New Year’s Eve was tame this year. I had a 750ml bottle of Lindeman’s PĂȘche Lambic, instead of Champagne or Asti, but didn’t get a chance to toast at midnight. My wife and I had a fantastic dinner of braised beef short ribs served with a delicious dish of pasta: fresh egg noodles with a variety of mushrooms and a duck demi-glace. Instead of beer with that meal, we shared a bottle of French red wine (a 2003 Grand Cru from Bordeaux). After dinner, we watched a movie with the intention of cracking open the lambic and pouring it into champagne flutes at the stroke of twelve. But, instead, we missed the big moment (the movie was not finished until quarter past midnight) and then decided to go to bed.

The next day I was planning to brew my fiftieth original recipe. Instead, I hung out around the house in a bathrobe all day. I finally got dressed and ready for the day – around 5pm. At that point it was too late to brew, so instead Malin and I opened our bottle of lambic…

Hump’s Fiftieth Brew

This first Sunday of 2008 – January 6th – was brew day. Within twelve hours of pitching the yeast, a vigorous fermentation was underway. Just this past Wednesday (the 16th) I racked the beer over a half ounce of Centennial dry hops. The beer has turned out more like an Imperial Brown Ale than an American Stock Ale – not hoppy enough. Brewing software predicts about 50 IBU. That may be accurate. The real thing it is missing is hop flavor. The beer could definitely have used more late hop additions… I already had a recipe for an Imperial Brown Ale (Hump’s Back-Breaking Brown) to which I’ve already made some amendments. It will be more like what I envisioned when I first formulated Hump’s Fiftieth Brew…

Three Floyds Behemoth and others…

Three Floyds Behemoth BarleywineAlso this week I tried an extreme brew from Three Floyds: Behemoth – an American Barleywine that is 12% alcohol by volume. It was good, but I feel it is a bit overrated by the community. I am very much looking forward to Three Floyds Dreadnaught. The bottle I have is a vintage, so it will likely have lost a lot of the in-your-face hop aroma and flavor that a fresh bottle would have. Nevertheless, I’m excited to try it. After all, it is the highest rated Imperial IPA on RateBeer. I also have another Imperial IPA to try: Left Hand Twin Sisters Double IPA. It isn’t nearly as highly rated as the Three Floyds beer, but I have yet to be let down by Left Hand.

Tonight, on the way home from work, I picked up another bottle of interesting beer. A friend of ours told us over the holidays that this beer was phenomenal. It is none other than Allagash Curieux – a Belgian Tripel that is aged in oak bourbon barrels. I was also stoked to see a couple of other Allagash specials/seasonals: Four and Black. Speaking of Allagash specials, I remember seeing Allagash Fluxus available at the Green’s on Ponce a couple of months ago, but I don’t know if it is still available there (likely not). It was a special beer brewed to inaugurate their new brewery – a strong golden ale brewed with rye and yarrow flowers. I’ll have to drop by there sometime and double-check.

Books and Radio

Not too long ago, Doug, the owner of the local homebrew store, turned me on to a great internet radio show: The Jamil Show. I’ve found the show so informative that I put on my Amazon wish list (and received for Christmas from my brother, Jake) a copy of Jamil Zainasheff‘s most recent book (co-authored by John Palmer): Brewing Classic Styles. It is a really nice reference, but doesn’t have near the depth and content as does the radio show. Nevertheless, it is a valuable addition to the homebrew library.

More home brew, on its way

I’m hoping to go to the homebrew store this weekend. I’m not yet certain which recipe to brew. I’m almost at a point where the only unbrewed recipes I have laying around are for high gravity beers. But I do have a couple of reasonable strength beers (6% abv or less) in the pipe:

  • Persuasive Porter – A nice robust porter. Originally, this recipe was based loosely on one of my first original recipes: Hump’s Pleasant Porter. But I’ve made some significant changes that reflect the considerable amount I’ve learned since that early recipe.
  • Black Kriek – A brown porter made with a fair amount of cherries
  • Smoked Maple Stout – Made with some maple syrup (not too much because it ferments so thoroughly and can leave the beer tasting a bit blunt) and some German rauch malt.
  • Raspberry Porter – A robust porter made with a fair amount of raspberries
  • Freshmaker Stout – I can’t make this one yet because I really don’t know how much mint extract I will need for five gallons of stout. But I may do some experimentation soon to find out.
  • Vanilla Stout – Just what it sounds like.

I have others, but you may have caught on to a theme here: porters and stouts. Yes, it’s that time of year again, where we all get a hankering for something dark and full-bodied to help us survive the harsh winter.

At the moment I’m leaning most towards the first one, but who knows what I’ll brew!