Yeast Starter – Part 2: How to Make One

In my previous post, I talked about when you make a yeast starter and the benefits of make one.  Now I’ll tell you how to make one.

The most important thing is plan everything out.  You need to have your yeast bought ahead of time and also know how much dry malt extract (DME) you will need.  You also need to give yourself 3-5 days ahead of your brew day to give the yeast enough time to do it’s full job.  Finally know what kind of yeast you are using.  If you’re using a ‘smack pack’, you will need at least a few hours before that will be ready to be pitched into your yeast starter.

Here’s a step-by-step process of how to make a yeast starter:
1. Calculate how much yeast cells you will need for your upcoming beer and the corresponding amount of DME and water.  There are several calculators out there but i use: http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitch-rate-and-starter-calculator/

2. After calculating the needs, add those ingredients and 1/4 teaspoonful of yeast nutrients to pot, mix and boil for 10-15 minutes.  Boiling sanitizes the wort which is important because it will eventually be added to the wort of your upcoming batch of beer.

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A simple pot on the stove works great

3. Cool the wort to a normal pitching temperature for the yeast, which is usually around room temperature of 70 degrees.  I tried to cool using a freezer but I found that making an ice bath was a much quicker method of chilling.

4. Add the cooled wort to a sanitized container big enough to hold the wort, yeast and allowing for some head space during fermentation.  A beaker is very typical.

5. Add a sanitized stir bar to the wort and place onto a magnetic stir plate.  Others have found that they can get away with just shaking the bottle occasionally to increase the oxygen and promote fermentation.

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This is my very simple stir plate that I will use. In a future post I’ll show you how to make one.

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I use a 2L beaker for my yeast starter.  You will need to add sanitized tin foil or a plug to keep the starter sanitized.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Keep around room temperature or the typical pitching temperature for the yeast

Fermentation should be obvious within a few hours and should continue in the days leading up to your brew day.  Remember that this yeast starter is going to be added to your beer after it has cooled and when it is the most susceptible to infection.  Therefore it’s important that you keep this as sanitized as possible to avoid ruining a whole batch of beer.

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After a couple of days you’ll see krausen at the top and yeast at the bottom just like on a full brew.

Yeast Starter

The first step in my new advanced brewing process is to create a yeast starter.  What is a yeast starter?  Well for all practical purposes, it’s a mini batch of beer that’s used to get the yeast started before pitching it into the batch of beer that I will be making a few days.

Why do you make a yeast starter?  There’s a few reasons.  The first reason is that increases the number of yeast cells that you pitch.  Another reason is that it gets the fermentation process going faster when you do pitch the yeast.  And the final main reason is that it saves money.

Why do you need to increase the number of yeast cells before you pitch?  Well if you are brewing 10 gallons of beer, most yeast packages are designed to have enough for a 5 gallon batch.  So you’d need to buy multiple packages to get enough yeast for the full 10 gallons.  You also need more yeast if you brewing higher gravity beers…something that will have a higher alcohol content.  The more sugars that need to be converted to alcohol, the more yeast cells you need.

The next reason to do a yeast starter is because it gets the fermentation started quicker.  When you do a yeast starter, the yeast is already started feasting on the tasty sugars and is ready to eat some more.  This is helpful because it gets your beer started and finished quicker but the less lag time you have, the better.  With beer, you’re always fighting against contamination.  One of the best ways is to get the fermentation going and get those sugars changed to alcohol.  As alcohol levels increase, the likelihood of contamination deceases (in basic fermentation).  The highest risk for contamination is from the end of the boil to start the fermentation.  The quicker you get it started the less you have to worry.

The final reason to do a yeast starter is the save money.  Most yeast starters are done on liquid yeast that are designed for 5 gallon batches.  For 10 gallon batches, you would need to buy two packages of yeast to get enough yeast to finish the job.  That doubles your cost and many of the liquid yeast packages cost around $8-$9 each which represents around 20% of the batch cost.  By doing a yeast starter, you can get away with buying only one package and still being able to ferment twice as much beer with minimal additional cost.

