Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Judge’s Bench in Ellicott City was host to 8 BBW events. The two nights I made my way there for was Friday the 8th for Heavy Seas Firkin Friday with Loose Cannon dry-hopped with local hops from Still Point Farms (Mt. Airy, MD), poured directly from an oak cask and 6 taps of their seasonal offerings including 2008 Below Decks Barley Wine and the bourbon barrel aged Great’r Pumpkin. On Tuesday Night we stopped in for the ‘Judge your Java’ event. Troegs Javahead Stout was on draft, they also had a year old aged keg of Javahead, and the Javahead Stout in a firkin with Vanilla beans. It was a great way to taste a beer in three different ways side by side.
Victoria’s on Monday was Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Beers. They had a great selection of American as well as imported Oktoberfest and Fest biers. Favorites of our Oktoberfest flight were Harpoon’s Oktoberfest, Victory’s Festbier and Weihenstephaner Festbier. The Pumpkin Beers on tap ranged from subtle, Smuttynose, Saranac and Wolaver’s Organic Pumpkin beers, to strong spice and flavor with Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, Southern Tier’s Pumking, Schafley’s and The Heavy Seas Great Pumpkin and Great’r Pumpkin. All the beers were good and I had to see how they matched with the Poutine.
Frisco Grille and Cantina had a BCS of their own (Beer Championship Series), that actual made sense not like the College Football one. Each night a brewery put up a 1/6th barrel of beer (1/6 barrel contains 5.16 gallons. There are roughly 53 servings in one 1/6 barrel, based on regular 12-oz. servings) against another brewery and which ever breweries keg kicked first moved on in the bracket. Breweries that were represented were Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues, Southampton, Bear Republic, Harpoon, Troegs, Flying Dog and Heavy Seas. For the winner you need to go by and check the bracket.
T-Bonz and Flying Dog’s Firkins and Fried Chicken was among the better events in Howard County offering Fried chicken and chicken & waffles sandwiches along with firkins of Flying Dog Beer. Kloby’s Smokehouse had 4 events of its own and is making a name for it’s self in the beer community hosting such breweries as Oskar Blues, Evolution and Flying Dog.
With Frisco Grille in construction at its new location and Kloby’s and T-Bonz, both with plans of expanding, Howard County’s beer/pub scene is really good and is only going to better.
Oktoberfest and Tap opening ceremony with Duff 'Ace of Cakes' Goldman coming later this week
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I’ve never lived in a city, but I love visiting different cities. I’ve spent a lot of nights I have trouble remembering in NYC, San Diego, Tokyo, LA, Phoenix and Boston. There is something I like about having bars on every corner and the smells of restaurants mixing together into an intoxicating aroma that makes you want to eat everything you smell and stay up all night long drinking.
In my younger days the only reason I would go into Baltimore was for field trips to the Zoo or with my family to 33rd Street to see my heroes Cal, Rick and Eddie play ball. As I got older ‘The City that Reads' was where I went when I told my parents I was going over to a friends house. Instead we were sneaking into to Hammerjack’s for College Night or to Fletcher’s to see whatever band was playing upstairs that night. In my early twenties when I moved back into the area from being out west, I got entrenched in the Rockabilly scene in Baltimore. The Glenmont Pope’s were by far my favorite band fronted by now Dangerously Delicious Pies Baker and Ramblin‘ Pie Man, Rodney Henry. We would be at Fletcher’s, Club Midnight(now the Ottobar),The 8x10 or the Old Bohager’s to see Blue Balls Deluxe, The Pourbillies, Twin-Six and Chester Stacey or Social D, The Supersuckers, Reverend Horton Heat and the like. We would also grab beers at Ledbetter’s, The Horse You Came in on and Max’s on Broadway and good beers were found at Racers, Baltimore Brewing Co. or Capitol City. Baltimore was fun besides the fear of STD’s and 25 minute drive from my house in the Suburbs.
Where is all of this going? I'm not sure, but I think my point was: For me, the city is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.
I still go into Baltimore about once a month to see bands or drink great craft beer, and beer of course is what Baltimore Beer Week is all about. The beer scene in Baltimore has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 6-7 years with the help of many fine establishments. For a beer that is made in the city proper there is one of two places you can go, The Pratt Street Ale House or Brewer’s Art. PSAH (formally the Wharf Rat) is a quick stop just inside the city by the stadiums for a pint of authentic English Ale made by Subterranean-brewer and friend Steve Jones. Brewer’s Art in the Mt Vernon area offers fine dining along with fine Belgian beers. Max’s Taphouse has made great steps for ‘beerkind’ in the city with the help of barkeeper Casey Hard and 140 rotating taps, 1,200+/- bottles and 5 Cask Ales. The other places that have helped to bring beer to the people of Baltimore are Mahaffey’s, Metropolitan, Grand Cru, Baltimore Taphouse, Bertha’s, Joe Squared, Mugsey’s and many more.
