Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Learning Never Tasted So Good

Jason (right) in the brew house with THE MAN.
Sorry that I missed posting something for everyone last week. Coming back from a trip always puts me behind with my non-exciting work duties. Add into that a short trip to Chattanooga for a cask event last Friday, and the week just dissipated in front of my eyes. But enough excuses, here is the info you are looking for, or at least should be.

Beer Camp was great. We were going to be sharing the experience with a group of folks from a large chain that I can't reveal. Why, you may be asking, will I not name them? Two reasons. First, they did not show up. Secondly, I don't know who they are, because the brewery did not want the world to know who the first people were to ever cancel on a Beer Camp invite. Whatever came up that kept them from coming to Chico must have been a really big deal. I had a personal vacation planned that week, but when I got the invite, I cleared my calendar. Why? Because that meant I could bring some really special beer back to Taco Mac-land. What I had planned for myself could wait. So I totally understand the brewery's position on not sharing the identities of the people who bailed. If I had to bail out for some reason, I wouldn't want the entire world telling me that I should have my head examined. Over and over. For the rest of my life. Plus, suddenly myself and a co-worker had Beer Camp all to ourselves, and more importantly, we get all of the beer for Taco Mac.

For those of you unclear what Beer Camp at Sierra Nevada is, I will make it brief. If you already know all of this, just skip to the good stuff in the next paragraph. Beer retailers occasionally get invited to Sierra Nevada to tour the brewery and learn about the incredible commitment to quality that Sierra puts into everything that they do. That is the truth, too. Just go there some day. You will walk away with a strong sense of what true integrity in a business actually looks like. From beer quality to green initiatives to employee quality of life, those people know what's up. Once the type of beer being made and the recipe are decided, by committee, then you get to help brew it on their pilot system, which makes about 20 kegs per batch. You brew two batches in one day, and the brewery keeps half and the rest comes to the retailer(s). Instead of Taco Mac getting half of one half of the total, we get all of the retailer's half, thanks to the no-shows. Expect about 16-20 kegs to arrive in October or November. As a point of comparison, when I did Beer Camp in 2008, we only got 8 kegs.

That is the beer in the sight glass. Told you it was RED.
But I know what you want to hear. You want me to talk dirty to you, and I am not going to let you down. Here is what we made: A hoppy, wheat IPA that is bright red. When I say bright, I mean it looked like a stop light in what is called a "sight glass" in a brewery. That is basically a clear tube that the beer travels past while it is being transferred from one vessel to another. We used a special red malt from Patagonia that adds the color without bringing too much sweetness to the beer. The wheat is only 25% of the malt profile, so it will add a full body without making the beer taste "wheaty". Now for the sexy talk. This 7% ABV, red, wheat IPA has a good amount of Simcoe for bittering. Most of the flavor will be gone as Simcoe was used strictly in the boil. Next we loaded the middle of the boil with Centennial (my favorite) and Amarillo. But the real star of the show, loaded heavily on the back end, was an experimental hop known only as "Hop 644". This hop is fruity, not citrusy or piney like many other American hops. Don't worry, the Centennial will take care of the pine and citrus lovers out there. The idea was to make a full-bodied IPA with a decent but not overpowering IBU level, but to deliver a ton of hop flavor and aroma at the end. I want you to drink a few of these, not just one big palate-wrecking hop bomb. I know that some of you think you want a palate-wrecking hop bomb, which is fine, you're just not going to get it from me. I prefer a more balanced and skillfully made beer with a variety of flavors.

So that is the skinny on the incoming Beer Camp beer. For anyone keeping score at home, I was part of Beer Camps # 3 and # 88. Hopefully it is not 4 more years until I get to return. However, THE MAN (pictured above) wrote both recipes, and told me that this recipe is shaping up to be incredible. He was just putting the beer through the hop torpedo when we corresponded this week. The hop torpedo is like a dry-hopping boot camp for a beer.

Now here are some upcoming events you need to know about:

  • This Friday at Prado there is a cask of SweetWater Low-Ryeder Rye IPA. Two things are worth noting here: SweetWater casks are less common than one might think. When was the last time you saw one outside of the brewery? Second is that yes, we are doing an event UPstairs at The Prado, not downstairs in The Fred Bar. Why? Who cares? You do your job, and let me do mine. (In this scenario, your job is drinking beer, in case you were wondering. Technically that is my job too, but who's keeping track really. And no, that last sentence does not need to end in a question mark, because it's a rhetorical question. I am not actually asking who is keeping track of whose job it is to drink beer. That would be stupid, because I don't think that anyone is keeping track of whose job it is to drink beer. Nobody cares. Why are you still reading this?) They will tap the cask around 6:00 pm. I suspect it will be delicious, and highly recommend that you get over there before it is gone.
  • Next up is the New Holland Brewing launch on Monday at 6:00 pm. It's at the Fred Bar. See, back to being predictable. Are you happy now? If not, then I bet some delicious New Holland Dragon's Milk, Ichabod Pumpkin, Mad Hatter IPA or The Poet on tap will cheer you up. There will also be New Holland spirits available. One is even made with hops for flavoring. A liquor, full of hops. Craziness. Dogs and cats, living together. The brewery guys will be there too, so that is always a plus. 
  • The following Tuesday (9/25) we have a cask of Heavy Seas Red Sky At Night at Crabapple. To learn about the rarity of this draft, please read an earlier post. I can't be expected to repeat myself over and over again because you burned out your short-term memory on video games and hemp-based recreation. Not my problem sir or ma'am. Please try to stay with us here. I will be in attendance, along with Heavy Seas' local rep, Kevin, who now pretty much now just goes by Kevy Seas. And yes ladies, he is available.
  • And then, as if you haven't spent enough time chasing delicious beers all over the city, we will be launching Lone Rider beers (from NC) on Saturday the 29th at The Fred Bar. These guys make some solid beers, and we are happy to have them come into GA. There is a lot of beer made in NC, and we do not get very much of it across the border, which is kind of odd. Well, maybe now we are seeing things to come. This event starts at 6:00 pm, and there will be at least 3 beers on tap from Lone Rider. More may arrive in the next few days, but I know I can guarantee 3 for sure. Come out and meet Zack from Lone Rider. Great guy. Sorry ladies, I think he is married.
Alright kids, that is all for now. I am off to Colorado on Thursday, but this time it is for vacation. I will not, I guarantee, step foot into one brewery the whole time I am there. Not because I don't want to, but just because I have a full itinerary of events with some old friends. Here is my itinerary: Drink Beer. Repeat. Exponentially.

From My September Trip-Sierra Brewhouse

From My September Trip-Sierra Brewhouse
This is the top floor of the brewhouse, with buckets of fresh hops about to go into the kettles.