So what exactly is a yeast starter?  Well as I stated earlier, it’s essentially a small batch of beer.  Typically dry malt extract (DME) is mixed with the appropriate amount of water to make a wort of 1.040 gravity.  That mixture is boiled and cooled to the appropriate temperature for fermentation and the yeast is then added.  The gravity of 1.040 gives the yeast enough sugar to get started but not too much that it tires out before the main event in a few days.  A stir plate is typically used to add oxygen and agitate the yeast which will promote the fermentation process.

In my next blog post, I will go through the steps of how to make a yeast starter.

Advanced Homebrew Process

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on this blog but that doesn’t mean that I’ve quit brewing.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  I’ve built a brew structure which now allow me to brew 10 gallon of beer per session.  And when I’m finished with it, it will be temperature controlled and allow me make better beer.

With the increased size of batches, I’ve decided that now is a good time to improve my brewing process and take on some of the advanced tasks that other homebrewers do to make better beer and also to save significant money on the batches.

My next beer is going to be Siska’s Coconut Porter.  I will walk you through all the steps that I now take and try to explain how and why I do them.  This will take you from making a yeast starter to brew day to kegging and bottling.  And along the way, I will show you the things that I do to save money and also the DIY projects I’ve done.

Homebrewing Basics – Kit/Extract Brewing

Most homebrewers who start to get serious about brewing will begin with extract brewing using kits commonly found in homebrew shops or online at popular retailers like Northern Brewer or Midwest Brew Supplies.  These kits give a wide variety of styles as well as clone beers of popular commercial beers.  

Some more experienced look down on brewers who use these kits because they view them as inferior products.  And in some cases they are right but it’s usually due to bad product and not simply because it’s coming from a kit.  Great beers can be brewed from these extract kits but sometimes the product is old or low quality.  The hops, yeast, extract and specialty ingredients can all be poor quality and contribute to a substandard beer.  But in general, a high-quality kit can be just as a good an all-grain beer.

Another option is doing extract brewing without the kit.  The extract can be picked out separately and added to fresh hops, customized ingredients and a yeast of your choice.  So what’s extract exactly?  Well, simply it’s the result of the mash step of all-grain brewing done for you.  The first step of brewing is getting sugar out of the grains that will later be converted into alcohol.  Different grains give different tastes, colors and amounts of sugars.  Extracts, coming in liquid and dry, already have that process done for you.

So what’s the advantage of extract brewing?  Simplicity.  You don’t need to use as much water.  You can use smaller pots to brew.  It takes much less time than all-grain brewing.  And there’s much less opportunity for you to mess it up.

With all those advantages, why doesn’t every homebrewer use extract?  The main reason why people move on to all-grain brewing is the ability to customize their beer.  And for many, it’s the belief that extract beers are low quality.  But I’ll go more into the advantages of all-grain brewing in another entry.

 


The Supplies
The needed supplies for extract brewing is a very short list.  The big thing you need is a pot for boiling.  Stainless steel is the best way to go.  Extract brewing, unlike all-grain brewing, doesn’t require you to do a full-boil.  If you’re making a 5 gallon batch, you only need to boil 2-3 gallons and a pot with 3.5 to 4 gallon capacity.  For the boil, you will also need a long spoon used to stir in the extract during the boil.  You will also need a few other supplies depending on the recipe/kit.  In most cases you’ll need a can opener to open the extract cans.  In some cases, especially when using specialty grains, a thermometer will also be need.

After the boil is done, you will need some supplies for the fermentation.  You’ll need a fermentation bucket big enough to hold your batch, a lid with a grommet hole and an airlock.  There are other optional supplies that I will go over later.  Bottling supplies are also needed but will be discussed in a future post.  Below is a picture of the basic supplies you’ll need.

