Tag Archives: Firestone Walker

Drinking Local in the Second Quarter of 2019

Here is what my beer purchasing looked like in the second quarter of the year:

second quarter beer.png

I want to apologize to the brewers at Barn Town Brewing for forgetting exactly which of their beers I drank following a spring bike ride in April.  It was an IPA and it was hazy.  After that my  memory has completely failed me.

A couple of things stand out.  First, I went a little overboard with the cans I brought home from Summit County.  There is no way to get Outer Range Brewing or Broken Compass Brewing beers except in the high country.  Plus, I wanted to share the experience with some people back home so I loaded up the cooler and acted like an old school bootlegger.  Twenty four cans of beer does not exactly make me a bootlegger, but let me have my moment.

Second, I bought a lot of so-called “middle craft” beers from brewers like New Belgium Brewery, Sierra Nevada, Firestone Walker, and Lagunitas among others.  Normally I would have little reason to choose a national craft brewer over something more local but a combination of grocery store sale pricing and rebates via the iBotta app changed my behavior.  The combination of the two often meant that I was buying a twelve pack of Sierra Nevada Hazy Little thing for less than $14.  That would compare with a local beer selling for $18-20 for the equivalent number of cans.

Once the summer rebates and pricing go away so does my interest.  Plus, Big Grove Brewery is carpet bombing the retail beer landscape here in eastern Iowa with twelve packs now.

Weekend Beer Thoughts

It’s the weekend so what am I doing?  Drinking and thinking about beer of course…

American Ale II Wheat Beer

My latest American Ale II Wheat is out of the bottle and into the glass:

Pretty good flavor, balanced hop notes, but a little forgettable.  Like a completely competent car–it gets good gas mileage, handles well, you can find the buttons, etc.–it was nothing that inspired or fired up the imagination.  I would call it the winter equivalent of a lawnmower beer.

This was the first beer that I had brewed with Wyeast 1272 American Ale II.  Some people have commented that it finishes quite different than Wyeast 1056 American Ale.  I do not really know if I could make that statement.  The beer was clear owing to the highly flocculant nature of 1272, but that is about the only difference I could notice between the two. I am going to brew two batches that are the same except for the yeast to really tease out the differences.

Adding Grain and Going Organic

In the past, I brewed one batch of beer with organic malt extract and it turned out well.  Going forward, I am going to try and incorporate as much organic content into my beers as possible.  It’s one way I can make my brewing greener.

I have also moved up to using steeping or specialty grains.  One complaint about extract beers is that the extract can leave beers with a flat flavor profile because of the freshness or lack thereof.  A way to counter this problem is to utilize freshly crushed malted grains to impart some of that fresh flavor back into your wort.  For my latest batch I did just that.

It is very easy to steep specialty grains.  Just fill a muslin bag with your grains, steep like tea in water between 140 to 160 degrees for thirty minutes, and remove before proceeding with your extract recipe as normal.  I really noticed a pronounced malty smell in the kitchen as I steeped the grain.  I am hopeful this ca give my homebrew some of the “pop” it has been lacking.

Here is what the recipe consisted of:

  • Specialty Grains: 1 lbs Organic Briess C60-L; 30 minutes of steeping
  • Malt Extract: 6 lbs Organic Light
  • Hops: 1 oz Cascade @ 50 minutes; 1 oz Cluster @ 20 minutes
  • Yeast: Wyeast 1272 American Ale II
  • Other: Whirfloc tablet added @ 15 minutes

This is the recipe I am going to use to compare 1272 to 1056.

Drinking Trader Joe’s

I am not drinking the bottom shelf at Trader Joe’s.  Thankfully, Will Green over at Serious Eats has already taken care of that task.  Instead, on my last trip to Trader Joe’s I picked up a pair of interesting looking beers: Mission Street Brown Ale and Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale.

Mission Street is a brand at Trader Joe’s brewed under contract by Firestone Walker.  I have tried the Hefeweizen brewed under the Mission Street aegis and found it agreeable.  Not great or really memorable, but agreeable.  The same came be said of the Brown Ale.  It’s color and head are appealing:

The flavor is a forgettable, but not bad in any way, brown ale.  Have you had a Newcastle?  Than you know what I am talking about.  It hits the notes that separate it from a red ale or lager.  You could drink these all night and not really remember anything the next morning save for a few scented burps over breakfast.

The Vintage Ale was a totally different story.  It poured dark and there were a lot of aromas wafting from the head of this beast:

Beast is about the best way to descrive this beer.  It reminded me of overly hopped and high gravity beers that are made just because someone can.  Sure, you can brew a beer with a high ABV and IBU that are off the charts, but if it tastes like day old warthog rectum there is really no point.  Not to say that this beer tastes that bad, but I was left thinking that I drank someone’s ash tray chased by a burnt PBR.

Sierra Nevada Going Eastward

Sierra Nevada, which according to CNBC is the second largest privately held craft brewer in the U.S., is going to be expanding its operations eastward.  With one facility in Chico, CA and a planned facility in Mills River, NC Sierra Nevada will now be able to address the large coastal markets without massive shipping costs in terms of dollars and carbon.

This move is sure to be echoed by other “craft” brewers.  In October when I visited New Belgium Brewery the place was abuzz with rumors about the potential expansion in the east, which would give that company a longer reach into those huge markets.  No word yet on that news.