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Episode #1. The Pilot batch

June 18, 2015

Just this past Sunday I began my journey to brew the perfect beer. I received a kit from a supply store and invited a buddy over who has some experience brewing.

The kit I chose was loosely based on one of my favorite VT IPAs – dubbed “Off the Topper”, it pays homage to the Alchemist’s Heady Topper.

All the ingredients went into the boil fairly easy and we were off and boiling. After about an hour, the wort was cooled, added into the glass carboy, and the yeast was pitched.

A day or two later, we had a blowoff and I had to fix the airlock so the gas was pumped through a tube and into a bucket of clean water. Things are still going, so I will have to update in about a week and a half when it’s time to bottle! For now, here are some pictures of the process.

 

Brew Kettle   Hops for brew

 

Cheers!

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Craft brewing, another new adventure

May 20, 2015

I’m in a slump. Everyone gets them, and generally, everyone gets out of them. My slump is a beer slump.

For the last few weeks, I have been drinking “cheap” beer. Mostly to save some cash but also because it is calorically a bit better for you. While doing this, my favorite brewery, Treehouse Brewing in Monson Ma. – which brews some of the best beer on the planet, has been releasing my favorites. Now, this might seem great, and it certainly is, but it has caused me to have to give up large parts of days and put miles on the car.

So I got to thinking, can I brew something that might be better than the cheap beer i have been drinking, while also maybe tasting as delicious as what they make in Monson? Chances are no, I can’t. But dammit, I am going to try. For years now, a few buddies of mine have talked about home brewing, and I’d also listen intently. They have made some batches before that are pretty tasty. I have never gotten myself involved in the process, but now is the time to gt out of this slump.

I need to brew. I want to brew. I am going to brew. Things I am telling myself over the next few weeks. I will make a batch of beer, and I pray that it is delicious. All it takes is a single to bust the slump, no need for a home-run right away – that will come later.

I am borrowing a few mantras from Treehouse. They make the beer I love the most and the dudes truly get it up there. Here goes.

1. Make great beer.

2. Do not compromise quality. Not now, not ever.

3. Simple is harder than complex. Aim for simple.

4. Pay attention to detail. Every detail.

5. Every idea is worth some attention.

6. Smile. Laugh.  Show respect.

While most of these are clearly aimed at a larger scale production, they are great words and thoughts to brew by. Stay tuned, I promise you won’t want to miss this.

Cheers!

Cheap beer is OK…unless it’s too cheap

April 8, 2015

I’ve been on a little bit of a cheap beer kick lately. Not only to save a few bucks here and there, but also because of the lower calorie count.

I’ve found that over the past few months, I’ve added a little padding that I don’t need going into the golf and summer seasons. In an effort to get rid of that, I examined where I can easily cut back. Food was the logical choice at first, but let’s be honest, grilling season is upon us now too, and nothing beats a good steak, burger, chicken wings, etc.

Cutting back on on beer also seemed like a ridiculous option until I looked at how much I was drinking of high ABV beers.  having just 3 double or single IPAs for example – ranging from 5-9 percent alcohol equates to about 1000 calories! I was floored. I never once gave a thought to how filling they are, just how delicious they can be.

It was a hard choice, but I made a call – to switch to a – gulp…..”lite or light” beer. I eliminated anything Bud right away, on principle mostly after this stupidly lame commercial, which essentially slams the craft beer industry.

I have dabbled in the Coors Light arena before, but this time, it seemed too light for me. PBR was a contender, so was Narragansett, and I will probably have these at some point. But i picked up a 12-pk of Miller Lite on a whim, and gave it a second chance. I had had this in college and thought it was awful.

This time around, I was pleasantly surprised! They make a solid beer. One that I can have more of with friends at a BBQ and note have to worry about the massive amounts of calories the beer is adding to the meal. Give it a chance if you are skeptical. It’s a pretty solid option.

I’ll still grab an IPA every now and then, but the insane demands and limits of some, and the high ABV have curtailed my consumption for the next little while.

 

Mike

2015 and another new fresh start

April 3, 2015

I’ll say it, it’s hard for me to keep up with this, as evidenced from the multiple years between posts. But no more, a clean fresh starts and plenty of time to do more with this. We are going to take over the world! Well, maybe just a few more beers at this point.

There is a lot to catch up on. Since the last post, I have changed jobs, married,  moved, bought a house, bought a new car, become the father to the best furbabe I know…and delved into the world of what i like to call, Epic IPAs. Thanks Dan P. for that moniker.

A few close friends at work first mentioned a local offering I had never even heard of – Gandhi Bot. It’s a super juicy DIPA from New England Brewing and it quickly became a favorite. Thus, the door was open, and it hasn’t swung shut yet on my love for the hop.

Gandhi usher in many others, the Holy Grail heady Topper from the Alchemist in Vermont, busting with hop resin and piney goodness, to Pliny the elder, Russian River’s offering from the west and Topper’s closest rival to best DIPA out there. Then came Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine, which recently became available in cans in CT as it is being brewed by Two Roads in Stratford. A new competitor busted into my area of the state when Captain’s Daughter from Grey Sail became accessible. This one is gull of mango, grapefruit and hoppy awesomeness.

My newest favorite, however, has to be Julius, an awesome IPA from Treehouse in Monson, Mass. These guys now the pale ale and IPA/DIPA game better than most I have tried and are doing an awesome job cranking out brews. Julius is the flagship, and has now become available in cans. It’s a trick to get it, as the brewery has become inundated with hop hunters.