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Getting Ready To Brew
The most important thing you must do to give yourself the ability to make great beer to have properly cleaned and sanitized equipment.  Anything that’s used in the brewing process must be first cleaned then sanitized.  You cannot sanitize something that is not already clean.

There’s a variety of products used in both the cleaning and sanitizing process.  For cleaning, many people use a oxidized cleaner.  I personally use OxyClean for most of my brewing needs but I also use Craft Meister’s Oxygen Brewery Wash.  For sanitation many products exist, I use IO Star.

The easiest way for a batch to go bad is the use of dirty equipment introducing a ‘bug’ into the brew.  So make sure everything is cleaned and sanitized and re-do the process anytime during brewing.

You will also need water, the start of any beer.  Some brewers will go with natural tap water, giving it the characteristics of the minerals of the water.  Most will go with treated water.  I’ve used spring water most of the time but I’ve also used filtered water.


The Boil
The boil is when process of brewing really takes form.  This is when you add all the ingredients that contribute to the heart of the beer.  This is when you add the extract, specialty grains and any other ingredients to make the beer.  Below is an example of dry malt extract.

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The boil starts simply with the water you choose to use.  That water is most cases is brought to a boil and then the ingredients are added gradually according to the recipe.  Once the extra or grains are added to the water it becomes the wort – another name for the ‘baby beer’.  Below is a picture of the wort after the addition of dry malt extract.

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The thickness of the wart quickly goes away during the boil and as you stir the wort.  The boil typically lasts 60 minutes but can be shorter or longer depending on the recipe.  The next thing to talk about is the addition of the hops.  Hops make beer what it is.  They add bitterness, flavor and aroma.  Each type of hop adds different things to the beer and when you add them also changes what it adds.  Hops that are added early in the boil add more bitterness to the beer.  Hops added in the middle and end of the boil add more of the flavor to the beer.  Hops added at the end of the boil will mainly add the hop aroma to the beer.  Below are pictures of a typical package of hops.  These are pellet hops that typically look like something you’d feed a rabbit.

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In most cases, several different types of hops are added at different times during the boil.  Other than keeping track of when to add ingredients to the boil, the rest of the time is just keeping an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t boil over.  Once the time is finished on the boil, it’s time to cool it down.  

The last step in brewing is the pitching of yeast.  The yeast will turn the sugar in the wort into alcohol.  Actually the yeast is just feeding on the sugar and alcohol and CO2 are the by-products of the yeast eating the sugar.  However, the yeast needs to be in a happy environment or else it won’t eat.  Each yeast has a preferred temperature range.  The main difference would be using an ale yeast and a lager yeast (which requires lower temps).  With most ale yeasts a temperature of 65-72 degrees F is needed for proper fermentation.  So the wort must be brought down from boiling to that temperature before pitching the yeast or risk killing the yeast.  This can take awhile but it is a quicker process with an extract brew because there is less liquid to cool down and cold water can be added since you need to add water to get it to the final volume.  Here’s a picture of one way I cool the wort:

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Here I’m using the simple method of putting the boil kettle in ice to cool it down to fermentation temperature.  This can take some time and time increases as you have to cool more liquid.  It can takes hours in some cases.  But once the wort is finally cooled down to fermentation temperature, the wort is transported to the fermentation bucket and in extract brewing, enough water is added to get it up to the final batch volume, usually 5 gallons.  The lid is placed on tightly and an airlock is placed is placed in the grommet hole.  This is done to monitor the fermentation process.  The airlock will pop whenever CO2 is released during the fermentation.

So how do know if you did a good job of brewing?  Well waiting and drinking it is a pretty good indicator but another one is testing the sugar content of the wort prior to pitching the yeast.  You can do that by taking a sample and using a hydrometer.  The hydrometer tests the specific gravity of the sample which will tell you how much sugar is in it.  Most kits and recipes will give you a target Original Gravity (OG).  If the reading is close to the target, then you know you did something right!  This is also how you calculate the alcohol content of your beer.  Once fermentation has ended and before you bottle your beer, you take a second reading which is the Final Gravity (FG).  The difference between the two shows how much sugar the yeast ate and turned into alcohol.  A simple formula will tell you how much alcohol is in each of your homebrew bottles.

