Sunday, September 16, 2012

#fridaytryday Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

I have to apologize, things have been very busy around headquarters lately. Lots of beer tasting/brewing going on. Anyway, lets get on with it.

This weeks #fridaytryday beer was something special. I've had this beer in my cellar (by cellar, I mean the shelves in my basement where i keep my tools and random crap) for the better part of a year. My basement maintains a pretty steady temperature year round, low 70's high 60's depending on the season. I really should consider aging more beers... ANYWAY.

The story here is this: my wife loves seasonal beers ALMOST as much as me, one of her favorites happens to be Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale. That being said, this past April we were blessed with the arrival of our daughter Maggie. Which is just a beautiful thing. But, I'd be a liar if my wife wasn't just a little bit bummed when she wasn't able to enjoy her favorite seasonal brew last winter. So, being the awesome husband that I am, I grabbed a 12 pack last year and shelved it. intending not to drink any until the baby was born(only 6 made it this long but, thats pretty good right?).  On Friday night we decided it was time to crack them open.

On to the beer!!

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Beer: Celebration Ale

Style: American IPA

alcohol by volume: 6.8%

This brew is just a a fine example of an american IPA. Poured into and english style pint glass it revealed a great amber/orange color. Not much head after a semi vigorous pour. Decent lacing as I drank my way down.

The nose is good with notes of lemon, and flowers and of course hops. The flavor is a bit piny because if I'm correct this beer is hopped rather vigorously during the brewing process. But, any hop lover will tell you that there is just nothing wrong with that! A bit of a bitter kind of mouthfeel but, some of the best IPA's have a bit of a bitter characteristic as a result of the massive amounts of hops in the beer.

Over all despite of the strong mouthfeel of this beer, its a shining example of an American IPA. This brew has me waiting on it each year which is pretty impressive.

Ill be picking more of this up when the 2012 batch is released. Ill hold on to at least one bottle of the 2011 batch for a comparison. Until then, cheers!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beer Review: Dogfish Head Immort Ale (aged)

So, Im going to preface this review by saying that I do not by any means have a beer cellar. I'm a complete novice when it comes to aging beers. This beer got aged on accident. An extremely HAPPY accident. To be perfectly honest, about a year or so ago I bought a "mix pack" of craft beers, as I so often do and Dogfish Head's Immort Ale happened to be one of those lucky six. Believe it or not, I just never got around to drinking it. It sat in my fridge (I know what you're thinking, "Thats not how you cellar a beer dummy!") and after a few months I just decided to let it go. WHAT A GREAT DECISION!!

So here it is, my review of Dogfish Head's Immort Ale aged 11 months (bottled 10/26/2010)

Brewery: Dogfish Head

Beer: Immort Ale

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol By Volume: 11%

Dogfish Head's Immort Ale is brewed with maple syrup from Sam Calagione's family farm in massachusetts. It's also brewed with vanilla and aged in oak tanks at the brewery.

This is a serious beer. 11% is serious... Seriously. I poured this brew into an english style pint glass. I poured it pretty hard as I was curious about what kind of head I would get on a beer that has been in my fridge for nearly a year. I was a bit disappointed with the amount of head I got which was pretty much zero. Of course this could have everything to do with the fact that its been aged for a year and NOT the beer if it had been poured fresh. I guess Ill just have to seek out a fresh one and see what happens. Anyway, despite the lack of significant head, this beer had some other serious offers...

Aroma. This brew is just fantastic in your nose holes. Don't snort it or anything, that would probably sting a bit. But, when you pour this beer take a good moment to enjoy the aroma. Very sweet (to be honest, it smells a bit like a good bourbon), you can definitely smell the maple and the vanilla working together. Harmoniously I must say. There was quite a "boozey" sent as well but, again that could be the aging. Let me stress that the "boozeyness" does NOT detract from the aroma of this beer.

