Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trooper reviewed

I first heard about Trooper ale (the "Iron Maiden" beer by Robinson's Brewery) last March and was looking forward to trying it. In October, it arrived at the LCBO. But the shipments were pretty thin, and virtually non-existent around Ottawa, and soon dried up.

A few weeks ago, it returned. First my brother in-law managed to get his hands on a half-dozen bottles that one of his friends picked up for him in Kingston. He was nice enough to give me two of them. In the days that followed, stock arrived at a few LCBOs in Ottawa. My brother in-law allerted me to one that allegedly had just over 100 in stock. When I arrived there, they had half that, and only 10 on the shelf. I bought them. :)

9 of the 10 soldiers :)
I am happy to say, it did not disappoint me.

It pours a clear amber colour, with a nice creamy head that lingers, and leaves a pretty decent lacing. The aroma is bready, grassy, a little fruity, and a little spicy.

The taste is slightly bitter, grapefruity, with a slight bitter finish. It's a very easy drinking beer at 4.7% that I could drink all night, if it wasn't ~$5 per bottle.

I still have three bottles left and stock around Ottawa is once again pretty non-existent. I hope it returns again.

Friday, January 24, 2014

National Beer Can Appreciation Day

"This day commemorates the first day beer was sold in cans back on January 24th, 1935. The Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company first distributed it’s Krueger’s Finest Beer to the general public on that date and folks have been sippin’ on suds ever since."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sweet weekend

I picked up a few new beers to try on Friday. What I wasn't ready for was the fact that they were all very similar, at least to my palette.

The first was Samichlaus Classic (2013) by Schloss Eggenberg. It poured a brownish red colour, with very little head that dissipated extremely quickly.

The aroma was sweet and somewhat familiar. I was sure I tried a similar beer recently and wasn't a very big fan of it. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps chocolate. My wife mentioned molasses and I think she was right.

The taste was a hint of chocolate, and now that molasses was stuck in my brain, that's what I tasted. It was sweet. Not like a lambic sweet, but a dessert-like sweet. They say it should be served with chocolate or dessert. I didn't try either, but I would think it would then become an overload of sweetness.

The label says that it is brewed once per year, on December 6, and aged for 10 months before bottling.  Beeradvocate says "it's perhaps the rarest in the world".

If the richness of this beer isn't enough to make you take it slow, the ABV is a whopping 14%.

Overall, it was OK, but unfortunately it doesn't rank up there as one of my favourites.

Next up was Tribute (2012), by Renaissance Brewing.

Perhaps my taste buds were still stunned by the last beer, but this one tasted very similar, and this is a Barley Wine, not a Doppelbock. My wife thought the same.

It was a little lighter in taste with a little less carbonation. There were hints of fruitiness, raisin perhaps, maple, and it felt a little syrupy. The ABV on this bad boy was 10.8%.

Overall, I think I enjoyed it a bit more, but it's another that doesn't rank up there as a favourite for me.

Monday, January 20, 2014

WinterBrewed 2014 details

The details of this year's WinterBrewed have been released!

Here's the scoop:

WinterBrewed is indoors this year, at Fifth Avenue Court and Arrow & Loon Pub, and has been broken into seven 3-hour sessions, from Feb 14-16. For $12 (plus fees), you buy a single ticket for a single session for a specific 3-hour time slot, you get one beer sample, and an event glass. There's no word on what additional samples will cost.

If you're interested you can find these details and a link to purchase your ticket at

That's quite a change in format, compared to last year, and I'm a little disappointed.

First, being located in a pub where age of majority proof is required no longer makes it a "family friendly" event. Our daughter and niece enjoyed tagging along last year for the snowy winter events, despite the cold weather.

More importantly, being split into 3-hour sessions limits flexibility to attend at any convenient time over the weekend and prevents you from attending on more than one day, unless you want to buy another ticket for another session. I have to assume the Friday and Saturday time slots will go quickly for fear that beer selection will be limited by the time Sunday rolls around. :-\

According to a comment on their Facebook page, they did say that they plan to return to an outdoor location for 2015 once they figure out a solution for freezing beer lines. Granted, that was a big problem last year, and I can understand the switch to indoors to solve that, but I don't think a pub location was the answer (not there's anything wrong with pubs!)

It'll be interesting to see how the new format works out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

International Gruit Day is coming

February 1st is International Gruit Day.

What' as gruit?  According to Wikipedia:
Gruit (alternately grut or gruyt) is an old-fashioned herb mixture used for bittering and flavoring beer, popular before the extensive use of hops. Gruit or grut ale may also refer to the beverage produced using gruit.
To the best of my knowledge, I've only ever tried on gruit: Beau's Bog Water. I'll have to look for others!


This makes my mouth water. :)

"Chris Wooding from Ironwood Organics talks organic farming and partnering with Dominion City Brewing Co."

Local. from Dominion City Brewing Co. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winterbrewed 2014 details coming soon

I heard from a reliable source that more details about this year's Winterbrewed will be released on Monday.

