Friday, August 28, 2009

Beer of the Week

It's been a while since we went back to the "Old World" to find a beer of the week. This beer of the week is both Old World and Old School.

The Hacker-Pschorr brewery of Munich traces its legacy back almost 600 years, to 1417. Our beer of the week, Hacker-Pschorr's Anno 1417, takes its name from the year of the brewery's founding.

Anno 1417 is a Kellerbier, or Cellar Beer in English. The Kellerbier is common in Franconia, a region in northern Bavaria. Kellerbier has very little carbonation, due to the fact that the bung is not inserted tightly into the fermenting barrel, allowing the carbon dioxide to escape. Generally, the beer is then drank right out of the keg, with no filtration, giving the lager a cloudy appearance (Naturtr├╝b or "naturally cloudy" auf Deutsch) and a smooth yeasty taste.

A few Kellerbiers, also known as Zwickel Beers, are available in bottles, such as Hacker-Pschorr's and St. Georgenbra├╝.

Hacker's brew pours a light and cloudy amber, with a creamy off-white head. The brew smells of toasted malts and just a touch of hops.

The smooth and light mouthfeel is accentuated by the dryness of the malts, and the richness of the yeast. The hops are definitely present in balance, but do not overpower the malts. The beer finishes rich and earthy.

Although Kellerbiers may be hard to find at your local store, this Old World tradition is worth the hunt. Prost!

Links of Interest:

Hacker-Pschorr (Auf Deutsch!)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beer of the Weekend - My Beer

With as much as I have to say about beer, I am inexperienced in the art and science of its creation. I merely sit on the sidelines, quaffing the rewards, throwing barbs and compliments towards people I don't even know. I am in essence, the equivalent of a theater critic, an armchair quarterback.

To broaden my both my figurative and literal palette, I decide it was time to make the jump into brewing myself.

I had inherited some brewing equipment from an old brewer, and bought some new pieces at my local homebrew store. I picked out some ingredients, enlisted the help of my fiance Amber, and my friend John, and off we went.

I had decided that my first attempt would be an American Style Amber Ale. It seemed that there was a lower probability of screwing that style up, and besides, Amber & I both love it.

We steeped some speciality grains in the mix for some flavor and color, but the base of the brew was from extract. Eventually I'd like to get to all grain brewing, but for now, I'm letting the pros do the mashing.

We used Cascade hops for the bittering, and IPA lovers, it smelled wonderful as soon as it hit the wort. It changed the color of the mix and released a citrus smell throughout the kitchen.

After letting the wort boil for an hour, it was time to cool it down and add the yeast. We used an immersion wort chiller and it worked like a charm. If you're an aspiring home brewer, I highly recommend the investment in this piece of equipment. I've heard that cooling in the sink or tub can take an hour; this took less than 15 minutes.

After that we added distilled water to make up for some lost in the boil, and sealed it up. I'm happy to report that it's bubbling away in the basement and smells delicious. I'll report back on the process as it goes along.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Beer of the Week

Lagunitas (lah-goo-nee-tahs) is a can't miss brewery for those of you into that hopped up, west coast style. Their IPA is a standard setter (especially if you like those citrus, grapefruit IPAs), and their Lil' Sumpin' ale is outstanding.

Located in beautiful Petaluma, California, Lagunitas is located in the Beer Mecca of the US, the Pacific Northwest (sorry Colorado). Similar to other breweries in the area, Lagunitas is known for flavorful ales heavy on the hops.

The Imperial Red (now available in sixers!) is different in that it features the malts more than any other Lagunitas beer I've had. The malts are smooth, caramel, and along with the alcohol, give this beer a huge mouth feel. Despite the relatively "big" presence of this beer on the palette, the smoothness makes it sessionable. Note: at 9.6% ABV, don't "session" too many of these in one sitting.

There are hops present, and they have that signature Lagunitas nose about them: grapefruit and a general citrus. Unlike the brewery's "Maximus" or "Hop Stoopid," however, the hops aren't the feature, but equally, the aren't to be overlooked. This isn't a malt bomb, this is a well balanced ale.

Links of Interest:

Lagunitas Brewing Company

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