Know Your Haze

IMG_2850Having recently kicked a gallon and a half mini-keg of a deliciously unfiltered NE type IPA (kegged with an ounce of whole cone Simcoe because I’m not a monster) with the visual clarity of a pureed peach, I got to thinking. What is it about beer haze, specifically in IPAs, that has turned it from the sign of a beer gone wrong to the look of some of the most desired IPAs the world over (or at least in these occasionally unified states and as long as your last name isn’t Alstrom)? To best answer this, we need to look at the good, the bad, and the why of hazy beer.

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A Homebrew Ménage à Trois

Of course, as soon as I post about getting back to beer blogging, I get a ton of work dumped on me. Ugh…an article on various forms of beer haze will have to wait, but homebrewing can’t. No fermentation makes me a sad panda, so I knocked out a ménage à trois of Saisons this weekend.

The first fermenter is a yeast/brett blend that’s getting kegged on copious amounts of dry hops for what should be a funky/hop fruity kick when it’s done.

img_2740The small one in the middle is a half gallon of an experimental beta White Labs saison/brett blend, which only doles out 15 billion cells (i.e. barely enough for a half gallon of low gravity wort). It’s not a good idea to yeast start brett blends, so I’ll have to live with the 5-6 bottles I get. The aroma out of the bubbler is already tantalizing.

The last is also yeast/brett fermented, but going to get a cheaty sour treatment. It’s cheaty due to the half ounce of 88% lactic acid I’m going to add during the back end of fermentation. The base beer is 80 IBU, far higher than a souring bacteria can handle, so traditional methods are out. This will at least give me an idea if I can adapt this recipe or blend in a separate soured wort with any kind of positive results.

These should be ready to taste test in a couple months along with some bottles of brett saison I did a year ago, one of which was on apricots. If you’re interested in trying these, I’ll let you know when and where in the near future.

Heady Topper, Second Fiddle, and Lost Galaxy Walk into a Bar…

IMG_1761My how time flies. A fluff piece I started back in sunnier times as a way to have a little fun with some two-week-old, hopped-up beers finally comes to roost in the dreary, wet weeks of fall.  The dust’s been blow off, the final keyboard keys have been pecked, and this experiment in blind public opinion is done.

So, just what will the general public think of some of Vermont’s finest when they don’t know they’re drinking it? Read on to find out.

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Drinking an 18-Year-Old Barleywine, or (The Effects of Aging Beer)

Anyone that is into properly aged beer, whether they dabbled with a 6-month-old stout or curate a beer cellar going back decades, can tell you the exact beer that started it all for them. For me, it was a 2009 Avery Mephistopheles I drank in 2012. The velvety mouth feel, mellowed booze, smoothed out bitterness, and heightened caramel made it a near perfect experience.

Since then, I’ve cultivated a small, but hand-picked, group of beers that I look forward to diving into soon, because really what’s the point of aging beer if they’re just going to be unearthed in the year 2145 by the roving hordes of Lord Humongous and converted to fuel. I intend to enjoy them while civilization and I still stand.

With that in mind, I delve deeper into my hobby of not drinking beer and secluding it in the dark like Paul Dano in Prisoners, and turn to the studies of smarter men than me to determine just what is going on inside that bottle. To apply this knowledge, I also drink an 18-year-old Barleywine to taste nearly two decades worth of science. Here’s what I found.

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Nugget Nectar vs Hopslam: Epic Royale Showdown Extreme

Nugget Slam VSLet’s clear the air upfront and ask the only question that needs asking. Why pit these popular, near mainstream craft beers against each other, especially when one is an imperial IPA and the other an imperial amber? Fair enough question, and one I ask myself every January when the pissing match among PA beer nerds over which is superior gets heated (Pro Tip: If you’re uber elite, you’ll dislike both!) I suppose it’s for that reason, and the fact that I had one of each in the fridge and already did up the graphic, that I went through the arduous task of drinking not one, but TWO beers to settle the score. My dad was also on hand to help me with this Herculean task and offer his opinion of which sweet IPA reigns supreme.

(Note: I know this whole endeavor is a subjective exercise. What follows are preference and palate based conclusions and not hard science. Let’s begin!)

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