Saturday, July 28, 2012

Avery Brewing IPA

It's no secret at this point that I love IPAs. Avery, however, was not a brewery that I was familiar with until very recently. I was at a local pub and they happened to have Avery IPA on tap, and since I'm always up for trying a new IPA I gave it a shot. In short, I loved it, but when I when back, they had switched the tap to Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (which is not at all a bad thing). Yesterday, whilst perusing World Market, I spotted, much to my delight, a six-pack of Avery IPA. $9.99 later, I was a happy man.

Avery IPA looks just like what you would expect from a really good IPA; rich, amber color with lots of creamy, white head. Head retention and lacing are above average. What really strikes me about this beer's appearance, however, is just how crystal clear it is, as you can see from the photo above.

The aroma is heavy with caramel malt and citrus fruitiness. There is certainly some hops present, but mostly this is a sweet-smelling beer. Much of the aroma comes out in the palate as well. The beer is sweet with plenty of caramel and citrus flavors. The bite from the hops is not nearly as intense as some other IPAs I've had, but I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing for this beer. It has as smooth, creamy texture that makes it an extremely easy beer to drink. Also, this beer lacks some of the warmth from the alcohol that you experience with, say, a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

I love a good IPA, and this is certainly a good IPA. It may not pack the same punch as some other really intense IPAs, but I think I like it for that very reason. The flavor has everything I love about an IPA without being so intense that I feel like my taste buds are fried after just a couple glasses/bottles. This is an IPA I feel I could easily drink two or three of and still thoroughly enjoy. One final note, I've had Avery IPA both on tap and from a bottle and I much prefer it on tap. So, if you've tried Avery IPA, let me know what you think, and if not, go out and get some.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Homebrew Batch 3

For Fathers' Day my wife bought me a new brewing kit with the necessary ingredients to brew an American Pale Ale. Although we already have all the basic equipment we need for brewing, this kit is a little different. The most significant difference in this set-up versus our previous is it came with a 1-gallon carboy rather than a 5-gallon bucket. Our plan is to start creating our own recipes soon, so the advantage to the smaller carboy is that we can easily create much smaller batches, minimizing the potential cost of a bad batch dumped down the drain. We can now play around with very small batches until we find something we like, then scale it up to a 5-gallon (or larger) batch.

Brew-day for this batch was pretty straightforward and we did not deviate from the recipe like we did on the previous batch. The kit came with a partial grain pale ale recipe very similar to our first batch. The big difference with this batch is the kit included solid extract rather than the liquid that we're used to. We did not find the solid extract to be any easier or more difficult to work with than the liquid. However, when adding the solid extract to the boil, it is important to remember to add it slowly and keep stirring, lest you end up with large clumps floating in the wort.

The photo above was taken about 24 hours into fermentation and you can see that it is still quite cloudy. Much of the sediment in the beer has fallen to the bottom of the carboy, so as of this post the beer is much clearer and it has a nice amber color. It has been fermenting for about 5 days now, and will continue to ferment for about another 5-7 days prior to bottling. The exciting part about using a carboy is that you can see what your beer looks like during the fermentation. This, of course, isn't possible when we're using 5-gallon plastic buckets. While I'm certainly excited about this batch (I get excited for every batch), I'm really excited about the many possibilities for our own future creations.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My First Growler

I have considered myself to be a beer enthusiast for quite some time. I have tried hundreds craft beers from scores of breweries, I have studied the many styles of beer, and I have even brewed my own. However, I've never owned a growler, which is a must-have for any true beer enthusiast.

I picked up my first growler a couple weekends ago while in Rochester, New York. I went to a local grocery store in search a particular beer that is not available in Columbus and, unfortunately, struck out. However, I didn't leave empty-handed. Just before settling on a 6-pack of Summer Shandy (never a bad choice in it's own right given the heat), I notice an entire section of growlers from a local brewery, Rohrbach's Brewing Company. This was an unusual sight for me because I'm not aware any grocery stores in Columbus that sell growlers. The store had about a half dozen choices, and I chose the Railroad Street IPA.

Railroad Street IPA poured an amber, copper color with minimal head and retention. There was a fair amount of lacing left on the glass, though. The aroma was fairly true to style with plenty of citruy hops, but it was also had a distinct caramel malt note. The flavor followed the aroma pretty closely, having a heavier malt flavor than I expected for an IPA (granted, I should have been prepared for this given the description on the label). My overall impression is that this is a good beer and I'd be happy to drink it again, although it won't rank near the top of my favorite IPA's.

Now that I've finished off the Railroad Street IPA, it's time to go out and put my new growler to good use. There are a number of brewpubs, restaurants and specialty shops in and around the Columbus area that sell and fill growlers and, since I'm generally partial to beer on tap, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy draught beer at home.