Tag Archives: Albany

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.

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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.

Patience

19 Nov

It seems that instances of automotive crisis in my life are often paired with great beer moments (see September’s post Near Disaster Turned Milestone.)  The other night my car was towed (If I was blocking your driveway  I am truly sorry and I was unaware that I was doing so) and hence the following morning I had an ordeal when trying to get to work.  Those of you fortunate enough to have never had this happen should know that it is a pretty costly offense and certainly put a damper on my day.

On my way home that evening I stopped to buy some porter to cook dinner with at Oliver’s on Colvin and ran into a day-changer:

Estate Ale hits Albany, NY, and more importantly: my refrigerator.

Finally, Sierra Nevada’s Estate Ale has made it’s way to Upstate NY.  If you are unfamiliar with the premise of this brew, let me fill you in: it is probably the most environmentally friendly beer on the market.  Every ingredient in this beer is grown at Sierra Nevada’s brewery, they have also invested in solar power, fuel cells, recycling of materials and spent grains, etc.  For more info check out their website: Sierra Nevada’s Environmental Stewardship.

The beer is a little more cash than your average larger bottle of beer, but well worth it.  It is a wet-hopped ale: hops are added before they have been dried, resulting in hop flavor without as much bitterness.  This beer was a must-have for me and it certainly turned my day around, I recommend it to anyone curious to find a very ‘green,’ tasty beverage.

It Snowed, now for Beer.

9 Nov

Today the capital region of New York got a taste of the season to come: snow, sleet, no sunlight after 4:30 pm and no one knowing how to drive.  To officially welcome Winter each week-day this week the beer of the day will be from the Samuel Adams Winter variety pack which I saw graced the shelves of my local grocery store as of late.  Today’s beer of the day (Sam Adams Winter Lager) was a coincidence, but look forward to each beer in the variety pack up through Friday.

The pack this year includes:  Boston Lager, Chocolate Bock, Holiday Porter, Winter Lager, White Ale and Old Fezziwig Ale. (In case the math didn’t work out for you: I will not be featuring Boston Lager because it has already been the Beer of the Day.)

The best way to experience this would be to purchase a variety pack of your own to enjoy and drink along throughout the week (just a thought.)

 

My Overdue Oktoberfest Post

24 Oct

We are pushing three weeks since I volunteered my Saturday to work at Wolff’s Biergaarten for their 2nd annual Oktoberfest celebration.  My bad on not posting sooner, [insert lame excuse here.]

I volunteered to help out at this event and I recommend anyone who likes: beer, sausage, German folk music, cool free stuff, or any combination of these things to strongly consider it next year.  I went in for 5 hours of working security.  However, it wouldn’t be fair for them to put me in a situation where I would be responsible for checking IDs because they would seriously loose their liquor license if I were an idiot (which, let’s face it: I am.)  So, I really didn’t do anything all day.  For a while I stood behind the food tent watching to make sure people didn’t try to sneak in through a parking lot (no one did.)  BONUS: I got some free eats from the chefs working because I helped them break down boxes and carry a cooking range.  Later on in the day I was just walking around the bar area.  Literally, they told me that it makes the bartenders feel better if there is someone walking around amongst the crowd (surely a false sense of security because if you have seen me I am not intimidating and my first thought in a violent situation is to run.)

What was my reward for all of this ‘work?’  A $50 dollar gift certificate for the Biergaarten, two Wolff’s T-shirts, a meal voucher for Oktoberfest, 2 beer tokens for the event, and a glass Spaten stein.  Talk about a bargain.

My only complaint about the event was that a lot of people were there.  It took a while to get a beer, and people were kind of douche-y about waiting in lines.  A few righteous bros thought that they were entitled to not having to wait for their beers so they barged through the patient, relaxed, fun-having crowd.  Number one: are those aviator sunglasses really necessary indoors, and number two: I hope you choke on your beer.

For the most part everyone was relaxed and quite pleasant.  The employees I worked with at Wolff’s were fun and I am happy to give Wolff’s my business.  If you haven’t checked the Biergaarten out yet, then you may be wasting time in the capital region.

wasting precious "beer-getting" time by posing for photos, also: sweet gloves.

Ommegang Tasting

29 Sep

While many a foolish soul was at Larkfest in Albany, NY my friends and I were at a different, much smaller venue enjoying an overlooked event: an Ommegang tasting at Oliver’s on Colvin Ave.

Wes Nick laying down beer law

I was secretly hoping that not a lot of people would be at this tasting when I got there.  I am unsure as to how many in total turned out for it, as it was not widely advertised.  Ommegang has become one of my favorite brewery’s because of, well it’s beer and it’s proximity to the capital region.

One of their evening brewer’s, Wes Nick, was on hand and happily pouring samples of Rare Vos, Three Philosophers, Hennepin, Bier de Mars and their newest creation: Cup ‘o Kyndness.  Wes was proud to announce and boast of their bronze medal taken home from the Great American Beer Festival the week before for Three Philosophers, as well as thrilled when we were delighted by the floral qualities of Bier de Mars.

Oliver’s (Brew Crew) is a beverage center located in Albany that needs to be checked out by anyone in the area who is serious about craft beer.  They have a surprisingly good selection of American microbrews as well as European imports.  Additionally, they also have 5-6 beers on tap for you to top off your growler for a pretty reasonable price.  They are a good stop for someone wanting to try a selection of beers: they offer a make-your-own 6 pack and knock three dollars of the total price just for making your own.

Solutions from the Technological Age

24 Sep

Arguably the largest problem facing microbrewers is large corporate giants like Anheuser Busch InBev.  This problem shows itself not only in terms of marketing but also at a level at which the consumer has no input.  Laws vary from state to state, some states do not allow brewers to sell directly to consumers at any level, while other States allow to a certain point. In New York if you are a registered Microbrewer then you are elgible to apply for a distributor’s license.  This licesnse will allow you to self distribute 60,000 bbl per year.  To put that into perspective: a small brewery as recognized by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau sells a minimum of 2,000,000 bbl annually, a feat the Boston Beer company (Samuel Adams) just surpassed.  In other words, to really get your beer out to the world you rely on a distributor.

Again, a problem: monster-sized breweries like Anheuser Busch have had dealings with large distributors for decades and are not afraid to show some muscle to keep microbreweries out of the distribution game.  So many people don’t want consumers to have good beer, haha.  This is a poor, uphill battle for the little guy that does not get easier at any point.  For the consumer it is frustrating to know that the beers you want won’t be coming to stores near you because large, corporate breweries don’t want you to have the option of drinking those good beers.

Several summers ago I took a trip to Alaska to visit family.  I tried out the Alaskan Brewing Company’s Amber and Summer Ales.  At the time I had little appreciation for craft beer, but it was growing on me.  Now that I have a more vested interest in beer and homebrewing I wanted to go back and try some other beers that the Alaskan Brewing Company puts out (particularly their award winning Smoked Porter) but I cannot get their beer.  My best bet would be to have my relatives in Fairbanks mail me a package and hope for the best in shipping.  On the breweries website, however, I found a link to a delightful solution that I wish to encourage others to use so that it may grow.

Brewforia (notice the new link on the right side of the site) is an online distributor dealing only with microbreweries and craft beer.  They do not have a lot as of yet, which is why I want to try and help get the word out there that they exist.  So, now I can order a bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter from NY and have it shipped to my house in Albany, NY.  So, check out the site and use it in hopes that word will spread and we can help level the playing field for the craft beer brewers.  Help the little guy and help good beer.