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So there you have it, the steps needed to make your own beer.  Now get out there and start brewing!

 

Best of AZ Beer Week

Arizona Beer Week ended…I drank lots of beers and attended lots of events.  Here are some of the highlights:

Local Breweries:
Biggest Surprise: Four Peaks Brewery. I’ve always enjoyed their brewery and have visited both of their locations a couple of times.  But since I’ve gotten more into the the craft beer, Four Peaks became a boring, predictable brewery.  This week I tried the Sirius Black, Double Hop Knot and Barrel Aged Kilt Lifter and they changed my perceptions of Four Peaks.  San Tan did jump past them and become the first AZ brewery to expand outside the state but Four Peaks is still the most popular and the brewery most associated with Arizona.  If Four Peaks can continue to make innovative beers then they might be able to jump back into the mix with all the new breweries popping up.

Favorite Local Beers:
Historic Brewery – Piehole Cherry Vanilla Porter
Four Peaks – Sirius Black
Peoria Artisan Brewery/8-Bit Brewery– Hop Hunt
Huss – Rice Pudding Porter
Dragoon – Dragoon IPA

Favorite Local Brewery:
Arizona Wilderness.  They have a different set of beers on tap every time I come in.  I don’t know if they quite live up to the billing at the best new brewery in the world but I love their beer!

Best Non-Local Craft Beers:
Goose Island – Bourbon County Barrel Aged Stout
Sierra Nevada – Numerous rare beers that I got to try
Bell’s – Oberon
Bell’s – Hopslam
Lagunitas – Sucks
Cismontane – The Mesa

Not a whole lot of surprises on this list!

Best Beer Spots That I’ll Be Sure to Go Back To:
O.H.S.O. – Being a homebrewer, this place is great and I hope to take part in one of their events and brew my own beer.
Whole Foods Chandler – I didn’t know that they had a bar in here but the events they put on are great and usually have a great selection of beers on tap.

AZ Beer Week – Day 8

The final day of events in the AZ Beer week and just a couple stops left.  After a long week, I just about didn’t go out but decided one more day wouldn’t kill me.

Stop #1 – Four Peaks BBQ, Beers and Blues at Four Peaks Tasting Room
-I had no idea what to expect with this event but it’s tough to screw up beer, blues and blues.  It was a fun event with plenty of food and beer.

Beer #1 – Double Knot
-A double IPA that has gotten good reviews that I decided to give a try.  I was again impressed by Four Peaks.  This was a delicious double.

Beer #2 – Barrel Aged Kilt Lifter
-Kilt Lifter is probably the most popular local beer.  This was the barrel aged version.  It was good but it didn’t stand out.

Stop #2 – World of Beers, GilbertSierra Nevada Tap Takeover
-This is a new location and this event was originally planned for the opening but was pushed back for AZ Beer Week.  Sierra Nevada took over all the taps plus some extras, adding up to over 70.  You buy tickets and each ticket is for a small sample of one of Sierra Nevada’s rare beers.  Most of the beers that I had were very good,  I’ll list them but I can’t remember my exact rating on all of them:

#1  Knotty Wood
#2 Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb
#3 Barrel Aged Bigfoot (Scotch Barrels)
#4 Sorachi Solstice
#5 Beer Camp #98 Breakfast At Chicos Almond Milk Stout
#6 Belgian-Style Blonde IPA
#7 Ovila Golden

So many more beers and I didn’t even use my other tickets.  I wish I would have had a driver so that I could have tried more beers and not have to drive afterwards.

AZ Beer Week – Day 7

Stop #1 – Angel’s Trumpet – Downtown Phoenix – Belgian Beer Day
-My first stop is one of the best beer bars in Phoenix.  It’s located downtown and offers a good variety of craft beers, local beers and also imports on tap.  Today they had a Belgian Beer Day.  Belgium is known as one of the main beer meccas in the world.  There’s several styles unique of Belgium and they also have modifications on typical styles.  Belgian IPA is one of my favorites and I have even made one of my own.  Today Angel’s Trumpet was filled with taps of fantastic Belgian beers.

