Carboy

My homebrewing misadventures

2018 Beer in Review

Quality over quantity.

Compared to years past, 2018 was a relatively mild brewing year for me. Over the past few years, I've become moderately obsessed with running. And I've found that the more I run, the less time I have for brewing (and drinking) beer.

Still, I brewed five times in 2018, focusing on lower ABV, more sessionable beers, the kind of beers I want to have three or four of during a spring BBQ or a fall Oktoberfest party. I brought back one tried and true recipe in the Kölsch, while experimenting with more new styles, and nary an IPA in the bunch. The real highlight was the Festbier, a recipe I cribbed from Craft Beer & Brewing magazine. I'll definitely dogear that one to revisit again next summer.

Near the end of the year, there was one small hiccup. When I got a new phone, I learned that my favorite brewing app, which I'd been using for probably five years, went out of business. It disappeared from my phone, along with all of my collected brewing data and recipes. It's in instances like these that you realize how much we rely on our devices, entrusting our hardwon knowledge with an app that could easily go kaput without warning. Thankfully, this blog is a good backup for collecting all my old recipes, and if it stops working, I'll only have myself to blame.

As I assess the year that's ending, I'm setting goals for the year ahead. I hope to brew four to six batches in 2019 and continue to try to make new, drinkable styles that are often too hard to find in a craft beer monopolized by mediocre IPAs. One of the first things I'm going to do is look to find a new brew-day app, right after I enjoy one last homebrewed pint to see out the year.

December, 2017 - Phat Tyre

4.8% ABV, 38.3 IBU

 

Tasting notes: This aged really nicely. At six months old it was even better than when I tapped it. Hearty, with a thick creamy head. A bit bready, but also light and drinkable. Probably better on a cool fall or spring day but very sessionable even at the height of summer. A nice, substantial brown ale and a bit of a pleasant surprise.

  • Look: 4.5 of 5
  • Aroma: 4 of 5
  • Taste: 4.5 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 5 of 5
  • Overall: 4.5 of 5

 

February - Irish Blonde Ale

4.7% ABV, 34.2 IBU

 

Tasting notes: Light, crisp, sweet blonde ale with a nice creamy nitro hed. A strange hybrid of a Belgian and Irish ale, but very drinkable.

  • Look: 4.5 of 5
  • Aroma: 3 of 5
  • Taste: 4.25 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 5 of 5
  • Overall: 4.25 of 5

 

March - Bloodthirsty Blood Orange Saison

4.3% ABV, 28.6 IBU

 

Tasting notes: Dry, drinkable. A hint of blood orange without being over powering or syrupy or cloying. Good sparkling head. Totally decent spring beer.

  • Look: 4 of 5
  • Aroma: 4 of 5
  • Taste: 4.25 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4 of 5
  • Overall: 4.25 of 5

 

Spring - Kölsch

5.6% ABV, 35.6 IBU

 

Tasting notes: Sweet, bready, with a hint of fruit (strawberry almost?) Clear, crisp. Good spring and fall beer. Delicious.

  • Look: 4 of 5
  • Aroma: 3.5 of 5
  • Taste: 4 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4 of 5
  • Overall: 4 of 5

 

July - Festbier

6% ABV, 31 IBU

 

Tasting notes: A light, Hofbrau-style Festbier. Golden, clear, crisp. Dangerously light tasting. A new favorite for the season.

  • Look: 4.5 of 5
  • Aroma: 3.5 of 5
  • Taste: 4.5 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4 of 5
  • Overall: 4.5 of 5

 

August - Witbier

4.9% ABV, 32.6 IBU

 

Tasting notes: Great creamy head, thanks to the nitro tap. Cloudy, golden farmhouse hue, like straw. Dry, crisp wheaty beer. A hint of apple tone.

  • Look: 4 of 5
  • Aroma: 3.5 of 5
  • Taste: 3.5 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4.25 of 5
  • Overall: 3.75 of 5

 

By Tom on 12/31/2018

Stage: Enjoying

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Brevity is the soul of a Wit

A cool summer brew day making a Belgian Wit for the fall

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 08/25/2018

Stage: Brewing

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Getting your vitamin C

Adding a little blood orange purée to a saison

From Carboy
Enjoying a beautiful spring afternoon. First, brew a saison. Then, going for a ride.

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 03/31/2018

Stage: Brewing

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A Blonde With a Brogue

Brewing an Irish Blonde Ale while tasting the Phat Tyre

From Carboy

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 02/17/2018

Stage: Brewing

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2017 Beer in Review

The ups and downs of my year of homebrewing.

In 2016, I managed to brew 12 batches. For 2017, I had a more modest goal. I wanted to brew eight to nine times. On the last day of the year, with temperatures in the low teens and snow on the ground, I squeezed in one last brew to meet my goal.

The beers this year were delicious. Perennial old favorites like the Kölsch, the Raspberry Wheat and the Märzen were joined by new delights like the Petite Saison D"ete and the Patersbier and experiments like the Off the Topper's dry hopped madness. My only regret was how quickly most of these five-gallon batches disappeared from the kegs. Better to have loved a beer and lost than never to have brewed at all.

While I'm looking forward to planning my beers for 2018, take a whirl through the batches that defined 2017. If you ever want to brew with me or to share a beer, let me know.

Onward!

December, 2016 - Tallgrass Brewing's Buffalo Sweat Stout

5.6% ABV, 21.5 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: Sweet, rich oatmeal stout. Taste the oatmeal and hints of coffee. Great creamy head on nitro. Great cool weather beer. Very sweet. Deep brown chocolate hue.

