We have some pretty cool news happening over here at the Blotter. There is a bit of barley in the kettle.
I decided to take our latest home brew out of conditioning today. I poured about 2 gallons into my party pig and took it over to see some friends. The Hop Chocolate (a Dark IPA) tasted really good – and everyone agreed. Unfortunately, our wonderful editor and the pulse of this blog, Jessica Reiser, could only take a sniff. How dare her? Oh the disrespect? Nay. There is a bit of barley in the kettle.
That’s right. If you haven’t got my weird hint, Jessica is pregnant. Its her first babe. Pretty exciting stuff.
Don’t feel bad that she missed out on a taste of the Hop Chocolate. Don’t fret that she will go without a breakfast beer for 9 months. Its all very good, she’s about to become a beer aroma expert.
So, if you see Jessica – shoot her a congrats. We will miss her wonderful enthusiasm for enjoying great beer, writing engaging stories and keeping the blog rolling. Luckily, she will continue to hold the weekly beat with her Beer Week column. I’m sure she will be back on the regular routine in September.
Over the past 11 months, our blog has seen incredible growth. Our message has grown from a tossed together cauldron of beer musings to a plentiful editorial resource for beer fanatics around the world. Its been amazing to get comments and messages from readers as close as Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, all the way to Utrecht, Holland.
We continue to grow each week. As we have more readers, from a broader landscape, we are trying our best to provide you with a bounty of diverse article topics. But, its often difficult to know what works, and what does not.
To obtain better reader feedback, we have instituted a few devices. We are writing this article to plead with you to take an extra second and let us know what you think about the content, and more importantly, to let others know about the Blotter. Please check this out:
We have added a simple 5 star rating system to the end of each article. Please give us a snapshot of your response to an article by selecting the quality and relevance of the content in each of our posts.
While we strive to serve a wide audience, we still need to know whether or not the content is at least interesting! If we bore you – let us know.
Like Us on Facebook
We have also added a Facebook “Like” button to the bottom of each post. Please use this to share articles of interest (or all articles!) with your friends on Facebook.
Remember that you have friends all around the world (because you are so awesome) and we try to provide guidance for all kinds of people. Sharing is caring.
Share Us On Twitter
Along with the Facebook button, a Retweet button can be found at the bottom of articles. You can tweet our articles out to your Twitter followers with the click of one button.
Luckily for us, our Twitter button lets us know how many people thought the article was worthy enough of sharing. If you like – let us know.
Don’t Forget RSS, Comments & E-Mail
These are all old devices but I think it bears reminder that they still work! Subscribe to our RSS feed to get Beer Blotter content delivered to your RSS reader, as its published. We hope that all of you can find a way to use our feed. Its an excellent and simple way to read the Blotter.
We love comments, seriously. I wish that we would get more. One promise that I can make to you all is that your comments will always be published (absent vicious obscenity)! If you ask us a question, I promise a response. So please, use this communication device.
Finally, we love our e-mail. In fact, now Beer Blotter writers each have a personal e-mail address! Its part of the first step to launching the new website, which is due out in the next 5 weeks.
Let us know what you are thinking! We love the conversation. Thanks for all the support!
On Friday, Beer Blotter offered its 300th post! Over less than a year has elapsed since we first went public on BeerBlotter.com. We have a had a blast so far, and we look forward to much more ahead.
In almost 11 months, we have managed to put up more than 300 stories (this article is #302). From our editor’s first beer review of Lazy Magnolia’s Jefferson Stout to Mark Leavens’ review of sandwich board art over at Atlantic Crossing – we have come a long way.
While we look forward to big changes over here, we wanted to take a look into the past and discuss the three biggest, and most memorable, moments in our short history. We have visited Belgium, Holland, France, Canada, San Diego, San Francisco, New Orleans, Cleveland, New York, Washington DC, Portland, Chicago and more – all in that 11 month period.
