Saturday, 28 February 2009

Wheat Beer is bottled

My Original plans for today were to get on the bus to Dublin and go to the Bull and Castle for the first time, however since Ireland was to play England (Rugby) in Croke park it meant not only that Buses hard to come by but hotels were packed in the area too.
So I decided to wait till tomorrow for the Bull and Castle. I still needed to go to Dublin to bring my wife in for something and see some family so I drove in. I had some time to kill so I started bottling my Wheat beer. This took a little more time than I had hoped so I was 15 minutes or so late in getting my wife to where she needed to go but since they left her waiting the last time, I felt it was Karma.

I was planning on doing all bottles this time but I got sick of sanitising bottles so I decided two mini kegs would lighten the load and also means fresh beer on tap. So I got two mini kegs with about 5 Litres in each and 21 bottles (500ml).

When I took a sniff before I bottled, my nostril hairs burned. It does not exactly smell like a wheat beer nor does it taste like any wheat beer I have had, but it certainly does taste like beer.

Im afraid I did not do very well in bottling due to the time pressure I was under. I ended up transferring my beer from the fermenter into my bottling bucket, before preparing my priming sugar solution for conditioning. So I quickly boiled some sugar in water, and the amount of sugar was a wild guess. I'm going for a higher carbonation as it is a wheat beer so what was supposed to be about 200g (guess on my part of what would be needed) of glucose became confused when i emptied the remains of an older bag in first and realised I had not reset the scales so I just guessed the rest. I brought it to 209g on the scales and perhaps 50 - 70g that I had put on before I set it to zero. So I will have an interesting result I'm sure. Not only did I not measure my primer correctly, I also did not get to mix it properly. With luck it will actually turn out ok and I hope I do not have to much sugar and blow my kegs.

Next week I should have my supplies from hop and grape so I can start my more complicated beer experiment.
Im sure I will have an update of how I got on at the Bull and Castle tomorrow.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Old mans Off License

While waiting for my wife's train to come in I drove around Mullingar looking at Off licenses. The first one I went to had nothing but the usual crap, I then went in search of "The Stand" as I read on that it had some decent beer.
I walked in and it was a little like walking into a time warp. The place was tiny, packed to the brim with Whiskey and beer. I think wine too but I did not venture that far. I headed straight for the beer and was drawn to a set of shelves full of beer I know and love as well as beer I have never had. I spent about 10 minutes deciding and picked 3. There was dust covering the bottles, they had expensive whiskey and sold Cigars. I have no interest in Cigars but good Beer and Whiskey I do. It is not cheap though, probably why I only picked 3 beers.
Anyway here are the three I picked.

Firstly is the Green King IPA. Apparently the official beer of the England Rugby team. The first thing I have to say about this beer is the size of the bottle. It comes in a 660ml bottle making it more than a Pint but less than a bottle of wine.
Secondly is the taste. I am a big IPA fan, I love a hoppy brew and most IPA's have Hops in abundance but this one was light and not very noticeable. However, It is a real thirst quencher as I had just installed a new washing machine that night and was left hot and sweaty and this was my reward. So my conclusion is, this beer is nothing special to taste but I can imagine in going down very well working in the garden on a hot day and the large bottle is a bonus.

Next up is a Fullers London Porter. I have only had London Pride and Honey Dew before and I realy like both, especially the London Pride (thanks VelkyAl). I have never actually had a porter before and to be honest I can not tell any obvious differences between a porter and a stout. They might be different beers and made in a different way but the end result can be very similar as you can see in the image, It looks just like a Guinness.
Well I have to say I absolutely loved this beer. It was pure excellence from start to finish, well except the finish because I only had one and I wanted more. I will definitely get more of this.
It is full of Roasted Coffee and chocolate, evident both on the nose and in the taste. It is complex, very easy to drink and certainly one of the best beers I have had.

Lastly is the most expensive of the bunch. At €5 for a tiny bottle. Thomas Hardy's Ale. I think I got a good vintage though. This beer is aged like a wine and will happily sit in a cellar for decades. According to the bottle, at least 25 years.

I got the 2003 bottle 20411. It is 11.7% making it the new strongest beer I have tasted. The taste is very sophisticated and reminded me of no beer I have ever had. In fact it reminded me more of a Port wine than a beer. There is no carbonation at all. It tastes of syrup, All types of syrup and that includes cough syrup. Caramel & Malt are very evident in this beer. I poured it into a Whiskey glass as it seemed fitting. It smells sweeter than it actually is but it certainly is sweet.

