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Adventures in Homebrewing and All Things Hoppy

Archive for the category “Misc. Beer Observations”

Bonus! (Fun with Byproducts)

I hate just throwing away all that good spent grain after I’m done brewing.  Luckily, there are some great things you can do with spent grain so that you only have to get rid of most of it!

Spent Grain Cookies

Spent Grain Cookies

Yesterday, once I got everything going in the fermenter, I pulled up this great recipe from Omnomicon for spent grain chocolate chip cookies.  These things are delicious, with the grains adding a kind of rustic hardiness — manly cookies that chew back!

Let’s call it… I don’t know, a Black Splash.

The beer I made was an American Stout (extract with a lot of flavoring grains), so my leftover grains had a bit of thick, black liquid pooling in the bowl beneath them.  I took a taste: an oily dark/burnt grain character with a mild sweetness (as you might expect from a bunch of black, crystal, and Munich malts).  A bit tannic, but very interesting and overall fairly pleasant.  I had to try doing something with it, so I thought it might be good as a whiskey mixer.  So I tried a 1: 1 ratio of this stuff with Bourbon whiskey, mixed on the rocks.  It was okay, but missing something.  My wife was thinking as I was: some kind of citrus character would be good.  I cut a slice of orange and gave it a good squeeze.  Better — pretty good in fact!  It was sort of similar to an Old Fashioned, with the black slurry standing in for both the sugar and the bitters.  I think it could stand a bit of tweaking (maybe a tad more sugar, for one), but it was a pretty good drink for saying it was done on the fly.


I have yet to make spent grain dog treats (which are often not that far off from the human versions) but these are another popular use for brewing leftovers.  Here is one recipe from BYO.  My dogs would be so pissed if they knew this was an option.

So these are a few ideas for brewing byproducts, anyway.  I really hate wasting things, and I mentioned how I still have to get rid of most of my spent grains (none of these projects use up much of the brewing quantity).  However, even disposing of my leftovers won’t be bad from now on, as my friend wants to take it all for composting (which is another good use for spent grains).  Great!


Thank a Volunteer

You know, I don’t have a lot to say about Oregon Brewer’s Festival that others haven’t already said, but I couldn’t help but notice — one second here —


…Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, the servers at the counters are almost always friendly.  Even after several hours of standing in the hot, dusty air, constantly pouring beer after beer, sometimes for totally sh#tfaced and occasionally obnoxious patrons.  These volunteers must really like craft beer.



Three Interesting Beers at OBF

Courtesy germanbeerinstitute.com

Courtesy germanbeerinstitute.com

This year at Oregon Brewers Festival there seemed to be a number of lighter/Summer-style offerings, including a number of Cream Ales, Pilsners, Kolsch’s, and a style I wasn’t familiar with called Dortmund Export.  In his very thoughtful “Beer/No Beer” rumination on styles and perceptions, Jeff Alworth (Beervana) briefly discussed the Dortmund Export and got me interested in finding out more about this style.  In addition to being an appealing style, Dortmund Export has an interesting (and rocky in modern times) history and an intriguing association with the German laborer — worth a read. There were three Portland-based interpretations of this style available at OBF.  All were good, I thought, but I agree with Jeff that Breakside’s Float is excellent — soft and clean yet delicately flavorful.   I’ll continue seek this one out as der Sommer weiter gehen.

Also, as a homebrewer I’m always interested in learning more about specific hop varieties.  For this reason, I love to try single-hop beers as little self-study exercises.  Double Mountain’s excellently named OBF beer this year, the ClusterF#ck, is all about the Cluster hop.  (Note: This is not the first year they brought ClusterF#ck — did I not get to this one before?) Again, the Cluster hop was something I was unfamiliar with, so, again, I looked it up.  Turns out this was, out of necessity and convenience, the go-to American hop for, well, ever, but fell out of favor due to American hop inferiority issues, but has been falling back into favor due to the the craft brewing movement’s interest in, um, interesting flavors and local ingredients.  It’s another interesting history lesson you can read more about.

Anyway, I’m starting to sound like a history teacher and not an OBF beer drinker, so back to the beer.,, At 85 IBU’s, this was very much about the hops (bitterness, flavor, and aroma).  I like big, hoppy IPA’s, and thought this was a good one.  i just wish I could sit down in a less distracting (and often way too aromatic) environment than OBF with a full pint of this stuff to really try picking up the nuances of the Cluster.