Immort Ale's flavor upon first taste, seems very complex. However, as I continued it simplified. Very sweet, very earthy, very pleasant. As I slowly drank this brew and allowed it to warm up a little in my glass. It became very simple. The Maple is there, as is the vanillia and I could really taste the oak which, was very pleasant.

I REALLY enjoyed this beer. My only complaint is that the 11% ABV might have taken away from the flavors a bit but, thats just Dogfish Head. They brew strong beers.

If you can find this brew right now, grab a six pack and set one aside for a few months. You won't regret it. If anybody has a fresh one nearby that they might want to compare notes on, let me know. I'd love to know how different an experience a fresh one is to my aged version.

Drink craft beer!

Monday, September 3, 2012

#fridaytryday Beer Review: New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

Now if you follow my twitter at all you know that one of my favorite things about craft beer are seasonal offerings. My favorite beer season just so happens to be fall. I really dig fall beers especially those of the pumpkin/spiced ale variety. This week’s #fridaytryday beer is Ichabod Pumpkin Ale by New Holland Brewing. Now, this is my first official beer review and second official post on my newly christened blog page. I sincerely hope you enjoy it. If you don’t, be nice and keep the criticisms to yourself… Jerks.
Brewery: New Holland Brewing
Beer: Ichabod Pumpkin Ale
Style: Pumpkin/spiced ale
Alcohol by volume: 5.2
This pumpkin ale is brewed with real pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. when pouring into a glass it yielded about an inch of decent head, and that was with a pretty aggressive pour. The head dissipated pretty quickly once I started enjoying the brew. Very little lacing in the glass, what lacing did occur ran down as I continued to drink. This brew also has a fine amber color that any beer lover would salivate over.
One of the absolute best things this brew has going for it is its aroma. The cinnamon really stands out, it has a truly delightful sweet malty aroma set off by the addition of nutmeg. The alcohol doesn’t really stand out much in the aroma which makes sense as this brew is only 5.2%.
Taste is a completely different monster with this brew. While the cinnamon and nutmeg really shine in its aroma, the malty character of this beer really comes out when tasted. The finish is even more satisfying when all the spices really blend together to make a truly great fall style beer. There isn’t much of a hop character to the beer which, is fine. I think that too much hops really takes away from what pumpkin beers are brewed for. That spicy almost pumpkin pie type of flavor. Too much hops added to a pumpkin beer can really break that characteristc. Now dont get me wrong, I LOVE me a hoppy beer. Hoppy makes me happy. However, in this instance with this style a big addition of hops can really ruin it.
New Holland’s Ichabod is a GREAT example of this particular style. I’ve been a big fan of this brew since I randomly found it on draft 2 or 3 years ago at one of my favorite haunts. Each fall since then it has become a major player in my fall rotation. Its a great beer for anyone who might be new to trying pumpkin beers. it really shines in the aroma department and absolutely does not disappoint in the taste arena either.
Go grab a 6 pack or fill up a growler. This brew is perfect for porch sitting as the nights cool off and the leaves start to fall.