Personally this beer was not for me. I am sure there are plenty of people who love it and might even collect them but for me it is just not something I would be bothered purchasing again.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Got a new Glass Carboy

I decided I want to have two brews going at once. I have a second bucket and was going to use that but i figured I would miss it at bottling time so I ordered a glass carboy from the good people at The Homebrew Company. I ordered Saturday and got it this morning. I also got a handle and rubber vent cap. When not being used for Beer I can use it for wine. I have to say, I had heard they were very heavy but I do not find that this is the case. Perhaps when its full I might see what people are talking about.

Now I just need to wait for my second order from the UK. My wife wanted some fruity wine kits and I do not seem to be able to get them here so Hop & Grape it was. To make up for the €20 shipping (and sterling rates) I ordered other stuff from them like a bottle drainer tree and rinser attachment. I also ordered some Whirfloc tablets, Flavapak beer kit enhancers (contains grains and hops). I also ordered some larger tubing that should fit my large Auto Siphon.

I will be combining two different beer kits in an experiment. Im hoping to have a bitter at the end of it but with a bit of Bock going on also.
The kits i have left are a muntons Mexican cerveza, a Muntons Bock style kit and finally a Brupaks Beers of the World London Bitter.

I was considering combining the Bock and the London bitter together. Has anyone done something similar with a Kit? Any advice?

Here are the two: Muntons Bock and Brupaks London Bitter.

The reason I want to mix the london bitter is that unknown to me at the time, it is designed for a smaller container and in fact designed for a brubox.
I would rather make a full 23L batch than a 10L batch, hence the combination of two kits.

I will be replacing the yeast in the two kits and using a safbrew s-33 packet.
The London bitter kit comes with Hops so I will use them and also add a flavapak to get something extra out of it.

Finally, I am going the whole hog here with regards water. This time im using natural spring water. I picked up 30 litres last night. It only costs €1.49 for a 5 Litre container at Tesco so I got 6 of them. I can also use the containers themselves to store sanitising solution.

I will also start the Cerveza so I can get rid of it and then I should be ready to start extract brewing.

I am planning to start on Saturday or Sunday, assuming I have my other delivery by then. I also need to bottle my Wheat Beer which has been in the fermenter for a month now. I am not sure how it will turn out but I will have to wait to find out.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Brewdog Punk IPA is Yum!

This is my second Brewdog after the Paradox I had yesterday. This is the Punk IPA and as you can see it pours a crystal clear golden colour with a nice head.
On the nose you can certainly smell the hops and a hint of something floral.
In the mouth it is very refreshing and releases a lovely bouquet of hops. The real surprise is that it does not stop there once swallowed. On the contrary, the hop flavour actually seems to get stronger once your mouth is empty and I have never had a beer with this lingering after-taste that lasted more than a few moments. I am pretty sure that it lasted for at least 5 minutes before my mouth decided it needed more beer to replenish the missing taste. I think I have had better tasting IPA's before but never one that left such a wonderful after-taste. Possibly this is the actually the best IPA I have had and previous ones were so memorable because I was hot and needed a cold refreshing beer, All I can say for certain is that I will be getting more of these. In fact I am sure I saw a crate of them in Odbins.

I am very anxious to try the rest of the Brewdog beers as so far I think they are wonderful and certainly some of my favourite beers. I love the beer, the labelling, the website and their philosophy.

Again I will say that the only gripe is the 330ml bottle. I want 500ml bottles not 330ml bottles.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

A few for Saturday afternoon

Well actually I started drinking beer before noon but I let the first one stretch into the afternoon and have been drinking slowly since.

Im going to start with what I am currently drinking. The Brewdog Paradox Speyside. It seems they do these in batches and the batch is hand written on the bottle along with the expiration date. I think mine is pretty new as it is not listed on the website yet. My batch number is 011 with a best before of 12/12/10.
The first thing i should mention about this beer is that it is expensive. I paid €5.99 for a 330ml bottle.
The second thing i should mention is the reason it is so expensive. This Imperial stout is Cask aged in a whiskey, or should I say Whisky (being Scotland of course) cask for about three months. The idea is that it will bring the aroma and flavour of the whisky into the beer.

