Brew Years Resolutions for 2019

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Welp, 2019 is upon us! The one Brew Year’s Resolution I failed miserably with from 2018 was to write more. Writing was so much easier when I was in a cubicle and needed something to occupy myself with between phone calls. Working from home it is easier to just watch TV than to write. When I travel it’s easier to listen to podcasts, or wade into the cesspool that social media can be.

Before thinking about what I want to do for 2019, let’s take a look at the rest of my 2018 resolutions:

I resolved to brew more big beers and sour beers. In 2018 I brewed one, an imperial stout. At Muntons we hired a new sales rep based outside of Chicago named Sven. Sven had previously worked as a beer buyer and bartender, but had never brewed before. When Sven came to Boston to train with me, the first thing we did was brew a batch. Initially Sven wanted to brew a Tripel, but I wanted to brew something that used more of our products than just Pilsner Malt and sugar. I took one of Gordon Strong‘s recipes from his book Modern Homebrew Recipes, and tweaked it to utilize ten different Muntons malts.

I had a fresh sack of Muntons Maris Otter Pale Malt. The first thing I did with Sven was to show him how to properly open the grain sack by cutting and pulling the threads that stitch the bag together, and had him do it. Then we chewed on each different malt before throwing them into the hopper. We milled our grist so Sven could see what milled grain should look like with the inside of the grain crushed, and the husk intact.

When our gravity was off by a few points after our mash and fly sparge, we weighed out and topped off our wort with Muntons Light Spraymalt (Dry Malt Extract) as a way to show Sven how most craft brewers use our extracts

Too many of the pros get this wrong 

The brew day was great. We had enough fermentable sugars in the mash to do a parti-gyle and make a small beer. I made a huge yeast starter for the Imperial Stout, which took off right away after being pitched. Within a week the beer was within a couple points of it’s final gravity. That beer is in a secondary fermenter right now and I look forward to bottling it in a couple of months.

As great as that brew was, it was the only big beer or sour beer I brewed in 2018. Overall I have to say this resolution was a miss. As was my resolution to make other fermented beverages and food; that was a total miss.

The one resolution that was a success was my hop garden and making a beer with my home-grown hops. In the spring I planted five different hop rhizomes: Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, Northern Brewer, and Willamette. I suspect I planted the Centennial and Cascade a bit too deep. Eventually I replanted them and they did grow. The Centennial grew to a modest height, but I did clip the Cascade with my weed whacker….whoops!

I had heard that Chinook grows really well in this area. For a first year plant it did okay in my yard, but I do think it would do better in a spot that gets more sunlight. The Willamette looked promising early, but never really took off. I spoke with a representative from Four Star Farms at a trade show who told me that Fuggle-derivatives like Willamette don’t always do well in Massachusetts. I’ll give the Willamette plant another year and see what happens.

The plant that did the best by far was the Northern Brewer. I planted the rhizome in the middle of my yard, which in hindsight meant it got the most sunlight over the course of the day. I probably harvested about a pound of wet hops from the Northern Brewer plant. I dried them on a screen and used them as the flavor and aroma hops in a California Common. The beer was decent enough, but didn’t have a ton of hop flavor. I probably harvested the cones too soon which would explain the lack of flavor and aroma. Next year I won’t be so anxious.

In 2018 I wanted to perfect a house beer. I brewed three versions of Galloupe Street Gold to date. The first batch was good, but a little more hop forward than I was going for. I designed the second batch to be more of a traditional English Bitter. That batch was infected and I dumped it. My third batch that I brewed in the summer was pretty good. I used a single hop, Sterling, and just thought the beer was a little one-dimensional. Jennie will want me to brew this one again.

