First Brewclub Meeting April 4

By Stella • March 27, 2013

Beer Church will be meeting for the very first time at 7:00 pm on April 4, 2013! Join us at Surf Brewery in Ventura for a cold pint and new friends. Feel free to redistribute the flyer above, and don’t forget to RSVP here in the comments or on our Facebook page so we can have enough seats in the chapel . . . er . . . bar.

>>RSVP and become one of our Founding Fermenters<<

New Camarillo Brew Club!

By Stella • March 17, 2013

Do you like to homebrew? Do you like drinking homebrew? Are you interested in learning? My spouse and I have just relocated from up north and were saddened to find that there isn’t an active homebrew club in our area, so we’re starting our own! People who love beer and music are an extra plus. We’re envisioning meetings that involve sharing your latest creation, discussion of brewing techniques, and field trips to the many awesome breweries in California and beyond.

To get involved:

Leave a comment here

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Stay tuned, kids! More news soon!

Squatters SLC Airport

By Stella • October 29, 2012

Utah used to be a horrifyingly dry state. The laws are still fairly puritanical, but good beer can still be found. Here’s the Beer Church review of the ales available at Squatters Brewpub in the Salt Lake City Airport.

Squatters is well worth a stop. In addition to very tasty food — especially considering that you’re in an airport — there are cocktails with names like “Stumbling Missionary” and “Family Home Evening” which poke fun at the state’s Mormon-dominated culture. Best for sampler sippers like yours truly, a six beer sampler is only five bucks. Again — you’re in an airport. This is a good deal at any brewpub, and the generous pours for such a low price are well worth the money.

Provo Girl Pilsner surprised me for being a pilsner with flavor. It was incredibly refreshing served ice cold, and as full-bodied and blonde as the girl on the label.

Chasing Tail Golden Ale was a bit of a letdown. It had a flavor that I’d call mellow if I was feeling generous but it was really just uninteresting. This is a shame, as Squatters shelled out the cash for imported English barley and hops for the recipe instead of making a weak beer with cheaper local ingredients. This ale does sport a nice citrusy flavor up front, but missing character in the mid-taste and finish leave you feeling as though you chased some tail but came up empty handed.

American Wheat Hefeweizen was the kind of wheat beer I really enjoy – nice and cloudy. Don’t miss this one if you enjoy non-barley ales, and don’t forget a slice of lemon. This ale has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel, good carbonation, and is extremely refreshing.

Full Suspension Pale Ale was my favorite ale that we tried on this pilgrimage. The beer gods smiled on my taste buds by blessing me with this ale’s strong citrusy aroma, rich but not overwhelming flavor and a clean, astringent finish that washed away my many sins involving party fouls.

Organic Amber Ale was my husband’s favorite beer in the sampler set. Very malty for an amber ale, it retained a pleasantly roasty aroma without veering over into dark beer territory.

Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout was a perfect gentleman. The aroma is chocolaty with hints of roasted coffee. The oatmeal flavor is very light, but not unpleasantly so, providing light creamy body that moves on to a toasty, burnt chocolaty finish.

Polygamy Porter is a beer I’d heard of before, but I think the over-the-top raves I’d heard had more to do with the beer’s hilarious label than its actual flavor. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a very decent porter. This ale has a bit of a toasty smell, but not the rich aroma I’d expect from a porter that bills itself as the sort of beer where one simply isn’t enough.

Vote for Beer

By Stella • October 26, 2012

In keeping with President Obama’s motto of “Forward” we here at Beer Church have decided to do our patriotic duty and look for ways to improve the recently released recipe for the White House’s homebrew. There are several different recipes, all of which look very promising. However, they are formulated for a beginning level brewer. This is the beer that the POTUS drinks with Medal of Honor recipients. Nothing — and I do mean nothing — is too good for them, so I want to do my bit to help. This post will help you create an all-grain version of the existing recipe.

The White House showed their brewing setup and process with this video:

Looks like they are really on the right track! Here’s my response. In addition to translating the generic extract ingredients into a recipe hardcore homebrewers can get excited about, I’ve also noted a few points of technique that can help the White House staff in their quest for the perfect ale.

