Saturday, October 28, 2006

Can't come up with a name for your beer?

Then the Random Beer Name Generator is there to help you. Just press the button and it will propose a name. Here are some neat ones:
  • Old Mushroom Cloud Russian Imperial Stout
  • Hannibal's Grunting Red Squid Wit
  • Count Chocula's Craptacular Yellow Jellyfish Rauchbier
  • Spiderman's Poisonous Gloworm American Light Lager
  • Nuclear Rat Lambic
  • Hairy Pilsner
  • The Moose Formerly Known As Satan's Stumbling Tripel
  • Ancient Oud Bruin
  • Flatulent Stout
  • Curried Beazelbub Bière de Garde
  • Stinky Klingon Bock
  • Black Joyous Crackhouse Koelsch
  • Bald Barrel Wee Heavy
  • Buddha's Tubular Lemur Rauchbier
As you can see there's something for everybody.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

WTF, a red Guinness?

I didn't see this coming. It looks like they call it a stout, but I find that a bit strange. It is going to be interesting to see how it compares to their Kilkenny.
We've been taking our life in our hands and working hard on a really exciting new Guinness innovation. Called Guinness Red, it uses lightly roasted barley to give it the kind of rich red colour that you can already see at the bottom of a pint of Guinness Draught if you hold it up to the light. Its got a well balanced, bitter-sweet taste and still has all the hallmarks of the Guinness pint that you know and love - 2 part pour, surge and settle and a cracking creamy Guinness head.

More info on The Guinness Blog.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A beautiful beer label

This is the prettiest beer label I know. It is designed by Tara McPherson.

The beer, Dogfish Head Fort, isn't too bad either I believe. In fact it is the world's strongest fruit beer at 18% alcohol by volume, and made from a "ridiculous" amount of raspberries.

I'm fortunate to have one of these bottles in stock as I found it at a Whole Foods store in New York City. The cashier was shocked by the fact that I was willing to pay $19.95 for a bottle. I told her - why not, as that's what people would gladly cash out for a not too special bottle of wine. We'll see what I think of what is inside the bottle. I'll probably open it within the next few weeks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My new kegerator

Yes, kegerator. I've had the equipment for some time, but I only now managed to get started on the project. It went surprisingly well. As the fridge can accommodate four Cornelius kegs, it could just as well have four faucets. That's perhaps a little overkill, but it sure looks nice.

I haven't actually tried dispensing anything through the faucets yet, because I need to think I little bit through how I should clean them. That'll probably be straightforward once I've figured it out.

(Click on the picture to get one with higher resolution.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

...and Beer flavoured potato chips

Cheddar and beer chips have been available in the US for a while, but I recently learned about the fact that there is now also a UK variant made from Adnams Broadside, matured cheddar and potato chips.

Get it here.

Update: Here is another.

Beer flavoured lip balm

Oskar Blues has come up with a great new product idea: beer flavoured lip balm. It is called Old Chub Lib Balm after their Old Chub Scottish strong ale, which is a very nice ale by the way.

Here's their product description:
"Chub Stick" is the world's first beer lip balm. Our small-batch, custom-made balm is made with almond and macadamia nut oils, beeswax, cocoa and other essential oils... and a dash of Old Chub beer and the malts and hops used in brewing Old Chub! It smells and tastes great (like Old Chub), keeps your kisser in sip shape, and it's SPF 15, too.

So when can we expect the Double IPA lip balm?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Brewers lingo, explanation of some terms

If you are new to brewing I have probably confused you by using technical brewing terminology in earlier posts. I have been asked to explain some of them, so here you go.

EBC (European Brewing Convention) - a unit for measuring beer color. This scale is mostly used in Europe, while in the US the SRM (Standard Reference Method) unit is used. Higher values indicate a darker beer.

IBU (International Bittering Unit) - a unit for measuring the hop bitterness in a beer as contributed by the alpha acids in hops. IBUs of between 15 (less bitter) and 70 (bitter) are common.

