Posts Tagged ‘hops’

So … I may be a few steps behind when it comes to the seasonal beers released by Lagunitas this year. BUT – better late than never, right? Lagunitas released its 2008 Imperial Red Ale late this past summer. Its running streak ended in October. (And with most seasonal beers, its availability lasts longer than its deadline).

I love Lagunitas. I particularly like the Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale. With an IBU of 84 and an ABV of 7.6%, the Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale excites me tremendously. I think we shall taste it … what do you think?


Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale (Limited Release):

ABV: 7.6%
IBU: 84.20

Text on bottle: “This special Ale is, in reality, a reconstructed exhumation of the very first ale that we ever brewed way, way, back in 1993. Brewed with a big head, a muscular malty thorax, a silky texture & all strung together with a hoppy sweet nerve sack… yum.”

goodbye-alex-lagunitas-red-086THE WENCH’S TASTING NOTES

APPEARANCE: Dark brownish crimson RED. Super cloudy. THICK off-white head that dissipates very quickly.

AROMA: The first whiff is heavy with hops – lots of pine notes as well as grass, citrus & flowers. As the head disappears, so does the hops aroma – giving way to a rich, sweet and malty aroma with hints of toasted oak, brown sugar and butterscotch.

TASTE: Hello hops, nice to meet you. The flavor of hops is citrusy and floral in the beginning and very bitter and astringent in the finish – almost like pine sap. Being a major fan of hops, I ABSOLUTELY ADORE the taste of this beer. There are some nice hints of malt that just barely help to reduce the power of the hops. Great acidity!

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-bodied, excellent carbonation. Almost no alcohol burn.

DRINKABILITY: Besides being ridiculously hoppy, this beer is really well balanced!

OVERALL: I really really really like this ale! SUPER BIG PROPS go out to Lagunitas on this one! (BE AWARE: The Wench is a major hophead and is slightly biased towards ales with really high IBUs). I am very sad that Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale is only a limited release. I will definitely be picking up lots more of it while it is still available!



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Hops are most commonly known for giving beer its distinctively bitter taste – a characteristic which no other plant is able to provide. Hops is also a natural preservative.

What most people don’t know is that there are several “medicinal” uses for the hops plant. The word medicinal is in quotations since most hops remedies have originated from traditional “folk” medicine and have not been scientifically proven on a large scale. Although there may be little scientific evidence that hops can cure certain ailments and diseases, there is no evidence in the contrary. Personally, I choose to believe in the magical “medicinal” powers of hops … and something tells me you will want to as well!

So go grab yourself the biggest, hoppiest double IPA you can find and drink to the medicinal uses of my favorite magical herb – HOPS! Cheers!

First off, hops is a sedative. It has been proven useful in treating insomnia and nervous tension. Traditionally, hop filled pillows were used for inducing sleep.

Due to its strong anti-spasmodic actions hops also effectively relieves muscular spasms and cases of colic in the gut.

Hops is also used for treating coughs, bladder ailments, and liver ailments. Hops has been proven as an excellent remedy for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, nervous indigestion, peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other kinds of stress related digestive problems. In addition, the bitter principles in hops aid in digestion, enhance the action of the liver, and aid in the secretion of bile as well as other digestive juices in the body.

The tannins in hops aid in the quick healing of many types of irritated inflammatory conditions and can treat diarrhea. The strong antiseptic action of the hops helps to relieve infections in the body. Externally it is used to treat itching skin rashes and hives. It has been used to alleviate the pain and inflammation of abscesses, boils, swellings, and neuralgic and rheumatic complaints, as well as to allay skin infections, eczema, herpes and ulcers.

Hops also remove poisons and toxins from the body.

And for all of you who [wrongly] think that beer is a man’s drink – THINK AGAIN! Hops naturally possesses very strong estrogenic action, which makes it an ideal remedy for all sorts of “female” problems. Hops based medications can be used to treat the symptoms of menopause as well as painful and suppressed menstrual periods.

