Peanut Butter and Paradise

I named one of our dogs Porter after my favorite type of beer. He really likes peanut butter. I also really like peanut butter. I also really like beer (so does he, but he doesn’t get more than the occasional spilt drop). So, when brewers “discovered” the now fairly common peanut butter porter a few years back, I jumped at it. It was fun. It was novel. It … grew old fairly quick. Not that there was anything wrong with them, but for me, they grew too sweet to enjoy regularly. I haven’t had one in quite some time but for some reason, when my local, local beer only bottle shop announced they had Wingman Brewers Peanut Butter Cup P-51 I jumped at the chance to grab a bottle. And, as fate would have it, as I was about to get in bed last night I found out that today is National Peanut Butter day. What luck! I threw the bottle in the fridge (well, really I gently placed it in there) and went to bed so excited for today to come. And here we are. Drinking a peanut butter porter on a day when peanut butter is in the spotlight.

Wow. My life is just a roller coaster ride of excitement.

Locally roasted peanuts from CB’s Nuts. Oh yea, and beer.

But the beer is good. It offers up all the hallmarks of a good PB porter. It’s full of rich peanut, chocolate, some light roasted notes, and a decent amount of sweetness throughout. It’s full silky body gives a good chewy profile aiding in it’s enjoyment.

You’ve got yourselves s good dessert sipper, Wingman.

 

Ise No Kuni

The time I recently spent in Ise was directed mainly at seeing and drinking Isekadoya beer.  I have always thought pretty highly of Isekadoya and I’ll get to them in a future post.  The most surprising find of the weekend was a brewery I’d never heard of, though.  

Hosokawa Shuzo Sake and Beer brewery makes Ise No Kuni Beer.  When my friends and I happened upon them in a shop we were a bit surprised to see beer none of us had any idea existed so we naturally picked up a few bottles each.  While the beer wasn’t that amazing it was nice to see another brewery in the area producing drinkable beer.

The dunkel was a little too vegetal for my liking.  Still, it had an overall nice caramel maltiness that made it a pretty nice drink.  The helles was quite nice and the better of the two.  Grassy hops and a nice malty flavor with a medium body made for a good brew.  I don’t know if I’d pick up the dunkel again but I’d go back for another round with the helles.  I do love those little breweries.

On the web: Hosokawa Shuzo

Brewday: ESP(?) ESB

I don’t really have enough time left in Japan to brew, ferment, condition, and drink five gallons of homebrew- or do i?  With that thought weighing heavily on my mind I pulled out the brew kettle one last time and put together an ESB that I’ve been looking forward to for some time.  You see, I’ve heard my UK friends wax poetic, online beer geeks write words of affection, and random strangers exclaim that Timothy Taylor’s Landlord is one of the best bitters out there.

Weighing the grains

I love a good bitter.  They tend to be very easy to drink, generally you don’t need a Webster’s size vocabulary to explain why you enjoy it, and they don’t tend to wear down your tastebuds after just one pint.  I can buy in to that.

I picked up a copy of Camra’s Brew Your Own British Real Ale book a while back and was very happy to see a recipe for the Landlord.  Sadly, when I sat down to really give it a good once over I couldn’t shake the feeling that their recipe just wasn’t going to cut it.  No, I’ve never had the beer and no, I’m not a brewmaster- but it just looked, well, boring.  I know that a second ago I said bitter’s are easy drinking and not palate killers but I had already made up my mind that it wasn’t going to work out.  I pulled out another of my brew books and looked up a nice looking ESB recipe.  Combining the two I came up with what looked on paper like a refreshing, low alcohol, easy swigging, ESB.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb US Crystal 10 malt
  • .25 lb Special Roast malt
  • .06 lb Pale Chocolate malt
  • 5 lb Light DME
  • 1 oz UK Golding hops
  • 1.5 oz Slovenian Styrian Goldings hops
  • 1 vial White Labs WLP002 – English Ale yeast
Sparge Water, Brew kettle, My Kinda Cider

