Kill the Flash
Please, for the love of good looking photos, turn off the flash. Flashes on most consumer cameras are nearly useless. Unless you absolutely can't see anything in the photo without the flash, you're better off without; it's that simple. Photos of people and things almost always look better without the flash, and beer definitely falls in that category. Flash light reflects off the glass, and washes out the photo. Improve the ambient lighting if you need to, or find another location to shoot before you turn the flash on.

Let's face it, every new recipe we brew is a gamble. As we become better brewers, we learn how to make more new beers successes rather than failures, but it's never a sure thing. Every brewery is different, every brewer's process is different, and at the end of the day, we're all counting on 200 billion organisms to ferment our beer the way we intend. So what am I getting at?

Since I started this blog, among other things, I write about the beers I brew. I typically post my recipe and brew day notes, and then I've tried to follow up with a post describing how the batch turned out. Well I've thought about it, and I don't believe that's the best approach.

First and foremost, I know that few people reading this blog care about what beers are going to be on-tap at my house soon (at least outside those that drink my beers). So there's no need to attempt to capture someone's interest with a good looking recipe only to make them wait 4-8 weeks to see results. That leads to the second point: People are result oriented; I know I am. I write to share. Whether it be a new trick I learned, best brewing practices, or great recipes, sharing is very much a part of the homebrew spirit. But unless I know a process works, or that a recipe turned out well, I'm typically not inclined to try it. If a recipe I brewed turned out like crap, I want the results right next to the recipe so someone won't make the same mistakes I did. Since I don't have a journalism background, I've been having to learn some of the tricks of the trade the hard way, and it seems that reporting half of a story isn't best practice.

So I'm going to take this blog in a slightly different direction, at least in terms of the posts related to my batches. I'm going to hold off posting the recipe and brew day notes until the beers are done. I'm not doing this to cover up my less than stellar batches, but rather to shrink the distance between concept and results. Unfortunately this does mean that there will be a lag time before my next post regarding my beers. Don't fret, I'll keep my blog updated with other content in the mean time, but after my Furry Penguin is done fermenting, it'll realistically be one to two months before you'll see another post regarding a recipe/brew day. After that, I'll be back on schedule.

That's the long and short of it. Stick around because I have some really cool beers planned for the next few months, and I look forward to sharing the creative things i stumble across along the way!

It always seems to happen. Every time I plan a number of beers in advance, I never manage to stick to the schedule. Thankfully I did make it through five of the six beers I had recently planned, but it looks like the Pale Ale is going to get pushed back. Sometimes my creative ADD takes over.

I've really been fascinated by some of the fringe IPAs (black, wheat, rye) lately, and I've been wanting to make one for awhile now. Stone's Sublimely Self-Righteous is one of my favorites, as well as Odell Mountain Standard and Hops in the Dark. That was until I tried Stone's 15th Anniversary Escondidan IPA. What an incredible beer that is; such a huge mouthfeel with a boat-load of Citra character. I've been wanting to make something similar ever since I tried it.

Then very recently I bought a sixer of Ruthless Rye from Sierra Nevada, which recharged my impulse to brew a Rye IPA. Fantastic beer, again with a lot of Citra aroma. Well it just so happens I have a lot of Citra hops, and I love Citra and Amarillo together, so why not make a Black Rye IPA featuring those hops? I want this beer to be a little bigger than an IPA, but not quite as huge as the Stone BIPAs. Maybe something around 8% give or take.

So I tossed together a quick recipe for what I think will be a great beer. The only thing holding me back on brewing this next is the fact my last four beers have all been 1.060 or higher, and I'm in dire need of a session-strength beer right now. Which leads to my next creative impulse.....

A couple of months ago, I purchased 12oz of experimental hops(HBC 342), and they've been practically screaming at me from the freezer, begging to be used. The plan is to take my pale ale(a 1.055 beer) recipe, and replace all the hops with HBC342.

So now it's a coin toss over which beer I'll brew in the next couple weeks; I'm still debating...Anyway, on to the recipe for the Black Rye IPA!

