St. Berndardus Abt. 12

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 22, 2010 by sp1365

Okay, so me an Belgian beers have not had the best of relationships. The first Belgian I had I hated (Chimay White), just couldn’t stand it. There was just something in the flavor and aroma that just turned me off and that gave me a serious distrust of the Belgian beers. Eventually, I gave Goose Island Matilda a try and it was okay, didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it either. Tonight though I have found the beer that has truly opened my eyes to the wonders that is Belgian beers, St. Berndardus Abt. 12.

St. Berndardus Abt. 12 is a Belgian Quad that is absolutely delicious. I picked up this beer at the recommendation of an employee of Belmont Party Supply in Dayton, OH (and on an aside the people there are great and the beer selection is amazing plus there is a homebrewshop next door). Given my previous disposition to Belgians I was nervous, but I went with it and I am glad I did. This beer is big (10.5% abv), I mean I did mention it was a Quad, but it drinks like a beer much smaller. The spicy yeast character typical of Belgians is present and blends nicely with a malty sweetness. The flavor is rich and fruity with a carbonic bite that keeps the beer from being cloying.

This beer has definitely opened me up to the world of Belgian beers and has made me rethink my opinion of the beers coming from Belgium. At this point I wish I had picked up more than one bottle.


7-11 Enters Beer Market with Gameday

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , on April 21, 2010 by sp1365

7-11 is the third largest beer retailer in the US and has decided to enter the beer market themselves with their own private brand “Game Day.” The beer will come in two versions, Light (3.9% ABV, 110 cal) and Ice (5.5% ABV, 155 cal). Both versions come in at a price between $6.99 and $8.99 for a 12 pack or between $1.49 and $1.89 for a 24oz can. The goal according to 7-11 is to provide a beer with “exceptional quality at a value price.” For more information check out the article at the end of the post.

I feel that 7-11, and to use a sport analogy, is going to strike out on this one. The product seemingly splits the gap between the light American lagers put out by Budweiser, Miller, and Coors (BMC) and craft beers. The problem with appealing to BMC drinkers is brand loyalty. Many of these drinkers have an unbreakable loyalty to a specific brand and I don’t see them breaking that loyalty for this new product. Likewise, I feel that craft beer drinkers will view this product as they do offerings from BMC. Overall though, I like the idea and I applaud the effort of 7-11 in attempting to bring their own beer to market. Especially since they are essentially taking on the “big boys” of brewing. I hope 7-11 succeeds, but I really don’t think they will.

AP Article

India Black Ale/Cascadian Dark Ale

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , on April 19, 2010 by sp1365

One of the discussions flying around homebrewing and to an extent the craft beer world is how to define a beer that is dark in color (but not roasty in flavor) and heavy in hops. A few names thrown around have been India Black Ale, Black IPA, and Cascadian Dark Ale. Two of the beers that fall into this seemingly black hole of styles are Stone’s Sublimely Self-Righteous and Victory’s Yakima Twilight.The characteristics of these beers are exactly what seemingly would be implied by the name. The flavor and balance of an India Pale Ale with a dark or black appearance. The questions being discussed are two-fold. First, how should the style be defined/name? Secondly, should this be a new style as recognized by the BJCP or should these beers be relegated to the infamous “Category 23?”

Now before I get started I do want to say in full disclosure that I have not tried a beer that falls into the India Black Ale/Cascadian Dark Ale style. I mean to try one and will eventually, but I keep forgetting to pick one up when out.

My feelings in the matter are that in the craft beer and homebrewing worlds are becoming too style/category obsessed. Now don’t get me wrong, I love styles as they give the drinker an idea of what they will be drinking before hand, but I think the benefit of most styles is that they are vague enough to allow for broad interpretations within the style. The problem I see of late is that we are trying shrink the guidelines and make them too specific. This is my major problem with the term Cascadian Dark Ale. In my understanding of the style when defined as a Cascadian Dark Ale is too specific namely the requirement to only use PNW hops. What if I want to use English hops or maybe German Noble hops? Do those deserve their own styles as well? I think that the style really should be more open to interpretation by the brewer and thus the term I like is India Black Ale. If you talk with most craft beer drinks the term “India” will almost always be associated with heavy hops and “Black” differentiates this style from their “Pale” cousins.

I think the question of whether should this be a recognized style is not an easy question to answer as both sides have legitimate arguments. The best answer that I have seen is to add a “catch-all” sub-category to the India Pale Ale category called Specialty-IPA. This sub-category would include India Brown Ales, India Black Ales, Cascadian Dark Ales, Oak Aged IPAs, etc. I think this is the best compromise between the two positions.

Overall, I love the idea of India Black Ales. I think that one of the great things about craft beer is that brewers are always pushing outside the established categories of beer. The questions here are not a question of the beer, but rather a question of how specific style guidelines should be. I love the style and I can’t wait to get my hands on one, but I really think that craft beer does not need to sub-style every different trend in brewing.


Sun King Brewing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 18, 2010 by sp1365

Yesterday I had the pleasure of to visit Sun King Brewing of Indianapolis, IN. I was hoping that I could have spent a little more time there to talk to people, but unfortunately representatives of Ball Corp. were there. All in all, my short visit there was definitely fun and if you are in Indy when their tasting room is open you should stop in to try their beers.

