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Archive for February, 2008

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Calling all [Columbus] Beer Lovers, Afficianados, Home Brewers, Hopheads and the like.

You are all invited to the next “Drink With The Wench”

This time around we are going to do a “TOUR DE BARLEY’S.”

WHAT: “Drink With The Wench”

WHO: The Wench & EVERYONE who A. loves beer B. likes beer C. hates beer but wants to come out

WHERE: Barley’s Ale House No. 1

WHEN: FRIDAY. February 29th. 7pm. (Stragglers are free to come whenever).

WHY: In the name of research, I’ve decided to try at least one new beer every week.

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My ultimate goal for this group is to start up a gathering for fellow beer lovers and hopheads in the Columbus area. The invite is open to anyone and everyone interested in learning about and drinking beer. Ideally, I’d love to meet up with people who are more knowledgeable about beer than I am — and are willing to assist me in my voyage to beer connoisseur land.

I intend on this being a great social forum and conversation starter for beer lovers across all levels of expertise. Even if you do not know me, I still encourage you to come out and play. Everyone that has turned out has had much fun thus far.

There have been lots of new faces meeting me out, as well as some lovely regulars. I’m really enjoying meeting new people and sharing great conversation!

As always, I will be bringing along copies of a tasting sheet I found at Ratebeer.com. It helps serve as a great learning tool and conversation facillitator.

Who’s with me this time?

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When rating and tasting beer, it is absolutely crucial to evaluate its appearance. This is why I will always pour a bottled beer into a glass. Color affects the way people percieve a beer and gives it expectations. The color of beer can be a powerful but often subconscious generator of positive or negative responses developed pre-tasting.

For American brewers, the Standard Reference Manual (SRM) is the standard measure for degrees of color as related to beer and the grains used to brew it. SRM is roughly the equivalent of Degrees Lovibond (degL), the British measurement of color. The numbers are about the same between the two scales, and they tend to be used interchangably — unless beer color moves into the amber regime, at which time the relationships between visual and spectrophotometric units start to diverge sharply.

Lovibond Units are ranked by color and hue, ranging from 2 for light yellow to 25 for black. Here is a simple scale:

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The color degL, which depends on the color of the malt, ranges from 1 to around 600. Lower values of the color measurement correspond to lighter beers and higher values to darker beers. For example: pilsner malt measures 1 while black patent malt, a grain commonly used in stout, rates around 550.

Europe and most of the world use a different scale called the EBC (European Brewing Congress). To find the EBC equivalent on an SRM scale, take the SRM and multiply by 2.65, then subtract 1.2. (This is approximated, but very close.)

Commercial breweries measure SRM color using a spectrophotometer, a sophisticated device that provides an accurate machine measurement of the quantity of monochromatic light, either absorbed, or passing through, the liquid.

Malt color is not the only factor that determines beer color. According to the source, BeerRecipes.com:

Differences in brewing conditions can lead to substantial color changes in the finished beer, these effects being particularly important for beers at 5 degL or less.

Water. As the alkalinity of the water increases, so does the extraction rate of the coloring pigments in malt. The mash pH I has the same effect, and increasing pH leads to worts with deeper color.

Mash. Color increases with the amount of contact time with the grains. Thus, a prolonged mash will produce a deeper-colored beer than a short mash.

Kettle boil. The Maillard reaction also takes place as wort is boiled; therefore, wort color increases with boil time. A fact that is sometimes overlooked is that wort simmering has the same effect. The point is that this will lead to an incomplete hot and cold break, which in turn leaves more coloring elements in the finished wort.

Hops. Some color is obtained from hops both in the kettle and in storage containers when postfermentation hopping is used.

Fermentation. The proteinous matter produced during the cold break is full of coloring materials and, hence, removal of these materials will reduce color. It has been reported that color changes during fermentation vary with yeast strain.

Filtration. This can dramatically reduce color. It should be noted that a clear beer will appear to be lighter color than turbid beer.

Oxidation. At all stages of brewing, air pickup will deepen beer color. This is as true of hot wort production as it is of bottled beer with head-space air.

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For additional information on beer color check out: Beer Color Laboratories.

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Cinnamon Apple Deliciousness

Thank you to everyone who joined me at Surly Girl Saloon last night. It was really fun tasting with people who share a passion for beer as well. Cheers!

