So that was quite the extended holiday. The holidays were fun if not a little bit hazy. I drank a lot of everything, went to a beerfest that was pretty rad, ate at a lot of great places and hung out and partied with a lot of new people. As is obvious, the blog sat here wanting for attention and I ignored it like I am some sort of gnarly old stepdad with bushy chest hair that sneaks over the collar of his shirt. I guess that that is a bit of a reach but well, you know what I am saying…
Well, regardless of the ridiculous analogies, I am back. Talking about beer and getting this little group together for beer related antics and boozy conversation are things that are on the top of my “2011 List Of Stuff To Do.” Admittedly, I really haven’t completed anything on those annual lists since 1981’s “Get Hoth Toys!” (This was scrawled in crayon on construction paper) but I think that I can probably get a group of folks together for drinks. Doesn’t seem all that tough. Some things are in the works and I think that the homebrew club side of things are going to be quite fun.
As far as talking about beer, I have done a lot of that already and the year is only a few weeks old. For the last few years I have been trying to hit a beerfest a month for the whole year. things are often against me and I miss a month or two. Last year I missed four, if memory serves. I started out this year in style. I attended the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival in Vail, Colorado. The location and surroundings are hard to beat and the festival itself pretty much exceeded all of my expectations. This fest is a bit different from the others that we (the lovely mamamonroe and myself) regularly attend. It was a weird and rare beer drinker’s paradise. Most of your fancy American breweries were in attendance with great beers made for the fest and fantastic and arcane varieties of their more recognizable flagships. In a notable twist on the standard Colorado beerfest there were many Belgian beers available as well. It did get a bit cramped by the end of the night and a better use of space could be advised but at that point I was either standing in the lobby of the conference room or outside sneaking cigs anyway. This fest will definitely be on my list for next year. It is worth mentioning too that there are conferences, homebrew contests and a number of symposia that I have heard are worth attending and that they give you fantastic access to brewers. Maybe I will make a weekend out of it next year.
My brewing has been a bit held back by the holiday weekends as well. They are passed and now it is time to get back on that particular wagon as well. This past weekend, while bottling eight cases of wine and freezing off the collective 20 family fingers, I brewed up a nice oatmeal-y brown ale that is sort of inspired by Surly’s Bender. I know how I rail against cloning beers and that sort of thing but I can’t get the damned stuff outside of Minnesota and checked luggage fees are ridiculous nowadays. I also justify it in that I love oats in beer. I have made so many oatmeal infused beers this year that it is kind of silly. Why not add it to a brown and see what happens? I had a brown ale recipe that I have been toying with for a few years and settled on the grain bill that follows. I remember Bender being a bit darker than a normal brown so I went ahead and upped the chocolate malt and added a touch of Belgian aromatic since it is mentioned on the website. (Dammit… I may be losing the anti-cloning pedestal that I pound on from time to time. You can punch me in the stomach the next time you see me.)
6 gallon final volume
9# Marris Otter Pale
.75# Crystal 60
1# Crystal 80
2# (yep, 2) Flaked oats
I mashed at 150 for 70 mins. and boiled for 80
.5oz Nugget at 60
.5oz Galena at 30
.5oz Galena at 10
.75oz Fuggle at flameout
So there you have it. It tasted pretty nice as it went into the fermenter and we will see in a few days what the yeast (American Ale 1056) has to say for themselves. As of now it is burping away happily and smells pretty damned nice.
Speaking of Minneapolis, I am off for a weekend in the great white north and while I am pretty aware of what I have to bring back, I would love suggestions of beers that are available there that you think I shouldn’t miss.