So far so good right? Hops sound like a pretty magical herb, does it not? Well kids, I have saved the BEST remedy for last. Drum roll please …

Due to it having a high content of flavonoids – a form of phtytoestrogens, hops has been proven to have beneficial effects on the female endocrine system. This has led to it becoming a common ingredient in effective natural breast enhancement supplements. It has ACTUALLY been scientifically proven that taking hops alone will encourage breast development. (Doctors even claim drinking lots of beers which are high in hops will help to make breasts grow.)

Now THAT is what I’m talking about! Now I know why I love my IPAs and Double IPAs so much … haha!

Let us revisit basic logic … If beer = hops and hops = boobs, then beer must = boobs. FURTHER evidence that women should drink beer. How about it ladies? I think it is time to trade in your appletinis and wine spritzers for a big ole’ IPA … or at least a weak little pale ale! And if you men know what’s good for you, you will all start encouraging more ladies to embrace the magical powers of hops!


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Recently, I made the bold decision to completely uproot my life and embark on an entirely new adventure.

I quit my job without the prospect of another one.

I forfeited my lease with my old landlord (which unfortunately cost me a PRETTY penny).

I gave away everything I owned that would not fit into my super small Dodge Neon.

And then I whole “life” packed into my ity bity little car and moved from Columbus, OH to Orlando, FL.

Instead of just driving straight down, though, I decided to turn my road trip into a mini beer adventure. Along the way I stopped at and toured 2 of my favorite breweries as well as took a side trip to a microbrewery brewpub. All of my little detours were well worth it and I look forward to blogging about them all.

I left Columbus mid-morning Monday, September 15th. My first stop was right outside of Philadelphia in a town called Downingtown.

For those of you who are not quite aware, I am addicted to the social network slash microblogging tool known as TWITTER. I am going to refrain from talking about Twitter at this time since it would completely take over this blog.

Thanks to Twitter, I have met some really amazing and impressively intelligent people across the world. Many of the people I follow and interact with on Twitter also happen to be huge food & beverage geeks and aficionados as well. I have spent hours on Twitter with other foodies, winos & hopheads – discussing and posting pics of food & booze.

One of my buds from Twitter -the brilliant brains behind 1WineDude blog– invited me to come stay with him and his wife in Downington, PA. They are good friends with the event coordinator at Victory Brewing Co. and were able to set me up with a private tour. This was not an offer The Beer Wench could refuse.

And of course, I accepted @1WineDude‘s invitation and went on a special VIP tour of Victory Brewing Company – followed by a delicious dinner with some delicious Victory beers in the Victory brewpub!

And without further ado, here is my tour (via photos)!

VICTORY MALT MILL. The object of milling is to split the husk, preferably lengthwise, in order to expose the starchy endosperm for milling and allow for efficient extraction and subsequent filtration of the wort. Malt milling is usually done by either dry or wet milling. In a wet milling operation, the whole uncrushed malt is presteeped in hot water to the point where the husks reach a water content of approximately 20% and the endosperm remains nearly dry, which results in a semi-plastic, almost pasty consistency. Source: The Brewer’s Handbook.

Victory is the ONLY craft brewery that wet mills.















After finishing all the great food and beer, our lovely and very knowledgable tour guide gave us a few bottles of Victory Baltic Thunder as a parting gift. Then we all trucked back to my friend’s place where we sipped on some Victory 10 Years Alt Altbier while looking at some amazing photos in scrap books that his wife put together! Perfect ending to a perfect evening!

SPECIAL THANKS TO Wine Dude, Mrs. Dudette and Baby Dudette. You dudes are the cat’s meow!

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Whether or not you believe that the economy has entered a recession, inflation is undeniable. An enormous increase in transport expenses due to the rise in fuel prices has resulted in an increase in the price of products and services across all categories. On top of that, the American dollar has become severely devalued. These two factors alone spell disaster for any company.

Disaster is brewing in the world of beer making.

Inflation is not the only issue affecting brewers. Since early fall 2007, brewers have been faced with an unprecedented worldwide shortage of hops and an unusually short supply of malted barley. And it is only getting worse.

American brewers are dealing with a 10- to 15-percent shortfall in the worldwide supply of hops, largely caused by farmers cutting back on the crop. Recently, rain and drought added to the shortage by significantly diminishing yields. Organic hops are almost impossible to find.

