Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Beer Bucket List

I guess you could say this thought was inspired by Norman Miller's blog post. He gave one line, that made me think, "There are so many beer adventures that I want to do and things that I want to experience." This is true on so many levels.  Overall in my life, there are many adventures that I want to do and things that I want to experience. 

I have been blessed to have been able to attend some great (and fun) beer related events or places: the inaugural Baltimore Beer Week events, Max's Belgian Festival, Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Fest, a freezing cold Troeg's Splinter Black release, Taming of the Brews, attended many brewpubs (though no where near as many as my brother), had a beer at The Masters, started homebrewing, et cetera. I have been able to enjoy way more great beers than I can list.  Way too many styles to think about, way to many breweries to remember.

So this quick post might as well be my Beer Bucket List of things that I want to do or try:

Major release party, Dark Lord Day or the like
Visit Europe and drink Belgians and Germans from the source
Get to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver
Go on a SoCal beer trip, NorCal Beer trip and Portland beer trip
Take and pass the Cicerone test (would love to become a Master, but probably not going to happen)
Volunteer for a brewery at a beer festival (I want to see what the other side sees)
Help plan a beer fest charity fundraiser
Attend Philly Beer Week events
Sample some Russian River
Brew a tasty .5% beer
Brew a tasty 10+% beer
Brew All-Grain with the proper set up
Use "wild" yeast in a beer
Get the rest of the equipment for kegging (we have the corny kegs)
Win an award in a homebrew contest

What would you have on your list?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Session #54- Sours

This month's The Session is hosted by Jon at The Brew Site.  The topic: Sours.  Something I find close to my heart.

I’ve been gradually exploring Sour Beer and finding myself seeking out and trying various beers which fit into the “sour” realm (yes, I’m purposefully avoiding the word “style” here as it is entirely too loaded): beers inoculated with wild yeasts, soured with fruit (often in conjunction with those wild yeasts and barrel-aging), lactic acid beers like Berliner Weisse-influenced beers and the rare Gose, and so on. It’s a challenging area, both in acquiring a taste for soured beer and in brewing them—fortunately many brewers are being adventurous and branching out these days, giving us many more options.

So that’s our topic for August: Sour Beer. I’ll leave the implementation up to you, but here are some suggestions: seek out and review a sour beer of some kind; write about your experiences with brewing a sour beer; talk about your first sour beer experience; who’s brewing the better sours—Belgians or Americans (or somebody else)?; perhaps a contrary approach—what you don’t like about sour beers. Or if you have the perfect sour beer idea you want to write about, I can’t wait to read it!

For me, a non-drinker for the first 21 years 18 days of my life, crashing into the world of craft beer was fun.  I did not become used to the BMC light lagers, and could not stand them when I started drinking.  One piece of advice my brother gave me, a couple years before I started drinking, went something like this: "No matter what you are doing, do it because you like it.  There are people here (we were at a party) drinking Bud Light to get drunk, even though they hate it.  They would enjoy this so much more if they were drinking something they liked."  Now, college parties are going to be full of whatever is the cheapest thing available, but the "drink what you like" idea is what I base my beers off of.  My wife and I don't drink a lot of red wine, why? We don't like it (I will enjoy a Malbec with a good steak, but that is about it).

Fast forward 5-6 years from that party, and I was sitting in Max's Taphouse trying many different beers.  By this time, I had become a hophead, trying all beers of all styles trying to find what I liked and didn't like.  I saw a style on the list that I didn't ever have before; I asked for a Rodenbach Grand Cru.  BOOM!  I don't think I understood the flavors in my mouth, but still to this day my mouth waters thinking about Grand Cru.

Since that first sip, anything that says sour or wild on it, has gone in my glass.  From Gueuze to Orval to Flemish Red to Gose, the list goes on and on. Now I will go to bar, see one and order it.  Sometimes I will get a "warning" from the bartender that it might be too sour for me. I nod my head and take a sip.  Other times I will get a great surprise when walking into a brewpub and see Gose on tap (happened at a friend's rehearsal dinner at River House- delicious, refreshing Gose, soft on the sour and salt, but great on a hot day).

So finally, I think I found what I like. In it, I get a mouth puckering delight.