A House Great Divide’d

Drink of the Day #00017 from Daniel Auchenpaugh on Vimeo.

Three beers from Great Divide here in Denver. On the table today is their Hades Belgian-style Ale, Denver Pale Ale, and their Wild Raspberry Ale. All great beers, so check it out! Again, if your feed reader of choice (or facebook) doesn’t properly display the flash player, use the link to watch it over at Vimeo.

Sorry for the hiatus; I had guests in the house and a class to finish, but now we should be back on track. Well, at least for a week. Then I head to DC for a week, so if you know any places I should visit while I’m there for a quality beer, wine, or cocktail then let me know!

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Alcohol & You: A Healthy Relationship

Drink of the Day #00016 from Daniel Auchenpaugh on Vimeo.
In today’s Drink of the Day, I cover the Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout from Anderson Valley Brewing, the Belgian Framboise Raspberry Lambic from Lindemans Farm Brewery, and the Crianza 2006 Tempranillo from Campo Viejo.

There are a lot of horrible things that alcohol does to your body if you consume it in vast quantities. However, if you’re a responsible drinker, then alcohol can improve your health over non-drinkers. The key, like with many things is life, is moderation. So, to illustrate this, I’ll provide some fun facts. However, to give us a common groundwork, first let’s define one drink. One drink is 5oz of wine, 12oz of beer, or 1.5oz of spirits. Keep in mind that if you’re drinking some really high alcohol content beers (around wine levels, 12%+) or any spirit that is beyond 45% ABV (90 proof) then you’ll need to make adjustments to that calculation. Now, a “moderate drinker” is a female that has one drink per day, or a male that has two drinks per day. Sorry ladies, I didn’t make up the science, I just relayed it. Also note that this does not mean if you have no drinks during the week then you can stack up a ton of the weekend; that would still tax your body pretty heavily.

A moderate drinker, both for males and females, lowers their chance of heart-related medical problems. The alcohol can help with converting bad cholesterol to good cholesterol as well. The heart health issues are the most commonly known and studies proving the correlation have been around for decades. Also note that red wine contains more antioxidants than white wine, so studies show that it might be more effective in the heart health department than other drinks.

A few other fun facts about moderate drinkers over non-drinkers or heavy drinkers: moderate drinkers show a decreased risk for dementia, type 2 diabetes, and various anxiety disorders; moderate drinkers have a 35% less chance of contacting the common cold than non-drinkers; while moderate drinking has been linked to increased chance of some cancers, it has also been linked to a decrease in others.

So, these are just a couple handy health facts to illustrate that responsible drinking can be better than no drinking, and is certainly better than excess drinking. And always, drinking and driving makes you a fucking moron, and you should be dragged in to the street and shot.

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The Homebrewhaha and You

Well, we’ve been doing this for a little while now. The blog is going well on the writing end; at least, so much as I’ve enjoyed the research and creating the content. The homebrews are doing well, and the brown ale tastes pretty good. I’ve tried some new cocktails, and tried to create more exposure for some of my favorites. Personally, I’ve had a blast with all of it. The question is what do you want to see more of? I’d like to see more reader interaction, but I can’t force you to. However, I would like to know what kinds of posts you like most, and what you like the least. Feel free to be critical here, as it can only help the site in the long run. That’s all for today, just soliciting the help of the masses to make a better blog for the masses.

Purity vs Creativity: The Beer/Wine Debate

Tradition often comes in to play in the beverage industry, and most of us are guilty of being party of it. My own personal love of classic cocktails drives me to find new cocktail recipes that date back to the pre-prohibition era; for some reason that “traditional” way of making drinks just appeals to something inside me. Modern society has somehow pushed us to return to the classic way of doing things. Personally, I think some of this is good. When modernization degrades the quality of a product, then I believe a more classic approach should be used. However, if it helps the quality of a product (Scotch was never blended until the mid 1800s, and was only done to improve the consistency of flavors from one year to the next) then I think new and innovative approaches should be utilized to their fullest potential. So how does that relate to the beer and wine industry?

