Friday, March 11, 2016

Run for the Roses

Wow. Long time, no blog.

For starters, I had in my preparation list, over on the right there, back in July that I was looking to brew BierMuncher's Oktoberfast Ale (a play on the Märzen that uses ale yeast instead of lager yeast). It turned out really well! Made a fantastic gift to generally everyone who helped us buy/move into a house in September, when I immediately and effortlessly stopped brewing altogether.

I got comfortable on bottles and cans from two really excellent beer stores here in town. And when I couldn't make it to one of those, well, it's nice to live in Michigan, where any Meijer in the state is going to have a fridge stuffed full of awesome beer. I had only inklings of trying to figure logistics for brewing in the new kitchen. For the most part, I was just trying to get used to the changes-- new job, new house, etc. It's not that I didn't want to brew, it's that I didn't feel like I needed to.

I don't feel that way anymore. The signal light is in the sky. The suds need you, Batyeast. I never said thank you.


I'm working on a Kentucky Derby-themed beer that I'm very excited about. I haven't nailed down the style yet, but I do have some options. The most fascinating: after doing some asking around on forums, I found an interesting historical tidbit called the Kentucky Common beer. It's no surprise that the grain bill looks extremely similar to the grain bill for bourbon or shine-- almost as much corn as you can put into beer while still being able to call it beer. Very American in that regard, and very frontier. I even found a link in a recipe to an old-school brewing guide (from 1902) that lists, in a nutshell, the style requirements. Roll that beautiful bean footage.

I will keep you all posted. Promise!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The heavens opened

A buddy, Matt, and I went out to West Michigan on a brewery pilgrimage last week. It was good, a little hazy. I fell asleep during the trip home, singing to old-school Jars Of Clay. Sure, I've had better moments. But it was a good time!

But this post is actually not about me. It's about Matt.

He just checked in a Founders Dirty Bastard on Untappd... and guess who toasted it?


Yeah, that Founders.

The brewery, rightly seated on the Mt. Olympus of American craft brewing, responded to Matt directly, saying how cool it was that he like Dirty Bastard.

He says it's "like winning the Super Bowl" and "the high water mark of my mortal existence". I do not think this is (much of) an exaggeration.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Quick update. Of his own free will and under no duress, my good friend Brian built this wicked cool logo for Magoo's Choice Brewery!

Niiiiice. That is all for now.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Michigan Beer Cup

So, I like my beer. My family and friends like my beer. That's plenty for me.


Thanks, Batyeast.

But what about other people? How about people I've never met? I'm sure they'd like it. But how well does it stack up?

This is America [citation needed]. As explained in George C. Scott's classic interpretation of General Patton, "America is a nation of winners." And by the nature of winning, we are also a nation of competitions. Competitions for everything.

Which dog is the prettiest?

Which toddler is the prettiest?

Which homemade siege engine can throw a pumpkin the farthest?

So, it may not surprise you to know that there are numerous competitions for homebrewing. It might seem a little odd-- a bit like judging art. Homebrewing, by the very essence of brewing in small 1 to 10 gallon batches, is a hobby of experimentation and creativity. You can make anything you like, with enough patience (and beer-soaked ideas for what might taste good). Look at the beer fridge at the grocery store. See any imperial red ales? Maple porters? You could count the number of hazelnut-chocolate stouts on one hand, and the lack of gluten-free, sorghum grapefruit IPAs is a noticeable paucity. Well, if you're looking for them, anyway. But organized, strict styles? Why bother?

After only brewing for a year and a half, I've noticed that the upper limit of my creativity is the strength of my technique. Any artist could have painted that cafe in France-- it was Van Gogh who gave it a heartbeat. I think I get plenty of good ideas from just walking my dog and thinking. But standing out requires doubling down on technique. And that's why you have styles in competitions.

My personal favorite is substyle 05-C... the Doppelbock. This beer has a really interesting story behind its creation, and has a long history of getting tipsy monks through Lenten fasts and making regular people act like idiots in public. So, when you call a beer a "doppelbock", you're providing a well-established expectation. In a competition, this helps judges decide whose technique was best, as well as who was the most creative. If there were no styles, you could have judges saying things like, "I liked this one best because the lavender made me think of my mom," or "This beer was great, I passed out after just two sips!"

Pic credit to Red Sox Bat Girl on Flickr.

This brings me to the Michigan Beer Cup, a statewide competition for homebrewers. Go ahead and page through the styles that you can make submissions under. Some of those styles I've never even tasted. Sure, some of those styles are available for experimental beers that don't conform to any styles on the list. But you have to know that would be a crowded group. I'd really have to pull a rabbit out of my hat to have a beer that stood out-- and my technique would still have to be good. A lot better than it is now (obviously).

Maybe someday. For now, it's more than enough for me to have friends and family drinking my beer and shooting the breeze.

Friday, June 19, 2015

But I ain't stressin

Okay. The obvious solution to this is a simple batch to get my groove back.

I'm thinking either a quickie one-gallon batch (like the good ol' days!) or a five-gallon of something I've already made. I've got a couple on deck that I'd like to try, and I did catch myself working through an all-grain version of Ring By Spring a couple days ago. Or I could try a SMaSH-- single malt, single hops. Simple might be the way to go.

I dunno. It's gonna be a little while, so I have time. If you have any suggestions, drop me a line.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

We interrupt this message for a list of IPAs

Still recovering from last night's trauma. Of course, it started to rain just as I was dumping the precious cargo. I opened the lid, had a brief second thought about trying to rack from under the top of the beer, and kicked it over.

Well, life doesn't give you much time to stew in a bad mood, whether I want to or not. So, I'm shaking it off.

There you go, Batyeast. Knew I could count on you.

The yearly poll from the magazine of the American Homebrewer's Association, Zymurgy, has rounded out the 50 most popular beers in the country, according to homebrewers. Needless to say, 9 of the top 10 were enamel-melting hop-bombs. However, my homies at New Holland made the list for best portfolio! Huzzah!

Go ahead and follow the link if you think your favorite beer is on the list. Then again, homebrewers tend to breed the biggest snobs in the universe, so maybe not! I know mine isn't on the list-- although I did just get a six-pack of Zombie Dust from a friend. Mmmmm.

And if you're feeling adventurous, some clone recipes are available in the few beers that have links. Go ahead, try to clone DFH's 90-Minute IPA. See if it doesn't melt your primary fermentor. =)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Disaster Strikes 2: Basement Boogaloo

Be warned: I'm too depressed for jokes right now.

I went down to take a gravity reading on the hefewitten tonight, to see if I might be able to bottle soon. I was greeted by an ominous cluster of mold colonies around the lid.

I opened the lid. I started kicking the bucket. I cursed a lot.

I blame the no chill method. Those Aussies may have it down, but I sure don't. Something probably got in before I pitched the yeast. Those lucky bastards were the only ones who got to drink it.

My next batch will have to be something to get my mojo back. I just want to scream at the top of my lungs right now.