Beer #1 – Brouwerij Huyghe – Delirium Tremens
-This is a famous beer that I just had to try.  Don’t be fooled by it’s light, golden color, this beer weighs in at a hefty 8.5% alcohol.  I’ve tried a few of the Belgian styles like Tripel and haven’t really like the taste.  This one shared a lot of the qualities that I didn’t like but there was just too much tastiness in this beer to not like it.  It’s not a beer that you can drink a lot of or one that you drink every day but as a special treat this is a very good option.

Stop #2 – Huss Brewing Company, Tempe, AZ
-This was a last minute addition to my schedule.  I want to try and check out all the local breweries but this one wasn’t too high on my priority list.  I’ve had a couple of beers from them but wasn’t too impressed.  But they were offering an open house and brewery tour, so why not?

-I was impress by the beers they had there and really related to the owners.  The owners are only a couple years older than me and started the brewery with the hope of expanding.  One the tour I learned that they actually brew the beers for Papago Brewery including the local favorite, Orange Blossom.  The plan is add a canning line soon for the Papago beers as well as their own beers.

Beer #1 – Magic in the Ivy
-The beer is an American Pale Ale which lends it’s name to the local ballclub.  Well in this case, the local ballclub is the Cubs who play their Spring Training in Tempe.  Probably an effort to gain publicity for the brewery with Spring Training coming up soon, but why not?  I think it’s a good business model to take advantages of the opportunities that you have.  Plus the beer was delicious.

-I sampled a couple other beers to decide what I wanted to bring home in a growler.  I ended up going with the Rice Pudding Porter.  It’s a dark beer with some spice to it but not overpower.  It became one of my favorite beers of this week and made me a supporter of this brewery.

Stop #3 – Whole Foods – ChandlerStone Special Tapping
-This is the only place where I made a return visit during AZ beer week.  I’m a huge fan of Stone and my visit to their brewery was one of the greatest days of my life (probably had more to do with the engagement).  At the previous event they told me to come back on Friday for the Stone event because they were sure to have some specialty beers that I would like.  Well they did have some beers that you don’t typically see but nothing too crazy.

Beer #1 – Stochasticity Project: Grapefruit Slam IPA
-I had very high expectations for this beer.  I’ve found Stone to be great with pretty much anything they do.  This was one of their specialty beers and I’ve heard that grapefruit pairs very well with IPAs.  I came away a little disappointed with this beer.  It was good but it wasn’t anything that I plan on going out and buying anytime soon.

Beer #2 – Enjoy By 2/14/14 IPA
-I’ve already had this beer once, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise.  A very good IPA that was few days after the ‘dealdine’

Beer #3 – Suede Imperial Porter – another dark beer from Stone that I’m on the edge for.  I’d probably try it again but not one I would seek out.

Beer #4 – Stone Smoke Porter with Vanilla Bean – Another beer that I’ve had before but it was on the sample, so I gave it another try.  I did like it but it wasn’t anything special.

Beer #5 – Matt’s Burning Rosids.  This was the beer I got in a growler the last time I was at this location.  It’s a saison, so it’s very light but with a strong taste and strong alcohol content.  I generally like saisons but this one was not one of my favorites.

Stop #4 – The Hungry Monk – Tempe – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
-This was one of my biggest regrets of AZ Beer Week.  I didn’t know what to expect for this event but when I got there it was a giant party completely with people dressed up crazy costumes.  I stayed long enough to watch a contest where you had to hold your full beer stein (large beer mug) at a 90 degree angle and whoever could do it the longest got not only drink the beer inside but also win prizes.
-This wasn’t your typical tap takeover…they had tents setup where they were pouring the different beers that they brought with them.  Bell’s is a brewery out of Michigan but they are available in most markets in the US.  They are one of the most respected craft breweries currently going.  Their Two Hearted Ale is usually named at one of the best beers available.  Their seasonal IPA, Hopslam is very hard to find and goes quickly when it does hit the shelves.  This event allowed you to take small samples or a big drink.  This is where my regret comes in because I’ve already spent the day sampling other beers and was about ready to call it a night (not to mention I had to stay sober enough to drive home).

