Friday, November 8

Homebrew IX: Dunkelweizen

Most of you locals know that the local hobby shop, Kremer's Toy and Hobby, sells Brewer's Best homebrewing kits and supplies, and they often run specials. So a while back I went in with a few extra bucks and a coupon, and decided to brew my first wheat beer -- not some lemony summer brew, either, but a dunkelweizen, a relative rarity among the imports and craft brews crowding local beer shelves. My dad likes a dunkel when he can get it, and Weihenstephaner seems the most frequently available to me (and a world-class example, apparently). Both Beer Advocate and Rate Beer describe dunkels as what I would call "swampy" beers: dark, murky, yeasty, unfiltered beers, brown in color, earthy in flavor.

This dunkel brings the fruit and the funk of wheat beers, big time. Both websites above mention banana and clove notes, but I tend to taste pear undertones in mine. It is same murky brown of the Tahquamenon River when it's swollen with runoff, with a sour yeastiness that is far more enjoyable that it sounds and serves in the place of hops to balance the sweetness of the grain. It comes off the keg with a thick, creamy head and invites sip after sip. A good fall brew that's a big change of pace for me -- hope you like it, too!

Wednesday, August 14

Homebrew VIII, Part II: Brunch Stout Revisited

Just checking back in to say what a difference a month (or two) makes! Another few weeks in the keg (as Butch suggested), and Northern Brewer's Brunch Stout kit took on a smoother, deeper, more flavorful persona, with a thicker, creamier head and that appearance at the pour that I describe as "fallout," in which the bottom of the head appears to settle toward the bottom of the glass. (You seen this before if you've ever seen pint of Guinness fresh from the tap; sorry for the lame description.)

Karl came over with his counter-pressure bottle filler to help me fill some canister-top brown bottles for a family function in Wisconsin -- my uncle was celebrating his 70th birthday and 30th anniversary, and requested that I bring beer. I didn't want to bring the keg, partly for logistical reasons, and partly because this is not a beer for everyone and not a beer for a binge. (It would've broken my heart to see half-consumed plastic cups of brunch stout warming in the morning son after the celebration.) The bottles went over very well, however: Uncle Mel enjoyed it; Aunt Sandy turned green; my dad, my cousin's husband, and a local microbrew enthusiast all loved it. All good signs.

I recommend the kit whole-heartedly now, only give it time to mature. I'd love to taste it six months from now, but I'm afraid this keg is almost kicked. Cheers!

Friday, July 5

New Brewers, New Brews

Last week, a dear friend and colleague treated me to the second annual U and Brew event at the Campus Club, showcasing a variety of local breweries and beers and highlighting hops research underway at the University of Minnesota. I won the least inspiring of door prizes – two orange beer koozies from Indeed Brewing in Minneapolis – but that’s alright: I also got a keepsake sampling glass from local brew mag The Growler, a bellyful of spicy sausage and soft pretzels with coarse brown mustard, and the joy of sampling five new (to me) brews. In order, I imbibed the following:
  • Lucid Brewing’s Foto IPA (Minnetonka, MN) – nicely hopped and refreshing; this is definitely a hop-forward beer, but it’s not overwhelming for a guy like me, who’s no longer a hophead.
  • Bad Weather Brewing Company’s Windvane Minnesota Red Ale (Minnetonka, MN) – Beautiful balance between hops and malt; you taste both, together and separately, if that makes sense. Tasty, tasty beer – and also quite refreshing for a beer this autumnal in color.
  • Badger Hill Brewing Company’s MSB (Minnesota Special Bitter) (Minnetonka, MN) – Easy drinker; to me, like an English session ale malted and hopped like an Oktoberfest. I’d bring it to a party for something new and flavorful that everyone could enjoy.
  • Excelsior Brewing Company’s Big Island Blonde Ale (Excelsior, MN) – This was the peer-pressure choice; everyone was trying it and saying how good it was, and I thought, “Lawnmower brew.” Light, easy-to-drink blonde ale with a hint of lemony citrus in the finish. 
  • Pour Decisions Brewing Company’s Infidelity “Burton Ale” (Roseville, MN) – A good malty English-style ale. I didn’t know what a Burton ale was, but apparently this fits the bill: sweeter and darker than an English pale ale. I enjoyed it.
Indeed Brewing Company and Fulton Brewing Company (both in Minneapolis) were also represented, but I had only six sample tickets, and wanted to save the last for seconds on my favorite of the five I tasted. It was a tossup between Lucid Foto and Bad Weather Windvane, until I heard Bad Weather had just launched in March. I spent my last ticket and told them they had the best beer in the room. The young brewer thanked me, and confided that he liked Lucid Foto quite well himself. Turns out Lucid, Bad Weather, and Badger Hill use the same facilities. It’s a small and burgeoning brewing scene, by the looks – lucky us!