Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Thursday, October 25, 2007

American Beer (the movie)

I stumbled upon something cool on YouTube this afternoon... American Beer (the movie) Check it out!

In June of 2002, five friends left New York City by minivan and traveled across the United States in search of good beer, visiting 38 breweries in 40 days.

Directed and produced by Paul Kermizian, American Beer follows Jon Miller, Jeremy Goldberg, Richard Sterling, Rob Purvis and Paul during their 40 day, 38 brewery journey as they tour breweries and brewpubs, interview leaders of the craft brewing industry, taste beer, get drunk, get lost, get speeding tickets, get poison oak, check into hotels, check out of hotels, argue, bicker, fight, and generally lose their minds. They defy the limits of the human body (and mind) by drinking beer for 40 straight days while traveling over 10,000 miles. Thankfully, it was all very good beer.

I gotta get a copy of this one! And I want to be in the sequel!

NYC Beer Tour (V1.0) this Saturday

This Saturday I'm heading out to the Big Apple for my first attempt at a NYC Beer Tour. I've managed to talk a couple of buddies that I've known since college to come along with me. They've seen me at my worst, when Natty Ice was my idea of quality. Hey, it was college, I was broke and I didn't know any better...

I have a hand full of stops already mapped out with the help of Google Maps. Thanks to the BeerPirate for some great location suggestions. But I'm open to more, so if you're from NYC or at least know of some must go places for enjoying the New York beer scene, please let me know.

I was a little disappointed in the brewery selection in NY. You have Brooklyn Brewery, which will be my first stop, but apparently they charge for each beer, no free tastings like Sam Adams or Harpoon. I called the Chelsea Brewing Co. and while they do offer free tours M-F, they charge... brace yourself... $75 for a tour on Saturday! let me say that again, $75!!! That's not including the tasting, that's an additional $10 a piece... Good god!

Six Point Craft Ales seems to be hibernating or something at the moment... So perhaps I'll hit them up on a later NYC trip. There's also Greenpoint Beer Works but I have not been able to get a hold of them yet... Besides that, there's a brewery or two on Long Island, but I want to stick close to the city, so they'll need to wait a bit before I visit them...

This leaves me with some cool bars to hit like Barcade and the Millennium Hilton Hotel bar, which in and of itself isn't that cool, but it offers an outstanding nearly bird's eye view of Ground Zero and doesn't seem to ever be super busy. I'll be sure to toast those we lost on 9-11 from my favorite booth. I may stop at Moran's for a quick pint, this is another 9-11 connected favorite spot of mine, but I'll save that story for later. There's a number of other places I may stop at, but I wont spill all the beans now.

If our time and budget allows we may hit the Brewtopia: the Great World Beer Festival. But we haven't decided just yet. Like I said above, if you have any recommendations, please let me know by Friday night this week so I can add them to the list.

More to follow...

Monday, October 22, 2007

AHA Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day (Nov 3rd)

I've been trying to lure some of my friends into the subculture that is homebrewing as of late. This weekend I used my latest homebrew as the bait, offering samples on two separate occasions.

One of my buddies (no not Erik in the video above) has been "threatening" to get into home brewing for well over a year now and today I called his bluff and invited him, and some of the other guys, over for AHA's Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day.

But here's the catch, I have to work on Nov 3rd, so I'm hoping to do my part for the cause on an alternate day. Perhaps this weekend, if I can get a willing student or two on the hook.

I haven't decided exactly what I'll brew, but I was think something seasonal like Midwest's "Happy Holiday Brew" or perhaps something darker for a change of pace... But first things first, I need to see if I have anyone interested in learning...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My English Pale Ale: It's not bad!

OK, so I cracked open a couple bottles of my English Pale Ale tonight and shared it with a few friends... And the verdict is...

Well, it's not too bad! Granted I didn't give it enough time to chill, and it'll probably be a little better after some additional conditioning, but over all, pretty damn good...

Check out this MP3 audio review... (OK, that's not really a review of my beer, but I had you there for a minute, no?)

2 second review:
English Pale Ales are known for their clarity, but that's not the case with my rendition of the English classic. While it does have a pleasant copper to reddish amber to it, it's also a little cloudy. This may be a case for secondary fermentation for future home brews. Not a big deal though, it's still a pretty beer.

My Pale Ale has excellent head retention. I tried to get my buddy to snap a good photo of me with a "beer head mustache" but the images were all too disturbing to post here... I think BigDog put it best when he commented on the Ale's well balanced mixture of fruity sweet flavors and hoppy bitterness. OK, those weren't his exact words, but that's what he meant...

Here's BigDog's take on my beer, note no babies or mommies were harmed in the making of this beer nor this video clip...

There you have it... Stay tuned for some real tasting reviews some time over the next week or two, after some additional conditioning...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Homebrewed English Pale Ale: & the verdict is...

Well today is the day... I pulled 4 bottles of my English Pale Ale out of the basement and placed them in the fridge. I'll let the rest continue to condition downstairs in what was once referred to as the workout room, but now serves as the fermentation and conditioning room.

It's been about 2 weeks now and the suspense is killing me. As noted previously, I have a few folks coming over to help me celebrate the wife's birthday, and to serve as my home brew guinea pigs.