OG, SG and FG (Original Gravity, Specific Gravity and Final Gravity respectively) - describe the concentration of sugars in the beer/wort. The value is a factor indicating the relative gravity (weight) to water. OG is the gravity before fermentation. SG is the gravity as measured at an arbitrary point during fermentation. FG is the gravity after fermentation, i.e. when all the sugars have been eaten by the yeast. Note that not all sugars will be depleted as yeast strains have relative merits for eating complex sugars. This means that the final gravity will rarely fall below 1.000, but usually end up in the 1.006-1.025 range. Higher values indicate a sweeter beer. Sugar is heavier than water. Alcohol is lighter than water, hence the possibility of the final gravity falling below 1.000.

Mash efficiency - a measure given in percentage indicating the efficiency of the mash relative to the amount of sugars than can theoretically be extracted from the malts. It is a goal for the brewer to achieve a high mash efficiency as it will lower costs, i.e. use less malts to achieve a higher original gravity.

Gelatinizing - grains/cereals that have not been malted have to be gelatinized to expose the starch, so that enzymes can break them down into simpler sugars. Boiling them will usually do this. They will not provide any enzymes themselves, so the enzymes will have to come from malts. In other words, the cereals will have to be mixed with malts so that enzymes can break down the starch.

Please let me know if you'd like to have other aspects of brewing or brewing terminology explained.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Travel: Edinburgh

I spent last week in Edinburgh. It is indeed a beautiful city with its medieval buildings and the illuminated castle on top of a hill right downtown. The city is nice to look at, but it also offers a great number of excellent pubs that serve delicious cask ales.

A lot of pubs seemed to have the standard line-up with Belhaven Best, Guinness, Stella Artois, Tennents Lager and Strongbow, and if you were lucky Caledonian ales. Only a small number of pubs had cask-ales beyond one or two from Caledonian, typically Caledonian 80/- and Deuchars IPA.

My favourite pubs were:
  • Thompson's Bar
  • Cloisters
  • Guildford Arms
  • Halfway House
  • Blue Blazer
  • Bow Bar
  • Abbotsford
All of the above pubs had taps to please the swill-drinkers, but they also had a nice selection of cask ales in top shape. Most of them standard taps, but also a few of them dedicated to guest ales. I love the idea of guest beers as new ones will be put on as soon as the current ones are empty. Within a day or two the guest taps rotate, and the next time you visit the pub there is going to be new beers to try out. Very nice. I wish they would do the same thing here in Oslo...

Real ales typically have a soft mouthfeel, very little carbonation (condition), a subtle maltiness and a mellow hop aroma and bitterness. Some of them venture into more hop bitterness, but it never gets out of hand. The alcohol content of most of the beers I tried was in the 3.4 - 4.3% range. The various ales were surprisingly similar, which is a bit sad as I cannot see why brewers could not apply more creativity when making them. There is afterall a surging interest in craft ales. The only American influence I could see was the fact that a some of them used citrusy American hops.

Anyway, thanks to the half-pint, I managed to get through about 60 different real ales.

Monday, October 02, 2006

#36 and #37: Kegged and bottled

After about four hours the two beers have now been transferred into bottles and kegs. This also includes removing the labels from two cases of beer bottles. I ended up with 23 bottles of the Christmas beer and 12 bottles of the witbier (each 330 ml). The rest went into two kegs. I used 50 grams of sugar in the bottles.

The FG of the Christmas beer was 1.022, quite a bit higher than I had expected. I assume that it has reached its final gravity as it was pretty active throughout the fermentation and there is a big yeast cake at the bottom. Three weeks of primary fermentation should be plenty. This is in theory a bit dangerous as the beer may continue fermenting in the bottle if there is actually more sugar left in the beer. I'll just have to keep a look at the carbonation level over the next few weeks. Another possibility is that the sample I used to measure the starting gravity was not representative. I've seen that before, but usually the other way around with the sample being higher in gravity.

The bottles of witbier are now to be stored in room temperature for about a week or two until all the sugars have been eaten up by the yeast producing [natural] carbonation. The bottles of Christmas have been placed in the fridge as the lager beer is to be lagered for a few weeks. They are in the fridge together with the two kegs. I'm targeting a lagering temperature of 1-2C. It should be down at that temperature tomorrow morning. At that time I'll also add some more CO2 to the kegs. The witbier should be ready to be served once it has been chilled and CO2 has been added.

I had a taste of the Christmas beer after measuring the gravity. It was warm and without carbonation, so it is not exactly like the final product, but the taste was promising.