  • Look: 4.5 of 5
  • Aroma: 4 of 5
  • Taste: 4.5 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4.5 of 5
  • Overall: 4.5 of 5

 

January - Irish Draft Ale

5.9% ABV, 27.6 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: Malty, copper red hue. Almost a red ale. Well received at our annual St. Patrick's Day feast.

  • Look: 3.5
  • Aroma: 3
  • Taste: 3.75
  • Mouthfeel: 3
  • Overall: 3.75

 

February - Petite Saison D'ete

4.9% ABV, 26.5 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: Clear, golden, sharp. Delicious and refreshing. A really nice, dry farmhouse ale. Great springtime beer.

  • Look: 4.5 of 5
  • Aroma: 2 of 5
  • Taste: 4.5 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4.5 of 5
  • Overall: 4.5 of 5

 

June - Kölsch

4.6% ABV, 35.7 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: A bit cloudier than I would like, but delicious and refreshing nonetheless. A favorite every year.

  • Look: 3.5 of 5
  • Aroma: 4 of 5
  • Taste: 4.25 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 3.75 of 5
  • Overall: 4.25 of 5

 

June - Raspberry Wheat

5.0% ABV, 15.7 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: Sweet, light, super drinkable. A hint of tartness and wheat, of course. One of the most popular beers of the year. Tastes lighter than its ABV would suggest.

  • Look: 4.5 of 5
  • Aroma: 4.5 of 5
  • Taste: 4.25 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4.5 of 5
  • Overall: 4.5 of 5

 

July - Oktoberfest Märzen

4.3% ABV, 17.3 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: Deep reddish brown amber in hue. Clear, light, crisp. Very session-able without being heavy to the palate. Delicious and perhaps dangerously good. Dry.

  • Look: 4 of 5
  • Aroma: 3 of 5
  • Taste: 4 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 4.5 of 5
  • Overall: 4 of 5

 

September - The Innkeeper

4.1% ABV, 42.2 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: Bitter English Ale. Golden brown. Dry. Probably would be better served a little warmer. Traditional English pub ale. Recalls a Newcastle. Quite good on a chilly day.

  • Look: 4 of 5
  • Aroma: 3 of 5
  • Taste: 3.75 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 3 of 5
  • Overall: 3.75 of 5

 

October - Off The Topper

6.3% ABV, ?? IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: A purported Heady Topper clone. Smell the hops wafting off of this. A very smooth and drinkable IIPA, just not a style I’m a big fan of. Not too overpowering taste-wise. The look is a bit more brown and murky than I’d like. Looks a bit like a brown ale and drinks like a session IPA. A bit sweet, with a slight sugary breadiness to it. Nice frosty, creamy head. Hoppy as all get-out.

  • Look: 3 of 5
  • Aroma: 4.5 of 5
  • Taste: 3.5 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 3.5 of 5
  • Overall: 3.5 of 5

 

November - Patersbier

5.0% ABV, 34.6 IBU

From Carboy

Tasting notes: Golden orange hued. Smooth, light, Belgian inspired ale. A hint of tartness and citrus. Delicious with a bit of body that makes it a nice ale for winter or spring. A classic.

  • Look: 4 of 5
  • Aroma: 3 of 5
  • Taste: 4 of 5
  • Mouthfeel: 3.5 of 5
  • Overall: 4 of 5

 

December - Phat Tyre

From Carboy

Tasting notes: After brewing this on Dec. 31, the tasting and review will have to come in 2018.

By Tom on 12/31/2017

Stage: Enjoying

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A beer fit for a monk

Brewing a Belgian Trappist-style Patersbier on a chilly Autumn morning

From Carboy

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 11/12/2017

Stage: Brewing

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Hops on hops on hops

Dry hops and a new winter brewing gadget

The Off The Topper calls for two batches of dry hops, which I painstakingly weighed out and put in a muslin bag to add to the fermenter. This is, by far, the most hops I've ever brewed with. I'm a little nervous about how it will turn out, but I have high hopes.

From Carboy

As fall descends and the temperatures drop outside, it gets to be harder to keep a fermenting beer at the right temps. This year, I'm deploying a new gadget, the FermoTemp. Think of it like an electric blanket for your carboys. Rather than trying to hide my fermenters in my chidlren's upstairs closet, now I can keep my carboy at 72 degrees in the basement brew room, even when the room temperature is under 50, by hooking it to the same temperature controller I usually use for my beer fridge. I think this will be a game changer for winter brewing.

From Carboy

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 11/09/2017

Stage: Secondary

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My god, the hops

A Vermont-inspired Imperial IPA demands more hops than sense

From Carboy

I'm not a big fan of IPAs. For me, the vast majority are overly heavy on the hops, taste terrible and are essentially undrinkable. But there are some IPAs that are decent and some that are quite good. So when I found a recipe from Northern Brewer that purports to be a clone of a certain highly rated IPA from Vermont, which is delicious, I couldn't resist. After eight or so years of brewing, I figured I should try an IPA at least once.

This beer required so many hops, almost all after the end of the boil, including two rounds of dry hopping. It also called for something I've never used before called a "hopshot". It was basically two syringes of liquid hops, put in at the start of the boil.

From Carboy

We'll see how this turns out. Northern Brewer's recipes are pretty good. I have high hopes, and it certainly can't be any worse than most of the commercial IPAs out these days. It might even been half decent.

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 10/09/2017

Stage: Brewing

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Making a fall beer

Trying an English ale for the cool autumn days.

From Carboy
Enjoying a sweet stout while making an Innkeeper ale.

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 09/30/2017

Stage: Brewing

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Keep on brewin'

Preparing for fall by brewing a summertime Märzen.

From Carboy

Read the recipe.


By Tom on 07/09/2017

Stage: Brewing

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