Once again, there was a really good turnout for “Drink With The Wench.” There were some familiar faces; Roland, Josh (Project Sustain), and Keith (Columbusite) as well as some new faces: Rachel (The Fighting Librarian), Jim (CMH Gourmand), and Scott.

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This time around, I decided to order three different beers and challenge the group to taste and rate each secretly. After we all finished tasting the beers and filling out the rating sheets, we compared notes and discussed reasons for picking our overall favorite. Upon noticing our studious dedication to tasting the beers, our waiter brought out a round of shot glasses full of a local Columbus Brewing Company beer that Surly Girl Saloon will begin to offer in March.

The three beers we tasted as a group included Brasserie Des Rocs Grand Cru, Harpoon UFO Wheat, and Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady. The Brasserie Des Rocs Grand Cru was the overwhelming favorite, followed by Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady and the Harpoon UFO. All were completely different in appearance, aromas, and flavor – each bringing something different to the table. Here are our notes:

Brasserie Des Rocs Grand Cru: Belgian Abbey Brown Ale, 9.5% ABV, on draft. Appearance: Small, creamy white head, spare lacing, cloudy body, particulate/cloudy particles, dark ruby brown amber color. Aroma: heavy molasses/ caramel/ coffee malt, light flowery hops, average yeast, light alcohol, port, maple syrup, allspice. Palate: medium body, creamy texture, lively carbonation, metallic finish. Flavor: average duration, heavy sweetness, moderate acidity, light bitterness. “Surprising hints of acidity on the palate. Drinks very smooth like an aged port or sweet sherry.” “Strong, good stuff!”

Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady Ale: English-style Ale, 5% ABV, on draft. Appearance: small, frothy off-white head, excellent lacing, hazy body, lightly cloudy particles, red amber color. Aroma: light straw malt, heavy pine/ citrus hops, average musty/ earthy yeast, average alcohol. Palate: medium body, thick texture, lively carbonation, bitter finish. Flavor: average duration, light sweetness, moderate acidity, heavy bitterness, minerals. “Bitterness definitely comes through as the dominating characteristic. Not too strong, though. Overall nicely balanced hops.”

Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen: American Unfiltered Wheat Beer, 4.8% ABV, on draft. Appearance: spare/ fizzy/ diminishing head, spare lacing, cloudy body, heavy particles, light yellow color. Aroma: light hay/ straw malt, light grass/ flowers (determined by plant biology expert, Josh, to be honeysuckle), average yeast. Palate: light body, thin texture, lively carbonation, metallic finish. Flavor: short duration, light sweetness, moderate acidity, light bitterness. “Typical Hefeweizen. Nothing extraordinary, rather uninspiring. Probably a better summertime beer.”

The Columbus Brewing Company beer that we tasted was rated as follows:

CMC 90 Shilling Ale: Scottish-style Ale, from a bottle. Appearance: small/ creamy/ frothy white head, fair lacing, clear/ sparkling body, lightly cloudy particles, brown amber color. Aroma: heavy nutty/ coffee malt, light grass hops, average doughy yeast, smoke, light alcohol, port, nutmeg, tobacco. Palate: medium body, thin/ oily texture, soft carbonation, metallic finish. Flavor: average duration, heavy sweetness, light scidity, heavy bitterness. “Excellent balance of malt and hops. Looking forward to trying this on tap.”

After the “official” tasting round, we all order additional beers. Some stuck with the ones we already tasted, especially the delicious Brasserie Des Rocs, while others tried different beers. Here are some additional tasting notes:

Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale: IPA, 7% ABV, on draft. Appearance: spare/ fizzy/ white/ diminishing head, spare lacing, cloudy body, light red amber color. Aroma: average nutty grain malt, average flower/ grass/ grapefruit hops, average yeast, light alcohol. Palate: full body, creamy mineral texture, lively carbonation, bitter metallic finish. Flavor: long duration, light sweetness, moderate acidity, heavy bitterness. “A real staple, never disappoints.”

Abita Purple Haze: American Style Wheat Beer with raspberry puree added after filtration, on draft. Appearance: small head, fair lacing, cloudy particles, amber color. Aroma: light malt, light hops, light yeast, light alcohol, strong raspberry. Palate: light body, thin texture, soft carbonation, metallic finish. Flavor: average duration, moderate sweetness, light acidity, light bitterness.

