Posts Tagged ‘pale ale’

Beer Obsessed on the road: Cambridge Brewing Co. in Cambridge, MA

Friday, July 16th, 2010

cambridge brewing sign

If you are in Boston, you need to get your brewpub hit by taking the T (Boston subway) over to Cambridge and making the quick walk to Cambridge Brewing Co.
Butted up against M.I.T., you get a younger but respectful crowd in there. On this Thursday it was quite crowded but once again, since I was solo, I was able to sneak a seat up at the bar. The first thing that caught me off guard was the beer tube. Not sure what they actually call it there but is a clear tube that holds 100oz of beer. You order it and you receive this tall tube at your table with a tap at the bottom. It clearly makes sense as there were several groups that were six plus people and I don’t think that sized group is unusual here.cambridge brewing pale ale
I wanted to cross the beer menu and I started with the Pale which was very good. I mean real good. Could have stuck with it the rest of the night. Amber was next and that was good too but the pale is still the stand out. With dinner, I had the IPA not bad but the p-a-l-e a-l-e was still on my mind. Dessert was a barrel aged porter that had Brett in it. That was a real sipper.  Interesting beer and would love to try it again in a few months to see how it evolves.
Food is standard pub fare and I went for the fish and chips, heavy on the vinegar to help work with the IPA.
Again, a very worthy pub to hit while in Boston.

cambridge brewing brewsystem
Earlier in the day during the Boston trip, I thought it appropriate to swing by Cheers. I caught a photo of the exterior, which was used for the TV show. There were a few groups there getting pics of themselves next to the sign so catching a good angle was tough (see my photo at bottom of this post). I took a look inside but there isn’t much there to go with the TV show that many love. Just some memoribilia and a very crowded bar with a lot of Sam Adams on tap.

Other than that, the family and I are off to family camp this weekend for our traditional outing. I am packing some Odonata Saison, Nostrodamus Begian Brown, and some Racer 5. Funny enough, the Safeway in the nearest town has a pretty good beer selection so I won’t be hurting.
Cheers. Oh and more shots below. Clicky any pic for a full size view.

cambridge brewing amber

cambridge brewing fish and chips
cheers sign

pic of the week: Lagunitas Pal Ale

Friday, October 30th, 2009

lagunitas pale aleLagunitas took their original dogtown pale ale and reformulated it into a very nice contemporary version. Meaning, more hops with less malt. Still well balanced but the hops are forward in aroma and taste and have great west coast citrus/fruity/floral-ness to them. The beer is also dry in the finish making the hops stand out more. I like to the call this one “IPA light” given the IPA characteristics but the ABV is fairly high on this at 6.4%. While it feels like you can session thorugh a few, be careful.
Highly recommended!

pic of the week: Sierra Nevada Estate Ale

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

sierra nevada estateThis beauty has a rich almost earthy malt taste that is distictive from other Sierra Nevada beers. It has a refined hop bitterness that lingers. I love this beer, not only for its great flavor but for the concept of growing all of your brewing ingredients on site. This also point to one of the tougher parts of this beer: the cost.
At 9.99 for 24 ounces, this beer is a one or two time affair. I hope that in the future, that it can come down to a more reasonable cost so that I can enjoy it more regularly. I do understand the extra overhead in producing a beer like this so I only hope that future batches will see a more streamlined production and recovery from any investment in this so that it eventually can save the brewery, and the customer, some money.
Highly Recommended.

