Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Brigade

 A few weeks ago, I was looking through a cupboard, and I came across a Black and Tan Turtle that my brother in-law Chad gave me.  Since it hadn't been used yet, I figured it was well past time to break it in.  What you see on the right was the result.  A really nice mix of a refreshing Pale Ale, with the smooth creamy Stout.  This is something I need to do more often.  Thanks Chad!

 I like green tea, and I like IPA's, so this has to be good right?  Not so much.  Don't get me wrong, I've had many beers that were way worse than this, but I will not be buying this again.  There was a green, plant like flavor that I could not get over to enjoy this brew.  To be honest, I was pretty disappointed.  No worries though, Stone makes lots of other great beers for all of us.

A few weeks ago, my Uncle Bill passed away.  I was blown away at the amount of people that showed up for his visitation.  For over 4 hours, there was a constant line of people coming to show their respect.  There was never less than 100 people (probably closer to 150) in line at one time.  Bill spent many years as a volunteer firefighter, and was obviously influential for many of his fellow firefighters.  At the funeral he had a firefighter escort and tribute.  It was one of the most touching ceremonies I've ever seen.  Below is my son, Joseph, in front of the Blasen Brigade fire truck that Bill built.  Bill's son Chuck is now carrying the torch, so to speak, as a firefighter himself, and can be seen at parades driving this truck around the Dubuque area.
 With Spring arriving, I figured it was time to brew an IPA of my own.  Of course I had to have an IPA while brewing for inspiration, so I chose Schlafly's Tasmanian IPA.  This is one of my favorites, easily in my top five IPA's.

This time I brewed an IPA with pellet Citra and Mosiac hops, and nearly a pound of home grown Nugget hops from the freezer.  I also added a large bottle of peach mango juice to the fermentor to enhance the citrus flavors from the hops.  This one is still in the fermentor, and will be transferred to a keg soon.  It should end up around 7% ABV, and so far, it smells amazing, regardless of what my wife says.

In the last blog, I introduced you to Arson, our Welsh Springer Spaniel puppy.  This is him after his first bath, as you can see, he was not impressed.  We are still working on potty training, but he sleeps through the night, is getting along with our other dog and our cats, and is fitting into our household nicely.  He's extremely smart and loving, and is turning into a really good dog.  Now if he'll just stop peeing in the house!
 In many of the online beer groups I'm in, people have been raving about Surly's Abrasive Ale, a Double IPA.  Surly is brewed in our neighbor to the north, Minnesota, and they recently started to distribute here in Iowa.  Every store I went to had quickly sold out of this brew, so I did what anyone would do, and grabbed a 4 pack on a recent trip to MN.  At $18 a 4 pack, I asked several people if it was worth it, and they all said yes.  After trying it, I'd have to agree.  The Warrior and Citra hops hit you from the aroma, to the oil, to the tropical taste.  This beer is loaded with hops, yet at over 9% ABV is dangerously smooth and easy to drink.  I'm 3 for 3 with Surly beers so far, and really need to try more from them.  This is a brewery to keep an eye on.
One of the best parts of the Craft Beer craze, has been the access.  For years I've read about certain breweries or beers, and now I'm able to find many of them in stores locally without driving across the country.  It seems like a few of Breckenridge Breweries beers have been available in Iowa for a while now, but just recently, they've been distributing more variety to us.  This 72 Imperial was a gift from my friend Pat.  Now I owe him, because this was fantastic.  Smooth, thick, and creamy, this is what a Cream Stout should be.  This is a must try beer.

Next time you head to the store, be sure to pick up a beer that you haven't had before.  I like to do the 6 pack samplers, than if I really liked something I may go back for a 6 pack of that beer, it's a great way to see what's out there.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pappy Van Crinkle

 You may have heard of the legendary Pappy Van Winkle before.  When my good friend Pat came to visit recently, he brought this treasure to share.  This particular bottle had been aged for 20 years, and I think that time was well worth it.  This was easily the most complex bourbon I've ever had in my life, and may ever have again for that matter.  Pat was generous enough to share this rare find so we could enjoy the smooth, rich and chewy bourbon.  The taste of oak and vanilla and a bit of molasses was also evident.  If you ever have an opportunity to try this elusive White Whale do so, and you won't be disappointed.
Below is a combined haul that Pat and I had in possession, and it was worthy of a photo.

 How do you follow up maybe the best bourbon in the world?  With one of the best stouts that I've ever had, that's how.  By now, you're probably sick of me saying how great Deshutes Brewery is, but I can't help it.  They make amazing beer, and this is one of the best yet. You can click on the link for more of a description on this beer, but let me just tell you it was complex and amazing.  Thick, rich, black as midnight, great stout flavor with molasses cutting through.  This is another bottle that if you see it, don't let it get away, or you will deeply regret it.
 This is the first beer of the Planet series by Bell's that I came across, so I had to try it.  Now I wish I didn't.  I'm a huge fan of Bell's overall, but this one was definitely not to my liking.  The Belgian style ale boast complex flavors, but I just tasted an "off" funk and straw.  This is not a beer I will be drinking again, but am still interested in trying more of their Planet series as I'm sure they can redeem themselves.
 Meet the newest addition to our family.  Arson is a 12 week old Welsh Springer Spaniel.  We will be his forever home, while co-owning him with the breeders so they can show him, and if he does well, maybe breed him a time or two.  For us, he's just part of the family.  He's moved right in taking over Toby's bed, chasing the cats, and unfortunately, peeing on everything!  We are still working on the potty training.  Toby and him are getting along great.  It can get a bit chaotic with the two of them, but hopefully now the rain will stay away, and we can play outside more.
In other news, my Uncle Bill passed away this week.  This has been a bit of a shock for the whole family.  I justed wanted to say how loving and kind he always was, and I'll never forget him.  Bill insisted on installing the first set of hand controls in my car when I was learning to drive, because he cared, and knew how important it was for me to be able to do normal things.  It's sad it takes losing someone to make you realize what an incredible group of friends and family you have in your life, and I've truly had amazing ones in mine.