Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Flying Dog Goodness

The folks at Flying Dog really do treat us home brewing bloggers very well don't they? They've been kind enough to feature my mini interview with Matt Brophy on their news blog.

Thanks again guys! Cheers!

An Interview with Matt Brophy, Flying Dog Brewery's Analytical Brewer

Stephanie KerchnerAs a follow up to my recent round of beer reviews featuring some interesting offerings from Flying Dog Brewery, I took the opportunity to interview Matt Brophy, their Head Brewer, with the logistical support of Stephanie Kerchner, Flying Dog's PR and Event Coordinator. (Thanks Steph!)

Matt BrophyQ: How did you get into brewing, did it start as a home brewing hobby?
A: I was home “ill” from school and I caught a radio interview with Charlie Papazian on a show called “Radio Times” on NPR. That night I went out and bought his book and that weekend fired off my first brew.

Q: Do you have any tips for home brewers that maybe looking to make the jump from hobbyist to professional brewer?
A: People interested in brewing professionally should understand that brewing is a craft and as any other craft it can and does takes many years of experience and hard work before one really gets a well rounded perspective of the processes and the science behind them. Additionally it takes years beyond that before one can consider themselves a “master” as a craftsperson.

Q: Tell us about the first beer you ever brewed, what was it, and how did it come out?
A: Can not recall what style I was shooting for but I can say that it was not very good but being 17 years old my friends and I were able to swill it down.

Q: What’s your favorite Flying Dog beer?
A: Right now it would be Snake Dog IPA. I have always been a hop head and this beer provides me with my daily hop fix. Ask me this summer and I will probably be drinking a lot of Woody Creek White.

Q: What’s your favorite non-Flying Dog beer?
A: Avery IPA would have to be my favorite non Flying Dog beer. I think the guys at Avery have been doing an excellent job with this beer for as long as I can remember. In addition I have never had an issue with this beer not being fresh which can be a deal killer for me.

Q: Are there any plans to make brews that are lighter on the hops considering the hop prices? If so, could you clue us in on some of the interesting styles you are considering to accommodate this change?
A: It is more out of coincidence but the newest Flying Dog releases are not too heavily hopped. The first being our “Kerberos Belgian Style Trippel” which will be released in March, Our “Garde Dog” Biere de Garde in April, and of course our Woody Creek White, our summer seasonal. We were fortunate enough to have secured almost all of what we need for this year so while we are ensuring we get good utilization we will not be making any significant changes to our recipes.

Q: Could this “hop crisis” be a good time to come up with a quality “lite” or low car beer for Flying Dog? Maybe you could call it “Skinny Dog” or “Runt of the litter” … What do you think?
A: Not a bad idea. One thing that we have begun to do is use our second runnings from our big beers to create a second beer. This allows us to get twice the wort volume using the same amount of grist. Some extra water, labor, energy, and a few pounds of hops and a new beer is born.

Q: With all the brewing your do at work, do you still brew for fun at home?
A: Not so much anymore but we recently got a 20 gallon pilot system here at the brewery so the brewers and I have been playing around with it. We have also use this for new recipe development.

Q: Do you have any final words of wisdom for the homebrewing community?
A: Grow Hops!

Josh MishellWell there you have it! Thanks again to Matt, Steph and Josh!

Steph was also kind enough to promise more updates from Flying Dog Brewery and more samples for future reviews, so stay tuned! Maybe we'll get to try Matt's favorite (Snake Dog IPA) or some of the new beers coming down the pike (Kerberos Belgian Style Trippel, Garde Dog or Woody Creek White)...

Only time will tell!

Review Wrap Up

Monday, January 28, 2008

What beer will you enjoy this Super Bowl? Why not a Home Brew?

It's almost time for the big game again... If you're like me, when you hear Super Bowl, you probably associate the term with a few things besides football like: funny commercials, hanging out with friends, lots of pizza and wings, and of course, beer! But what kind of beer?

Let's face it, the Super Bowl is basically a big beer commercial, isn't it? I mean if you're not pigging out and slurping down a few bottles of beer in your living room, then you're probably at the local sports bar doing the same, hopefully in moderation. Hint, if your dog starts demanding sausage, you've probably had a few too many, avoid the angry squirrels...

OK, I love the big beer commercials, too funny, but sadly, I would venture to guess that most beer drinking Americans suck down a fair share of mediocre macro beers during the big game. You know the usual suspects like Bud, Bud Lite, Coors, Bush, etc...

What about you? What beer will you be enjoying this Super Bowl Sunday? Will you go for a cheap macro or will you pull out the stops and get something with a little more quality this year?

RealSimple.com has some unique picks for matching beers to NFL teams.

