Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel...

Straight out of an email I just reveived from

"Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. This is an imperial Oatmeal stout brewed with one of the world's most expensive coffees Cà Phê Chòn, made from droppings of weasel-like civet cats. The fussy Southeast Asian animals only eat the best and ripest coffee berries. Enzymes in their digestive system help to break down the bean. Workers collect the bean-containing droppings for Civet or Weasel Coffee. The beer will be available from the beginning of 2009."

I Shit You Not

None the less, I will try it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

I don't know about you but I found that it is extremely hard to find time to brew during the holiday season. Any free time goes to shopping, get togethers, and spending time with the kids. Not of these things are bad mind you, but it definitely makes it hard to keep up with brewing. So I've dumped two neglected yeast starters in the past few weeks and I hope I can get back on track here. I really want to get my Flanders Reds bottled and corked up here on New Years Eve. I have two different batches of Sour Red that I have been playing around with as far as blending is concerned. I've tried blending them many different ways with each other and it just so turns out that my favorite mix of the two is a 50/50 blend. This works out perfect because all I have to do is rack both of them into a big vessel and bottle from there rather than try to make sure I have my ratio right were it something weird like 55/35 or something. And no it's not some deep down lazy part of my psyche telling me that the 50/50 blend tastes best because it is the easiest way to do it. Although I think that's they way my mind works alot of the time. I'm excited to use my new corker that I bought and I look forward to popping open some of this beer with some friends. Nothing beats popping a cork off of a hefty belgian style bottle of beer. I'll take pics of the corking process, maybe even some video (or the wife will I should say) and post them on here soon. I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year.


Brew more in '09!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Parlez-Brew Francais?: Bières de France hits the U.S.

(Original Article)By Ernest Barteldes

France is well known around the world for its champagne, fine wines and cheese (among other delicacies), but somehow the beer produced there has never really gotten much publicity Stateside. That has happened mostly due to the popularity of Belgian, German and Dutch brews, which have pretty much dominated the market of imports on this side of the pond in spite of the fact that France is one of the leading nations in the production of brewing barley in the entire planet.

That is poised to change, as many small producers in that country have come together to promote their own craft beers in the US with the support of The French Embassy’s trade agency. Last October, several of them showcased their product during an event at New York’s House of Brews and also in Boston aimed to attract distributors, tastemakers and members of the press to their product.

“We have noticed increased sales for craft beers, imported beers and microbrews over the years—it’s a niche which is growing considerably in the US,” says Jean-Jacques Giard of Brasserie Duyck. “However, French beer hasn’t got the image it deserves, as roughly ninety percent of French beers are in the hands of big international groups like Heineken and so forth.”

“We have about twelve-to-fifteen small craft breweries who are trying to improve the image of French beer, and it’s quite a hard job because France is considered as a country that produces champagne, wine and so on,” explains Giard. “When it comes to beer, people think about Belgium, Germany, The UK or the US. However, the fact is that we are working very hard to produce great beer.”

At the New York event, several small producers—many of whom have yet to score distribution deals in the US—conducted a tasting of more than eighty varieties of beer, going from simple blonde brews to ambers, stouts and even a handful of sweet, flavored beers like Verte du Mont Blanc, an apple-green-shaded beer made from glacial waters off the slopes the mountain of the same name.

“The feedback has been very good, and people really liked it,” Giard says. “Americans are very nice people, and they said that the beers were fantastic. Here in France we are working towards moving things forward a bit faster in that market.”

“We are definitely keen on working on the main markets even though it’s difficult,” he continues. “That makes the breweries to realize that they have to work together to create a better image of French beer—so far that image is very poor, and nobody knows what we are producing, except maybe for some beer connoisseurs—otherwise, no.”

Asked about what characteristic differentiates French beer from its other European counterparts, Giard told us about Biere de Garde, which is produced in the northern part of the country. Often sold in a corked champagne bottle (the region is conveniently located a mere fifty miles from the winemaking region, so those vessels are plentiful there), the name translates as ‘”beer to be kept.”

“Fifty years ago, we had 2,000 breweries in northern France that were produced during winter because they didn’t have the equipment for cold fermentation, so during winter they could control the process, and we used to sell it in summer, when it was hot,” he recalls.