The nice thing about Baltimore Beer week is that in my neck of the woods in Howard County we have some great Beer-centric establishments that have embraced Baltimore’s week and become a part of it here in the ‘burbs. When I first moved back into the area there was this 'weird bar', The Last Chance Saloon, in the Oakland Mill’s area and it had a leather bound beer menu that confused everyone with different colors of beer and ABV percentages. It was way before it’s time and did not last long. Noel from The Last Chance helped expand what was then Frisco Burrito, (a bare bones restaurant counter and 10-15 tables where you could get great Cal-Mex Food and they had a Sierra Nevada on tap) to become Frisco Grille and Cantina (19 taps and a cask)and began to pave the way for craft beer in Howard County. Since then we have had very good establishments improve their beer offerings from better to outstanding. Judge’s Bench, T-Bonz, Pub Dog and Kloby’s have been great additions to the craft beer scene in my area along with, a Husky Runner favorite, Victoria’s Gastro Pub. Victoria’s has not only brought great food to the area but also great beer flights and Truffle Popcorn that have made me and my wife very happy. Combined I think there are a total of 31 events being hosted by establishments in Howard County, not including the tastings at Perfect Pour, Snowden Liquors or my class at Maryland Homebrew. The beer scene here in Howard County is really good and I only see it getting better. So during Baltimore Beer Week I will be traveling into the city a couple of times but for the most part I’ll be staying close to home and I will not miss a thing.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
No really, I'm not good at running. I have no idea how to plan for a long distance run. The day before I stretched, drank plenty of fluids, ate a good diet and rested.
Run day was 5 miles of breathing out stomach cramps, 3 carefree miles that I enjoyed and 2 miles of foot and calf cramps. Awesome.
Oh well there is always next year. Had an awesome banana and a bumper of Southern Tier Hoppe when I got home.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In the House is the hard edge of americana music.
(*Excerpted from an interview conducted by Steve Stav for Ink19)
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The course is the same as has been since I've ran it the last three years.
Notice if you will mile 4 and 8. that is The Severn River Bridge. maybe you can see it better on the elevation profile:
Lace 'em up and I'll see you on August 29th
Monday, May 17, 2010
Austin Lucas, I think is one of the most talented singer/song writers out there today. The album compiles tracks from previous vinyl-only tracks from his 'At War With Freak Folk' 10″, and his split LP's with Chuck Ragan, the Takers, and Frank Turner. (And an unreleased track (Easy Listening)completes the 11 track album). A lot of these tracks were recorded between His 2007 release 'Putting the Hammer Down' and recording 'Bristle Ridge' with Chuck Ragan and some of these tracks ended up Studio produced on 'Somebody Love You'.
'Oakland Skyline', 'Singing man', 'Life I've Got' are really good.
Give it a whirl, you won't be sorry.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
How did a strain of yeast that has been around for more than 150 years become so polarizing to fans of beer?
Ringwood is a Yorkshire yeast, typical of the yeasts used to brew ales in Yorkshire. You'll get plenty of esters from these yeasts, the fruity aromas and flavors that make a good British ale so nice and so refreshing, even at low alcohol levels that would render other beers tasteless. You'll also get varying amounts of diacetyl ("die-ASS-uh-till"), a fermentation by-product that has an aroma of butterscotch, or butter and one of the main reason for the conflict of opinions.
From the brewer’s perspective an unsettling aspect of this yeast is that it is designed to be open fermented. That means that the fermentation tanks have to be open to the air, with no covers. My first thoughts are that if would be prone to infection. It develops a rocky head and throws off a lot of carbon dioxide; that's its protection. Then, as I understand it, the beer is then crash cooled once the Primary Fermentation is finished, you leave a coating of yeast on top that gets crusty, the beer is then racked from the bottom and the crust is never broken. As long as you clean properly and use sterile techniques, you've got no worse protection than a closed vessel.
To see how this yeast got America, we may need to start at the beginning;
In the beginning there was beer and it was good and every good English gentleman would drink ales at his local pub after a hard day’s work and then go home to his loving family (or the Malt-Worms are their family).