Paying homage to the Sierra Nevada brewpub….and enjoying it

Monday, April 27th, 2009

sierra nevada brewing coSo during our last brewer interview tour, we went up to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and visited their brewpub. I had never been there and it was time to find out all of the great things I have been hearing about it. It was worth it. Here we go:
The brewpub itself is occupies a corner of what looks to be their main building. I don’t mean to make the pub sound small, the building is their “main” building that houses the brew systems and fermentation tanks located on the frontage of their property. Funny, if you look at google maps and survey the area while you are up there, you realize the Sierra bought their property at a time when it was probably the edge or outside of the town of Chico. Today, it is surrounded by the standard outlying and freeway access fare…there are a couple hotels and the typical chain type foods joints (applebees, etc) and all the big stores (home depot, target, etc). It looks like if Sierra want to expand further, they are either getting a different property or they are going up. Fortunately, it looks like they had great vision and everything they have today fits well on their large property, including some fairly large acreage of hops.
We checked into the Oxford Inn which is about a 10 minute walk from the brewpub, perfect location right on the other side of highway 99. After dropping off our stuff and downing a growler of an excellent rye beer from Blue Frog, we headed over to the pub. At 5:30 on a Friday (a beautiful night weather-wise, by the way…about 70 degrees) the pub was hopping and we had about a 20 minute wait for a table. We proceed to the bar and were overwhelmed to see about 16 of their beers on tap (wait….they don’t have that many bottled beers). The brewpub itself, I would call “large brewpub” in size. It is not huge, which Sierra Nevada could have easily done but they kept it as a pub atmosphere and size does have something to do with that. sierra nevada sampler trayOK back to those beers. Where to start? I love brown ales and they happened to have one so I ordered that. They also had a Brown Saison which Mike ordered. The brown was excellent and I stuck with it most of the night. Malty, balanced, and luscious…exactly what I expect from a brewery of Sierra’s caliber. The brown saison was very basically the brown but with a Belgian yeast. I’m sure there is more to it than that but it worked. Generally, I am not a fan of “throw Belgian yeast into a non-belgian beer” but this one is a winner and does what others don’t: it gelled, melded, coalesced well. While were enjoying this first round, our little coaster/buzzer thing start going off and we were led to our seats on the patio. Another round was ordered and I either got another brown or their bock which I loved as well. I’m pretty new to the bock style so one of the great things that can happen is finding an example of said style that really does the trick for you. I love this beer, very drinkable. Pilsner malt aroma, great body, and a nice hint of toast. Fortunately, they had six packs of this beer in their gift shop so we grabbed a couple the next morning. What other beers did they have? I suggest looking at the photo gallery since there is a great shot of the sampler tray with names and also a shot of the beer list. There was a kellerbier that I would have invested more time in if we were there for another night. Couple of weizen beers, a blonde, and more.
I was happy to finally understand and dispel one myth while I was up there. The going phrase I knew was “you gotta go to the brewpub because the Pale Ale is different up there”. The real story is that Sierra Nevada has different recipes for their draft pale ale and the bottled version. The nice thing about their pub is not only do they have the draft version (of course) but they had the bottled version on draft as well so you can do them side by side. Unfortunately I didn’t do a comparison since I was so enamored with their other beers that are not available anywhere else. Our server said , I believe, that the draft version is higher ABV but I could have it backwards. Anyway, if I was dying to try it, I could set up that side by side back at home.
sierra nevada fermentationThe food? Standard pub fare plus. I went for the plus and got the fillet mignon tips in fettuccini. The sauce was a light white sauce. Oh baby was it good. Ended up splattering a bunch of it on my new, white brewers association t-shirt. There were other shirts in my travel duffel so good to go.

So Sierra Nevada brewpub? Do it. Pay homage to America’s original craft brewery. I would recommend that if you are a beer lover, that you do two nights up there. You could take the 2pm tour the next day and hit the pub again the next night to finish out what you couldn’t the night before.
Oh and don’t forget to check out the photo gallery.

Auburn Alehouse:
We wanted to interview Brewmaster, Brian Ford but he had surgery earlier in the week and couldn’t make it. We managed to stop at his brewpub (he is also the founder) on the way to an interview later that day. The Alehouse is easy access from the freeway and would actually make a great place to stay as it looks to be in the “old town” area right south of interstate 80. We sampled a few of the beers and the nitro stout and his porter were our favorites. The porter was on the side of coffee, chocolate with good fullness (as opposed to clean, roasty porter). Food was good and we had a couple appetizers while we were there.
Would definitely like to spend more time at this pub in the future so we’ll get back to it one day but wanted to note that it looks like a good stop for a pint. I have a couple shots of the pub at the end of the photo gallery for this entry.

turns out Oskar Blues cans are out there

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
oskar blues cans

these beauties are local and waiting for you to pop their top!

Somtimes I get out of the loop on things. I guess it happens when you are a parent. The last thing I heard about Oskar Blues being on the west coast was from Bill Brand (RIP) a couple/few months back when he mentioned that they were now distributing to Sacramento County. Well I don’t have the news that says what changed since then and why  it is in Alameda County but I suppose it doesn’t matter. We have it. I guess the deal went out beyond Sacramento.
I received emails and a comment below that Oskar Blues cans are out there. Comment from Brian:
“just had an Oskar Blues Gordon Ale…good stuff and beer of the month selection at Plumb Jack in San Francisco.”
The same source told me that he has also seen them at Star Market in Oakland.

From an email that was sent to me:
“Also the liquor store closest to my house Lincoln Square liquors has recently changed management. He’s now selling Ol’ Chub and their pale ale. Which I bought for the super bowl and was fantastic.”
Lincoln Square I believe is located off of Highway 13 at Redwood Rd. ….on the east side of the freeway is the shopping area.

And then there was my experience listed in the entry right below. On top of that, I visited Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley (first time in a while) and they had all three flavors of Oskar Blues in the can. I purchased what I could.

My quick notes:
Dale’s Pale Ale – A bold pale ale with a hop and stong malt aroma. The malt didn’t carry into the taste or perhaps was overtaken by the assertive hop bitterness that carries thorugh into the aftertaste. Drinkable and great for hop heads.
Old Chub – My favorite so far. My first can was great and I enjoyed all of its malt bomb glory from aroma to aftertaste. My second can (on a later date), I caught a lot of fruity esters and thought I was drinking a Belgian for a second. Hmmmm. My third can Brought me back to Scotch ale land as I started to detect some soil/earthiness to the taste telling that yes this is a scotch ale. Really looking forward to a fourth can so that I can either reaffirm any of the above or come up with some new tastes…whatever, I will be trying it again.
Gordon – what can you say to a 8.7 ABV beer that is in the can? Hell yeah. I didn’t get a lot out of this beer aroma or taste-wise (my assumption was that there would be a lot given the ABV). To be honest, I had a cold and I needed a night cap. I look forward to trying this one again so that I can give it a fair review.

