That, my friends, is one of the coolest Christmas gifts I've ever received. It's a 1 liter American Oak barrel from Oak Barrels, Ltd. I almost put some Scotch in there in my haste to start using it but the hombrewer in me won out and I have a Belgian Dubbel planned for it. It's going to be a clone of New Belgium's Abbey Ale (SWMBO's favorite).

I've never aged anything in oak before and I'm trying to think through the whole process. This will be a slight challenge because 1 liter is roughly 1/20th the size of a standard homebrew batch. This means that I will have to put the 19/20ths I'm not using in another storage vessel and periodically use that to top up the oak barrel. I've read about oak aging beer a lot and there really is something magical about it. They even call the beer lost due to evaporation the '"angels' share." I don't know about you, but that's poetic to me. 

Because this barrel is so small there is going to be a much greater liquid to surface area ratio (higher percentage of the beer touching wood compared to a HUGE barrel). This means that the oak flavors will be imparted much more quickly than if a larger barrel were to be used. Additionally, if the beer sits in the barrel for more than 3 weeks or so, I might have to actually add more yeast to it before bottle conditioning. The complexity doesn't even end there, however. Depending on the flavor profile of the beer coming out of the barrel I might have to actually blend it back in with some of the non-oak-aged beer to get the right balance of flavor lest it be too oaky. 

I'll have to find a nice big 750 mL wine bottle or two to bottle this up. Maybe that should be the plan? Blend the 1 liter of aged beer with about .5 liters of non-oak-aged beer and then fill up two 750 mL bottles. Hussey Homebrew Private Reserve anyone?

I've got a slam dunk of a Pumpkin Ale bottled up off the keg and am debating on whom to send them too. I have 5 in reserve because I think I might actually enter it into competition for the National Homebrewers' Conference. Keep an eye on your front porch and maybe you'll be getting some Pumpkin Ale!
Last year, as we were acclimating to US life again, I caught wind of this awesome beer and food pairing event in D.C. We happened to be traveling to D.C. for my cousin's graduation party the following weekend so I was trying to figure out clever ways to stretch the trip out to attend both. Alas the timing was off as I had discovered the event too late. Turns out that event was SAVOR and is said to be fantastic. 

This year SAVOR is heading to New York City. It happens to line up with other trips to that general region we are planning so I'm back to scheming. This time I may have enough of a head start given that they just announced the breweries who are attending. This event actually has breweries competing for the chance to pour through a lottery system. This does happen to be just two weeks before the National Homebrewers' Conference which I also have my eyes on. I'm not sure SWMBO will authorize all this travel for beer-related purposes...

Information about SAVOR can be found at the 2013 SAVOR Website.

I've only attended two beer festivals in the US. The first was the Columbus Beer Fest and the second was the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO. The former had a decent offering of breweries but was in a tremendously over-sized venue which left it feeling kind of warehouse-ish while the latter was, despite its large size, PACKED. SAVOR looks to be a more upscale and refined event which probably has its pros and cons. I tend to be a deep thinker where beer is concerned so I can appreciate the sophistication that food pairings brings to the craft beer industry. 

What I'm Drinking:
Homebrewed Greenbelt Pale Ale

Dense head with tight lacing, citrus and floral aromas, moderately high hop bitterness.



1 Comment

I've decided to blog about beer. This decision is largely borne of my need to talk to someone other than myself about brewing; I'm starting to get weird looks from strangers. 

While living in Kuwait I was introduced to the joys of homebrewing. I consider this ironic given the illegality of alcohol there. Amplifying the irony is that we had diplomatic privileges and could very well buy professionally crafted beer yet still decided to drink the swill we were making on our stove tops. 

Sometime before serving in Kuwait I knew that I wanted more out of my beer drinking than the 'lights' had to offer me. Don't get me wrong, I won't kick a Bud Light out of bed for eating crackers if it's the only thing available to me, but I far prefer some more flavor to my beer. My first love affair would probably be Sam Adams' Boston Lager. It's still a go-to beer selection when nothing else is appealing to me.

Since being introduced to brewing I've fallen deeper and deeper into it. I've built a kegerator, purchased a 20 gallon Blichmann Boilermaker pot, and have plans in the works to build an all-electric brewing setup. Yea, it's an obsession. I've also developed an appreciation for the commercial brewing industry and enjoy following the goings-on within it. 

I haven't 100% settled on the design of this blog so expect tumult for the next few weeks/years while I figure it out (read: wait for my very talented wife to tell me what looks best).
What I'm Drinking: 
Homebrewed American Amber Ale

Sweet aroma, clear copper coloring, medium-bodied with caramel notes and a slight bitterness. Flavors linger on the tongue beckoning you to take another sip.