Monday, October 28, 2013

Festa Brew Pale Ale

I just realized that I never did any "official" review of my own home brewed, Festa Brew Pale Ale. So here goes.

First, a rundown of what we did.

  • 2-stage brewing process
  • primary fermentation was in a 23L plastic pail
  • poured contents of bag into pail
  • mixed the included yeast with 1 cup of pre-boiled water, cooled to just under 30c, and allowed to hydrate for 5-10 minutes before pouring into the wort
  • placed the lid on the pail firmly (not snapped shut to allow Co2 to escape
  • on day 5 we racked it into a glass carboy and put an airlock on it
  • on day 16 we mixed 1.25 cups of corn sugar with 2 cups of boiling water and and transferred the brew from the carboy back into the pail to prime it and then bottled it
I think it tasted best after 3-4 weeks of aging in the bottles.

The colour was a slightly cloudy copper with an off-white head that lingered. The aroma was a little spicy with some nuttiness. Perhaps a hint of citrus orange.. or some kind of fruit. The taste was.. vegetal? I can't describe it any different. I'm not sure if I've ever taste a beer like it yet.

The ABV was around 5.2%, if I calculated correctly. That makes it a pretty decent session beer in my books. Something else I noticed (and maybe I imagined it) but it tasted better from the 750ml swing-top bottles, than it did from the 500ml PET bottles.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and I'll definitely be making it again in the future. I'd like to experiment a little with it and let it sit longer for the secondary fermentation to see how it affects (improves?) the flavour.

Red on Red

I picked this up on Friday at my local LCBO along with a few other new and tasty beverages. I think this was one of my favourites if the weekend.

Red on Red is a limited edition Imperial Double Red collaboration ale between Flying Monkeys and Central City Brewers.

Its colour is a dark ruby red, with a light brown lingering head. The aroma is grapefruity, that reminds me a lot of other Flying Monkeys beers.

The taste is, again, grapefruit with a light lingering bitterness that remind me of.. eating grapefruit at breakfast.

I read the notes after finishing off the bottle and the Central City's web site says:
This Limited Edition Double Red Ale has been single-hopped using the first release of the brand new “Mosaic” hops bringing out floral notes of Papaya and Guava, creating a unique flavour and aroma when married with the Pale, Munich and Three Crystal malts.
If I could remember what papaya and guava tasted like, perhaps I would have picked up on that. :) I think I need to pick some up and train my taste buds a little.

Overall, I loved it, and I'd definitely buy it again. It's not too bitter like some IPAs, which makes it very easy drinking for me. But at 9.5% ABV, I'd have to limit myself to a bottle.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Maybe it's the beer talking...

One last post.

I opened a Cafepress store a while ago for a few beer-related T-shirt designs. I ordered one of my favourite ones about a week ago and it arrived last week.

I love it. :)

If you'd like one, you can get it here:

Basement Bock... and Wheat!

Last Saturday, my son and I bottled the bock.

We got 28 500ml PET, 12 500ml swing-top, 3 750ml swing-top, and one 1L swing-top filled up. I'm going to crack one open tomorrow and see how it's doing.

At the same time, we started a wheat beer, which we racked this evening. We've already got plenty of bottles for it even if none of the bock get drank. Ya... that's likely. :) I was a little surprised to find a few fruit flies buzzing around the primary fermentation pail last night, and a little worried that it might get contaminated. It should have been sealed enough. When we were racking it this evening, my son found one dead fruit fly stuck to the inside of the pail. :( I think it'll be fine. I hope so anyway.

One thing that I noticed about the wheat brew was that the initial fermentation foam was pretty much all gone by day 3. The pale ale and the bock still had foam on day 3.

Speaking of bottles. When I bought the two dozen swing-top bottles from Defalco's, they cost $3.04 each, after tax. Yesterday, my wife stopped at the LCBO to see if she could find the Iron Maiden Trooper Ale for me. (they didn't have it) While she was there, she picked up a 500ml bottle of Hacker Pschorr Weiss for me because it was in a swing-top bottle. I've had it before — it's a great beer. But what's even better is the fact that a bottle of this beer costs $3.15. A full bottle of beer, in a reusable 500ml swing top bottle, for a little more than the cost of a new, empty swing-top bottle. Needless to say, I know where I'll be buying my next two dozen swing-top bottles. :)

The pale ale is now almost all gone. I'll definitely be making it again in the future. I have a 1L bottle left, that I've reserved for a friend who is moving into the neighbourhood, and two 500ml PET bottles that I plan to age 6 and 12 months respectively to see how the flavour changes.

