Sunday, December 30, 2012

One Hoppy Set of Tasters

My mother-in-law gave me a pair of paddles and a set of mini-lager glasses, perfect for at-home beer tastings.  Kim and I hosted some friends for dinner and drinks on Sunday evening, so I broke out the tasters.

On the paddle, from left to right, is:

  1. Great Divide's Hercules Double IPA
  2. Boulevard's Singlewide IPA
  3. New Belgium's Red Hoptober
  4. My own Ubrewtu American IPA homebrew

The Hercules is simply a fantastic beer.  An ever so slight hint of Belgian sour on a terrific, imperial, hoppy body, this is a spectacular beer.

I have always really enjoyed Boulevard's Single-Wide IPA, on its own.  In fact, I think that was my first Boulevard beer ever.  A few years ago, Kim and I bought a 1968 Airstream Globetrotter.  One trip to the grocery store, Kim picked up a sixer of the Single-Wide IPA because it had an Airstream on the label.  As it turned out, I happened to really like the beer.  That was a few years before we actually visited the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, MO.  In any case, stacking this IPA up against these other 3, it strangely didn't stand up.  It's still a very good, drinkable beer.  I get a light, fresh hopped taste with more than a usual amount of citrus for an IPA.  But it was a little thin.

While not an IPA, the other hoppy beer I happened to have in my fridge was my very last of the New Belgium fall seasonal, Red Hoptober.  As suggested by the name, it's something like a tightly hopped Octoberfest, but brewed as an amber ale (rather than a dark lager).  It has a toasty start with a malty, caramel finish, while leaving plenty of hops on the nose.  Certainly a good beer.

I was more than a little nervous to see how my own IPA stood up to the rest.  I quietly thought to myself as I poured the tasters for Josh and I, if all of this homebrewing is entirely in vain.  I mean, it's easy enough to run up to the corner store and pick up New Belgium and Boulevard sixers.  The Great Divide special bottling means driving a little further to specialty beer store, but still that's easier/cheaper/quicker than dedicating a half-day and a half-a-hundred-bucks to a brew day.  But I'm proud to say that I was delighted with how my IPA tasted, even along side these 80+ and 90+ BeerAdvocate pours.  My IPA is my latest brew, and I do believe it's my best.  It has a deep copper color, a fair amount of carbonation and a solid caramel-cream head.  It's sweet, but not overly so.  I has a bit of ABV, but certainly not as much as the imperial double IPA.  In fact, after the tasting was done, it was a pint of homebrew that Josh and I both opted for.  I took that as a nice compliment ;-)


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Extra IPA #7

So the American IPA I brewed for Tim is 2/3 gone already (lots of guests over for Christmas, and this beer was very tasty)!

I needed to get another IPA kegged and carbonated soon.  I've been eyeing this recipe from Austin Homebrew.  I particularly enjoy Sierra Nevada's Extra IPA, the Torpedo.  It's really one of the highest rated beers anywhere.  Tim likes hops in general, so I sure hope he likes this one!

Like my last beer, I used tap water for this one too.  I sure hope this works out, because it's a lot easier than exchanging and refilling 5-gallon jugs.  We'll see...

I recently upgraded my propane burner from an old (30+ years old) that I had inherited, to a nice, modern Bayou Classic KAB6.  My old burner worked okay, but the regulator assembly was a little old.  I was worried about the cracking and aging rubber line might start leaking.  This one is much nicer and does the trick.

I much prefer the "banjo" layout for the burner, rather than the "jet" layout.  It boils my stainless steel kettle much quicker, and gives very even heat which avoids burning the sugar in the middle of the pot.

That said, the regulator totally crapped out.  I had to replace it almost immediately with a new one from Lowe's.

Another new acquisition, Kim gave me a nice, big colander for Christmas.  This makes by-yourself sparging much easier.

 The obligatory brew setup picture.  Here, you can see my Scotch Ale in the carboy, about to be moved from primary to secondary fermentation while my Extra IPA wort is boiling on the burner.