I should point out that i am a Whiskey drinker and not so much a Whisky drinker, meaning that I love my Irish Whiskey and have limited experience with Scotch Whisky. My current scotch is a 15 year old Glenlivet and this as far as I know is a speyside Whisky. So if i compare this type of Whisky to the Paradox it actually does compare. I'm going to assume that Speyside whisky is not a strong peat smoked whisky like some others. I like the Glenlivet probably because it is closer to an Irish Whiskey than other ashtray tasting scotches so I like the taste of the Paradox because I can taste and smell the Whisky notes but it is not a very smoky beer. That is not to say I do not like a peated Whisky or Whiskey. In fact im a big fan of Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey.

Thirdly this stout is 10% making it the strongest beer I have tasted. This is wine territory. Wine is usually about the 14% mark but varies and can start out at 10% or sometimes less.
To be honest i need more than 1 bottle of this and I wish they provided it in 500ml bottles rather than 330ml bottles.

If i have any negative points about this beer then its the following.
There is no head on this beer, or at least the tiny head that formed was only a brief flicker of headiness before its spark expired from existence.
Treacle.... This is what this beer reminds me of. I am not comparing constancy, in fact the mouthfeel is light but heavier than some other stouts. I am just put in mind of a syrupy taste/feel in my mouth that my brain is telling me is like treacle.

I am not sure how many of these i could drink. At 10% im sure i would get pretty wasted in short order, however this Stout has the drinkability of a wine to me. One sip at a time as opposed to big mouthfuls.

Here is my conclusion of this beer. It is a conundrum. It tastes like a stout but is far more complex than your average stout. There are definite Whisky notes and it has a treacle sort of taste and feel. Like a whisky, I think this is a short drink so a little goes a long way.
I would prefer to have a glass of scotch for the whisky notes and a good roasted barley type stout like O' Haras but on certain occasions it might be nice to break out a brewdog.
It is an excellent stout, just not something i could drink a lot of myself.

Deuchars IPA is the second of the Caledonian Brewery beers I got. I honestly have trouble telling this apart from the Caledonian 80 i had last night. My first and only gripe about this beer is that as an IPA I would expect it to be a strong beer but this is only an average 4.4%. This means the beer is a bit like a light beer in the IPA market. It is not as strong as other IPA's. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. I love a hoppy brew and this did not disappoint me. I might not actively seek this out again but it is something i will certainly consider trying again. Next time I will try the Caledonian 80 & Deuchars IPA side by side.

Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen is the next beer beer. There is a website but it seems to be in German only and I can not read German. This bottle conditioned wheat beer is an excellent one in my oppinion. It is sharper, more citrusy and stronger tasting than the Franziskaner & Paulaner I recently had. In fact I had a Franziskaner just before the Schofferhofer.
This is well worth checking out. I have read that you can get it cheap at Aldi so I will have to take a look some time.

Friday, 20 February 2009

So a Belgian and a Scotsman walk into the room...

The Belgian think thinks he is the better brew but the Scotsman thinks "Fook Yoo" and head butts the Belgian back to Brussels.

I had two Beers tonight, well 4 but one was the lovely O' Haras Stout and the other was my bottled Cider which i have not had from the bottle in a month. Very nice in the bottle i think.

Anyway the two beers!

Firstly i had the Caledonia 80. I have never heard of it before, i'm surprised VelkyAl never mentioned it as it is not some cheap tasteless brew! The bottle says it is Fire brewed. There is also a cask conditioned version too but i had the normal stuff in a bottle.
I have to say i was pretty impressed with this beer. There was a good combination of roasted barley and the hops were balanced nicely too. It also tasted slightly floral, something i can not put a name to but whatever it was, it worked well.
I will certainly keep an eye out for this again and would be interested to try the Cask conditioned version, especially if i can try it alongside the normal stuff. I love to taste the difference between different versions. For anyone who cares, out of Tayto Cheese and Onion and King Cheese and onion i have decided that King wins it for me.

