Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stout Week Lineup Announced!!!

Here is the lineup for Stout Week and the Flying Saucer. It may vary a bit, but here we go:

Monday 10/31:
Coffee Stout Night - Emelisse Espresso Stout, Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel, Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast

Tuesday 11/01:
Great Divide Night: Oak Aged Yeti, Chocolate Yeti, Belgian Yeti

Wednesday 11/02:
Best of the Rest: Firestone Walker Parabola, Leinenkugel's Big Eddy, Sierra Nevada Fritz & Ken's Ale, New Belgium Clutch

Thursday 11/03:
Founders Night: Breakfast Stout, Canadian Breakfast Stout

Friday 11/04:
Expedition, Cherry, Double Cream, & hopefully Java
Saturday 11/05:
There is an outside chance at a very laid back Mikkeller Black hole tasting Saturday afternoon, but that is still up in the air.

All beers are draught, and the events will begin at 7pm each night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So you want to be a hop grower?

My first year of hop growing is in the books and it was rather anticlamatic.  I got a handful of hops from the Cascade plant and that's about it.  The Hallertau didn't produce much of anything let alone hop cones.  The in-ground Centennial plant looked promising and then the entire main vine died.  So the Cascade plant in the container was the best performing plant in the first year.  The cones I did manage to harvest had only tiny amounts of luplin visible.  Without luplin the hop cones did not have the signature hop aroma and will most likely have no hop flavor.  My first year of hop growing was a scrub but it is pretty much what I expected from my research.  Hopefully year two will reap far greater rewards.  My advice for potential hop growers is to use Cascade plants and be sure to keep the plants pruned.  Until next year.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Beer Throwdown!

It seemed like only yesterday I was mocking the breweries for releasing their Oktoberfest’s in late summer.  Well apparently the joke is on me because now I’m rushing around to get my fall beer tastings posted before fall (or at least October) is over.  Judging by the wonderful weather it seems fall has still not really set in.  It has been somewhat brisk in the morning, but with daily temps in the 80’s it doesn’t seem very fall-esque.  Oh well, the fall beers will not wait for us so let’s jump into a Pumpkin beer throwdown. I grabbed 5 pumpkin beers the other day in a build my own sixer and pitted them against one another in a battle to the death. 

Pumpkin beer is a style that I largely avoided in the past much like Belgians.  I’m not a pumpkin pie fan so the idea of pumpkin in beer was never all that appealing to me.  Last year I picked up a sampler from none other than Sam Adams which had their Harvest Pumpkin Spice in it.  I was mad at first because I was sure pumpkin beer would be horrid and I had to buy it to get the sampler.  Sam Adams delivered and introduced me to another beer style I was not familiar with in pumpkin beers.  The funny thing is I actually liked it.  With the momentum from the Sam Adams Pumpkin Spice I pledged this year I would make an effort to try several pumpkin beers.  I rounded up my cousin Claydizzle and we tasted the 5 brews back to back.  This was not a blind tasting. 

Schlafly Pumpkin Spice

 8% ABV

16  IBU

I’ve heard and read a lot of about this pumpkin brew so I had high expectations.  The nose is bursting with straight-up pumpkin pie.  The brew had a good medium-thick mouthfeel which complimented the sweetness well.  The spices in the brew were completely overwhelming.  The brew starts with some malt sweetness and then your palate is slammed by pumpkin pie spices.  The brew finishes super sweet and the spice lingers all the way to the finish.  This brew is way too sweet.  All of the spice and sweetness really sends this past the point of actually being beer.  Any and all “beer” qualities get completely lost in this brew.  In conclusion, if you want liquid pumpkin pie with whipped cream crammed into a glass bottle then this is your brew.