For 2019 I want to keep my resolutions and make them obtainable. I will carry over one resolution from last year, but with a twist:

  • Generate more content next year. Instead of just resolving to write more blog posts, I just want to post more stuff. Whether that content is new blog posts, a quick post on my Facebook page, sharing posts from my archives, or new photos and videos., I want to post more. I could post about brew days, tasting notes, or maybe just cool places I visit on my travels. One or two posts per week should be easy.
  • Retake the BJCP Exam and score an 80. I told myself I would never try to become a National judge. Now I have the requisite experience points and work in the industry, I feel compelled to push on. To move up in rank I need to score an 80 on the BJCP Exam, which for me means I need to take it again, and then pass the BJCP Written Exam. I retook the exam at HomebrewCon last year in Portland. I barley studied and took a punt that additional experience since I last took the exam would carry me through. I scored a 76, which tells me I am not far off. Rumor and innuendo is that the BJCP is loath to give out scores that are off by a point or two because that invites exam-takers to appeal their grade. If I continue to judge and put more effort into studying I am confident I can achieve this one.
  • Dry(ish) January. Dry January is a recent phenomenon that encourages people not to drink in the month of January mainly for health reasons. I seldom drink to get drunk, but I am looking to get back into shape in the new year. In August 2015 I vowed to downsize my consumption and production of beer. For two years I did a fair job with it. There were times my diet and exercise was better than other times. A rotator cuff injury in 2016 didn’t help matters. In 2018 the wheels fell off again. From mid-August to mid-September I was on the road almost every week. Eating out, eating at airports, eating at highway rest stops, my food choices steadily became worse. When traveling alone it became too easy to sample the local beer where I was staying. From my experience, a few weeks of abstaining from alcohol can do wonders in terms of lowering my alcohol tolerance, which will help me drink less in one sitting.

    Beyond the calories I will be saving, I think a bit of a break from beer will be good. So many beers I try now are indistinguishable from other beers I have tried. I am increasingly bored with New England IPA.  It has been too long since I have tasted a beer that really wowed me or made me want to try and brew a beer like it. My palette needs a break almost as much as my waist.

    I am calling it Dry(ish) January because my job does make it almost impossible to completely abstain from alcohol. If a brewer asks me to try his/her beer I’ll limit myself to just a couple of sips or a four ounce taster at the most. Similarly if I need to taste my own beer, I’m not going to make a huge deal out of it. 

In terms of what I want to brew in 2019, I am going to keep things open ended. Luckily my brewing has been more consistent than my writing over the last six months. I have no overarching goals. I am having fun revisiting my older recipes, and there is at least one new recipe I have been working on that I can’t wait to have a go brewing. In 2019 I’m just going to keep having fun with my brewing.

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Circling back as a brewer

As a beer drinker I try to make it a point to circle back to some of my favorite beers that got me into craft beer in the first place or just inspired me along the way. As a brewer I have always been quite promiscuous. With around 150 batches under my belt, there might be ten that I have brewed more than once. With few exceptions I have never been the type of brewer that has sought to perfect one recipe or one style. Instead I have brewed a wide array of styles as a way to learn more about them.

I brewed beers for our first party at our home, an event that was not necessarily a “craft beer” event. I wanted to brew something for everyone. I didn’t want to have six different IPAs on tap. As I was deciding what beers I should brew for our housewarming cookout a strange thing happened, I found myself revisiting some of my old recipes.

Many of these recipes I loved and was waiting for the right occasion to brew again. It is always interesting to look at what I was thinking three, four, and five years ago when I developed these recipes. Some of them still made sense while others made me scratch my head. If there is one thing I have done as I revisited my older recipes it is simplifying them.

The other changes I made were to adjust these recipes to use ingredients I have in bulk; in particular the Muntons malts I keep in bulk. The majority of my recent recipes use 100% Muntons malts, and all of them at least use a portion. I do believe in the quality of the products I sell. An added bonus is that it brings down my cost per batch.

In addition to having malt in bulk, I have also been buying more of my hops in bulk. I found some great deals especially on some of the less sought after hops that aren’t commonly used in IPAs. Another way I have been saving money has been reusing my yeast and rebuilding my yeast bank. My cost per-batch is ranging at $15-$20 per batch.

My yeast bank didn’t survive the move to our new house. To build it back up again I have gotten back into the habit of over-building yeast starters or saving yeast slurry to re-pitch in a new batch. As backup I always keep a few sachets of dry yeast. Keeping a selection of ingredients in bulk gives me the flexibility to brew what I want without having to buy more ingredients. Although I made adjustments to my old recipes to utilize the ingredients I have, my goal was to always maintain the character of those beers.

