Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jack Daniel Plainview's Vanilla Porter Milkshake...

Ok, so you would have to have seen There Will Be Blood to understand why we called our last homebrew such a mouthful of a name. Well, it really isn't a homebrew, we created it at Barleycorn's Craftbrew On Premises facility. For all you Massachusetts locals, Barleycorn's is in Natick and you really have to make a visit--Dan Eng has a great facility and really knows his stuff. I go with my buddies from work...for those who don't homebrew, it is a great night out and perfect for a birthday or special occasion. You brew the beer there, leave it to ferment, and then come back to bottle it...without having to worry about cleaning up the mess. This is the seventh beer we created at Barleycorn's and they just seem to be getting better and better each time.

Let me explain the name. Daniel Plainview, a cut throat oil man, is the main character in the film and he tells another character that he "drinks his milkshake," that is he steals the oil on his property with a well adjacent to his land. I think the rest of the name is pretty self explanatory.

We wanted to make an imperial porter with oak and vanilla notes. We were inspired by Daryl, one of Dan's assistants, who let us taste his version of a juiced-up porter during our last bottling. I admit we made several shortcuts in creating it, but the end result was really very good. Rather than purchasing an oak barrel, we bought a bag of Jack Daniels Oak BBQ chips (actual JD barrels chopped up into pieces). We took several handfuls of the chips and popped them into a tupperware container and marinated them in about 8 shots of Jack Daniels for about 2 weeks. I shook up the container every night to really get the chips saturated all over. I then purchased a bottle of Trader Joes Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract and put that in with the JD and the chips for an additional week. We added lots of malt extract and a couple of pounds of pure cane sugar to give the yeast a little extra something to munch on. We added the saturated oak chips during the last couple of weeks of a five week fermentation to let the flavors infuse into the beer.

In the end, we ended up with a yield of twelve 22oz bombers (the name of my fantasy baseball team by the way) at a cost of about $2.90 per bottle. Not bad considering the cost of beer these days and that this one weighed in at a robust 8.0% abv. This beer pours the color of oil with a massive head and has pleasant whiskey, oak, and vanilla notes and a silky smooth mouthfeel. It is excessively drinkable for the alcohol level and works out well as a slow sipper throughout the night.

"I want the beer...I will not backslide."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A whole lot of nonsense...

Ok, I have held back as long as I could. These Coors Light ads are killing me so I want some good answers for what all or one of these inane phrases mean. I know you can come up with some funny responses.

"Tastes as cold as the Rockies"
"The World's Most Refreshing Beer"
"Cold. Down. Easy."

And what is the deal with those absolutely ridiculous labels that turn blue when they are the right temperature. Are you kidding me...what are we 4 years old...are these colorforms, where are the crayons? Does this gimmick actually sell beer?

Ok, I am done now--I feel a little bit better getting that off my chest.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What is your favorite local beer...

What is your favorite local beer? I am talking about something that is made pretty close to where you live that you drink on a regular basis. No need to wax poetic on it (but feel free to do so if you'd like).

I absolutely love Smuttynose IPA and Ipswich IPA. Post a quick comment and share your favorites.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Nothing better than real ale...

There is just about nothing better than a great pint of real ale. Pair that up with some good friends, Redbones pulled pork, and an Anna's burrito as a nightcap and you have the recipe for a fantastic Wednesday night. Yes a Wednesday night--when you love good beer you make these kinds of sacrifices!

I am describing my first visit to the New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX), sponsored by the Cask-Conditioned Ale Support Campaign (CASC)--that is a pintful of acronyms. It really is kind of ridiculous that it is my first visit to this annual beer festival.

The night certainly started off on the wrong foot. We queued up in the will call line at 6:00pm as advised on the NERAX website. We were the lucky ones, the line outside for those without tickets went around the block. Unfortunately we were not let into the event until around 6:40pm or so. As one of my friends said, "we are getting too old to stand around in lines like this," especially on a Wednesday night.

Although the delay was frustrating it was well worth the wait--plus you have to cut the folks at CASC some slack, it is an all volunteer organization that does a fantastic job advocating and promoting real ale. Once inside I was impressed with the operation--virtually no lines and no waiting and I was glad to see that the smallish space (Dilboy Post in Davis Square, Somerville) held the presumably capacity crowd very well--no pretensions here, this is your typical VFW/Elks/Knights of Columbus type of room.

The beer was fantastic. For starters, when you know you can get Fullers London Porter, London Pride, and 1845 on cask, you are in for a great night. They spread 80 different firkins over the four day festival (they publish a list of most of the breweries on their website, but you don't know what you are going to get each night until you show up). While I was happy with the selection, I am guessing that Wednesday night might have been the weakest of the four--I know I would have reserved the best stuff for Friday night. It was a 50/50 split of American and UK brews (including beers from England, Scotland, and Wales). The Allagash Dubbel and Allagash Black were two of the American highlights.

Bottom line, I will certainly be attending the festival next year, perhaps I will try the marathon Saturday session from 12:00-7:00pm. I hope to see you at next year's NERAX.