After ruining my last batch of beer with an overly ambitious yeast harvesting scheme, I've returned to a recipe that has worked in the past, and will no doubt work well again. Of course, I'm tweaking the recipe considerably, as I'm wont to do, but the basics are pretty well the same. As with last year, I'm brewing this batch of beer for a specific event in mid-March. It's called Fat Weekend, a annual gathering of portly friends from all over the northeast (and some points west). To be sure, we're not that fat, but as we like to say, fat is a frame of mind, and our caloric intake over the course of the weekend is easily 5-10 times our normal rate. Last year, we housed about half a case of my beer pretty quickly, so this year will be a full batch (as opposed to the 2.5 gallon batches I've been making). And again, there are some tweaks to the recipe and it is scaled up to a 5 gallon recipe, though I think it's pretty similar:

Beer #14: Fat Weekend IPA
Full-Batch (5 gallons)
February 8, 2014

1 lb. CaraPils (specialty grain)
0.5 lb. Crystal 20 (specialty grain)
6 lb. Muntons Light DME
12 oz. Turbinado Sugar
1.5 oz. Simcoe (bittering @12.7 AA)
0.5 oz. Simcoe (flavor)
1 oz. Amarillo (flavor)
2 oz. Amarillo (aroma)
1 oz. Amarillo (dry hop)
1 tsp. Irish Moss
Wyeast 1272 - American Ale II Yeast

Fat Weekend IPA Ingredients

This was perhaps a bigger change than I let on. Gone is the Vienna malt, and I only really scaled up the CaraPils (for body). The Crystal 20 remains the same, and the Turbinado sugar was only partially scaled up. Hop wise, I went with a Simcoe/Amarillo blend, with Simcoe providing the bulk of bittering (and just a a bit of flavor) and Amarillo pulling duty on flavor, aroma, and dry hops. And just to switch things up a bit, I went with the American Ale II yeast, which seems to be a clean yeast that will still provide a little citrus boost to the hops (so I hope). Furthermore, I'm planning to keg this batch and transport the results in growlers.

So it might be a bit disingenuous to give this the same name as last year's Fat Weekend IPA, but hey, I'm working on it. From a recipe standpoint, I'm thinking this is just about where I want to be. Last year, I really wanted to use this Simcoe/Amarillo hop schedule, but was stymied by a lack of Amarillo and fell back on Falconer's Flight and Citra to make up for the difference. The only real change I could see myself making next year is if the Conan yeast becomes more widely available (whether that be ECY 29 (Northeast Ale) or something else), but I'm definitely curious about this American Ale II yeast (from the descriptions I've read, it seems to have similar properties, though it's clearly not the same yeast).

And this is a first, I forgot to take an OG reading. What can I say, I've been fighting a cold and hadn't quite gotten over it on Saturday. The recipe should have yielded something in the 1.067 range, and given my previous experience, I probably hit something around there. I'm pretty confident that after two weeks we'll be in good shape (somewhere around 7.1% ABV).

Next up on the schedule is some sort of barleywine, which I'd like to give a bourbon soaked oak treatment to (or perhaps I'll go with something more exotic, like Port wine soaked oak, we shall see), then do the whole straight, oaked, and blend of straight and oaked versions. From what I've had of Bomb & Grapnel, the blend seems to be doing the best, so maybe I'll lean more heavily on that... After the barleywine, something light and crushable for summertime consumption (either a 4% pale ale, or a light saison). Then I plan to do something similar to Red Heady again in the fall, hopefully not screwing it up that time. After that, who knows? Maybe a redux of my Christmas Ale (a spiced winter warmer) or another batch of Bomb & Grapnel (with some slight tweaks). But now I'm getting way ahead of myself.

(Cross posted on Kaedrin Weblog)

Dark Hollow

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This is a beer that's been on my radar for a while now, and I finally pulled the trigger. My interest primarily originated from the name of the semi-local (let's call it regional) Virginia brewery, which is Blue Mountain Barrel House. What can I say, I've got a one track mind when it comes to barrel aged beers, and this place sounds like they'd do that sort of thing. Indeed, brewmaster Taylor Smack (perhaps the second best brewer name in the business, just behind Wayne Wambles of Cigar City fame) cut his teeth working at the Goose Island brewpubs in Chicago. You know, the folks that do Bourbon County Brand Stout? As barrels go, they source from four of the big guys (Makers Mark, Four Roses Yellow Label, Wild Turkey, and Elijah Craig), which represents a nice cross section of the market. So that's a good pedigree, though it also sets the bar pretty high (to be sure, I didn't know this before I drank). Fortunately, this was pretty good stuff:

