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New York City Craft Beer Festival-Winter Harvest

NYC Winter Harvest

As stated above, I went with Two Girls One Pint to the New York City Craft Beer Festival, Winter Harvest.  I’ve been to several beer festivals in the past, but Winter Harvest had to have the most diverse selection of brews I’ve seen.  Some of the highlights were Dogfish Head Ta Henket (which tasted like Pizza), the Magic Hat Humdinger Series, anything by Alphabet City Brewing Company, and Founders Breakfast Stout (which you already know I have a deep passion for).  There were a lot of other great beers, but I could spend hours writing about those without getting very specific.  Really quickly though, I wanted to focus in on the Magic Hat Humdinger series.  Magic Hat was one of the first craft breweries that I got into, and before Ommegang, was the largest stepping stone in my journey into craft beer.  However, I had a misconception that their beer stylings sort of ended and began with their basic line of craft beer (OddBall, Circus Boy, Number 9…etc.).  I was so wrong.  The Humdinger series, which I had never even heard of before this event, exemplifies everything that craft brewing in America should be.  These beers are epically experimental, deep, and fully realized.  If you haven’t had a Humdinger yet, get one immediately (you can get one for free through my game).  Trying these beers made my festival experience.  The event was great, but discovering Humdinger was definitely the highlight.  And come to the next festival.  I really enjoyed all the food and brew, but what was even more exciting was talking to all the participants and volunteers about their love of beer.  It made me feel like I was part of a much larger beer community in NYC than I had never fully appreciated.  I think everyone should try to attend their next event.  If you do, stop by the Two Girls One Pint stand and say Hi! I’d love to chat.  And, if you win one of the prizes from my games, might be a good place to pick it up.  Hope to see you there! 

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GAME OF THRONES (Song of Ice and Fire) BEERS?!?

Golden Lion

Sorry to freak out, but has everyone seen this?

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/coming-soon-the-beer-of-kings/

If you don’t care already, I don’t know if I can make you care.  But I love this idea.  First off, I really like Ommegang.  They make amazing beer, and I can’t think of a better American brewery to create beers coupled with a fantasy series.  Second, I’m a big fan of A Song of Fire and Ice.  I’m in the middle of Storm of Swords (so nobody tell me what’s going to happen), and it’s a dark, meticulously constructed, high fantasy series.  Besides the wonderful political and cultural allegories at play in the books, my favorite part is the food and drink.  Every forty pages or so, George R. R. Martin will launch into an epic tirade on food and drink.  For example:

“There were great joints of aurochs roasted with leeks, venison pies, chunky with carrots, bacon, and mushrooms, mutton chops sauced in honey and cloves, savory duck, peppered boar, goose, skeweres of pigeon, and capon, beef-and-barley stew, cold fruit soup…..twenty casks of fish from White Harbor packed in slate and seaweed; whitefish and winkles, crabs and mussels, clams, herring, cod, salmon, lobster, and lampreys.  There was black bread and honeycakes and oaten biscuits; there wer turnips and pease and beets, beans and squash and huge red onions; there were baked apples and berry tarts and pears poached in strongwine.  Wheels of white cheese  sat at every table, above and below the salt, and flagons of hot spice wine and chilled autumn ale were passed up and down the tables.”-A Clash of Kings, 245, George R R Martin

You see what I mean?  Don’t you want to be at that feast?  Well, Ommegang’s providing us with the drinks, and if you go to the brewery, you might be able to find the food (or make it). Every summer Ommegang holds a music and beer festival at the brewery in Cooperstown, NY.  I have it on good authority that full suckling pigs have been roasted on the ground during the festival.   I’m sure I’ve had  an Ommegang while reading one of the books, and it makes me happy that I may be able to have a themed one next time.

Now if we can just get some Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings themed beer lines, my fantasy drinking needs will be complete.  And…I know that there’s already a Harry Potter beer at Universal, but there could be more.

