Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the Ring with Yakima Wheat

There was an invisible force drawing me towards Schlafly’s Yakima Wheat.  Why?  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  This curiosity was overwhelming and I was getting telepathic visions of this brews greatness (you know mind bullets).  I didn’t know what the future had in store for me but subconsciously I knew I was destined to meet this brew in a glass encased ring of taste bud battle.  Would the Yakima Wheat conquer my palate with delicious liquid warfare or would my palate destroy a dull opponent?  Only one way to find out and that is to go at it mano a mano.

The Yakima Wheat pours with a beautiful fluffy white head protruding out of the top of the glass.  The body is a pale straw color with a nice cloudy character.  The nose fights through the towering head to serve up a citrusy lemon character coupled with a subtle wheat spice.  The mouthfeel seemed a bit thick from what I was expecting out of a spring/summer wheat beer.  A wheat spice character was the first in the line of assault followed by a fairly substantial malty sweetness coming on mid palate.  Once again another surprise with the sweetness which I was not expecting from a spring/summer wheat beer.  Even with the uncexpected character the initial balance between the wheat spice and the sweetness is very well done.  The only question left, could this wheat beer deliver on the YAKIMA?  As a brother in arms, a citrusy/earthy hop character comes in and joins the malty sweetness about mid palate.  They remain together through the finish where a nice mellow bitterness rounds out the brew.  Nothing is really overpowering but overall the adjective that comes to mind is, “smooth”.

The Yakima Wheat came at me with several tricks up its sleeve and ultimately defeated my palate with awesomeness.  Being a wheat beer I was expecting a heavy wheat spice with a thin dry body, of which this brew was neither.  I would also assume the Yakima portion of this brew would mean big hop presence and a substantial bitterness on the finish.  This was also not the case and a surprise.  When my expectations are different that what a brew delivers I am usually disappointed.  It turns out that's not the case in this instance and I thoroughly enjoyed this new Schlafly offering.  Everything was in balance and the overall character is just so smooth.  The fight is over, thank you sir may I have another?!?! 


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


We finally got around to brewing the hop bomb of mass destruction, the Chael’s Ale. This brew was put together in the spirit of Super Dave’s infatuation of overly hoppy beers. Moderation? We think not. Huge hop additions abound in this recipe. We threw down the gauntlet of tasty hops including Citra, Sorachi Ace, Chinook, and Centennial in hopes of creating some variation of a beautiful hop elixir that so many professional breweries are putting out these days. What was the method to the madness of pairing these hops together? You can do endless research about which hops pair well, cohumulone levels, late vs early additions, and about every other variable brewers obsess over to get an educated guess of what may work. FatCat chose a more rudimentary approach. Think of my favorite hoppy beers I’ve enjoyed in recent memory (check), find out what hops were in those (check), and throw them all in one goliath of a brew (check). The wait is on and we will find out whether this plan was ingenious or whether it's a hopped up nightmare. One thing is for sure, this is the most hops I’ve ever put in a recipe. The smells while brewing were amazing and I can’t wait to try it out. Taking sips from left over wort gives hint to the powerful bitterness this brew should be capable of.

We may have to come out with another FatCat public service announcement:
“Friends don’t let friends abuse hops”.

I did want to show some resemblance of restraint on the bitterness level and used the approximate bitterness ratio of the Green Flash West Coast IPA as a guide. The West Coast IPA is about the upper level of bitterness I want to see in any brew so that was our ceiling. One way to tell how much bitterness will be “perceived” is by looking at the BU:GU (Bitterness Units : Gravity Units). Simply looking at the IBUs doesn’t let you know how bitter a brew is actually going to taste. Imperial stouts for example have high IBUs but generally don’t taste exceedingly bitter because they have so much malt character to counteract it. The BU:GU ratio gives you a peak as to how hoppy the brew should actually taste while considering the effects of the malt character. Based on some quick research anything over 1.0 is going to be approaching the super bitter category. The BU:GU of the West Coast IPA is 95 IBUs and a roughly 1.37 ratio (95 IBUS/69 from a 1.069 OG) which gives hint to its extreme bitterness. Following in the overboard category we followed suit with 92 IBUs and a BU:GU ratio of 1.27 for the Chael’s Ale.