Dark Hollow

Blue Mountain Barrel House Dark Hollow - Pours a black color with half a finger of quickly disappearing tan head. Smells strongly of bourbon, with some oak, vanilla, cocoa, and caramel pitching in and just a hint of roast and chocolate. Taste is also bourbon forward, very sweet, with a more prominent roasted malt character pitching in the middle, cocoa, but that's all overtaken by the bourbon, with some caramel, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy. A little booze makes itself known, but nothing unpleasant. Overall, this is a solid bourbon barrel stout, but not quite BCBS levels. Perhaps an unfair comparison, as Dark Hollow is doing its own thing and it's definitely something I'll hit up again at some point. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 2/8/14.

Certainly a brewery I'd like to sample more of, including a beer called Local Species, which is a Belgian pale ale made from the second runnings of Dark Hollow mash (and also aged in Bourbon Barrels). Color me interested.

The Bruery 6 Geese-A-Laying

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So I either drank this about 2 months later than I was supposed to, or about 6 years before I was supposed to, depending on how patient you are. Yes, this is the latest installment in The Bruery's 12 year long mission to create a beer for each verse of the 12 Days of Christmas. For the perseverant among us, the idea is to cellar each installment until 2019, when 12 Drummers Drumming is released and you can have an epic vertical tasting of a dozen 11%+ ABV beers and then die happy. For the rest of us, it's a fun annual exercise.

Last year's release, 5 Golden Rings, was a bit of a misfire. I didn't hate it, but I don't think it came together the way The Bruery had hoped and it currently holds the lowest grade I've ever given to a Bruery beer (others were less generous). That was disappointing, as I really loved 3 French Hens and 4 Calling Birds wasn't half bad either. So, will 6 Geese-A-Laying represent a return to form? Only one way to find out, even if I am drinking it 2 months late (or 6 years early, though screw all that - I'm drinking it now, you gotta problem with that?):

The Bruery 6 Geese-A-Laying

The Bruery 6 Geese-A-Laying - Pours a deep, dark amber color (chestnut?) witha finger of off white head. Smells of Belgian yeast, light spice and high esters, dark (but not roasty) malts offset by fruity aromas (clearly the gooseberries). As it warms, the nose takes on a very nice pie aroma, cherries and plums, or something like that (probably gooseberry pie, but I've never had that). Taste is very sweet, malt-forward, crystal malts up front with Belgian yeast spice coming in the middle and those berries making themselves known towards the finish. As it warms, some booze comes out to play, and that pielike character hits the taste too. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, a little sticky but with enough carbonation to make it approachable. Not a lot of booze until it warms up a bit, but it's fine. Feels pretty heavy, low attenuation stuff, though it works and it should give the beer legs for aging. Overall, this is very good stuff. I can't say as though it's mindblowing or anything, but it works. I'll give it a B which is technically the same grade I gave 5 Golden Rings, but due to escalating grade inflation in the past year, I'm going to downgrade that one to a B-, as this was clearly superior, even if it's not blowing my mind.

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a wine glass on 2/7/14.

I'll be curious to see how age treats this one, so I'd like to track down another bottle (incidentally, I haven't seen this in PA for some reason, which is odd). When I picked this one up, there were still bottles of 5 Golden Rings laying around, which further underscores its disappointing performance. Anywho, I pine for the return of barrels to this series, which were great in 3 French Hens and apparently spectacular in 2 Turtle Doves. According to Ed, The Bruery doesn't know what 7 Swans-A-Swimming will be "as we haven't brewed a pilot batch yet", which leaves little time for Barrel experimentation. I'm crossing my fingers anyway. In the meantime, I've got a couple other Bruery beers burning a hole in my cellar, so keep an eye out for more reviews in the next few weeks.

Sante Adairius Cask 200

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I don't know about casks 1-199, but I think Sante Adairius may have stumbled on to something with numero 200. In reality, they only have one of these (and you can see it in the background sometimes). It's a 660 gallon oval cask that they use in Solera-like fashion for a funky saison. Each time they package a portion of its contents, fresh beer is added back to Cask 200, thus mixing with the old beer and "learning" how to ferment and be like its aged brethren. As such, the average age of any packaged beer is going to be higher than previous bottlings and the finished product will vary from batch to batch. Unfortunately, I have no idea which batch I'm drinking here (I suspect batch #2), but that doesn't really matter because this is fantastic stuff.