Image property of Teefury.com

Artist: Nathan Stillie http://nathanstillie.com/gold-lion-shirt/

My First Homebrew

The title is kind of a lie. I’ve brewed before, but I’ve never created my own recipe or used my own equipment, so this was a first…of sorts.  Whatever experience I had, it didn’t feel like this was going to be easy.  I kept telling myself it would be ok.  My friend, Hunter, came over to help me brew.  He had done a few Homebrews himself and I thought having him there would help me stay calm.  Plus, I had Charlie Papazian in the back of my head whispering , “Relax, have a Homebrew”.  As it turns out, despite my apprehensions, the whole process was pretty painless.  Instead of homebrew (because I didn’t have any), we bought a six pack of Sam Adams Latitude 48.  I wanted to make a strong pale wheat ale.   I’ll tell you from the beginning, I ended up with a pale  ale, but it wasn’t strong or carbonated enough.  I think we put too much water into the batch. At the end of this article, maybe you can tell me what what you think….

Around 3pm, we started brewing.  First we sanitized everything using Star Sans.

Sanitizing Things

Then we began by steeping a 1/3 lb of Victory grains for 30 minutes in 1 ½ gallons of water.  This gave us the doughy base I wanted.

Victory Malt SteepsSMells like Warm Bread

We let that cool, filtered out the grains, and put it back in the pot. Then we added our malts, 5 lbs of Briess Bavarian Wheat and brought to a boil for 75 minutes.

Filtered Victory MaltPouring Beer Back in

We tried a method of continuous hopping (check previous article) with pellets.  We added an ounce of warrior hops right off the bat, for the bitter (Warrior’s high in alpha resins).

Stirring in Hops

We waited about twenty minutes, and then continuously added another ounce of Warrior over the next 20 minutes in increments of an eighth an ounce every 2 ½ min.  We continued the flavoring with an ounce of New Zealand Motueka and an ounce of Mt. Hood from 40-60 minutes in ¼ ounce increments (on the same schedule).  These hops have relatively low alpha but high beta resins, and they smell and taste wonderful.

Beer:Hop Wonderful

We added the same hops for aroma.  Specifically, we added an ounce of New Zealand from 60-68, and an ounce of Mt. Hood from 68-75.  To be honest, at this point, we got a little lazy and just started dumping hops.  At 75 minutes we took our brew off.  We added 3 gallons (I think?) of clean cold water to a carboy and then poured our mixture in via a funnel, and filtered out the hop pellets (for no reason).

Straing the Hops for No reason

We waited till it cooled down, then I took a measurement.  The specific gravity was 1.027 at 80 degrees F, so the real specific gravity was about 1.0032 (way lower than I wanted).  I waited till the temp got down to about 76, then added a tube of California Ale yeast (which was warmed up and shaken).

The Yeast

I should mention here that all of our ingredients came from the Whole Foods Beer Store on 2nd ave, the F, M stop in NYC.  After brewing, I let my wort age in a dark corner of the room.

The Wort

After a few days, I had to add a tube to catch the run off because it ended up being much more than I expected (I think I may have loss some carbonation here).

Run off 2Run offSediment at the Bottom of Wort

After 2 ½ weeks, I decided to bottle.  I tasted at this point, and while it was very good, there wasn’t much carbonation.  I added priming sugar, and then bottled the beer.

Clean BottlesBottling 1Capping 2

CappingMy Girlfriend, Jade, Labels BottlesBottles Galore

The specific gravity at the end was 1.004 spg at 75 degrees F.  So the beer was very weak at about 2.8 or 3 percent.  That being said, it tastes better than most beers that I buy, and it was a lot cheaper.  I spent about 25-30 dollars on ingredients, and I was able to brew 3 cases of good beer.   I’m going to brew a strong English ale next, and use more malt and two yeasts.  If you have any other ideas about how to brew a better beer, let me know. It was exciting to see something I made grow and change over the weeks, and to be able to savor my creation. I hope that some of you who read this will consider doing the same.  Oh, and get a bottle dryer.  Get a bottle dryer.

