Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fresh Hop Madness

I have been anticipating the release of this beer for nearly a year, and finally here it is!!!

Leafer Madness
Imperial Pale Ale
2011 Fresh Hop Edition
22oz Bottle

Once a year Beer Valley Brewing Company releases 2 Fresh Hopped versions of their beer; Black Flag Imperial Stout and Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale. They use local hops fresh off the vine, right here in the treasure valley, from Hop farms near the Snake River. Other brewing companies here in the Northwest release Fresh Hop beers, mostly a month earlier than this one. But because Leafer Madness is an Imperial Ale, it takes a bit longer to age and condition. And we are all well rewarded for our patience.

Another fun fact; Idaho is the 3rd largest Hop producing state behind Washington and Oregon. Idaho also houses the largest Hop Farm in The World!!!(unfortunately owned by A-B_ig Bad Beer company to use in their flavorless beer) -Whoa! easy on the negative vibes brah ;]

Anyways, this beer is so great, local brewery, local ingredients, big and heady!! Madness!!! 
This beer being freshly hopped, has a different taste than your regularly hopped beers. I'd say the flavor is a bit more bright, clean and fresh, like a cool bowl of salad hiding subtly in your glass of brew!! 
This beer has smooth hop flavor; flowery, herbal, and grassy. The aroma is flowery and piney; like sitting in a sunny meadow in late spring, that shines in the dark depths of a  pine forest. Yes magical, and you feel this magical as you drink the Leafer Madness.

After the pour, a huge white beautiful creamy-soft head develops, just like whip cream on a caramel latte. But  instead of a long day ahead, I suggest you take the afternoon off and drift away on a puffy cloud, of Leafer Madness!!

The malt is big in this beer, to make a 9% ABV, but balanced by loads of fresh hops from right here in Idaho. There is a forward sweetness, bready and grainy, with a soft deep hazy-orange color. Though the pleasant malt paves the way for a  hop-dank explosion, and the hops are what this beer is all about. The mouth-feel is medium, initial sweetness with a mild dry finish. Initial tastes picks up a citrus rind bitterness in the back and sides of tongue, that disappears with more drinks, and the other malt and hop flavors come forth. Some sweet and spicy/minty, flowery and lightly herbal/grassy. Flavor has it all!!

One shop has sold out for the year, I hope to have a couple more before they are gone....and then I will have to wait for next years late summer and fall, for another round of fresh hopped beers from the great Northwest.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Earth, Wind, and Beer....Hop Notch

Thank You Uinta!!!

This beer truly is Hop Top Notch, Top Hop Notch, Top Notch, and Hoptastically Fantastic.
 ** Say that 3 times fast **

How such a wonderful beer comes from Bizzaro-world Mormon land, I have no idea. But you would be quite surprised, Utah actually has a great beer culture, and has breweries that have been turning out fantastic beers for years; even in Utah!!! Enough of that stuff though...what really matters here is Hop Notch....   This is my new favorite IPA, and beer for that matter, hands down....Note: Uinta made great beer before they made awesome labels, *these are hot!!!  Up to par with Odells Brewing, Laurelwood Brewing, and Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada 'Life and Limb' bottle.....But that's whole other post I can do another time....

*Nonetheless, check out this link to their new label artwork....
Uinta Label Revamp

oh yeah... Fun Fact; On March 24th 2009 Utah finally made home-brewing Legal!!!  That only leaves Alabama  Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. -Wow!! They must think the Devil himself is a home-brewer. Thank you hey-zeus for beer!!!

Hop Notch IPA
7.3% ABV
12oz Bottle

This beer is almost as fresh as it gets, two weeks in the bottle, from SLC to Boise. Bought at our local co-op.
The pour is easy, good carbonation and decent one finger head. The color is a clear/light amber, and bright.(not hazy) This beer has great aroma, I'm guessing because it is pretty fresh.

Fruity and Pine aroma, very inviting, and refreshing. Light sweet malt body with a clean finish(not to dry/not too sweet-perfect??), and very mild bitterness. This beer is very easy to drink, and is great for those who Love Hops!!!

The initial hop flavor is fruity and flowery, and finishes with a pine/grapefruit flavor in the back half of the mouth. The malt is pretty light, lightly sweet up front, with a smooth dry finish. The mouth is medium light, and clean. Very easy to drink, a throw-down session beer, if you want to get a little hammered!!!  Perfect, for bigger guys like me, effects of what a normal pale ale would give a smaller man.

Thank you to Utah breweries, this state makes really great beer!!!(to name a few; Wasatch/Squatters, Epic, Bohemian, etc....check them all out)

Keep your Mormons, but please keep sending your Beer!!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Batch #2, Come and Gone

Homegrown Suds Ale #2......we could call it China Red, Clifford the Big Red Ale, Amulet Imperial Amber, Forest Floor Ale....who knows,  I never actually coined the beer properly, but it did turn out pretty well. With refinement and experience, I will re-visit this custom recipe and see how to improve.

Batch #2 was a bit over my head, but not anything I couldn't handle. I just had never Mini-Mashed before, (halfway between extract brewing and doing all grain batch). I had a vague idea what I wanted for this beer to be, I just wasn't sure if the end result would mirror my plan.  The amazing thing, it turned out just as I hoped it would!!
My hopes were for an Ale that was big, malty and smooth, with a healthy mouthful of hops in it. I wanted my hop profile to be earthy, woody, minty, spicy and somewhat floral, but still leaving room for a substantial malt framework.

I did my first mini-mash, and it went pretty smooth. With nearly four pounds of grain; 2-Row Pale Malt, Chocolate Malt, Crystal 120, and Cara-red/C30, I mashed at approximately 150 degrees, and managed to pull out the sugars I needed, something like +20 gravity points with my hydrometer reading. I am not far enough along to know my efficiency, or my malt character dependent on my mash temperatures.....but that will come in due time. The rest of the sugars came from 7 pounds of Amber and Pale Malt extract. I was going for a big beer and I got it, getting about 7.5% ABV.

Hops used were Northern Brewer as a bittering hop, Perle and Willamette Hops for flavor, and Cascade -Willamette mix, for flavor and aroma at flame-out, as well as a Dry Hop in secondary. 

Bottle conditioning required more time for this batch, at three weeks, it still had a green flavor. But weeks four and on it was ready to drink, and was enjoyed. I am sure with more aging #2 will get even better, fortunately or unfortunately, I drank them all and gave plenty away. I guess I will have to brew more Beer!!!!!!