If it’s Friday, it must be beer

It’s Friday night and for some people that means fighting, but for me it means beer!

Honey Kolsch is Bottled

This beer blew the fermentation lock off the carboy and took a week longer than I anticipated to stop active fermentation.  The beer smelled somewhat harsh or astringent out of the carboy, which is a departure from the more mellow styles that preceded it.  I really do not know what to expect out of what was bottled tonight.

Growlers Lead the Charge

After a couple of months I was finally able to get the 38mm polyseal caps for my 64 ounce growlers.  Now they are filled with beer and sitting in a darkened closet conditioning.


The newest style I am brewing is a rye ale or roggenbier.  I purchased the American Rye Ale kit from Northern Brewer and got to brewing on Friday night.

As I was finishing up the boil I realized that I did not make any ice the previous week to cool the wort down quickly.  An advantage of living in Iowa is that in mid-November is the outside temperature dips below freezing at night.  Call it the low carbon wort chiller:

It cooled down quickly and I did not feel like I was wasting water or ice.  I think I am on to something here.  Just wait until I can jam this pot into a snowbank.

Drinking Local

I spent this past weekend in St. Louis where I had the privilege to ponder an interesting dilemma: what is the right beer choice?

Let me explain.  One friend is a die hard New Belgium Brewery fan who goes to great lengths to drink Fat Tire Amber Ale or Sunshine Wheat regardless of his location.  It helps that he primarily lives and visits locations west of the Mississippi River where the beer is readily available save for Oklahoma and Utah, bastions of the 3.2% ABV mafia.  Another friend, a St. Louis resident, is a local aficionado.  In St. Louis this used to mean Budweiser and…  There was no and for years because Budweiser ruled that town.  Following the sale to InBev there has been a backlash against Budwesier as the beer of locals.  Now the title probably falls to Schafly.  This is truly a wild development given the stranglehold the Clydesdales had on that town.

My preference is increasingly favoring the local crowd.  There is something about drinking the beers endemic to the area in which you are visiting.  It’s like terroir without the pretension that comes from European rules.

In eastern Iowa, when my homebrew runs out and I am waiting for another batch, I turn to beers from Millstream Brewery in Amana.  The brewery is only about 20 miles from my house and the John’s Grocery Generations White Ale is a great summer beer:

Heck, it is a good anytime beer.  I picked up a six pack this week while I wait for the honey kolsch to come out of the carboy.  The beer was brewed for the 50th anniversary of Iowa City institution and beer emporium John’s Grocery in 2002.  It has been in production ever since.  Anyone familiar with the area knows John’s Grocery.  It’s that famous and that good.  Plus, they also make great root beer.

So, when you are in Fort Collins follow your folly and drink from New Belgium.  In St. Louis drink from Schafly or new guy Four Hands.  In Hawaii grab a Primo or something from the most excellent people at Maui Brewing. In Minneapolis the choices seem endless, but I am partial to Surly and newcomer Lucid.  And in eastern Iowa seek out Millstream.  There are too many great local breweries in the U.S.–over 1,700 and growing–to spend your days wedded to one brand nationally.

Besides, isn’t drinking tall boys of PBR just a little passe.


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