For the detailed recipe click here.

Malts and Fermentables

% LB OZ Malt or Fermentable ppg °L
51% 15 0 American Two-row Pale info 37 1 ~
17% 5 0 Biscuit Malt info 36 23 ~
14% 4 0 Pilsner (2 Row) Ger info 37 2 ~
10% 3 0 Munich Malt - 15L info 35 15 ~
7% 2 0 Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L info 35 20 ~
2% 0 8 Honey Malt info 37 25 ~
     29 8 Total

Batch size: 12.0 gallons Original Gravity
1.073 / 17.7° Plato
12° SRM / 23° EBC
(Copper to Red/Lt. Brown)

HOPS and More HOPS
use time oz variety form aa
boil 60 mins 1.0 Centennial info leaf 10.8
boil 60 mins 1.5 Citra info leaf 13.7
boil 20 mins 2.0 Chinook info leaf 13.9
boil 15 mins 0.5 Centennial info leaf 10.8
boil 15 mins 1.0 Citra info leaf 13.7
boil 15 mins 0.5 Sorachi Ace info pellet 15.7
boil 10 mins 0.5 Centennial info leaf 10.8
boil 10 mins 0.5 Citra info leaf 13.7
boil 10 mins 0.5 Sorachi Ace info pellet 15.7
boil 5 mins 0.5 Centennial info leaf 10.8
boil 5 mins 1.0 Citra info leaf 13.7

92.4 IBU / 31 HBU



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy American Craft Beer Week!

I was trying to figure out something to proclaim in honor of Craft Beer Week but KCBeerblog pretty much wrapped up all of the event announcements for the area. What is a FatCat to do? I did some soul searching and came up with the most profound Craft Beer Week proclamations I could muster. First off, I'll just say whether you celebrate(d) Craft Beer Week out in one of the wonderful establishments in our city or you choose to do it in the quite confines of your abode, be sure to try something different. This week is about celebrating craft beer which to me means to celebrate the fact we now have tons of quality beer to choose from. We are no longer limited to the fizzy yellow stuff and can spread our beer wings and fly. Secondly, if you're like me you don't fancy the bars all that much and you find yourself celebrating Craft Beer Week at home. What to do for entertainment?

Since I don’t have anything new and interesting to announce about the bar scene this week, I’ll let you in on FatCat’s secret to home relaxation while enjoying craft brew. How does trailer parks, jail, booze, drugs, kitties, Samsquinches, and irresponsible handling of firearms sound for the ultimate in soothing in-home therapy? Yeah sounds awesome to me too! If you enjoy partaking in home-based sudsy refreshment while longing for entertainment that provides hilarity without the need to pay close attention, then Trailer Park Boys is the show for you my friend. It’s my favorite “drinking” show on Netflix and is my way of relaxing with a cold one (well actually cellar temp if it’s a stout, barleywine…oh never mind). If laughter is the best medicine, Trailer Park Boys is the morphine of TV shows. Now you too can roll like the FatCat!

Still don’t believe me? Here is a preview try not to pee in your panteloons:

Ricky: Bubbles, are you sure we gotta play space here? This is kind of stupid.
Bubbles: Come on Ricky look at this! This is awesome! Mission control this is Commander Bubbles. I’m getting an NPS warning light on the link monitor controls subsystem. I’m requesting reallocation to main OMS firing to CDS at level six, please advise.
Julian: Copy there, Commander. Reallocating there, Commander Bubbles.
Bubbles: Try some Ricky!
Ricky: (sighs) Breaker breaker, come in Earth. This is rocket ship 27. Aliens fucked over the carbinator in engine number 4, I’m gonna try to refuckulate it and land on Juniper. Uh, hopefully they got some space weed, over…How’s that buddy? I don’t fuckin’ know!
Bubbles: Ricky, that’s not very good. Use space words, real ones, not talkin’ about space weed!