Solera style beer production isn't particularly common here in the beer world, but in my limited experience (with, for example, The Bruery's Anniversary beers and Tired Hands' Darwin series), this is a unique way to approach it. Many thanks to Jay from the sadly now defunct Beer Samizdat blog for sending a bottle my way:

Sante Adairius Cask 200

Sante Adairius Cask 200 - Pours a cloudy straw yellow color with a finger of white head and good retention. Smells amazing, hugely funky, lots of musty Brett, some fruity aromas, and a very nice oak character. Taste is sweet, tangy with that fruity Brett funk, vinous notes, a big tart sourness yielding quickly to that oak character, which lasts though the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, and refreshing. Light bodied, with some acidity and tannins. Overall, this is another amazing beer from Sante Adairius. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a flute glass on 2/1/14. Batch 2?

So Sante Adairius is 2 for 2 here at Kaedrin, with 2 solid A grade beers. It's almost enough to plan a trip to Capitola, CA and visit them first hand. At the very least, I'll have to make arrangements to secure more of their beer!

Maine Weez

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Maine Brewing (out of, well, let's just leave it at Maine) has never really blown me away, but I'm always intrigued to try a new brew from them. I haven't seen many lately, but on a recent excursion, I jumped at this sucker. It's a counterpart to Maine's Another One IPA; both beers use the same hop schedule (Warrior, Cascade, Citra, Simcoe), but while Another One has a very clean malt bill, the Weez here incorporates various dark and roasty malts (making this one of them American Black Ale thingies, or India Black Ales, or whatever you want to call them). An interesting idea, though I really wish I had the counterpart IPA to compare notes!

Maine Weez

Maine Weez - Pours. Very dark, almost black, with a few fingers of light brown head and lots of lacing as I drink. Smell hits first with fruity citrus and pine hops, and then those dark malts kick in, bringing some toasty aromas to play. Taste has a muted feel, roast and those citrus and pine hops, followed by a dry, bitter finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, but tight, with a lighter body than you might expect, and a fair amount of dryness too. Overall, this is decent stuff. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (500 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/1/14. Bottled 12/31/13 (there's also a "04" on the label, presumably a batch number?)

So there you have it. I will be on the lookout for Another One, amongst, well, other ones from Maine.

Dark Lord

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Let's start this review off right with a stupid meme:

True Detective Meme 1
True Detective Meme 2
True Detective Meme 3

So unfortunately, I'm going to have to play Rustin Cohl (i.e. McConaughey) to collective beer nerdery's Martin Hart (i.e. Harrelson). Despite all the accolades everyone seems to hand out, I did not particularly love this beer. It's not awful or anything, but it's one of those beers that's hyped to high heaven or at least, it used to be... The hype has slowly been shifting to the ever more rare barrel aged variants, though this regular, non-BA version still commands pretty high ratings and ridiculous prices in the secondary market.

For the uninitiated, Dark Lord is a massive 15% ABV, coffee-infused imperial stout made by Three Floyds in Munster, Indiana, and it's only available at the brewery on one day out of the year (aptly titled Dark Lord day). This is a practice that has spread to just about every other brewery that has a big imperial stout release (think Darkness day or Hunahpu's day). It's very much a publicity stunt, though it's also more of a festival than a beer release (though the beer is the primary motivating factor), what with lots of other beers on tap and live music and large crowds. Attendance is capped at 6000 tickets, and there are apparently huge lines (according to these guys, the wait, even when they had a ticket, was three hours) and lots of beer sharing and trading and other hijinks. Allocation is 3 bottles per ticket (for the math impaired, that's 18,000 bottles), so it's not like this is a particularly rare beer, it's just that the distribution is limited.

I got my bottle in a trade with a gentleman from Chicagoland and have been holding on to it for a rather long time. Part of the reason for this is that everyone says the beer gets better over time and that it's cloyingly sweet and boozy when it's fresh. This particular bottle was a 2012 vintage, so it's had almost 2 years to mellow out. Was it worth the wait or the hype? Not really. I certainly wouldn't mind trying a bottle of fresh stuff (or any of the BA variants (like that will ever happen)), but this definitely did not live up to expectations.