After brewing for as long as I have, I have brewed most of the styles I have wanted to brew. My recent re-brews are beers that I always wanted to revisit at the right time. After bringing back a couple of older recipes for our party, I am reviewing more recipes in my log to find inspiration for upcoming brews.

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More catching up

Every writer has their own creative process. For me it was easier to sit down and write when I was sitting down at a cubicle 40 hours per week. I would bang out posts during lunches and breaks. Now most of my desk time is spent researching breweries, managing inventory, and working on forecasts. Although I haven’t been posting, I have been brewing, drinking, traveling, and judging.

I judged four flights at the first round of National Homebrew Competition (NHC) judging in New York. I was fortunate to judge some really strong flights, and judge one flight with a master judge. Brooklyn is an area I need to spend more time in as that is the real center of craft beer in New York.

Entry of Convenience, enjoyable but missed the mark.

I managed to enter two beers into NHC. Entry of Convenience scored a 29 which I think was completely fair. The judges thought it lacked the richness of malt flavor to score more highly. I thought the beer tasted like a fudgcicle. My second entry was Thomas Brady’s Ale (2017) which scored a 37. That a score that high didn’t even advance the beer to mini-Best of Show indicates how strong that flight was. The judges thought the beer was aged on the wood for too long. All I have to do is bottle the next batch sooner, easy enough!

At the end of June I made my return to Homebrew Con in Portland. Oregon. Manning a booth was a bit of a different experience; I didn’t make any of the seminars. It was still a lot of fun. Portland is a great beer city. I found the Pacific-Northwest IPAs to be bitter compared to other regions, and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of styles I found at the bars and breweries we visited. Next year Homebrew Con will be in Providence! All of the local homebrewers I’ve spoken with have been very excited.

The highlight of Homebrew Con in Portland for me was meeting this man:

Charlie Papazian founded the American Homebrewers Association, Great American Beer Fest, and wrote one of the bibles of homebrewing The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Charlie had announced his retirement effective January 2019 and was chosen to give the keynote at Homebrew Con. I had seen Charlie in passing at other events, but knowing this could very well be my last chance to meet the man. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing was the first brewing book I owned and was the only book I brought with me to the show to potentially have signed. Not only was I lucky enough to get my book signed, someone had the presence of mind to take the above photo.

Hazy, but not quite turbid.

I brewed my first New England IPA at the new house. It was a blend of Muntons Pale, Wheat, and Caramalt hopped with Exp Stonefruit hops. On a friends advice I steeped the whirlpool hops at 140F. The resulting beer was quite tasty. It maybe could have used a touch more hop bitterness and haze, but the three gallon batch went fairly quickly. I want one of my four taps to have a NEIPA on all the time.

You can make a great beer with little effort!
Easiest beer I’ve ever made! All the ingredients are here!
Playing around with some of Muntons homebrew kits, I took Muntons Mexican Cerveza kit and made it my own by substituting amber and dark dry malt extract to make an amber lager. The kit contained hopped extract. That meant there was no boil. All I had to do was boil enough water to dissolve the extract in the kit and the dry extract, then top off with cold water. The top off water was cold enough to bring the wort down to pitching temperature. No need to run a wort chiller. The whole thing took 15 minutes. The resulting beer was a fair approximation of Dos Equis Ambar.

I learned how important mash pH is with a decoction mash.

Trying my hand at another beer inspired by Pretty Things, Modern Mower was my first attempt at a decoction mash. A traditional European method of mashing, decoction mashing invovles removing a portion of the mash, boiling it, and adding it back into the main mash to increase the temperature. Brewers who use decoction mashes now do so because they feel it imparts a richer malt flavor.

In my experience the decoction certainly gave the beer a richer malt color. The fatal flaw of my beer was I let the pH of my mash get too high. This extracted tannin and chill haze. The finished beer was slightly stringent and hazy. It was drinkable, but it missed the mark. Next time I need to add an acid rest and add a decoction, use some acidulated malt, or just acidify my mash. The good news is that these are easy fixes. That doesn’t change the fact I should have known better.

Less is more with some spices like chamomile.