And one more new acquisition for Christmas, Josh got me a 30-ft wort chiller.  This thing is absolutely awesome!  My wort chilled in well under 20 minutes.  I'm really looking forward to seeing this beer in a couple of weeks!

And now, for the first time, not one, but two fermenters going in the closet at one time!  The Extra IPA (primary) is on the left, and the Scotch Ale (secondary) is on the right.



You brew too!?!

Ubrewtu is a play on another of my passions -- Ubuntu.  Ubuntu (pronounced ooh-BUN-too, though many people pronounce it YOU-bun-too), is an open source computer operating system.  It's an alternative to Microsoft Windows or Mac OSX on the desktop.  It also works on some mobile devices, in place of Google Android and Microsoft Windows Mobile.  I have personally worked on the server version of Ubuntu for over 5 years now, where the Ubuntu server is the operating system of some of the largest websites and cloud infrastructures in the world.

In the development of Ubuntu, the ideals of openness and collaboration are essential.  Ubuntu leverages and extends the best of open source software in the world.  Thousands of expert developers come together to build an operating system that's bigger and better than what any smaller group could have cobbled together on their own.

I am who I am because of who we all are.  That's an approximate translation of the concept of Ubuntu, as espoused in the ancient African philosophy from which Mark Shuttleworth initial borrowed the word.

This marvelous idea around the good things that humanity can produce when working together has been applied to hundreds of endeavors.  Famously, Doc Rivers brought the concept to the Boston Celtics, who won the NBA championship a couple of years ago.  Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have used it in their own sociopolitical efforts.

Having seen how effectively the concept of Ubuntu has worked in the open source software world, I'm borrowing those principles for use on a much smaller scale -- that of home brewing with this little Ubrewtu project.

I have a scattering of posts about my passions for home brewing, micro brews, vineyards, wineries, and distilleries -- spread across my personal blog, my family/travel blogGoogle Plus, and Facebook.

This site is intended to consolidate all of those into a single coherent home, document what has and hasn't worked well for me as well as others, collaborate and share our passions for home brewing openly.  I hope you find something interesting here, and I invite you to share your own experiences in the comments as well!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

#6 Scotch Ale

Anyone who knows me well knows that Scotland is simply my favorite place on Earth!  I've been three times now, and can't wait to return again, and again, and again.

As passionate as I am about beer here, I'm probably equally passionate about fine single malt Scotch whisky.  I maintain a nice single malt collection, which I quite enjoy when I'm not thirsty for homebrew.

While the Scots are quite remarkable with their single malt whisky, their rich and creamy Scotch ales are quite delicious too!  I personally think of Scotch ales as a winter time beer (maybe just because it's cold in Scotland?), so I'm brewing mine here in winter in Texas.  Actually, a winter day in Texas is about the same as a summer day in Scotland -- just lightly chilly with a hint of rain in the air.

I started this brew in the early afternoon, knowing that my parents were actually driving into Austin to spend the Christmas holidays with us.  I actually got to show my Mom and Dad a bit about the brewing process.

Once again, here's the brew setup.  No football on TV this time, so I had to settle for some Top Gear on Netflix ;-)

The most notable aspect of this brew is that, for the first time, I used tap water, straight out of my faucet.  All of my previous beers have used purified, bottled, spring water.  This might be a short-lived experiment, if there are any strange flavors to this beer, as everything I've brewed from bottled water has come out quite nicely.  But buying bottled water is expensive, and takes some additional time (and forethought)!

This beer had a ton of sugar, and called for double pitching the yeast (twice as much).  This should be a very big beer, probably close to 9%.

After 6 days in primary fermentation, I racked this beer into a newly acquired plastic fermenter (my second fermenter).  However, I really had a hell of a time getting the plastic lid to fit on it.  All in all, I regretted this bucket fermenter.  Thankfully, the good people at Austin Homebrew accepted it as a return and I applied the value to a second glass carboy.  I'm much, much, much happier with that!