Even though the purpose of the evening was to taste and rate beer, we could not resist getting a round of Surly Girl’s Apple Cinnamon Shots. The shot consisted of one part house-made apple-cinnamon infused vodka with one part Goldschlagers. Absolutely delicious! They also serve it as a cocktail with apple juice. Definitely worth trying.

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Thanks again to everyone who made it out, despite all the freezing rain and dangerous weather conditions. I’m looking forward to the next “Drink With The Wench.” Stay tuned for more details!

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The inaugual “Drink With The Wench” was so successful that I feel the need to organize a sequel for this week.

Calling all [Columbus] Beer Lovers, Afficianados, Home Brewers, Hopheads and the like.

You are all invited to the next “Drink With The Wench”

WHAT: “Drink With The Wench”

WHO: The Wench & EVERYONE who A. loves beer B. likes beer C. hates beer but wants to come out

WHERE: Surly Girl Saloon

WHEN: FRIDAY. February 22nd. 7pm. (Stragglers are free to come whenever).

WHY: In the name of research, I’ve decided to try at least one new beer every week.

My ultimate goal for this group is to start up a gathering for fellow beer lovers and hopheads in the Columbus area. The invite is open to anyone and everyone interested in learning about and drinking beer. Ideally, I’d love to meet up with people who are more knowledgeable about beer than I am — and are willing to assist me in my voyage to beer connoisseur land.

I intend on this being a great social forum and conversation starter for beer lovers across all levels of expertise. Even if you do not know me, I still encourage you to come out and play.

For fun, I will be bringing along copies of a tasting sheet I found at Ratebeer.com. Last time, it helped serve as a great learning tool and conversation facillitator.

This time around, I think it would be interesting to have everyone taste the same 3 beers. Instead of comitting to an entire beer, there will be the option of just tasting a sample. For each beer tasted by the whole group, I’d like each taster to secretly rate the beer and then share and compare our results.

Who’s with me this time?

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Dressed In Lace

At the inaugural “Drink With The Wench,” I distributed Beer Tasting and Rating Sheets from Ratebeer.com to everyone interested in playing along with me. The sheet breaks down the tasting experience into four major categories; Appearance, Aroma, Palate, and Taste. Each category is further broken down, prompting the taster with adjectives to identify and circle.

The Appearance category is broken down into head, lacing, body, particles, and color. Everyone understood most of the subcategories, except for lacing. For the most part, the adjectives listed next to each subcategory gave the taster a clear idea of what they should be seeing and rating. Lacing, on the other hand, was to be ranked as excellent, good, fair, and spare — which tells the taster nothing about what it is.

And so, naturally, everyone asked me what lacing meant. Luckily, I actually knew what it was — yet, I had no idea what its relevance was to beer. Now I know, and so I will enlighten those who may not know.

Before explaining lacing, I must first talk about beer foam. Foam is among one of the most hotly debated topics in today’s beer drinking society. Doctoral dissertations and even whole careers have been based upon the study of beer foam.
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Most brewers desire foam with optimum stability and quantity. The most commonly used method for evaluating beer foam quality is the Rudin head retention test (HRV). The NIBEM is essentially the most common measure for beer foam stability.

Beer has been around for thousands of years but, as most historians agree, beer foam has not been. In the past, beer would spoil soon after it was made, allowing the gas in beer to escape. As beer production methods improved, so did techniques to help retain carbonation.

Carbon dioxide is the source of carbonation in beer. How does it get there? Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. The equation is rather simple. Every type of alcohol is made with both yeast and sugar. During fermentation, yeast eats the sugar. In the absence of oxygen, the yeast converts that sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Ethanol is simply beverage alcohol. (Having said this, one can easily deduct that more sugar + more yeast = more alcohol. But more on that another time.)

Now the real question is, if CO2 is the byproduct of every alcoholic beverage, why are some drinks sparkling while others are flat? Essentially, beer ferments extremely rapidly –usually in a week or less. Most of the CO2 produced during fermentation escapes from the beer, however, the fully fermented product still contains a lot of dissolved CO2. Wine and saké ferment more slowly, allowing virtually all the gas to escape before completion.