The lowdown

Welcome to Suds Anonymous! Where you can read the ramblings of a craft beer lover and home brewer! Ill be doing my very best to update the site weekly with happenings, beer reviews, and home brewing mishaps/adventures.
Each Friday, on my twitter account (@sudsanonymous), I do #fridaytryday in which I will tell you what particular libation I’m enjoying, where I am enjoying it, and provide a brief review. It’s my intention to take those #fridaytryday posts a bit deeper here on the site. Along with more in-depth beer reviews, I’ll also do my very best to include reviews and information on the fine establishments in which I’m enjoying my beverages of choice.
Along the way I’m also going to do my very best to pass on information regarding events in the area as well as posting links to other (and most likely better) beer blogs.
Occasionally I may allow some of Knights of the Nectar as I like to refer to fellow beer lovers and myself (actually I just made that up, do you like it? Be honest… No? You’re right, that’s terrible. But, its staying in). Which really just means that I’ll probably let some of my beer and brewing buddies chime in from time to time. You know, to keep things fresh around here.
I’ll try to be as knowledgeable as possible but, as most of you craft beer lovers out there are aware there’s tons to know and tons to learn. So, as I learn and experience things I’ll be passing it on to you! Exciting right?
So. To get things started, I figure I’ll begin with some information regarding my most recent homebrew. This past Saturday night after very graciously (and very much unhappily) agreeing to be the driver for my wife and sister-in-law, I decided I needed to brew. I just NEEDED to brew. I’ve had my equipment cleaned and ready to go for a couple of weeks and just hadn’t had a chance to fire up the burner. So, after watching my wife and her sister enjoy a few drinks I decided that it was time to pack them up and get home. After all, I NEEDED to brew.
Of course we didn’t get home until late, so I didn’t start my brew until around midnight which was fine by me. The plan was to brew an IPA, though I made a huge mistake right off the bat. I started steeping my grain in too much water. In a moment of confusion, I started my boil with 5 gallons of water instead of the standard 3. I could have saved it had I not already began steeping my grain. So, I figure “lets keep going, the beer will be lighter and that’s okay. I’ll just call it a session IPA.” For those of you who may not know, any form of beer with a lower alcohol content (usually 4-4.5%) may be refered to as a “session” beer, in that you can drink a few in a drinking session and not feel an extreme alcohol effect. i.e. you don’t too hammered too fast.
Anyway, after that the boil went very well. Until it was time to chill the wart. Chilling the wart is important because if your wart stays hot for too long it has potential of growing harmful bacteria. The problem with wort chilling is, there isn’t a great way to do it at home if you havent invested (which I havent) in a wort chiller. Without some type of wort chiller your best bet is to drop your hot kettle into an ice bath. Which if I’m being honest really doesn’t work all that great. I’ll be buying a wort chiller very soon, and I will of course let you know how well it does the job.
I brought my wort inside and dunked it in my kitchen sink, misjudged the amount of water that would displace and spilled water all over the counter and kitchen floor. The water in the sink heated to the temperature of the brew kettle almost instantly so, I spent the better part of an hour spraying water around the outside of my kettle in an attempt to cool it down. Brewing beer at home really IS fun, I’m just a complete novice.
once my beer was chilled to a reasonable 120 degrees (100 is ideal but I have the patience of a 6-year-old) I brought the wort back outside to funnel into my recently inherited (its only necessary for me to tell you how recently I got it because this was my first brew using a carboy and there are a few things I didn’t know) carboy. It’s at this point my second big problem begins. I have nearly 4 1/2 gallons of wort when you should normally have 3. At the end of a normal brew one typically adds to gallons of fresh water to the wort to aid in chilling. I did my best to add as much water to the carboy as possible (which was probably too much),pitched my yeast, lugged the brew down to my basement and went to bed.
Upon checking my brew the following morning I was met with a blowout. My airlock had popped due to pressure and the beer had run out of the carboy onto my basement floor. I re-sealed the carboy and went about my day. Later that afternoon, it blew again loud enough and hard enough to blow the airlock against the basement ceiling which startled the dog, who started barking and waking my daughter. Amidst the confusion, I decided that there must be WAY too much pressure in the carboy and dumped off some of the beer. The theory there was “if I give more room for the pressure in the bottle, it might stay sealed.” A fine theory though, now I’m pretty confident that I dumped off my yeast which has completely halted fermentation. What I didn’t know is that depending on the gravity of the beer, it’s generally a good idea to use a blow off hose. What that means is instead of sealing with an airlock, attaching a hose to the carboy where the beer can blow off into a bucket making less mess.
So, that’s where I stand currently after this weekends brew. I’m planning on giving the beer a couple of days to see if fermentation takes off again but it’s not looking too great. I’ll most likely have to pitch my yeast again. I’ll bring you updates as this story develops…