Jennie wanted to name a beer after our cat Fredward. Being a white monochrome short hair cat a witbier was an obvious choice. I wanted the beer to be slightly sweet like our kitty is. I tweaked the spices from my house witbier recipe adding vanilla and chamomile. The chamomile dominated the one pint of the batch I was able to try. It reminded my why I stopped brewing with chamomile. I want to make another witbier, but I think Walk-Off White will be coming back.

The reason I only enjoyed one pint of Fredward Wit was because the keg, along with Modern Mower, Cerveza Ambar, and Entry of Convenience froze. I was moving kegs inside of my keezer and inadvertently left the temperature probe outside of the freezer. The temp controller picking up the ambient temperature kept the compressor going. I tried defrosting the kegs, but they just didn’t taste the same. I dumped everything in there.

In a couple of weeks we are opening our home to guests for the first time. I brewed six different beers for the occasion. Dumping those kegs at least freed up space. Check this space for details on all six brews.

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Don’t be an anti-bottlite

Image result for bottles vs cans

I remember the first time I saw a can of Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale. I was living with my cousin Adam at the time, and let’s say friends showing up with beer was not an uncommon occurrence. When I saw this strange can in our vegetable drawer I wondered what kind of swill was inside. When I tried one I was blown away by the flavor.

Back then few people had seen craft beer in a can. Cans were the domain of macro beer. Now, in New England the overwhelming majority of craft beer is in cans. As brewers started marketing beer in cans they drilled the benefits of beer in cans into the heads of drinkers. Cans are lighter, cans block out all oxygen and light, you can take cans certain places more easily than bottles, and so on. 

Eventually the market has evolved to a point where consumers reject almost any beer in bottles out of hand. One local brewer told me bottle shops didn’t want to carry his beer just because it was in bottles. When that brewer was able to switch to cans their sales went through the roof.

Things are getting to the point where the glass industry is starting to get nervous. Sponsored content like this from the glass industry has started to appear. A few months ago I saw a promoted tweet linking to an article about Yazoo Brewing in Nashville’s new bottling line. One reply to the tweet accused Yazoo of “selling out” citing the advantages of cans that have become ingrained in the minds of many beer drinkers.

In the article Linus Hall of Yazoo explained, “… we feel that glass gives us the best chance to get that beer to our customers with low dissolved oxygen pickup.” Low dissolved oxygen pickup is the key. While a can is air-tight, if there are high levels of oxygen dissolved in the liquid when it goes into the can that beer will metaphorically rot from the inside.

One of the barriers for craft brewers moving to cans was the availability and cost of canning equipment. Canning lines have gotten less expensive, and mobile canning companies enable craft brewers to rent a canning line without having to purchase one. There are even can seamers that allow small brewers to fill one can at a time. As more beer has been packaged in cans, the more bad beer I have had in cans.

Fill levels in cans can be a crap-shoot. I’ve spilled beer on myself and have had overfull cans foam over. Most damningly I have had several beers show obvious signs of oxidation. There is nothing worse than a New England Pale Ale that is brown like a rotten apple. Almost all hop character is gone and the beer is undrinkable. 

Image result for oxidized new england pale ale

Glass does have a few advantages to aluminium. Since a glass bottle is thicker and stronger than a can, it is easier to purge the vessel of oxygen. While aluminum is a finite resource that has to be mined, glass is made of sand. Earth has plenty of sand. If you are the type that is concerned about BPA, you can be sure there is no BPA in a glass bottle. One advantage for brewers is that bottling lines tend to be a lot faster than canning lines.

Like most things in life, cans and bottles both have their pros and cons. Don’t be so beholden to cans that you refuse to buy beer in bottles. Any package is only as good as the liquid inside.

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Brew Day: Entry of Convenience (Baltic Porter)

Welp, I guess the last couple months got away from me. Lately that is my stock answer for when I don’t get around to doing things. “Sorry I didn’t do XXXX until now, the day/week/month just got away from me.”

The malt business has been keeping me busy. I was lucky enough to attend Brew Your Own Magazine‘s Bootcamp in San Diego with Muntons. In between talking to brewers, I was able to mingle with brewing luminaries. I sat in on a session with Mitch Steele and learn about Advanced Hopping Techniques, and Advanced Homebrew Techniques from Gordon Strong. I have already started to apply those lessons.

