Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Aging Beers

Yes You can. I've just cracked open one from my cellar Old Foghorn from 2007 and boy is it delicious. The aging process with stronger beers is a process of removing some of the harsh alcohol overtones while mellowing the sweet tones. I have been aging my beers usually about 2-3 years each, and have had a wonderful experience with each. Here's a list I recommend:

Old Foghorn From Anchor Steam. This beer really brings out a saltier flavor which shows off some hop bitterness.

120 Minute IPA From Dogfish head. This one shows off a lot more hop flavor while Kissing it with sherry and wine notes.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout From Brooklyn Brewery. Just delightful, lots of chocolate, an amazing after dinner brew. When I first tasted this when it first came out It was hot and full of alcohol burns, so I tossed it into the cellar and 3 years later, Viola Yummy yummy indeed.

Bourbon County Stout From Goose Island. Just an amazing beer for all time, especially for after dinner. But when aged (which it already has been from the brewery in Oak Barrels) Become a butterscotch chocolate toffee candy liquor. Just amazing.

The Beast from Avery. Very dark roast notes and chocolate. This one I aged for 2 years but will age for Five years the next time cause it's very very strong.

That's the round up, Give it time as long it's over 8%ABV you'll thank me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cigars and Beer

Yes it's true they can taste great together! I have explored some of my favorite cigars and paired them nicely to beer. A general rule which is obvious is light beer is good with a sweeter cigars and dark sweeter beer go great with a lot of different types. Here's a rundown of a few I love.

Basic Smooth Brown
Cigar: AVO #2 tubos (It has a rich flavor and balances nicely with a brown ale)

Light and Hoppy
Cigar: Rocky Patel The Edge Light (Very light, very smoky actually works well with sweet IPAs or Pale Ales)

Bold and Spicy
Cigar: AVO moduro (Spicy and very consistent, it delivers lots of flavor from beginning to end)

Sweet and Crisp
Cigar: Acid 1400cc (Flavored and very sweet to the lip)
and Schlitz (Yes it's cheap and damn good on a summer day they have changed the recipe back to the 1960's).

That's my round up and suggestions that have many many flavor notes. I have many other favorites but I just wanted to list a few that remain first on my list. Please add to the list or give me some of your favorites. Or try them out and tell me what you think.

Cheers! And Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lighter Beer and Good Mexican Brew

Now that the season is getting warm there is a tendency to drink lighter beers. That's great! Here in Texas we have the ST. Arnold's Lawnmower beer, Real Ales' Fireman's #4 which tastes pretty darn good and let's not forget the Shiner Bock, even though it say's bock its a light taste that can easily be guzzled during a hot afternoon.

Now for some Mexican brews: I love a nice Bohemia Lager, its full of flavor, and very smooth and crisp. Next we have Pacifico, which is lighter crisper and bottled in brown bottles. Modelo (link to Wiki and story of them since they are part of the InBev Family) is fantastic as well as Negra Modelo which is a darker beer but still taste nice and smooth on a hot day. Interestingly Negra Modelo is one of rare recipes in production of the Vienna dark style of beer. Ah I love warm days and cold beers, chime in with what you love, I hope I can get it in Texas.

Please list your Favorite Beers!

Friday, April 23, 2010

American Belgians don't impress

Ok here we go, I just had Real Ale's Devils Backbone. For those not familiar or have not tasted Reals Ale's beer, they are in Blanco TX. They have amazing beer, very thoughtful, different and enjoyable. But I'm starting to have a tough time with American breweries trying to do Belgian style beers.

I know there are guidelines to the belgian styles, see http://www.beertown.org/education/pdf/BA_Beer_Style_2009.pdf to learn more, but American beers have always tried to be new exciting and different, Hop Stoopid for example as well as countless others. I have tried a few "Belgian Ales" by American craft breweries and they are trying to be like a Belgian, not truly different and American, not even Belgian. There are tons of reasons they could never master the Belgian style, 100's of years of practice, water content being one of the other biggest factors. I'm not saying they don't make beers that are enjoyable, they are, but because popular Belgian ales use candi sugar American breweries versions tend to be too sweet. Brooklyn Brewery's local 1 and 2 is a perfect example, nice clean, bottle conditioned but not surprising, sweet. Where is the American invention? Just because you use a trappist ale/belgian type of farmhouse yeast doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a sweet beer.