No not that kind of guinea pigs, although I did stumble upon this random CNN article during a "guinea pig beer" google search...

Clemente Villanueva, third generation traditional healer, feeds a guinea pig beer. He says the animals curitive powers against bad luck are strongest when it is drunk.

In the village of Huasao, a 20-minute drive south of Cuzco, Clemente Villanueva, a third generation curandero, treats bad luck with tipsy guinea pigs.

Grasping a jet-black guinea pig, he forces it to drink a tall glass of beer. The animal's power to remove bad luck is stronger when it is drunk, Villanueva explains as he adorns the glassy-eyed rodent with colored ribbons before rubbing it over a patient.

He says the guinea pig will be set free in the countryside, ribbons and all, but will remain highly contagious with bad luck that will pass to anyone who has the misfortune to cross its path.

Note to self, avoid the unlucky, drunken guinea pigs roaming the countryside... But I digress...

If my beer sucks, I have an odd variety of commercial alternatives in the fridge, including the latest light beers I'm drinking as part of my current fitness drive. Amstel Lite, Sam Adams Lite, and even a couple Michelob Ultra Ambers (not a great beer... Go figure...) I also have a 6-pack of Magic Hat # 9 and a sixer of Brooklyn Brewery's Pumpkin Ale, in case any of tonight's guest want to get a little seasonal.

The back deck should offer them a view of some of the fall foliage and a Pumpkin Ale may be a nice New England treat to go along with the view. And I even have a can of Budweiser a guy gave me at our tag sale a couple of weeks ago.

We put what ever we didn't sell out on the curb so the Sunday drivers could pick over the crap left over. This guy pulled up and asked if he could have the computer parts I left out. I said sure, and he offered to pay me. At that point I was just glad to see the old junk go. So then he offered me a couple of cold beers, I can't pass up free cold beer, even if it is Bud.

I slammed one (it was hot that day and I needed a beer) and I kept the other one in the fridge just for the hell of it... This guy didn't have a lot of money, but he had a 30 pack and was willing to barter with his precious cargo so his son could learn how to build a computer... What a dad! But again, I digress... More to follow after tonight!

Friday, October 19, 2007

TGIF: At last the work week is over!

It's been a challenging week at work to say the least. I've been catching up on everything I let slide when I was out sick last week, the boss chewed on my arce on more than one occasion, and I looked like a total moron in my fair share of meetings... I need this weekend, I need it bad.

Tomorrow I'll crack open my latest home brew attempt and give it a try. I'll have a few willing test subjects over the house who will be all too happy to sample my creation. I'll let you all know how it turned out. That's all I have, and it's off to work for me... I hope you all have a great weekend!

In the mean time, as you finish your last day of work for the week, keep this video in mind. And be sure to tip the swear jar a lot today at work!

I really need a new F-ing job!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Homebrewbeer.net's Boston Beer Tour Part 3

All roads lead to beer...

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven't already done so...

My original plan for the Boston Beer Tour included some stops at historic pubs along the way. A great way to sample some of Boston's bar scene, while learning a little about Boston's past. But, the best laid plans of mice and men...

After our Boston Brewery (Sam Adams) tour, we skipped Doyle's Cafe and high-tailed it across town to the Harpoon Brewery. Some of our fellow travelers were too anxious to wait for the next tour. I was a little annoyed at my master plan being altered, but that's par for the course when it comes to group activities and group dynamics.

The gang in the Harpoon tasting room.

Beer Tour Tip # 1
If you're really into beer, and the plan, beware who you take with you. And if your friends are single guys, keep in mind the single females that are with you will have more influence than you will. That maybe true if the genders are swapped, but I couldn't be sure. If anyone has any insight, feel free to chime in.

What did we miss? Not really sure...
Doyle's Cafe has supposedly seen quite few famous people, including politicians, enjoying a good pint. It's also served as the backdrop for different TV shows and movies. My thought was it was near the brewery, it's recommended by the brewery, it's a well known cool place to grab a brew and some good bar chow, and it's historical. Why not stop in? I thought a bite to eat would slow the pace of the day down just enough so we could get Harpoon with out the fear of too much beer, too early in the day. But "they" wouldn't have it... So off to Harpoon we went, while I bit my tongue...

It was intended to look like we were holding the sign up,
instead we look like Barker's Beauties from the Price is Right.

We got to Harpoon a little early for the next tour. Too early for the anxious females in our group, although they were in a hurry to get there and skip Doyle's Cafe. If we stuck to my plan, we would have had a good lunch and then made it to Harpoon for the slightly later tour at exactly the right time, but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

When we last left our hero, he was battling the diabolical Lobster...

A brief interlude
We were there early enough to walk down the street and grab a beer at a small deli, but not early enough to sit and eat. The funny thing was, they wouldn't serve us beer unless we ate something. So we ordered a small order of coleslaw and a handful of plastic forks.

May I have this dance?

We didn't eat the coleslaw, but after a few dances with the giant lobster in front of the place, we drank the beers over a brisk walk back to Harpoon. This was a little challenging as we had to avoid the attention of the nice Boston Police Officer in the next parking lot who would probably take issue with us drinking beer on our walk. We got back to Harpoon just in time for a quick pit stop and then we were ready for the tour.

