Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Tasting Notes

Bacon beer!

People have been noting this summer that my rauchbier tastes like… bacon! I can see that. Maybe I should name the next smoke beer I do after a brand of bacon dog treats, so as to keep with the dog theme. We’ll see.

My buddy Dave invited me over to hang out and learn about smoking meat. What better beer to bring than my smoked lager?! It paired great with the delicious pork and chicken he smoked that day. I had a lot of fun Saturday and told my wife I could see myself getting into this. She disagreed. For now. I could see myself getting into this in 10-15 years from now when I’m in my 40’s and older than dirt. ūüėČ (more…)


Beers from the cellar

I recently drank a few “vintage” Barking Dog beers from the cellar. The first was on my recent saison brew day, where I found it incredibly appropriate to chill up a saison I brewed back in February of 2011.

LOVE how clear these get in time. (more…)

New Glarus Cherry Stout

My wife and I did a little night cap comparison recently between my zinfandel oak-aged imperial chocolate cherry stout with New Glarus’s cherry stout. Dan Carey, New Glarus’s owner/brewer is a magician. He makes consistently amazing beers, especially his thumbprint series brews. This cherry stout of his incorporates the same fruit infusion method as does his Wisconsin Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart. I can tell. Now, exactly how he gets fruit into his beers is something he keeps secret, as his fruit beers have won him awards all over the world.

My wife loved New Glarus’s Cherry Stout and so did I. My own choco-cherry stout didn’t really compare (chocolate, roast, oak and zinfandel aren’t in New Glarus’s version). Though I wasn’t shooting to make a normal strength cherry stout, I can say I’m still getting too many tanic notes due to the high fermentation temp I¬†accidentally¬†employed when brewing my version. ¬†I’ve got about 1/3 of that batch set aside to age for a year or two under oxygen barrier caps so hopefully it calms down in time.

New Glarus’s Cherry Stout was an absolutely delicious dessert beer and would also be tasty with duck and cranberry sauce. Not too much roast in this stout, mostly caramel. Any food emphasizing fruit and¬†caramelized onions or meats¬†would do well with this. (more…)

Maibock throwdown!

Happy Mai… er… “May!” Very soon it will be May and you know what that means? Maibock.

I brewed a maibock (Maibark) this past January and ¬†lagered it in my garage over the remainder of Minnesota’s short winter this past season. When cracking the first bottle, I thought it bold yet appropriate to buy a few locally brewed commercial examples of the style and take them head to head against my own. I have high hopes for this brew.

  1. Shell’s Maifest – the most malty of the three, sort of a noble hop skunkiness about it that wasn’t so pleasant as it warmed up
  2. Summit Maibock – thinnest and sharpest of the three in regard to both carbonation and hop profile
  3. Barking Dog Maibark – middle of the road maltiness, some pepper notes and a tad sweet in the finish which will probably dissipate more over time as it was only bottled four weeks ago at the point I opened this one (4/13)29


Surly 5

I was able to procure two bottles of Surly 5 when it went on sale last September and have been hoarding them since. ¬†Since I brewed my wort contribution to my homebrew club’s barrel-aged sour beer this past Sunday, I figured it was as good a time as any to crack the first bottle in anticipation of what our club brew could turn out to be like when it’s finished sometime next year.

I believe Surly 5 is only the third sour beer I’ve ever had so I’m far from a¬†connoisseur, though I’ve really liked the sours I’ve tried. This is in part because I¬†generally¬†drink beer too fast and sour beers slow me down and force me to savor them a bit more. Surly 5 almost seemed like a carbonated red wine to me. Slight oak char from the wine barrels it was aged in, roasty red malt profile, tart acidity… zinfandel? I liked it. I think I’ll wait to open the second bottle until the club beer is done and I can taste them side by side. C’mon spring/summer 2013! It’s gonna be amazing.

Great beer pairings as of late

My wife recently made a really tasty recipe for pan-fried chicken and shallot cream sauce, garlic red potatoes and asparagus. It paired really well with the k√∂lsch I made back in April. Damn has that beer ever cleared with time. Love it! I’ll definitely brew another¬†k√∂lsch this year. I like how it treads the line between the fruitiness of an ale and the clean malt profile of a lager.

The night before my wife went into labor, we hit up Sawatdee downtown on Washington Ave. in attempt to ingest some spicy curry and kick things into gear. (more…)

Old Chub Clone Recipe

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CC Brew

My first kid, Cecilia Charlotte (CC) arrived Sunday 2/19. Labor lasted was incredibly rough, or so I gathered through observation. My wife got an infection at the hospital after her water broke which was transferred to the baby in utero. She’s been fighting through the infection for the last two days as I write this and they’re thinking she has about 5 more days to go before she can be discharged. She’ll be just fine in time, so we’re very happy for that.

In the mean time, I made sure we took some time to celebrate at the hospital by enjoying the first bottle of the batch of Belgian red honey ale I made back in November specifically to celebrate Cecilia’s birth. Serving conditions were less than desirable. The bottle had probably warmed to about 60*, maybe higher. Also, I had just brushed my teeth before tasting, as this was unplanned, so it tasted all kinds of awful to me at the time (I did happen to sneak a bottle back on New Years Eve – shhhhhh – so I actually know it tastes very good when served properly). We couldn’t really see the clarity through the styrofoam cups, but when I got near the bottom I saw it was very transparent. Oh, the benefits of time in the bottle. (more…)

The Lowbrow, Minneapolis

Have you been to the Lowbrow in Minneapolis yet? Check it out. This place deserves to be more crowded than it is. Good beer list, good service, no wait at 7pm on a recent Saturday night and decent pub fare (stay away from the bland veggie burger though). The wife and I checked this place out with friends on a recent weekend after nearby Pat’s Tap – which didn’t seem super crowded – told us it would be a 60 to 90 min. wait. No thanks. Just seven blocks south on Nicollet, we had a table at the Lowbrow right away, no reservations. That’s more my style. (more…)

Avery Mephistopheles’ Stout at Town Hall Tap

Counting down the days until the baby arrives, my wife and I hit up Town Hall Tap last weekend for one of our final nights out pre-baby. I finally branched out from ordering the Heidelburger (I’ve had it probably five or six times, quite good!) and tried a wild rice and mushroom burger which also blew me away. Great food at this place.

The first beer I ordered was a weizenbock, a Town Hall seasonal. Never had this style before but it was great for winter. The combo of over-the-top maltiness and creamy wheat gave the beer an excellent body, an appetizer onto itself. The next beer I tried was Avery’s Mephistopheles’ imperial stout. At 15% ABV, I didn’t require another beer after this one. Black as hell, super smooth and very easy to drink for a beer of that strength. Dangerous! Avery must have to go to great lengths to exercise proper fermentation control and properly oxidize the wort to come up with such a smooth, non-astringent beer of this caliber. It would have probably paired much better with chocolate cake than it did with my wild rice burger, but I enjoyed it thoroughly all the same.