My favorite Belgians are somewhat sweet but they taste better than their American counterparts are: La Chouffe's Houblon Chouffe, Chimay's blue, and Hoogstraten Poorter. These beers truly capture years of work and have a refined taste that American breweries still can't capture. But why do we try? I say make something new with the huge amount of ingredients at our disposal. I appreciate these breweries introducing the Belgian Like style to the american public, awareness and education will build many followers. But why not try a Belgian yeast strain with an american fruity cascade hop. How about a subtle flavor enhancement to the popular brown ales by including only belgian aroma malts. Just some ideas to share.

I want something new.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brew time this Sat. and I have a new request from the family to make a Kolsch style beer. A great rundown on the history and a great simple recipe go to beersmith's blog at: http://www.beersmith.com/blog/2008/04/05/brewing-a-kolsch-beer-recipe-beer-styles/
Now for the twist, small but changes the look and a little flavor, I'm adding .25lb of de-bittered black patent malt and 1lb of crystal/caramel to get a nice foamy head and add a little sweetness. That should do the trick. an amber Kolsch if it's still allowed to be called a Kolsch.

To keep things warm my partner gave me a fridge and I slapped a temperature controller on it to make sure I keep it at 60 degrees. In Austin, TX it really gets freakin hot so this method has saved all my beer as well as controlled the temps even better than I could have ever imagined.

New Texas Beer and recommendations
I've seen the latest round of seasonal by Real Ale, which is called Devil's Backbone. Great name, haven't tasted it yet and from my knowledge its really Belgianny, meaning sweet with a farmhouse type of yeast. I look forward to tasting it and will give tasting notes when I do. My personal favorite Belgian is an IPA from La Chouffe called HOUBLON CHOUFFE Dobbelen IPA Tripel. It's sweet but bitter balances nicely, and wow what an aroma. Get out there and get both and compare. It's at Grapevine markets and central market in Austin, and I'm sure other places that has great beer.

Jeff Bell

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Starting a brewery

Well, One word, Planning! There has been an amazing amount of support thus far in my endeavor to start a brewery. We have a couple of wonderful beer recipes, and the plans are almost set.

Finding interested parties has been fun and challenging. Sample and tastings are key to the success of finding people of interest.

Now we are hitting the web, and looking to find some others who love great beer. People not afraid of trying something new and are willing to work hard to add to the ever growing beer industry.

We will start small and end big, I mean small. current capital investment is around 200K. That's a big number but compared to a restaurant is pennies. We want to start very small, cover costs then expand.

Please get in touch, or follow along, I will be describing my hurdles as well as beer we make and beer we love. Cheers and thanks for following.

Jeffrey Bell
Owner Head First Brewery

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Beer!

Well I have been busy brewing lots of beer, since my excursion to New Jersey. BTW the beer on the east coast is really amazing, and they also get some of my favorite beers from the Boulder Brewing Company (Cold Hop, Mojo, etc...). I also had my share of victory brewing with their Hop Wallop and Hop Devil Beers, YUM!

I have been working on a new dortmunder style lager that will be for the family, friends, ind investors. All you homebrewers I will share the recipe if you toss me an email. It's really yummy and is perfectly set in my fridge for about 52 Degrees. I have loved DAB beer, which is the only Dortmunder I have had, If anyone else could recommend some I would definitely would hunt it down.

So the brewery plans are still churning through the Biz Plan, I have numbers to be crunched and some people of interest want to see them. It's very tough starting a brewery with promises and great homebrew but I know it will be a success because of the people involved and for the love of beer.

Austin is booming and will be a very big brewing city very soon. The first Co-Op brewery Black Star Brewing opening soon, they just a got a space and their build out should be going well. It looks like the Jester King has land and is building as I type, they will be interesting with their heavy and unconventional style of ales.

I will keep you up to date to my findings as these new breweries develop.

-Jeffrey Bell