Overall, very happy to see more beers available in cans!

Some Chicago brewing brothers send beer to the west coast

Monday, January 19th, 2009
mighty brew neck label

Mighty Brew neck label

I saw photos of these homebrews through my friend Brian a little while ago. I have to tell you these guys are near and dear to my heart as not only do they love homebrew but they love image, broadcast, and web design.
Do you get as excited about adjustment layers masks as you do about mash temps? How about alpha acid levels and addEventListeners? or yeast starters and div class? wait one more….how about original gravity and motion tracking. Ahhh, now I’m there!
Much to our excitement, MightyBrew beers arrived to the west coast to much fanfare. After getting the text from Brian, I showed up at his door step with Nikon in hand. These guys are true to form and there deisgn work shows it. I think the best marriage between beer and design is the Evil Tween beer….a clear reference to Alesmith’s Evil Twin recipe that is all over the web and the act of tweening in Adobe Flash (note: Alesmith’s beer is actually called Evil Dead Red….Evil Twin is based on a recipe by Jamil Zainasheff). Nice work. If for some reason our family ends up in Chicago, the first resume I send out will going to them.

mighty brew labels

The range of Mighty Brew beers

Review? I’d love to but Brian has a newborn and that mixed up which beer we were trying with googoogaga-ing the baby. Interestingly, we noticed a phenol spiciness in the beers but the label does reference the addition of some spice. It would be great to sit down and do something a little more formal but I never seem to be capable of doing that these days while on the run….when you become a parent yourself, you start heavily multi-tasking everything in your life. We definitely had a favorite but I can’t remember if that was the Amber or the Evil Tween. I’m not sure if the Pale Ale was supposed to be that phenol or not. However, the bottom line is Mighty Brew needs to keep the brewing happening. In fact I would recommend that they brew at work. There is plenty of time to brew while stuff is rendering out and vice versa, there is time to tweak keyframes while you are mashing.


Back to back brews: robust porter and pale ale

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

dual fermentationIt is tough finding time to brew when you have a family. You brew when you can and that generally meant about once every six weeks. Well this week I got to brew like one of those “lifers” I am always reading about (or listening to) and I brewed twice in one week.  A robust porter on Wenesday and a pale ale on Saturday. Hit all my numbers with both batches and no whoopsies or mistakes to report on.

 temperature controlMy brew method right now is about 2/3′s of the recipe with grain and a couple pounds of DME to get up to my OG. I used 2 pounds of DME for the Pale and 3 for the Porter.  I’m on the cusp of brewing all-grain, but for now I have a system that works very well for me and is producing tasty beer. I am hitting all of my numbers spot on for mash temp, pre-boil OG, Post boil OG, and FG. Fermentation control is going well and both beers are sitting rock solid at 68 degrees. I have really concentrated over the past year on brewing process and good yeast health and management. Propagating yeast has become fairly automatic now. Propagate the night before, pitch the next evening after brewing, and come down in the morning and witness about 2 fingers of kreusen. I guess I have to say that despite having a great system, my next batch will probably be all-grain. I’m setting up to batch sparge ala the Denny Conn method. Time to go all-grain!

I’ll bottle the porter since I want this around for the holidays but I will keg half the pale and put the rest in bottles. The keg will easier to bring into work as it has been a pain dragging in a few bottles and then having to get selective about the group that tries it since you don’t have too much.

What’s on deck for this winter in terms of brewing? well, probably more american or english brown, Irish red, and probably more porter…maybe split out the ferment using both american and english yeast or maybe some oak.pale ale fermentation






some detail on my temp control setup

Speakeasy White Lightning hits store shelves

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Last month when I was at Speakeasy, I noticed a few pallets of the imperial wheat beer, White Lightning. Interesting and very cool since this used to be a tap beer only. Earlier this week, I saw six packs in Bevmo.

If you don’t know about Speakeasy beer then you should put them on your list. Their current bottled selections include: Big Daddy IPA, Prohibition Amber, Untouchable Pale Ale, Double Daddy DIPA, and Old Godfather Barleywine. All of these are excellent beers.

If you do know about Speakeasy then you may know of a few extra they have on tap at their brewery and select bars around the bay. There is Bootlegger Black (schwarzbier-ish), Hunters Point porter (damn fine), and White lightning. I spoke with Forest Gray, President of Speakeasy, and he said we may be seeing other new offerings in bottles soon! I asked him what made his Imperial Wheat stand out. He mentioned a sour mash process where they take out the mash and let it sit for 24 hours (I think I have that right). Works for me. Besides bringing out more beers in bottles, Forest mentioned other improvements being made around the brewery: new bottling line coming (probably a hint there…) and some new folks on staff.

If you haven’t tried White Lightning, I highly recommend going out and getting a six pack for yourself…and keep an eye out for new offerings from Speakeasy!