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Review: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

February 28, 2011
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Unlike most trips I take to Gordon’s Liquors, when I went this past Saturday I actually had a plan of action. Usually I’ll lose track of time browsing their selection, but this time I knew just what I wanted to take home. I ended up grabbing the Sam Adams spring seasonal mixer (Revolutionary Rye review is forthcoming) and a 22oz bottle of Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. I was inspired to try this stout thanks to a friend’s photo on facebook. Thanks, Rob!

Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

The first thing you notice after pouring your glass is that this stuff is black as midnight. It looks like oil as it pours, thick and dark. It formed the darkest head I’ve ever seen. It could have passed for some kind of chocolate foam. It leaves lacing that stays around forever. When I said it’s black I wasn’t lying; there is absolutely no light coming through this baby. It’s a thing of beauty.

The first whiff is a strong one. I smelled chocolate, roasted malt, alcohol, even raisins. The Oak Aged Yeti was, obviously, conditioned in oak barrels, and this is definitely apparent in the woodsy aroma.

Very similar flavors came through as I took my first sip, the chocolate and roasted malts. It actually might have been a bit too roasty for my tastes, but I’m no stout connoisseur. I could also taste some faint hop bitterness. There was a strong after burn of alcohol that faded fast, but at 9.5% ABV that’s to be somewhat expected. It’s nothing like the burn of a 15% ABV like Mephistopholes, but it’s definitely noticeable. It’s a nice, welcome touch.

I’ve never eaten an oak tree, so I have no idea what oak tastes like, but there was a strong, unmistakable taste in here that must have been oak. It’s powerful, but it works well with the other chocolate/roasty/coffee flavors.

The lacing does not leave!

The lacing does not leave!

This isn’t a beer for the faint of heart. It’s not as serious as some other imperial stouts out there, but it might be tough to drink for someone not used to the strong flavors involved in an imperial stout. Overall though, it was a very good beer. Not something I’ll add to my “go to” list, but I’d definitely enjoy having it again.

10 Commandments of Craft Beer

February 25, 2011

I just came across the Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog (Which incidentally uses the same WordPress theme as mine does. Nice taste!) and found this infographic that I had to share with the world.

The 10 Commandments of Craft Beer

The 10 Commandments of Craft Beer

I think this is a great set of tenets that all craft beer lovers should follow. I’ll always say that the most important thing about being a beer geek is that you “enjoy good beer and sharing good beer with good people” and that’s what these 10 Commandments of Craft Beer are all about.

Thanks to the Beer & Whiskey Bros for their cool graphic. Check out their blog to find more!

Review: Victory Headwaters Pale Ale

February 21, 2011

I took my first foray into reviewing beer last week during Lost in the Beer Aisle’s call for guest reviews. I enjoyed writing the review, and I figured that if I’m going to be drinking beer, I might as well review it here on the blog!

So for my first beer review I’m going with Victory Brewing Company’s Headwaters Pale Ale. Victory brewed this beer for their 15th anniversary, and it’s a fine brew, worthy of an anniversary ale.

Victory Brewing Co. Headwaters Pale Ale

Victory Brewing Co. Headwaters Pale Ale

Appearance:  Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Had a full head that faded relatively quickly but did leave some minor lacing. Perfect golden color and super clear. I could look straight through to the computer screen and see what I was typing.

Aroma:  The biggest thing I can smell here is hops, citrus and floral. It’s not an overpowering holy crap in your face hop aroma by any means. I can best describe it as mellow but unmistakable. My palate isn’t advanced enough yet to pick out much else, but that’s OK, because it smells great.

Mouthfeel: This is very crisp and easy to drink. It’s not syrupy at all. There’s nothing “coating” your tongue or mouth. Just a nice, easy to drink beer that goes down smooth.

Flavor: There is a very good balance here of hops and malt. You can definitely taste the hops, but they’re not bitter at all. In my opinion, it’s at the “hoppier” side of a pale ale, but I don’t mind it because it’s not terribly bitter. It’s purely a crisp piney/citrusy flavor which is nice. There is the sliiiiightest bit of a bitter bite after you swallow, but it’s really nothing to write home about. Since this is a pale ale, I’d say it it fits the bill nicely.

Final Thoughts: It’s crisp, flavorful, and goes down easy peasy. The color is beautiful, the lacing is fancy, and overall it’s a nice, drinkable pale ale. I read some other reviews that mentioned it wasn’t very hoppy or citrusy, but that’s the exact opposite of what I found. I really enjoyed drinking this beer, and whether you’re a newbie or a hophead, I think you will too.

P.S. It paired very well with a plate of boneless buffalo wings. The slight hop bitterness was a nice balance and compliment to the hot and spicy wings.

How To Batch Prime with Mr Beer Kegs

February 17, 2011

I’ve learned a lot since I started home brewing, and one of the most important lessons I learned was that batch priming your home brew is a godsend.

