Showing posts with label charlottesville area masters of real ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charlottesville area masters of real ale. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homebrew for Hunger

Once again this year, our local homebrew shop, Fifth Season, is hosting a charity event called Homebrew for Hunger, which raises money for our local food bank. This year's event will be bigger than last year's, with 40 local homebrewers participating, as well as several of the local breweries.

Along with a healthy clutch of brewers from the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale, I'll be pouring a couple of my beers.
  • Genius 1883
  • Red Coat East India Porter
Genius 1883 is basically the recipe for Guinness Extra Stout that is in Ron Pattinson's magnificent book of historical recipes scaled for homebrewers. My version ended up being 7.5% abv, a deep inky black (obviously), and if the sample was anything to go by dangerously moreish, I think I will have to brew this one again for my own consumption over the winter.

Red Coat East India Porter is a variation on a beer I brewed a few years ago, just when Black IPA was starting to become all the rage. Basically it was a snarky project where I took the grain bill from Widmer's W-10, as it appeared in Brew Your Own magazine, and ditched the American hops for British ones to get the same numbers of IBUs at each addition. I then entered said beer in a homebrew competition and it took gold in the robust porter category, scoring 42/50 in the process. This time the hops are slightly different, gone is the Admiral, and in come Fuggles and First Gold, to play with the East Kent Goldings. This beer is a bit lighter than the Genius 1883 at 7.3%, but is just as dark. In terms of calculated IBUs it sits at around 67, and most of the hop flavour and aroma will be coming from the First Gold and Goldings.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a slew of brewers from CAMRA taking part including Jamey with a couple of variants of his Foreign Extra Stout and K?lsch available. Tom will be there with a chocolate milk stout, Patrick with a cocoa, chipotle milk stout and Double IPA, and Noelle, who brewed the fabulous Raucous IPA, with a breakfast stout and an IPA, as well as several other brewers, and the club's resident cidermaker, Kevin.

As you can see from the banner above, the even takes place on Sunday October 26th, and runs from 1pm to 5pm. Tickets are still available either online or at the shop itself. So, if you're in the Charlottesville area that Sunday, I would encourage you to come along, support the food bank, and drink some good homebrew beer!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bitterly Gold

On Saturday, while I was working at the Starr Hill tasting room, the homebrew club to which I belong was storming the barricades of the 6th Annual Virginia Beer Blitz. Only one of our number got down to the St George Brewing company (makers of one of my favourite IPAs, a 100% Fuggles hopped affair which is rather moreish) to take part in the judging, but we had 25 entries from 6 brewers, of which, 10 entries from 5 of us brought some bling back from the coast, and we were overall 2nd in the club of the year part of the competition.

My contribution to our success was a gold and a bronze, for a best bitter and mild respectively, as some of you likely know if you follow my Twitter feed for are Facebook friends of mine. I was particularly pleased with the gold for the bitter because, as I wrote about a few posts back, I am working on creating my ideal bitter to become my house ale. As well as winning a medal, this first batch of bitter has had good reviews from other members of CAMRA and a couple of professional brewers who have tried it, so I think I am going in the right direction.

The bronze for mild was, if I am honest, entirely unexpected because it was an experiment and I used the Belgian witbier yeast strain and hopped it with Styrian Goldings and Saaz rather than 'traditional' English hops. That it came out far more 'English' in character than 'Belgian' has turned out to be a good thing really, but not an experiment I will be trying again as I have a more 'classic' mild recipe I am working on and may well be brewing this Friday.

Having blown my own trumpet a touch, I was thinking about the various medals I have won with my homebrew since moving to the States and something is becoming apparent, I have the most 'success' with traditionally British styles of beer. I have won gold for porter, bitter (twice) and Old Ale, silver for English Barleywine and Mild, and now a bronze for a Mild. For sure this is hardly surprising given that a lot of my brewing is more in the British tradition than American, Belgian or anything else, as is much of my drinking. Anyway, a touch of pointless navel gazing never hurt anyone.

The next big thing for my homebrew calendar is the National Homebrew Competition in the spring, when I hope to finally have a beer advance to the second round. Perhaps I will enter another bitter....