A pretty straight forward brew day, really.  Steep the grains in a gallon of water, add one and a half gallons of water to bring volume up to 2.5 gallons.  90 minute boil with all but half an ounce of the Styrian Goldings being added for the entire duration.  The rest of the Styrians are added 10 minutes from the end.  The only thing I really did different this time was to split the DME into two different additions.  I had some problems with my hops getting covered up in a couple brews I’ve done and decided to try this new method and hopefully increase their utilization.  The first three pounds of

Racking to the secondary

DME went in right at the beginning of the boil, same time as the first hop addition.  The remaining two pounds bided its time until about 10 minutes from the end when in it went.  All went well and I was able to get the wort down to a nice pitching temperature in about 45 minutes.  I missed the OG, though.  Hoped for a 1.044 and ended up with a 1.037.  I’m pretty certain I just added too much water to the carboy, though.  Rookie mistake as I should have taken a couple readings as I was filling.  That’s life.

When I racked it to the secondary a week later to get it off the trub (something I rarely do, but thought a good idea this time) my hydrometer read 1.012, which is actually two points lower than my target.  Helps things out a bit.  The sample tasted nice, but, obviously, real young yet.  Nice hop profile and some malts.  I’m looking for the hops to reign themselves in a little over the next couple of weeks, though.  It’s sitting at 3.3% abv., which will make for a definite session beer- perfect since I need to go through five gallons in such a short time.  Can’t wait to carb and keg this ESB early next week.  I need a taste!

That’s it for my days of Ji-Homebrewing.  I’ve put the kettle and my primary fermenter in to hibernation and won’t be put to work again until I get settled in Philadelphia.  A bit sad- but the future (going all grain) looks bright.

StarSan escaping the carboy

On a side note: My Kinda Cider is a great brewday companion.  The more it ages the better it gets.  I can’t get enough.

Last JiBeer of the Year

Preston IPA is great when on, but they are very inconsistent

Before taking off for a warm and relaxing vacation for the new year I headed up to Tokyo for some shopping an, surprise, surprise, eventually made my way to the bar.  My original plan was to have a couple pints and a nice dinner at The Aldgate before heading back to home.

Isekadoya Pale Ale. Always a good choice.
Preston Stout- easy drinking and quite tasty

Thanks to the wifi on my iPod Touch I found my friends were at Ushitora’s “finish the kegs” event and leaped off the train just before it was about to pull out of the station.  Had some great beer with a couple good friends that last night drinking in Tokyo in 2009.

Super Vintage aged on Raisins - Fantastic
Iwate Kura Pale Ale - Solid pale ale
Sankt Gallen Apple Cinnamon Ale - Great seasonal

Hope everyone has a great new year.  I know I will, on some beach in Hawaii!

Hakusekikan Hurricane aged on Raisins. Best beer of the night

Macro Showdown – Foreign, Foreign Stouts

I originally intended this “showdown” idea to be a regular feature of this here blog- I’ve failed completely at that.  This is only the second iteration but it should be a good one.

The contenders

I picked up a can of Murphy’s Irish Stout some time back and never got around to drinking it.  I went home on leave in August and picked up a couple four packs of Beamish Irish Stout to go along with our carbombs (more on that later) and still had one left at the end of the night.  I was looking at both the cans the other day, trying to decide which to open first and, *ding, idea.  I knew it was showdown time again.  I picked up a can of Guinness Draught yesterday so I could compare the two lesser known stouts to the king of ’em all.  Guinness is pretty easy to find in Japan, the others aren’t, though I have seen Murphy’s a few times lately but never on tap.  Have the bars picked the best stout to tout?  Or are they pulling the Super Dry over your eyes again?  Well, it looks like it’s time to crack ’em open and find out.

Brilliant?

Guinness Draught – 4.5% abv. Pours a very dark brown with that famous creamy, tan head with sinking bubbles.  That widget really was a good invention- if you like a nitrogen head on your stout.  Just a bit of roasted and coffee malts in the aroma with some chocolate as well.  It’s mild, though.  I while back I heard that the proper way to drink a Guinness was to suck the beer through the head.  I’m not really certain what that means, but if it is supposed to imply that you should get some head with each sip then we are on the same track.  The beer itself is weak in flavor.  Very light roasted malts with some cocoa and a sour finish.  When taken with the head a little more of the roasty flavor comes through, though not much.  It’s easy to see why this is the most popular dark beer in the world.  Like it’s pale lager brethren, it’s low in flavor which makes it very inoffensive. That also makes it quite boring.  I used to drink this stuff by the gallon, but have since backed off as it’s just not worth the price you’re going to pay in Japan for such little flavor.