Behold the power of beer!

What ever you do, don't push the red button!

"You mean the brewery is all mine now Mr. Wonka?"

Onto to the Harpoon tour!
Now to be clear, Harpoon doesn't really do tours, not really. We could look at brewery floor from behind a red rope, and the folks that worked there gave us a run down of the company's history and current state of affairs. After that, they opened the tasting room and gave us nearly unlimited free samples of 12 different beers they had on tap. (Remember kids, drink in moderation, it's about quality and no quantity!!!)

Harpoon has this cool wall of beer set up.
Beer cans from a tone of different companies, it was beautiful, I had to take a few photos.

Man! We look a little light in the loafers in this pic!

It was at this point that Dave, Erik and the ladies chipped in and purchased me a cool Harpoon tap handle as a thank you to me for planning the day. What a cool surprise! Frankly I was touched... I felt like Sally Field wining the Oscar, "You like me, you really like me!"

"You like me, you really like me!"

Just a cool photo I took of a ship just out side where we had lunch

The gang at lunch, and more or less the untimely end of my Boston Beer Tour...

When the party, I mean tour, was over, we went to a restaurant down the street, instead of the Bell in Hand, the next stop in my original plan. Apparently the girls were in a hurry to eat, and then move on. Much to the chagrin of my buddies, they had other plans for the evening. Plans that didn't include the rest of my beer tour, or any of us, but did include visiting an ex-boyfriend and crashing at his apartment after a night on the town with him. We discovered all of this as we ate our lunch. They were rushing us, so they could move onto phase 2 of their diabolical plan.

"Don't make me destroy you!"

Now don't get me wrong...
Dave and Erik weren't trying to have a romantic interlude with our female friends. And the girls were a lot of fun, I'm exaggerating here for comic effect. (mostly) A little artistic license if you will. But they did kind of alter our plans significantly and they did end up more or less ditching us for the ex... But to be honest, we all had a hand in ruining the day. It all happened the night before...

Beer Tour Tip # 2
Don't go out really late the night before an all day beer tour. Because that's exactly what we all did the night before this tour. A friend's sister was leaving for her home country the next morning, so we treated her to an American night out on the town. Completely stupid. The lack of sleep, the heavy meal, it all kicked in, and it was time to take a nap.

The plan is all history now...
I had planned on taking the lead from this guy, and finishing the day off with a historic walking beer tour. We weren't going to take his tour, but we were going to wing it and do it on our own. Instead, we ended up getting a couple hotel rooms, napping and then hitting a dueling piano bar near Fenway (LOL!). The next morning we drove home. Anti-climactic isn't it?

On our way to the hotel we drove by "Cheers"...

Looking to the future...
I still think the over all plan is a solid one. And I will make another attempt at the historic beer tour starting with the Bell in Hand. But I think I'll hold off until next year. Now, I have my eyes focused on Connecticut and New York City.

Stay tuned!

And they lived happily ever after, the end...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Waiting eagerly to crack open my brew

My most recent attempt at home brewing is nearly complete. The beer has been bottled and has been conditioning in basement for about a week or so now. I should be able to crack one open in next Sunday and see how I did. Although I'm told a few extra weeks of conditioning would make it all the better.

In the mean time I've got to get back to the gym. After a 4 day stint on sick leave, and then a 3 day weekend of none stop work, there hasn't been a great deal of time in the schedule for me to workout, and I've been eating poorly the entire time. We ordered Chinese food last night, That General Tso gets me all the time...

I think I'll take my beer's lead and spend the next week conditioning. In this case I will not be sitting in my dark basement waiting for my taste to improve, but I will be working out and more closely monitoring my diet (beer included) over at my traineo page.

Stay tuned for my brew results and the final installment of my Boston Beer Tour.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Friday! Have a beer and a few laughs!

I've been out of work all week, because I'm sick. I won't go into the details, but I will say it was nasty and required prescription drugs, in the form of eye drops no less. Use your imagination.

At any rate, it was back to work for me today, and I have to work this weekend too. Life sucks, but that's life... I should put that on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker or something...

After being out all week, there was plenty of drama at the office to deal with. So much drama that I figured I'd feature this oldie but goody. It's a funny yet dramatic commercial, perfect for this Friday's humorous video, chock full of extra drama and apparently pointless human conflict that ended with someone drinking a beer. Sounds like a typical Friday to me! If you haven't seen it yet, I must ask what rock you've been hiding under, if you have I hope it still manages to put a smile on your face.

Here's to the end of the work week, well the end for everybody but me, I gotta work! And here's to the end of the work week drama! Have a beer and have a laugh! Monday is a few days away, savor your time off... Did I mention I at least get Monday off? Yeah me!

And while we're at it, here's another oldie but goody from The Onion!

Teens Get Drunk On Award-Winning Microbrew
Subtle Interplay Of All-Wheat Malt, Varietal Hops Goes Tragically Unappreciated
October 16, 1996

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—The subtle interplay of the three varietal hops in MacTadcaster's Nut Brown Stout went tragically unappreciated Saturday when a group of high-school students got sh!+faced on a case of the award-winning microbrew.

