Crazy Mountain Brewery Mountain Living Pale Ale

Crazy Mountain Brewery, normally associated with its high country location in Edwards, has been on a..ahem…crazy trajectory in recent months. In the fall the brewery took control of Breckenridge Brewery’s old facility when that company moved into its palatial new digs in Littleton prior to selling out to AB InBev for big money. Depending upon which article you read, the new to them facility allowed Crazy Mountain to increase production by upwards of 800 percent. With that kind of expansion in capacity comes distribution.

On my not-so-recent trip to Colorado for some skiing I returned with a sampler pack of cans from Crazy Mountain eager to try out some beers that have been getting a lot of attention as cans trickle out of Colorado. First up is Mountain Living Pale Ale:

Mountain Living Pale Ale

Ugh. This beer poured flat and fell flat. The head you see in the picture was about all the carbonation present in the beer. Subsequent cans—two more out a twelve pack sampler—poured the same.

With trepidation I soldiered on and sipped. I was rewarded with a beer that reminds me of the bastard creation brewed by your neighbor in his garage on an all grain system comprised of old kegs and Yugo parts. It was a beer that had all the hallmarks of mid-1990s brewpub beers that were made from liquid malt extract kits and foisted on an unsuspecting public looking for something other than Bud Light.

Why do I bring up liquid malt extract? Mountain Living Pale Ale had that soapy aftertaste that is a hallmark of homebrews made with liquid malt extract and some hop varieties. I cannot speak to El Dorado hop variety as I cannot recall another beer I have made that featured that variety. Normally, beers bittered with Citra hops have a citrus and floral aroma that is unmistakable. All I am getting with this beer is a smoldering pile of dirty socks.

When you are coming out of Colorado with a pale ale your game should be extra strong because that state is producing some off the chart excellent pale ales. Mountain Living Pale Ale is just not up to the game:

Zero Mug Purchase

See what others are saying about Crazy Mountain Brewery Mountain Living Pale Alle @ Beeradvocate.

 

Friday Linkage 2/12/2016

I have not been posting much and I would like to say that there is a good reason for that lack of effort. However, I can fairly easily peg it on just living life and doing things that do not really interest the larger world in general. No one needs to read reports of my ski trips with my daughter or look at high resolution images of the pizza I just ate. Actually, that about sums up the past couple of weeks…skiing and pizza.

On to the links…

How Congress And The Supreme Court Blew Up The Natural Gas ‘Bridge’ To Renewables—Demand for electricity and economic growth have been decoupled. This is a big deal in terms of macroeconomic planning because it was taken as law that the two were correlated. The future is now.

World’s First 1+GW Offshore Wind Farm Confirmed—Big wind is getting even bigger as offshore wind development takes off. Imagine these wind farms close to population centers.

Civil War on Your Rooftop—If you do not think that utilities are thinking seriously about the ways that distributed renewable generation can disrupt their business model you have not been paying attention to efforts at the state and/or local level to dampen solar PV development.

Solar Rooftops Can Save Californian Grid & Residents $1.4 Billion Annually—Here is why utilities are worried. The money you save was lining their pockets.

PV Manufacturing Capacity Expansion Announcements Top 55 GW—Here is the other reason they are worried:

PV-Tech-1-570x350.jpg

This is a lot of solar manufacturing capacity coming into production.

California And Massachusetts Lead U.S. Solar Boom—Solar jobs are real and growing. People see this and are voting with their pocketbooks. Demand destruction is happening.

Solar PV Capacity In Australia Reaches 5 GW—Look at that growth curve:

SunWiz-3-570x352.jpg

Imagine something like that happening in the U.S.?

Solar PV Provides 7.8 Percent of Italy’s Electricity in 2015—I am surprised by the total. It pretty much speaks for itself.

A New, Renewable, Drop-in, Waste-based Fuel Emerges, Competitive with $30 Oil—I have heard the stories before, but if true this would represent a shift in biofuel production.

Spruce Beetles Moving into More Colorado Forests—This is what the future looks like under climate change. It’s not just our snow for skiing that is imperiled, but the entire ecosystem of the high country.

Rainforest Regrowth Boosts Carbon Capture—With so much degraded land around the planet maybe the discussion needs to move beyond conservation and into regeneration?

Is “Fragrance” Making Us Sick?—All those “mountain fresh” and “sea breeze” smells may be making us sick. Great.

Expiration Dates on Your Food Mean Nothing—Freaking marketing. Those little dates on packages are treated like gospel by so many people. How much food gets thrown away needlessly?

The Joni Ernst Watch 2/10/2016

Our long national nightmare is over. All right, it was just a local nightmare of being constantly harassed by supporters of various political candidates—yes, I am looking at you Bernie Sanders campaign canvasser who woke my son up from his nap one Sunday afternoon—across all forms of media. Nonetheless, the 2016 Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary are in the books and the results…

We now live in a world where a plurality of Republican voters chose Ted Cruz (in Iowa) and Donald Trump (in New Hampshire) to be the nominee for President of the United States. Think about those choices for a moment. Let the reality surround and marinate your brain.

