Happy Great Taste week!

Hoppy Monday everyone,

Yes, happy Great Taste of the Midwest week! The Great Taste is taking place next Saturday Aug. 9th at beautiful Olin-Turnville Park here in Madison and is quite simply a great craft beer festival!

In fact, no less than Larry Bell, founder of Bell’s Brewery, told me in 2006 that the Great Taste is his favorite beer festival in the country. I’m with Larry!

A starting point for my appreciation of the Great Taste is the fact that it is organized and put on by the Madison Homebrewers & Tasters Guild (disclaimer: I’m a member). MHTG has no paid staff so the Great Taste is organized and run entirely by volunteers! The level of organization required for pulling off such a great festival is quite high, and MHTG raises that bar every year by totally kicking ass, clear and simple.

This year we’re looking at over 160 breweries from across the Midwest that will be pouring over 1,000 beers, including offerings for the Real Ale Tent that itself could be a festival. Beer Christmas!

I’m a volunteer musician at the Great Taste this year (a pretty cushy gig) but next year plan on pouring beers for all of you at the Parched Eagle stall! It’s fun to think about the special releases we’ll do at 20 minutes after each hour. Rest assured we’ll have offerings for the Real Ale Tent, as well.

Links:

And, I haven’t even mentioned Great Taste Eve this coming Friday. GT Eve is becoming quite the city-wide event in its own right with craft beer bars, breweries, and brewpubs hosting breweries from out of town. Here’s a link to Isthmus beer writer Robin Shepard’s guide to GT Eve events:
http://www.isthmus.com/beer/article.php?article=43256

Cheers!
Jim

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Kölsch: a great summer beer (as well as for other seasons)

Hello all,

First: THANK YOU to all who contributed to our Indiegogo crowd funding campaign! With your help we’re getting closer to opening this fall.

Yes Kölsch, an elegant style of beer emanating from Cologne, Germany that is great for warm weather (and colder weather, for that matter)!

The namesake Parched Eagle Golden Ale, our lightest year-round beer, is a Kölsch. Crisp, refreshing, light-bodied, yet full-flavored in a subtle way.

Here’s what the German Beer Institute says about Kölsch:

“Kölsch is the local brew of the city of Cologne (“Köln” in German). It is one of the palest German beers made. It is Germany’s answer to the British pale ale. It shares a history with the copper-colored Altbier made in Düsseldorf, some 44 km down the Rhine from Cologne. Just as the British pale ale emerged from the British brown ale in the 19th century, when pale malt became readily available, so did the Kölsch separate itself from Altbier around the same time.”

In Cologne Kölsch is served in a cool-looking narrow/tall glass called a “Stange”. We might have to have those at the Parched Eagle!

What I like about the style is the delicate balance of flavors: fruity esters from Kölsch yeast coupled with subdued maltiness and German hop flavor and bitterness for balance. Thirst quenching and flavorful at the same time!

I recently brewed the pilot batch of the Parched Eagle Golden Ale and will have it on tap for a party later this month. Hopefully it will turn out as well as I think it will so the recipe will be dialed-in for production batches in a few months!

Prosit!
Jim

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Profoundly Hoppy (and I’m profoundly grateful)

Hoppy Saturday afternoon everyone,

OK this is a report-back on my last post about double dry-hopping the pilot batch of our flagship beer Hop-Bearer IPA, which I’m currently sipping (and smelling). I can report that double dry-hopping works in terms of adding depth of hop flavor and some aroma, adding to my perception of Hop-Bearer as being PROFOUNDLY hoppy. There’s a sense of hop flavor throughout the taste experience, while the aroma is almost bursting with mango-like citrus character from the copious amounts of Citra hops used for both late boil additions and double-dry hopping in secondary fermentation. I say almost bursting with Citra hop aroma because I actually expected a little more. That said, it’s really quite aromatic in a wonderful citrusy way. Moving forward with production batches of Hop-Bearer I’ll try double dry-hopping with both Citra and Amarillo (or maybe Simcoe, which I use for bittering for this recipe) and will add them at different temperatures to extract different oils.

While Hop-Bearer is certainly bitter, it’s really more about hop flavor and aroma, which I’m a big fan of. Hops are not just for bittering (to state the obvious)!

