Thursday, March 14, 2013

Guest Blogger: Ciceros Beer School 3/14/13

Another week, another Beer School.  This week featured two speakers, Ryan Barron, a sales rep for Glazer Distributing and Paul O'Reilly, a genuine Irishman! With this week being St. Patrick's Day and St. Louis having a rich tradition of celebrating St. Patrick's Day; as you can imagine the theme this week was Irish Beers.  Up for tasting was: Rogue Irish Lager, John Smith's Extra Smooth Ale, Murphy's Red Ale, Murphy's Stout.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Guest Blogger: Cicero's Beer School

Hello all;  my name is Kyle, you may have heard Don mention my name a few times, I will be writing a guest post about my experiences at Cicero's Beer School in Saint Louis MO.

Cicero's is a bar and grill in the Delmar Loop in University City here in Saint Louis, they were one of the first bar's in Saint Louis to start carrying craft beers, all the way back in 1996.  Beer School started in 2008 as a way for lovers of beer to have industry experts come in and talk about their products and beer making in general.  I have been to three classes now and can say it is one of the most interesting beer experiences I have had, the presenters have been knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, which always makes for a great time.

Beer School - 3/7/13 - Taylor Browning, Kona Brewing, Midwest Regional Sales Manager

On tap for tonight was Kona Brewing, Located on the Big Island in Hawaii, Kona is arguably the Flagship brewery in the state of Hawaii.  Kona offers three beers year-round; Longboard Island Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, and Fire Rock Pale Ale.  Additionally there are three rotating Aloha Series beers offered throughout the year, as well as an Island Only line available only at the brewpub in Hawaii.  Beer School sampled the Longboard Island Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, Fire Rock Pale Ale, and Koko Brown.

(read more about beer school after the break)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest Blogger: Kyle

My bestie Kyle is sort of the reason I got into brewing beer. He unintentionally kicked my butt into gear about realizing my dream to brew. When he first started home brewing he got some beer kits and found the whole thing a chore. Brewing my first 5 gallon batch was a chore too because I didn't always know what I was doing, so I can sympathize. In the interim two years we've brewed together several times. STL Brown Town and STL Wit came from his kitchen. He has been kind enough to drink my home brewed beers and give me honest feedback even when it was hard for me to hear. He has been attending beer school and plans to start brewing small batches of beer in his new kitchen. I've asked him to begin blogging on my blog in order to bring some fresh perspective and more content. Hopefully brewing can be another brick in the foundation of our friendship and ultimately bring us closer together.

More about Kyle:
Kyle and I met at Western Michigan University. He introduced me to finer beers like Bass Ale and Guinness  This sparked my interest in expanding my palate and eventually lead me to craft beers. Eventually he graduated with a degree in printing sciences(or something like that) and moved around before settling in the brewing capital of America. On my first adventure to STL he took me to the Budweiser brewery and to Schalfaly's micro brewery. Now he's looking to brew small batches in his spare time too.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brettanomyces Project Round Up

Over a year ago I started the brettanomyces project in my small brewing space. It cost a bit more than some things because I had to use liquid cultures. The project had a simple enough aim: "to test 3 of the commercially available brett strains in my Belgian single recipe to see if what the fermentation profiles and characteristics were."

I am happy to report success was achieved on that front. I produced three reasonable beers with three 'wild' strains of yeast.You can read the review of Lambicus, Bruxellensis, and Claussenii by following the links. The world of brettanomyces is a vast and open frontier.

The brettanomyces bruxellensis was the best of the three. It had a crazy flavor of dry spicy hay. The other two brettanomyces didn't wow me in primary fermentation. I made a dark saison with Lambicus that was awesome when I retried it.

Try it for yourself, but be sure to keep your strains going to avoid buying fresh samples once you have your baseline. I am in this boat if I want to keep trying this and I don't really want to buy fresh samples so I might try culturing bottle dregs. I feel as though I learned some valuable things about these strains. If you do try it please let me know.

What's Next: 
What's next? nothing is imminent  I have a Brett Saison fermenting and I'll probably keep that culture going at least another generation. This was a fun test but I want to try out other things as I prepare myself to go after winning a competition in 2014. I think that brett as a primary fermentation agent could work as it has for Chad Yackobson but my focus for the next test, when I get around to it, will be brettanomyces as a secondary fermentation agent, or as blended strains.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review: Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Belgian Single

Brett Belgian Single

So this is my final review of a brettanomyces pale ale. This is the third of the three strains of brett which I made a 100% fermented Belgian single. This was the best of the three. The brettanomyces Bruxellensis made the most funk of any strain in this wort. The beer was dry as can be. I liked is but it wasn't the most drinkable beer ever because the funk, flavors, and dryness were completely unchecked.

Appearance: Golden and clear with an active white head. The brett flocked well and dropped from suspension leaving a beautiful beer.

Aroma: Funk. This has a hay and spicy barnyard aroma to it. The aroma was great. This strain kicks off those signature aromas that brett is known for.

Flavor: The flavor followed the nose but because of the dryness of the beer it was a bit much as it warmed. I might have enjoyed it more with a bit of residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel: The mouth was bone dry and carbonation was at an acceptable level.

Overall: This was the funkiest of the Belgian singles. It was also the most enjoyable/least drinkable. I like the flavors but I think that this strain might work better in a more substantial beer or in conjunction with the other brettanomyces strains. I am going to rate this beer as a solid B and move onto phase II of the grand brett experiment.