-First couple samples – I don’t remember exactly which beers I sampled but I know I tried a couple rye beers.  This is a style that I haven’t acquired the taste for yet.  They weren’t bad beers, I just wasn’t for me.
-First (and only) big beer – Bell’s Oberon.  A rarity in the craft brew world – a beloved wheat beer.  Craft beer is usually all about IPAs and Stouts and their wheat beers are often just add-ons to their beer selections for the people who don’t like those styles.  I’ve always loved wheat beer and it’s what got me into craft beer in the first place.  Bell’s Oberon is probably the best Hefe that I’ve had and helped me to discover their great brewery.  So having it this night was a safe choice, a beer that I knew I’d love and one that wouldn’t get me drunk.

Stop #5 – Caballeros – leftover Goose Island Tap Takeover
-Caballeros is one of my favorite spots to stop in and have a drink.  During beer week there were a couple beers that I knew I had to pickup and one of them was Goose Island’s Bourbon County line.  I’ve had the Bourbon County Stout before and that was likely what I was going for but they also do a Bourbon County Barley Wine.  Too sweet for my taste…
-Beer #1 – Goose Island – Bourbon County Stout.  This is a rarity to find.  Usually distributed in November and off the shelves as quickly as their put on, these were stashed away for AZ Beer Week.  Several places had Goose Island events and I finally made it to one.  The Bourbon County Stout is a Stout aged in bourbon barrels.  The style isn’t for everyone but if you do like this style, the beer is the holy grail.  The bourbon flavor goes perfectly with the taste of the stout.  This is a ‘big beer’ and something you sip on and savor instead of chugging.  One of my favorite beers.

AZ Beer Week – Day 6

I took a couple days off because this little thing called a job.  But I made up for it on Thursday of AZ Beer Week.

Stop #1: O.H.S.O Eatery & Nano Brewery
-This is a place that I’ve been looking forward to checking out.  It stands for Outrageous Homebrewers Social Outpost.  They have their own beer, support local breweries and even allow local homebrewers to brew using their own equipment.
-I decided to start here with a nice beer and lunch.  I tried their 366 Safety Session which was pretty good light, satisfying drink to start off the day.
-I will definitely be back for more food and beer and may even look into brewing on their system.

Stop #2 – Papago Brewery, South Scottsdale
-Papago is known for their great selection of craft beer and known as one of the best beer bars in the valley.  They also have a few of their own beers, notably their Orange Blossom.

-I decided to stick with the local trend and try a rare Four Peaks beer – Sirius Black.  Four Peaks is the most popular brewery in Phoenix but often doesn’t get much respect because their beers are ‘boring’.  Well this one is anything but boring!  I had low expectations but what I found was a bourbon barrel aged beer that tasted a lot like the Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout.

Stop #3 – Fate Brewing, Scottsdale, AZ
-One of the newer bars in the valley, I wanted to check it out.  I’ve heard good things especially about their Candy Bar Milk Stout.

-I came to the bar looking for the Candy Bar Milk Stout but it wasn’t on tap.  They’ve decided to keep it as a ‘seasonal’ beer.  I settled for the Hibiscus Saison which was very good.  Saisons are ‘Farmhouse Ales’ that are light in color, easy drinking but usually with good amount of alcohol.  Another spot I will be visiting again!

Stop #4 – Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company
-This is my second time going to this brewery both after ratebeer.com named them the best new brewery in the world.  Both times the place has been packed and packing was hard to find.