A man named Peter Austin retired early from the North Country brewery in Hull and opened Ringwood brewery in 1977. Austin had used Ringwood Yeast at the brewery in Hull, where he was a brewer from late 1940s through the 1970s. That was the yeast they had used from the brewery's advent in the 1800s. It had originally come from the old Halifax brewery. In 1982 Austin hired, Biochemist and Lover of English Pubs, Alan Pugsley, who would later come to be known as the biggest Cheerleader for the Ringwood yeast strain. In 1983, Peter Austin advertised in the first issue of New Brewer magazine for people to come to the brewery and learn to make beer on a small scale. In the next two years he had people come through and learn to brew and he built breweries for a lot of them. That was the first seed of the yeast coming to the States.
One of those people was David Geary and in 1986 he offered a 2-year contract to Alan Pugsley to set up the brewery and design a beer called Geary's Pale Ale. They were the first packaging micro in New England, and that was the first Ringwood yeast brewery in the US. At this time there were only about 50 breweries in the country, very few micros. Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada had just got started. It certainly was not the last microbrewery Pugsley helped get started with a Peter Austin system. Pugsley started a company called Pugsley Brewing Systems International - working in alliance with Peter Austin back in England. Austin had all the equipment made in England and then Pugsley received and installed all the equipment on this end. Some of the better known ones would include Magic Hat, Tremont, Old Nutfield, Sea Dog, Old Saddleback, and brewpubs like Gritty McDuff's and Federal Jack's. Pugsley had by this time set up breweries in China, Nigeria, Belgium, and Russia and in 1994 Pugsley along with entrepreneur Fred Forsley he was able to have his very own big Ringwood brewery, with the opening of Shipyard Brewing in Portland, ME, where he is to this very day.
The issue that most people have with Ringwood made beers, is the ‘Ringwood taste” (complete with air quotes) or being referred to as ‘Ringworm’. Alan Pugsley, its biggest fan, has been quoted as saying that Ringwood is a tough yeast to use. It needs a very specific environment: time, temperature, amount of yeast added, oxygenation of the beer, they all have to be right where you need them or you'll have a mess. Pugsley had found that it has a high oxygen demand at the beginning of fermentation. It's very forgiving temperature-wise, but the ester production at higher temperatures can overwhelm.
If you don't work this yeast right, you can get too much diacetyl, which means a beer that smells like a big tub of buttered movie theater popcorn. Unfortunately, Ringwood suffers from a bad image of always producing too much diacetyl, and some beer geeks will slam any Ringwood beers as being full of diacetyl...sometimes before tasting them.
I feel This Yeast is best left in the hands of professionals. Steve Jones of Oliver’s Brewery at The Pratt Street Ale House brews some of the best English ales that we can get in the States, with Ringwood Yeast in his subterranean brewery. I have used this yeast 2 times in my life when my Homebrew Club, in conjunction with Steve, has an Oliver’s Clone Beer Competition. This year we chose Steve’s Iron Man Pale as our clone recipe. A favorite, I find most enjoyable before and after a hot summer O’s game at ‘The Yard’. Open fermentation still scares the pants off me but I’m getting used to it. I would like for the stigma to be erased but as long as there is two types of yeast on this planet we will have Yeast wars.
I think it maybe as easy as a Slogan to get everyone fired up to try Ringwood made beers with unbiased taste buds.
Here is my slogan for the campaign:
Open Minds, Open Fermentation, Open Mouths!
Information for this post was found Via Wiki, and Interviews done by Andy Crouch and beergirl
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I have been very careful of trying not to offend or make light of what other people that are going through what I went through years ago, but me and Jeff decided that that is how we coped so we are letting it fly. Another team name for the run this year I love is 'Joggin' for Noggins'
The Race for Hope 5K is two weeks away. I had to get a new pair of shoes since my old pair had two 10 milers, four 5K's, and a 10K not to mention having to haul me around walking the dog and training runs. I had tunnel vision that I was going to buy another pair of New Balance but much to my dismay I was not happy with the fit of the New Balance shoes available locally. Mrs. Runner suggested I try on a pair f saucony's that looked a little wider than the New Balance. Begrudgingly I did and they felt great. Not too narrow and an nice spongy but firm feel in the heal and balls (giggle, giggle). I have about 6 miles on the new kicks and they are feeling good. Weather is getting nice and I have promised I will for now keep my shirt on when running in public...but I can't promise for how long.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
So what makes me the authority to teach home brewing? I have been brewing for 7 years (my oldest daughter is 7 also...coincidence?) I have assisted in brewing one off batches of beer as well as some experimental pilot batches for DuClaw Brewing with my fishing compadre, Brewmaster Jim Wagner. I started brewing way back with a friend that now brews professionally for Clipper City Brewing-Heavy Seas or whatever they are called this week. I have won ribbons of all colors as well as a best in show in local and out of state Home brew Comps. Most importantly: I have made every mistake that you could ever make home brewing.