According to reports, Jared Rosenthal, Andrew Gobbola and Tracey Sheehan, 17-year-old seniors at East Brunswick High, obtained the beer from Rosenthal's refrigerator while his parents—bona-fide beer-lovers capable of fully relishing the subtle, hand-crafted taste of a MacTadcaster's—were away for the weekend.

Though none of the teens were able to comment on the Nut Brown Stout's chocolatey aroma or its surprisingly smoky almond finish, Rosenthal did say that it had "f@ked him up majorly" and that he was "seriously payin' the price." READ MORE HERE!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Things to Look Forward to

Once I get done blogging about my recent Boston Beer Tour, I will begin to plan the next big Beer Tour.

The Big Apple Beer Tour
I plan on setting something up for New York City, so if you have a favorite micro-brewery or brewpub in NYC, please let me know and I'll consider it for the next road trip.

The Connecticut Beer Trail
Living in CT, I've heard a ton about the so called CT wine trail. They have a website, and signs all over the state. The different wineries actually work together to drive customers their way. I just don't get why the beer makers don't do the same thing. this is where I come in... I'm going to do my own CT Beer Trail thing right here on this site. Here's a sneak peek at the brewereis in CT and where they are in the state. My plan is to hit a couple of these individually as a fact finding mission, and then set up a weekend deal where I hit all of them and maybe a few choice pubs along the way.

View Larger Map

And the breweries are as follows:

Now there are a few other so called contract breweries in CT, but I'm not really sure what that means. Do any of you? Like what's the deal with Streichs Brewing Co, there's a few more but they seem to lead to dead ends on the internet... Anyone have a clue? Did I miss any breweries in CT? Please let me know!

Other Beer Bloggers of Note

I'm taking a little break from blogging about my Boston Beer Tour to highlight some beer bloggers of note that have recently visited my site and have been kind enough to tell their own site visitors about me. If you haven't made it all the way down the right hand column on my blog, I encourage you to do so. There's a bunch of great information there, not the least of all is a small yet growing list of quality beer bloggers that I have stumbled upon, or who have stumbled upon me. The list is right there above the RSBS feed.

Monday Night Brewery
The guys over at Monday Night Brewery were kind enough to feature my blog in one of their posts. This is a pretty big deal as their blog is insanely popular by Technorati standards, and also because these guys are doing something I'd only dream of. Their actually making an effort to one day open their own brewery, not just day dreaming about it, but actually doing something about it. If only I had the guts and time... They already have a full line of beers, with labels and marketing stuff already designed no less! And I thought switching from a plastic fermenter to a glass carboy was a big deal...

Bryce Eddings, the featured beer expert at about.com honored me by including a link to my blog in his list of beer blogs. He has my site listed as "HomeBrewBeer - Documenting the fits and starts of a new brewer." So I guess I'm more or less featured as the typical new home brewer, that is too cool! It also doesn't hurt that beer.about.com is also insanely popular on the Technorati scale.

The Beer Pirate
Who is the Beer Pirate? The Beer Pirate's real name is Carrie, and she loves beer! She learned to love beer from her Dad and it's her goal to pass on her love and knowledge of quality beer to world through her blog. It's her hope that her site, "...can be a blog where my fellow beer-lovers can find beers by local brewers that interest them, as well as learn new ways to appreciate and enjoy beer." Carrie was kind enough to add my blog to her blog roll. I'm honored to be listed on such a quality beer site. Thanks!

Side bar, once I get Boston out of my system for a while, I plan on doing a New York City Beer Tour, so Carrie, if you're reading this, I may need to pick your brain for good locations!

Beer Bits 2
Adam, over at Beer Bits 2 was kind enough to add my site to his list of "New Links (He's) Checkin' Out"... Adam's site has a ton of great information on it. And he is really, REALLY into home brewing. I mean, the man is growing his own hops for god's sake! How cool is that?!? I gotta try that one of these days... Adam is one of those guys that the novice home brewer like me looks up to in awe... Adam, you're awesome, thanks for the linkage!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Homebrewbeer.net's Boston Beer Tour Part 2

A photo in the dimly lit tasting room. We snagged the table next to the bar and shared it with an older couple and a younger couple. The great thing was the older couple was not intent on drinking as much beer as possible, leaving more for us! Those poor saps behind us didn't get a table because they dragged their feet getting into the tasting room! Suckers!

Another photo in the tasting room. Dave was trying to work the female tour guide/bar tender, hoping to score another pitcher. No dice, but good try Dave!

The Sam Adam's Brewery Tour

The Sam Adam's Brewery tour is simply a great time for any beer lover. But, before you get touring and sampling, you need to find the place. This is a challenge, even on my second trip to the brewery. (Check out the pics from my first visit here!) My buddy Erik purchased a GPS enabled cell phone the day before and we relied heavily on it to find our way to this beer lovers mecca. Honestly, leave home early, because you WILL get lost, even with a GPS. But the adventure getting there will only make you enjoy the tasting portion of the trip all the more.

Once you get there and park, you find your way to the proper building and get in line for a a mini walking and talking tour of the surprisingly small facility. The tour kicks off with a promotional introduction video featuring the man himself, Jim Koch. It's a little goofy, but it's clear Jim Koch's personality is the other driving force behind Sam Adam's success. (The first being the great beer!)