The craft beer industry has embraced a level of creativity in their products. New, unique brews are coming from craft breweries all the time. These brewers are not afraid to experiment with their recipes and add all sorts of unique things to mix: coffee, vanilla, oak, fruits, sours, and many more. However, the wine industry has stuck by their tried and true traditions of wine making. It is rare to find a wine that has had a spice or fruit added to it so a unique flavor profile can be created. The legacy of wine, and the tradition, has stifled the creativity of the industry. Image a coffee cabernet; the rich, acidic grape flavors mingling with a hint of earthy, toasty undertones from the coffee. Or perhaps an orange riesling; the sweet notes giving way to a slightly citrus finish. Rarely, if ever, can you find a wine that has been made with anything other than grapes, time, and yeast. They just don’t hold popularity these days, and who are we to question tradition?

Where am I going with this? Well, the real point is to see what your opinion is. How would you view a beer or a wine that has been made with unique additions to create innovative profiles? Is it acceptable in one genre, but repulsive in another? How would you handle being presented with a wine that was fermented with cinnamon in the fermenter? I’m very interested to hear your opinions on this post, as soon I would like to attempt another home wine brew. If you had the chance to make your own wine, and could go absolutely nuts with the recipe, what would you create? Perhaps, with the help of my awesome readers, we can create a wine that defies the tradition and comes up with something altogether more wonderful; or, perhaps, we shall agree to stick to the traditional method, because that is a better way of doing things.

In today’s Drink of the Day episode I cover two offerings from Shmaltz Brewing Company: Messiah Bold and Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah. I also open another one of my homebrews to compare it to last week’s opening. We will keep this trend up to see how the beer ages over the coming weeks! Also, in the video I mentioned I was curious what hops went in to the Jewbelation; well, if you check out the website it tells you what malts and what hops went in to the beer! How handy; thanks Shmaltz!

Also, thanks to my good friend Travis, over at SIEGE Films, who was kind enough to provide the intro for the episode. Much like my new love of homebrewing, Travis has recently fallen in love with film making. He’s recording his journey here, and I highly recommend you check him out. I’ve known Travis for 14 years, and can promise his creative prowess and perfectionist personality will result in some really great films. Please add their blog to your reader so you can provide him with comments and feedback, much like I request here!

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In Honor of Canada!

So, I was absolutely exhausted last night and did not get a chance to include a Drink of the Day segment in my post. So, instead, you get it a day later. I hope I make it up to you by bringing two awesome cocktails that use grain based spirits. One of which leads to me dedicating this episode to my good gaming buddy Ryan up in Canada. Check out the video for more!

Drink of the Day #00014 from Daniel Auchenpaugh on Vimeo.

Today’s DotD is about two cocktails! The Maple Leaf and the Bronx Golden

In this video I talk about the Bronx Golden and the Maple Leaf – recipes for both are as follows.

Bronx Golden

  • 1.5oz Gin
  • 0.5oz Dry Vermouth
  • 0.5oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.75oz orange juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Shake without ice until foamy; shake with ice and strain in to glass
  • Glass: wine

Maple Leaf

  • 1.5oz bourbon (any whiskey will do, really. Even Scotch)
  • 0.5oz lemon or lime juice (pick your favorite!)
  • 0.5oz pure maple syrup (seriously, go for the good stuff!)
  • Shake and strain in to glass
  • Glass: cocktail or brandy snifter

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The Grain Spirit Trifecta

Can't... keep... camera... level...

Our bar at home, looking a little barren

Spirits are a varied and complex thing, with a rich cultural history that predates the country I live in. The variety, complexity, and depth of spirits encapsulates far more than I could cover in just one post. However, thankfully, spirits can be divided along a variety of lines. Tonight I’m going to break out the grain spirits: gin, vodka, and whiskey.

The grain trifecta is made from, you guessed it, grains. The initial production of such spirits is very similar to beer; the grains are cooked and yeast is added to convert the sugars (that were once starches, but I’ll get back to that) in to alcohol. This is where the tricky part kicks in. Yeast will crap out at about 15% alcohol because the levels become too high, and thus they croak. So now you’ve got a 15% alcohol beer, essentially, and you want to make hard liquor. How do you do it? DISTILLATION! Distillation is the process that removes excess water from the spirit by heating or cooling.  There is a lot of science here, and you can find it in a million places on the web. Quick and dirty is that you can evaporate your alcohol off, collected the vapors, cool them until they condense, and there you go. If you want a lot more detail, read here. So what does that matter? Well, I’ll tell you.

