Bottling Day

Bottled my Munich Helles today.  Due to a combination of very good conversion and highly fermentable wort, I got a 6.7% beer out of it.  And it’s good.  Really good.  Can hardly wait for this one to carb up so I can drink one.  Or many.

Meanwhile, the other Lagerthon beer, the Schwarzbier, is nearly ready.  Basically I can bottle it any time I want.  It’s roasty and dark and dry, a very good black lager, if a bit too roasty for a classic Schwarz.  But then, the Koestritzer I had fresh in Germany last week was a little weak, lame.  I like mine.  It pushes the style to the point where it’s just about out of style but it’s a bit like my German:  Fluent, but with an American accent.

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My Little Helper

When my Belgian Saison yeast stalls, it’s time to call for some superhero assistance:

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This stuff is amazing.  My Saison stalled, as expected – Wyeast 3724 has that reputation.  When that happens, I make a 1 quart starter of this stuff, let it stir overnight to get going and to get thoroughly oxygenated, then pitch it.  My Saison is bubbling away now, on its way to a final gravity less than 1.010.  It’s very neutral yeast, this WLP 090, and apparently tough enough to live in about anything.  It’s my little helper for finishing big beers, highly recommended.

Bummed

My entries for the Arapahoe County Fair Homebrew Competition somehow went lost. Not the entry forms, nor the check for the entry fees, but the bottles themselves. The Brew Hut turned the place upside down, no bottles. I turned them in, they were missing from my inventory but no bottles.

Bummed. It’s hard to win without entries.

Catching up

Bottling Witbier.

Pulled Saison out of the heater, letting it cool off to room temp to pitch WLP 090 to finish it off.

Got two lagers ready to bottle in the fridge.  Will fine the Helles tomorrow, bottle maybe Wednesday.

No clue what my next brew will be.

Back in the States

After a twelve hour airplane ride yesterday, I’m back in the land of the microbrewery and happy to be here.  I have had better beer at my home brewpub, the Dry Dock Brewery in Aurora, Colorado, than in two European countries known for their beer.  The Dry Dock’s pilsner is better than Germany’s.  I have to say, Central German Pilsner disappointed me this trip.  There’s been consolidation and buy-outs to the point that the pilsners all taste the same, kind of bland, kind of like American mass-market pilsners have become.  In fact, the best pils I had was a Warsteiner, technically a Northern German Export, and that was on the plane ride home.  Dry Dock has the microbreweries beat hands-down.  I visited two in Germany.  Both were emulating Bavarian beers, offering a Helles, a Dunkles and in the case of Kloster Machern, a Hefeweizen.

Both were serving their helles “Keller-art,” meaning cloudy.  I enjoyed both, even though I’ll take Bill Eye’s recreation of Tivoli Helles over them any day.  Kloster Machern’s dunkel was exceptional, caramel-malty and smooth.  Honestly, I don’t remember “Zwolf Aposteln” dunkles.  On to Poland, where I did the walking tour.  Gdansk has an American-style microbrewery with five beers on tap, one of which was an American IPA.  I’ve had beers from another cooperative, Alebrowar, that were quite impressive.  The other two brew houses did the typical Bavarian thing, although one had a rather nice Bitter.  Bottom line, we have better beers than Europe.  I’m sure there are exceptional microbreweries there.  My memories of the brewery in Speyer are very good.  But here, I have three exceptional breweries within a few miles of me.  In Frankfurt I could find one.

I give Poland credit for the winner of the trip, the Baltic Porter I drank my first night there.  Delicious.  And I hope I’ve talked the Dry Dock’s staff into making one.

And I’m currently enjoying one of my own, a Blonde Ale bottled just before I left.  I’m happy with it, too.  It’s good to be home.

A Walking/Drinking Tour of Gdansk

My friend and fellow brewer Matt lives here in Gdansk.  Unfortunately the day before I flew here, he arrived in Frankfurt to spend the week.  But being the good host he is, he provided me a map to some of the best beer locations in town. Five locations made the cut, three of which brewed their own beers.

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First stop was Restaurancja Barbados/Brower Trojmiejski.  They were apparently the closest thing to an American brew house with five beers, a Hefeweizen, a Keller-style Helles, a Pils, an IPA and a Dunkel.  All were drinkable, the Hefeweizen, called Dominikanskie, the best of the lot.  Here’s the flight, as well as my Polish rye-flour soup:

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Next to two beer emporia.  Both had beers from all over Europe.  At the first I took the Alebrowar “King of Hop” IPA.  It was rather nice but missing a strong hop backbone, used a rather floral-citrusy hop rather than a strong American style for aroma.  But hey, it’s Poland and, having just left the land of the Reinheitsgebot and a hundred similar pilsners, it’s a refreshing change.  At the second beer emporium I had a locally brewed Brett Brown.  Nice, some muted Brett characteristics but a bit thin in the mouth, probably a result of bretanomyces fermenting the complex sugars out of a normal wort.  I had my dinner at the second brewery, barbequed pork ribs and a Bitter to wash it down.  Again, the hops were a bit strange but I was able to peg it as a bitter without being told what it was so not bad.  The final brewer was on one of the canals in the old city at the Hotel Gdansk.  Two beers on tap to match the classic oompah band outside, a helles and a dunkles.  The Dunkel had more Baltic character and was the far superior beer.

I enjoyed the tour, first of the old city and second of the beers.  Gdansk is a friendly town, full of bright young faces.  It’s touristy in the old city but the waitress at the final brew pub treated me to an experience I’ll not soon forget, the Polish version of Uber.  I’ll count this a really good day.

Baltic Porter on the Baltic

Just got into Poland this afternoon and had a chance to enjoy this:

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That, ladies and gentlemen, is a genuine Polish Baltic Porter.  Getting it was a comedy of errors:  The restaurant’s tap was broken so I couldn’t get it fresh.  Then the bottles were different temperatures.  My German traveling companion had no idea of the strength of the beer but both of us really liked it.  Specifics:  9.5% ABV.  I’m guessing from the mouthfeel the FG has to be pretty high.  It’s bittered enough that just a bit of malt sweetness remains and it has some hop flavor as well.  Some warmth from the high alcohol content.  Dark, dark brown, persistent tan head.  The flavor was caramel but not from malt,  suspect, but from kettle caramelzation.  If I were going to make this, I’d take first runnings, boil the living crap out of it, hop the hell out of it and let it age in a dark cellar with an old man and a coffin for about a year before serving it.  It is YUMMY!  Finally, escape from the Reinheitsgebot….