As the tour goes on you learn about Mr. Koch's family history of brewing and how his great-great-grandfather (a brewer himself from St. Louis) created the recipe that would one day be renamed Samuel Adams Boston Lager. A little later you get to taste some barley, which taste like grape nuts, and you get to smell some sample hops and discuss how the primary ingredients are used along with water to make some fine beer.

There's a brief discussion on beer styles, and the key qualities of beer including taste, aroma, complexity, body, smoothness, finish, and balance. After that, you get to look closer at some of the large vats used to make the beer. But by now the free beer, just a few feet away in one of the tasting rooms, begins to call my name. It's at that moment that I begin to shuffle closer to where I know, from my previous visit, the door to the free beer is.

Now, I want to stress here how important it is for you to take your time, learn from the tour and participate by asking questions. You might help one of your lesser knowledgeable tour mates learn a thing or two. Having said that, I have a trick or two in mind to help you score the most free samples you can get. I'll tell about them, but you gotta promise not to tell anyone about them or where you learned them. It'll be our little secret, ok?

In this group shot you can see the small sampling glasses they give you to sample the beer and also to take home as a souvenir. Not bad, not bad at all. They different words on them, like "taste" or "smell"... I have almost all of them now... How about you?

Getting more beer than your share

Step 1: When the tour starts and the video is played, stay in back.
Step 2: When the group moves towards the barley and hops, get to the front where the tour guide is. Now this is a great opportunity to ham it up with the guide, make a few people laugh and show off how much you know about beer. If that's your thing.
Step 3: As the crowd moves towards the middle of the facility and looks at the vats, get to the back, near the railing.
Step 4: turn around, pull out your ID card, and show it to the guide at the door once the tasting room opens.
Step 5: Haul ass into the tasting room and sit as close to ethe bar as possible.
Step 6: Share the beer with your table, but fill your glass again, before the pitcher moves on to the next table.
Step 7: Not everyone will finish their pitchers, be sure to be helpful and offer to pass them back up to the bar for the next round. (Don't forget to finish the pitcher before passing it up.)

And that's pretty much it. Honestly, it works! You won't get enough to get loopy, but that's a good thing, you have another brewery to drive to. You will get enough beer to really enjoy the quality products Sam Adams has to offer. Keep in mind, they give samples of about 4 different beers to give you a range of their products.

Important! While I did seek out more than my share of the beer, I didn't act like a jerk and nor should you! This is not some college bar hall, and you're not there to get drunk. So, take your time with the beer, and use the proper method for a tasting! Be polite to the others, and make sure everyone got to try the beer before you swipe and extra glass. Don't be a jerk! Now shut up and drink up!

Stay tuned for part 3 of Homebrewbeer.net's Boston Beer Tour. Next stop the Harpoon Brewery!

Check out this Sam Adams audio (pod cast) tour of the brewery!

Hombrewbeer.net's Boston Beer Tour Part 1

Living so close to Boston is great thing for a beer lover. Boston has scores of great pubs, bars and two major breweries. Back in Feb, I set out to tour both breweries and then check out some of the local pubs. Unfortunately I was pressed time, and only hit the Sam Adam's brewery and have few more pints at one of the local bars. But I vowed to return and tour both breweries in one day.

A couple of months ago, I returned to Boston with a few friends in tow and with a 2 phase plan.

Phase 1: Tour both Sam Adam's Brewery and the Harpoon Brewery.

Phase 2: Initiate a mini pub crawl touring some of the more historically significant watering holes in the city.

Sneak peak, the gang at Harpoon's tasting room!
From left to right. Erik, "Mo" & Nicole, Me in back and Dave on the right.

I'll be blogging about this trip as the week goes on, so stay tuned! In the mean time, check out this Google Map I made for my "Boston Beer Tour". The map is a work in progress. More to follow!

View Larger Map

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

First Gas and Now Beer, Prices on the Rise

Hops and malt, key ingredients in your beer are getting more expensive, and so your next six-pack might be a little more expensive.

Consumers could pay 50 cents to $1 per six pack more in the coming months for many small-batch ''craft beers'' as brewers pass on rising hops and barley costs from an unpalatable brew of poor harvests, the weak dollar and farmers' shift to more profitable crops. Other makers of craft beers, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. brewing industry, say they may eat the higher ingredient costs, which would pare their profits.

Well that sucks! Russ Klisch is the president of Lake Front Brewery in Milwaukee fears some micro-breweries may not even survive the crisis. I wonder if this effect the prices of home brewing kits and ingredients as well. Anyone have any insight into that?

Steve Kuftinec, sales and operations manager at Uinta Brewing Co. said, "I seriously doubt that there will be any new brewers wanting to get into the industry under these conditions. And we'll probably see some just deciding that with these prices, it's no longer worth it."

The larger beer companies like
Anheuser-Busch use less barley and hops in their beer, hence the weak taste. And they have more buying power than your favorite micro-brew so they can lock in lower prices. In other words, the mass produced lower quality beers will survive, but some of our smaller production favorites might be jeopardy. It was the larger brewing companies that survived the prohibition, smaller craft brewing took years to come back.

Let's all hope this crisis doesn't have the same affect on the industry...

