Thursday, May 24, 2012

Long Hiatus

Hey loyal followers,

It's been too long since I have graced you with my presence, and for that I apologize.  I have been distracted by other troublesome hobbies, vacations, yard work, additions to the family etc...  Enough is enough.  It's time I put the nose to the proverbial grindstone and cranked out a blog entry.  My last post was March 21st, over two months ago.  Unfortunately I haven't brewed any beer since then, but I have certainly drank my fair share.  Let me catch you guys up on my first magnificent brews.

First up was the Amber.  My first born.  My pride and joy.  Heir to my debt... It came out more like an amber-headed step child.  Not quite what I wanted, and if reported lost in Macy's I may not claim him, but tolerable behind closed doors.  I actually got a little impatient and cracked one open before it was completely primed in the bottle.  It tasted like ass... at least what I imagine ass would taste like.  The "beer" had a buttery/butterscotchy taste to it, and after reading around I found out this was due to some chemical reaction blah blah.  I was a little worried, but I gave the rest of the batch another week or so. 

Alright, now for the actual first tasting of the finished beer.  As I cracked open the first bottle and poured the beer into my glass, the color was a nice dark amber (shocker); almost opaque (that means you can't see through it).  Clarity issues are usually caused by a slow cold break, which I could understand since I cooled this guy in the kitchen sink with ice water.  It smelled OK I guess.  This amber didn't have any aroma hops so I wasn't expecting too much in the scent department.  But who cares about that crap.  What about the taste?  It tasted... underwhelming.  Boo!!!  Four weeks for this?  Don't get me wrong, it was drinkable.  They disappeared rather quickly, but that's more of a reflection upon your esteemed author than the taste of the beer.  The taste just seemed impotent, lacking, incomplete, far short of its potential, light in the loafers.  Need I go on?  I think one of the problems was my steeping method.  I basically just dropped the grain bag in the water and left it.  I'm supposed to dip it like a tea bag.  Perhaps the spillage of yeast detracted from the flavor.  Who is to say?  Whatever, I have moved on.

 Next was my IPA.  I was very excited to brew this beer because I am a self proclaimed hop-head.  This guy loves the bitter.  Since this batch had such a high starting gravity I had to make a starter wort.  See my previous post if interested in that debacle.  Anyway, as I was going through the ingredients I found the extra packet of dried yeast I bought to prevent the requirement of a yeast starter.  Oops.  Oh well, since I spilled most of my yeast while making the starter I was happy to see this.  It all works out in the end.

On to the tasting.  I had to let this beer sit in the fermenter for 3 weeks, then prime in the bottles for 3 more!  When the day finally arrived to open one up, I could barely contain myself.  I almost called out of work, but thought it better to save the day for one of recovery rather than one of debauchery.  As I sat in my cubicle, watching the minutes tick by I could almost feel the ice cold brew flowing down into my gullet.  Minutes felt like hours, hours felt like an eternity.  "What a cruel existence this is!" I screamed in my head.   3:30 came at last and I bolted from my ergonomic chair and ran to my car, ready to face my God-awful commute.  Traffic was heavy, but by now my mind was laser focused on one thing...homebrew.  I dodged and weaved, passed on the shoulder, drove in the HOV lane without a passenger; I didn't care.  If a cop tried to pull me over, it may have resulted in a high speed chase.  I cannot say for sure.  When I finally got home I burst through the door, opened the refrigerator, grabbed my beer and went for the bottle opener.  As I opened the drawer I noticed my hands were visibly shaking.  Six weeks of anticipation were coming to a head and the moment was nearly upon me.  I took a deep breath, steadied my hand, placed my large mouth bass shaped bottle opener under the cap, and pried with all my might.  "Sppprtt."  Oh what a beautiful sound that beer made.  I honestly believe it whispered to me in some carbonated beverage dialect foreign to my ears.  I will never truly know what it said, but I like to believe that in our language it would roughly translate to "soul mate."

Oh, sorry.  I got a little descriptive.  My first pour of Imperial IPA was rather impressive.  The color was dark but clear.  The smell was pungent and hoppy.  And the taste.  Oh the taste.  This is by far the best beer I have ever brewed.  Bitter yet sweet.  Complex yet simple.  I am completely happy with this beer, and if it was sold in a store I would certainly buy it.  Salty Rick makes one hell of an IPA.

Well, there it is.  You are all caught up on the goings on of your favorite home brewer.  What prompted me to write this entry is a sale I saw on Austin Home Brew Supply.  This Saturday, all orders over $50 get free shipping.  I'm all over this bad boy.  I'm picking up an American Pale Ale and a British IPA for $30 each (usually $42).  Add yeast and thats 10 gallons of beer for $75 bucks.  Sign me up.

Sorry for the long post.  I will try to keep the updates a little more regular to cut down on the wall of text.

Peace out,