unnamedI was having some friends over, which always gives me, still a cheap date, the opportunity to buy interesting new offerings in 22s and 750mls and share, sometimes getting interesting takes from my friends, sometimes ignoring them, but being able to try a couple or three without getting hammered.

On this occasion, of my three pals, none of them were IPA aficionados, one a fan, almost exclusively , of big dark malty ales and stouts, the second happy with quality “whatever,” the third a drinker of almost anything, period, with the exception of IPAs. So I picked up, as the baseline beverage of the evening, a six of Rail Dawg smoked black lager, a tasty treat I discovered from Thirsty Dog Brewing when it was released in a bottling alongside their Citra Dawg, both having been reviewed here, both very much liked. So everyone was happy.

But the two bottles that piqued my curiosity for tasting were IPAs…sort of. The first was Muffin Top from Clown Shoes in Ipswich, Massachusetts. A few years ago the name Clown Shoes was submitted to a Beer Advocate contest by Ringmaster Gregg Berman…and lost. Undaunted, one day while driving around, Greg decided he would brew his own (funny?) beer, hoping it would be tasty, but KNOWING it would be called Clown Shoes. Fortunately, his was a proper Clown Car, as the beer was, indeed, tasty, so he packed a bunch of his pals in to help and started spewing out a lot of beer, all crafted with a sense of whimsy, a quality that floats nicely in the world of craft brewing.

2012-05-28-clown-shoes-intNow the label alone, a sure Hall of Famer, would have been enough for me! I would have been happy just knowing Greg created a Clown Alley for the purpose of brewing! But, in Muffin Top he created a Belgian-Style Tripel IPA that is delicious. As noted here more than a few times in the past, I have become a real fan of Belgian beers, and the IPA is what originally sucked me into the world of craft beer, so this combo is always intriguing. This one poured with a nice IPA nose, and a solid creamy head. The flavor is wonderful. Big at 10% ABV, this has a balance that belies the big alcohol. While the name presumably speaks to the calories, the meatiness and the yeast, the flavor is one of citrus. As a tripel, not so much the coriander and cloves we associate with such beers, but enough spice and orange intertwined with the big hop floral citrus that it presents far far more than what I view as the pretty pedestrian orange Belgian-esque Blue Moon and Shock Top. They don’t publish an IBU number, but it is surprisingly smooth on the end with less bitterness than one might expect, leading us to think of it first, less as an IPA and very much as a super hoppy tripel, and fondly so.

Next up was a “new” brew from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon—Hop in the Dark C.D.A. at 6.8% ABV, described as follows:

“From the Nothing’s Sacred Pacific Northwest comes a whole new beer style: Cascadian Dark Ale. Welcome to the curious place where the velvet dark of roasted malt meets the hop snap of IPA.”

indexAnother cool label, The nose, for me was hoppy but with a hint of malt. One pal immediately sniffed, sipped, and chirped “IPA!” While this is true, for the most part, I found the malt influence going beyond just darkening the brew as is often the case of dark lagers and IPAs. The mouthfeel was relatively light, very much in the area of a staunch IPA or heavier dark lager, and the nature of the sweetness certainly spoke some to the malts. There was a moment, however, when the bitter (75 IBU) hit on the back, particularly following the low bitter Muffin Top, presenting as an IPA with dark black coffeee coming up from underneath. Whether this was a correct read or not, I found it made this an interesting and recommended offering. I don’t know that this establishes American Black Ale as a new genus, but Hop in the Dark is definitely one such ale worth drinking.

One final Belgian IPA experience came at the very nice brewpub of the highly awarded Hoppin’ Frog Brewery. A couple years ago we reviewed The Art of Ale, a tasting at The Akron Art Museum. On that night there were two brews sampled from Hoppin’ Frog that knocked me out, and these I wanted to revisit. So while waiting for one pal to arrive, I had a little 5 ouncer of their Barrel Aged Outta Kilter Scotch Red. I’ve always been a Wee Heavy fan and recalled my delight in seeing the fresh version of this at the tasting, later coming to appreciate it more when I discovered, while touring Scotland, that this designation of beer has become old school rare.

Jerk Chicken Tacos

Jerk Chicken Tacos

This iteration was unusual in that they took this Wee Heavy and aged it in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, but barrels that had already been used to age their (again, award winning) big bad stout, Boris the Destroyer. This produced a really unique flavor, the barrels offering that bourbon harmonic, but only a harmonic, the big bourbon sweetness modified by the dryer stout that had been in residence in these barrels prior to the Wee Heavy. Delightful and not heavy handed at all, coming from a brewer that typically offers BIG beers in BIG bottles. An excellent beverage.