Meanwhile, I’m profoundly grateful for all of the contributions to our crowdfunding campaign so far! THANK YOU to everyone who has and will contribute. We’ve got a long ways to go to reach our goal and 26 days (plenty of time) to get there. Reaching our goal will represent a big step forwards in terms of hopefully being able to open the Parched Eagle this fall so your contributions are VERY important. Check out the campaign, including the cool perks we’re offering, at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/parched-eagle-brewpub-help-us-open-in-middleton-wi-this-fall#home

Cheers!
Jim

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The merits of double dry-hopping

What a great spring Saturday afternoon to write a blog post about DOUBLE dry-hopping, a hallmark of the Parched Eagle’s flagship beer Hop-Bearer IPA!

What’s dry-hopping, you ask? It’s the addition of hops a few days before a beer is kegged or bottled, after (primary) fermentation. Adding hops at this stage adds considerable hop aroma, which also affects how the beer tastes as much of what humans taste in beer actually comes from our sense of smell. More on that in a future blog post.

OK that’s single dry-hopping. Double dry-hopping is the addition of hops post fermentation on two different days (e.g. first addition a week before kegging, second addition four days before kegging).

What does this do? It adds a depth of complexity of hop aroma/flavor to a beer. Another way to put it is double dry-hopping adds an extra layer of hop aroma/flavor. There are options with this process e.g. using a different hop variety for the second addition to add even more complexity. Another option is after the first addition change the temperature of the beer slightly for the second addition to take advantage of the many different compounds in hops (e.g. essential oils, which volatilize at different temperatures).

A practical brewing reason to dry hop is to prevent the large accumulation of hops at the bottom of a conical fermenter to such an extent that hops at the very bottom are not fully infused with beer as the hops accumulating above them act as a sort of beer shield.

OK here’s an admission: I’ve never actually dry-hopped BUT I’m about to as I recently brewed the pilot batch of Hop-Bearer and will double dry hop it (with Citra hops) seven and four days before I keg it for a Parched Eagle investor relations party in late May. I’ll also do the second addition after the beer is chilled by about 7-10 degrees, hopefully adding even more hop complexity. I’m confident it will work as it just makes a lot of sense and my sources who advocate double dry-hopping are quite reputable. I’ll do another post on the results of dry-hopping the pilot batch of Hop-Bearer in a month or so.

Hop Heads of the world unite!

Cheers,

Jim

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The Parched Eagle approach to sour beers

Happy beautiful Sunday everyone!

What’s a sour beer, you ask? An ale fermented with wild yeast strains, most commonly Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and the holy grail of wild yeast: Brettanomyces.

Co-founder Tom and I are big fans of sour beers, and I’ve had pretty good success (luck?) brewing a couple of different sours on the homebrewing level. We intend on having a separate one barrel brewing system for sours that will be entirely separated from our main 3.5 barrel system. We need to do this to ensure that the wild yeast strains used for our sour beers do not infect the equipment used for all our other beers as while sours are a special world of wonderful beers, nonetheless the flavor characteristics (sour, tart, acidic, barnyard, horse blankety) imparted by wild yeast strains really don’t work for, say, Hop-Bearer IPA or Pegboy Pils.

The main sour ale we will offer is Brookie’s Sour Brown, my attempt at a Flanders Brown Ale (aka Oud Bruin). One of the best beers I’ve ever had is Liefman’s Goudenband, a wonderful blend of sweet & sour with rich toasted malt sweetness coupled with an elegant sour flavor in the finish. That beer is the inspiration for Brookie’s Sour Brown.

As wild yeast strains take a long time to ferment beer Belgian brewers usually let their sour ales age for upwards of two or three years and often blend old (two or three year old) batches with “young” (one year old) batches. We won’t really have the luxury of that much time for aging Brookie’s Sour Brown, rather I plan on aging it for around six months (and not blending it). In my experience using the Wyeast Lobs Roeselare Ale Blend that’s enough time for a nice/somewhat restrained sour character to develop. There’s a good chance we’ll use wooden barrels to age it in, as well.

Meanwhile for the past 19 months I’ve had a lambic, a pomegranate lambic no less, slowly fermenting away. A full yet smooth, dare I say it sublime sour character has slowly developed with this the old batch. Then in February I brewed the young batch to which I added a gallon of organic pomegranate juice last week. Next weekend I’m going to blend the two batches together with another infusion of pomegranate juice. I’m quite hopeful that POMEGLAMBIC will turn out to be quite a successful experiment! Pomeglambic will be offered at an upcoming Parched Eagle investor relations party. And who knows? Maybe a few years down the line it will be brewed on our one barrel sour system!

Op uw gezondheid!

Jim

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