Monday, October 8, 2007

28 Bottles of Beer on the Floor? (VIDEOS)

I had today off, in honor of Chris Columbus. Thanks Chris, here's to you... Thanks for the day off!

At any rate, I decided to bottle my batch of English Pale Ale today, holding off a week based on input from a guy over at beertools.com. It's early October and there's no work today, what better New England tradition to following than home brewing?

My wife was a little annoyed, as my bottling activities interfered with her desire to go apple picking, another great New England Fall tradition. Not to worry, I'll make it up to her. I think...

When I set out to sanitize my gear this afternoon, I was a little low on C-Brite, so I went out to CVS and got a bottle of good old fashioned bleach. I gave the new flip cap bottles the wife got me for Christmas a good bleach and water bath in my bottling bucket and my old fermenter bucket. I also gave the rest of my bottling stuff a good cleaning. Let's hope those flip bottles work, last time was a disaster.

She sprung for four 12 packs of those "Grolsch" style bottles, but at the end of the day I only filled a bout 28 bottles. Oh well, that'll work, and hey! I have enough bottles left to brew a second batch!

Here's a tip: An empty dish washer makes for an excellent drying rack, even better if you can run the heated dry cycle on the bottles. You may not want to wash them in there though, I've heard that jet-dry stuff can harm your beer.

As the priming sugar boiled away, I took my final gravity reading and all seemed well, it was close to the 1.012 indicated on the instructions that came with the kit. Perhaps my struggles with the hydrometer were now in the past.

And, maybe I was a little hard on that yeast, maybe it wasn't so lazy after all... Maybe it was over achieving yeast and just finished earlier than expected. but it's not like I ask a lot of my yeast, I just want them to make my wort into beer and then carbonate it, it's the YEAST they can do! (Sorry!)

Unfortunately I made a bit of a mess in the kitchen. I was a little slopping with the bottling cane, and had to do some quick mopping up with some towels.

And to make matters worse, I asked the wife to take a couple of photos of me doing my thing, and she accidentally banged the camera up in the process of taking a photo while handing me some paper towels to clean up my mess. I think the camera is dead, and the wife is none too happy. But life goes on. Here's the last picture that camera will probably ever take... (I should have been a male model...)

After all was said and done, I was able to bottle, clean up, crack a celebratory beer from the fridge, shower, hit the blog and get ready for some early evening quality time with the wife in record time. All is right in the universe.

Stay tuned for the final results on this batch! Inthe mean time, have a beer and relax!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Home Brewers in Iran and Iraq?

I recently added a "Live Traffic Feed" from Feedjit to the bottom right hand side of this blog to track what site visitors of going to what pages from what countries. It's a pretty interesting little tool that even provides a Google map that locates where your most recent site visitors
are located. You can see the map here.

There's many interesting locations listed, with a high concentration in the USA, some in Europe, Australia, Asia and even the Middle East. I found it particularly interesting that I got at least 1 hit from in or around Baghdad, Iraq and 2 hits from 2 locations within Iran!

At fist I thought the cause may have been some key word search that led to this post: But that was not the case, according to Feedjit, the site visitor from Iraq went here instead:
Could it be that some poor beer deprived troop or contractor in Baghdad is secretly learning to brew his or her own beer? Learning from my mistakes? And what's up in Iran?

You can't drink beer in Iran, at least not beer with alcohol in it. A little slice of irony Mr Behi, and Iranian blogger, has not failed to notice. Although his statement that beer was born in Iran contradicts my post that Iraq was the birthplace of beer. Then again Iraq and Iran are right next to each other, and I suppose today's borders didn't mean anything back then, so who knows, right?

So if you can only drink non-alcoholic beer in Iran, could it be that some revolutionaries in Iran are visiting my site to learn how to secretly make their own beer and provide it to the oppressed masses? These are the pages they came to see:

I suppose there are no home brewers or beer drinkers in Iran either, ehhh Mr. Ahmadinejad?

At any rate, all beer lovers are welcome here... I hope one day you can all raise a glass of real beer and toast freedom... Until then, keep on brewing and don't let your Government catch you!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Kegulator

Now this is a great idea! The wife and I occasionally throw a party every now and then and we always struggle with how much beer we should buy. Some times we get it right, sometimes we don't. (Party Throwing Tip: Always keep an emergency case of beer in the house, just in case you run out!)

When we provide kegs at our gathering (it hasn't been for a number of years now, we're getting old!) I typically like to get a half barrel of something low end to satisfy those that drink in bulk or just don't like quality flavorful beer, and then I get a smaller keg (or log) of something more local and higher quality.

If you want to take the guessing out of the beer equation the next time you throw a party, give the Kegulator a try! What's the Kegulaor?

It's an online "application" that helps you determine the right amount of beer, ice and cups to get for your party.

What ever you drink, do so in moderation and drive safely!

HomePub Fridge: If she loves you, she'll buy it

I often joke about rigging the water dispense on my fridge up to an "A/B" switch so I can go from water to beer on tap at a click of a button. But who the hell needs water, right?!? Check out this baby!