These three moments stick out the most:
#3 — Beer Blotter Spawns From the New Orleans Beer Arrival & A Chicago Surprise
If you have ever visited New Orleans, you are probably aware that its almost impossible to find a good beer. You are almost assured of being stuck drinking some fruity concoction of a massive amount of liquor. Not anymore.
We visited New Orleans in the beginning of last November with little knowledge of any beer scene. But, we stumbled our way through bar after bar and discovered that craft beer does exist. In fact, we were floored with what we found; hope for a good future was established.
While we were in New Orleans, our editor was surprised with a no notice flight up to Chicago. It was her first visit – and a great opportunity to see an amazing world of craft beer. We visited the Publican, drank Three Floyds at the Map Room, bought a bounty of beer at Binnys and took in a Browns v. Bears game, before returning to New Orleans.
Upon returning, we decided to launch this site. Beer Blotter was born over a pint of Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout and NOLA Hopitoulas at the Avenue Pub. From that moment – 300 articles followed.
#2 — The Crew Visits West Flanders
The entire crew decided to throw down and take an excursion to Belgium, back in March. We planned the trip for a period of 12 months, holding epic Belgian beer tastings once a week until we left. As part of the trip, we decided to visit Germany, France and Holland as well.
Every day was filled with splendor. From the iconic bottle shops, to the revolutionary brewers, Belgium brought us to our knees. We saw Cantillon in Brussels, visited Moeder Lambis during its opening week, drank gallons at De Molen, sorted through bottles at Paters Vaetje, and gifted a Pliny the Elder to Hane at De Gans.
But, nothing was more epic than a one day visit to West Flanders. I had caught a pretty vicious cold that had put me out of commission for a few days, but I refused to allow it to defeat my trip to Westvleteren to catch Westy 12. I sucked it up, chugged some orange juice, bought some nose spray (so i could taste again) and we took off for West Flanders.
When we arrived at the Saint Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren – my cold cleared up. Whether this was an amazing intervention of the almighty himself or simply an incredulous recovery – we will never know. But, it all came together as my first Westy 12 was placed in front of me.
From there, we trucked on to St. Bernardus, visited a brewer’s cottage in Woesten, drove to France to sample Escambeq’s best (with a brewer who could not speak English), drank De Struisse’s finest in a living room at De Zon and enjoyed splendid wonders from the private collection of Alvinne’s owner. I’m unsure that this day could ever be eclipsed.
#1 — The Closing of Water Street Brewing & Alehouse
The number one moment is not a happy one. But, it certainly had a profound effect on me.
For days I labored over visiting my favorite beer spot before it would shut its doors, for the final time. In the end, I didn’t go. The horror was too much for me to handle.
If you never got a chance to read the hardest post I ever typed, take a gander now. For purposes of brevity, I will not relive the words that came to mind when I head that Water Street Brewing would close down. But if you were around me for those few days – you know it was always in my mind.
Bars come and go – that is for sure. Some bars leave way too early; that was the case with Water Street. Because of a legal spat that keeps the former Water Street brewing space vacant to this day (we just saw the space this past weekend and its still not even close to re-lease), Water Street was forced into early retirement.
But, like all great combatants, Water Street may rise again. Their Facebook page has provided snippets of hope to those of us who yearn to have Queen Nina pour us another IPA. Recently, Nina announced that Strange Brewfest would return this year! This was an amazingly welcoming sign that Water Street is still alive and kicking – somewhere.
300 posts of Beer Blotter has brought us this far and we vow to keep it going. In the next month, we hope to have our new site running, filled with gobs of media and more user friendly resources.
Stick with us, please. We’ve enjoyed your company.
Of course, its the modern age. The modern Facebook world is one which we avoided for some time. Damn you, Mark Zuckerberg!
We are not huge Facebook people, preferring the Twitter format. However, growth dictates change and after much delay we have decided to start a fan page. The new fan page can be found by following this link.
Check out the new fan page from time to time and comment on posts. We are still using the old profile for the time being, but we plan on switching over full-time in very near future.
The new Facebook page is just one of a number of changes that will be made over the next few months. November marks our one-year anniversary and we plan on launching a new, media heavy, site during a public party in Seattle.