When all had arrived I ordered wonderful, filling, jerk chicken tacos with a mango salsa, served with homemade chips (much tastier than the pic I took here). To accompany it, after working their brains around my request, the bartenders found the beer I was looking for, again originally tasted at the Art of Ale. This was my first Belgian IPA, and it was in the brew pub’s lovely “Vintage” section, Hop Master’s Abbey Belgian style Double IPA. I offered tastes to my mates, but THIS was one 22 I was going to drink! I remembered it as a pretty spicy Belgian with the lovely cut of hops, the wonderful mix of the spice, the citrus, and the floral. Interestingly, on this night, aged as it was (5 years), it had changed.

unnamedA quick digression. This brew pub is great. Music is played, people are happy and responsibly respectful of the remarkable quality of these high alcohol beverages. A true craft brew pub. Chef Shawn Sweeney, a very nice guy, came out and we talked about the tacos.The dark meat chicken had been prepared in such a way that, amazing flavor aside, there was a dry, meaty texture to it, more like duck than what can be, for me, a little too wet and slippery of a texture in dark meat chicken. Then master brewer and owner of Hoppin’ Frog, Fred Karm also came by and sat with us as we dug into this Double IPA. We all (Scott, our bartender had a taste as well) agreed the ale had changed over the years, traveling from having been a very spiced Belgian to more of an Abbey style, the yeast playing a bigger part, the hops dropping back in the mix as well. At this point I really didn’t think in terms of it being better or worse for the wear, but wondered over how greatly the ale evolved based on it’s components. Delicious, refreshing, and most of all… really interesting.

So from dancing with Clown Shoes in the dark, from IPAs to CDAs, Clown Cars to vintage beer “cellars,” these were some successful, fun, and colorful drinking adventures.

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unnamedHad this great, multi purposed funfest recently, attending Comic Book Heritage Night at the Great Lakes Brewing Tasting Room , sponsored by the brewery and Carol & John’s Comic Shop.

There were about 100 interesting folks to rub shoulders with, a gaggle of artists, known as the Rust Belt Monster Collective  in attendance, a line of them offering to customize a blank comic book cover. Carol and John had plenty of merch, both to sell and to give away.

The guest of honor was cartoonist John Backderf, derf , author of the highly acclaimed (and sold) My Friend Dahmer, and his (this, of course makes me think of Jerry Lewis and the band, Citizen Dick from the movie Singles) recently super-popular-in-France, Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, in which your humble Editor is depicted as a character.

derf, probably considered, with the passing of the legendary lovable curmudgeon Harvey Pekar, the grand old man of Cleveland comics (though only 54, his worldview fits the bill), gave a fun guided trip via power point through his career, focusing on his tenure as a newspaper cartoonist, the part of his career he’s retiring from in order to concentrate on publishing more books and web series.

For the price of admission, there was a table with cheese, crackers, fruit, warm pretzel nuggets, a couple kinds of mustard and a pile of 2 different kinds of grilled sausages, one spicy, one not. All this was tasty and easy to put together as Great Lakes is just down the street from the wonderful West Side Market, two long one story buildings filled with produce of all kinds, butchers, bakers, candy, prepared foods… just check the link, all in the cool and getting cooler Ohio City section of Cleveland.

unnamedOn tap, Great Lakes offered their standard year round fare, Dortmunder, Burning River, Edmund Fitzgerald, Commodore Perry, and Eliot Ness, and one summerseasonal, Wright Pilsner. But this night, for this event, a new brew, served up by Pub Brewer Joel Warger, was debuted, called Truth, Justice & The American Ale. The name was, as explained by Joel, based on the desire to honor the night, but without any threat of D.C bringing a copyright infringement suit to the festivities, Feds potentially seizing the sausages!

The tasty beverage is described as a session American Pale Ale. We all acknowledge that such a name isn’t really recognized as a breed in the beer version of The American Kennel Club, but we get it. It’s not technically an IPA, though it’s made with Simcoe, Cascade, and Mosaic in the cook, and additionally dry hopped, thus described by the brewer as having “heroic hop flavor disguised as a mild mannered session beer.”