Granted, even the “winner” in each of those contests did not get more than 50% of the vote so you could make the argument that the majority of Republican voters are actually sane. However, if over one third of the voters in your state think Donald Trump is the best person to be the leader of the free world perhaps sanity is not the benchmark for which we should be aiming.

Here is this real rub for Republicans facing their new Donald Trump nightmare. Iowa and New Hampshire represented the best hopes for sidelining the circus. With a big win and the contest speeding up the celebrity of one Donald Trump will count for a lot in contests where old school retail politics do not work.

As a note, I am going to stop publishing this particular weekly entry. Spending so much time ruminating on the crazy stuff that right wing politicians say is getting exhausting and dissolving what little faith I had left in humanity. I wish everyone the best of luck as the country lurches forward to the general election in a little over nine months.

Friday Linkage 1/29/2016

Not a lot to link to this week since everyone seems focused on the upcoming Iowa caucus, the Donald Trump circus, and the Super Bowl in less than two weeks. Why is the Super Bowl on a Sunday? Wouldn’t everyone be better served if the game were on a Saturday? Wait, do not try and tell the NFL that anything they do is wrong or heavy handed. Roger Goodell is probably coming down here right now to figure out a way to suspend me for two games.

On to the links…

How Much Damage is the Porter Ranch Leak Doing to the Climate?—The methane leak near Porter Ranch is freaking disaster. It’s a large disaster for the climate. I just hope that this draws some much needed attention to the practices of oil and gas companies. Probably not.

If Exxon’s Punished for Climate Change, It’ll Be for Lying to Investors—Never mind the damage to the planet, it’s investors that we really care about. Maybe this is the modern equivalent to convicting mob bosses and drug dealers with tax evasion.

By 2030, Renewables Will Be The World’s Primary Power Source—This chart is interesting:

IEAPower2040.jpg

But how do we turn the coal line backward?

Solar Panel Costs Predicted to Fall 10% a Year—Compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) are powerful functions when it comes to long term trends. The dramatic and continued drop in solar prices have led to a much more widespread adoption than was previously though possible. Extrapolating forward this means that solar could be on track for a much larger percentage of our power generation in the future than previously thought.

Living Above a Business—Mixed use is all the rage in communities of many sizes and for good reason. However, there might be some downsides to living above certain businesses. Honestly, after reading this article I could roll with living above a strip club.

Why the Calorie Is Broken—The calorie is such a major part of our health industrial complex. We obsess over the calorie. We cry over the calorie. We live and perhaps die by the calorie, but maybe everything about the calorie is flawed.

Telluride Brewing Company Tempter IPA

The proliferation of lower volume canning lines has made craft beer in containers other than somewhat cumbersome bottles much more common. Therefore, one can come back from a trip to the high country with a pickup cab stuffed with various six-packs. Trust me, you would be amazed at how many six-packs can fit under the rear seat in a crew cab F150.

Prior to seeing a six-pack of Tempter IPA at a liquor store on the way to Breckenridge I had never heard of the Telluride Brewing Company. This is no shot at the brewery, Colorado is awash in breweries with more opening every day. It is a struggle just to get the products on the shelves of liquor stores without having to battle the beer behemoth that is AB InBev or whatever they are going to call themselves in the future.

Founded in 2011, Telluride Brewing Company is playing up the whole “brewed high” shtick to full effect. No, this is not a reference to the legalized cannabis trade in the state of Colorado. Rather, it is the constant reminder about altitude. Telluride Brewing Company is making beer at 8,750 feet above sea level.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about Tempter IPA:

Tempter IPA.png

Named after a famed ski run—Tempter Chute—this beer aims to be your prototypical high country IPA. Instead, I think that it falls victim to many of the worst traits of many Colorado brewed IPAs.

First, the beer may be brewed with five hop varieties—Chinook, Centennial, CTZ, Simcoe, Amarillo—but not a single one really stands out in character. Furthermore, the hop profile is quickly lost when drinking the beer. Nothing lingers.

Second, it drinks a little boozy. That is surprising given that the beer clocks in at 6.4% ABV. Compare this with Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi at 6.8% ABV. Most drinkers would say that Tempter IPA is a boozier beer based on taste alone. Maybe the lack of a malt body does the beer in.

Lastly, there is nothing memorable about the beer. Like so many breweries that pop up with an IPA or two on the tap list you are left wondering why you would choose this beer over any of the other hundreds of IPAs being mashed in Colorado right now.

In Tempter IPA’s defense this is not a bad beer. I think that my harsh assessment speaks more to where craft brewers in the United States have taken the IPA form to in recent years more than anything. If you are going to come with IPA game it better be very strong:

Purchased One Mug Rating

See what others are saying about Telluride Brewing Company Tempter IPA @ Beeradvocate.