Note: I have to admit that part of me was pleased to note that the spelling on the medals has still not been corrected, 'Virgina Beer Blitz' it is!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Turn to the Dark Side

For the next installment of the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale Iron Brewer project, as I mentioned in a post last week, we have to use the following ingredients in our beer:
  • Honey malt
  • Hersbrucker hops
  • Ginger
I mentioned that my intention was to make a ginger saison. That is still the plan, broadly speaking, but as I was tidying up my beer cellar at the weekend, and making a list of the various ingredients I have floating about, I thought to myself, is this something worth messing around with in order to use up some random odds and sods? In particular I am considering using up the remnants of Caramel 120 to turn the beer into a "dark saison".

One thing though is clear from my stock take, I need to make a bath tub beer to use up the various bits and bobs that are in the malt store that don't really feature in my 5 brews to perfect plan. The grains I want to use up are:
  • Rauch malt
  • CaraMunich I
  • Peated malt
  • Chocolate Wheat
My immediate thought is to put the peated malt to one side and get some Munich malt or similar base malt and make a smoked dark weizen, if anyone has any better suggestions, I am all ears.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Taking the Amber Road

My original plan was to brew on Saturday while Mrs V was out running, however, a death in the family meant that we travelled down to South Carolina for the weekend and are heading back to Virginia later today. Depending on what time we get to Charlottesville, I might do my brewing today.

The brew that is on the table is for an internal competition that we do at the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale, the homebrew club of which I am a member. Taking inspiration from the Iron Brewer competition we decided to run a purely internal variation, with judging being done at our monthly meeting. The first time we did it, our required ingredients were agave nectar, Palisade hops and chocolate malt, and we also decided that the winner would chose the 3 ingredients for the next competition, which are white wheat malt, grapefruit and Chinook hops.

Obviously those ingredients scream out for an Americanised witbier of some kind, though having said that, the first time we did this those of us who took part all produced very different beers. I decided to stick with the clear fusion theme, but also to mess around a bit, so I am going to brew a spiced Belgo-American Amber Abbey Ale, here's the recipe:
  • 30% White Wheat Malt
  • 20% Bohemian Pilsner Malt
  • 20% Special Roast Malt
  • 20% Munich Malt
  • 10% Aromatic Malt
  • 20 IBU Chinook hops @ 60 minutes
  • 9 IBU Chinook hops @ 15 minutes
  • 1oz Grapefruit peel @ 15 minutes
  • 0.5oz Cracked coriander @ 15 minutes
  • 0.5oz Grated ginger @ 15 minutes
  • 2 IBU Chinook hops @ 1 minute
  • Wyeast 1762 Abbey Ale II
According to Hopville, the numbers for this should be:
  • OG - 1.052, 13° Plato
  • FG - 1.013, 3.3° Plato
  • ABV - 5.2%
  • SRM - 16, light to medium brown
I will follow my usual fermentation schedule, room temperature for 14 days before bottling, but I am planning a little experiment once bottling is done. I recently read somewhere that there is a difference in flavour between bottles that are conditioned standing up and those that are conditioned laying down, so I am going to buy a small wine rack and bottle this batch in a mixture of 12oz and 22oz bottles, some of which will lay flat and others will stand up, just to see what difference it makes.

An Amber Road was a trade route for amber in the Middle Ages, the most important went from the Baltic Sea, through modern day Poland and Czech Republic to Venice. There was a smaller road in Belgium.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Sweetness of Bitter

The results are in and one of my beers brought home some bling on Saturday.

Of the seven beers I entered in to the Dominion Cup, the weakest as far as I was concerned was my Fuggold Bitter. Fuggold bitter uses 4 malts, pale, amber, brown and caramel 10, 2 hop varieties (can you guess what they are?), and the Windsor yeast strain. At 3.3% abv, it is very much a session beer, and one that every time I drink it I tend to think is a bit on the thin side, though tasty enough. Yet on Saturday afternoon my little Ordinary Bitter came away with the gold medal in the Bitters and English Pale Ale category, pushing a couple of ESBs into second and third.

