Monday, April 26, 2010

Beer School, it's about time

I've reached a turning point in my life. I'm at that age where it's too late to go back to college, and too early to retire. So I need to find something new to do with my life. I think it's time for Beer School.

I knew I wanted to start my own brewery a long time (3 years) ago. I have had my own business before, and I really miss it. I have kicked around the idea of getting an internship or volunteering at a brewery. The problem with that is the fact that Arizona lacks any brewery where I could. In the end, I figure that fact will help my dream come true.

I have been a novice homebrewer for about 2 years now. It's something that started out as a fun way to make lots of good beer, cheap. But it has tunred into a passion. I absolutely love beer. Beer is good. Beer is my friend. And I would love to go into business with my friend beer.

I have been reading books about breweing and breweries for the past year or so. First up was "Brewing Up a Business" by my hero, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. By the time I was finished reading that, I had my mind made up. I wanted to be the next Sam. Then I read "Beer School, Bottling Success at the Brookly Brewery" by the owners Steve Hindy and Tom Potter. A truely fascinating and educational book for the beer and business alike. Now I'm on to "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing" by Charlie Papazian. I love it. I just can't get enough.

I made up my mind at the beginning of 2010 that I was going to open my own brewery. However, things have been slow. I would have loved to be at that stage of creating my own brews, and looking for locations. But I'm not there yet. In fact, I am still far away from that place. Instead I am reading books, designing logos, and creating websites. Not that any of that is bad, it's just not good enough for me anymore.

It didn't help reading Burr Street Brew Blog. Here is a guy that quit his job to persue his dreams of "working in the craft brew industry." He has inspired me more than any of the books I have read. He is doing it. He is living the dream. He is living all our dreams. He is chasing his dream, and he has been documenting his journey on his blog. He has gone from insurance, to the Siebel Institute. I read with envy, and admiration every time.

So, I'm going to do it. I'm taking that next step, or leap Whatever you want to call it. I am going to do it. I am right there, looking over the edge, deciding if I should go sit down, or jump. I need to make up my mind once and forall. This weekend, I did.

I'm going to jump!

In the next few weeks, I will sign up for my first official beer class. I want to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can. Homebrewing has been all the education some people have ever needed. But that's not me. I want more. I want to know it all. I'm sure that will never happen, but I can try can't I?

There it is. It's put there now. I can't look back. I've jumped off the edge, and I'm falling fast. Now all I have to do is decide if I'm going to fall on my face, in the dirt, or fall into a wonderful pool of beer. I pray for the latter.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Total Wine delivers

On a (planned) whim, I stopped by my local Total Wine last Saturday. I've been meaning to get in there for weeks. I love their single bottle section, and I was hoping to find a batch of new seasonals to try. What a good idea that was.

I picked up a bottle of 400 Pound Monkey from Left Hand Brewery. I'm not a big fan of primates, but they make a good beer. It's an English style IPA that likes to play around on the malt side of the tree. I think that's why I enjoyed it more than a typical IPA. The orange and bread like aroma was nice. The mixture of hops and caramel was the surprise. It has a nice mouthfeel, and a clean finish. While it might not be for everyone, and really doesn't fit into one particular catagory, it is an enjoyable beer. Grade: 3 Burps

I've been a fan of Odell Brewing Company from hello. I've been lucky enough to experience most of their beers over the years via Beerfests. To have it available on the shelf is a wonderful thing. Their Cutthroat Porter is one of my favorites.

I love me a nice, dark, and malty porter, and that is what you find in a pint of Cutthroat. I have enjoyed it before, and I will enjoy it again. I felt that I needed to give it the props it deserves. Now this isn't a seasonal, but to some a porter wouldn't qualify as a Spring beer. I beg to differ.

I'm a huge fan of dark and malty London ales, so I could be biased in my opinion. However, even the Queen enjoyed it. She seems to prefer the hops side of the spectrum (Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA), but she said it was good. How can you go against the Queen? I know I can't. Grade: 4 Burps

There was 1 bottle of North Coast Brewing Scrimshaw left. Lucky me. It's a pilsner style beer which surprised me. I'm not a guy who usually drinks a beer like this, but I was willing to give it a try. I'm happy I did.

It has a light and clean aroma, with an unusual medium body. Much more than I would have expected from a Pilsner. I wasn't expecting the dry, wheat overtones. I think that's what pleased me. It's a very drinkable beer. Grade: 3 Burps

But my favorite of them all was Garde Dog Biere De Garde from the guys at Flying Dog Brewery. I've said it time and time again, they just get it. I love these guys, and Garde Dog is another example why. Their interpretation of the French style "Beir DeGarde" is better than I expected. The temperatures are hitting the high 80's out here in desert lately, so this it perfect session beer on a Saturday night. Who am I kidding, it's a 5.5 abv from Flying Dog. You can have one any day of the week.

It's a nice, clean beer that's very easy to drink. A crisp floral aroma is what you notice first. The taste is lighter with a slight hint of hops, spice, citrus, and malt. I wouldn't call it a medium feel, but it's almost there.

This would be a great "cross over" beer for someone looking to experiment a little. To take that next step past Deschutes and New Belgium. This isn't a Kronenbourg 1664, it's a Flying Dog! Grade: 4 Burps

There you have it. 4 new beer reviews. Take my advise and give them all a try. I'm sure you will find one in there that you might add to your beer fridge on a regular basis.