Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vacation (Beercation) Recap...

So... Part 2 of catching up on blogging laziness (I mean being too busy... totally meant being too busy... for realz... ugh) 

Up in the lakes region in Maine every July the have this small town fair, Casco Days always the last weekend in July. It's a nice little wholesome thing and everybody in the family that has kids crowds into these two little cottages on the lake. We're talking twenty people crammed into four small bedrooms, air mattresses on the floor, kids underfoot, sharing one shower... it's pretty great.

Just to back up a bit, I had brewed two batches for this vacation. Ten gallons should be plenty for a week right? You would think so... I brewed my Fresh Citrus Witbier 2.0 and a Centennial heavy 60 Minute IPA. I had stressed about how to chill and serve two 5 gallon kegs without my kegerator. No money to build a jockey box right now... The plan was to stand the kegs up in a large cooler full of ice and use my CO2 setup and picnic taps to serve. At the last minute, I said screw it and packed up my whole kegerator and sent it up with my wife a day ahead of me. When I got up there Thursday night she had it plugged in and chilled. All I had to do was hook up the CO2 and put the faucets together and I was ready to serve just in time for the fireworks.

The only fireworks worth seeing every year. Best view from the dock and no traffic getting home after...

The basement of the cottage was the place to be (that's where the kegerator was)... After the young ones were in bed, super grown up fun times!

 Beer Pong almost every night... in the basement, under the deck, up on the deck... it was like a full travel league. Also, don't worry... we were playing with water folks.

So I know you are wondering how long ten gallons of beer lasted. Tapped both kegs Thursday night around 9, I think the Wit kicked early afternoon on Saturday (less than 48 hours) and the IPA made it until Monday night. Next year... More. Kegs.

In addition to the homebrew, the other beer geek in the family brought up a huge selection of beers he had cellared... Thanks Carl! I totally made a list of them all and was going to write them all up, but... I forgot all my notes at the cottage. I think I can give each a line or two from memory... but all I have to go on is this pic.

Baxter Brewing Stowaway IPA: If you are a regular reader, you know I love this beer. See here...

Gritty McDuff's Red Claw Ale: A nice Red Ale from a local Maine brewery... malty and tasty as a Red Ale should be.

Sierra Nevada Summerfest: A nice hoppy Pilsner... great summer beer.

Pike Brewing's Old Bawdy: Amazing Barleywine. I don't remember the year, but it was nicely aged and mellow.

Harpoon's Smashed Blueberry: I was alone on this but I really liked it. I wasn't expecting something like a porter from a blueberry beer, but this one did it nicely. The chocolate and coffee flavors from the malt went really well with the blueberry.

Allagash's Odyssey: Big, roasty, oaky, dark wheat beer. I honestly love everything I've tried from this brewery out of Portland, ME. They do a lot of belgians and I am super partial to belgian beer.

Unibroue's La Fin Du Monde: Belgian Triple... one of my new favorite beers. I recently also found this in 12 ounce bottles which is total win.

Brasserie Dupont's Saison Dupont: I love love love Saison. And from what I've read this is the standard for the style. Unfortunately, this is the first time I had tried it. It was everything I hoped for. Dry but full bodied. Crisp and carbonated like champagne. Did I mention, love love love?

Unita's Tilted Smile: Imperial pilsner... is that really a style? My first time trying an Imperial Pilsner. Honestly, unless this is way out of the style, I gotta say I'm not a fan. This was a huge malt bomb without the hoppiness that I like in a standard pilsner.

Rogue Yellow Snow: A really really good IPA. A+!

Lagunitas' Hop Stoopid: Great big in your face 100+ IBU DIPA... awesome beer. I would expect no less from Lagunitas.

Dog Fish Head 120 Minute IPA: Re. dic. u. lous. My first time trying this if you disregard the taste I had when I first got into craft beer, before I had a taste for hoppy stuff. This was a 2009? so a lot of the hop profile must have been aged out. I would really like to try a fresh one.

Samuel Adams Triple Bock: This is the most vile "beer" I have ever tried. More like a liquor, uncarbonated... consistency and color of reduced soy sauce. It had stained the blue glass bottle opaque black. It was really the smell that got to me. Every time I went to take a sip, the smell would psych me out and I physically had trouble making myself try it. When I did finally hold my breath and take a sip, the taste wasn't as bad as the smell. Not a fan, just sayin...

Baxter Brewing's Pamola Pale Ale: Another great beer from Baxter, this and the Stowaway make up the young brewery's entire product line. This is a great example of the style, just make sure you try it before the IPA or your palate will be screwed.

In the midst of all this great beer I got to do a lot of other great vacation stuff. Spent some great family time with the wife and kids. Wiffle ball, beach, lake, boat rides, wakeboarding, tubing, disc golfing (where I got my first Ace (hole in one) in my 4 year "career") I also got to check out Baxter Brewing's brewery... it took three tries, but I got there... I picked up a sweet T-shirt and a case of the IPA to take back to CT and ended up giving most of it away to my IPA loving friends. i totally meant to do a Beer Can Chicken with one, but I forgot and drank the last one (sadface) I'm planning on going up for the Maine Lakes Region Brew Fest this month. It should be a great time and I'll def be picking up some Baxter beer...

That's it for today, stay tuned for part three of my shameful catch up... Big things are brewing for me (sry for the awful pun, but that's how I roll) I'm not ready to make any anouncement yet until things are finalized later this week. Thanks for sticking with me... Later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Busy Life is Busy... Also, Keg Jumping...

So... been awhile, amirite??

Don't really know where to start. I'll probz be breaking this up into a few quick posts to keep your (and my own) attention. I'm so far behind at this point, I feel like I should apologize. So... Sry... my bad... Life is super busy right now and brewing has taken a back seat, also blogging has taken the way way back seat, like in my mom's '87 Caprice Classic station wagon when I was growing up... with the fold out backseat that faced backwards, and when any friends rode back there with me they guaranteed, 100%, got carsick and barfed... just like that.

Anyway... where did I leave off? prevacation? right. So I keg jumped the two kegs I was bringing to Maine. When you bottle homebrew, you always end up with a little bit of sediment on the bottom of each bottle. If you are patient the sediment tightens up and you can pour the beer off without really disturbing it. The same is true when kegging. Sediment falls to the bottom of the keg, after the first few pours clears the sediment around the pickup tube you get clear beer... unless the keg gets moved (like say by a four hour car ride to Maine) and the sediment stirs back up. So, by keg jumping I basically moved the beer from one keg to another and left the sediment behind.

 So I built a keg jumping line. Simple, all it is is a length of beer line with a liquid disconnect on either end.

The process of keg jumping is also simple. Let kegs chill and settle for a week or so in kegerator, tap and pour a few pints to get clear beer, hook up jumping line to the settled keg and a clean, sanitized and empty keg. With serving pressure on the full keg, lift the pressure relief on the empty keg allowing the beer to flow. When the full keg is empty and the empty keg is full, that's it... keg jumped.

Repeat on the second keg, load kegs and kegerator into the van and off to Maine I went. I had originally planned on using a cooler full of ice and picnic taps to serve, but I was able to bring the whole kegerator setup to the cottage... totally pimp.

So any guesses on how long 10 gallons of homebrew lasted in a cottage full of people?? Think on it... I'll let you know next time when I tell you all about vacation... total cliffhanger! Later...