Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stone Smoked Porter

Eric and I will be brewing a Smoked Amber Ale later this week so naturally I thought it would be suitable to do a review on a popular smoked beer.

First off, Stone Brewery, to me, brews big flavor and big hop beers.  I bought the Stone Smoked Porter hoping that it would have a big smoke flavor and also hoping it would not have a big hop flavor which I assume would kill the smoked malt flavor.  I should have known better.  At first pour I could smell a faint smoke scent from the glass and of course chocolate and coffee malts.  I tasted it and could right away taste the smoked malt, but as I started enjoying the flavor it was killed by the inevitable "big hop" flavor Stone is known for.  That big, bitter flavor (too much hops for a porter in my opinion) killed all the malt flavor right away; the chocolate and the smoked malt flavors were completely dead.  And of course the bitterness stayed through to the following drink... and the next.  So unfortunately the only malt flavor I got from the beer was from the two-second period when I first tasted it.  With that being said, it is a good beer; just not the style of porter I'm used to or enjoy.

The aim for our smoked beer will be big malty and smokey flavor and just enough hops to balance it out; NOT to overpower the malt.  In my opinion, the smoked malt should be the star of this beer.  Here's a copy of Smokey the Bear Ale.  Hopefully it comes out great and it'll be a great fall beer to drink by a open fire!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Super Excited!!

Finally after weeks upon weeks of waiting, our third brew has fully carbonated!  It took roughly five weeks for this coffee stout to fully condition in the bottle.  And best of all; it tastes awesome!  We used Dunn Brothers Infinite Black cold press coffee.  Cold press coffee lowers the acidity, and makes this coffee ideal for beer.  So I guess you could call this beer "The Brothers-Brother's Coffee Stout".

It's a very light, and somewhat dry tasting stout which may be because we are still using extract to brew.  It came in at 4.2% ABV.

To go with our first successful brew, why not make some home-made pizza?

First, let's focus on the pizza dough.  Any delicious pizza must have a delicious pizza dough.  I've tried a few different recipes for pizza dough and this one seems to be the best thus far:

Basic Pizza Dough

4 cups bread flour plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope dry quick yeast
3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix.  While mixer is running, slowly add water and then oil.  If needed add more flour or oil until the dough forms a ball.  Scrape out of bowl and onto a lightly floured service.  Start kneading.  When you think you are done kneading, you're not.  Add more flour if needed, and knead until the dough forms a smooth and solid ball.  Then add to your greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit in a warm area for about 1 1/2 hours.  At that time it should have risen about 3-4 times its original size.  Then set dough on lightly floured surface and divide into two pieces, for regular size pizza, or four pieces for individual pizzas.  I wrapped them into plastic wrap and put in the fridge for another 1 hour to let rest before rolling out into a pizza.

Roasted Garlic White Sauce

1/2 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 lb freshly shredded Parmesan-Reggiano
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 cloves chopped roasted-garlic (to roast preheat oven to 350, and drizzle a little olive oil on garlic and cook for about 50 minutes until golden brown)
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Melt butter in sauce pan on medium heat.  Add flour slowly and stir while adding.  It should form a paste like texture.  Feel free to add more flour if needed.  Add cream and garlic then whisk until mixed well.  When it starts boiling slowly whisk in cheese.  You want a semi-thick sauce texture, so add the additional milk if it needs to be thinned.  If too thin let boil and it will thicken up. Then you're done!  Good thing about this recipe is that there will be alot left for maybe an Alfredo pasta!

 For toppings I cooked and chopped some chicken, sliced a Roma tomato, and sliced onions.  You'll want to cook the pizza for about 18-20 minutes at 410 or until golden brown.  Tasted great with the Coffee Stout!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Smoke and More Smoke

Ever wanted to smoke a nice piece of pork butt or brisket but was too lazy and/or don't have any money (like myself) to go out and buy a smoker?  I have a solution that should satisfy your craving for smoke!  In your charcoal grill (preferably one with a attached thermometer), light about ten briquettes and set them off to one side of the grill.  Then set a aluminum pan with about one cup water over the briquettes.  Once the temperature gets to about 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit you can set a handful of soaked wood chips on the briquettes and start smoking!  Remember to add briquettes and wood chips when needed.

I smoked a 6.5 lb brisket for just about 9 hours at about 200 degrees.  This is the rub recipe I used the night before and let the meat dry marinade it overnight:

3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin

*I like pepper, so feel free to use less pepper

Be sure when the brisket reaches an internal temp of at least 130.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes to let the juices transfer throughout the entire piece of meat.  When cutting brisket, cut against the grain and as thin as possible.  Then enjoy the delicious taste of smoke and beef!