As you can imagine I am very please with this. Everyone likes to win competitions and get some freebies, I particularly like my new Sierra Nevada glass, which will likely make an appearance soon. Most intriguing though is a small packet of unlabelled hop pellets, seriously, I have no idea what they are. I think I will make a SMaSH beer with them though, perhaps with a base of 100% Vienna or Munich, just for fun.

Despite the bling and the freebies, it is the feedback on the score sheets that I am most interested in. I like getting feedback on my beers, and the medium of judging beers anonymously really is helpful as it takes away the element of being nice to the brewers face. Some of the comments about Fuggold Bitter were in stark contrast to my own opinion, for example one judge thought the beer had "too much body for this category" and that it might be better as an ESB, another judge thought it "a bit full flavoured". Maybe the next time I am back in Blighty I will have to go on a bitter drinking spree, but thinking back on a pleasant afternoon in Oxford's The King's Arms, drinking mostly Young's Bitter, I don't recall it being as thin as I think my bitter is.

Some other interesting comments on the beers I entered included both my witbiers being described as closer to saison than wit - mainly due to the colour and being "too hoppy" for a witbier, I never thought I would read that 18 IBUs of pure Saaz would be too hoppy. From this feedback though, I think I will enter both witbiers in the saison category at the Virginia Beer Blitz in October. On the subject of the three wit experiment, it was the American Witbier - same base beer as the other 2 but fermented with the American Wheat Strain - that scored the highest of all my beer and was in the running for another medal as it was involved in a category Best of Show playoff.

The beer with the lowest score was my Export India Porter, which I entered as both a robust porter and a specialty beer. For the base beer in the specialty category, I put British Black IPA, as it uses all British hops to achieve the same IBU rating as an American Black Ale/Cascadian Dark Ale/Insert Name of the Week. It was as a specialty beer that I got the dreaded "not to style" comment, at which I chuckled broadly as there is no such thing as a British Black IPA, so what possible style could it not conform to? The beer did better as a robust porter, and I entirely agree with one of the judge's comments that "a bit more substantial malt base" would "support the formidable hop bitterness". I attribute this to the fact that the first batch, which took gold as a robust porter in last year's Beer Blitz, had an OG of 1.062 as opposed to this batch's 1.052.

As a club, the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale pulled in a total of 16 medals, including some for mead and cider, and a second place in the overall Best of Show. Not only is the Charlottesville area something of a hot bed for good breweries, but also seems to be something of a breeding ground for homebrewers.

With my medal hanging with the others in the kitchen, my attention has already turned to preparing for this year's Virginia Beer Blitz.......

Monday, March 21, 2011

Charlottesville Pubs

This weekend, Mrs Velkyal and I had guests, namely Mrs V's best friend and her husband, who drove up from Greenville in South Carolina to spend a few precious hours boozing with us. Just how much boozing it is possible to cram in to slightly less than 40 hours is quite impressive really.

Naturally we took them to our usual hangouts, Friday afternoon a few pints in Beer Run - where they had the wonderful O'Hara's Irish Stout on tap, and the red incidentally - much nicer on tap than in the bottle. Just a minor aside, a pint (yes, a proper pint) of Guinness is $6, a pint of O'Hara's was $6.50. 50 cents difference between a quality, Irish made product and Guinness? Just a hint chaps, ditch the Guinness and have O'Hara's as your standard stout! Sure some people might moan a bit for a wee while, but I defy anyone to taste them side by side and not be won over immediately.

As our guests had driven 6 hours to get here, we decided against a heavy night on the booze, and headed home to attack the cellar and enjoy Mrs V's home-cooked dinner - another aside, if you are of a crafty persuasion, as in knitting, crocheting and such like, Mrs V is now blogging about her stuff and you can see her blog here.

Saturday though was planned to be drinking day. Can you guess where we took them? Of course you can if you are a regular reader of Fuggled, but before we got there we ventured off our regular beaten track and found Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery, where we enjoyed sampling their fruit wines and mead. I am coming to the conclusion that Nelson County is full of boozers and foodies and so if we ever buy a house here, then Nelson County is high on the list of places to look. Having sampled and purchased some stuff, and with me admittedly getting a touch agitated because I wanted a pint, we finally made it to.........yes, you guessed it, Devils Backbone, still the only place in the area we have taken every single, and married, visitor we have had. I won't bore you with details, but the Backbone has gathered another couple of fans.

