Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I'm reading: Beer Camp: Amateurs invade craft brewery

By: Jessica Bauer

Once a year, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. opens its doors for Beer Camp, a three-day brewing free-for-all where a select group of contestants develop the name, concept and recipe for a limited-edition ale.

This year’s 10 campers were chosen from more than 100 video entries submitted by beer fanatics across the country. Videos were judged on creativity and love of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Derek Hutzler, a senior Asian studies and business administration student at Chico State, was one of the select few given the opportunity to bring his ideas to life.

His entry video, influenced by the rotating camera scenes from television’s “That ’70s Show,” featured Hutzler acting in six different personas, one for each of the brewing company’s famous beers.

Hutzler, known online as “HopsNHops,” has been a home brewer for two years. He reviews beers and breweries on Twitter, Instagram and Untappd, a mobile application featuring critique and criticism of various breweries using social media.

Hutzler loves the experimentation and collaboration that comes with brewing beer, he said. He brews once or twice a month with his friends and has experimented with flavors such as pumpkin, vanilla and coffee.

“That’s what I really like about brewing as a hobby, the community feel,” he said. “It’s really strong.”
Read more from to find out more about the Beer Camp and the beer they brewed this year!

If you had the opportunity to assist in brewing a beer for ANY brewery that would actually be distributed, what brewery would you choose?! 


Stress-Free Session #3

Wandering the lovely beer aisle at Joe Canal's, I stumbled upon a few beers from a brewery out of New Zealand called 8 Wired Brewing Company. I had never tried anything from this brewery, nor had I really seen it anywhere. I inspected all three of the options and I decided to get ALL THREE!! I got their C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale, The Sultan Quad, and O For Awesome; tonight I'm trying C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale.

This beer poured from the bottle, into my Duvel goblet, a nice chocolatey brown color with about a 1 1/2 inch head that went down (see picture) but retained for the duration at the lessened size. When you smell it, it smells almost exactly like a cup of black coffee that has been sitting for about an hour and has gotten cold (think about it.) Basically, it's not an overwhelming aroma of coffee (ie- HOT coffee where the smell carries halfway across the house due to the steam) but if you really get a deep whiff, it is definitely coffee you're smelling!

Now the mouthfeel is definitely interesting. I say that because, with the coffee aroma and the coffee flavor in this brew, you almost forget it is not a stout OR a porter. It is a double brown with coffee, so the carbonation is a little shocking, though it is still not so carbonated to ruin the coffee flavor. I mean nobody likes coffee flavored soda do they? It has just the right amount of carbonation before it starts feeling "bubbly" in any way. It is smooth, a little thick, and finishes with a little bitter bite that stays on the tongue. The taste stays right in line with the mouthfeel. It tastes like slightly sweetened cold black coffee, blended with a really good brown ale.

I let my non-beer drinking mother "taste" (aka let it hit her lips and that's it) this beer in an attempt to gauge the coffee flavor from an unbiased standpoint. I watched for her "bitter beer face" which usually follows when she tries one of my beers, and there was NONE! She just looked slightly puzzled, and I soon realized that face was her trying to put words to flavors she has no words for. I'm sure everyone can relate to this feeling at one point or another. You know what you had was good, you know why YOU enjoyed it, but to put it into words, English is suddenly your second language. Bottom line, she didn't hate it, and she wanted to discuss what she had just tasted. Score!

So overall, I think I'm going to enjoy the other two 8 Wired beers that I have sitting in the fridge just waiting to meet the wonderful bottle opener. New Zealand, you seem to have your stuff together when it comes to beer! Who's coming to NZ with me for a brewcation?!

Have you ever tried any of 8 Wired Brewing Company beers?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What am I reading now: Beer list: Valentine’s Day brews can be sweet or sexy

So Valentine's Day is less than a WEEK away... have you gotten something for your significant other yet? If you are like most adult couples, you are probably now saying, "wow, it's already Valentine's Day?!" This article I just read, is really (not to be sexist) perfect for a female to get ideas for what to get her husband/boyfriend/valentine. Guys have it easy, get any female a box of chocolates and some flowers and you've done your job. Women on the other hand, have to think a little more about what is my man interested in, what does he like, what does he wear, etc.

So here is an article by Ronnie Crocker for the beer loving boyfriend I hope my female readers all have. I'd like to call it a list of beer candy! So here we go, read on to find out just what the heck to get your man for Valentine's Day here!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stress-Free Session #2

So you may be saying, who needs to de-stress on a Friday night? Well... when your only day to sleep in is Sunday, you still need some "me time" on a Friday night. Tonight, we're drinking The Shed Brewery, Mountain Ale. The bottle labels this as a "rugged brown ale", but I have seen it called an American Strong Ale as well as an Old Ale. As of February 2013 has it rated as an 87 based off 61 ratings.

This poured from the bottle, dark brown with an off white head. There really wasn't too much of a smell coming off this brew which made me nervous. Keep in mind, this is a beer I had never seen or heard anything about before, so it is reasonable that a lack of aroma left me unsure.