We are currently trying to lock down the venue and will invite you all once we have it reserved. We will be serving lots of local beer and great local music. Please come and support the Blotter – for now just follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
So, we promised a lot of new articles this week. I especially promised to have a Walking Man Brewing review up by today. But alas, there were some magical developments last night that prevented me from visiting the computer to do a write up.
As you might know, two of our Beer Blotter writers are brewing beers on a home system that they created a few months back.
The product is beginning to flow and we decided to drag you along for the ride. We also believe that our readers can be an excellent source for information on brewing and bettering your finished product. So please give it a read and chime in if you have any info to help us.
The Event & The Opportunity.
Last night, our famed kickball team was forced to forfeit a game after our editor was injured by a bit of excessive play on the other side. Luckily, both teams are forfeiting – and deservedly so for that team. Best of luck to our editor as she overcomes her mild head injury. Get better Jess!
Anyways, the early departure allowed us to return home to find our good friend Timperial Stout, home from a day of brewing Lazy Boy Brewing‘s Imperial IPA (cannot wait to try this!). Tim and I decided to unearth the fermentors that we deposited in the basement a few weeks back – and sample our first batch of beer.
We had truly feared contamination after a troubling conclusion to our first brewing experience with the new half-barrel system that we built. Our chilling process was exacerbated, our yeast measurements were shoddy at best and our transfer process was forced to happen after-dark, causing all types of concerns.
We also had tons of problems keeping solids from entering the boil, which made the wort a bit earthy. We have since developed better techniques to prevent solid insurgence.
The Beer Recipe.
For our inaugural beer, we chose a nice solid, summery IPA. We wanted to keep the hop profile simple, yet tasty. We also selected a malt mix that focused on one type of pale malt, but a lot of it to reach an optimal range of 7% alcohol by volume. This beer includes crystal malt, cara-pils, and pale malt. The hop list includes Magnum, Cascade and an abundance of Amarillo.
The Result. Beer.
We racked the fermentor and slid a small portion of the beer down into a pitcher. The beer had stopped bubbling and fermenting several days prior, so we were concerned we were a bit late on racking. But I recently read an article that shows that leaving the beer on the yeast a bit longer has a marginal impact on the beer’s taste.
I take a whiff first – it smells like beer. Nothing incredible about the nose, but it smells a bit skunky, though not overwhelmingly so.
Then I take a sip, convinced that the smell was encouraging. First take: not bad, not at all. Second take: I actually enjoy this beer. I take another deep smell and a big sip, swishing the beer around my mouth. I am met with strong tones of sweetness, hefty bitterness and a deep fruity finish. I am a happy man.
We took some measurements. Our original gravity was 1.066 and we finished at 1.012, exactly as we had set out to do. The ABV rang in at about 7.1%, again what we were looking to do. The color was a nice golden copper (probably a 7 on most charts) and the clarity was above average. The amount of unfiltered residue was minimal as well.
We were seriously surprised on the finished color and clarity, especially after we had termed the beer as “Pond Scum IPA” during the brewing process. The beer seemed to really clear up throughout fermentation.
The Remaining Dilemmas.
So, we are ready to drink the 8-9 gallons that we yielded (a poor yield, but we’ll get better). But the goal is to correct some of the common problems that many Seattle home brewers probably face:
(1) How do we chill the wort with a hose temperature of 78 degrees!?
Using an immersion chiller is difficult in Seattle. Our ground water is only about 78 degrees, which is higher than what we want to chill the beer to. This time, it took about 1.5 hours to get it chilled. Thats dangerous.
(2) How do we manage the yeast?
We are using recycled brewery liquid yeast (thanks to great friends). Because of this, we need to find a good way to (a) determine the amount of active yeast particles in the liquid and (b) figure out how much is needed for our batch.
We will continue to work and figure this stuff out – but Beer Blotter’s 1st Anniversary party is this November and we plan on brewing our own beer for the big extravaganza. So, any help from you brewer readers out there is greatly appreciated.