Also, this year’s OBF was the first time I got to try Rogue’s Beard Beer, based around yeast from the facial hair of brewmaster John Maier.  I had to try it just to say I did so, but it was a nice, round, nuanced “Golden Belgian”-style beer according to OBF (“American Wild Ale” according to other sources, but it does have sweet-ish, boozy, slightly spiced sort of Golden Belgian thing going).

Impressions of Portland International Beerfest

I’ve regularly attended the Oregon Brewers Festival  (OBF) for a number of years but have never been to the Portland International Beerfest (PIB).  There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Higher entry price and expensive pours
  • Reports that most beers aren’t actually international
  • The fact that many international beers at IBF are not exotic at all
  • PIB generally happens right up against OBF
  • Reports of it being shoulder-to-shoulder crowded, worse than OBF at its peak

Allow me to convey my general impression via cartoonishly stereotypical exaggeration: IBF equals “brewfest light” — a snootier event “in the Pearl district”, where one might see buzzed yuppies absently sipping Stella.  Something like that, anyway.

That being said, a beer enthusiast friend encouraged my wife and I to check it out this year, and we were really glad we went.  I was pleasantly surprised.

(There were also draft tents)

IBF Bottle Tents

First off, there were 160 beers there (OBF has 84 beers by comparison).  I’m too lazy to parse it out, but at a glance I would say that clearly more than half were international.  Furthermore, even though the only Polish beer was Black Boss and some less-than-rare beers like Bitburger Pils were among the offerings, most of the internationals were indeed interesting.  US beer offerings also seemed pretty good from what I saw, but I stuck to internationals since I was at Portland INTERNATIONAL Beerfest. 

Also, it was a very nice atmosphere.  The North Park Blocks where it is held provided a nice shady, green area.  IBF was less of the dirt and hot tents and “WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” of OBF.  I went from about 12:30 to 5:00 on a Satuday, so to be fair I can’t compare it to my usual Friday evening and later Saturday OBF visits (though even Saturday afternoon can get crazy at OBF).  It was not jam-packed and super-noisy, but it was very busy.  Still, though, the lines were almost always short.

Yes, there are some expensive pours, but there are some damn expensive beers there!  I had no idea how many beers on offer were off-the-shelf bottles that they just buy in mass quantity and keep on ice.  And there are a large number of 1-ticket pours. I stuck with interesting 1- and 2-ticket pours first, but then moved on to a few 3-ticket and maybe even one or two 4-ticket beers, just because there were some really interesting and unique ones I wanted to try.  It’s nice, for example, to be able to compare and contrast a number of good Belgian beers without having to commit to buying all those expensive bottles!

Courtesy portland-beerfest.com

One final note on the price: PIB “is a fundraiser for PET CROSS”, so part of those ticket prices goes to a good cause.  What’s better than drinking beer?  Drinking beer… FOR PUPPIES AND KITTIES!!

So all-in-all, if you’re like me and have not bothered to try IBF “just because”, I encourage you to give it a shot next year.  Is attending YET ANOTHER good beer event in the Portland area going to kill you?

Dawg Grog

courtesy http://pinterest.com/pin/210191507579891962/

Bull Dog Beer Ad

I’m a fan of Oregon’s reputation for being both pro-beer and pro-dog, because I’m… well, pro-beer and pro-dog. I often love anything that brings the two worlds together. For example, I sometimes get in arguments with my wife because I think bars should be able to let patrons bring their dogs in with them. I know there are a lot of good reasons to keep dogs out of bars, but I WANT TO GO TO BARS WITH DOGS IN THEM! And I want to bring my dogs into my favorite boozy establishments.

That said, I’m not so sure about the latest dog-beer intersection in Oregon. Somebody (incidentally associated with the [very good] Boneyard Beer Company) decided to make Dawg Grog – a beer for dogs. Now, for health reasons, many argue that dogs should not be given actual beer* (ok, maybe I let my pups have a sip every once in a great while). However, Dawg Grog isn’t actually beer and is designed to be fine for dogs to drink.

OK, so far we have a dog-safe “beer” that you can give to your beloved pooch. This sounds great, right? Maybe, but your dog had better LOVE it, because it costs $36 for a six pack! In addition to costing more than many a damn fine ‘human beer’, it has no alcohol, making this quite possibly the world’s most expensive N/A beer.

So to my dogs I’ll continue to say, “Sorry pups, no beer for you!  …OK, maybe a sip of mine if I can ever sneak you into the Horse Brass.”

*Look this up for yourself.  I’m not going to get into this debate.

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