The inventor of the HomePub, a fridge freezer with built-in draught beer system, is, it goes without saying, a genius. Designed with special people in mind, the kind who like to pour beer on their cornflakes or drink their coffee with beer and two sugars, there's designated space for two five-liter kegs.

Look how happy that husband and wife look? Clearly this Home Pub Fridge is not only a great way to serve up cold beer, but it's also a marital aid! And it's only about $1000!!!!

The HomePub Dispenser has fittings for using a unit to store a 5 litre barrel of beer/lager together with a gas cylinder and valve. Beer is dispensed via a pump which is fitted in the centre of the fridge door.

I need to add this to my Christmas list!

If that doesn't work, there's always the dorm fridge "mod" to help you hide your brew at the office...

Let's just hope the boss doesn't need any copier paper, or it could get ugly!

Now put the beer down, stop blogging and get back to work!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Beer Haiku, Sexy bottle opener & Columbus

It's Friday, the end of a hellacious week of work, time to crack open a brew and have a few laughs. While you're waiting to go out for a beer with your friends, check out Beer Haiku Daily, "A simple poem each day to celebrate one of life’s simple pleasures."

Or check out this video and have a beer!

Now where did I put that bottle opener? Ahh yes, it's in my pants!

Take note, I bottle recent batch of English Pale Ale this Monday on Columbus Day. Speaking of Columbus, did you know...

European beer first arrived in America with Christopher Columbus' ships. On his last voyage to America in 1502, Columbus found the natives of Central America making a first-rate brew "of maize, resembling English beer".

Sounds like a very fitting day to bottle my beer, no?

Also, I'll finally get to blogging about my semi-recent brewery tour extravaganza in Boston later next week! Stay tuned and have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Josh Mishell, Creative Manager at Flying Dog Ales

I recently started talking to Josh Mishell, the Creative Manager over at Flying Dog Ales. Josh stumbled upon homebrewbeer.net and left a comment one day, and the emails below resulted. Read below and learn more about Josh and Flying Dog Ales!


From: Bryon
Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2007 1:45 PM
To: Josh Mishell
Subject: Greetings from HomeBrewBeer.Net!


I’m sending this email in response to your comments on my blog.

I must admit, I was excited to see someone from the actual brewery comment on the post I did about the Open Source Beer Project. In addition to loving quality beer, I also come from an IT background, so I’m familiar with the Open Source concept. I’m sure this idea has and will continue to endear your brewery to the hearts and minds home brewers and beer lovers alike. Great marketing idea and a good thing for quality American beer!

Could you tell me a little more about yourself? What do you do for Flying Dog Ales? How did you find my blog? And what’s a guy got to do to get a drink around here?

In response to your last comment, I would be honored to receive some of your fine products for the purpose of reviewing them on my blog. I’m specifically interested in getting my hands on some of the Collaborator, if at all possible. But I’d be more than happy to have my crew of beer lovers review any of your other fine products as well…

At any rate, I love the unique concept that is Flying Dog Ales. You guys really do stand out from the rest of the pack. Keep up the good work, and stay in touch!




PS: Do you mind if I post this email and your response to my blog? Just let me know… Thanks again!


From: Josh Mishell
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2007 12:46 PM
To: bryon@homebrewbeer.net
Subject: Re: Greetings from HomeBrewBeer.Net!


Sorry it's taken a few days to get back to you. Good news, we just bottled the Doppelbock recently and will be sending out samples in the next few weeks. If you email me your mailing address, we can get a 12oz bottle of Doppelbock out to you. We're definitely excited about the Doppelbock, and after drinking some on Monday, it's pretty damn tasty! Feel free to post this to your blog, that sounds exciting!

Thanks for the kind words about our brewery, too. We're trying hard to be the leading brewery on the internet (through our online newletters, blogs, microsites, and the like), and it's good to know we're being noticed. We answer every email that we receive from consumers, and I think people really like the personal touch.

I was hired about a year ago to be the Creative Manager of Flying Dog Brewery. In the past year, I've redesigned many of our printed goods. The most exciting part is that I redesigned our labels, carriers, and case cartons (look for updated labels to hit shelves by December). The new labels keep Ralph Steadman's iconic illustrations, and we've enlarged the illustrations and better organized the rest of the information in a better way. You can see those changes here:


It's pretty much a dream job for me. I grew up in Colorado, and the Colorado Craft Beer explosion of the 1990s. Granted I wasn't 21 until 1999, but I remember how it defined Colorado (which just became the #1 beer producing state in the country, by the way). I went to college in Upstate New York and loved bringing my friends great Craft Beer from all around our state. Never in my life did I expect to work for a Brewery, and I'm pleased as punch to be working for a brewery with such cool branding. It makes us unique in the world, and I'm loving every minute of it.

I found your blog because I have an RSS feed that alerts me whenever a blog writes something with the term "Flying Dog Brewery". But now I've subscribed to your RSS feed and will be reading everything you post. Thank God for Bloglines. I'm following over 50 beer blogs right now, and that list is increasing every week as we find new bloggers who are writing great stuff about Flying Dog.



Josh Mishell
Creative Manager
Flying Dog Brewery


"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin


From: Bryon
Sent: Saturday, October 04, 2007 6:45 PM
To: Josh Mishell
Subject: Greetings from HomeBrewBeer.Net!


