something I am trying right now is retrieving the labels that come off in one piece, drying them out and adhering them to a piece of hard board to make coasters.  Look for a post on that in the future and I hope that this was helpful in some way.

Beer Bread Showdown

22 Nov

In a joint effort with Foodonia we have put together a beer bread test group, if you will.  We baked four loaves of bread all using the same recipe just adding a different beer to see how the results varied.

Beers Used:

the lineup

Budweiser was used because most recipes online call for Coors, or Bud light and a close friend requesting using straight-up Bud.  I chose #9 for it’s bit of Belgian yeast funk and spices.  The porter was used because I wanted to use a  beer with good, pronounced darker malts.  Lastly, Ommegang’s Hennepin was chosen for it’s white pepper notes and farmhouse qualities.

For a review of the bread baking process and recipe used make sure to check out Foodonia’s post.

The results were not exactly how I guessed things would have turned out.  The porter I had predicted to have tasted the best, however, almost none of the flavors stuck to the bread.  For the most part, it only imparted it’s color to the bread.  The Budweiser was deemed the worst of the breads.  The #9 and the Hennepin both came out giving off good flavors.  I preferred the Hennepin, though others backed the #9, and for good reason.

They boast a remarkably clean oven

The breads came out looking stupid.  I don’t really know how else to say it but they didn’t really get too much of a crust.  This is purely an aesthetic problem because the breads all tasted fine.  They were best after sitting for some time and for whatever reason when the bread is toasted the beer flavors become more pronounced. *shrugs*

If we were to do this again (and we may very well refine the recipe and the beers and give it another go) then I would consider using the following beers:

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Samuel Adam’s Winter Lager, Southern Tier’s Pumking, and Brown’s Harvest IPA.