A few more notes:

  • The White House ales are not actually beers; they are braggots. That’s B-r-a-g-g-o-t, as in an ale brewed with a mixture of malt and honey, not B-r-a-g-g-a-r-t, as in somebody who spouts off obscure trivia about beer.
  • Additives like gypsum should not be included by default. If you have good local water, you shouldn’t need to alter the chemical composition of your beer. I’m lucky to have spectacular California water, which makes great beer. If you want to become a diehard, consider getting a kit that can do a chemical analysis of your tap water so that you can find out if anything needs to be added or removed for ideal fermentation.
  • They are so super lucky to have that nice clean, dry, stable temperature cupboard off the kitchen. That will make for a fantastically smooth fermentation.
  • I don’t think racking the beer after 3-4 days is necessary. Racking into secondary is a giant pain, produces no discernible improvement in quality, creates a window of opportunity for contamination, and means you have to wash twice as many carboys. No thanks.
  • The White House video said that they steep their grains at 170 degrees. That is WAY too hot! Don’t ever exceed 160. 150-155 is more ideal, and the grain bag should never be dunked vigorously.
  • It’s a crime to boil honey! In this case, a federal crime! With such a fresh source of honey, the White House ales can really shine if they add honey at the last possible moment to avoid boiling out unique and subtle flavors.

Now that I’ve stood on my soapbox, I’m ready to give you the recipe. I’ve included links to the items from my local brewshop if you want to get exactly the same ingredients.

White House Honey Ale – the Second Term

Grains:

Mash grain at 155 degrees F for 45 minutes. Sparge at 155 degrees. Bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 ounces Kent Goldings. Add 2 teaspoons gypsum if necessary.

45 minutes later add 1/2 ounce Fuggles. Boil for five more minutes then remove from heat and chill. Add the wort to a 5 gallon carboy and bring up to not-quite-full volume with water.

Wake up one vial of London Ale Yeast with a little warm water mixed with 1 pound of high-quality wildflower honey. A locally sourced honey would be in keeping with the spirit of this recipe, as the White House beehives produced the honey for their version. Pitch the honey and yeast mixture into the wort after the yeast is visibly working. Seal up the carboy with an airlock containing vodka or water with a few drops of an iodophor solution.

Ferment for three to six weeks at 70 degrees. Do not rack for secondary fermentation. If you are going to bottle the beer, use 3/4 cup of corn sugar for priming, or for a more pronounced honey flavor, use 1/2 cup of the same type of honey you used in the recipe. For kegging, do not add priming sugar.

Holy Tweets! 2012-09-24

By Stella • September 24, 2012

Isaac’s First Homebrew

By Stella • September 19, 2012

The following is a guest post reprinted from A Moment to Think. Congrats to a newly minted brewer! Welcome to the happy family.

Reflecting on my first homebrew

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally cracked open my first bottle of hombrew. What a great experience.

The Beer

The first beer I brewed was an American Brown Ale. I was a little skeptical because I’m not very into American hops, but I’ve had some in the style I’ve liked so I decided to give it a shot. The final product is a little unbalanced when first opened — it starts surprisingly sweet (malty) and then morphs decisively into a (not too) bitter hop taste. After it sits a little, though, this juxtaposition mellows and the flavors blend together better. It’s not perfect, but it’s tasty and a damn fine feeling of accomplishment.

The Process

I’ve been thinking about learning to brew for some time now. I bought books, I read online, I looked at the starter kits. I felt like I needed to know before I started, but then one day I had enough and just bought a starter kit and some of the necessary supplies and jumped in. If you’ve followed my stories for sometime, you’ll know that this is how I tackle things I feel are a challenge, like hockey. No matter how much you prepare, you’re going to make mistakes, so after a certain point of preparation and thinking about something, I need to just do it, consequences be damned.

The Partnership

In this endeavor, I was not alone. I think I could have brewed the first batch by myself, but I had one of my best pals by my side. He had been thinking about brewing for a while, but he’s a big fan of being very prepared and wanted to make sure everything was right. With brewing, things like temperature are really important and to do this just right, you need a decent amount of space and, depending, some specific equipment. I didn’t care, just throw the beer in my closet and I’ll do my best. One of the best feelings of this brewing experience has been the additional bonding time with a great friend — and knowing there is more to come.

The Lessons

- Just do it. Seriously. If you want to try something, do your research, but don’t let anything stop you from trying. I was totally prepared for my first batch of beer to be terrible and that would have been just fine, because I enjoyed the hell out of the process. The brewing itself, learning all the steps, talking with my friend, all of that. The fact that it’s pretty tasty is just a satisfying bonus.

- I am surprisingly patient. Beer can take a long time. I thought I’d go crazy waiting to crack open the first bottle from the moment the first pot of water started to boil, but somehow I didn’t really start getting crazy until I put the first bottles in the fridge a couple of days ago. I don’t know where that came from.