Lakefront Pumpkin Lager

6% ABV

I’ve never heard of Lakefront Brewery so this choice was a gamble.  Halfway through the tasting I checked the internet to make sure this was a legit brewery and not a big beer puppet brewery.  Turns out Lakefront Brewery is located in Milwaukee, WI and has been brewing for over 24 years.  Ok it’s safe to drink lets try it.  The nose has very good pumpkin notes with some spice playing in the background.  The brew begins with a soft malt character resembling the likes of a pilsner.  A nice pumpkin taste starts showing up in the middle of the palate and persists discreetly into the finish.  The pumpkin pie spice shows up in the latter part of the palate and finishes very cleanly.  The beauty of this brew is how cleanly the big flavors play together.  The beer characteristics are not lost in this recipe with nice maltiness and the pumpkin/spice being used to complement the brew as opposed to overwhelming it.  I really like this brew.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead

5.1% ABV

The nose isn’t very strong w/ spice compared to some of the others.  There is some pumpkin aroma but the nose seems overall kind of flat.  Holy crap it’s super f’n pumpkin.  This brew is very very very pumpkiny.  It starts out ok but then your palate is steam rolled by a wet pumpkin flavor that seems to dry out your mouth.  The finish brings out some good spice character but doesn’t really save your mouth from all that pumpkin. 

O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer

5.6% ABV

11 IBUs

This is another local brew I thought I remembered hearing lots of good things about so hopes were high again.  The nose is nicely balanced with some sweetness and some pleasant spice.  This brew seemed to have a bit thinner mouthfeel than most the others but did lend to better drinkability.  The fist thing that stands out is how very very smooth and balanced this brew is.  This is one of the only brews that actually tastes like a beer as opposed to pumpkin pie disguised as beer.  Malt character is apparent throughout the taste with hints of wheat and nuts.  Several of the other beers are just simply sweet without any particular malt character.  Although minor, you can actually detect hop bitterness in this brew unlike any of the others.  There is pumpkin pie spice showing up in the finish but is very pleasant and balanced.  The pumpkin character is apparent in the middle of the palate but is very delicate.  I really like this brew too.

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

 5.7% ABV

14 IBUs

Here is the pumpkin beer that started it all for me in this style.  Could it hold off the O’Fallon and Lakefront offerings?  The nose is predominately a deep spice, cinnamon character.  This brew definitely has a much deeper, heavier taste than the others.  It seems the heaviness comes from the use of a fair amount of cinnamon in the recipe.  The Sam Adams offering was significantly darker in color than the others alluding to the use of darker caramel malts.  This darkness also lends to the heaviness of the taste but does balance the spices very nicely.  This reminded me of something but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  What is it?  Oh yeah, it reminds me of the cinnamon/spiced apples our family eats for Thanksgiving.  Compared to the balance of some of the others this brew is a little too sweet.


Well we started off with pumpkin pie and whipped cream and ended with spiced apples.  All of the brews were actually quite different and each had it’s own attributes.  My preferences gravitated towards the brews with subtlety and balance.  Claydizzle and I both picked the same top 3 and ranked them as follows.

1.  O’Fallon Pumpkin

2.  Lakefront Pumpkin Lager

3.  Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale

The O’Fallon was clearly the winner with its smoothness and balance.  The tastes all blended so nicely and the lightness made it a pleasure to drink.  Lakefront was a close second but didn’t quite have the flavor profile that O’Fallon did.  Sam Adams was less complex in its flavor profile than the other two but did have the unique dark cinnamon taste.  Although the heaviness of the flavor made the Sam Adams unique, it did hurt the sense of drinkability.


Friday, October 14, 2011

A Free Beer Truck? I've Died and Gone to Heaven!

A man was rushed to the hospital after he found what he thought was a free beer truck.  A refrigerated trailer complete with tap handles sticking out of the side was parked unattended in the streets of Chicago.  After grabbing a pitcher and drinking more than his fair share, the man was reported to the authorities.  Apparently he was so intoxicated he had to be rushed to the hospital.

During police questioning the man stated he had not done anything wrong and that he "thought he had died and gone to heaven" when discovering the "free beer truck".

And I know your wondering...I have not been to Chicago recently.

Adapted from the

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Boulder Bonanza!

Boulder is one of those brews that is always there staring at you from the build your own six pack shelf.  There are three of them to choose from but it feels like they shouldn’t be split up, they should stay together.  But that’s half the space in my six pack.  Do I want to make that sort of commitment?  I held off on the long term commitment for as long as I could but eventually had to give in.  Would this be a match made in heaven or a marriage in hell?