6 gallons
13lbs 2-row
2lbs 10oz Rye
14oz Crystal 60
14oz Carafa Special III
Mash @ 152*
1.5oz Warrior (17% AA) @ 60
2oz Amarillo/Citra @ 15
3oz Amarillo/Citra @ 0
Dry Hop - 4oz Amarillo/Citra
Safale US-05 - fermented at 62*F

Target OG: 1.075
Target FG: 1.015

Foreign Extra Stout and Robust Porter

So the Foreign Extra Stout and Robust Porter I brewed awhile back are both finally reaching their peak. Here are some brief tasting notes for anyone considering brewing them.

Foreign Extra Stout:

Clarity is excellent for a beer this dark, but it isn't quite dark enough. It's black, but not the jet black I was shooting for. Aroma is roasty, sweet, and there's definitely a caramelized sugar, burnt raisin character from the dark crystals. Flavor is roasty, raisiny, with some esters from the yeast. Probably a little too much, but that's a yeast-management issue, not a recipe issue.

Overall a very nice beer. Only recipe tweak would be an additional 4oz of roasted barley for color and more roast.

Robust Porter:

This beer is definitely on the dark end of a robust porter. Aroma is pleasant with some chocolate and floral notes from the hops. Flavor is more chocolate, and some sweetness from the crystal malt. Very well balanced beer and overall, very nice. I'm extremely excited to submit this beer to the upcoming Great Arizona Homebrew Competition, as I think it will do really well.

It's been a slow last two weeks for me, but there are lots of updates coming soon. I dry hopped my Amber Ale yesterday, tomorrow I'm brewing the Furry Penguin, and I've got a few other fun things going on that I'll post.

We are only 5 days away from the start of the 2nd Annual Arizona Beer Week, and I couldn't be more excited. Every single day from Saturday to Saturday there are dozens of beer events around town; beer dinners, beer-food pairings, keg tappings, brewer meet & greets, etc etc.

There's so many events going on each day, that it will make your head spin, but here are a few that I have ear-marked that interest me:
Saturday: Arizona Strong Beer Festival
Sunday: Bell's Tasting @ Total Wine Tempe
Monday: Teakwoods and Flanny's are tapping Four Peaks Robust Porter
Tuesday: Sierra Nevada is tapping three kegs at Taste of Tops
Wednesday: Ballast Point is tapping kegs at Boulders, Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, and Sierra Nevada will be at Flanny's
Thursday: Firestone Walker Tasting at Whole Foods Chandler
Friday: Fox Cigar and Beer Festival

I highly doubt I'll make it to all these, but I'm certainly going to try to attend most. If you haven't checked out the website, and you live in AZ, you should!

Anyone else planning on attending any of these?

I'm sure you've heard it before: Beer is over 90% water. That little adage would lead you to believe that quality water is the most important factor in good beer. I won't go that far, but quality water does help. Aside from temperature controlled fermentations, starting with reverse osmosis water and building back minerals has made the biggest difference in the quality and consistency of my brews. The best part is, it's really not that difficult or confusing. It's easier for me to do this in a Q&A format, so i'll be asking my self questions =)

No one likes hazy beer. Other than styles like hefeweizens and wits that are supposed to be turbid, haze is a put-off to most people. Most haze in beer has no taste or flavor, but let's face it, we drink with our eyes first. There's nothing more inviting than a sparkling clear beer just begging to be drank. Unfortunately, without filtration, bright beer can be difficult to achieve for many home brewers, but I'm here to help.

Sam Adams glass for reference
Lots of people will tell you that specific glassware can enhance the beer drinking experience. I'm not a beer snob, but I will admit that a snifter really does help capture the aroma of a beer. And considering I drink a boat load of hoppy beers, this is a good thing.

Most nights, I often don't want a full pint of beer, rather I just want to taste one of my beer to see how it's coming along. The snifters I've seen online hold 12oz or more, and just aren't practical for me. Many breweries use little 4-5oz snifters for tastings, but I couldn't seem to find them for sale indivudually. They sell online for around $30 shipped for a case of 12 (not a bad deal), but I don't exactly need 12. So last night after dinner, my girlfriend and I were perusing a little glass shop in downtown Chandler, and low-and-behold they had the perfect little glasses! Then I saw the price - 4 glasses for $5. Sold!

While I'll admit, they do look a little snobby and douchey, these are still pretty freaking sweet glasses, and the perfect size too!

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