Is your can compensating for something?

Murphy’s Irish Stout – 4% abv. Ah, now that’s a can size I can get behind.  Deep brown in color with a tan head and while it has sinking bubbles too, I think it has one or two fewer.  That’s alright, though, that head is firm and creamy.  The aroma is mild, but still stronger than the guinness.  Roasted malts, milk chocolate, and is that molasses?  No, it can’t be- right?  No.  No, it isn’t.  It is the faintest bit of caramel malt though.  I swear it’s there.  The Murphy’s is much less sour than the Guinness which aids drinkability.  It’s super smooth and quite tasty.  Roasty malts, light cocoa, some coffee, and a dry, lightly chalky finish.  I like this one.  I like it a lot, actually.  Foreign stouts aren’t monsters of flavor and this one is no different, but it’s got a bit more than Guinness and what is there is a little more enjoyable.  I know why Guinness is sour, but I don’t think it works very well for them.  Murphy’s has only the lightest sourness going on and makes it a much more accessible stout.  Why isn’t this one easier to find?  I bet this would sell better side by side if it weren’t for brand recognition.

Does size really matter?  Murphy’s was better than Guinness and was served in a taller can- will Beamish make up for it’s can size or is Murphy’s gonna take the gold?

Best of both worlds

Beamish Irish Stout – 4.1% abv. Beamish is just a touch lighter than the other two but has all the same characteristics.  Dark brown color.  Tan, firm head.  Bubbles that head to the bottom of your glass.  Very light malts in the aroma along with light chocolate malts and some sourness.  Nice flavor.  It strikes me as a cross of the two.  Light roasted malts and a hint of chocolate but also a nice sour, dry finish. Such a smooth mouth I hardly recognize this as a stout.  The aftertaste on this one is by far the best, though.  Roasted malts, light chocolate, and just a little sourness keeps bringing me back for more.  Yep.  This is the winner.  It has the dry roasted maltiness of the Murphy’s with the sour finish of the Guinness- though thankfully toned down a bit.

World Beater

So it’s Beamish that joins the lofty ranks of Macro Showdown winner.  I’m sure they’ll be coming out with a special, limited edition can label touting it’s victory pretty soon.  It wasn’t a landslide for Beamish, though as this could have easily gone the other way for Murphy’s.  I contemplated switching the two for quite some time before finally deciding this was the best course of action.  Both of them are more enjoyable than the Guinness which means marketing is more powerful than quality in the beer world yet again.  It’s a sad fact but very true.

So, #2 is in the books.  It was fun.  I am buzzed.  What am I to do now?  Bars?  Yep.

Oh, carbombs.  You know what I mean by that, right?  1/2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1/2 oz Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, one pint of stout!  Traditionally, Guinness is used but the Beamish makes for a fuller, tastier drink.  So tasty!  If you haven’t had one, think Wendy’s frosty (or chocolate milkshake).  I wrote this post last night but didn’t get the photos edited until today.  In the time it took to get this up DH, from Good Beer and Country Boys, twitter’d that Beamish was his preference for carbombs as well.  Good beer minds…

So We Meet Again, Tuesday

Finally a moment of down time in which to enjoy a couple pints on my favorite drinking night of the week: Tuesday.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to tip a couple back mid-week like this and it feels real nice.  I decided against doing anything special and kept to beers I’ve had before, so I could just enjoy them without all that pesky thinking and contemplating that goes with new beer.  Some people don’t like “rating” beers.  That’s fine.  But I do.

