Saison du BUFF – Dogfish Head/Stone/Victory collaboration beer

September 3, 2010

This past Sunday my buddy John and I had the opportunity to stop at Moe’s Tavern in Lee, MA for a very special treat: Saison du BUFF on tap! Saison du BUFF is a collaboration beer from Dogfish Head, Stone and Victory breweries. I have two bottles at home that I’ve been saving, and now can compare them against the kegged beer. This beer is brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme… yep, a big ol’ glass of Simon & Garfunkel.

Appearance: Nice hazy straw color beer with frothy white head.

Smell: Quite a bit going on here. A tart spiciness that was peppered with herbs. Mainly sage and thyme coming through as far as the four herbs go. Some tacky sweet notes to the nose as well, like the faint aroma of honey that’s been stirred into tea.

Taste: Wow! Even more going on here! Initial light sweetness breaks quickly to lemon zest, rosemary and yes, parsley (so the other two herbs come marching in). Nice back end herby notes, again with more tartness and now some bittering.

Mouthfeel: Thinner feel than it looks in the glass. Clean, somewhat dry finish. Very enjoyable.

Drinkability: This goes down like water on a hot day. The sweet-tartness up front combined with the clean bitter finish really lend this beer to be finished off quite quickly (as we discovered first hand).

Overall: I am exceptionally pleased with this beer, and can’t wait to try it in bottle. Perhaps that will be on the menu this evening. If you see this beer, get it. It’s limited, and is worth trying. And if you live within radius to Moe’s, call to see if it’s still on tap!


Black IPA follow-up tasting

August 26, 2010

I had a cause for celebration this afternoon/evening and popped open one of the Black IPA homebrews. Man this beer keeps getting better! I poured into a pint glass and then went off to do a few things while the beer warmed from fridge temp. About 15 minutes later the head was still 3/4 full and spongy as ever!

Nose is crisp with wet hops and toasted grains. Notes of lemon grass and caramel amid an undeniable and unsuppressible hop presence.

Taste is everything I could have asked for. Faintly tart and very bitter, with a nice mix of burnt caramel and charred wood, and a nice firm bitter finish.

The beer has about a medium body to it, but finishes quite dry and tacky, leaving you wanting another sip.

I am beyond thrilled with how this beer came out, and can’t wait to brew it again!

Black IPA, batch #1

July 28, 2010

This homebrew concoction is a play off the new Cascadian Dark Ale category, but with a huge hop wallop. I don’t have specs for the recipe handy, but here’s the lowdown on tonight’s initial tasting (bottled last Monday). To set the stage, it’s an Imperial IPA brewed with dark grains and both Simcoe and Amarillo hops, and landed at 8.1% ABV.

Pours a very dark brown (need to tweak the color, maybe, else rename it) with a beautiful spongy tan head. Nose of hop cones (dry hopped with several ounces), molasses and charred wood. Beer is very bitter but quite smooth at the same time. Initial attack of citrusy hops and toasted malt, then flavors mellow to an almost lemony caramel flavor, finishing dry with a nice floral hop sustain. Highly drinkable, which could be a problem (this ain’t no session ale!). Mouthfeel is fairly silky going down with a nice dry tackiness to the palate afterwards, leaving you wanting more. Color is a deep, dark brown, and though clean-pouring, does not filter light.

I couldn’t be happier with this batch! Co-brewer Angelos is also wowed. We give a hearty nod to Dark Brewer as this was a bastardization of his quite amazing Simarillo IPA recipe. Enjoy a rather crappy shot I took from my iPhone. Note to self: you need a decent white set with good lighting, and a better camera.

Maple Honey Porter

February 23, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I bottled the Maple Honey Porter I brewed back in late January. This one’s going to need some time to mellow.


  • OG: 1.073
  • FG: 1.016
  • ABV: 7.4%

I used my BrewPal iPhone app exclusively in logging this brew. This gave me far more info than I could have hoped for. Some additional factoids about this beer:

  • Color is 36.8 degrees Lovibond
  • there are 236 calories in every 12 oz bottle (yikes!)
  • 48 IBUs
  • 85% efficiency

I took a sample last week after a week in the bottle and it was terribly young. Flavors were all over the place and while tasty it was just too young to note anything specific. I took another sample tonight and the flavors and aromas are starting to work together a bit more. The nose is still tacky-sweet with maple syrup notes though there are some nice caramel notes starting to come through. I’m also getting a touch of honey still, mainly in the form of a faint flowery sharpness.

