For the first time in a few years I actually watched the Super Bowl in its entirety. With no skin in the game—either team could have won and I would have cared not the slightest bit more either way—the game needs to be entertaining. Well, we got that in droves on Sunday evening. It helped that I was pint deep in beer, both of the homebrew variety and commercially produced.
Styles of beer are getting to be so muddied. Is it an amber ale or an IPA or an oak-aged monkey ale? I don’t know. One style of beer that is associated with the craft beer renaissance in the United States is amber ale. I associate this style mostly with New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale, but there are countless varieties.
Homebrewers often cut their teeth on a variation of an amber ale. Commonly, Wyeast 1056 “American Ale” or 1272 “American Ale II” are used to ferment the beer. However, those yeasts are known for producing a platform for hops to be showcased in the place of a heavier malt profile. I wanted to see what would happen if I let the hops take a backseat:
So, I started with an American Ale recipe, but instead of the traditional yeasts I chose Wyeast 1332 “Northwest Ale.” The description, per Northern Brewer, is that the yeast “Produces a malty and mildly fruity ale with good depth and complexity.” The malty part is what I was going for. What is the verdict?
Pretty good. I would be interested to see how two beers brewed the same time using the same recipe, but using different yeasts, would turn out because it is so hard to compare a beer that I brewed in January with one that I brewed in August or February of the prior year. I lack the palate memory. The beer is definitely malty. I would not say that it has a fruity profile in any significant way, which is good because I was afraid of some banana flavors leaking in. Everyone knows how I hate bananas.
Rye Ale and Rye Stout
I am on a little bit of a rye kick this month. I have just put a batch of rye ale into bottles and I have a batch of rye stout that is fully krausened right now in a carboy downstairs.
Rye makes an interesting addition to a beer because it is supposed to add a peppery or spicy note to the beer that you just cannot get with malted barley. I am sure that there are purists who will quote Germanic rules of brewing that say rye cannot be part of a true beer recipe, but I say hokum in my best Sheldon Cooper voice.
Does Fracking Threaten America’s Small Brewers?
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing if you want to get all technical, to unleash natural gas in shale formations is booming all over the United States. It’s part of the U.S. rise to prominence as an energy producer after spending the better part of the past few decades hearing about our dependence on everyone but ourselves for energy. However, there is a dark side and that dark side is primarily about the impact of the process on the water supply.
It’s one thing to affect my drinking water, but affect my beer and those are fighting words.