Mar 30 2009

What exactly am I trying to do here?

Here’s the short version: I’m setting up this blog to record my goal of developing a better palate for beer.

I love beer, and I’ve been a homebrewer since the mid-90’s, but I don’t know if I have always had a strong and perceptive palate. I’ve always known what I liked, but the ability to pick out and describe those nuanced flavors was not something I had fully developed. So here I am.

The format moving forward will be pretty elastic. I might write a review that is in the static Appearance, Aroma, Taste, etc. format. I might turn around and write the next review like a short essay. I’ll be trying out different styles until I find one that “fits” me, and maybe I will switch things up dependent upon the beer.

I can also guarantee that my opinions will be remarkably inconsistent. Sometimes commercial beers have quality control issues and sometimes they change recipes, but that is definitely a rarity. Most of the time it will be changes in me. My tastes have changed and I’ve, like many beer lovers, have gone from being a hophead to a malthead to a sourhead and beyond. I will revisit beers that I will have professed my undying love for, and I will be disappointed with them. I will try beers that have not impressed me in the past and they might finally “click” with my taste buds or mood at the time.

I would hope the reviews to this blog will become increasingly smooth and more polished as I go along. No promises though.

If you have feedback, send me something through the Contact page.

Welcome aboard and go to your local bottle shop and try something new.


Mar 2 2009

California Common (Steam Beer) Batch 2009 – McSteamy – “CC”

This one of the notes I’ve written to friends to describe the beer I just made. I’ll throw a few of these out to the blog to see if they are of any interest to surfers. Nothing complicated here. I’m just prepping people to try to the lastest batch, to help them understand the style and let them know if I did anything strange or unusual in the making of this one. – jb

What the hell is this thing? Good question. I’ve made a few California Commons before (often referred to as “steam” beers) but this one is different. The last few I’ve done have been kinda like IPAs brewed in the steam style. (The style being a beer that is fermented with cold-loving lager yeast at warmer, ale-like temperatures.

Those were pretty cool and infinitely drinkable beers, but not quite to style. The key to this style is the right strain of lager yeast and temperature control, but much of the flavor comes from using the Northern Brewer hop. I’ve always used NB in the past but in moderation, and often I covered up that flavor with citrusy Cascade hops in the finish.

This time, I only used NB hops and a good bit of them. I also used Maris Otter, which is a British Pale Malt, as the base instead of American Pale Malt. It was what I had on hand, and I wanted to see if the slightly more malty, bready, nutty biscuit, etc. character of the Maris came through. Oh, it did.

This batch is very interesting. The malt is much more in your face and hops give off a strong woody character (with a hint of mint as it warms and as a final taste). You might think this is an English Pale Ale that was aged in an oak barrel for a few months. I like this and it is growing on me more and more, but it will be completely different from what you may have been expecting before you read this email.

The BJCP guideline the California Common Beer.

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