Tag: homebrewing

20120601-141411.jpgThis post is part of The Session which is hosted by The Beer Babe this month. I had grand plans of merrily blogging away on the 4+ hour Megabus ride to Boston this morning. But alas, a Coach bus with no wifi was substituted and I am relegated to thumb typing on my iPhone. On to the subject at hand…pale ales.

The first beer that I ever brewed was a pale ale. Brewed from a kit that I purchased at the hydroponics shop in Queens, it was certainly drinkable, but lacked hop character and distinction. I’ve made quite a few pale ales since then, but none that lie within traditional guidelines, instead usually non-traditional hops, adding fruit & spices and funking them up. I tend to go through pale ale stages, both in drinking & brewing. It’s often a style I take for granted – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale taps are ubiquitous these days and tend to blend into the woodwork for me among the smokes, sours and saisons at 20 tap craft beer bars. Don’t get me wrong – SNPA is a highly quaffable beverage and I’m always delighted to order it at airport bars, work functions, cheesy rooftop bars and other places where it’s often the only craft beer available. And I enjoy other American Pale Ales from time to time (the Hill Farmstead Edward is a delicious example) but it’s not a style that usually catches my eye on draft menus. And that’s even more true with English Pale Ales. I’d even go so far to say that that is a style I tend to avoid. Although I drank a lot of them on a trip to London a few years ago, I never order them in America. Perhaps it’s because they tend to not be at their freshest over here or maybe I just find them subtle to the point of boring against the more stimulating American sours and IPAs. I even avoid judging these styles in homebrew competitions, always preferring sours, smoked beers and other specialty categories. Suffice it to say, both American and English Pale Ales are underrepresented in my drinking and brewing repertoires. So I set out last night to gain a new perspective. I hit the jackpot only a few blocks from my apartment at Freddy’s Bar where both Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Fuller’s London Pride were on tap. The bartender was kind enough to pour me two half pints and I carried them out to the bar’s backyard for some thoughtful tasting in the twilight. (note: according to the BJCP guidelines, which is my go-to for style reference, London Pride is a Special/Best/Premium Bitter but it can be argued that bitters and EPAs are the same with differences only in degrees of ABV, IBU, etc. Close enough for me.)

My notes on the two:

Fuller’s London Pride:

Aroma: caramel and a hint of butter in the aroma

Flavor: light caramel, moderate bitterness which lasts after swallow, lightly fruity, esp after swallow, caramel remains after the swallow as well

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale:

Aroma: citrus

Flavor: lightly bready, citrus, earthiness, bitterness moderate to high, esp at end and after swallow

The beers were extremely similar in color. The most noticeable difference in aroma and flavor was the caramel quality of the London Pride. The Sierra had a citrus quality that the LP lacked as well as a higher carbonation and slightly lighter mouth feel.

I really enjoyed both beers – very quaffable, especially on a warm Spring evening. And I’m be much more inclined to order either of them in the future – they’re easy-drinking yet flavorful brews.

Let’s take a look at homebrewing these two beers.

Brew Your Own magazine has a darn good article and recipe on how to brew a Fuller’s London Pride clone. I had no idea that they used the same grist and blended back to get those 4 beers. Now I really want to do a side-by-side tasting of the four. And possible some experiment home brewing using that technique and 3 gallon Better Bottles. Hmmm.

These two recipes are a good start for cloning a Sierra Nevada:

http://www.blackbucketbrew.com/sierra-nevada-pale-ale-clone/

http://home.comcast.net/~wnevits/wizards/snclone.htm

I haven’t tried either recipe, but the SN website lists the ingredients as two-row pale & caramel malt, Magnum & Perle hops for bittering and Cascade hops for finishing.

This was a nice exercise in style comparisons, something that I really enjoy and do far too infrequently. It also begs me to do a post on the endless creative options for the style. Cheers to future musings and highly drinkable pale ales!

Fermentation

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As an avid homebrewer and current President of the New York City Homebrewers Guild, I often get asked, “Where can I learn to homebrew in New York City?”. A few years ago, I would have had a tough time giving them even one recommendation. But this has all changed in the last couple of years and we New Yorkers are lucky to have several excellent places to take homebrewing classes. Here are my recommendations, in no particular order:

Ongoing classes:

Brooklyn Homebrew:

Brooklyn Homebrew in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn is my local homebrew shop and offers two monthly classes – Homebrew 101: Beginner and Homebrew 102: Intro to All-Grain. They also offer an occasional yeast class and other homebrew-related events. The Homebrew 101 and 102 classes are $35 each and last around two hours. Both classes include full instruction on partial-mash (101) or all-grain brewing (102) and a tasting of beers of Brooklyn Homebrew-made draft beers. Participants in the 101 class bottle a previous classes beer and take home some of the bottles.

Bitter & Esters:

Bitter & Esters has a full electric brewing system in their Prospect Heights store in Brooklyn. They offer a variety of classes, ranging from Brewshop 101: Homebrewing Essentials to Brewshop 501: All Grain Brewing. These classes include full instruction on homebrewing. Bitter & Esters also have a series of Brew Like A Pro workshops, where participants brew a clone beer with the same ingredients and a scaled-down recipe as a commercial beer and more focused classes on yeast. The Brewshop 101 & 501 classes are $55 while the other classes usually range from $65 to $70.

Brooklyn Kitchen:

This full-service kitchen supply shop in Williamsburg offers a 2.5 hour Homebrewing class on a regular basis. They also offer more advanced classes from time to time. The Homebrewing class is currently $125 and takes participants through the extract brewing process. The class tastes beer brewed by a previous class and commercial examples and discusses how to homebrew those styles. Participants take home bottles brewed by a previous class as well as a Homebrew kit.

sidetour:

My friend and fellow NYCHG member Fritz Fernow offers homebrewing classes through sidetour. The $35 workshop is held at Fritz’s apartment in Cobble Hill. Participants get to watch Fritz brew a beer, sample some of his homebrews and have a complimentary pint at 61 Local with Fritz and the rest of the class after the brew session concludes.


Occasional classes:

(Please visit their websites to see if they have something going.)

  • Homebrew kit purveyor Brooklyn Brew Shop gives workshops and demos around town occasionally.
  • The Bowery Culinary Center at the Whole Foods Bowery on the Lower East Side has occasional homebrew workshops.
  • The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria recently held a series of classes on homebrewing.
  • 3rdWard in East Williamsburg has offered homebrewing workshops.
  • Sam Burlingame gives occasional classes around the city – please like the BrewHeister page on Facebook to find out when the next one is.

Once you’ve started brewing, please consider attending a local homebrew meeting or get-together – we’ve compiled a list of Tri-State Homebrew clubs on the New York City Homebrewers Guild site. Homebrew meetings are a fun way to get feedback on your beers, inspiration from others’ beers and further your homebrewing education. Happy Fermenting!

Fermentation