Of course I didn't just sit around for 9 hours and wait for the beef to be done.  I drank beer!  And the perfect beer to drink while smoking is Boulevard Brewery's Smoke Stack Series Double-Wide IPA.  This 750 mL bottle has been sitting in my fridge for about one year.  Luckily this beer has a ABV of almost 9%, so it is able to last even longer if needed (and it would slightly change the flavor).  It's a really good IPA with a slight sweetness and an aggressive hoppiness to it.  They use 5 different types of hops in this beer!  I also love the red-amber color this beer has also.  Very good looking beer.  This is a year-round beer for Boulevard so go grab one at your nearest grocery store.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Schlafly Post

Yes, yet another Schlafly post.  This one is courtesy of my brother Eric, who so thoughtfully brought me a growler of Schlafly's Milk Chocolate Stout!  Before I begin with the review, this beer is NOT available at your local grocer.  This is a draft only beer.  Unfortunately, it's not realistic for a small craft brewery, like Schlafly, to bottle fifty-plus brews.  Thank God for the invention of the Growler!

The aroma is very pleasant.  Reminds me of Cocoa Puffs.  No joke.  I was expecting it to have a strong milk chocolate flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It tastes like one of those $5 bars of expensive dark chocolate you can buy at a health food store.  Really smooth, delicious, and slightly sweet chocolate taste for a stout.  The dark chocolate stays with on the finish, which is nice. 

This is one of those beers that you wish they would bottle, at least as a seasonal brew.  I was about to just type here for someone to bring me another growler of Milk Chocolate Stout from St. Louis, however it looks like it has already come and gone...  Guess everyone will have to wait one more year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kräftig Lager

Well, there's a new sheriff in town to compete with the big name American beers (Budweiser, Coors, Miller).  Their name, Kräftig (by Wiliam K Busch Brewing Company).  The brewery name may sound familiar because William K. Busch is the great grandson of Adolphus Busch, who obviously is the co-founder of Anheuser-Busch.   Since the Busch family is no longer involved with Anheuser-Busch, William Busch wanted to create a business he could pass on to his children.  You're probably saying "well this is just a Budweiser repeat."  That is not the case at all...

Kräftig is available in Lager or Light
I had the privileged of talking to some of the breweries 6 employees, including William Busch himself.  They told me that they want to bring beer "back to the basics" buy brewing their beer by the German purity law, Reinheitsgebot.  In short, Reinheitsgebot only allows a brewer to use the four basic ingredients required to brew beer; water, barley malt, yeast, and noble hops.  No corn or rice is used in this beer unlike other breweries.

Kräftig gives you a pure, fresh, and slightly more bitter taste that I believe will attract the "craft beer" drinker. This will give them a good session beer to drink that's not as heavy as the usual ales, porters, or stouts are.  This beer is a refreshing change of pace from the three big American Lagers; Budweiser, Coors, and Miller.

Now the bad news.  Kräftig is currently only available in St. Louis and Central Missouri.  But from what I saw in the first week of it being released, Kräftig and William K Busch Brewing Co should both be very successful in the years to come!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Schlafly Coffee Stout

I couldn't think of a better beer to drink while brewing our version of a coffee stout.  I have had a handful of coffee stouts in my day and this one tops them all.

The soul of this beer is Schlafly's Oatmeal stout (which is delicious by itself); add to that Kaldi's Coffee French Roast and you have a "match made in beer heaven", according to Schlafly.  You may be asking "why is Schlafly Coffee Stout so much better than others?".  Well there's a few different reasons;

1.) Kaldi's Coffee is better than all other coffees

2.) Schlafly Oatmeal Stout is better than all other oatmeal stouts

3.) Schlafly uses only Kaldi's unique "cold extraction toddy" process to brew a less acidic coffee

The bottom line is that this beer tastes like an iced coffee with a kick!  Hurry up and grab a 6 pack because it's only available until March!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We're back!!!

Well, I'll be honest with you all...  Eric and I went into a deep depression over our first attempt AND second attempt to brew beer (the infamous White House Honey Porter, which we tried turning into a "Holiday Porter").  We were scared to tell the world of our failures.  BUT Rome was not built in one day!

The first attempt at brewing seemed like it would be successful but it was not... kind of.  It was beer, and it tasted like beer.  However the "Plain American Ale" brew kit that we bought tasted watered down almost.  It had a distinctive home brew taste (I called it a "home brew taste" after our second brew, the honey porter, tasted very similar).  After thinking and drinking and dreaming and contemplation and drinking and thinking some more I came to the conclusion we screwed up the hops!

They are two types of hops:  One that goes in for almost the entire boil (bittering hops), and one that goes in at the very, very end of the boil (aroma hops).  We screwed up that entire cycle of hops in both brews; aka, we suck!

I was done brewing at this point.  Done! Finished! Finite! Acabado!  But Brandy (under the direction of Eric, who did not want our passion of beer to die... or all the money we put towards the brew equipment to go to waste) bought me the most glorious brew kit for Christmas; a coffee stout brew kit.  Just like that I was back in the game!

This is a "hop spider" that Eric learned how to make

This past Monday we decided to brew it.  Bad idea.  It was a high of 25 degrees with a wind chill of about 5 degrees.  But that didn't stop us!  Eric and I were determined to finally brew a GOOD beer.  We fought through the elements, didn't fu*k up the hops, and drank a little bit of beer.  However, we won't know if this attempt was a success until about a month from now.  We will be sure to keep you all informed throughout this entire brewing process.  Third time's a charm!

spent grains that i hope to bake into bread!