A fellow beer geek, blogger, and brewer, Alan, dropped by my place yesterday. Alan is at Niagara College in the Brewmaster’s program and is on reading week. He had a bit of time in the midst of taxiing his sons around Southern Ontario and wanted to share a special drink with me that he had been saving.
Sam Adams’ Utopias is one of the specialty beers coming out of the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston. It’s less like beer and more like a liqueur. It sort of changes one’s perception of what beer can be.
In Ontario the beer was released by the LCBO in a lottery format. With so few bottles being produced by the brewery and such demand for the product the LCBO decided to buy a very limited number of bottles and offer them to customers in a lottery format. Put your name in to request a bottle and if they draw your name you can buy one. They aren’t cheap either!
The packaging of the beer is stunning. It’s a miniature replica of a copper boil kettle used in breweries with little sliding doors to reveal a smiling portrait of Samuel Adams himself.
The bottle with the box in the background
The smiling image of Samuel Adams
I don’t do beer reviews per se but I will say that this was a thoroughly enjoyable beer. It pours flat with no carbonation. Our pours were a little hazy but they were the bottom of the bottle and I have no idea what the initial pours were like, whether they were clear or also hazy from the get go. Lots of interesting smells in the aroma of the beer and that all carried through to the taste. Such a complex beer which, as I said earlier, challenges and changes ones perception of what beer is or can be.
Many thanks to Alan for dropping by with this special treat! It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit and a pleasant way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon.
If you can’t laugh at yourself, where are you?
My brew partner Scott is chock full of ideas and he came up with the idea of a Neopolitan (ice cream) Stout: Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. We bounced the idea back and forth and I amended it to Chocolate, Vanilla and Raspberry thinking that the Strawberry flavour would likely get lost in all the other big flavours.We both decided this would be the next brew.
I like to keep things simple both in process and flavour. Scott recognizes this and he came up with the name of Kicking and Screaming Stout. That is, dragging me kicking and screaming into making this beer!
We brewed it a while ago and it’s been fermenting away nicely. Primary is basically done and it’s ready to transfer to secondary for the addition of vanilla and raspberry. I dealt with the vanilla portion a while ago by splitting the vanilla beans and scraping the paste out of them. I then cut up the beans themselves and soaked everything in a few ounces of The Balvenie Scotch.
Any addition to secondary needs to be sanitized and whether you do that through heat or through alcohol, the choice is yours. It seemed much more enjoyable and flavourful to soak the vanilla in the alcohol and then add it to secondary.
I’ll be adding the raspberries this week as well but will be pasteurizing them by heating them to around 180ºF for 10 minutes or so. I don’t like to transfer things more than once, if at all, but even though the vanilla is ready to go I’ll have to wait to get some raspberries before I do the transfer.
Click the link for our recipe for the Kicking and Screaming Neopolitan Stout:
On tap now is the Kleine Schwarz (second runnings from our LISP) and Three Seas IPA.
We did it before and it was awesome so we’re doing it again. This time with 10 gallons of the good stuff!
My birthday brew about five months ago was a Licorice Imperial Stout Porter (LISP). Scott and I brewed 5 gallons of it back then and split it and we liked it so much we each wanted 5 gallons of it. Only one way to do it.
Here are some photos from the day:
Here is the recipe:
I’ve always loved brewing for the delicate balance between the art–creating recipes, balancing malts and hops, flavours–and the science–target numbers, chemistry, temperatures–and now… Power tools!!!
Brewing and power tools
Today I was working with the science end of things. I needed to get a sample of finished beer to take readings and work backwards to get a starting gravity on the beer. With this information I could then calculate the %abv of the beer. One of the minor problems is that the finished beer is carbonated which can lead to inaccurate readings on the hydrometer with bubbles clinging to the outside of the hydrometer.
Now, I could have taken the sample and walked away for the day, let the sample warm up and de-gas on its own but I have a small whisk and a drill. It seemed obvious to me at the time to just put the two together and de-gas the beer sample. Worked like a charm! Got my reading, did my calculations and ended up with what apparently is a 13.3%abv beer. Ouch.
It’s what’s not on tap anymore…
Actually, I’ve been back for a while and I seem to recall that I said I was going to post while I was in Winnipeg. Oops! Can I take that back? Things just got a bit busy while I was there and I didn’t get around to posting anything about beer.
My one beer-related highlight was my visit to Half Pints Brewery. Brewmaster David Rudge showed me around and spent a good chunk of time with me to answer some questions and give me a brewer’s tour of the facility. Learned lots and got to see a great little brewery!
Back in my own brewery things have been perking along nicely. I tapped the LISP from a while back and it’s great! Very rich stout clocking in at just over 10%abv. A real sipper.
I’m playing with a new hop: Calypso. I made an IPA made with Calypso hops only, calling it a West India Pale Ale in honour of the hop. It’s a high AA% hop with lots of fruit in the aroma and hopefully a good amount of bitterness in the beer. I didn’t go nuts with the hopping but I’m hoping for a reasonably well balanced IPA on this one.
Today was a brew day at home. My friend Scott provided a recipe for an Imperial Stout called “Stygian Cave”. It’s huge!! We finished off the day with a starting gravity of 1.126! If we pretend that the yeast we use under our conditions takes it down to even 1.015 we end up with a beer that is 14.9%abv. That’s just silly. We’ll see where we’re at next week and then we should have a reasonable prediction for a final gravity.
My LISP is on tap and my cider experiment is also on. It’s what’s on tap…