There’s been a trend and an effort on a number of brewer’s parts to create session IPAs. We’ve tried a couple that we found to be less than interesting. This one broke the mold. The hops gave off a great floral nose, the flavor naturally (at 4.9% ABV) on the mild side, but rather than coming off as “weak” there was a smoothness to it. Enough of a malt presence to give it some sweetness in the middle and enough of a bitter on the back end (35 IBU) to deal well with that spicy sausage we were pounding.

unnamedI’m always interested in a session strength beer that is interesting as I really won’t drink the normal American mass produced lagers and most tasty craft beer comes at you with a pretty high alcohol content. This is why I’ve been a strong advocate of Stone Levitation Ale, yet another ale that could call itself a session IPA based on hoppiness and nose, yet doesn’t.

Sadly, there are no official plans in the works to bottle TJAA at present, but it can be had, seasonally at the pub at Great Lakes. Check greatlakesbrewing.com for availability.

And on top of all the above at this lovely fest, we got a free Archie Digest!!!! Win, win!

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One of our more visited posts is titled  Pasteurization in Brewing 101, featuring some thoughts and valued information from Mark Phipps, Technical Director at Alltech Brewing & Distilling Company, widely known as  the brewer of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Recently, as a follow up, we received a question from a reader asking about the whys and wherefores of the temperature at which beer would be pasteurized, should one choose to do so. While this question was, in reality, answered in the context of Mark’s comments, this sparked some further conversation about the process, why some brews are pasteurized, some not, pros, cons, and the inner workings of the industry, at least in that respect, one taking place between Dr. Carol Westbrook, our YBN Beer Doctor, and Taylor McIntosh, brewer at the award winning Thirsty Dog Brewing Company, during a visit that we’ll post about shortly.

Happily, in yet another focus on the subject, we have here some  insightful comments from the perspective of Jaime Jurado, Director of Brewing Operations at Louisiana’s Abita Brewing. Thanks to Jaime for taking the time and Dr. Westbrook for sending this along

-The Editor 

******

Jaime Jurado, Abita Brewing

Jaime Jurado, Abita Brewing

Most brewers in the world pasteurize beer, including many craft breweries. Sterile filtration can fail, and beer can get infected at packaging….tunnel pasteurization covers all that. Flash pasteurization has the same limitation, as sterile filtration in that pristine beer can get infected immediately after it exits either the sterile filter or flash pasteurizer, so greater care is required, and more hygienic engineering design integrated. A ‘sterile fill-capable’ filler can cost at least $1.5million, yet a “normal” beer filler (not aseptically-certified) at the same throughput can cost as little as $225,000. Since the USA has no larger-scale packaging machinery fabricators, the European standard testing A-3 is the baseline aseptic-cababilty certification testing.

The irony is that in the USA, most brewers do not pasteurize kegged beer (unlike the rest of the world), so that’s why beer kegs are kept refrigerated at all times and, hopefully, across the entire life of the filled keg. Our largest brewers do not pasteurize keg beer.

Many craft beers cannot be sterile filtered, and those that are may experience some degree of flavor scalping and stripping as the beer is push through 0.22 micron to 0.45 micron polymeric or ceramic filtration media.

It is true that pasteurization at least  TEMPORARILY changes beer flavor, but in work I’ve done, the best flavor panel in the world could not discern Control vs Pasteurized after three days had passed (for mainstream-style lager beers). When you briefly heat beer, you increase the rate of oxidation during that period, but I guess after 3 days, the level of oxidation effects are the same in unpasteurized beer. I have not yet done the careful comparative work on highly-hopped beers, but then most IPAs I know are not pasteurized. The ones that have residual yeast for bottle-conditioning certainly would never be, but these ales have higher hopping, and with that comes natural manta-microbial support form the packaged ale itself.

Is it true that many, many small breweries have no sterile filtration nor pasteurization of any kind? Of course that is true. And some of these travel quite far before they are consumed, often having long storage times, too. Loads of people are happy to drive without seat belts while also texting on their mobile phones. Despite understanding the risks, loads of people enjoy smoking cigarettes and some people happily let their children enjoy swimming in the pool unsupervised. 
A pasteurizer represents an investment and a commitment to sustained quality and security as much as putting on that seatbelt and choosing to not text while driving. It’s true that a number of beer aficionados look down on the process, express that only mega-breweries use it, that’s it’s wrong for craft beers. And there certainly are brewers who came into professional brewing from home brewer or beer service backgrounds, and use their platforms as brewers in craft breweries to reinforce the opinions that pasteurized beer has had some of it specialness removed. It reminds me a little of many brewers who espouse cans over bottles and never mention that the cheapest can filler system is cheaper than the cheapest bottle fill system, and the cans themselves along with six-pack rings and cardboard trays can be 50% cheaper than bottles, labels, six-packs and cases. A brewer who expresses that pasteurization is inherently problematic may not share that their brewery can’t or won’t afford one.