First to the party was Hazed and Infused.  It’s a 4.85% ABV ale dry hopped with Centennial and Crystal hops.  The brew pours with a giant mountain of head erupting from the glass.  The nose emits sour grapefruit notes with hints of grassy aroma.  The mouthfeel was somewhat thin but could be expected from the relatively low ABV.  The star of this brew was the very good hop character exhibited through out the taste.  The hop character had complexity with notes ranging from a somewhat minty flavor that leads into grassy/earthy notes.  And if that is not complex enough there are hints of lemon on the finish.  It is reminiscent of an IPA with a lower ABV and lower bitterness so the nuances of the hop character can shine.  The malt character was very good and played around in the background.  This brew was a pleasant surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Well we’re off to a good start can Boulder hold it down?  Next is Flashback India Brown Ale weighing in at 6.8% ABV.  I was excited about trying an India Brown Ale so expectations were high.  As promised in the name, it poured a medium brown color with a subtle head.  The nose is reminiscent of a stout with notes of roast and chocolate.  This brew like the Hazed and Infused had a somewhat thin mouthfeel.  There is an initial sensation of slight bitterness that lasts into the finish.  The roasty character initially promised by the aroma comes up short in the taste.  Hop character is non existent and the roasty character is only present in the aftertaste.  With that being said there is not much special with this brew.   

It’s going down hill, can the Mojo crank up the mojo?  Mojo is Boulder’s IPA rated at 6.8% ABV.  The brew poured with a small head that recedes fairly quickly.  The aroma offers up a bit of a mystery shaggy.  There’s a bit of sour grapefruit or is that sour wheat?  Wait, sour wheat?  That doesn’t seem right but being the fearless beer Yoda in training that I am I preceded.  Yep it’s weird.  The weird sour/bitter malt smell is also a prominent taste characteristic.  I’m not sure if this sour/bitter character is from the malt or from hop bitterness. This is a very different brew and it is not necessarily in a good way.  That taste…it reminds me of something.  What is it?  Oh yeah it tastes like what wet grain smells like when you forget about it and it goes rancid.  Yep that’s not a good thing.  I’m not sure if this was a bad batch but this particular bottle of beer was horrible. 


The Beer and Whiskey Bros do it again: Beer Battleship!

This looks like the coolest drinking game ever.  Forget beer pong and quarters let's play battleship m'fers!

To read the Beer and Whiskey Bros article:

Monday, October 10, 2011

FatCat's Brand Spankin' New Rating System

I wanted a quick and easy way to express my overall feelings of a brew.  I contemplated my inner most cave man and broke it down in the simplest terms, Would I buy this again and would I advise someone else to buy it?  With that being said, here is the new ranking system to express my caveman grunts.  This is posted at the bottom of the Epic Brew page.

Every Day Rating System:

5 Drunken Gnomes = Epic - Buy it, it's awesome!
4 Drunken Gnomes = Almost Epic - Not quite for everyone but if you're a beer geek buy it!
3 Drunken Gnomes = Not Bad - It's a decent brew, check it out when you get a chance.
2 Drunken Gnomes = Mehhh - Something new to try if nothing else tickles your fancy.
1 Drunken Gnome = Booo - I wouldn't even give this to my cat.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Maniacal Cucapa Chupacabras Pale Ale

Now that I’m on the canned craft brew band wagon here comes another one.  This time it’s Cucapa Chupacabras Pale Ale.  This Mexican brewed beer starts off with some wicked graphics on the can.  It is definitely one of the coolest labels I’ve seen.  The question is, would the liquid inside hold up to the righteously kick ass graphics?  We’re about to find out.

The brew poured with a substantial white head setting on top of a golden bath of malty goodness.  The nose bellows malty sweetness with notes of caramel and vanilla.  This is where the strange journey of Chupacabras begins.  Did I smell bourbon barrel aging?  Wow, a barrel aged pale ale… from Mexico… in a can… could it be?  Certainly smelled like it.  Onward!  With excitement I threw back a swig of the brew to further investigate my barrel aged theory.  The taste is dominated by delicious malt character which gives way to caramel notes in the middle of the palate.  Wait a minute, there it is again.  Its the smokey oaky character that tormented me earlier.  My exact tasting note is “ganarley”.  Bitterness is in a supporting role and definitely not the star of the show.  The finish is fairly sweet but the mouthfeel is thin enough to keep it within the Pale Ale genre.  The smoked/oak character persists to the finish and gets stronger as the brew warms.  This is one of the most unique pale ales that I’ve tasted.  All the flavors play nicely together and after your done you look around to figure out what just happened.  Awesome!