Additionally I have visited in no particular order Northern Maine, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Ontario. The good news is unlike my last lengthy gap in posting on the blog I have been brewing.

After entering a lot of competitions last year and picking up my first medals, I haven’t been active in entering competitions this year. Really I have been focusing on just brewing beers Jennie and Ilike to drink and enjoying drinking them on tap. It is crazy how much more homebrew we have been drinking since we have the keezer. As far as competitions go, the National Homebrew Competition is a different story.

This year I will be making my triumphant return to HomebrewCon. Instead of going as an attendee, I will be there as a vendor representing Muntons. Everyone at HomebrewCon is given a badge. The AHA also gives out ribbons to stick to your badge. Last time I received a ribbon for judging the final round at NHC. If memory recalls, vendors, presenters, and NHC finalists also got ribbons. I want to have as many pieces of flare as possible! I know I will get vendor and NHC judge ribbons; the one I want the most is NHC finalist!

To maximize my odds of having a beer advance beyond the preliminary round I applied for the maximum of six entries. The plan was to brew and re-brew my beers that had performed the best in competition. In the end I was only awarded four entries.

Pa’s Lager, my only first place winner is an automatic, and I rebrewed a three gallon batch. I was very happy with my first batch of Galloupe St Gold. Even though I did not entered it into competition, I am confident it can do well with a couple of tweaks. After taking a pull of Thomas Brady’s Ale I bottled it up and made that my third entry. I wasn’t sure what my fourth entry would be.

Eamon, my old boss at Modern Homebrew Emporium had applied for entry into NHC the past two years and not received any entries. I offered to brew a collaboration beer with my fourth entry and our marriage of convenience was formed.

Eamon’s suggestion was to brew his outstanding Baltic Porter. Baltic Porter being a high gravity and high alcohol style, I wanted to brew it as soon as possible to give the beer as much time to condition as possible. I took Eamon’s malt profile and approximated it as best as I could with the malts I had in my inventory.

Just like Gordon Strong suggested, I didn’t mash my colored malts.
Instead I added them at the end of the mash.

In his talk at the BYO Bootcamp, Gordon Strong was a big proponent of not mashing roasted malts. Adding roasted malts at the end of the mash and before sparging will provide color and flavor just like steeping specialty malt during an extract batch will. Most extract brewers steep specialty malt for 30 minutes. That is basically how long a mashout and/or sparge will last. The benefit is that this method extracts less harshness from darker malts.

A gas stove makes yeast starters so much easier!

Baltic Porter is a cold-fermented style. Lager yeasts are commonly used, but a relatively clean ale yeast can work if fermented cool enough. I made a 2000 ml starter of Darkness from Imperial Yeast. Like Guinness Blonde American Lager I would ferment the beer at a cooler temperature to produce a clean beer.

The beer isn’t quite at pitching temp, but my
controller is set for 64F. This setup worked great!

To control my fermentation temperature I fermented the beer in my cold basement. My basement sits in the low to mid 50s during the winter and has allowed me to brew lots of great lagers. To get into the temperature range of my yeast, I plugged in a heat wrap to a temperature controller. I purchased a thermowell stopper. The thermowell is a metal tube closed on one end. By putting the probe from my conroller into the thermowell, I can measure the temperature inside the carboy.

I fermented the beer at 65F, before ramping it up to 70F for a diacetyl rest, and then unplugged the heat and let the beer cool to basement temperature.

I bottle conditioned two gallons to make sure I had enough bottles for NHC as well as any other competitions I may want to enter the beer in. The remaining three gallons I racked into a keg for keg conditioning.

The samples I pulled were so smooth and full-bodied. The flavor reminded me of a Fudgesicle. I think the overall balance is there. The judges may think the beer is light for the style. We shall see!

See full recipe here

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Brew Day: Behind Enemy Lines Porter

Buying a home is an interesting thing. It is the largest expense we will ever incur, but your decision is largely based off walking around for 20 minutes at an open house. In the end there are always surprises. I had my first surprise when I wanted to brew and couldn’t find anywhere outside to attach a hose. With beer being primarily water, this is a bit of an issue. To say nothing of cleaning or running water through my wort chiller.

