Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Glarus Enigma

Settled in this evening with a 2007 bottle of New Glarus Enigma. I uncap the bottle and pour the contents into a wide-bowl St. Bernadus glass and I wonder who took a cherry pie out of the oven. That's the whiff of cherry aroma from my beer. Upon closer inspection, the aroma is less cherry pie and more cherry wine. It's rustic; with more cherry wood than cherry jam. The flavor of the Engima is reminiscent of cherry wine, too. Although it actually reminds me a bit more of the cherry drink, a sort of cooler from a roadside stand in Northern Michigan. That's because the Enigma is actually quite refreshing. Not so much restorative, as refreshing. This is not to say that isn't complex, because along with the tart cherry there is vanilla, a touch of cinnamon and maybe even a dash of nutmeg. All of these flavors are then rounded in the finish by a milky, lactic sourness. Yes, tart up front and sour in the finish. I'm quite pleased with how this beer tastes two years after I first tried it. My original notes from 2007 can be found at Beer Advocate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dupont Strain Tests My Patience

My most recent saison ale is still slowly fermenting, but at least it's fermenting. (I'm using the Wyeast 3724 Dupont strain and it tends to get stuck and start again.) I've had this beer in plastic (bucket) for 18 days, which some would say is way too long, but I'm betting that since the yeast is still rather active (airlock is bubbling) that it'll be fine.

I was quite happy that I found some Sierra Nevada Torpedo at my local grocery store this week. As an "Extra" IPA it has a very smooth and pleasant hop profile: it's "leafy" hop profile with smooth, but assertive bitternes. I gave it a solid "A" on Beer Advocate. Another IPA I can recommend that I've had lately is New Holland Mad Hatter. Not as bitter as the Torpedo and not as good as my BA review linked above, but more sessionable at 5.8 percent versus 7.2 percent ABV. I'm a bit partial to it because it's more local than the Sierra Nevada and I like that's it has less alcohol, but I'm still a sucker for Sierra Nevada.

Another beer I've had lately is a seasonal brew from Trader Joe's called Summer Brew. It's made by Gordon Biersch for the eclectic grocery store chain and it's quite affordable at $6 a six-pack. I had this beer last summer when TJ's debuted it and I think I was more impressed with it then than I am now. It's a decent summer beer, a little too fruity but not quite dry enough for me as Kolsch-style beer.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

To Rack or Not to Rack?

Contemplating racking the saison, but it shall wait until another night. Despite the warm temps, the Dupont yeast that I pitched is sitting at 1.020 (56 percent attenuated) which means it has a long time to go. I figure if I'm lucky maybe I'll get to bottle sometime next month. Otherwise, the beer of course is very hazy. A hazy orange, with a surprisingly smoky nose. My hydrometer sample tastes very soft and "wheaty" with some delicate orange spice and assertive pepper with a decent blast of heat. I shall be patient and let this one take it's time.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Nicie Spice-inspired Beer Gets Brewed

Brewed this morning as I had planned and it went rather well. I used four pounds of Briess dry malt extract, two pounds of Briess Munich malt and 10 ounces of sugar. I hopped this wort with three ounces of Strisselpalt hops (2.5% AA) added at 60, 30 and 5 minutes left of the 60-minute boil. I also added the following spices: one three-inch long stick of lemon grass (chopped), a quarter-ounce of dried lemon peel, an ounce of dried sweet orange peel, an ounce of crushed coriander seeds and two ounces of ground black pepper. It occurred to me later that I had some fresh limes and that some lime zest would have been nice, too. I'm fermenting this concoction with Wyeast 3724. It's supposed to hit 90 this weekend and the 3724 (supposed DuPont strain) likes it toasty. As I described earlier, this batch is inspired by Short's Nicie Spicie, which gets some decent props on Beer Advocate.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Saison Brew Session Planned

Going to try a brew session tomorrow for a spiced wit/saison type of creation. I have four pounds of Briess dry wheat extract, two pounds of Munich malt and a pound of sugar (although I only intend to use about 10 ounces.) I plan to dose the beer rather heavily with orange and lemon peel along with black pepper in an attempt to emulate Short's Nicie Spicie. The Nicie Spicie is a favorite of mine and most recently enjoyed it at the Beer and Brat Fest last month at Crystal Mountain resort in Thompsonville, Michigan. I love the heat and spice of the peppercorns in this brew. I've been experimenting with adding pepper in beer for a few batches and now I feel like I can get it right, just how I want it. I'll be using French Strisselspalt hops for this beer because I feel they are one of the best hops for spiced beer. Meanwhile, I have two other saisons that are in the bottle and I need to do a side-by-side tasting of them sometime soon.