Covering vodka first, it is sent through a distillation and filtration process multiple times. During this process, flavoring and coloring compounds are removed. In the US and Europe, law states that vodka must be a neutral spirit, and may not contain a distinctive aroma, character, color or flavor. To achieve this, the vodka often ends up at a higher alcohol percent than the typical consumer desires, usually in the 95% – 96% range. So, water is added to dilute the spirit down to a more drinkable range.

Next we’ll hit whiskey, which is much like vodka in the early process. Also, fun fact, the oldest written record of whiskey is from 1494. Sorry, got off topic. The flavor compounds in whiskey give it unique characteristics, thus they aren’t filtered off. The filtration process isn’t nearly as extensive, and post filtration the whiskey goes in to barrels to age. It is estimated that up to 60% of the flavor of whiskey is given to it by the barrel it was aged in. The barrels are many and varied, though it is interesting to note that bourbon whiskey must be aged in new, highly charred oak barrels to truly be bourbon. Like the above, whiskey usually it diluted down to a more drinkable range from around 85% alcohol, which is where it tpyically stands after the distillation process. Major whiskey producing countries include Scotland (duh; where else would we get Scotch!?), Canada, America, Ireland, and even Japan. In fact, Japan is on the upswing in the premium whiskey market, rivaling many produced at more traditional places.

Finally, we get to gin. An often neglected spirit these days, gin has fallen a bit out of style. Starting in a fashion like the siblings listed above, gin is then flavored with various botanicals. Juniper berries are the predominant flavor associated with gin, but many others can be thrown in, created wide variety in the flavor profiles of various gins. Again, typically gin must be cut with water to bring the alcohol percent down to a more reasonable range. A whole post could be dedicated to gins, but I do not have the time, expertise, or money for that enterprise. Just understand the difference, and do your own research if you’re curious.

I’m sure I got some facts slightly off in here, so feel free to correct. Until then, please leave your favorite grain-spirit cocktail in the comments! Raise a glass today to grain spirits, and their pleasing diversity and rich heritage!

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So I’m a little torn; I enjoy doing the new video posts (more so since you guys seem to enjoy them) but they take longer. I need to work on streamlining the process a little more. Regardless, today will be another post that is merely a Drink of the Day video, since I spent too much time fiddling with that already. I hope you enjoy it.

The beers from today’s video come from Dry Dock Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, and Left Hand Brewing. Also, I’m sorry I screwed up the original idea of this episode, which was lagers. Again, if you’re having problems with the video showing up in Facebook, then jump on over here to watch it.

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Video Killed the Webernets Star

Since you all asked for it, here is the first try at a video version of drink of the day. Since this was my first shot, that is all the post will be today. Let me know what you think!

Drink of the Day #00012 from Daniel Auchenpaugh on Vimeo.

Drink of the Day Video Episode 0001. After the feedback from my awesome readers, I’ve decided to give the video blog a try for my Drink of the Day segments. Please let me know your opinions!

If this video doesn’t show up in Facebook, check it out on the actual website by pointing your browser to The Actual Site!

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Sour Hour

Two non-faternal beer twins

IPA on the left, hefe on the right

Welcome to Tuesday, everyone! Today we’re going to talk about beers that have gone sour… intentionally. Sour Ales are becoming easier to find, and I scored a new arrival at the local Whole Foods just yesterday. They are created in a process by which the brewer introduces Lactobacillus (also found in the vagina!) in to the brew, intentionally souring the beer. These beers are often aged for a long time, then blended with newer batches until the desired level of sour is reached. Really, it is a pretty interesting process. This is one of the (many) areas where brewers are starting to learn more towards barrel aging beers, akin to how wineries have done it for years. The type of barrel used, along with any previous liquids it might have held, imparts a unique flavor to the beer. All it takes is some tiny bacteria and you can have a beer revolution on your hands. If you’re interested (and you should be) in them, check your local brewery, bar, or retailer for beer labeled as sour ale, lambic, or Flanders-style red ale.

In homebrew news, my first adventure with liquid yeast proved… interesting. The hefe was a liquid, and after dumping it in I should expect fermentation to start within 5-15 hours, according to the package.

That shit was bustin out the joint!

