Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Hops Shortage Hits

Well I went to order my ingredients tonight for my next batch of beer and lo and behold, I couldn't get all of the hops that I wanted/needed. I had to tweak my recipe and order from two different suppliers to get all of the ingredients, but oh well. I still think it will turn out alright. I'm bottling that Belgian Ale tomorrow night. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

New brew

So I had the pleasure of discovering a new beer that I thought was great! I was at the beer store yesterday during my lunch break and I strolled down the aisle with all the varieties of beers that they sell. Now is the time of year when breweries put out their special seasonal beers or holiday brews. Many of them are "Winter Warmers" which often contain spices such as orange peel, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, etc. I'm not a fan of these styles, but I was intrigued by the different brews available. I found a winner!

If you are on the East Coast, I suggest that you give Clipper City Winter Storm a try. It is an Imperial ESB and it is awesome. ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter. The term "bitter" is used in England to describe the "hoppiness" of a beer. So it is not really bitter, it is hoppy. Extra Special, means extra hoppy. Yum. It also packs a punch at 7.5% abv. I was quite pleased with my purchase and wish that they made this beer year round. Perhaps the next beer I brew will be a bitter. I've been trying to decide what style to make next and I think that I found it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

We're not alone.....

We, being homebrewers. You thought I meant E.T. didn't you?

In the last few weeks it has become apparent that this homebrew movement is bigger than I thought. For the last 3 years, I've known two other guys at work who also enjoy brewing their own suds. Lately though, through casual conversation, we have discovered other brewers in the office. In fact, at last count there were 9 of us! It is pretty cool actually. We gather each other's cubes and swap brewing stories. Some guys are way into it. A few belong to clubs and are serious about their hobby. I enjoy it, but don't have the time to get involved in any brew clubs at this point. One guy was so intrigued that within the span of one week he joined a few guys in brewing a batch and then purchased his own equipment. He's all about brewing beer now and can't wait to bottle his first brown ale. Ahh, I remember my first time. Fortunately I've learned along the way and my batches have improved with practice. I just hope his turns out ok and he doesn't get discouraged if it doesn't. Homebrewers unite!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Retirement Education

I read this article on USAToday yesterday about early retirement scams. It really made me sort of sad that this kind of thing continues to go on every day. I feel so fortunate that my first job out of college was working for a financial services company and I was able to get an education on the various investment vehicles available to people. As a registered representative, Series 6, 7, and 63, it was my job each day to assist participants with any questions or issues they had with their company sponsored retirement plan. What I was not allowed to do was give advice and I certainly was not allowed to give any guarantee whatsoever about how much of a return a person could expect from ANY investment. Unfortunately, there are some bad eggs out there and a majority of people with retirement savings don't really know anything about their accounts or investments. So they put their trust in people that are supposed to know, the so-called professionals. A little education for the masses might reduce these occurrences. I think every student should have the opportunity to take a real Home Economics course, one that teaches personal finance and responsibility instead of just cooking and sewing.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What's your favorite beer style?

I'm not sure that I have a favorite, but I was pretty sure that I didn't care for beers that are known as Belgian Ales. So what is in my secondary fermenter downstairs right now? Yep, you guessed it, a Belgian Ale. I suppose that I sort of wrote off the style after trying Duvel one night at a local watering hole. I did not care for it's lightness or fruitiness at all. I couldn't understand the hype around it. Much to my chagrin when I asked my brother if he'd like to brew a batch of beer with me, he selected a Belgian Ale. Ha! I figured though, since I am trying to get him and my brother-in-law involved in brewing with me that I would just go with whatever style he chose. I must say though that when I racked over from primary to secondary fermenters, I did taste it and it isn't bad at all. It is much darker than I expected and I am excited to give it a try when it is ready. Perhaps my horizons will be expanded. I may even give Duvel another drink if I'm feeling adventurous. Maybe not.

So, in another few weeks, it will be time to bottle the suds and it should be fully ready to drink sometime after Turkey Day. Cheers!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A shortage of hops???

I received an email yesterday from one of my favorite vendors of brewing supplies that warned of a shortage in the 2007 hops crops as well as late shipment of said hops. While they were optimistic that they had ordered a plentiful supply to meet customer demand next year, they would be late in receiving them this year. They encouraged the use of many new varieties which I had never heard of, and were available for purchase. Perhaps this will spur new creativity in the brewing industry to use newer varieties of hops to create new fantastic beers. After nearly 10 years of brewing myself, I haven't taken that step to get creative with changing hops from what a recipe might call for. I'd hate to ruin 5 gallons of beer with a hop that doesn't meet the style I'm going after. Maybe one day I'll be so bold. Cheers!