Batch priming involves boiling sugar in water, and then adding the resulting sanitized sugar water to your wort before you bottle. This way, the sugar is dispersed evenly throughout all the bottles, and you don’t have to worry about the painstaking task of adding sugar to each individual bottle. It also takes the headache out of figuring just how much sugar to use in each bottle if you’re using different sizes.

Because they’re what I use to brew, this post is obviously going to be centered around batch priming with Mr Beer kegs. The technique is the same for batch priming larger brews, but there are some obvious differences such as amount of ingredients and some of the tools involved.

Tools

Bottling paraphernalia. Notice the old school metal bench capper.

You’ll need the following tools and ingredients to successfully batch prime:

  • 2.5+ gallon container (This can be a standard bottling bucket, extra Mr Beer keg or this excellent jug I found at Walmart for $6. Most importantly, this container needs to have a spigot.)
  • Mr Beer keg equipped with a locking spigot
  • Bottling wand to fit the Mr Beer locking spigot
  • Small pot with cover
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Sanitizer (One-Step, Iodophor, whatever sanitizer you use)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup corn sugar (You can use regular table sugar, or even DME, but the amount will change depending on what you use.)

Technique

Here is my process:

  1. Fill your batch priming container (in this case my extra Mr Beer keg) with warm water and sanitizing solution. Shake the water around so it sanitizes everything.
  2. While your container is sanitizing, boil your 1/2 cup of cane sugar in 1 cup of water. Once it comes to a rolling boil, let it continue for a minute or so.
  3. When the sugar water is finished boiling, cover it and put it in the freezer so it cools down to about 75-80 degrees. You don’t want it to be too hot and kill the yeast.

    The temp is just right.

  4. Now you should take the time to sanitize your bottles and other equipment as you would normally do. I usually run the sanitized water from my batch priming container through the spigot and bottling wand down into the bottles. I also save a little extra water in a bowl to sanitize the bottle caps.
  5. Empty any leftover sanitized water from the batch priming container.
  6. When the sugar water comes down to about 75-80 degrees, pour it into your (now empty) batch priming container.
  7. Transfer the wort from your Mr Beer keg into the batch priming container. This is also known as racking. I do this using the locking spigot and bottling wand, but you can also use a racking tube/cane if you prefer. Take care to minimize splashing and extra movement of the wort as much as possible during this step. You don’t want any extra oxygen to enter the wort. Don’t shake it around to mix the solution either, the action of transferring the wort itself is enough to ensure an even distribution.

    Batch priming with a little help from some friends. I have it set up so there's enough pressure on the tip of the wand to keep it flowing automatically.

  8. Use your batch priming container’s spigot and bottling wand (or racking tube/cane) to continue bottling your beer.

    Time to bottle!

See, it’s not so bad!

The beer I’m bottling in this tutorial is my “Polack Pilsner”, which is not actually a true Pilsner. I used Mr Beer Pilothouse Pilsner HME, light DME, and Saaz hops, but I didn’t lager it or use lager yeast. It’s basically just gonna be a pale ale with Saaz hops, but I like the name I came up with so I’m sticking with it!

Here are some more pictures from my bottling day extravaganza:

Filling the priming container. Notice that there's no splashing going on at all.

This metal bench capper is a hand-me-down from my dad. I love it.

All capped and ready to condition for a month!

I hope this little tutorial has been useful to those of you who home brew with the Mr Beer kegs. And, for those of you who don’t, I hope you’ve at least been informed and entertained!

Metro West Craft Beer Meetup This Weekend

February 16, 2011

Unfortunately the Metro West Craft Beer Meetup (sponsored by Lost in the Beer Aisle)  had to be postponed last time due to inclement weather. Luckily it was rescheduled! It’s now this Saturday, Feb. 19 at the Horseshoe Pub in Hudson. It runs from 1pm-5pm, and it’s free!

I think this will be a fun time, and it’ll be cool to meet some fellow craft beer lovers and home brewers in the area. And hey, with 80+ beers on tap you, really can’t go wrong.

For more information and to RSVP, go here: Metro West Craft Beer Meetup

My Guest Beer Review on LIBA

February 15, 2011

Fellow local craft beer geek Josh of Lost in the Beer Aisle is on vacation in Vegas this week (lucky bastard), and he put out a call for guest beer reviews on his blog. I jumped at the opportunity, and got to try a really great beer in the process.

Head on over to Lost in the Beer Aisle to check out my review of Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA.

On a related note, Josh had to reschedule his Metro West craft beer meet up. It’s now this Saturday, the 19th, at the Horseshoe Pub in Hudson, MA. Click here for more information and to register!

Check out the Resources Page

February 8, 2011

I just added a Resources page with a bunch of links to some great beer-related websites. Whether you’re a craft beer lover or a home brewer, you’ll be sure to find a bunch of useful information here.

The Resources page is a work in progress, and I’ll update it whenever I come across something new and awesome.

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