I share the process with folks that are looking to learn the hobby or advance with what they already know. Now I also keep some of the beer I make and I share the rest with the class once fermented. Once in a great while I will run into someone at a beer festivals and they will come up to me and let me know I had taught them at MDHB and I always react the same way. "Cool, hows it going? I hope you have not made the same mistakes I have."
Above is me and Grover scooping grains out of a cooler Mash Tun fixing a stuck mash
Trying new things is always setting yourself up for mistakes. My goal of the folks I teach is to cut their mistake curve in half. Home brewing can be as high or low tech as you want to make it. You can spend thousands of dollars or you can rig cooler to do teh same thing for a fraction of the cost. Have fun and make beer that si what I do. The origianl slogan Kurt and I had from the first batch we ever made and second guessed ourselves somewhere along the way: "The worst thing that can happen is we drink it."
Saturday is the first of two All Grain Classes and we are making a beer I call:
Slæmur Rass (Ode to Magnús Ver Magnússon)
which roughly translates to Bad Ass in Icelandic.
All Grain Recipe - CFJ-90 IPA ::: 1.064/1.012 (5.5 Gal)
Grain Bill (75% Efficiency assumed)
10 lbs. - English 2 Row Pale Malt
1.5 lb. - Vienna Malt
1.5 lb. - Caramel/Crystal Malt (20L)
1 lb. - CaraPils
Hop Schedule (53 IBU)
1 oz. - Centennial (60 min.)
1 oz. - Centennial (15 min.)
1 oz. - Centennial (flameout)
1 oz. - Centennial (Dry Hop)
Clipper City House Yeast(chico)*867-5309 (Jenny)
Single Infusuion Mash at 153° for 60 min.
"We brewers don’t make beer, we just get all the ingredients together and the beer makes itself." - Fritz Maytag, Anchor Brewing
Monday, March 15, 2010
We had some great old home brews and then began our Commercial tasting that included notably a 1990 and 2001 Thomas Hardy, 1989 Samichlaus Dark and some mystery brown bag beers.
During the tasting the host went to the kitchen and came back with 2 bottles wrapped in a brown paper bags and marked '1' and '2'. No description or style was given just pour it in your glass and lets talk about what we have.
Bag number one comes around and and it pours with a nice head and a amber/caramel colored beer appears. The aroma is a mix of fermented grapes and cheap pipe tobacco. on the first taste it is highly carbonated and engages the entire palate with sweet malts to bready malt to fermented grapes, slight pepper with just a hint of alcohol. With each drink another taste appears, a very nice complex palate challenging beer.
Beer two comes around and pours dark brown/slightly reddish with a nice tan head. The aroma is dried fruit and sweet tobacco and leather, stronger than beer one. The taste is similar to the aroma, brown sugar, dark fruits with a mild clove and a little bit of sweet alcohol. Goes front to back but does not engage the entire palate like beer one. Very good beer but I go back for seconds on bottle number one. More discussion goes on around the table and seems we all in agreeing that beer one is very complex and are impressed with the way the beer does bring flavors to every part of the tongue and while we all have nothing bad to say about beer two there just was more to say about beer one.
Well the host is smiling from ear to ear and unveils the beer number one it is a blank Trappist bottle, and presents a blue cap. Beer number one is Westvleteren 8 a Dubbel style ale brewed by Brouwerij Westvleteren in the Belgian municipality of Westvleteren. We all comment on how good that beer was and someone mentions that 'Those Beer Rating Sites' rank this beer to be somewhere in the low 20's of their rankings of the best beers in the world. We all agree it is a very good beer. Beer two was unveiled and it was again a blank Trappist bottle with a raised collar and a yellow cap was produced. We all begin to laugh. Beer two is none other than Westvleteren 12, a Trappist Quadrupel(Quad)style, that is also brewed by Brouwerij Westvleteren, that is believed to be the best beer in the world. We all continue to discuss both beers and agreed that we enjoyed the 8 more than the 12. We also had Brooklyn's Black Ops and Goose Island Bourbon County that night and Black Ops got dogged because it was not as good as Bourbon County. It was a tough crowd. The 'Brown Bag Beers' are a lot of fun to get honest reactions for beers that normally would be given unfair peer pressure to enjoy. we also tore up another beer that was presented in bag I thought is was an 'under attenuated-syrup-y mess'. It turned out to be Dogfish Head's Olde School (not a)Barleywine. We still had 5-6 leftover beers we did not get to and we had a great time telling jokes and telling stories that we are going to plan another tasting soon.