Beer, the cause of, and solution to all of life’s problems.”
– Homer Simpson

THE FIRST EVER TWO-GIRLS, ONE-PINT BREWERY BUS TOUR

Hey, this is just a reminder that Two-Girls, One-Pint recently announced their Inaugural NYC Brewery Bus Tour!  Here are the details:

On Saturday September 22, your favorite brewery web-series, Two-Girls, One-Pint, is taking a bus of fifty lucky New Yorkers to three of the Best Breweries on the East coast. We’re starting the day at the Pony Bar in Manhattan.  Once there, everyone should use the bathroom and grab a drink, because then we’re driving our bus out to Pennsylvania (there will be bathrooms on the bus, so don’t FREAK OUT).  On the bus ride out, they’ll be games, entertainment, and maybe even some beer (wink, WINK).  Sooner or later, we’ll arrive at our first destination, Fegley’s Brewery, in Allentown, PA.

Fegley’s are known for their India Pale Ales (I previously reviewed their triple IPA), and their Blueberry Belch, Rude-Elf’s Reserve, ESB, and Chain Link Pilsner (all silver medal winners at the World Beer Championship).  They also have a wide variety of seasonals, as well as fantastic food (just look at their menu: http://www.thebrewworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/ABW-Menu-ver-10-web.pdf), so we’ll be eating a meal there along with our tasting and tour of the facilities. After we fill up on food and beer at Fegley’s, we’ll take a short drive over to Weyerbacher in Easton, PA, one of the most famous craft breweries in the North-East.

Weyerbacher, renowned for their “huge” beers, have been awarded several times in recent years for their achievements in brewing. In 2010, they took home the bronze at the Great American Beer Festival for their Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and they also received a bronze at the World Beer Cup for their Merry Monks Belgian Style Tripel.  And in 2011, Weyerbacher was awarded a gold at the Great American Beer Festival for one of their famous “anniversary” beers, Sixteen (an incredible modern day Braggot).  Some of their other celebrated brews include a Double Simcoe IPA, a Blithering Idiot Barley-wine (a review of which is coming shortly), and the “Quad”.  They were also one of the first breweries to implement the idea of aging beers in wooden casks, a fad which has now caught on across America.  After a tour and tasting at their superb facilities, we’ll drive the bus back toward the city stopping at our final brewery for the day, Riverhorse, in Lambertville, NJ.

The Riverhorse Brewing Company, located on the Delaware River, is probably best known for their Triple-horse (previously reviewed), Hop Hazard IPA, and Special Amber Ale, all widely available in NYC.  They have several excellent seasonal beers including an awesome Imperial Pumpkin Ale and a smooth Double Wit-Belgian Style Wheat.  They also happen to be New Jersey’s oldest craft brewery.  And, like Fegley’s and Weyerbacher, they have many unique concoctions which are only available for tasting at their facility in New Jersey.  We’ll receive a private tour and another group of tastings at Riverhorse before we head back to the city.   And don’t worry, they’ll be more beer related entertainment on the way back (if everyone’s up for it of course).

Now, get this: Tickets are only 79 bucks! (includes all three tastings, a meal at Fegley’s, the round trip bus ticket, plus games and surprises).  And we’ll back in the city by 9:30pm, in case you want to go out and brag to your friends about all  the amazing things you’ve seen (and drank).  So come on!  Join us!  If you love beer, if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about craft brewing, or if you just want to try some amazing beers that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, this is the tour for you.  I promise, you wouldn’t want to miss this for the world!