Three Floyds Dark Lord

Three Floyds Dark Lord - Pours a gloopy black color with a minimum of head, barely a cap of tan head that quickly dissapates. Smells of caramel, brown sugar, a slight hint of coffee and roast. I rather liked the nose, at least at first. Taste is super sweet, sugary, some rich caramel, lots of sugar, maybe brown sugar, very sweet, not much in the way of roast or coffee, and did I mention that this was sweet? As it warms up, the coffee comes out a little more, but it feels like I'm drinking over-sweetened coffee. I don't think the age has done the coffee any favors, and it certainly doesn't stand up to the rest of the beer. Taking my cue from Rainier Wolfcastle: like the goggles, the coffee and roast do nothing. The onslaught of sugar and sweetness is unstoppable. It'd be almost admirable in its extremity if it was a little more balanced. Mouthfeel is full bodied, heavy, low but appropriate carbonation, definitely a sipper, some booze, but not overly hot or anything... The sweetness is hard to overcome if you're trying to house a bottle by yourself, so this is perhaps something you'll want to share. Overall, I can't help but be a bit disappointed. Its not bad, but its nowhere near my favorite top tier stuff. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 15% ABV bottled (22 oz. waxed bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 1/31/14. 2012 vintage, red wax.

So there you have it. I'd obviously rather be drinking this than a lot of other beer, but at the same time, it doesn't seem worth the hoop jumping that it takes to get a bottle (directly or indirectly). Back in the day, this was what I'd call a white whale beer, something I never expected to get my hands on, and with the ever shifting goalposts of beer nerdery, it seems that the regular Dark Lord has been slipping in reputation of late. As mentioned before, the barrel aged variants are a different matter, and to be sure, I could see the added complexity (and age) doing wonders for this beer (alas, I have severe doubts that I'll ever sample that stuff). Indeed, when I got towards the end, instead of powering through the last few ounces, I poured some bourbon in the remaining brew, and it actually allowed me to finish it off (this is pretty sad, really, but hey, it worked). Then I went to bed, because damn. Even spreading this out over a few hours, it was kinda tough.

Grassroots Arctic Saison

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Before the tiny juggernaut of Hill Farmstead, there was Grassroots. It's the oft-collaborative label of Hill Farmstead's Shaun Hill, who began Grassroots during his 20 month tenure at Denmark breweries like Nørrebro Bryghus and Fanø Bryghus. The idea was to start a contract/gypsy/collaborative brewery called Grassroots that would build enough capital to move brewing operations to Hill Farmstead in Vermont. Grassroots started in Denmark, but has moved all around the world as Hill has collaborated with a variety of other brewers (including local Kaedrin heroes, Tired Hands, amongst many others). I've only had a couple Grassroots beers, but they've been uniformly excellent.

This particular beer is a saison fermented in oak tanks with Brett. It's a collaboration with Anchorage brewing in Alaska, and because it was brewed at Anchorage's larger facility, it's actually received a reasonable distribution (some Grassroots brews are made at Hill Farmstead, and thus don't really make their way out of Vermont). Me, I got this by waiting in line at Hill Farmstead during Operation Cheddar, but for some unfathomable reason, this beer sits on shelves at various places around the country. Given the obscene (yet somehow appropriate) hype surrounding Hill Farmstead, it's surprising that this beer isn't more highly sought after. I guess most folks don't know what to make of this whole separate, subsidiary label. I'm not complaining though, as that just means more for those of us in the know.

Grassroots Arctic Saison

Grassroots Arctic Saison - Pours a slightly hazy straw yellow color with a couple fingers of bubbly head that has great retention. Smell is pure funk, lots of Brett, light earthiness with a fruity kick. Taste starts sweet and spicy, with that funky Brett bringing some earth and fruit to the story, slightly tart finish. Mild oak character, but really loght... Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a high, effervescent carbonation, some spice, a little rough, but very drinkable. Overall, this is pretty great stuff! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/26/14. Batch 1 May/2013.

This marks the last of my Vermont treasures, and thus I think I need to start planning another trip up north to stock up on more Alchemist, Lawson's, and Hill Farmstead.

January Beer Club

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Just in the nick of time. This was scheduled for earlier in the month but got delayed due to snow and other such things. But we persevered, and Beer club marched on. For the unawares, beer club is a gathering of beer minded folks from my work, who get together once a month at a local BYOB for beverages and fun.

January Beer Club 2014
(Click for larger version)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. As per usual, these are off the cuff responses with no formal notes, so they're basically useless for you, but I'm including them anyway because why should I care what you think of my drunken recollections of these beers? In order of drinking (and not in the order pictured above, and there are definitely a couple beers not pictured at all because I took the picture early and didn't feel like updating it later and why are you so confrontational about this, it's just a thing, and fine, you want to fight about it? Let's do this thing. Or not. Whatever. What were we talking about?)