Every Master Brewer I know who pasteurizes beer sleeps better because it is inevitable that sometimes something will slip through, from a slight tear on a filter pad, for example, or a chance passage through an imperfectly cleaned and sanitized hose or coupling or union. And if not denatured, it could change flavor in the package for worse. We all know how draught beer can sometimes disappoint us, and we know that if lines aren’t cleaned correctly and with the right frequency, then the beer itself changes flavor. Imagine if that variability was our standard for packaged beers our friends purchased; Please download the free BA manual on draught dispense at http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/community/news/show?title=new-and-improved-draught-beer-quality-website

In spiritu cerevisiae,

Jaime

 

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unnamedAt the end of a very physically active holiday weekend, a little dehydrated from all the play and salty BBQ foods, I sat down with a nice Ashton Esquire, a Dominican purito, and a 12 oz. bottle of Domaine DuPage from Two Brothers Brewing, a French Country Ale, at 5.9% ABV. It poured a medium amber with a cream colored, but very minimal head. The nose was malty with a hint of spice.

The flavor mirrored the nose, somewhat malty, sweet, not cloying, and at the low ABV, not an overpowering beverage. The brewer claims a decent bitter on the back. For my money, at 24IBU, not really worth focusing on outside of it’s role, as is same with the subtle spice, in creating another nice example of a session beer with an interesting personality. Balanced to a degree that it possessed a high level of drinkability and thirst quenching while staying interesting and lively throughout.

When looking to snap a pic for this post, I was delighted to see that not only was this Domaine DuPage lively, but it was, in fact, alive as well, spying a piece of living yeast in the bottom of my glass forming a mini-geyser of carbonation rising up like a submerged water spout, reminiscent of the Delirium Tremens I also made a video of in a previous post.

So not only was the beverage tasty, refreshing and totally satisfying as a “good drinking beer,” something I will be adding to my “go to” beer list, but entertaining as well!
A win win.

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imagesYou will recall from Part I that I decided to home-brew an ultra-hoppy double IPA, inspired by a Christmas gift of Cascade hops. In the previous article, Part I of the Hops project, I reviewed the varieties and chemistry of brewing hops. At that point I had enough background information to ask a few brewing experts for some direction before proceeding on my own.

I got in touch with Jaime Jurado, a good friend who is the Director of Brewing Operations at Abita Brewing Company. I asked him, “How hoppy can you make a beer? What about these beers that advertised IBU’s in the 500′s or higher–are these accurate? Is there a limit to the solubility of the hop oils? Can you even taste the hops at high IBU? Do you need to add more malt, and a higher alcohol level, to make a hoppy beer taste palatable?”

He replied,
“I do not know if 500 IBU is physically attainable…the higher the IBU the more unreliable is the analyses…what we do know is that there is a maximum hop intensity that our palates can detect and discern. My opinion is that balance is always important, so more malt backbone helps balance very hoppy beers, hence the double and triple IPAs out there. But if you ask 10 brewmasters, you’ll certainly receive 14 opinions…maybe more.”

Jaime referred me to a brewer friend of his, Karl Ockert, the technical director for the MBAA (Master Brewers Association of the Americas), who got back to me with:

” …the maximum solubility of the iso-alpha acids is about 120 ppm which means theoretically the maximum IBU possible is about 155.  Sensory wise you probably could not detect any real difference in IBUs above 80 anyway. 

“To make any beer palatable at the high end of the IBU range requires a significant alcohol and dextrin content, hence you see 100 IBU double and triple IPA’s at 6-10% ABV. Ironically the higher the gravity of the wort [e.g., the higher the malt and alcohol content], the less efficient is the isomerization and solubility of the alpha acid. In other words, the stronger the beer the less easy to make it super bitter.

“The analysis loses accuracy at higher BU levels and the breweries representing numbers above 100- 120 are probably using dodgy methods of analysis or relying upon calculated values that ignore the limiting solubility factors.”