If the event dates are still Feb 14-16, that's cutting it pretty close for ticket sales.

Stay tuned!

Working in a brewery

I was following a beer thread on Twitter yesterday when the idea of a "community/co-op brewery" popped up. Not much was discussed after the initial mention. but I thought it was a great idea.

One of my goals in life, whether it's a career change or the investment of a big lottery win ;), is to work in a local brewery.

Hell, I'd even work for free in exchange for learning more about the process. I know enough for home brewing, but I'd really like to be a part of a larger scale brewing project.

If any local breweries happen to come across this post and are willing to give me that opportunity, let me know. I'm serious. I'm available after my daytime job work hours and on weekends. I'll do any job necessary, as long as I can eventually take part in every process of brewing at some point. Help me expand my knowledge! I think it would also make a great blog posting. :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Home brewing update

Since my last home brewing post, I've made two other beers and I'm in the process of making another.

I made the Festa Brew Double Oatmeal Stout and Red Ale.

Double Oatmeal Stout
The Double Oatmeal Stout turned out pretty good, but it didn't really look or taste done until after 3 weeks of being bottled. I think it's still getting better as it ages too.

I did manage to find the Red Ale at the Orleans DeFalco's. Its 2-week age was last Thursday, but it still didn't taste quite ready. I suspect it will also be much improved after 3 weeks.

I also picked up the Festa Brew Blonde Lager just over a week ago. We racked it on Friday. As a lager, it needs cooler temperatures than an ale for the fermentation process — like 9-15c. For the first 6 days, while it was in the primary, the temperature hovered at around 19c. After we racked it, I decided to move the carboy to a cooler (unfinished) part of the basement. Unfortunately, it's not as accessible or convenient for full-time use. Right now it sits on the concrete floor, not far from the fresh air intake of the furnace, using some of the cold winter air to keep it cool. :) My thermometer says the air temp is around 10-13c. If it can stay fairly consistent, it might work out.

I got a few beer-related goodies for Christmas that I'm excited about.

First, I got a Jet Carboy and Bottle Washer. It screws onto the end of the basement washtub faucet, making bottle cleaning a whole lot easier. I can now use hot, high-pressured water rather than soaking and/or using a bottle brush. I did, however, have to do that to one stubborn bottle which still didn't get it entirely clean. But I found a way to clean it anyway, and I'll get into that a bit later.

I also got a Sulphiter. I'll use the description from DeFalco's web site: An acrylic bowl and spring washer mechanism. This device allows you to rinse and sterilize bottles in a seamless task saving time and energy. Can be mounted on top of bottle drainers. This was probably one of my most wanted items. We currently waste a lot of Diversol and water, soaking bottles in a chest cooler, before rinsing them for bottling. This should help cut the waste. I should note, however, that putting this thing together was a pain. It's a spring-loaded mechanism and trying to get the spring compressed, while staying where it should be so the mechanism works, was no easy task. Let's hope it stays that way while in use.

A 45 Bottle Drainer! Not only is it useful for keeping the bottles clean after sterilizing and rinsing, it holds the number I'd need for bottling a batch. I don't know why, but I have a hell of a time figuring out what I need every time. If I fill the tree, I know I have enough. :)

A pair of IPA glasses. Does the beer taste any better in them? I'm not sure, but they look kinda cool. I drank my last West Coast IPA from one of these glasses. It was delicious, but I suspect the aging had more to do with it. I can't wait to make another batch.

Two beer books: Radical Brewing and the third edition of The Joy of Home Brewing. I'm really bad for not finishing books, but I don't think I'll have a problem with these two.

Cleaning stubborn bottles

I mentioned that I had difficulty cleaning a bottle. There was some kind of residue along the bottom edge of a bottle. I know you're not supposed to use clear bottles, but I do have a few 750ml ones. The bottle brush bristles couldn't get low enough to scrub it off. I tried soaking it with Diversol. I tried scalding hot water and dish soap. Nothing seemed to work.

Using a small piece of a J-cloth, some hot water and dish soap, and two rare earth magnets, I was able to wipe the residue off the inside of the bottle.

I wrapped one of the rare earth magnets with the piece of J-cloth, and used a twist-tie to hold it inside. I pushed the cloth and magnet inside the top of the bottle, into the soapy water. Using the other magnet, I held it on the opposite side of the bottle and simply dragged the inside magnet over the residue for a few minutes until I was satisfied that it was clean. Once it was clean, I dragged the magnet to the opening of the bottle until it came out.

A couple of things that I learned while doing this:

  1. You definitely need to secure the magnet inside the cloth, otherwise it will slide out, leaving the cloth floating freely inside the bottle. Thankfully it was small enough that when I poured the water out, the cloth came out with the water.
  2. Used the smallest piece of cloth that you can. Remember, that bundle needs to come back out the same hole it went in, and when its wet it expands a little. The piece I used was a little too big I think, so dragging it out was a slow process. Patience paid off.
That's all for now... cheers!