Since the majority of gas escapes, most fermented beer requires an additional dose of carbonation before it is packaged. This is usually done in one of two different ways. The modern method is to put beer in a closed pressure tank and pump carbon dioxide in. Brewers can follow a traditional method instead, by adding unfermented beer -called wort- along with some yeast. The yeast ferments the wort to produce additional CO2, which will dissolve in the beer.

At the Brauhaus, keg beer is usually stored in a cooler that is some distance from the tap where it is served. Typically, carbon dioxide is applied to the top of the keg. A line to the tap is drawn from the bottom of the keg. Anytime the tap is opened, gas pressure drives beer out of the keg, through the line and into the glass.

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In the glass, some of the CO2 comes out of solution to form bubbles. As the bubbles rise to the top of the glass, they combine with other bubbles and increase in size. At the top of the glass, all the bubbles gather into frothy foam.

Complex, surface-loving organic compounds determine the strength and longevity of beer foam. Each bubble consists of an organic coating with CO2 trapped inside. Bubbles burst when the coating is not strong enough to contain the gas.

Another factor that contributes to a stable head is alcoholic strength. Remember the formula? The higher alcohol comes from increased quantities of sugar (aka malt), so the more malt a beer has – the more alcohol and CO2 it has as a byproduct. Beers that are higher in malt typically have larger heads. Foam is also a good indication of hops. Light beers with low hop levels have very little foam.

A good head of foam will typically deposit a generous, lacy “cling” on the glass. Lacing refers to the lacy white ring that usually remains on the glass after the head dissipates.

Most novice beer drinkers do not enjoy foam interrupting their drinking experience. In fact, many people feel foam just occupies space in their glass that could be filled with beer.

Many professionals and brewers may argue that beer foam is essential to the tasting experience. Beer foam affects the mouth feel of beer and increases the creamy sensation of beer when consumed.

Beware head lovers, oil kills foam. Glassware that has not been properly cleaned and rinsed can significantly impact the amount and duration of head and lace. Hence, the old nose grease trick to reduce the level of foam.

I hope this helps all who were stumped by the significance of head and lace appearance.

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The inaugural “Drink With The Wench” was a smashing hit. Nine brave and adventurous Columbus locals joined me at Bodega last night, sampling and reviewing more than 10 different beers.

The nine crazy guinea pigs consisted of myself, Mandy, Jess, Shelley, Jason, and Roland as well as the local bloggers; Keith, Josh, and Tim. Bodega was already bumping by the time we arrived and, since it was impossible to secure a table, we all hovered together at the bar.

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For anyone unfamiliar with Bodega, it has at least 50 different beers on tap — many of which, for Columbus, are exclusively found there. Bodega offers an extremely extensive collection of beers by the bottle as well. They have a happy houevery weekday from 4-8, with half off of all drafts. That is a sweet special.

Since it was the first event, we did not have an agenda and decided to wing it. Instead of everyone tasting the same beer, we all ordered different beers — ranging from double IPA’s to wheat beers to stouts. I gave everyone a copy of the beer tasting and rating sheet that I found on Ratebeer.com. It ended up being an extremely helpful tool.

Lucky for me, I got to try almost every beer that was tasted by all the others. Here are the beers and overall ratings from the group: (Disclaimer: beer appearance may be slightly off due to the extremely low lighting in the bar.)

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout: Seasonal American Stout, on draft, ABV 7.9%. Appearance: small head, good lacing, muddy body, lightly cloudy particles, black color. Aroma: coffee malt, average hops, smoke. Palate: full body, thick texture, flat carbonation, bitter finish. Flavor: long duration, light sweetness, harsh bitterness.

Bell’s Winter White: Seasonal Witbier, on draft, ABV 4.5%. Appearance: spare head, spare lacing, cloudy body, light cloudy particles, yellow color. Aroma: straw malt, light hops, light clove, nutmeg. Palate: light body, lively carbonation, light acidity.

Bell’s Two-Hearted: Year-round IPA, on draft, ABV 7.0%. Appearance: spare head, fair lacing, lightly cloudy particles, amber-brown color. Aroma: toasted malt, average yeast. Palate: medium body, average carbonation. Taste: average duration, light sweetness, light acidity, moderate bitterness.

Stone Ruination IPA: Year-round IPA, on draft, ABV 7.7%. Appearance: average head, light cloudy particles, orange color. Aroma: roasted malt, pine & citrus hops. Palate: full body, thick texture, lively carbonation, bitter finish. Flavor: long duration, light acidity, heavy bitterness.

