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Posts Tagged ‘ipa’

Do I need to brew an amber? I am a fan of New Belgium – 1554 is a crazy good beer, Biere de Mars is awesome, and La Folie is a different experience altogether – but do I need to have a Mad Haven version of Fat Tire to please the masses?

Beer for the masses (aka a picture of a lot of people drinking beer at Oktoberfest)

Beer for the masses (aka a picture of a lot of people drinking beer at Oktoberfest)

There are a lot of beer styles. A lot. My last post was a quick rundown of BeerAdvocate’s styles, and how many beers are listed in each one. It wasn’t very scientific. There are a lot in there that aren’t made anymore. There might even be some that are in the wrong style. And honestly, we could probably narrow it down to 10 categories rather than 90.

I did narrow it down a little. I went into this thinking that ambers would be toward the top of the popularity list. I have no reason for this hypothesis, and I was apparently wrong. Here’s a quick breakdown. Be nice, I know my categories aren’t perfect.

Pale Ale 9064
Lager 6514
Other 4552
Wheat 3841
Stout 3033
Strong 2439
Amber 2140
Porter 1806
Pilsner 1712
Brown 1566
Bock 1457
Light 1418
Scottish 1010
Barleywine 632

It’s no surprise that Pale Ale is number one. For this count, Pale Ale includes all varieties of Pale Ales and IPAs, both American and English, Imperial and regular, double, etc. IPAs are all the rage these days, so obviously there are a lot of varieties. For Lagers, I just grouped all the lagers together. I don’t know much about lagers, so I’m ok with this grouping. Other includes things like sours (which I love!), Oktoberfests, Chile beers, Fruit / Veggie, Pumpkin, and the rest of things that fit in a category named “other”. And so on down the list. If you group Light with Amber, which one might be inclined to do,  the hybrid groupology pushes it to #5.

When I originally set out to grab these numbers, I had an unfounded hypothesis that ambers would be higher. So the premise of this post being somewhat shot, let’s move on.

My blonde is heavyset and a little dirty.

My blonde is heavyset and a little dirty.

I don’t tend to get too crazy with my recipes, at least not yet. They’re generally a little off to the side of their supposed style (the judges agree on that one too, at least), but I haven’t yet delved into the “extreme” side of things. My stout has caraway seeds. My blonde is more.. dirty blonde. My IPA is heavily hopped with hints of ambrosia (the food of the gods, not the weird fruit salad stuff).

I guess my long, drawn out question is this: Do I need to make beer for the masses? Or is the craft brewing world big enough now to support whatever style I make, assuming it’s amazingly delicious. I’m not getting into this industry to sell beer to every person who walks in off the street (though that would help sales quite a bit). I’m making beer because I love to make beer, and I love to share it. So what are your thoughts? Do I need to have the “entry-level” beer? Or can I stick with the bigger, stronger, hoppier, maltier, crazier, sourer, whateverer brews?

P.S. I realize this is was a complete ramble. Congrats on your persistence in getting this far into the post / my brain.

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My beer did this.

A while back, we submitted the second batch of the super hoppy IPA to be judged at the National Homebrew Competition. We were a little late in the game, so we bottled the beer a bit early. For those who know beer numbers, we bottled it with a gravity of 1.032. Usually we wait till 1.018 or lower. Needless to say, the comments aren’t surprising. The beer is delicious, if you don’t mind waiting 20 minutes for the three glasses of foam to die down, and are cool with floaties. We still have a bunch left if anyone wants to taste and compare to the comments. That being said, I give to you the official report card:

NHC Cover

NHC Cover

Review #1

Review #1

Review #2

Review #2

Review #3

Review #3

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Let me know.

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And how does that make you feel?

And how does that make you feel?

Have a seat. Let’s talk.

It’s been a great few days. Someone said that excitement and passion over a goal makes that goal happen faster (I think my mom said that last night). Well, I’m excited, and I’m passionate, and things are happening.

