Thursday, October 9, 2008

Something's wrong. Something's amiss.


A silly line from one of my all time favorite movies.  Kudos to those of you who correctly identify it (shouldn't be too hard to find out if you are any good with a search engine.)  Anyway.. the tag line for this blog is "Bikes, Beer, Bedlam"...  I've been pretty heavy on the bikes and bedlam portion since my first post back in May, but really light on the beer (but not lite/light beer).  With the Cross season underway, its time to talk about what I feel is one of the four corners of Cross.  (The others being Mud, Cowbells, and Insanity.)  That's right... its time to talk beer!

This time of year is truly a boon for beer lovers in the PacNW.  Many of the local micro breweries in the area are putting out "Oktoberfest" or fall seasonal beers in addition to some extra special Fresh Hop beers that came out about 3 to 4 weeks ago.

For me, this is the time of year where my personal tastes shift away from lighter summer beers like IPA's and Hefs and more towards the monster dark beers that were released earlier in the year and have had the opportunity to bottle age for the past 4-6 months.  But that doesn't mean the only beers I'm drinking are porters and stouts!

The first homebrew I took possession of this year was a co-creation Purple Haze in the wort chiller.  Check out that color!between myself and my co-worker James.  This beer was based off of the McMenamin's "Ruby" recipe, however instead of the traditional raspberries, we went with Oregon Marion Berries!   We made a 5 gallon batch and used a whopping 10lbs of berries for the flavor.   My hands were stained for 2 days after making this beer!Purple Haze

The beer sat in the ferment for 2 weeks then went to the bottles on 8/11/08.  No pectin or additional sugars were added, and we didn't filter the beer.  The result was a very tart, hazy beer that tasted remarkably like Bridgeport Big Brew's "Stumptown Tart".   OG was 1.055 with a final of 1.020, giving us a ABV of 4.67%.  Definitely less potent than Stumptown Tart which weighed in at around 8.5%, but still nice to drink.  Very limited supplies will be found at the PV tent during the upcoming Cross races for sample for friends of the Aggregate Cyclist.  Membership has its privileges.

Unnamed RussianThe second homebrew I took possession of was actually the first beer I worked on this year.  I made reference to it back in June, although it was brewed on Memorial Day weekend.  This beer was a co-creation between myself a good friend of mine Todd.  Todd is the biggest reason I've gotten into some really good beers over the year and where my budding interest in homebrew comes from.  We made two 5 gallon batches in one day, both taking about 2.5 hours to complete.  Much beer was drank to create this beer.  Thus the circle of beer.  Here is the skinny on this fat beer.

Russian #1
Brewed: May 25 2008
Bottled: Oct 5th 2008
Original Gravity: 1.112
Final Gravity: 1.034
Grains: Roasted Barley Chocolate Malt, Carafa
Hops: Chinook, Northern Brewer, Golding
Yeast: White Labs WPL001 - California Ale
ABV: 10.6%
IBU: 33
Cal per serving (22oz): 702

Russian #2
Brewed: May 25 2008
Bottled: Oct 5th 2008
Original Gravity: 1.116
Final Gravity: 1.036
Grains: Roasted Barley Chocolate Malt, Carafa
Hops: Chinook, Northern Brewer, Golding
Yeast: White Labs WPL001 - California Ale
ABV: 10.9%
IBU: 31
Cal per serving (22oz): 728

At 728 Calories per bottle, its the perfect recovery drink for that hard Cross effort!

I haven't had enough side by side to distinguish any difference between the two batches.  I assume that if there is, it will be fairly subtle and quickly crushed by the ABV.  What I did notice that its a very, very complex beer, with good grain, coffee and chocolate flavors.  But unlike many other stouts that I've had in the past, this one has a bit of bitterness to it from the hops still.  It should be interesting to see if this mellows out over the upcoming weeks.  This beer will make its debut this weekend at the PV tent and will be put up against old faithful, AKA Stone's Russian Imperial...

Stone's Russian ImperialAt the tail end of Cross season last year, I happened to find out that Heidipants over at The Everyday Athlete is totally in love with this stuff.  I gladly shared the last few bottles I thought I had with at the following races. 

Then this April, one glorious afternoon I turn the corner at New Seasons and see a freaking stack of cases on the corner.. and they were on sale.  I stole this from Heidi's blog.  I'm sure I can pay her off with some beer.I'm sure New Season's had a run on Russian Imperial over the next few days as Heidi and I probably purchased close to a dozen cases of this beer between the two of us.   At around 10.5% ABV for this year's batch, and a historically high acceptance among people I drink beer with, I have high hopes that my creation stacks up well with Stone's long running brew.

I have a few other special beer's I've been saving.. and I'll make sure to review them when they see the light of day.  In the meantime, I'll let you drool over this lineup...

Ultimate Cross Lineup

I have a lot of beer at my house.

In closing, a beer tip and two quick outs... Tip: if you get a chance to hit a McMenamins soon, their Seasonal Scarecrow ESB is pretty damn good.  Nice flavorful grain mixture with the aftertaste like eating a nice soft pretzel.  mmmm... liquid pretzel.

A huge huge thanks to both James and Todd for their guidance, enthusiasm and equipment space for the two homebrews, in addition to the awesome beers you have shared over the past 2 years.

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