The Chupacabras delivers!  Is this seriously a barrel aged pale ale?  To the bat cave batman.  I searched the web and the Cucapa website and there is no mention of any barrel aging.  Was this some super special Mexican hop character that I am not aware of that I’m mistaking for barrel aging?  Was this a deliciously infected brew of which fate was gracious enough to cross my path with?  Or was it simply some smoked malt thrown in to add complexity?  Whatever the case the Chupacabras was fantastic.  I only had one of these in my build my own sixer so I couldn’t try and recreate my experience.  I haven’t noticed it at the liquor store since my initial purchase so I haven’t had a second can.  I’m keeping my eyes peeled and if the second can is as captivating as the first this will be an epic brew for sure.


Homebrew receiving unintended props?

I was commuting to work this morning when I noticed a sign that caught my attention. It was an advertisement on the side of a Nichols Group Building displaying what appeared to be an Erlenmeyer flask, boiling contents, and the slogan “Startup Weekend”. This image and slogan immediately reminded me of a yeast starter used in homebrewing. (A yeast starter is a very small batch of beer used to grow additional yeast before adding it to the main large batch of beer.)

I pondered the possibility of the homebrew reference for a moment and concluded the building did not look like it had anything to do with brewing. The irony made me chuckle. It turns out Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event which focuses on building a web or mobile application which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. Maybe one of the organizers is a homebrewer and wanted to sneak some homebrew props into the promotional material. Either way it brought a glimmer of joy to this beer geek at 6:00am in the morning on the streets of KCMO.

For official information on the Kansas City Startup Weekend check out their website.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

I ran across this recipe a while back at of which was posted by the blogger at I have been wanting to try fish tacos for a very long time as I am a fish taco virgin, so this recipe was right up my alley. The Mrs was not enthused about fish tacos to say the least. She even wrote on my printed recipe, “Fish Tacos You Suck”. Undeterred I put down a couple of brews and started making my very first fish tacos. India Pale Ale was the suggested brew for this recipe so I turned to the trusty Founder’s Centennial IPA. I made a few modifications to the recipe as I went along and they will be listed in red. I also skipped the Guacamole Crème because I am not a fan of Avocados. Yes I know boooo me if you like.

Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 30 minutes
Beer Style: India Pale Ale
Seasonality: Summer
Serves: 4
Josie of the Pink Parsley whips up some delicious fish tacos sourcing SweetWater Brewing Company's IPA—one of her favorite local beers.

For the Fish
1 lb firm white fish (cod, haddock, halibut, etc)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup beer, preferably IPA
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
3-4 TBsp of corn meal
1 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 TBsp of Mccormicks dried Red Pepper and Garlic
1/4 tsp cinnamon
vegetable oil, for frying

Mango Salsa
2 mangos, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 Tbs diced red onion
juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp chili powder
2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
2 TBsp of Cholula hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Crema (I didn’t use)
1 avocado, pitted
1-2 Tbs plain yogurt
1 Tbs sour cream
juice of 1/2 lime
hot sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste

To Serve

taco shells, hard or soft
lime wedges
hot sauce


Batter and Fish
Combine 1 cup of the flour, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and salt in a medium bowl.
Add the beer, whisk to combine, and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the yeasts to develop.
Meanwhile, pat the fish dry, season with salt and pepper, and cut into 1-inch cubes.
Toss with the remaining 1/2 cup flour.

Mango Salsa
To prepare the mango salsa, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
Taste and season with more salt, lime, or hot sauce if necessary.

Avocado Crema
For the avocado crema, use a fork to mash the avocado in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, sour cream, hot sauce, and lime, and continue mashing to form a smooth sauce.
Add more yogurt or sour cream to achieve your desired consistency, and season with salt and hot sauce.