Coming back into town, Mrs V had a work function to attend, and so her friend went with her and myself and Mr Friend were off to the pubs of the town centre. First on the list? Court Square Tavern. I am sure that I don't say this often enough, because I waffle about Beer Run and Devils Backbone so much, but this little pub is one of my favourite places in the city, and vastly under-rated. Here's why I like to head in on a Friday or Saturday night: top bar staff, cozy atmosphere and Czech lager, admittedly bottled, but still, I am partial to a glass of B.B. Burgerbrau as the pale lager from the oldest brewery in Budweis is called over here, and ?atec is always a decent pint as well. In the 18 months since I have been here, the Tavern has improved steadily and hopefully this will continue in the future.

Next up was South Street Brewery, a place I go to far less often than I probably should - especially as it is right opposite my office and opens at just about the right time for post work drinkies. The problem I find is that many of their beers are uninspiring and so I will often wander a little further from the office to go to Beer Run. However, it is one of the most beautiful pubs from an architectural point of view that I have ever seen. We popped in and I had a pint of their Aisling Stout, which I describing thusly: "looks like a stout, smells like a stout, tastes like a stout" - it hit the spot. And so on we went, with my taking a mental note that I should give the entire South Street range another try.

Our next watering hole was a place I have wanted to visit for a very long time, Horse and Hound, a British style gastropub (I hate that term with a passion - it tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of the business). Now, I am perfectly willing to accept that having not lived in Britain for more than a decade a couple of things may have happened. The British pub may have changed beyond all recognition or my nostalgia for the British pub has severely rose-tinted my vision. I was not impressed, not impressed in the slightest. The beer range itself is decent enough, but my experience of the staff was that they were surly and disinterested. Having had my pint (no not a proper pint) we wandered off to find somewhere else - with me muttering viciously.

And so we came to Escafe, another little place just round the corner from where I work, and conveniently opposite the venue of Mrs V's work function, which was slowly coming to its end. I like Escafe, it feels like a bar, and that's a good thing in my pub-centric world. Not pretentious, just simple. In there we ran into the other widowers of our better halves' function and then the phone rang and it was time to pull the plug and head home.

A good night out all told, my usual haunts lived up to their billing, one place will need revisiting and the other, well perhaps I shouldn't be so opinionated and hasty.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Revival! Export India Porter...

Last night I went to my first CAMRA meeting. No, not the Campaign for Real Ale. Charlottesville's local homebrew club is called the Charlottesville Area Masters  of Real Ale, or CAMRA. Yes, yes, I know I have been here now for over a year, but I had not plucked up the courage to go to a meeting quite simply because these guys win medals left, right and centre at homebrew competitions.

Anyway, one of the members recently started following my Twitter feed and we got into the conversation that seems to be de rigeur in American beer circles at the moment, Black IPA or whatever the trendy term this week is. It turned out that Jamey had brewed a Black IPA around the same time as I brewed my Red Coat India Black Ale. We agreed to meet at CAMRA's monthly meeting and compare beers, a short version of the comparison would be; both were good. Jamey used American C-hops and for the first time in a Black IPA they didn't taste out of place, although my first thought of the nose was sweaty jockstraps, but that became blood grapefruits after a further sniff or two. On the basis of his beer I wonder if part of my gripe is with the lack of balance in the IBAs I have had so far?

My beer was also good, judging from the approving nods and comments from various members, but given that the hops were British, the consensus was that this was really a porter. I suppose that reaction very much vindicates my belief that Black IPA is actually just an over-hopped porter, using American hops rather than British. Given that the IBU range for Robust Porter according to the BJCP (sorry to the non-style people) is 25 - 50, and that according to a recent post on Ron's blog, 19th century porters shipped to India had about a third extra hops chucked in, then the evidence is stacking, in my mind, that India Black Ale belongs with the porters rather than the IPAs.

As such, I have decided to enter Red Coat in the upcoming Virginia Beer Blitz as a Robust Porter rather than my initial plan to enter it as a Category 23 Specialty Beer.Also being entered in the competition will be Machair Mild, as Experimental Dark Matter has been renamed, and Gunnersbury Gold, a Best Bitter.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...