Until this situation is rectified, all grain brewing was out of the question. I figured I could brew an extract batch and use my top off water to cool my wort down.

After my summer brewing hiatus I had a fair bit of ingredients I bought for beers I never got around to brewing. I had several cans of domestic malt extract I purchased for a planned Belgian Quad. I also had a ton of miscellaneous specialty malt. With winter approaching I decided to brew a porter.

I pulled a sample when a friend came to visit. Both him, Jennie, and I really liked it. If the beer tastes as good in the glass, I have already developed an all-grain equivalent featuring Muntons malts.

What was intended to be a bit of a throwaway batch of porter is a perfect beer to play with my new keezer. This was a six gallon batch that I racked into two separate three gallon kegs.I added priming sugar to both. I gave one keg a normal amount of priming sugar, while I gave the other keg half that amount. The low carbonated keg will be served on nitro.

Can’t wait!

See full recipe here

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The Session 131: Three Things In 2018

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. Over time, it is the hope — of me, at least — that a record will be created with much useful information about various topics on the subject of beer. The idea for the Sessions began with Jay Brooks and fellow beer writer Stan Hieronymus, who noticed similar group endeavors in other blogospheres and suggested those of us in the beer world create our own project. 

I happened to see Jay Brooks tweet about it. I initially thought he was looking for some type of guest post, but the concept looks really cool. I am a bit surprised that I just found The Session; the project has been ongoing since 2007.

For January Brooks threw out three questions:

Question 1: For our first question of the new year, what one word, or phrase, do you think should be used to describe beer that you’d like to drink. Craft beer seems to be the most agreed upon currently used term, but many people think it’s losing its usefulness or accuracy in describing it. What should we call it, do you think?

The Brewers Association is a trade organization and it is up to them to determine membership criteria. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the Brewers Association’s definitions of craft beer and independence. Honestly, I find it tedious.

One of the dictionary definitions of craft that I found is: “an activity involving skill in making things by hand.”

I recently visited a large craft brewery that opened within the past year. There were no brewers on the brewstand. There were a half dozen in an adjacent control room full of computer screens. Everything in this state-of-the-art facility was hard piped and the brewers in the room were monitoring and moving liquid from one vessel to the next. The bottling line employed numerous robots that did everything from removing pallet slips, unloading bottles off their pallets, to repalletizing full cases of beer to be shipped out.

Equipment and resources like this would be the envy of 99% of craft brewers. Does any of this meet the above definition of craft? Nobody would say advanced systems designed to ensure consistency and efficiency is a bad thing.

To answer the question, beer is beer. I’ve always believed people should drink the beer that they like even if it is not craft beer or hand-crafted.

Question #2: What two breweries do you think are very underrated? 

This question would have been much easier to answer five years ago. As the number of breweries in the US has grown, more shelf space and draft lines are going to local brands at the expense of larger craft brewers from out of state and imported beers. We could list small brewers all day that most people reading this will never visit or drink their beer.

  1. von Trapp Brewing in Vermont produces flawless, traditional German lagers. The Helles in particular is a love letter to pilsner malt. These aren’t the type of beers that will garner lots of attention or light up the beer rating sites, but those of us who are beyond that will never be disappointed.
  2. There are some beers that when I have them are always better than I remember. Smuttynose Finestkind IPA is certainly one. Old Brown Dog is one of the few brown ales you see year round in the Boston area. Whenever I think of a Robust Porter, or American Porter in the 2015 BJCP guidelines, I think of Smutty’s Robust Porter. I’ve only visited the brewery once, and when I did some of the rare and imperial stuff they had on tap blew me away.
Question 3:  Name three kinds of beer you’d like to see more of.
  1. Non-imperial, adjunct free stouts. More Irish Stouts, Export Stouts, Tropical Stouts please. Not every stout needs lactose, vanilla, or artisanal coffee. If you are drinking one of these styles and think it is “light” because it is lighter than Old Rasputin, you are wrong.
  2. Bitters or English Pale Ale was one of the styles that launched the craft beer revolution. Like pilsner it is a style brewers love to make and drink. I spoke to one brewer who lamented how poorly an ESB sold in his taproom. I suggested calling it an English Pale Ale thinking that would work better with drinkers who didn’t know what a bitter was. Unfortunately that was exactly what he did and it didn’t help. Also, the way InBev has let the Bass brand die on the vine is an absolute shame.
  3. For the most part beer in America was initially inspired British, German, and Belgian brewing traditions. Surely there were people in other regions too cold to grow wine grapes, but where cereal grains thrived, that were making beer. I’d love to see more of these styles brewed in America.
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Brew Day: Galloupe St Gold

