Let’s Talk Homebrewing

One year ago Kat and I started homebrewing for the first time the day after Christmas. For a long time we have both been passionate about craft brewing and the interest in trying it ourselves culminated in Kat getting me a good basic/intermediate extract homebrewing kit from a local homebrew shop. Since that time has passed we brewed up 7 beers and one cider each in a 5 gallon size. Yes, it is quite a bit of beer and we have been gladly sharing and giving away quite a bit to friends and family. I have been trying to recruit locally some more folks to the world of homebrewing, and even hosted a session where we brewed up a Pumpkin-Spiced porter. Admittedly that was a really good beer, and I hope that it inspires some of our friends to start playing around with the idea of trying it on their own. I always have told folks that for around 150 bucks I could get them started, much less than most people think.

This year for Christmas we have stepped up our brewing game. We are now the proud owners of a full grain, 15 gallon system. Now this does not mean that every batch is going to be that large, in fact we probably will limit ourselves to 10 gallons just for space and time considerations. We also now have a 5 gallon keg, so that means half of the batches will get kegged, and the other half bottled. It also means now I have to figure out a way to get a draft system going in the house, what a pity and I have already started the research. I am looking forwarding to giving it a shot, and Kat has picked out our next brew, a Chocolate Milk Stout. I know that the both of us are looking forward to the end product.

Anyone who has spent some time with us talking about beer and homebrewing can see the passion that Kat and I share. We have made a pact to try and visit a brewery, either large or small in every state. So far we have knocked off Arizona, Georgia (just a few days ago going to Sweetwater), Boston, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, and New Mexico. Still a bunch out there to get too, but a really fun life goal. You may see me posting more information about homebrewing in the future, it has really become a passion for me and I do lots of reading and researching on the topic and I will do my best to put it into posts here.

Cheers!

Sean

a year in brews

New Year’s Eve 2010 found Sean and myself with one of our great friends, Geof, at a bar in Huntsville called The Nook. This bar prides itself on serving only craft brews and I must admit they do a fine job of it. As we sat there enjoying some tasty libations we pondered some of our favorite beers that we’ve had the chance to sample over the past year. Here’s a run down of our top five.

World Wide Stout
Brewery: Dogfish Head
I don’t even know where to start with this beer other than, Wow! The World Wide Stout is one of those beers that long after you’ve tasted it, the flavors still stick around for you to fondly remember. The nose makes me think of raisins and ports. The taste has roasty chocolate notes with lots of flavors of dried fruit. It’s a complex beer that’s great to share with other friends (at 18% it’s not one that’s easy to get through on your own) and sip as an after dinner drink (or really any time you want to enjoy a great beer).
ABV: 18.0

Older Viscousity
Brewery: Port Brewing Company
The nose on this reminded us of a blend between a whiskey and a port. Once you taste it, though, that’s all forgotten. There are strong coffee and dried cherry notes. The bitter and fruity notes balanced each other out well. The finish is smooth and lingering going back to the way that a good whiskey sits on the tongue. This is a good one to curl up on a cold winter’s night and sip away with.
ABV: 12.5

Cuvee of the Emperor Blue
Brewery: Brouwerij Het Anker
We had the pleasure of trying this one as part of our New Year’s Eve festivities this year. The beer has the wonderful sweet nose of a Belgian strong ale. The taste, though, we felt was lighter than the typical strong ale. There were wonderful spicy brown sugar notes that lingered on the tongue. It was a very easy beer to drink and enjoy. Sadly, this one is a hard one to get hold of, so if you find it, definitely give it a shot.
ABV: 11.0

Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Company
How can anything that combines coffee and beer not be fantastic?! At least that’s how we feel. The Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (yes, it really is a bit of a mouthful) immediately hits the drinker with coffee and oak notes on the nose. As it’s consumed we got the expected imperial stout notes along with nice chocolate notes. The finish is almost like you just finished drinking a cup of coffee. It’s a pretty powerful combination, but amazingly easy to drink. Best part is a recommended food pairing for the beer is a breakfast burrito. Can’t argue with that.
ABV: 9.5

Theobroma
Brewery: Dogfish Head
This one comes with a disclaimer. We had a taste of Theobroma in previous years, but this review is for the draft version. Yes, that’s right. If you’re super lucky, you can find this one on tap. We lucked out at our local Whole Foods Market where there’s a wine and beer tasting bar. The beer has a very clear appearance with a light floral and honey nose. The taste was lighter than the bottled version but still had the wonderful honey and cocoa notes that we love about this beer. The finish isn’t long, but is definitely very refreshing and pleasant. We’re looking forward to hopefully seeing this one on tap again in the future.
ABV: 9.0