 

Vegan Bran Muffin Recipe

I have a muffin problem. I really like muffins for breakfast, but sadly muffins are generally about one of the worst things that you can buy because they are loaded with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Heck, a lot of times that “blueberry” muffin you get is actually made with little pieces of blue sugar treated to taste like something familiar to an actual blueberry.

With my daughter being diagnosed as lactose intolerant, I have been reexamining many of the things we eat. She has also always been someone who leans toward the vegan side of the house. How much so? When she was three or four she would beg to eat “veggie chicken,” which was pan fried tofu cubes. Now our entire house leans increasingly vegan. My morning muffin habit is no exception.

My new “go to” recipe started with something I found on VeganBaking.net.

From there I have made changes or provided myself with lots of options depending upon what is available in the pantry. Here is what things look like when they come out of the oven:

Vegan Bran Muffin.png

The recipe is below.

I use individual silicone baking cups instead of a muffin tin and liners. From my experience the silicone baking cups release easier, which is a good thing because this recipe can get a little crumbly when you add too much shredded or carrot or a few too many raisins.

I have covered the oat bran versus wheat bran debate in a prior post. In this recipe I tend to split the difference between the two, going with three-quarters of a cup of oat bran and three-quarters of a cup of wheat bran. The best of both worlds, right?

The best part about this recipe is the inherent adaptability. Sometimes I will put chopped nuts in place of some of the raisins because I have some cashews sitting in the pantry that are crying out to be used. Or I completely replace the raisins with dried tart cherries. I have traded out the molasses for maple syrup, honey, and agave nectar. The maple syrup was good, but the honey and agave nectar added nothing beyond some additional sweetness. I have curdled the non-dairy milk and I have left it alone when I did not want to be bothered with that step. Both versions have come out good. Different, but good.

Get to baking kids.

 

Vegan Bran Muffin Recipe

A special shout out to VeganBaking.net for being the genesis of this recipe.

 

¾ cup non-dairy milk

2 Tablespoons Egg Replacer Powder

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

 

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups wheat germ, wheat bran or oat bran

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

 

1 ½ cups shredded carrot (about 3 medium sized carrots)

½ cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

3 Tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

 

1) Curdle your non-dairy milk

Preheat your oven to 325F (163C). In a medium bowl, whisk together non-dairy milk, Eggless Binder Powder and apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the non-dairy milk curdles.

2) Whisk together the dry ingredients

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the whole wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat bran or oat bran, baking powder and baking soda.

3) Prepare your carrots

Shred the carrots and set aside.

4) Whisk together the flavor building ingredients

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the shredded carrots, sugar, vegetable oil, molasses, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk in the non-dairy milk, Eggless Binder Powder and apple cider vinegar mixture.

5) Build the batter

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the raisins.

6) Bake to perfection

To make muffins

Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Pour the batter into the muffin pan making sure the dough is filled up to the top of the pan and domed. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Ska Brewing Modus Mandarina IPA

What happens when someone takes a beer that I like a lot—Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi IPA—and put a twist on it? Modus Mandarina IPA happens:

Modus Mandarine

In the interest of full disclosure, I play it pretty close to the vest when it comes to IPAs and I tend to have a very particular idea of what I want a Colorado IPA to taste like. When you are bringing home a back seat full of six-packs you tend to get a little picky lest you end up with beer for bratwursts or worse yet your brother-in-law.

Modus Mandarina comes in at 6.8% ABV and 88 IBU, which are the exact numbers that grace Modus Hoperandi. Where the brewers got creative was in dry hopping the beer with Mandarina Bavaria hops—a variety with which I was heretofore unfamiliar—and a measure of sweet orange peel thrown in for good measure.

This took a beer that I like a lot and turned it into one that I am ambivalent about. Where Modus Hoperandi has the right bitterness, the dry hopping in Modus Mandarina takes it over the edge into gimmicky territory. Dry hopping is tricky because the effect is not registered in the IBU number due to the difference in the way that the aromatic compounds play across your palate. That’s a beer geek way of saying that it crossed the line in bringing the bitterness.

Sweet orange peel is another tricky ingredient. In most beers I would favor bitter orange over sweet orange. A nice way to keep the bitterness in balance is to reduce the hopping and rely on the aromatics to bring bitterness to the beer. It’s a different kind of bitterness, so it can be hard to find the right balance without letting the flavor of the orange get lost or dominate. Few do it well and most err on the side of orange dominating. Modus Mandarina, thankfully, does not fall into the trap of becoming an orange juice beer. It just really does not add to what was a great recipe before the addition.

Take all of this with a grain of salt considering my relative conservative preference in IPAs and my aforementioned love of Modus Hoperandi. Sometimes change is not necessarily for the better of mankind:

Two Mug Purchase

See what others are saying about Ska Brewing Modus Mandarina IPA @ Beeradvocate.