Monday, July 18, 2011

Hoppyweizen Tasting

I brewed this hefeweizen/IPA hybrid in early June and finally got around to a proper tasting. The brew day for this beer was pretty rough (missed mash temp, low efficiency, off target on volume, ran out of DME to adjust gravity), but, all things considered, this beer turned out to be pretty decent.

Served at about 45 degrees in a Jolly Pumpkin tulip glass.

Appearance: Thin, loose white head falls quickly. Surprisingly poor head retention and lacing for a beer with 60 percent malted wheat and a pretty hefty amount of hops. Hazy brown with a muddy golden color when held to light. Not an attractive beer. Might have looked better in a proper weizen glass. Hopefully it tastes better than it looks.

Aroma: Bold fruity hop aroma with some banana from the hefeweizen yeast. Lots of grapefruit and lemon. None of the other classic yeast derived aromas like clove or vanilla came through. Just fresh, citrusy hops with a side of banana.

Flavor: Sweet malt backbone and assertive hop flavor mirroring the aroma. Citrus hop flavor takes the lead with banana in the background. Balance leans toward sweet but there is a lingering hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Full and creamy mouthfeel. Medium to high carbonation does a good job of bringing out the hop flavor and aroma. Could use a bit more carbonation, but ~3.00 volumes of CO2 is about as high as I'm willing to go with standard 12 oz bottles.

Overall: Aside from the appearance this is a pretty good beer. A wheat beer without a big pillowy head is just plain wrong to me. I've noticed head retention problems in several of my beers now. Time to start troubleshooting. I would have liked a more varied aroma and flavor (some clove and vanilla would have been nice). Pretty drinkable. Not the first beer I would reach for on a hot summer day, but certainly not the last. The appearance was really off putting for me, though. Next time I'll ditch the CaraMunich and dial down the hops a bit.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Beer Dinner

Last summer I hosted a beer dinner for a few friends and I enjoyed doing it so much I decided to make it an annual event. Last year's dinner featured all homebrewed beers, but this year I used commercial beers because I didn't have enough time to brew prior to the dinner. With so many world class beers available, it's almost too easy to have a great dinner. I just wish I could eat like this everyday.

The idea of the dinner was to feature Belgian-style beers produced by American breweries. To ensure a bit more variety I decided that I wouldn't feature any brewery more than once. Even though the beers were pretty adventurous, I had to keep the food pretty simple because I'm no expert in the kitchen. Summer cooking is perfectly suited for the novice cook, who doesn't know how to grill some steak and vegetables?

Appetizer – French Fries with Aioli
with Fleur from Goose Island Brewing Company

Salad – Arugala Endive Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette
with Calabaza Blanca from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Entree – Smoked Bacon Steak Kebabs with Wild Rice
with Abbey Ale from Brewery Ommegang

Cheese – Taleggio and Framboise Soaked Bellavitano cheeses
with Saison Rue from The Bruery
and La Folie from New Belgium Brewing Company

Intermission – Lemon Zest Sorbet

Dessert – Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce
with Raspberry Tart from New Glarus Brewing Company

I think the cheesecake and Raspberry Tart was the clear favorite of the night. My favorite part about that pairing was how similar the cheesecake and Raspberry Tart were, and how well they complimented each other. Both are sweet and tart (the cheesecake more sweet, and the beer more tart) and the flavor of the raspberry sauce with the beer was just perfect.

The rest of the pairings were good. I was surprised with how well the french fries and aioli worked with the Fleur. I was also a little disappointed with the Abbey Ale and kebabs. For me, the spiciness of the kebabs clashed with the dark fruit flavors from the beer. I still enjoyed it, but next time I would just use a more moderate marinade on the steak (or buy better beef so I don't have to marinade it). However, the Abbey Ale tasted great with the grilled vegetables and wild rice.

I really enjoy hosting these dinners. Having people try beers like La Folie for the first time and liking them is really cool to see. It's hard to go wrong with good food, good beer, and good company. I'm already looking forward to next year's dinner.