Next i tried this Duvel Pale ale. This one i have seen around but never actually tried it. I opened the bottle and took a sniff and it had a strong fruity aroma, it was only at this point that i noticed that the beer was 8.5% alcohol. Interesting i thought so i took a mouthful and Jaysus i was not prepared for the cocophony of flavour that hit me. For such a strong beer, i was surprised at how sweet and fruity it was. It was not sweet in the way that some beers i find sickening (leffe and other blondes for instance). It was just enough sweet to offset the strong maltiness. I was very impressed by this because i was not expecting anything from it. I will certainly have to try it again some time but I personally prefer less sweet, bitter beers. Im a Stout man at heart and love my O' Haras. One thing I noticed about this was that when i poped the cap, the foam started foaming out of the top of the bottle. I drank it straight from the bottle so i wonder what the head would have been like had i poured it into a glass? I get the feeling that half the beer would have been head. If anyone knows, please let me know.

I have other beers to try this weekend but for a Friday night, im very happy with the beers that i had.
I personally preferred the Caledonian 80 over the Duvel so +1 for the Scottish.

Tomorrow I will bottle my Wheat Beer and begin my experimental brew. I will be combining a Bock Beer Kit with a London Bitter Kit and see what i come up with.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

There are now Three decent beers at my local supermarket

Well I’m off today so I decided to have a go at 3 beers I got recently at the Centra across the road. I should point out that I live in the arse of nowhere. OK so that's not true as I’m only 76km from Dublin and drive in every day but the town itself is small and only has 1600 or so people so to be able to get some premium beer a short stroll away is great. I just wish my local pub would do the same.
So anyway I sat down at my bar with the laptop and opened up all three.

The first one is one that VelkyAl recently mentioned called Paulaner Hefe-Weisbier. I commented that it was the only decent beer that my local Centra stocked. That changed on Saturday when I found two new beers there. I have seen them floating around before but not in Centra and I have never tried them. Excited, I bought one of each even though I did not need any beer as I still have some good stuff in the fridge and plenty of my own Cider.

So anyway, where to start? I’m writing this on the fly and so far have just quickly tasted each beer.

I will start with the Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse. I’m not up on German but would this mean Franciscan?
On pouring it from the bottle I notice two things, It is very cloudy and there is a strong aroma from a distance before I even get my nose near it. I then notice a third thing, there is a residue at the bottom which looks to me like yeast meaning that this may be a bottle conditioned beer? It does not say on the bottle as
its all in German.
The aroma is floral to me and perhaps some Banana. There is a nice amount of carbonation but not too much and it leaves a lovely delicate flavour in the mouth once swallowed. I’m very happy with this beer. I can imagine many of these on a Hot day. The bottle has a happy looking monk on the front which reminds me of Father Jack from Father Ted fame before he possible drank too many of these beers.
Wonderful stuff.

Next I was going to do the other wheat beer, Paulaner but I notice that the third beer is actually from the same brewer as the Franziskaner.
Its Spaten Munchen. This is a lager, similar to a Pilsner but less hoppy? I’m not too clear on the Pilsner versus normal Lager differences when it comes to tasting. Anyway it is very lively on the mouth and starts off very bubbly but this dies away after you leave it for a few minutes in the glass. I have to say I like this beer a lot. It reminds me of one of the beers I had in Prague back when I did not like beer much. Being in Prague and not liking beer is pretty sad, that's where I started drinking alcohol again. If I get to go again I’m going to have VelkyAl bring me to the good places. I’m digressing here, sorry but I do have 3 pints of excellent beer in front of me and all I have eaten today are dry cornflakes. Anyway The Spaten beer is very refreshing and something I will certainly drink again, though I prefer their Wheat Beer as that's just the type of beer I prefer over Lager.

Lastly is the Paulaner. This is interesting because it looks to also be bottle conditioned due to yeast sediment down the bottom of the bottle. It does not have as strong of an aroma as the Franziskaner but certainly matches it in colour, however its not as cloudy. I can see through the Paulaner in the glass but not the Franziskaner. I seem to be mainly comparing this to the Franziskaner. That's fine though as there are differences. The Paulaner seems to have a stronger clove smell to it however I also tastes sweeter and more fruity than the Franziskaner. In times gone by, I would have had a sweeter taste when it comes to beer and the same went for wine. These days I prefer bitter and dry or medium sweet at most.

So of the two wheat beers, I would certainly pick the Franziskaner over the Paulaner. That is just me as I prefer the sharper taste of the Franziskaner over the sweeter taste of the Paulaner. I would not turn down a Paulaner though, lovely stuff all together.