-After the first trip, I knew I’d be coming back because of the great beer and also the food was fantastic as well.  This time I ordered a fantastic basket of BBQ wings that just fell off the bone.  My beer selection was the Dos Cabezas IPA IPA.  This was one of the beers that ratebeer.com loved and while it was a very good beer, it wasn’t one that immediately became a favorite.

Stop #5 – Flanny’s Bar – Tempe – Colorado Firkin Festival
-I was very excited for this event because I wanted to try some rare beers from these fantastic Colorado breweries.  Each of the breweries brought a cask of a specialty beer.  A cask is a barrel that is tapped and poured without additional carbonation.
-I can’t remember which one that I tried first but I think it was the offering for Great Divide.  It wasn’t that great.  I was looking to try the Creme Brulee Porter but I guess that one went very fast.  The second one that I tried was the Coconut Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge Brewery.  I’ve had the regular Vanilla Porter and really liked it.  This one was also good but I didn’t like that Coconut additional much.

AZ Beer Week – Day 3

The third day of AZ Beer Week brought lots of events and plenty of new beers to taste.My first stop was at Whole Foods in Chandler.  They were hosting a beer tasting for Quail Distributing and their variety of small breweries that they distribute for.  The one brewery I really wanted to check out was the Nebraska Brewing Company because it hits so close to home and it’s good to support those from where I grew up.  Here’s a summary:Stop #1 – Chandler Whole Foods – Quail Distributing showcase
Cismontane (Ranch Santa Margarita, CA) – They had by far the most interesting beer here.  It was called The Mesa and it was essentially half beer, half wine.  Not figuratively, but a literal 50-50 mix.  Pretty much a sour but the rep made a great point that it was a good transition bee between wine and beer.

Black Market (Temecula, CA) – I was hit or miss on their beers.  Their Hefeweizen was very true to the style with good amounts of smoothness and banana taste but their Imperial IPA wasn’t anything special

Black Diamond (Concord, CA) – I tried the Peak XV Imperial Porter and I wasn’t too impressed with it.  Nothing that stood out too me but not terrible.  I was impressed with the quality of their beers and later in the night bought a White Pale Ale to try later.

Nebraska Brewing Company – I tried a couple beers from them.  The first was the EOS Hefeweizen which was a basic Hefe, nothing to write home about.  I also Melange A Trois which is a pale ale aged in Chardonnay Barrels.  I wasn’t overly impressed with it but definitely interested enough to try a full bottle when I find it next.

Rough Draft Brewing (San Diego, CA) – Their selections varied from IPA to IPA to IPA.  Not a whole lot of variety but they did have a few different types, including a session IPA meant to be an easier drinking beer and a Southern IPA using only Southern hops.  I wanted to love these beers but I didn’t.

Destihl Brewery – I actually have tried this brewery before.  I was part of the initial West Valley kickoff (at Ground Control) a couple months ago.  The only problem for me is that their sours are highly featured and I’m not interested in them.  I liked their IPA and one of other beer I tried.  Here I tried the 120 Schilling Scotch Ale which I did like a lot.  I talked a lot with the rep from their company and they seem to have a strong backing.  They are rapidly expanding across the US with both their regular and sour beers.  The rep showed me pictures of all the room that they had to expand at their production facility and the options they’d have in the future.

-The final brewery was Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea.  Let’s just just call it hippie drink.  I not sure that it qualifies as beer because it’s actually that was dry-hopped.  The one that I tried was Bourbon Peach American Wild Ale.  It was a sour and it didn’t interest me at all.

Event #2 – Dogfish Head Tap Takeover @ World of Beers Tempe
-The main goal was to try the 120 Minute IPA.  At this event, the only way to try the 120 Minute IPA was to buy a flight of 4 beers.  Knowing that I needed to drive later, I decided not to do all DFH beers

-Beer #1: Firestone Walker – Pivo Pils.  One of the beers that chose to balance out the massive IPAs.  A pilsner is a very light beer that’s popular in Europe.  It’s a good change from the usually bitter beers that I drink but just not a beer style I like that much.