This where we talk about what makes a beer world class, that tastes are subjective and how rarity adds to mystique and people believing that a beer is THE beer because he and 100 other people were lucky enough to taste a beer that some of us will never have. As I write this Westvleteren 12 is number two on 'A Beer Rating Site' behind Three Floyds Oak Aged Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout that a whopping 32 'Beer Aficionados' have rated, and number one on another.
I'm not here to club Beer rating sites or the ranking of Top beers, if that is your thing, but the playing field is not level with availability, vintages, p(b)eer pressure and long traveled/mishandled beers. I live in Maryland and our distribution sucks it is getting better, but it still sucks. The Top 10 beers on most of 'the lists' are from breweries in Belgium, Sweden, The US is represented by Russian River, Three Floyds, Bells, and Surly, which we get none of. In Maryland we may get 2-3 of these beers that are in the top 50 on these lists. So how do we hear about these beers? Word of mouth, Beer Rating Sites and the breweries themselves. Folks collect these beers like baseball cards complete with trading with their friends for other beers they have been told are great. A couple of the guys that were at the tasting go with me to the BeerAdvocate EBF in Boston for the last 4 years, so we do get our share of beers that are hard to find/non-existent in this area but very rarely do these beers live up to the hype.
The Wrap Up: Wrap it up 'B'!
Drinking beer is a social practice with friends and soon to be friends. When you lose sight of what makes drinking a beer, any beer, enjoyable(Laughing, catching up, telling bad jokes, offending people and just being obnoxious), then it becomes an anti-social game of using a thesaurus to find new descriptive words for your next Beer Rating. One of the sites uses the slogan 'Respect Beer', I think people need to respect that we do not all have the same palates, likes or dislikes and as a beer drinker you need to be honest with your yourself...the best Rauchbier in the world is still a Rauchbier. Opinions are like belly buttons some are 'innies' and some are gross and stick out.
What it comes down to is you like the beer you like, just don’t try to get me buy into rating beers online and collecting the latest over hyped, hard to find beers because my taste in beer may suck, but it’s mine not yours...and yours blows big time.
Complete Beer Tasting Run Down:
1991 Anchor Christmas
1990 Thomas Hardy
2004 Thomas Hardy
1989 Russian Imperial Stout from a Baltic brewery whose name was in Russian.
Birrificio del Ducato Krampus 2008
Brouwerij De Hemel Nieuw Ligot Grand Cru 2005 (barleywine)
1989 Samichlaus Dark
Dogfish Head Old School Barleywine
George Gale & Co. Ltd. Christmas Ale 2002
Stillwater Artisanal Ales Stateside Saison
Brooklyn Black Ops Stout
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2009
De Molen Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Rogue Santa's Private Reserve
Brew Dog Hardcore IPA
2005 Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra
2006 Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Mrs Runner and I have just started Obedience Classes with Otis. Training our dog is something I was pushing from the day we started talking about getting one. i did not want to be one of these people that constantly apologize and make excuses for their dogs. My one excuse I do use and I believe it is the exception is 'He is still a puppy'. At Six months old (today)He is a spastic, chewing, jumping, put everything in his mouth, pain in the ass sometimes. With that said, puppies become dogs and they are dogs a lot longer than they are puppies. When engaged he will sit, stay, lay down and fetch and drop the ball at your feet. The flip side is when he is off the hook you would have a better chance and same results trying to give the same commands to the vacuum cleaner. Class is once a week for a hour plus with homework.
We have to train with him 2 times a day for 10 minutes a day every 2 days adding a twist or new move into the training. Our Instructor seems to be no nonsense. If you are not progressing with your training or miss a class without making it up that week (it is that progressive) we will not be able to re-take or brush up on your training in the future if we do not put in the time now. So who is the Boss? Karen Decker @ P.U.P.S Dog Obedience Training
We are all in training and I'm looking forward to having a good time training and learning everything I can since Otis is gonna be with me for a long time.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010