Mr. Lahey: You feel that Randy?
Randy: What, Mr. Lahey?
Mr. Lahey: The way the shit clings to the air.
Randy: What Mr. Lahey?
Mr. Lahey: Randy m’boy, it’s already started.
Randy: What started, Mr. Lahey?
Mr. Lahey: The Shit Blizzard.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

World Beer Cup 2012

The winners have been announced and the trophies have been issued.  One local brewery walked away with the Gold for their Maibock.  Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant claimed top honors for their Maibock and furthered their stellar reputation.  The Blind Tiger Top Gun IPA is highly touted in most tasting publications and I confirmed it's awesomeness in Parkville.  Now they can add the Maibock to their must try list.  Congrats to them for their outstanding brew.

Here are some of the other winners and the brews that should be available in our area.

Category 10: Rye Beer, 29 Entries
Gold: Ruthless Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA

Category 13: Other Strong Beer, 35 Entries
Bronze: Double Pilsner, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Category 17: American-Belgo-Style Ale, 48 Entries
Bronze: Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category 25: Kellerbier/Zwickelbier, 45 Entries
Bronze: 5 O’Clock Shadow, Grand Teton Brewing Co., Victor, ID

Category 38: German-Style Schwarzbier, 40 Entries
Silver: Point 2012 Black Ale, Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point, WI

Category 40: German-Style Heller Bock/Maibock, 38 Entries
Gold: Maibock, Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant, Topeka, KS

Category 46: American-Style Dark Lager, 18 Entries
Gold: Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., Chippewa Falls, WI
Silver: Shiner Bock, The Spoetzl Brewery, San Antonio, TX

Category 58: Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale, 32 Entries
Gold: Ommegang Rare Vos, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY

Category 61: Belgian-Style Dubbel, 39 Entries
Bronze: Ovila Dubbel, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA

Category 67: Classic English-Style Pale Ale, 33 Entries
Silver: Summit Extra Pale Ale, Summit Brewing Co., St. Paul, MN

Category 76: Sweet Stout, 25 Entries
Gold: Steel Toe Stout, Ska Brewing Co., Durango, CO

Category 87: American-Style Strong Pale Ale, 82 Entries
Silver: Odell IPA, Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO

Category 89: Imperial India Pale Ale, 93 Entries
Bronze: Palate Wrecker, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA

Category 91: Imperial Red Ale, 38 Entries
Silver: Bigfoot, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
Bronze: Pursuit of Hopiness, Grand Teton Brewing Co., Victor, ID

To see all of the results visit the World Beer Cup website.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Big Brew 2012

Big Brew, Cinco De Mayo, and Super Moons oh my! With all this awesomeness focused on one day the results could be catastrophically fun! Big Brew is the first Saturday in May (today) set up by the American Homebrewers Association in pre-celebration of National Homebrew Day (May 7). Big brew is meant to help unite brewers around the country in celebration of homebrew and to help spread the word to the non-believers on how righteously kick ass homebrewing really is. The plan is to get together with your friends, family, or brew clubs and brew the same recipe as everyone else. This year’s recipe is for either an American Brown Ale or a Northern English Brown Ale. The exact recipes can be found on the AHA website. To further the camaraderie there is a toast set to happen at 12pm CDT. If you’re not brewing today you can head out to the local homebrew shop Bacchus and Barleycorn in Shawnee, KS as they will be brewing in their back lot. You’ll get a chance to see different equipment setups and meet with fellow homebrewers. I went last year and it was a lot of fun.

Looking for a great way to celebrate Cinco De Mayo after Big Brew? How about throwing together some beer battered fish tacos and mango salsa? I made these last year and they turned out amazing. I’m looking forward to pigging out and drinking some brew to celebrate this outstanding Saturday. As far as Mexican style beer recommendations, I would have to say Negra Modelo is my go-to Mexican brew. Other than that Pacifico is not too bad and if you want to be like Hellboy you can throw back a couple cans of Tecate.

As always be safe, be responsible, and have fun!