After finishing the initial write up you can see in the image where I left off. You can probably tell which my favourites are from the picture. Clearly the Franziskaner is the clear favourite. Now
its time to do a little editing before I post this.

Just a quick note that after sticking on some Thomas Leeb on the stereo and drinking some more, I found the Spaten almost gone, the Paulaner not far behind and the Franziskaner with a little more than half left? I'm not sure the excellent music changed things so i'm going to assume i was keeping the best for last. Oh and if you like guitar music of any style, i suggest checking out Thomas Leeb as well as these beers. He uses his guitar for the percussion as well as the rhythm.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

An evening of Rugby to remember

I have just spent the evening watching one of the best games of rugby i have ever seen. France & Ireland in the 6 nations. France were on fire but Ireland met them head on and managed to stay in front for the entire game ending in Ireland 30 France 21.

It was all over when France conceded a penalty in front of the post in the last 4 minutes, All Ronan O' Gara had to do was kick it over and France had to get more than a converted try.

France gave it everything they had for the last few minutes but Ireland held them at bay.

Absolutely Brilliant, although i missed Ireland's second Try as the power went out for 10 minutes in the area. This makes up for two years ago when France came back in the last few minutes and stole victory from us.

Adding to my enjoyment of the evening was a wonderful Bishops Finger and a fantastic O' Haras Irish stout. Earlier i kegged another home brewed Cider so nicely chilled i pulled my first pint and i think the flavour has gotten better. It is less watery than the other week. It is still cloudy in the keg unlike the bottles but it probably makes no difference to the flavour.

My Wheat beer is probably finished fermenting as it has been seven days but im going to leave it for another week or more before bottling to give it more flavour. Im hoping the better yeast i used will be better than what came in the kit. If you remember i used the yeast from this kit in my first failed brew to no avail.

On a different note i saw the second half of the England V Italy game and even though England stomped Italy, it seemed to be a poor game and England only capitalised on Italian mistakes.
Hopefully when we face Italy next week we can thrash them and then do the same to England. We have just beaten the best team in the Northern Hemisphere so im hoping for great things and perhaps a 6 nations championship if Ireland can keep this pace up.

Velkyal i hope will get to see Scotland playing while he is in Prague. Im sure it will be on in the pubs as i know it was when i was over there a few years back and Ireland beat Enlgand. We saw the score written in the snow on cars.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I just watched this movie, and what a movie it was. Its brilliant and deserves every award it wins.
What has this got to do with Beer? Well not a whole lot.... Lets see if i can tie beer into it.

Well this evening on the way home from dinner with my parents and sister at the Palmerstown House, i stopped off at Tesco in Maynooth for groceries and Petrol. Well Beer, mushrooms and some cans of tomatoes and also the petrol. Actually there was almost as much beer as petrol to be honest.

Anyway i got 12 500ml bottles. Lets see, i got 4 bishops finger, 2 Londons Pride, 2 O' haras stout, 2 O' Haras Red & 2 Curim (i have yet to taste this one). I also added a 4 pack of Leffe as i have heard good things but never tasted it. There is a thread going on and this one came up so i figured i should try it. I have seen it many times and just ignored it for some reason.

So i sat down and watched Slumdog Millionaire. I finished off my first mini-keg of Cider. I have two mini-kegs left and about 6 or more 500ml bottles i think.
After my Cider was done i paused the movie and washed and dried out my keg so that it will not go bad or rust and then i broke out a O' Haras Red for no other reason than it was the first in the fridge.

The last time i had the Red, it was right after the O' Haras stout and i felt a little disappointed. I suppose my pallet was overwhelmed with the stout flavour as this time, after a dry Cider the Red tasted like heaven. Similar in many ways to the stout and with a little less flavour, it still is a wonderful beer.

Im not reviewing the Red though, other than to say its a great beer.
So anyway the movie is over so time to find something else to do with myself and get another beer.

Im actually going to leave my cider for a few more days. The reason for this is simple, i notice that it gets better over time and i want to see if that's because it is ageing or is it simply because im getting used to it so i like it more? Well only time will tell on this one so i will let it sit for another while. I need to leave some for my wife anyway. She gets back from Manilla on the night of the 14th of February which means Valentines she will be spending beside someone on a plane who will no doubt irritate the hell out of her.

I believe she will bring me back some beer, San Miguel is their big beer but i think there are a few others. Probably nothing good but we will see.