Sunday, August 10, 2014

Not all beer is good beer

Saying that all craft beer is good just isn't a realistic statement.  I always have a hard time when someone asks me what my favorite style is.  I always tell them, I don't have a favorite beer style, it just depends on what kind of mood I'm in, and how good the beer is.  Just because I like IPA's, certainly doesn't mean I like all IPA's, in fact, I've had quite a few I didn't enjoy at all.

Of course, the same goes for when people tell me they don't like dark beer.  I always tell them they just haven't tried the right one yet.

This week, I had a few beers that I've been wanting to try from a local brewery that I really enjoy.  Peace Tree Brewing out of Knoxville, IA makes some wonderful IPA's, and their Belgian Blonde recently one Gold at the GABF.  Simply put, they know how to make good beer.  One that I've heard a lot about is there Templeton Red.  It's a red ale aged in barrels from Templeton Rye Whiskey (one of my favorites, also made in Iowa.)  I've never been a fan of Peace Tree's Red, but this sounded interesting to me.  I was a bit disappointed.  The Red Ale, was sit the same old Red that I don't care for, and there was way too much Whiskey/oak flavor for me.  It was just too overpowering.

A few days later, I tried their Royale 41 Imperial IPA.  This was much better.  It was still overly bitter, in my opinion, but still a pretty decent Imperial IPA.  I still highly recommend that you seek out this brewery and give them a try, because they do a fantastic job.

 Deschutes Brewery is one of my favorites in the country.  Their Chainbreaker White IPA continues to show me why.  It's delicious, easy to drink, and perfect on a muggy Iowa summer day.  This is a fairly new style to me, a Belgian Wit that is hopped like an IPA, but it is quickly becoming one of my go to styles.  Alaskan Brewery and Single Speed Brewing also make excellent examples of this style.
From left to Right: Me, my son Joseph, my
Brother In-Law Chad, and hist wife Annie

What do I do when there's not great craft beer available?  I drink Coors Light, of course.  Whether is fishing, hanging out at the local dive bar, or at a family wedding (right) this is my American Lager of choice.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Back in the saddle

Zip Line Brewing out of Nebraska has been showing up a lot on the the shelves in Iowa lately.  I finally tried one of their brews.  The Oatmeal Porter was a good start for me.  Nice balance of roasted malts, and the smoothness from the oatmeal helped make this a very tasty beer.  I will certainly be trying more of their beers in the future.
I first came across this beer almost a year ago, while I was in Kansas City.  Avery Brewing has made a great summer beer with their White Wheat.  A bit fruity and spicey, light, refreshing, and easy drinking helps me give this beer high marks.  For those of you that are just starting to explore the world of beer, this one is a great leap into it, and for the experienced Craft beer drinker, you'll be pleased with this well crafted, delicious, Belgian style wheat.
You may have to make a road trip to Decorah, IA to get a hold of one of the most popular beers made in the state.  Toppling Goliath's beer is in such demand, it usually sells out in stores within a few hours of delivery.  Once you try their beer, you will understand why.  They sell their beers in 22oz bomber bottles that are perfect for sharing, but once you try this refreshing Citra hop bomb, you'll want it all for yourself.  They have a way of loading their Pale Ale's and IPA's with great hop flavor and aroma without making them overly bitter.  Something a lot of breweries out there today struggle with.

Next time you're in NE Iowa, head to their tap room in Decorah to try one of their fantastic brews.
On a recent trip to North Carolina, I came across this gem from Oskar Blues Brewery.  An old college buddy of mine has been posting pics online of him with his cans of Old Chub, so I thought I should do the same.  This 8% ABV Scottish Strong Ale is thick, rich, and sweet.  Despite it's unusual name, it's a very solid beer, and I recommend you grab an Old Chub when you get the chance!

This winter I developed a serious back problem, that was/is excruciatingly painful, and causes sharp pains to shoot down my legs.  I became completely dependant on my cane in my house, and wheelchair bound out of it.  After having and MRI, and discovering I very claustrophobic, they diagnosed me with Spinal Stenosis.  Basically a build up around my spinal column in my lower back caused from arthritis, that is squeezing my nerves in my lower back.  It will require surgery to fix it, but we agreed, to try other treatment first to delay surgery.  After months of physical therapy, pain meds, steroids (unfortunately I didn't develop any super powers,) I had a steroid injection in my lower back (again, no super powers.)

The injection has helped immensely, I'm about 70% better than what I was.  So I still have to be careful, not lift things, keep my cane around, and sometimes use my wheelchair, but my life is livable again.  So, after nearly 8 months away from homebrewing, I'm back in the saddle again.  I'm starting with extract brewing for a bit, to make things easier on me, but I hope to be doing some all-grain before the year is over.

My first brew back is my California Common, or American Amber Ale.  I used half ounce of Galaxy pellet hops at the beginning, and the end of the boil, along with two pounds of Nugget hops fresh from my freezer (from last years crop that my wife grew.)  I'm saving nearly 3/4 pound of hops for dry hopping, that is an unknown mixture of Nugget, Cascade, and Willamette hops.  This is one of my favorite recipes that I'm come up with over the years, but this is the first time I've tried this hop combination.  I'm hoping for good things from this brew.  Below in a video of the airlock bubbling away as the yeast does it's magic turning the wort into beer.

Since I've been lacking on my blog this year, I'm going to attempt to blog once a week in August to try and make up for it.  Maybe it will help me pass the time until I can finally drink the first homebrew I've made in 2014.  Prost!