In other words, there aren’t any rules, but it’s a matter of taste, and most tasters find that higher hops are balanced with more malt and higher alcohol.

It's Science

It’s Science

Armed with this information and encouragement, it was time to design my hoppy IPA. I decided to modify my standard 6.5% IPA recipe, using 3 additions of Cascade hops over 90 minutes, a fourth at the end of the boil, and a dry hop as well. I would balance the flavor by increasing the dried malt extract by 30%, and add some extra mouthfeel to the whole grain “mini-mash,” with biscuit malt, which has a bread-like flavor. Three additions of hops during the boil, and a fourth during the last 10 minutes, would give me an IBU of about 124. The alcohol level would be about 7.5%. This was my “90-minute Empire IPA,” a single-hop double IPA names for the Michigan hop farm.

I brewed the beer and it was ready by Super Bowl Sunday, which provided the perfect time to taste it and compare to a variety of commercially produced high-IBU beers. I wanted to see if alcohol and malt had an impact on the flavor, and how they compared to my brew.

I picked up seven hoppy craft beers, listed in order from lowest to highest (below), and threw in a Rye IPA to see if the grain type made a difference. (These estimates of IBUs may not be accurate, but I found them on a variety of web sites, so take them with a grain of caution.) I tasted all of the beers during the first quarter of the game with assistance from my husband Rick, accompanied by the requisite wings and chips. We started with the lower IBUs, and worked our way up to the highest. Here it the list:

Victory Hop Devil IBU 50 6.7%
Sierra Nevada Celebration IBU 65 6.8%
Sierra Nevada Torpedo IBU 70 7.2%
Anderson Hop Ottin IPA IBU 78 7.0%
Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA IBU 90 9.0%
Southern Tier 2X IPA IBU 90 8.2%
Six Point Resin Imperial IPA IBU 103 9.1%
Star Hill Double Platinum IBU 180 8.5%
Compared to:
Southern Tier 2X Rye IPA IBU 50-60 8.1%
Westbrook 90-minute Empire IPA IBU 124 7.8%

I do not have the column space to review these beers individually; suffice to say they were all world class; which you prefer is simply a matter of personal taste. The first two beers were typical, big-flavored American IPAs, with Celebration boasting the use of fresh hops. The fresh hops add an herbal or grassy flavor that is mellow and pleasant. As our tasting proceeded up the IBU ladder the increasing bitterness was apparent. Note that the next two, Torpedo and Hop Ottin had more hop bitterness than Celebration and Hop Devil, but about the same degree of malt and alcohol (low 70′s). I thought the hops were a bit harsh-tasting in Torpedo and Hop Ottin, confirming my suspicion that higher malt and alcohol levels were a necessary complement to the taste of hops. The next beers on the list, Southern Tier 2X IPA, and Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA had a much better balance between hops, malt and alcohol. In this middle range, Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA clearly stands out as a world-class beer. However, Southern Tier 2X IPA came in a close second; also well-balanced and very drinkable.

Interestingly, to my palate, the hops in Southern Tier 2X IPA tasted almost exactly the same as those in its less-hoppy cousin, Southern Tier’s 2X Rye IPA. I might conclude that barley malt moderates the hop taste better than rye malt. The hoppiest-tasting beer was Resin, from Six Point–it was quite an experience to drink this beer, which stands out head and shoulders above the others in extreme hoppy taste. The high alcohol gave it an extra kick. Interestingly, Double Platinum claims an IBU of 180, and it was certainly hoppy but not nearly as much (to my palate) as Resin. Was this a trick of good malt and alcohol balance that made Resin taste stronger, or were the measurements inaccurate? I liked both beers, but they were surprisingly different.

indexHow did my homebrew, Westbrook’s 90-minute Empire IPA shape up? It was a damn good beer. Surprisingly, though, it did not taste like it contained 124 IBUs, like Resin, but rather it landed in the middle. In malt taste and hop flavor, it seemed very close to the Southern Tier 2X IPA. I would guess it was about 90 IBU. So my hops and malt were perfectly balanced, but my IBU calculation was a bit off, or my hops extraction was not as efficient as I had hoped. Either way it was a very good beer indeed, and perfect for the Super Bowl game. It paired well with our hot wings and spicy chili.

imagesDr. Westbrook’s invaluable book, Ask an Oncologist is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Ed. This is a 2 part piece about a super hop IPA brewed by our Beer Doctor, Carol Westbrook. Look for the second part in a couple days

Cascade Hops Pellets

Cascade Hops Pellets

The hops project began at Christmas, when I was given a 1-pound bag of Cascade hop pellets, ready for brewing. The hops were harvested in the fall of 2013, at my in-laws’ hop farm in Michigan, Empire Hops and Apples.