-Beer #2: Weizenbock – a beer week collaboration between several local brewers (Wanderlust, Mother Road, Four Peaks, Huss, Dragoon and Ten Fifty-Five).  This was interesting beer that I had to try to help celebrate Beer Week.  Weizenbock is a German-style Dark Wheat Beer.  I wasn’t too familiar with the style and expected it to be a lighter beer, it wasn’t.  I wasn’t a fan of this beer.

-Beer #3 – Dogfish Head – Hellhound on My Ale.  A very strong Imperial IPA (10% ABV).  This was very tasty but the strong alcohol taste kept it from being a favorite.

-Beer #4 – Dogfish Head – 120 Minute IPA.  I’m still not convinced that the waitress poured the right beer!  I heard her telling another customer that she was sorry that she poured the wrong beer and that they weren’t marked very well.  My 120 looked different than the guys next to me, much darker.  I liked the beer I was given but I don’t know if it was the elusive 120 minutes IPA.

-Overall this stop was a bust.  I had high hopes for this event with all the great beers that Dogfish has but I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the beers that I tried.

Stop #3 – Freaks of the Industry – Taste of Tops – Tempe
-I’ve never been here before but I read up on it…a great liquor store that installed some taps and keeps premium craft beer on tap as well as local favorites.  Finding a spot to park was tough!  I ended up parking at a CVS and walking.

-The bar itself was very small and even worse with the huge crowd.  The event brought together the beers of Odell’s (Colorado) and Green Flash (San Diego).  Doug Odell, the owner of Odell’s and Chuck Silva, the brewmaster at Green Flash were both at the event.  I was able to talk briefly with both of them.  The beer selection was a little tough…I love Odell’s beers but their Friek line is their sours, so no thanks!  I went with Le Freak from Green Flash, a Belgian IPA.  It was good but nothing that blew me away.

-After finishing that beer I checked out the liquor store which had a great selection.  I settled for a 6-pack of Sucks from Lagunitas.  This their seasonal double IPA that was popular enough to be full time.  Once I got home, I gave it a try and it was easily the best beer that I had all-day and could become one of my favorite beers.

AZ Beer Week – Day 2

I wasn’t able to make it out for the first day of Beer Week due to work.  That cause me to miss the biggest events, more specifically the Strong Beer Festival on Saturday.  I decided to take off Saturday and wait to start until Sunday.

My first event was on Saturday at Ground Control.  They were running a special on Flagstaff beers.

Stop #1 – Ground Control:
-Flagstaff flight.  They were offering a flight of 4 beers, two from Historic Brewery and 2 from Wanderlust Brewery.  However, one of the Wanderlust beers was already gone, so I got to choose another.  My choice was the Breakfast at Ian’s.  The beer was made by the local brewery, Fate in Scottsdale and named after the craft beer expert at Ground Control, Ian.

-Piehole Cherry Vanilla Porter from Historic.  This was one of the most impressive local beers that I had all of Beer Week.  It was delicious, unique and just about all you can ask for from a local brewery looking to make a name for themselves.

-Chateau Americana and Joy Ryed.  A couple local IPAs with quite different styles.  They were good but nothing special.

-Breakfast at Ian’s.  I wanted to love this beer, but I didn’t.  I have great respect for Ian and everything he’s done for craft beer in the west valley but this beer was just average.  Nothing extraordinary about it to make it stand out against other beers.

-I decided to try another beer, Agrestic Ale by Firestone Walker.  I asked if it was a sour but the bartender wasn’t sure.  I was a little skeptical because it was an ‘American Wild Ale’ and sure enough it was a sour.  It was a little bit better than most sours I’ve had but I still haven’t acquired the taste for sours.  The bartender was gracious enough to offer me another beer.

-Das Alt Folks – Huss Brewing.  Another local brewery in Tempe.  The Alt style is a traditional German style.  I wasn’t too fond of this beer.  I guess I’m just not a fan for the style.