Buy your tickets now at: twogirlsonepint.com

Any questions? Email me at: Josh@twogirlsonepint.com

Continuous Hopping: Experimenting with Hops at Home

In 2001, Dogfish Head released the “90 minute”  IPA, and ever since, people have been trying to figure out exactly what Dogfish Head meant by “continuously hopping” a beer.  On the renown of this nearly perfect IPA, Dogfish Head rose to prominence as one of America’s greatest breweries.  While they had already created several incredible concoctions (like the India Brown Ale, Immort-Ale, and World Wide Stout), 90 minute became Dogfish’s most important contribution to the beer world.  Esquire magazine even called it, “the best IPA in America”(1).  In fact, beer enthusiasts loved 90 minute so much, that the brewery decided to create an entire line of continuously hopped IPAs around the beer which now include a 60 minute, a 120 minute (previously reviewed), and a 75 minute variety (“a cask-conditioned blend of 60 and 90 minute”, with a little maple syrup added into the mix).   However, while thousands have enjoyed the complicated tastes of one of these excellent American IPAs, many people are still wondering what continuous hopping means and how it changes the taste of the beer.  If you or anyone you know has ever pondered these questions, here’s your chance to find out.  Let’s start with hops.

According to Charlie Papazian, beer expert and home-brewing guru, “brewers first used hops in making beer over a thousand years ago”.  In those days, hops were primarily used as preservatives and antiseptics, but by the mid 19th-century, brewers were utilizing hops for their astounding aromas and tastes (2)*.  Hops are flowers, and brewed into beer much like tea is steeped in water. The lupilin glands in each hop contain resins and oils that aid in the brewing process, and create the hops’ bitter tastes.  Brewers add hops to the mix (or wort) at varying points in the process to aid in the “bitterness, flavor, and aroma” of the beer.  Brewers around the world have come up with a simple way of describing how bitter a brew is as a result of the alpha hops used.  They call this standard International Bitterness Units, or IBUs.  “One IBU is equal to 1 millogram of isomerized alpha acid (the resin that makes hops bitter) in 1 liter of…beer.”

So, why is all this information important?  Well, in traditional brewing, hops are added at the beginning of the boil for bitterness, later in the process “for flavoring”, and at the end of brewing, for aroma (3).  However, Dogfish Head had the bright idea of “continuously” adding hops to the beer throughout the entire process of brewing.  They named the beers they created by the time spent continuously hopping each of the brews (60 minute, 90 minute, etc.)  In order to standardize the amount of hops, they had to create a machine, which they called “Sir Hops-A-Lot”. The beers they created were revolutionary in style and precision.  They even have perfect IBUs. 60 minute has 60 IBUs.  90 minute has 90.  I bet you can guess how many 120 has.  Many people have tried continuous hopping at home.   Several people have blogged about attempts at using a stop watch to add hops on a fixed cycle.  I have a friend who has tried dropping in hops at different points in the boil, sometimes with a stop watch and sometimes on whim.  The results differ based on how much, how often, and when you decide to add your hops.  One man, Paul Zocco, went so far as to design his own “continous hopping” device to help standardize his results.  He called his machine, “The Zopinator”.  You can read about it here. However, no home brewer (to my knowledge) has been able to replicate Dogfish Head’s accuracy and precision in making continously hopped beers.

While nobody may be able to duplicate what Dogfish-head has created, you too can experiment with continuous hopping.  You can try simulating Dogfish’s process, making a hopper using Zocco’s method, or creating your own novel way of adding hops. The hops Dogfish Head  uses are “warrior”, “amarillo”, and a “mystery hop X”.  Some people have guessed simcoe, but with so many hops on the market, it’s hard to know.  Mess around with the recipe a little, and you might discover your own 90 minute is better than Dogfish’s.  Either way, play around with hops! Experiment, have fun, and no matter how you go about it:

“Relax. Don’t worry. Have a Homebrew!”

-Charlie Papazian

*Relatively recently brewers have also learned that hops “coagulate and eliminate undesirable malt proteins in the brew kettle”.

1.  Dogfish Head. Shaun Tyndall. 1995. Dogfish Head. 7/11/12 <http://www.dogfish.com/&gt;.

2. Papazian, Charlie. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2003.

3. Paul Zocco, The Zopinator Zocco, Paul. “Zopinator.” Dogfish Head.  Shaun Tyndall. 1995. Dogfish Head.  7/15/12 <http://www.dogfish.com/files/Zopinator.pdf&gt;.

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