One pound is a lot of hops for a home brewer, enough to make 16 five-gallon batches of IPA! I could never hope to give away 80 gallons of beer in a year, much less consume it. My solution: put more hops in each batch of beer. I wasn’t sure my standard IPA recipe would hold up to five times more hops, and I would almost certainly have to increase the malt and alcohol content of the beer; in other words, I would probably have to create a new recipe for an ultra-hopped IPA. Before going ahead with this challenge I realized that I needed to learn more about hops. Thus, the hops project began. I approached this like a laboratory research project: First, the background research into the biochemistry of hops; next, ask the experts for advice; finally, the field work–create my brew and compare it to a variety of hoppy ales.

Hops, as you know, are the flowers of the hop vine– humulus lupulus, to be exact. They contain a variety of compounds that add bitterness, flavor and aroma to the beer. The main flavor comes from alpha acids, beta acids, and volatile oils.

Fresh or dried hops are added to the boiling wort (malt, sugar, and water) prior to fermentation, to add bitterness and flavor to the beer. Hops can also be added after fermentation is complete and allowed to steep for a few days, almost like a teabag; this process, called “dry hopping” adds hop aroma but little flavor.

The chemistry of these processes is fairly well understood nowadays. Hops contain a mixture of “alpha acids,” of which the main compound is humulone. Humulone is not very soluble, but prolonged boiling converts it into iso-humulene, which is very water soluble. Hops producers give the percentage of total alpha acid units by weight (AAU), and are an indication of how much bitterness can theoretically be extracted during brewing. Alpha acids are the main flavor component of American hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, Wilmette, Citra, Simcoe, etc. American hops are the major taste in IPAs and American Ales, and their flavors are described as citrus, grapefruit, piney, fruity. Home brewers make use of the AAU% to estimate the level of bitterness (hoppiness) that their brew will achieve.

Hops also contain “beta acids”. Beta acids do not require boiling, but develop their bitter flavor by oxidation during fermentation and storage. They are an important component of Noble hops, which are Hellertau, Spalt, Tettnang and Czech Saaz. You will recognize them as the main flavor of German lagers, providing a smooth bitterness and spicy, peppery, or floral taste. American home brewers generally don’t take into consideration the beta acid content of their hops (which are generally not provided by retail hops suppliers) but they are important to commercial brewers.

Another notable component of hops is the essential oils, of which one of the most important is humulene. Humulene is thought to give the “noble” character to Noble hops. These essential oils are quite volatile, so they are driven off by boiling. Because of this volatility you can smell them more easily than you can taste them, and they are put into a beer by dry-hopping. Essential oils are an important flavor element in English hops (Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, etc.), which are otherwise low in alpha hops. English hops are described a herbal, grassy, earthy, fruity. Many American hops also contain high levels of essential oils and can be used for dry-hopping as well as bittering (boiling).

And then there is … everything else. Sometimes it is the minor aromatics and chemicals that are present in small amounts that provide the distinctive flavor to other hop varieties. A good brewer or beer drinker can taste the differences.

Prior to tasting a new beer, I would like to know how hoppy I could expect it to be.   A measure of the hoppiness (also called bitterness) is provided by the IBU, International Bittering Unit. In a commercial brewery, the IBU is determined by chemical analysis, using a spectrophotometer to measure the total content of alpha acids. We home brewers don’t have access to a spectrophotometer, so we generally calculate an approximate IBU based on the AAUs of the hops that we added and a few other fudge factors. For example, my Cascade hops were labeled as 9.3% AAU (Alpha acid units). If I used 4 times the amount of hops from my usual brew, my calculations suggested I would achieve 166 IBU. This would need more malt and higher alcohol — a double IPA. I decided to go for it.

imagesDr. Westbrook’s invaluable book, Ask an Oncologist is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Just a taste

Just a taste

In our house, we have a passionate, if secular, relationship with colorful, south of the border religious icons. Día de Muertos, Our Lady of Guadalupe… even the “Drug Saint,” Jesus Malverde, are all represented here in the form of pictures, mirrors, statuettes, dioramas and fiber optics. We’ve even paid a couple visits to the famous 50 foot tall Our Lady of Guadalupe in Windsor Ohio, as seen in the wonderful publication “Weird Ohio.”