The body of this beer is thinner than you’d expect from the aroma, but what you would expect from the gravity. The thinness lends a bit to a boozy element to the beer, but there is also a nice faint trace of maple there to bring a little bit of “hefty” flavor back to the beer. Nice toasty flavors coming through, with a dry hoppy finish.

I’m going to let this one sit for a few more weeks before trying again, but it has potential.

2009 Knickerbocker Battle of the Brews

January 27, 2010

I can’t believe I hadn’t blogged this yet…

Back in November 2009 I entered the Knickerbocker Battle of the Brews. It was my first homebrew competition, and I was mainly entering to get feedback on some of my beer other than my friends and family telling me “it’s good, I like it”.

I entered two beers I had handy at home. One was an English Pale that I knew was a bit off and wanted to see what the judges thought of the flavors, and the other was the Imperial Honey Amber that I was really happy with. I was on the fence whether to enter the honey as a specialty beer or a braggot, but settled on specialty as there was a bit more malt than honey in it.

Come the day of the judging, I stopped by at the posted time for the award ceremony and the place was oddly dead. There were a few groups of people still milling about and chatting, but it looked like they were packing up for the day. I walked over to one of the organizers and asked what the deal was… Apparently they finished the judging early and just wanted to get the hell out of there! Fair enough. I can’t blame them, though next time I think I’ll camp out on location for the day.

Anyway, I gave them my name and one guy repeated it and asked me “Didn’t you win an award?” That took me by surprise, and I replied “I don’t know! I just got here. You tell me!” they looked through the many remaining judging folders (I guess being mailed back to non-local competitors) and pulled my folder. Sure enough, my Imperial Honey Amber took 1st Place in its category (Specialty Beer)!!!

I was quite shocked, and think I smiled for the rest of the evening. The judging comments were great – objective, critical, and praising all in one. Best judge comment: “I would pay good money for a beer like this!”

The English Pale Ale didn’t do as well, but I got good feedback. Consistent feedback of mild acetone notes. Ah well. I’ll be able to put all their feedback to good use, and that was the whole point of the exercise. Winning was a bonus!

The Imperial Honey Amber will be the first of several beers I’ll be regularly brewing to come to a consistent recipe.

Followup on the Imperial Porter

January 27, 2010

Well, since it’s now almost gone I’d better get to this follow-up.

The Imperial Porter ended up losing its crown. I couldn’t locate the WLP007 or any high gravity yeast in time for brew day (every homebrewer in the area was apparently making a kick-ass winter beer), so I had to go with a standard English Ale yeast (Munton’s) and work a 2 day starter to get enough cells to take on the porter. They petered out early, and the resulting ABV was only 6.1% which, while reasonable, left the beer extremely sticky sweet. It’s been conditioning well in the bottle and I’ve received no complaints, but this was not the beer I was targeting. Ah well. It’s tasty and drinkable, so I can’t be too upset.

Monday Night’s Brew – Maple Honey Porter

January 27, 2010

I’m a sucker for adjuncts, what can I say?

Here’s a quick run-down of the recipe.


  • 3 lbs Amber DME
  • 2 lbs pale malt
  • .5 lbs black patent malt
  • .25 lbs chocolate malt
  • .75 lbs Crystal 120L malt
  • 32 fl oz pure maple syrup
  • 1 lb wildflower honey
  • 1 oz Cascade hop pellets (5.6%a)
  • 1.75 oz Galena hop pellets (10.6%a)
  • 1 vial White Labs WLP007 English Ale yeast

Brew Day’s Eve: I first stole 1/2 cup of Amber DME to make a 1 qt yeast starter. I gave the starter 24 hours so I’d pitch while the yeast was still highly active.

Brew day: Started with a 30 minute steep of all the grain in 2 gallons of water. Steeping held steady at about 155 degrees. Sparged with another 2 gallons of 165 degree water. Then started my boil with 4 gallons – a thick boil. Dropped 1 oz of Galena for the 60, the remaining .75 oz at the 30, and the Cascade at the 2. Transferred to fermenter, brought up to 5 gallons with clean cold water, chilled to 73 degrees, aerated and pitched the starter.


  • corrected OG: 1.073
  • 48 IBUs
  • color: 37 degrees L