- Accomplishment. It feels really good to get shit done. It also feels really good to learn a new skill. I know this, but it’s always eye opening to do it again. Why is that?

What’s next

Sorry wallet, this hobby is here to stay. I already have my second batch, a Saison, fermenting away. We didn’t get a chance to brew again this weekend, but I plan on getting a pipeline started so I always have new beers coming. Even if I don’t move up from brewing small batches in bottles, I’m in love with my new hobby.

Then again, how hard is it to love beer?

Pilgrimage to the 3rd Annual Bay Area Brew Festival

By Boriss • March 4, 2012

The sky was clear and blue as pilgrims came from far and near to worship at the 3rd Annual Bay Area Brew Festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco. 61 breweries, mainly from the west coast, came to offer their holy liquid sacraments to the faithful.

With a small taster mug, I soberly began my journey away from sobriety. Many of the beers were surprising stars. San Francisco’s own Triple Voodoo Brewing truly had the hop gods smiling with their worthy offering, the well-balanced and deliciously hoppy X Knee Deep Collaboration White IPA.  Others stars were Santa Cruz’s Uncommon Brewers‘ Siamese Twin Ale, with a dark and fruity start and a lemongrass and lime citrusy finish.  But perhaps the champion was Rogue Ales‘ Hazelnut Brown Nectar: a nutty, smooth, caramelly toffee ABV that will take you back to Beer Christmases past.

While many of the beers were excellent, I must note that the event overall lacked an air of reverence.  Many of my fellow worshippers were distinctly of the “bro” sect.  While the Beer Church does not judge, I couldn’t help but notice the differences in our denominations.  Unlike more mainstream beer church doctrine, the bros prefer gulping rather than sipping their holy rites, often while lamenting that the sampler mugs were too small or lacked apparatus to be worn upon the head.

My Brew Festival report card:

Abita Brewing Co.

  • Jockamo IPA: C-
  • Mardi Gras Bock: A-

Elevation 66 Brewing Company

  • Caber Tosser Scotch: B

Faultline Brewing Company

  • Belgian Blonde: B+
  • Pale Ale: C

Hoppy Brewing Co.

  • Hoppy Face Amber Ale: B

Kingfisher

  • Premium Lager: B
  • Red: B-

Lagunitas Brewing Company

  • Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale: B
  • Gnarly Wine: B+

Lost Coast Brewery

  • Downtown Brown English Brown Ale: A-

Marin Brewing Company

  • Raspberry Trail Ale: A-
  • Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale: C

Moksha Beer

  • Craft Amber Lager: C+

Ninkasi Brewing Company

  • Total Domination IPA: A-
  • Renewale 2012 Porter: B

Ommegang

  • Belgian-style Pale Ale: A-

Rogue Ales

  • Dead Guy Ale: C
  • Hazelnut Brown Nectar: A+

Santa Cruz Ale Works

  • Cruz Control Red Ale: C+
  • Hefeweizen: C

Shipyard Brewing Company

  • Applehead American Pale Wheat Ale: B+
  • Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale: B+

Speakeasy Ales and Lagers

  • Scarface Imperial Stout: A

Steelhead Brewing Company

  • Extra Pale Ale APA: C
  • Jamaica Red Ale: C

Triple Voodoo Brewing

  • Inception Belgian Style Ale: A
  • X Knee Deep White IPA: A

Uncommon Brewers

  • Baltic Porter: A
  • Siamese Twin Ale: A

Koko Brown

By Mossop • September 22, 2011

From: Kona Brewing Co.

This is one of two coconut beers coming out of Hawaii, the other being Maui Brewing’s CoCoNut PorTer.

This ale has strong malty aroma and flavor coming from a rich blend of Premium 2-Row, Victory, Carapilis, Munich, and Chocolate malts. The coconut flavor is delicate but noticeable all the way through. Smooth and great to drink if you don’t want a kick in the teeth from adjunct flavoring.

Big Wave Golden Ale

By Mossop • September 22, 2011

From: Kona Brewing Co.

Light aroma with no particular smell. Remarkable amount of body and very full citrusy flavour. Easy on the bubbles. Nice crisp tart finish. Very drinkable. Smooth and mild. Could benefit from some more aroma, especially given that when this beer is drunk in Hawaii there are a lot of gorgeous aromas to compete with.

Duke’s Blonde

By Mossop • September 22, 2011

From: Kona Brewing Co.

Next to no aroma and that follows through in the taste. A very faint citrus flavour but other than that just fizzy water.

This beer is offered only on tap at Kona Brewing Company’s locations in Hawaii.