August 24, 2012

...and other less exciting updates

Just a few updates about my beer life beyond Colorado...

So I just wrapped up my reviews of my week in Denver but I already have some exciting beer action coming up. With the semester starting up this past week, time is short before I become swamped with work and after finals I go immediately into nine terrible weeks of bar prep and taking the bar. So I have to get it in while I can! Not this weekend (obviously) but next weekend, Labor Day weekend, I am packing up my wife and potentially my younger brother and we are driving down to Austin to score more beers. Yep, more brewery visits! We are dropping down Friday afternoon and coming back Sunday afternoon.

So far the itinerary is begins at North by Northwest brewpub for happy hour. Then we are going to hit Adelbert's Brewery in northwest Austin Friday night for the tour and samples. Adelbert's only brews Belgian beers so that's always a winner for me. Then we are going to grab dinner, probably some more beers and depending on the time, possibly move the party to the Gingerman in downtown Austin. The Saturday we are going to hit Thirsty Planet's tour; then on to another visit to Jester King. Thirsty Planet does some really interesting stuff and some more pedestrian beers. They make a smoked coffee dubbel that is quite delicious but I also enjoy their amber. Jester King is showing some interesting beers on the tour (for now) including a sour saison, a provisional ale, a berliner weisse and a guest tap of a smoked stout. They have been updating the line up almost daily so we'll see how things change. They were showing a hoppy saison on cask but it has gone away. After that, we will hit Whip In for yet more beer and great Indian food. Then we may or may not hit 6th Street for some carnage. Depends on how awake we are. We're just getting too old to get up before noon, drink so much all day and party until the break of dawn.

There's still several more breweries down there we still want to visit. We wanted to also hit Hops and Grain on this trip but the logistics just didn't make it feasible. It's too far from all the other stops to do anything else and we would have to sacrifice a lot of time driving just to get there and back. However, if Jester King puts out a line up of beers we don't want we will sub Hops and Grain in over Jester King. South Austin is only doing private tours for now but our eyes are peeled for regular tours to begin. 512 seems to have stopped tours but that is another brewery I'd like to visit. Live Oak is almost impossible to score tour tickets for since they announce last minute and the weekends they offer tours are random. Maybe next time...

Dallas is also starting to heat up in the world of brewing. On September 8 we are going to the Untappd festival with my sister in law and her boyfriend. They are going to feature some really interesting beers so I'm excited for that, too. Additionally, I am really excited to see Peticolas Brewing building steam. Peticolas brews mostly/all UK styles beers and they are all really tasty. They are easily my favorite local brewery although they are hard to find on the Fort Worth side of things.

Some new breweries are popping in the area, too. Firewheel is a new brewery southeast of Dallas that is just starting to get into the market. I'm not so excited about their beers. They taste like novice homebrew kits in my opinion and lack any sort of refinement or quality. Lakewood Brewing is coming out east of Dallas and has some interesting beers I want to try. Four Corners Brewing (isn't there a Four Corners Brewing at the four corners where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet?) is opening Labor Day in Dallas, right by the festival. Revolver Brewing is popping up soon southwest of Fort Worth. I hear only good things about their beers. South of Dallas is Cedar Creek Brewing, which I also want to try out. I know another brewery is in the works in Denton (north of Dallas/Fort Worth) and a brewpub has been on hold forever in Fort Worth's revitalized medical district, south of downtown.

Getting even more locally -- to my house -- my hops are really struggling. The sterling are barely holding on and the nugget never really did much but it's still looking alive. The mt. hood are doing ok and putting out some side arms but never got more than three feet off the ground. I think they all just suffered from the lack of good sunlight during the spring after planting. So hopefully they will survive the rest of the summer and come back next year ready to rock.

The spelt saison is happily fermenting away and things look like they are rocking. Last night there was a big foamy head, some cloudiness to the beer with a nice copper color and lots of airlock bubbles, but today the bubbles are slowed, the krausen has mostly dropped back in but the beer is almost white and opaque with lots of yeast activity. I don't think I've ever seen a beer so dense with yeast activity.

My next beer will either be a wit or a rebrew of my hatch chile blonde. I have all the chiles ready to go but I had planned on brewing a 2.5 gallon batch and ordered the grain for that size but so many people are asking for bottles from the next batch I'm going to have to brew a five gallon batch so I need to pick up the grain for it and some US-05 to ferment it. Whichever of those beers gets brewed first will be the first to christen my fermentation chamber.

I am also planning on brewing an ESB soon and a Petrus aged pale clone. I need to find and bottle harvest a Belgian strain I really like so I'm holding off on the Petrus clone until I find that strain and then I can set it loose on the Petrus clone before it goes in the secondary with some sour dregs. I was holding off on the ESB in hopes I would drink all the beer in my fridge and use my party pig but there's still way too much beer in the fridge so it will probably get bottled.

After those four batches I have a couple gallons of dunkelweizen to brew and another gallon of belgian stout that is going to get blended with a sour brown I have souring since January. Half of the sour brown is going into the blend and half will be bottled straight. A small batch but I didn't want to commit a lot of space for a year to a questionable recipe. That will clear out my current grain supply but I already have another set of brews planned after that.

Following these batches I expect to brew three gallons of my brett saison (but that may dial back to two), two gallons of apricot blonde, 2.5 gallons mesquite porter, 2.5 gallons mesquite black IPA, 3 gallons gratzer,  and 1 gallon biere de garde. I will probably also throw in a gallon or two of another non-brett saison, maybe another ESB or something with a little hop to it.

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