I want to take a quick moment and point to Seattle Beer News‘ latest article on Initiative 1100, the proposed bill to privatize liquor sales and deregulate alcohol sales in the State of Washington. We briefly discussed this in the past, posting an article from BreweryLaw.com.
The author at Seattle Beer News, Geoff Kaiser, wrote a think piece about the new proposition, considering the Washington Brewers Guild. The Guild recently released a presser openly opposing the proposed legislation, citing concerns that “I-1100 is the greatest threat the Washington craft brewing industry has experienced in a decade.”
I first want to applaud Geoff for his very honest portrayal of the tug and pull he is experiencing on the issue. Truly, he is correct to say that there are many arguments to be made in support of, and in opposition to, Initiative 1100.
Chiefly, Washington brewers are focusing on the fear that an open marketplace allows massive beer sellers (Costco, Binnys, MillerCoors, etc.) free reign to cause disruption to the beer market in Washington.
Of course, the Guild is correct to state that passage of deregulation opens up the market and can cause disruption. But, as an open market fan, you certainly hope that opens opportunities to all people and businesses. The key in deregulation is to find your niche, become innovative and be more efficient. You have to beat the big guys – and Washington brewers can do that!
Anyways, we are not going to tell anyone how to vote. But, please read the Brewers Guild position, because you should see both the good and the bad of I-1100 before you decide to vote. Brewers know the business and their opinion should resonate well in the beer community. But, fear can be blinding.
Ever wanted to drink your beer directly from a taxidermied animal? I know I have. There’s nothing better than popping the cap off a nice squirrel and going lip to lip with it (ok, thats gross).
Well, that’s all a possibility now, thanks to BrewDog. BrewDog is the Scottish brewer who brought us Tactical Nuclear Penguin (ABV 32%) and Sink the Bismarck (ABV 41%), two of the strongest beers in the world.
BrewDog has been the recipients of massive applause – and silent disdain – from beer drinkers of the world. Some applaud their relentless experimentation and combative spirit. Others are simply sick of the battle between BrewDog and German brewer Schorschbraeu.
Regardless of what you think about the battle, the crazy high ABV booze, or their creative approach to labeling and marketing – you have to be intrigued with the latest installment: The End of History.
The End of History is 55% alcohol. 55%. I had to say it again. But what is even more incredibly ridiculous is that the beer is bottled and then implemented within a limited edition of taxidermied animals, ranging from squirrels, chipmunks, and perhaps other rodent-like mammals. The bottle is also considered to be the most expensive beer in the world. A 12oz sauce will hit your check book a cool $765.00 (but hey – collectors item right?).
Really? You might ask that question. But, I have come to expect this from BrewDog. They are constantly testing the boundaries of beer consumerism, marketing laws, and human decency. The new grog has to be celebrated if not for the fact that they decided to invest a lot of money into making something that is so far out of the box that it can only be premised on insane passion.
Check out the bottles over at Geekology. Also, be sure to check out the video that they released on Vimeo, capturing the creation process behind The End of History (well, at least their rendition).
We have had the great pleasure of trying out Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck. Both of them were, well, interesting. We had a much better reaction to Bismark, which was masked well with extremely concentrated hop extract.
If you get the chance to try any of these beers – you cannot pass it up. It won’t be long before the TTB and other regulators put a stop to classifying these types of brews as “beer.” It also appears that this will be the last time they do the high-ABV beer thing. Read below for more information.
From the BrewDog press release:
The beer is the last high abv beer we are going to brew, the end point of our research into how far the can push the boundaries of extreme brewing, the end of beer.
This blond Belgian ale is infused with nettles from the Scottish Highlands and Fresh juniper berries. Only 12 bottles have been made and each comes with its own certificate and is presented in a stuffed stoat or grey squirrel. The striking packaging was created by a very talented taxidermist and all the animals used were road kill. This release is a limited run of 11 bottles, 7 stoats and 4 grey squirrels. Each ones comes with its own certificate of authenticity.