My intent here is simple again, to give all my readers a view into the world of beer and food and our new life with the pup. I;ll add some pictures now and then when a new beer is reviewed, a burger or dish made, or when the dog does something hilarious. Below are a few shots of what’s been going on.  For now, enjoy the update, there is more to come!

 

Mike

Fall and Beer…two good things

October 11, 2012

It finally happened. Out with the sweet summer air and in with the cool fall breezes. The change in temps are accompanied by the influx of seasonal fall beers and with it, some great tastes.

A few years back I began to drink more pumpkin beers than ever before, and this year was no different. While at a local watering hole, I tried perhaps the best of the best pumpkin beers on the market.  While I had been partial to Shipyard offerings, this pub had a new offering, Southern Tier Imperial Pumkin Ale.

The beer is a fantastic blend of pumpkin flavor, malt and most notably, nutmeg spice. This beer truly tastes like you are eating a piece of pie.

While I am still a new fan of these pumpkin beers; I prefer Octoberfests, this particular beer is fantastic. You can find this beer on draft at some bars and pubs, but you can also find it in 22 oz Bombers at some local liquor stores.

It is best to drink in a large-opening glass, and the brewery itself suggests a goblet. The colder the better. I have had this drink with food and without, and it pairs well with both. It’s a big drinking beer, about 9 percent alcohol, so be careful, but enjoy.

 

Cheers,

Mike

A New favorite IPA

August 30, 2012
tags:

A 2012 WBC bronze medal winner, Founders Centennial IPA is an excellent all around IPA. Unlike others, which require certain foods or situations to properly enjoy, this beer is a true….everybeer.

If you know only one thing about me, know this. I am a huge IPA fan. I am particularly fond of a Dogfish 60 minute because from the first drop to the last, it is an easy drinking, yet complex beer.

Centennial is cut from the same mold, with a higher alcohol content, adding an extra punch to go along with the lovely citrus note. This beer is heavy on citrus to go along with the traditional, hoppiness or bitterness of the IPA.

I enjoyed one the other night with some friends after drinking a few local Octoberfest brews and couldn’t quite appreciate the true flavor until the next night.

I arrived home after work and cracked one open while watching some television and truly loved what I tasted. Big citrus notes and big hops. Grab a six-pack at a store near you and enjoy!

 

Cheers,

Mike

Historic Cheaters (defending Barry Bonds again)

August 8, 2012

I wrote a column in my college newspaper years ago that examined national sports news. As I wrote about Phil Mickelson finally winning a major, fictionally toured baseball camps during spring training and trashed and then gushed over NASCAR, perhaps my most controversial piece was on the former Giants and Pirates slugger.

Despite my take at defending Barry Bonds, I still received letters and phone calls claiming I’m an idiot for believing he didn’t take PEDs. While I now know he did, it still doesn’t change much of my opinion of him. He is just behind Ted Williams and Babe Ruth o the short list of the game’s greatest hitters. He is also a cheater, and more importantly, he is also a FIRST ballot Hall of famer in my opinion.

……
I’ll pause for the laughter and criticism. But here is a list of other hall of fame players that were accused and some proven of cheating.

1. Gaylord Perry (pitcher, Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners, Royals, 1962-1983)
Perry, a Hall-of-Famer, compiled his 314-265 record on the wings of a Vaseline ball. He’d stand on the mound, touching his cap or his sleeve, either loading up the ball or trying to convince batters he was doing so. In 1982, he became one of the very few pitchers to be suspended for doctoring the ball.

2. Whitey Ford (pitcher, Yankees, 1950-67)Ford used his wedding ring to cut the ball, or had catcher Elston Howard put a nice slice in it with a buckle on his shin guard. Ford also planted mud pies around the mound and used them to load the ball. He confessed that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, “I used enough mud to build a dam.” He also threw a “gunk ball,” which combined a mixture of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept the “gunk” in a roll-on dispenser, which, the story goes, Yogi Berra once mistook for deodorant, gluing his arms to his sides in the process.

3. George Brett (3B, DH, 1B, Royals, 1973-93)
On July 24, 1983, at Yankee Stadium, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals came to bat with the Royals down, 4-3. He slammed a two-run tater off of Goose Gossage, giving the Royals the lead. By the time Brett had made it to the dugout, though, Yankee manager Billy Martin (acting on the advice of Graig Nettles, who, perhaps prompted by the superball incident, had read the rulebook) was protesting to home plate umpire Tim McClelland. McClelland asked for Brett’s bat, examined it while conferring with his crew, and then called Brett out for having too much pine tar on his bat. According to the rules then, pine tar and similar substances couldn’t be higher than 18 inches from the bat handle; Brett’s bat was covered up to 19 or 20 inches. After the enraged Brett had been ejected for arguing the unusual call, the Yankees went on to win 4-3. The Royals protested the game, and AL president Lee McPhail overturned McClelland’s ruling, reinstating Brett’s homer.

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When also examining the Bonds as a cheater topic, you cannot exclude the amount of players in the 1970s and 1980s that took SPEED in order to play in days games following night games. How many of those players are in the hall right now.

Bonds cheated, I admit that, but for people to allow the above three players in the hall, accept that greenies and speed were “part of the game” and not permit Bonds into the Hall is hypocritical and wrong.