  • Stone Double Bastard - Probably not the best beer to start off a tasting with, but it worked just fine, and it was as good as I remember. Which is to say, it's good, but not mind blowing. B+
  • Unibroue Éphémère - This is not as apple-flavored as I remember, though that character is still fully present in the beer, which is a pretty solid Belgian Wit style affair and would make a great summer beer.
  • Boxcar CarKnocker IPA - The uber local (i.e. within a couple miles of my house) brewery's take on a standard IPA, it's decent, but not quite as good as their original (kinda, sorta Belgian style) IPA. B-
  • DC Brau The Corruption - A beer I reviewed in more detail just yesterday.
  • Bell's Midwestern Pale Ale - A fine offering, but perhaps sampled too late in the the night, as it sorta suffered in comparison to the other IPAs. B-
  • Boxcar Belgian Tripel - One of uber-local Boxcar's best beers, it's still a pretty straightforward Belgian style tripel. Along those lines, it's pretty good. Not a top tier effort, but quite nice. B+
  • Element Brewing Dark Element - A rather nice India Black Ale (or whatever you want to call that hoppy stout style), this sucker had just a hint of roast, a nice malt backbone, and plenty of dank, piney, resinous hops. One of the best of the night. A-
  • Ken's Homebrewed Hybrid Thingy - A sorta beer/wine/mead hybrid, this was made with some barley, copious amounts of honey, and muscat grapes. This is some crazy Dogfish-head style shit, but it actually worked pretty darn well. Clocking in at around 10% ABV, this thing didn't feel like it at all, making it dangerously easy to drink. B
  • Kaedrin Bomb and Grapnel (Blend) - This is the version that contains a blend of straight RIS and Bourbon Oaked RIS. It turned out pretty darn well, though the oak character is a bit muted here. I don't know that I'd be able to pick it out blind, but regardless, it turned out pretty well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Look for a triple feature (with all the variants) soon. I'll give it a B+ for now, though it could easily be higher.
  • Spring House Satan's Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout - One of my contributions, this was a fascinating sorta Girl Scout Thin Mint beer. Not sure if I would have reacted so positively if I drank the whole thing by myself, but it's a perfect beer for the setting. The mint chocolate chip character comes through strong, but not in an overpowering way. Very nice, and I enjoyed muchly. B+
  • Boulevard and Sierra Nevada Terra Incognita - A whiskey barrel aged beer that shows off that character pretty well. I still think that stouts and barleywines work better on that front, but this was certainly a fine effort. B
And that just about covers it. Good times had by all, and I'm already looking forward to the next installment (which should be sooner, rather than later... hopefully!)

DC Brau The Corruption

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Yet another storied brewer makes its way to PA, and novelty whore that I am, I tried some. DC Brau is a small brewery located in Washington, DC, home of the Beerbecue. As such, I'll let him explain the story behind this particular beer (by which I mean that I'm too lazy to do so myself):

The Corruption is named for "the corrupt bargain". What's that you say? Well, in the 1824 presidential election, when no candidate had a majority of the electoral votes, the 12th article of amendment to the Constitution dictated that the House of Representatives had to break the "tie" between the 3 candidates who had the highest number of electoral votes. "The corrupt bargain" refers to the rather dubious dealmaking of Henry Clay in securing the White House for John Quincy Adams. In doing so, he out-Blagojeviched Rod Blagojevich and was quite coincidentally appointed as John Quincy Adams' Secretary of State.
As noted at Beerbecue, this was a pretty gutsy move on Clay's part, as Andrew Jackson is in the top 3 most badass Presidents of all time (perhaps a dicussion best saved for later).

Anywho, the beer itself is a relatively straightforward single hop IPA, made with Columbus hops. These are not particularly trendy hops, but let's just say that hops corrupt, and Columbus hops corrupt absolutely. A nice accompaniment to this smoke-filled room, if I do say so myself:

DC Brau The Corruption

DC Brau The Corruption - Pours a deep orange color with some coppery tones and a couple fingers of fluffy white head that has pretty good retention and leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells full of citrus and pine hops (I originally guessed Simcoe, but as I learned later, it's Columbus) But also something I can't quite place, perhaps a malt or yeast focused difference. Taste has more of that stuff I can't quite place, along with a heaping helping of citrus, resinous pine, and earthy, spicy, almost herbal hops, nice bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is typical IPA, well carbonated, light to medium bodied, goes down quite easy. Overall, it's a very, very good everyday IPA. If I didn't already have, like, 7 alternatives, it would be something I came back to regularly. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 1/26/13.