Sun King was started by Dave Colt and Clay Robinson about a year ago and already has been making waves in the craft brewing scene. They took home 2 medals in the World Beer Cup a few weeks back, a silver for their Sunlight Cream Ale and a bronze for their Dominator Doppelbock. Currently, Sun King produces 4 year round beers and rotating specialty/seasonal beers. Of those they are canning (yes canning) 2 of their beers with a third coming soon.The cans are only available in their tasting room, but from what I heard they should be starting distribution soon.

While their I got to try all, but their Osiris Pale Ale and that was more because I didn’t want to drink too much there. Here is the rest of their current line up with my thoughts:

  • Sunlight Cream Ale (cans, draft) – A very refreshing cream ale. I could see how this took Silver at the WBC. Great summer, outdoors beer. I ended up picking up a 4 pack of cans as I left.
  • Wee Mac Scottish Ale (draft, cans soon) – A Scottish brown. Very malty with just enough balance to not be overly sweet.
  • Bitter Druid ESB (draft) – My favorite offering from Sun King. British malts are very noticeable coming through with biscuit/bread flavors balanced with rich caramel sweetness. Bitterness counter balances the malt very well. I ended up with a growler of this as well.
  • Osiris Pale Ale (cans, draft) – Didn’t try it. Sorry.
  • Westy West Coast IPA (draft) – This is their seasonal/specialty right now. It is a California Common (Specific lager yeast fermented like an ale) beer hopped up like a IPA with German Noble hops. This beer was delicious. I had no idea going in how it was going to be, but I like it. The softness of the Noble hops really helped bring out both the bitterness needed for the IPA while leaving enough yeast character for the Cali Common.

Overall, a big thumbs up to the guys at Sun King. Great beers and friendly people. Check them out if you are in the Indy area.


Homebrew RoggenBock

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 14, 2010 by sp1365

So a while back I tried to do a triple decoction Roggenbock. The decoction did not go well and my brewday ended up being around little over 12 hours. Here is just a short list of issues that I had during that day:

  • First decoction went well, but the next 2 would not come up to temperature. Ended up decocting about 2-3 more times then necessary.
  • The second problem I ran into was testing for conversion. Every test turned up positive for starch. After an extra hour of mash time I just gave up and started the sparge.
  • During the sparge, I got my first stuck sparge even though I used a decent amount rice hulls.

Fortunately, the boil, fermentation, and bottling went by without problems. Now I am breaking one out every so often to try them. First thing you notice cracking it open is the aroma. This beer has a huge banana aroma that dominates with a hint of rye behind it and the color is a rich mahogany. The flavor, like the aroma, is yeast dominated with a hint of rye spice and maltly richness. Carbonation is very light (needs some more time in the bottle), and the mouth feel is very thick, yet finishes smooth and dry.

Once this carbonates up it should a pretty good beer, though I am not sure that I really want to go through the trouble of the decoction mash again. Recipe after the picture.



Type: All Grain

Date: 1/4/2010

Batch Size: 3.00 gal

Brewer: Ryan Murphy
Boil Size: 3.75 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Stove Top
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00
Taste Notes:


Amount Item Type % or IBU
0.25 lb Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 2.50 %
4.00 lb Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 40.00 %
3.50 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 35.00 %
1.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (1.0 SRM) Grain 10.00 %
1.00 lb Rye, Flaked (2.0 SRM) Grain 10.00 %
0.25 lb Chocolate Rye Malt (250.0 SRM) Grain 2.50 %
1.00 oz Tettnang [4.70 %] (45 min) Hops 22.5 IBU
1 Pkgs Hefeweizen Ale (White Labs #WLP300) [Starter 1200 ml] Yeast-Wheat

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.076 SG

Measured Original Gravity: 1.069 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.019 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.50 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 7.58 %
Bitterness: 22.5 IBU Calories: 309 cal/pint
Est Color: 18.3 SRM

BA Top 50 Breweries

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 14, 2010 by sp1365

Today the Brewer’s Association released their list of the top 50 breweries by volume in 2009. At the top is no real surprise with Boston Beer Co., makers of Sam Adams, came out on top with Sierra Nevada and New Belgium at numbers 2 and 3 respectively. Obviously when you look at the top 50 craft brewers in the America the list is going to be impressive, but there were some surprises, at least to me. The biggest being Kona Brewing Co. (HI)  at #13. I realized that they were the largest Hawaiian brewery, but I did not expect them to be that high up the list. Kona produced more beer last year than Stone (#15), Dogfish Head(#16), and Rogue (#24). 25 different states had breweries representing them, which I think is a testament to how wide spread craft beer has become.

BA Top 50


Posted in Ramblings with tags , on April 11, 2010 by sp1365

I hate chlorine.

A few batches back I started delving into the topic of water chemistry in brewing because I want to make the best beers possible. I went online and found the water report for where I live. Low and behold the water is great for brewing. Low to moderate amounts of all the brewing minerals which made adjustment without dilution possible for most styles. Life is good. Unfortunately, the one part of the water report I overlooked was the chlorine content.

Fast forward about 5 batches and all of them have the same off aroma. A medicinal smell and flavor dominates the beer. At first I couldn’t figure it out. Was it caused by fermentation? the boil? ingredients? I couldn’t place it until about a week ago. The off aroma was chlorophenol and looking back at the water report it was staring me in the face the whole time. Fortunately, the beers are still drinkable and now that I know the problem I can hopefully fix it. Going to start brewing with distilled water that I build the mineral content from scratch, which is probably what I should have done from the start.

I guess the moral of the story is that when starting to play with water chemistry, make sure that you take everything into account not just the minerals that you want in beer, but also the ones you don’t want.