Frying the Fish
To fry the fish, heat 1/2-inch oil in a large skillet to 375°F.

Working in batches, shake off the excess flour from the fish, then coat with the beer batter. Being careful not to overcrowd the pan, fry in the hot oil 3-5 minutes, or until golden-brown and cooked through.

You may need to test a few in the first batch to get the time right.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, and repeat with remaining fish.

To assemble, warm the tortillas and fill with fish.
Drizzle with mango salsa.
A couple dollops of sour cream but don’t overdo it a TBsp or so
Some shredded 1 (TBsp) Monterrey Jack and (½TBsp) Cheddar don’t overdo this either.

These turned out absolutely amazing. Even the Mrs., who was completely against the idea of fish tacos, loved them. Everything was in perfect balance and blended wonderfully. The key to this recipe is not to overdo any single ingredient when building your tacos. I put just enough mango salsa to cover the fish. When adding the sour cream and cheese I was careful to put just enough or it would have overpowered the delicate balance of the mango salsa and fish. I included some hot sauce and Cayenne into the ingredients to add some depth but did not turn out overly hot. This has to be one of my favorite meals ever and I will definitely revisit this recipe soon.  Awesome, Awesome, Awesome!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stout Week at the Flying Saucer

Happy Birthday to me!  Happy Birthday to me!

October 31st - November 5th

In honor of International Stout Day on November 3rd the Flying Saucer will be hosting a stout week.  According to the post they are in the process of finalizing all of the events but here is a preliminary list.

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Founders Breakfast Stout
Emilesse Espresso Stout
Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast
Sierra Nevada Fritz & Ken's Ale
Firestone Walker Parabola
New Belgium Clutch
Bell's Stouts

Updates will continue until the event is finalized so stay tuned!

Monday, October 3, 2011

You Might Be a Beer Geek If...'ve ever had to buckle your beer into your car. 

For those of you unaccustomed to homebrewing, this is 5 gallons of beer in a primary fermentor going home with the brewer.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Local Great American Beer Festival Success!

The winners have been announced for this year's Great American Beer Festival and there are several local breweries walking away with medals.  Congrats to them and as always support your local breweries.

Local Winners:

Category 17 - American-Belgo Style Ale - 43 entries
Bronze:  Collaboration #2 - Boulevard Brewing Company

Category 29 - Bohemian Style Pilsner - 42 entries
Bronze:  Pilsner - McCoys

Category 44 - German style Kolsch - 48 entries
Bronze:  Capital City Kolsch - Blind Tiger in Topeka

Category 48 - International Style Pale Ale - 20 entries
Gold: Pale Ale - Boulevard Brewing Company

Category 67 - Belgian Style Witbier - 53 entries
Bronze: ZON - Boulevard Brewing Company

Category 68 - Belgian/French Style Saison - 65 entries
Gold:  Saison-Brett - Boulevard Brewing Company

Other Winners That Should Be Available Locally:

Category 18 - American Style Sour Ale - 21 entries
Gold: La Terroir - New Belgium

Category 24 - Aged Beer - 36 entries
Gold: Expedition Stout - Bells

Category 35 - German Style Marzen - 58 entries
Bronze: Octoberfest - Sam Adams

Category 47 - English IPA - 46 entries
Gold:  Latitude 48 - Sam Adams

Category 52 - Imperial IPA - 102 entries
Silver:  Double Jack - Firestone Walker

Category 79 - Oatmeal Stout - 36 entries
Silver: Oatmeal Stout - Crabtree Brewing Co.


Congrats to all of the local breweries for all the hard work and more importantly their delicious brew.  Boulevard was well represented with 4 medals. Another brewer I'm super excited for receiving recognition (no not Sam Adams necessarily) is Crabtree Brewing Company.  If you recall, their Oatmeal Stout was my favorite brew at the Omaha Beer Festival.  The people who represented Crabtree at the festival (assuming brewers and owners) were very nice and were passionate about people sampling their brew.  So along with the local breweries congrats to Crabtree as well.  By the way I did see the Crabtree Oatmeal Stout available at the Lukas Liquor Super Store off of 119th St in Kansas.  Check it out!