Whose cider you on? At your Super Bowl party, give your guests a selection of beers that reflect the names, the mascots, or the hometowns of the competing teams

In this case, they'd recommend:

New England Patriots: Samuel Adams Boston Lager VS New York Giants: Brooklyn Lager.

Well that makes sense. Not a bad idea all in all, but some of the other beer to team match ups over at RealSimple kind of stink. No offense to my good friend Lando Calrissian, but Colt 45 is some nasty stuff...

Teach your friends a thing or two this year...
Here's another thought... If you home brew, chances are you have some left over beers kicking around from your last batch or two. Invite some of your friends over for the game and have a homebrew tasting during half time. Take the opportunity to teach your non-beer-advocate friends some of the finer points of enjoying beer. Use these references from our friends over at beeradvocate.com to help educate your buddies! (How to taste beer, How to pour a beer, How to review a beer, etc) You could even do some homebrewing during the big game, if you're so inclined...

What ever you drink, do so in moderation, enjoy the game, and drive safely...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Flying Dog Beer Review: K-9 Winter Ale

Welcome to review number 3, featuring Wild Dog's K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale, another fine beverage provided by Flying Dog Brewery for my reviewing purposes. This review should have been posted a month or two ago, but as you can see from the lack of recent posts, life has dictated that my time be spent elsewhere. My apologies to the folks at Flying dog for the delay. Not to worry, I'm back and so too will be the posts.

As with the last two Flying Dog beer reviews, my buddy Dave was kind enough to assist me with his own review offering a second opinion.

Beer: Flying Dog Brewery's - K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale

Some words from Flying Dog: The psycho in the pack. It is a dark, sweet and malty "Winter Warmer" that will captivate any adventurous microbrew drinker. A true Flying Dog original, K-9 Cruisers is the perfect brew to warm you up in those cold winter months. The malts used are 50/60 Crystal, Chocolate, Oats, Munich malt with Millenium and Saaz hops. 30 IBU's and an alcohol content of 6.4%.

Style: Winter Warmer

Style Description from our friends at BeerAdvocate.com: These malty sweet offerings tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body. The color ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Hop bitterness is generally low, leveled and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced. Alcohol warmth is not uncommon.

Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced winter seasonal ales will slap "Winter Warmer" on the label. Those that are spiced, tend to follow the "wassail" tradition of blending robust ales with mixed spices, before hops became the chief "spice" in beer. American varieties many have a larger presences of hops both in bitterness and flavor.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 5.5-8.0%

(In this case, the Horn dog boast a whopping 6.4% abv)

How was it served? From a bottle
Glass: Standard pint glass
Location of tasting: Dave's apartment
Reviewers: Bryon & guest reviewer - Dave

Bryon's Review

1. Appearance - An inviting crystal clear display of an orange-red amber topped off with a big bubbly head.

2. Smell - A mild malty sent, with hints of biscuit. (A note on smell - I have a very limited sense of smell, that comes and goes, so my opinions on beer smells should be taken with a grain of salt...)

3. Taste - A sweet malted toasted flavor, with hints of roasted cinnamon, finishes clean with no after taste. The subtle "holiday seasoning" is nearly over powered by the malty flavoring.

4. Mouthfeel - A medium to heavy texture with a light and disappointing flavor.

5. Drinkability - While the K-9 goes down easy, I would say it goes down easier than it should. For a Winter Warmer, this feels like a very small beer. It seems like a novelty beer that fell short.

Drinkability Scale from 1- 10: A 6. (Would I have another? I COULD drink more than one, but would prefer something else. Although it might be better paired with food, and I may just not care for the style. Over all, this isn't my cup of tea, or beer I should say) Sorry guys, this one isn't for me...

And for a second opinion...

Dave's Review

1. Appearance - Dark amber in color, reminiscent of dark corn syrup or a light brewed coffee. Carbonation seems low, but the beer is clear with a well formed head.

2. Smell - K-9 has a nutty, malty scent with hints of roasted grains. It is a clean smell and is very inviting.

3. Taste - The taste is surprisingly light. It refreshes like water, and has mild tones of malt with a slight spicy finish. If you work for it, K-9 will leave a slight after-taste that is a little hoppy; like cinnamon that has a bitter tinge from being slightly burnt. Sweet and clean, but not great.

4. Mouthfeel - Another smooth, medium-weight brew, somewhat under-carbonated. The sweetness tends to cause the beer to cling to your mouth, but not unpleasantly.

5. Drinkability - This beer is very drinkable. It is good, but underwhelming for a winter brew. I think most will enjoy it, but there are a lot of better choices out there.

Drinkability Scale from 1- 10: 6

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