Now I just have to brave the inevitable shitshow once On the Wings of Armageddon makes its way up here. From what I've heard, it's well worth the hassle. Let's hope I'm equal to the challenge (it's apparently already shown up on tap in the city and it appears to be a semi-regular limited release beer, so it will hopefully not be too difficult to secure some).

Adventures in Brewing - Moar Updates

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I've been making what I guess you could call "slow beer" lately, stuff that takes a while to express itself. To counter this, I made a batch of Red Heady, a simple, hoppy red ale, and it just so happened to align with the acquisition of my new toy:

My New Toy

Yep, I got me a kegerator, so no tedious bottling was needed for Red Heady. On the other hand, I totally screwed Red Heady up. It's terrible, and I'm 99% sure that it's the way I harvested the Heady Topper yeast. I'm pretty sure the OG of my starter was way too high for the weak, harvested yeast. The final result wasn't infected, per say, but it did have a taint to it that I associate with weak yeast. I'll have to brew up a more straightforward batch sometime. I still have a couple cans of heady, so I could try harvesting the yeast with a much lower OG starter as well. In the meantime, I need to get Fat Weekend IPA up and running (I'll probably just use American Ale yeast for that sucker, don't want to take any chances).

Kaedrôme Saison is coming along, but sure is taking its time to condition in the bottle. I'm getting inconsistent carbonation levels, and it's never quite reached the heights of the non-funkified version (which is still drinking pretty great these days, though I'm critically low on supply, with only 3 bottles left).

Finally, the Russian Imperial Stout I made a while back seems to be coming around... and I even came up with a name for it: Bomb and Grapnel. If you get the reference, I love you. As a hint, I will note that in the book(s), the Bomb and Grapnel is a pirate-themed hotel bar that is not as cheesy as it sounds. But it's an evocative name for a big, bold imperial stout, no?

Anyway, after 3 weeks in secondary, I bottled with a FG at about 1.029, which is pretty damn high for a finished beer, but after 6 weeks, I'm pretty sure it was fermented out. The Bourbon Oak version had a slightly higher FG as well. I managed to get about half a case of straight RIS, half a case of Bourbon Oak RIS, and about 20 bottles of the blended version, with 4 bottles of what I called "transition" bottles (i.e. when I was transitioning from straight RIS to the blend, I set aside a couple bottles that were presumably not as well integrated because of the liquid already in the tubing, etc... Ditto for transitioning from the blend to full Bourbon Oak.) I opened one of the transition bottles recently, and it appears to be in drinking order:

Bomb and Grapnel

Nowhere near as roasty as I was expecting, though I wasn't really going for super roasty either. Still, if I were doing this again, I think I'd remove the munich malt and add more roasted malt (or black patent). Still, it's drinking reasonably well. Sweet, but not cloying, and actually somewhat hoppy (not like one of them India Black Ales or whatever you call them, but the hops are there), it's working pretty well for me. When I was bottling, I didn't get much in the way of oak or Bourbon out of it, but I haven't opened one of those bottles yet either, so I guess we'll just have to wait and find out. I figure another month or two and I'll be ready to drink all three side by side and see how they're doing.

After bottling Bomb and Grapnel, I took the Bourbon and beer soaked oak cubes and put them back into a mason jar with a few ounces of Dad's Hat Rye, a local Rye whiskey that could probably use some more time on oak (they typically aged for 3 months or so in small casks). And I figure the added beer would also make for an interesting result. We'll check in on that experiment in a month or two, I think.

Next up on the Homebrew front is Fat Weekend IPA, a beer I'm making for the eponymous Fat Weekend, a gathering of portly individuals from all over the northeast (and some points west) which will be sometime in mid-march. I will hopefully be able to switch up the hop schedule a bit again - hoping to use Simcoe for bittering, and Amarillo for flavor/aroma. I'm also planning on making a full batch this time. After that batch, who knows? I do want to do something similar to the three variants of Bomb and Grapnel, but with a barleywine (though I'd like to learn a little more about how Bomb and Grapnel turned out before I really commit to anything there). And I also want to make a crushable pale for summer. And maybe, someday, a Scotch ale (perhaps with the bourbon and oak treatment).

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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