Somebody needs to Bock this Rauch up a bit

It’s less about the actual rating of the beer and much more about learning about beer.  I don’t use Ratebeer.com to let the world know my opinion of the beer I just sucked down, I do it as a place to lay down my experience of a particular brew and compare it to others to see what I may have missed out on or what to look for in my next go-around with that malty (or hoppy) delight.  Contridicting myself?  Nah, they just go hand in hand though I only care about the latter of those two.  If you’re a ticker, have at it.  What makes drinking beer fun is what you enjoy about it.  Some like the shotgun a can of Super Dry.  Some like to tick off thousands of beers, rarely drinking the same thing twice.  Some like a beer to wet the palate and refresh the spirit.  I like all of the above (maybe not the Super Dry- I’m a Premium Malts imbiber).  I’ve met people who love good beer, but just want something familiar and traditional.  Others I’ve met want every brewery to be a little more like Dogfish Head (of Delaware, USA, fame), and crazy innovative and experimental.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been dissapointed in some of my favoirte beer bloggers as they’ve been attacking other beer lovers reasons for loving beer.  Why?  What does it matter that I may love to drink 20 different beers in the next 20 days and you want to stick to your two favorites?  We can still be beer buddies.  You tell me about the wonders of a classic German Helles, and I’ll tell you the wonders of an IPA brewed with seven different types of hops through my bitter beer face (thank you, Keystone).

I’ve gotten way off topic.  Here are my beers from tonight (I guess I didn’t turn off the old thinking tube completely):

Atsugi Beer Company – Lager

Atsugi Lager
Not quite the punch of Simcoe Bloody Simcoe

A fairly non-descript lager, really.  Sweet malts, very light hops and a touch of floral gives this one it’s character.  Nothing to write home about but it wasn’t bad.  I like my pale lager’s a bit dryer than this one teed up, but it’ll do in a pinch.  Atsugi is still a fairly unknown brewery for me, though I’d like to drink more.  It’s kinda local, but not really.  Local as I’ll get, though.  The Thrash Zone Simcoe Bloody Simcoe was outta sight and I’d like to see them branch out a little more in that direction.  Not necessarily to hop town, but get a bit more creative with their stuff.  I can’t imagine they sell all that much of this lager- I’ve only seen it twice and I’ve been actively looking for more Atsugi stuff.

Fujuzakura Heights Beer – Rauch Generally, I’m a huge fan of the German style brews pouring out of Fujizakura.  Their offerings always seem to satisfy my desire for fresh Malty beers.  Their Rauchbock is out of this world.  Having said that, I’m less than impressed with their regular Rauch.  It’s a bit thin.  It’s a bit on the weak side flavor wise.  It hits the check boxes for a smoked: ham, malts, smoke.  It isn’t a bad brew, and very drinkable for a smoked beer, but it’s just sorta there.

Yokohama Green Fresh

Found myself aimlessly wandering through Yokohama recently and just happened to be in the Pivovar/Yokohama area (how lucky…). I was parched from spending the better part of the evening trying out my new camera lens and was sure a bottle of water wasn’t going to quench the thirst nearly as well as a pint of something cool and hoppy.

Hand held, new lens, night.  Feel free to cut me some slack.
Hand held, new lens, night. Feel free to cut me some slack.

I knew from past research that Yokohama had anew beer out they called Green Fresh and assumed it was going to be an American style IPA. After their successful crossover ale I’m not surprised to see them stray a bit from their roots of the Czech beer styles. Saddling up to the bar I ordered a tall one. I was pretty surprised by just how cloudy this brew was. Doesn’t look like they did any filtering to it. I’m alright with that, I sometimes would prefer more breweries to ditch the filtering process all together, but that’s a discussion for another time. Now, I’m not positive it’s dry-hopped, but I’m positive it’s dry-hopped. The aroma was very grassy, something that comes from the process of dry-hopping. It had a nice grapefruit and citrus hop aroma to go along with it as well as a light caramel malt sweetness. The flavor is what convinced me it was dry-hopped. Intense grass hop notes on this bad boy. Grapefruit and light lemon hops are quite noticeable/enjoyable as well.

Green Fresh, now in W I D E  A N G L E
Green Fresh, now in W I D E A N G L E

Luckily it had a medium strength malt foundation to stand up against all of it, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked so well. What really got me was the bitter finish. Very West Coast IPA-ish. My notes aren’t very thorough, but I remember reading it was primarily cascade hops (again, USA IPA) giving the bitterness. I cought myself thinking another pint would really feel nice, but forced that thought out of my mind and got back to the lens trials. I hope it’s around for a while, though, I really enjoyed this one.