“So we used to brew the beer and keep it for weeks in kegs, and we have kept that tradition—it’s beer that is kept after fermentation for at least four weeks,” he explains. “Beer, as you know, is not like wine—nothing happens after fermentation, but still we realized that if we keep it for a while it gets better. There is no scientific explanation for that, but somehow it just tastes better, and that is what makes French beer different from German, Belgian or English beer.”

One of the favorites at the tasting was Jenlain Amber, a delicious 7.5% brew that can be found at Brasserie Jo, 59 West Hubbard, (312)595-0800 and also at West Lakeview Liquors, 2156 West Addison, (773)525-1916.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Midwest Homebrewer of the Year...DO IT!

Hey there Brewers, Well as this year is coming to an end and 2009 is right around the corner we all do a little re-evaluation of ourselves whether we like it or not. Everyone starts talking about new years resolutions and pin-pointing things about themselves that they would like to change. I have already started on my new years resolution and that is to get back in shape and I would like like to get down to 200lbs. I started at 245 and now I am already down to 226 as of today. My other resolution is to brew a wider variety of beers, not just the beers I would ideally have if I were stranded on an island. I think this is going to be harder than getting down to 200 lb because I love my Belgian Golden Strong ales. The reason I want to do a wide variety of beers is so I can improve my ranking in the Midwest Homebrewer of the Year competition. This past year I entered almost every competition and I definitely learned a lot about how one needs to go about doing this. The first two competitions I entered every beer I had on hand in the basement thinking that the more beer I enter the better chance there is I will get more ribbons. This would be true if all of the beers you send are ribbon/medal worthy. I sent a lot of beers that I sort of knew wouldn't do well and it really hurt my overall score. This year I am going to send only beers I think are really good and I'm going to try and cover a more categories than last year. I think it would be great to get a feel for beer styles that I have little experience with right now. With resources like the Jamil Show there is no reason not to broaden your brewing horizons. For those of you who haven't entered competitions yet, don't bother with doing something like this where you have to pick and choose which of your beers are worthy. You should make a goal to enter as many competitions as you can. Send in all of your beers, by all means. You will get some great feedback on your brew and it will help you figure out what adjustments you can make to become a better brewer. Or just make an effort to get honest info about your beers from friends or enemies...they give better feedback.

I highly recommend trying something new this year. Set a goal that will benefit YOU as a person and your longevity and then set a goal that will benefit your mind and possibly taste buds. I know these kind of contradict each other. I have really cut back on drinking during the week and now I am mostly just having a few on the weekend with a random beer sprinkled in during the week when the timing is right. Just doing that along with a small diet adjustment I have already lost close to 20lbs.

Here are the rules for the MWHBOTY competiton:

Brewers must enter beer, mead, or cider in at least:

* 4 participating contests
* 10 unique BJCP categories

Brewers must reside in one of these states:

* Iowa
* Indaina
* Illinois
* Kansas
* Michegan
* Minnesota
* Missouri
* Nebraska
* North Dakota
* Ohio
* South Dakota
* Wisconsin

1. A brewer's Net Score is determined by the formula:

Net Score = (Raw Score) x (Winning Percentage)

2. Only the highest placing beer per 2004 BJCP Style category will be used for Raw Score points. Raw Score points are awarded as follows:

* 1st Place = 8 points
* 2nd Place = 4 points
* 3rd Place = 2 points

NOTE: Points are not cumulative for each BJCP category.

For example, if a brewer earns two silver medals in a category that does not equal 8 points for that category. Instead, it earns the brewer 4 points.

Similarly, if a brewer wins multiple gold medals in a category, the max points allowed is 8.

In other words, only a single highest placing beer per BJCP category will be used to determine total points, however, multiple wins in a category will increase a brewer's winning percentage.

3. All entries from a brewer or team will be used to calculate winning percentage except special categories unique to a contest.

Scoring Example for Brewer Mookie McAhat
Total Wins by Mookie

* 5 1st place wins = 40 points
* 4 2nd place wins = 16 points
* 8 3rd place wins = 16 points

Mookie's Raw Score

* 40 + 16 + 16 = 72 points

Total Entries by Mookie

* Total entries for all competitions = 39

Mookie's Net Score

* Net Score = 72 X (17/39) = 31.38