So when we went to one of our favorite Mexican eateries, Tres Portrillos, and spied a line–up of 4 brews with cool labels, advertised as Day of the Dead craft beer, we were interested.

unnamedIntroduced in May of last year (2013) by Cerveceria Mexicana, we found Tres Portrillos offering their Lager, Porter, Pale Ale, and a Heffeweizen. Also produced is a Blonde and an IPA.

My latest fave at this restaurant is what they call a Spicy Grilled Burrito. Most “family” style Mexican eateries I’ve run into may put a couple bottles of hot sauce on the table, and can certainly bring over a side of jalapenos if asked, but in general little to no inherently, out of the kitchen spicy dishes, so this addition to the menu excited me. I got mine with steak, stuffed with onions, peppers, mushrooms, probably some measure of cheese and covered in a sauce with chorizo. The spice came from… somewhere or other, but is most definitely there and delightful.

unnamedSo naturally, I would have liked to have tried their Hop on or Die IPA, the one style out there charged with cutting through spicy foods. In the absence of this, all bets off, I decided to try the Pay the Ferryman Porter. Innapropriately but charmingly served like every other respectable Mexican beer, wth a frosted mug and a lime, which I did not use, I nonetheless found this to be a decent average porter. There was the requisite pop of black coffee and/or unsweetened chocolate, and a decent bitter that served to define the beer rather than one associated with lots of hops, which would have also provided a citrus note to cut through the heat of the food. Oops, there I go, still astonished that a Mexican restaurant would carry a line of craft beers, one of them NOT an IPA.

UnknownOK, so the burrito offered some tasty, spicy goodness, the brew was OK, the label and name of it cool, and I would have probably enjoyed a Negro Modelo in that frosted mug with the lime more… or maybe I should have squeezed that wedge into the porter for a new international taste sensation. I’ll likely order their Queen of the Night Pale Ale next time out… or (sigh) choose between a tasty Negra Modelo or a dark Dos Equis.

No matter… Ole, Gringo!

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As not everyone is on facebook, we present a couple quick posts you might not have otherwise seen. So first off:

THE YBN 6 PACK FOR NATIONAL BEER DAY 2014:
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- Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge Brewery of Colorado
- 90 Minute IPA and Burton Baton Oak Aged Imperial IPA from Dogfish Head Beer
- Domaine Dupage French Style Country Ale from Two Brothers Brewing Company
- Levitation Ale from Stone Brewing Co.
- Nitro Milk Stout from Left Hand Brewing Company

HOW ARE YOU CELEBRATING?

Dr. Carol has been contributing some great pieces, easily found in the index for BEER CLINIC, on the regional brews and watering holes of Northeast Pennsylvania. One of them she’s returned to frequently, is Breaker Brewing Company. Here are a couple notes she’s posted recently reporting in on some activity and events related to Breaker:

Congratulations Breaker Brewing Company. Their flagship beer, Lunch Pail Ale, was voted Best Beer in CitizensVoice readers’ poll The Little Brewery That Could. http://m.citizensvoice.com/arts-living/beer-brackets

beer
and…
The Beer Doc & friends from Breaker

The Beer Doc & friends from Breaker

Last night, at Breaker Brewing Company’s new BREWPUB(!!), I had a meatless Lenten meal — Haluski (Polish noodles and cabbage) and cheeze pizza. And beer, of course. They had 5 IPAs on draft, and it was hard to choose among them. I settled for Mosaic Hop IPA and Lunch Pail Ale. 

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THE LAST JEWISH WAITER:: Treats

by admin 04.04.2014

Our recent newsletter yielded a comment asking when more  web-pod-cast-episodes of The Last Jewish Waiter would come available. Maybe there’ll be more, maybe not. WE love them, but love only gets a film maker so far. That being said, we’ve uncovered a couple short shorts posted by creator/star David Manheim! They offer the flavor of […]

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ON AND OFF THE BEATEN PATH :: Whiskey Row, Prescott Arizona

by David Daugherty 03.25.2014

This was the visit I was looking forward to for a long time. I had told a few friends that I was going to go around the country to photograph my favorite bars and taverns while in the process of writing a book on the subject. An old friend, Dallas Horn immediately brought up Whiskey […]

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