The hefe went crazy in the middle of the night

Well, by the time I went to bed on Sunday it was still as a stone, and I was starting to see airlock action in the IPA, which was a dry yeast. It had only been about 5 hours, so I wasn’t too worried. The next morning before I left for work, nearly 13 hours after brewing, the IPA was going strong. The hefe… well, the surface was as smooth as glass and there had been no movement in the airlock overnight. At this point, I was ready to call the guys at The Brew Hut when I got off work and see what I had done wrong.

When I got home from work that day, I was a little relieved. The IPA was going strong, and there was a little activity visible in the Hefe. This meant that it wasn’t a false start, but I was still worried that so little activity was going on. I had done everything right, hadn’t I? Made sure it was out of the fridge 5 hours before use, shook it a little to get the yeast mixed in the liquid, made sure the wort was well oxygenated… what more could the little yeasties ask for?

Time, apparently they just needed some quiet time. Heading to bed last night I could hear a faint whistling sound, and upon checking the beers the hefe was going batshit crazy. Since last night it has gone crazy-go-nuts and even passed the IPA in fermentation, already starting to slow down. I really didn’t think a blowoff tube was needed if I was fermenting 5 gallons of beer in a 6 gallon carboy, but I’m really starting to consider it.

Drink of the Day Double Whammy

Of course, I can’t just leave you with that. I’ve got to tell you how sour beer tastes, right? Well, you’re in luck. Tonight is a special night; my lack of posting topics has driven me to resort to a double-dose of Drink of the Day. Not only do we have Monk’s Cafe’s Flemish Sour Ale, but Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter.

Behold, the sour pour hour!

Porter on the left, Sour on the right

The Sour won the coin toss, so it will be up first. The head is silky looking, composed of tiny bubbles that hang around for a while. They are surprisingly white, and the beer is a little darker than I expected. Against a stark white backdrop, such as my computer screen, it shows through as an amber color, with a lot of clarity. The aroma is… unique. It really does smell like it has spoiled, and you’d be best throwing it away. Not only does it smell sour, but the small amount of hops used leads to an almost sweet aroma as well. I can’t say it smells good; wet socks comes to mind on the nose. The taste really surprised me. They didn’t go too hard on the sour in it, and instead it lends to a really smooth drink. It has about the same amount of sour that you might find in a cranberry, with equal sweetness backing it up. The malty flavors really shine through while it is in your mouth, and the slight tart on the finish is awesome. This is a really great beer, and would be perfect for (not with!) desert. The body is silky, and the carbonation isn’t too strong. If you can find this beer, then buy this beer.

Up next is Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter, since I’m such a sucker for porters. As evident in the photo, the head on this thing was glorious. That was a pretty controlled pour, too. To be fair, it didn’t do that the other day, but that’s what I got tonight, so that’s what you’re stuck with for a photo. However, the head does vanish rather quickly, but such is to be expected in dark beers. Color is super dark, but not quite black. Reminds me of a dark chocolate brown. The aroma is pretty weak, I nearly had to stick my nose in it to even start to pick up the roasted malt smells. The vanilla is pretty much absent from the smell, too. I like the big, rich smells of toasted woods and dark malts that are typically associated with porters, but this one lacks a little. However, the taste nearly makes up for it. The malt really shines through, and the vanilla is a nice undertone to the smokey flavors in the beer. Not the best porter I’ve had, but if you like porters (and really if you like vanilla porters) then you should pick it up. Also, without having the overpowering campfire flavors that some porters have, it might serve as a good introduction to porters if you haven’t had one. After all, Sam liked it and she typically doesn’t enjoy them.

UPDATE! Mike over at Mike’s Brew Review (just launched!) posted a review of the Vanilla Porter as well, so stop by and check out his new blog and see what he has to say about it.

UPDATE x2! Alex started a blog to chronicle his brand new homebrewing hobby as well, so give his blog, Alex Brews, an add if you need more homebrew stuff to read!

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Bottle Shock

The 'B' stands for BADASS BEER... okay, so maybe not.

48 bottles of the English Brown Ale

While unrelated to the post, the movie “Bottle Shock” is awesome. So check it out sometime. Moving along, I’m sorry for the lack of posting. things have been busy around here, but you don’t care about my excuses. You just want posts, I know. So I’m going to meet you needs, kind of. I’ll probably be on a more limited posting schedule for the next six weeks due to real life issues; sadly, you shouldn’t expect more than two or three posts a week during this period.