I'm also due for a review or two. I've got notes from a few recent tastings that I just haven't gotten around to posting. Soon. :)


A great video on the history of lager, and more.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A (mostly) Beerless Weekend

Due to a nasty health issue that occurred last week, and is still somewhat ongoing, there were no new beers for me to discover this weekend. :(

I did, however, decide to crack open one of the pale ale home brews to see what it's like on the third week since bottling.

I'm not sure if it's better than week two, but it is still a very tasty beer and one that I will definitely brew again in the future.

Something I noticed about bottles is that it seems the 750ml glass swing-top bottles I used have more carbonation in them than the plastic 500ml bottles. The same goes for the 1L bottles. However, I also noticed that one plastic bottle may have a little less or more carbonation than another. Maybe some weren't closed as tight? There just doesn't seem to be as much foamy head as from the glass bottles.

I picked up two dozen 500ml swing-top bottles the other week so when I started using them for the Bock, I'll be able to do a side-by-side comparison with the 500ml plastic bottles.

Speaking of the Bock. Bottling day was supposed to be Friday, but I decided to let it sit for an extra week before bottling. That's probably a good thing anyway since the health issue would have gotten in the way a little. Apparently this should help to bring out more flavour. Who knows... I don't really have anything to compare it to since this is the first Bock for me.

Yesterday I built two new beer crates, specifically for the the swing-top bottles. As an added bonus, the size will also suit wine bottles. They cost around $20 each to build. I need to find a cheaper source of wood for any future crates.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Basement" Bock Update

A quick update about the Festa Brew "Basement" Bock.

My son and I did in fact begin brewing it on Saturday, September 28th and we racked it on Wednesday, October 2nd. I tasted the sample that we drew for the gravity reading and it was pretty tasteless. Or my palette was really messed up. :) The reading was 1.028-1.030. It was difficult to read.

Based on the usual schedule this is one is probably due for bottling on Friday or Saturday, but I might let it sit for an extra week before bottling.

I built two wooden crates on the weekend. I designed them a little taller than the PET bottles because I'm hoping that they'll also be good for the glass swing-top bottles that I will eventually buy.

Iron Maiden Trooper Ale - It's coming!

Back in March, I asked the LCBO on Facebook if they had plans to get the Iron Maiden Trooper Ale.

I received a response the same day saying they were in talks with some agents, but nothing was firm, and once something was confirmed they would let me know.

I received a message this morning telling me that it's in and will be rolled out for wider distribution later this week.

That's all kinds of awesome; awesome that they've now got it, and awesome that they didn't forget to follow up.

I hope it was worth waiting for. :)

Billy Rigg's Basement Brew - Part 5 (mmm... carbonation)

Success. Patience does indeed carbonate beer.

I tried one mid-week last week and it had fairly decent carbonation and good flavour. I tried another (or three) on Friday and they were even better. It's hard not to want to have more, but I'm trying to leave time in between tastings so if there's any difference it'll stand out more.

I'm hoping that I can save two bottles and let them age for at least 6 months, maybe even a year, and see how they improve.

Mid-week sample @ 11 days after bottling

Friday Sample @ 14 days after bottling


I attended my first ever Oktoberfest on Saturday. Beau's Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill. (the tickets I won from the Ottawa Beer Fest in the summer)

If there's one thing you have to do if you go there, it's make sure you buy the tickets that include bus fair. It's well worth the extra cost because there were so many different beers there to try and you don't want to be driving. Or, find someone who doesn't like beer to be your designated driver. Or, camp there. I didn't realize they had space for camping.

Beer tokens were $5 each. They had 4 large beer tents where they had 3 or 4 different flavours and/or styles of Beau's own creations where 1 token got you an 8oz cup, and one craft tent where they had 50-60 beers from Beau's and many other craft breweries. At this tent, you could get two 4oz samples for a single token. A little pricey I think, compared to LCBO prices.

Among the tasty beverages we tried, were...

  • Beau's Night Marzen
  • Black Oak Brewing's Hop Bomb
  • Beau's Tom Green Beer (Milk Stout)
  • Beau's Oktobock
  • Beau's Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale
  • Amsterdam Brewing Co's Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
  • Barley Day's Brewery's Scrimshaw Oyster Stout
  • Grand River Brewing's Pugnacious Pale Ale
  • Granite Brewery's Hopping Mad
  • Beau's Dampf Punk (Dampfbier)
I'm sure there were others that I forgot about. I think our favourite was the Tom Green Beer, which was also my first milk stout.

The food was pretty good. The only disappointment was The Works burger. Not very flavourful and the patty seemed rather small. Maybe I should have paid extra for the bacon. I've eaten at The Works many times in the past and they're always been awesome. My wife bought perogie poutine with sausage (from the Barley Mow?). We'll have to try making those at home some time. Later in the afternoon we bought a reuben from Olivea. It was delicious.

I'll put up some photos here soon.