There really is something to be said for any brewer or beer drinker to have a house beer. A house beer being a beer that is kept in the house at all times. It’s the beer you go to if you want to relax on a Tuesday night after work. For a craft beer drinker that can mean keeping a six or twelve-pack of a house beer in the fridge; for a homebrewer it’s a beer brewed with some regularity and kept in stock.

In the past I tweaked and tweaked my milk stout recipe to perfect it. After continually tweaking, before finally dumbing it back down to a degree I am happy with the recipe. I haven’t brewed a milk stout since Curly’s Pumpkin Milk Stout. Partly that is due to my hiatus from brewing, but mostly milk stout isn’t something I want to drink all of the time.

When we moved to our new home, and I built my keener, Jennie suggested brewing an easy-drinking beer to have as a house beer. Jennie came up with the name Galloupe Ave Gold. When we brewed together more, Jennie was always coming up with names for beer. The easy thing would have been to brew a British Golden Ale, but that is a style I brew every summer for the summer. I decided to look farther afield from the name of the beer for inspiration.

The first beer that came to mind for inspiration was New Glarus Spotted Cow. The Beer Judge Certification Program lists Spotted Cow as a commercial example for a Cream Ale, however the brewery bristles at that designation and calls their beer a “Wisconsin Farmhouse Ale”. The grist in Spotted Cow is Wisconsin-malted barley, flaked corm as corn is widely grown in Wisconsin, and flaked barley. Several years ago we brewed Northern Brewers Speckled Heifer kit, a beer that as the name indicates is inspired by Spotted Cow. New Glarus holds their recipes close to the vest, but the ingredients in the kit gave me an idea of where to start.

Working for Muntons, and being well-stocked with Muntons’ products, my house beer has to use Muntons malt. I took the domestic malts in the Northern Brewer recipe and substituted in Muntons malts. I’m using Muntons Propino Pale Malt as the base, Muntons Caramalt in lieu of Carapils, Muntons Brewing Wheat in exchange for flaked barley, only keeping the flaked maize. This grist looks an awful lot like an English Pale Ale. The color was a touch light for the style so I added a very small amount of Muntons Roasted Barley for color adjustment.

If I really wanted to be married to the style I would probably use Fuggle or Kent Golding hops. Having plenty of American hops in my inventory, and wanting my beer to have a bit of an American hop flavor, I used Columbus for bittering and Cascade for flavor. Both hop additions were small enough that our house beer should still be approachable.

Final volume was short. The heat wrap around the carboy
helped the beer ferment at ale temperatures in my cold basement.

My brew day went fairly well until it was time to add the beer to my fermenter. I was well short of five gallons. I’m still not dialed-in brewing outside with a propane burner. Instead of topping off with water, I just went with what I had. The beer did finish a couple points higher than estimated which isn’t the worst thing in the world. On packaging day there was enough beer to fill a three gallon keg and a half gallon growler.

This is the first iteration of the beer. I am not married to the recipe and will tweak it until I feel I’ve nailed it. I could try using traditional English hops. I could use a darker crystal malt if the malt flavor is too generic. I think some amber malt could add a nice biscuit flavor.

What Jennie wants and I am trying to achieve with this beer is drinkability and approachability. I will know I have perfected this beer if it is a beer that both craft and non-craft drinkers enjoy.

As for the name, our house is on Galloupe Avenue, but when the city replaced the street signs the new signs initially said “Galloupe St”. There was also some confusion with the direction of the street. I’m glad I snapped a photo so this multi-faceted fail can live on.

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