Thank you for the response, and thank you for agreeing to send out a sample of the Doppelbock. I’ll be sure to write up a nice review and post it to the blog.

I’d be more than happy to sample and review any of the products from Fly Dog Ales any time you want. Please keep in mind I have a core group of beer loving friends that would also love to write some reviews of your products. So feel free to send a six-pack or a case next time. :-)

This may sound odd, but do you have any plans to release any new lite beers in the near future? By lite I mean low on the calories and/or carbs… We’re on a new health kick here and are on the hunt for quality lite beers for those days when we want to go easy on the calories. It’s just something to keep in mind if you release a new product along those lines and are looking for some bloggers to write up reviews or if you need some one to beta test on.

I was at one time a graphic artist employed by the US military, and I worked as a web designer in corporate America for a number of years. Now I just do that sort of thing for a hobby. Based on my experience, it does sound like you have a dream job for a beer loving graphic artist. Congrats! Are you guys hiring? J

Well, Josh I sincerely appreciate your generosity and time. I look forward to trying the Doppelbock and to hearing more from Flying Dog Ales…



More to follow once I get my hands on the Doppelbock! Stay tuned!!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Oktoberfest in CT

Earlier in the week, while my beer languished in it's glass carboy coffin in my basement, I ventured out to celebrate Oktoberfest with a few buddies. OK, maybe the term glass coffin is too strong, it's not dead yet, but I do fear for my beers life...

At any rate, there's not much going on Tuesday night in CT, so we went to the only place we could to celebrate Oktoberfest, East Side Restaurant Authentic German Cuisine in New Britain, CT.

View Larger Map

This place a lot of fun, they really go out of their way to create a unique atmosphere year round. They have real German food and beer, waitresses in the traditional garb, and even a roaming accordion player sometimes. (Sadly, not on that night...) They invite you to put on a wacky hat, order a big beer, and join in on the fun...

Check out these video clips! They look so much better on my camera, but once they get on the computer, they're dark. Oh well, enjoy none the less!

More photos may be added later, some of the guys had cameras...

Where was beer born? Iraq?!?

I have today off from work, and I intended on bottling my latest home brew today, but after seeking advice elsewhere, I've decided to let the brew sit another week first. So now what do I do with my day off? How about do a little reading?

Question of the moment: Where was beer born?

Mesopotamia (That would be the southern portion of present-day Iraq) Beer started off as a religious experience, but now the beer goddess is schilling beer to the women of the UK. Her recipes were found on an ancient stone in Iraq, and the guys over at Anchor Brewing tried to recreate some of them...

Read this interesting article about the birth of beer in Mesopotamia, and it's eventual decline as the geopolitical world changed around it.

Beer was born in Iraq?!?

Well it wasn't Iraq at the time, but geographically speaking, yes, yes it was... This is ironic, at least for me. I've spent a good amount of time in the Middle East, in various countries, and beer is almost always taboo.

One of the hardest parts of deploying to the Middle East as a member of the US armed forces (besides avoiding bodily injury) is the lack of beer. In an attempt to not offend our allies in the region (most of whom have religious based disdain for alcohol) the military follows what is called General Order 1.

General Order 1 prohibits the consumption of alcohol and sexual activities by United States Department of Defense personnel while in a combat zone. In other words, all fun has been canceled.

I'm all for keeping good relations with our allies in the region. And honestly, a lack of beer, as hard and bothersome as it is, is good for my beer gut. The occasional deployment can be like a fat farm, giving you the break from temptation long enough to drop some excess weight. But sitting in 140 + degrees in the desert begs for an ice cold beer. It's a challenge, so thank a war Vet today and remember his or her sacrifices, both big and small.

I wonder if Southern Iraq is ready for a rebirth of Sumerian Beer? Maybe the folks in Iraq can add kick ass beer to list of money making exports? Apparently someone tried to do just that...

Anyone ever here of the Eastern Brewery Co, in Iraq? Me neither, and I guess it's already out of business. This is all I could find on the now "retired" Ferida Lager.

An Iraqi beer who have travelled a long way through the desert to reach me. I must admit not to have expected to much from it. It has deep golden colour, not soapy yellow as in my prejudices. Fruity aroma. Surpisingly it has chewy maltiness and crystal malt character. It is clean, medium bodied and medium sweet, and finishes with low bitterness. Actually a tasty and well made lager. - omhper Stockholm, Sweden - Date: May 19, 2002

A tasty well made lager... Too bad it's retired... Anyone else out there have more info on the now defunct Eastern Brewery Company? I mean it was trading on the Iraqi Stock Exchange at one point...

I hope beer takes hold in Iraq, along side democracy that is. It might do them all some good to chill out and enjoy a good beer now and then. I think Iraq needs a beer advocate, don't you?

Here's an Iraqi Blogger's explanation on what it takes to get a beer in Baghdad. Posting a link to this guy in no way indicates that he and I are on the same sheet of music politically. To be honest, I didn't read anything on his blog beyond the beer post. Politics be damned, this is a blog about beer, not politics! ;-)

Iraqi men drink in public by the Tigris river in Baghdad
in the early evening before curfew.
Public drinking has increased since
the fall of the Saddam regime
. Photo: Jason South

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