In early October 2007, fire destroyed a 40,000-square-foot warehouse operated by hop company S.S. Steiner. An estimated four percent of the U.S. hop crop was lost at a cost of between $3.5 million and $4 million.

The craft-beer industry is at the edge of turmoil, as high expenses cut into profits and threaten the closure of several microbreweries and brew pubs. Craft brewers across the country are scrambling to adjust recipes.

A hops shortage is not the only problem facing brewers. A reduction in the production of malted barley has more than doubled the of the average price for barley in the past two years.

Climate change may be one factor in the shortage of both hops and malted barley. Both barley and hops have turned into global commodities, driving up prices and further reducing the supply.

How long will this shortage last? Well the good news is that, accompanying the high cost, hops has become an enticing crop for farmers. Unfortunately, it takes three years for hop crops to fully mature, so the shortage will continue for a bit longer.

It is important to note that the rising costs of both beer and food also impact restaurants, especially the smaller, local establishments. Do not be surprised to see a spike in menu prices over the year.

As much as it may hurt the wallet, we need to make sure we keep spending money on craft beers. It will help insure that some of our favorite small craft breweries will still be around a year from now!

HERE is an excellent article about the Hops shortage in Home Brew Beer Magazine.

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Hi. My name is The Beer Wench, and I am a hop-aholic.

As a hophead, my go-to beers typically come from the ale family. India Pale Ales make my heart beat — and Double IPAs really get my heart racing. Nothing, however, gets me excited quite like an over the top hop heavy barley wine.

Barley wine shares many characteristics with wine – yet, despite its name, it is not actually a wine. Like a wine, it has a higher percentage of alcohol – ranging from 8% to 15% ABV. As a result of high levels of alcohol and high amounts of hops (both act as natural preservatives), most barley wines can be cellared for years and typically age like wine. Both go through fermentation and are aged in wood – but, the similarities pretty much end there. Wine is made from fermented grapes and barley wine is made from fermented barley malt. Wine is wine, barley wine is an ale.


Now if you remember from an earlier post, the equation for alcohol is quite basic:

yeast + sugar = alcohol

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. The sugar in beer comes from malted barley. The yeast in barley wine is ale yeast.

Knowing that barley wines are insanely high in alcohol, one can easily deduct – from the aforementioned formula – that they are also high in sugar. And this is a fact. Barley wines have substantially higher levels of malt than most ales. This is why brewers must use aggressive levels of hops to balance out the inherent sweetness. On average, the hops level of barley wines measure up to 100+ IBU (International Bittering Units).

Although this style ale has been brewed for centuries, the designation “barley wine” is relatively recent. It was introduced by Bass in 1903, appearing for the first time on the Bass No. 1 label. These beers were traditionally referred to as stock, old, or strong ales.

The formation of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) in the early 1970’s led to increased public interest and awareness of beer, at first in England, and then later in the “new world”. This heightened interest in traditional beer styles, such as barley wine. The early 1980’s marked the beginning of a “micro-brewery revolution” in the United States, increasing the popularity of barley wines.

The process of brewing barley wine can be a tedious one, as ale yeast tend to go dormant in high levels of alcohol, falling to the bottom of the fermentation vessel without completing the total fermentation. This leaves the beer very sweet. In order to overcome this issue, brewers use a technique called “rousing” -coaxing the yeast back into fermentation by gently stirring it up from the bottom – in combination with adding fresh, working yeast to finish the job.

Although golden-yellow hued barley wines exist, most typically range in color from amber to deep reddish brown. Body is typically thick, alcohol will definitely be apparent, and flavors can range from dominant fruits to palate smacking, resiny hops.

Barley wine is meant to be sipped and savored, not chugged. It can be drank immediately, while young, or cellared and enjoyed years after bottling. Barley wine is best when served in a tulip shaped glass or a Brandy snifter.
Here are a few excellent barley wines worth tasting:

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine

Avery Hog Heaven Barley Wine

Brooklyn Brewery Monster Ale

Anchor Steam Barleywine Style Ale

Barley wines that I’m dying to taste:

Dogfish Head Olde School Ale (limited edition – not sure on its availablity)

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (limited/ rare release – currently available at Wild Oats – hint hint)

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