Bear Republic “El Oso”: Seasonal Mexican style Vienna lager, on draft, ABV 4.5%. Appearance: spare head, lightly cloudy particles, brown color. Aroma: light malt, light yeast. Palate: light body, fizzy carbonation. Flavor: short duration, moderate acidity, might bitterness.

Great Lakes Irish Ale: Seasonal Irish ale, on draft, 6.5% ABV. Appearance: spare head, spare lacing, lightly cloudy particles, amber color. Aroma: average yeast. Palate: light body. Flavor: moderate bitterness.

North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout: Seasonal Russian Imperial stout, on draft, 9% ABV. Appearance: creamy head, excellent lacing, dark brown color. Aroma: roasted grain & molasses malt, light hops, eathy yeast, heavy, prune, smoke, tar, vanilla, tobacco. Palate: full body, creamy texture, minerals, soft carbonation, bitter finish. Flavor: long duration, heavy sweetness, light acidity, heavy bitterness, minerals. “Loved this — yummy! A favorite,” -Mandy.

Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre: Year-round ale, in the bottle, 8% ABV. Appearance: spare & white head, no lacing, sparking body, tawny-amber color. Aroma: heavy cookie & chocolate, perfume & resin hops, light yeast, raisin, prune, cherry, port, tobacco. Palate: light body, thin texture, lively carbonation. Flavor: average duration, harsh sweetness, light acidity, light bitterness, vinegar. “Really like at first. Aged poorly. Would get again, though,” -Mandy.

Boulder Beer Mojo Risin IPA: Seasonal Double IPA, on draft, 10% ABV. Appearance: average frothy/ white/ diminishing head, cloudy body, fair lacing, light orange-amber. Aroma: light malt, grassy & citrus hops, sweet yeast. Palate: full body, alcoholic texture, lively carbonation, astringent finish. Flavor: long duration, moderate sweetness, heavy acidity, heavy bitterness, minerals. “The alcohol was too apparent and over shadowed both the flavor of the hops and the malt. Not my favorite Double IPA, to say the least.” -The Beer Wench

Great Divide Hercules Double IPA: Seasonal Double IPA, on draft, 9.1% ABV. Appearance: spare/ white/ diminishing head, fair lacing, hazy body, dark amber color. Aroma: average toffee malt, light grass/ pine/ citrus hops, light yeast. Palate: full body, mineral texture, average carbonation, bitter finish. Flavor: long duration, moderate sweetness, light acidity, heavy bitterness. “This beer has a beautiful balance. It is one of the best Double IPAs I’ve tasted thus far. The hops are really prominent, without totally overshadowing the sweetness of the malt.” -The Beer Wench

Overall summation: The beer was excellent and the company was even better. We even ran into one of the tri-owners of Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, Chuck, whom was very interested in our activities. I’m planning on making Tip Top the next destination for “Drink With The Wench.”

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Attention All Beer Lovers

Drink With The Wench

Calling all [Columbus] Beer Lovers, Afficianados, Home Brewers, Hopheads and the like.

You are all invited the the inaugural “Drink With The Wench”

WHAT: “Drink With The Wench”

WHO: The Wench & EVERYONE who A. loves beer B. likes beer C. hates beer but wants to come out

WHERE: Bodega

WHEN: FRIDAY. February 15th. 7pm. (Stragglers are free to come whenever).

WHY: In the name of research, I’ve decided to try at least one new beer every week.

My ultimate goal for this group is to start up a gathering for fellow beer lovers and hopheads in the Columbus area. The invite is open to anyone and everyone interested in learning about and drinking beer. Ideally, I’d love to meet up with people who are more knowledgeable about beer than I am — and are willing to assist me in my voyage to beer connoisseur land.

I intend on this being a great social forum and conversation starter for beer lovers across all levels of expertise. Even if you do not know me, I still encourage you to come out and play.

For fun, I will be bringing along copies of a tasting sheet I found at Ratebeer.com. It will serve as a great learning tool and conversation facillitator.

How will you find me? WELL. MY good friend and the brilliant mind behind SKREENED, Daniel Fox, is designing me an custom-made, sweatshop-free American Apparel hoodie sweatshirt to wear for this event. Just look for the girl labeled “The Columbus Beer Wench.”

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