Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beer VS Wine Throwdown!!

Support the Southern Great Lakes Symphony Orchestra by attending their "Beer VS Wine" Throwdown fundraiser on Friday June 8. 6 small plates paired with both a beer, and a wine! You vote! And,  be entertained by a jazz quartet at the same time!
Mrs Cicerone is doing the beer pairings!
Tickets available here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Speaking of Rauchbier... An Educational Afternoon

Several weekends ago, our friends Jeff and Susan invited a few of us beer nerds over to their place on a Sunday afternoon. They had recently been on a trip to Bamberg and the surrounding area, and generously decided to share with us the treasures they'd brought home. Also their excellent homebrew and smoked pork loins, and other tasty goodies. After some tasty homemade dunkel and a couple variations on pils, we started with the Dusseldorfer Bonus Round:

Im Fuchschen, Zum Uerige, Hovels altbiers

Three way-fresher-than-you-can-get-here samples of real by golly altbier! The Hovels was the softest, with rich malt, well-integrated bitterness, and a dry finish. Fuchschen was a step up, but still very easy to drink. The Uerige was massively bitter, and then, like the others, vanished cleanly from the palate. The common attributes of all of them were a rich malt aroma and flavor up front, with a strong medium high to very high bitterness, and a disappearing finish. A huge burst of flavor, then little to no aftertaste. It would be very easy to drink these all day, as Jeff reported doing.

Then, the main course: rauchbier. Rauchbier and rauchfleisch. Jeff smoked a pork loin over river birch, and one over orange wood. Both were distinctly different, and both were delicious, particularly with the beers we had with them.

Fresh Schlenkerla Marzen, Spezial Lager, Spezial Marzen
These beers are available here in the states, but 't'would be rare to get any as fresh as these samples. The Spezial Lager came off a bit smokier than the Marzen, likely owing to having a less melanoidin-intense malt profile. The Schlenkerla was uber-smoky as usual, the smokiest by far, but also exhibited a huge, rich malt character. Eventually, we stopped stuffing ourselves on meat and potatoes. (We ate them all.) Just to cap things off, we enjoyed a couple half-pints of Jeff and Susan's Timothy Taylor's Landlord clone and soon to be famous cream ale. Yeah, we were drinking that stuff before it was cool....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Brew Day, Batch 365: Rauchbier

Because Mrs. C. says we'd better not run out, as barbecue season approaches. Can't argue with that. Especially considering how hard we are hitting the last keg of batch 349; it won't hold out much longer. Now that I've made one batch with the current 'crop' of rauchmalt, I can dial in the recipe a bit. 349 turned out pretty much as expected, dark gold to light amber color, malty like a Marzen, and moderately smoky.

We are tweaking it just a bit today, boosting the rauchmalt from 67% to 72%, and shifting the balance of the Munich malt toward the darker Type 2. This should deepen the color only a tad, but give us a little more of the intense caramelly melanoidin flavors. Hops are in a supporting role only, 24 BU from Crystal and Mt. Hood. As is often the case, the esteemed Wyeast 2308 Munich yeast will do the actual work.

The Key Ingredient
Looking forward to enjoying this out back with some smoked cheese, gazpacho, and mebbe some barbecue....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brew Day, Batch 364: Dynamomium

OK, the name of this beer came first. Clearly, it's an Imperial IPA, though. As to the question of what exactly Dynamomium is, well, only my brothers and I know. And even then, it's not all that clear. It's a reference to one of our childhood tropes, anyway, and we are amused. For everyone else, it's a beer of mid-high 70s gravity, well attenuated, with 80 BU from a blend of Cluster, Magnum (20.5% alpha!) Crystal, Mt. Hood, Citra, Willamette, and Nugget, added frequently throughout the boil. Said hop addition amounts and times were arrived at via precise frantic calculations conducted minutes before each dose was tipped into the kettle. Also, Uncle Dave threw a couple of unscripted small handfuls of Nugget in at the end of the boil, for good measure. The specific hop varieties used were selected mostly for their flavor and aroma characteristics, though the Magnum was included also because of its monster alpha content- where else can you use more than a pinch of the stuff? As it happens, the Magnum also has a very bright, citrus-candy aroma when rubbed fresh. Speaking of handling this stuff: another way of stating 20% alpha is that this stuff is over 1/5 lupulin. You can pick this sticky stuff up, but putting it down is something else entirely! Check it out:

 Yeah, buddy!

I don't think there's much point in posting a 'recipe' for this, as it was a pretty seat-of-the-pants type brew day. We basically took the grist from here, added a couple of pounds of Dynamomium (which bears a remarkable similarity of appearance and flavor to dextrose,) and hopped it up as described above. The resulting wort was served up to a bit more than a quart of fresh 1056 slurry, which set upon it like a hungry wolverine on a nice, juicy hamster. Stay tuned for results....