Yesterday Sam and I set out to tackle the task of bottling the English Brown Ale; naturally this started with lots and lots of cleaning. Cleaning bottles, cleaning caps, cleaning hoses, cleaning cleaning cleaning. Not sure if you’ve noticed a trend with this brewing stuff, but cleaning is pretty high priority. Next, while I was still working on cleaning all those bottles, Sam got the primer ready.

If you don’t have a method of force-carbonating your beer (read: a kegging system with CO2) then you need to do it the old fashioned way: create fermentation in the bottle. Called bottle conditioning, this is done by dissolving some fermentable (sugar, malt, etc) in to some water, and adding it in to your bottling bucket. Next, siphon the beer in to your bottling bucket with minimal splashing, bubbling, etc. as to not get oxygen in the beer. So now the yeast is going to have a little (very little) more sugar once it gets in the bottle, and will release CO2. Eventually the pressure will make the CO2 mix with the beer, carbonating it. Hooray for science!


Using the drill to stir up CO2

Then attach a bottling wand, which is essentially a plastic tube with a spring-loaded stopper at the end that only releases beer when depressed, to the spigot of the bottling bucket. Open the spigot, grab your first bottle, and start bottling. Our assembly line was me sitting on the floor of the bathroom with the bottling bucket on the counter. Next to me was the caps, and next to them was Sam with the capper. I’d fill the bottle, pass to her, and she’d cap and put in the box. We got pretty good, and knocked out 48 bottles in less than a half hour once we were up to speed. Now we just wait 2-4 weeks and let the magic of fermentation happen, and we’ll (hopefully) have some awesome English Brown Ale.

Next I needed to add clarifying agents to the wine. Over the past couple of days, I verified that the SG wasn’t dropping any more (it stabilized at 0.993) and so it was time to clarify. Adding some clarifying chemicals isn’t all; for them to do their job effectively you need to drive off all the CO2 from the wine. This took forever in the carboy, and I ended up having to transfer it back to the bucket to get it to clear the CO2. So that’s sitting around in the bucket for another couple weeks while the chemicals drag all the particulates down to the bottom.

Also, I started two more beers today. Sam really wanted an IPA, and demanded that I start one. Being a husband that enjoys sleeping in the bed and not on the floor, I agreed. I’m using the American IPA kit from The Brew Hut. I also started a Hefeweizen for my class; by the time we’re done in six weeks, the Hefe should be ready. However, when I was at The Brew Hut they only had the hops I wanted in 2oz bags, and I just needed 1oz for the Hefe. Now, luckily you can keep hops in the freezer until you need to use them. Of course, I didn’t do that. I tossed the extra in to the IPA, since Sam likes her IPA’s to have killer levels of hops. So the Hefe has 1oz of hops, all used as bittering hops. Where as the IPA has 2.5oz of bittering, and 2oz of flavor hops. I think the difference is pretty clear here. However, I should note that the hops I bought were my first experience with whole hops, rather than hop pellets. Really, there didn’t seem to be much difference either way.

Someone stole that glass from a resturaunt; I think it was one of Sam's friends

U-Boat Hefeweizen from Dry Dock Brewing

Drink of the Day

Dry Dock Brewing doesn’t bottle their beers. This is a sad and terrible thing, but I understand. They’re a small brewery, and they can only do so much. However, thankfully, you can get a growler (64oz jug) if you stop by their place. It will start to go flat after a weekend, but with the quality of their beers I doubt it will stay in your fridge that long anyway. The photo illustrates a “sloppy” pour to generate head; I wanted to highlight the impressive head retention of their U-Boat Hefeweizen. In the glass on the right you can see the beautiful golden color, not impeded by a poor pour.

This beer smells like summer. Bananas, flowers, and maybe a little like the beach. Really, though, the banana aroma and flavor is pretty strong in this hefe. It blends well with the small amount of bitterness present, and the creamy body. It finishes strong and refreshing, and really does well on the tongue. Sam and I both enjoyed this beer this weekend, and will take the empty growler back again for some more sometime. Maybe next weekend while she’s gone I’ll fill it with their Baltic Porter… mhmm….

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