The first taste...I was VERY pleasantly surprised at first sip! This first sip left me with some very high hopes for this beer. It had a simple, smooth and warm, mildly carbonated mouthfeel. Nothing out of the ordinary but not bad at all. In terms of taste, I was very excited when I initially tasted this beer. However, a common downfall of many "decent" beers, as they warm they fall flat. Literally AND figuratively. This definitely fell into that category. I felt that every sip I took was less impressive than the last.

Overall, I'd definitely check this out if you see it. It is not something that is going to knock your socks off but it's worth trying. Granted if you are from an area where The Shed is as common as seeing Flying Fish for a New Jersey native, then maybe skip the Mountain Ale. Everyone else though, give it a shot... Worst case scenario, it makes you appreciate how AMAZING some of the craft beer masterpieces that we all love are!

What is your favorite, "do-no-wrong", brewery?

What I'm reading: "On Tap: 8 not-so-craft beers"

By: Chris Morris

The rules of craft beer seem to always be changing. What counts as craft and what doesn't? Some say it depends on this, some say it depends on that, and others say who cares, so long as it tastes good.
One question I get every now and then is this: does Sam Adams (a brand of Boston Beer) still count as craft, or has it gotten too big? According to the Brewers Association (BA), it's still craft. The production limit for craft, according to the BA, used to be set at 2 million barrels a year. But when Boston Beer surpassed this limit, the BA raised the limit to 6 million barrels.

So what beers have fooled you into thinking they are "craft beers?" Find out here!

Which one of the 8 on this list was the most (or least) shocking to you?! 
-For me, it's not shocking, because I knew already (before reading the article,) but Goose Island was an upsetting one on the list for me!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cellar Log

Pretty much every Saturday night, my boyfriend Jeff, will look at me and ask, "want to take out our cellar?" This results in bringing our 50+ (and counting) bottles up from the basement so Jeff can arrange the bottles into what I have deemed their "team photo." If you've ever played an organized team sport growing up, just look at this picture and tell me you don't understand the connection. 

So this is the cellar as of this past Saturday (Feb. 2, 2013) and there are already a few more bottles to be added. Next time I update I will try to provide a list of everything that is in the cellar since you may not be able to tell from the photo (especially as the bottle count grows.) There definitely won't be an update THIS Saturday since the boy will be in Virginia (it's a bit too much for me to do alone) but keep your eye out and maybe by the 16th there will be another update! 

See any of your favorites in here?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stress-Free Sessions

Well, well, well... It sure has been a while! Unfortunately, I let this blog get away from me for far too long. I am FINALLY in my last semester of my senior year at Kean University, and will be officially done with my undergraduate degree in May. During this semester my time to myself will be very limited. However, I am not complaining!
I was "lucky" enough this semester, my final semester, to end up with a wonderfully hectic class schedule that includes not only the dreaded Friday morning class, but a Saturday morning class as well. Aside from this wonderful schedule, I now have a new waitressing job at Gusto Grill. I couldn't be happier here...amazing people, fantastic food, and above all they have 20 CRAFT beers on tap that are always changing, 22 bottles, and even 4 cans! Taking up the rest of my time- my new internship at Purzue. As I mentioned previously, I am not complaining at all! I am so glad I decided to take on one more internship before I graduate. After a little over a week, I know this will be a life changing internship with a great new company.
Needless to say, I am now appreciating every hour (or even half hour) here and there which I can get to myself. So what do you think Brewsaic herself does during these moments of rest?

I am taking this time to keep up with my goal of trying as many different craft beers as possible (Mom always told me it's good to have goals!) Sure, sometimes I will be tasting these beers while studying, reading, or writing a paper, but ya gotta make the best of every situation right?! 

My first Stress-Free Session is Saint Petersburg, Imperial Russian Stout. This is from a brewery from the UK called Thornbridge Brewery. This beer poured a DARK brown, some would probably even call it black. It had about a one finger head when it was poured from the bottle and went down to about a 1 cm head (maybe a little less) within the first few minutes. This 1 cm head remained there for the duration and had some really nice lacing.
The aroma was very mild, I honestly didn't get much of anything on the nose. The very mild smell I did get was a light coffee, and a slightly surprising bit of a black licorice aroma that did not translate into the taste (which was a good thing for me!) Upon the first sip you definitely get some chocolate notes right up front, followed by a smokey coffee flavor. These flavors are matched very nicely by the mouthfeel on this low abv (7.7%) Russian Imperial Stout. This beer is very smooth and mellow with a mild bite at the end. It has a nice warming effect that is not too overwhelming; it's the cherry on top of this session-able RIS.
Overall, I’m very glad I stumbled upon this beer at none other than, Joe Canal’s in Woodbridge. It was the perfect ending to my least stressful day of the week, Tuesday. It wasn't necessarily mind blowing; if it was one of my more stressful days, I think I'd need something with a bit more of a punch of some sort! However, it is a beer with all the flavor of an imperial stout but almost half the alcohol content. So, there is the added bonus that you can still try another great brew by Thornbridge if you’d like. All things considered, it’s a great beer to kick back with at the end of the day.

What’s your go to beverage of choice to relax with?