This is going to be a big post. I’ll start with the small stuff and grow from there. Side note: Anyone going to Beer Wars in Denver on Thursday? Andrew (you’ll find out who that is at the end) and I are going, and hopefully Kell will make it up as well. Let me know, we’ll grab a brew.

National Homebrew Competition

Beer judge. Better job than tan-line inspector.

Beer judge. Better job than tan-line inspector.

The NHC is under way! (http://www.beertown.org/events/nhc/) We brewed our IPA specifically for this competition. Timed it out, cleaned the bottles, made sure the caps were clean, and… rushed it. Ended up bottling it at 1.032 or so, meaning we bottled it with a lot of sugar still in the wort. What that means is rather than all the CO2 – yeast’s byproduct when converting sugar -> alcohol – escaping through the air lock, it was forced into solution in the closed container that is a beer bottle. What’s that mean? Something like this.

Ya.. it explodes unless you open it ridiculously slowly, and pour it into a few glasses to let the foam settle. We decided it wasn’t worth the almost 2 hour round trip drive to submit a beer that would drench the judges.

This weekend I received an email from our division’s coordinator, asking where the beer was. I explained, and she said she could add a special note saying “Open Slowly”, and meet her in Denver to drop off the brew. So I’m going to meet her tomorrow or Thursday, and submit the beer! I doubt we’ll win, but at least we’ll be in it still! It’s called “First Round Draft”. Good times.

Homebrew Shop

I couldnt find a picture of the shop... So here is my favorite grain: Dark Munich Malt

I couldn't find a picture of the shop... So here is my favorite grain: Dark Munich Malt

I mentioned this earlier, but I’ll recap anyway. Saturday, Dave and I went to Beer At Home in Englewood to pick up supplies for the Blonde Ale. We brought the new volcanic IPA with us, as well as a bomber (22 oz.) bottle of our previous batch. They. Loved. It. I can’t really say more than that. They were stunned at how tasty the beers were. Asked us all sorts of questions. Asked for more. They’ve always been respectful of us as customers, especially customers who appear to have some idea what we’re doing. But their attitude definitely shifted quite a bit. It was a really really good feeling, and one of the best receptions of the beer I’ve had to this point.

Speaking of the Blonde Ale, it ended up weighing in at 1.072 with 3-3.5 gallons. It’s gonna be a big bodied blonde.

Daniels College of Business

This is a fun one. Sunday, while brewing, I emailed a professor at the University of Denver’s (DU aka my college’s rivals) Daniels College of Business. I told him how I have these great ideas and drive to start a business, but no formal MBA-style business training. I asked if they ever lent students to small businesses to help with certain tasks, for class credit or whatever. I expected to hear back in 2-3 weeks, if at all. Three hours. Three hours, and I had an email back. He told me that they in fact have an entire program for just this scenario, and forwarded me on to the contact for that program. The next morning, this guy emailed me the application and some details.

The rules are simple. Four MBA students form a team, with the business owner / business contact joining occasionally, and help a new or growing business with three aspects of the business. An example would be the business plan, marketing plan, and sustainability plan. So, pretty much, I can get help in part of the planning that I’m not 100% confident in. Sold!

Twitter, the ultimate networking tool?

Its the Fail Whale!

It's the Fail Whale! (use twitter, it'll make sense)

I’ve been tweeting a lot. I’ve made some great connections with other like-minded individuals, in many different parts of the craft beer world. I helped out with some code at BeerNews.org, made some contacts in various industries, have some advice coming from experts in everything from branding to real estate, and am generally just spreading the word about the brewery. I micro-blogged the entire brewing process on Sunday, which you can see on my twitter page (http://twitter.com/hookedonwinter) and twitpic photo stream (http://twitpic.com/photos/hookedonwinter). This probably sounds like geek gibberish to a lot of you. That’s fine. Ask or explore or ignore it, you’ll learn about it eventually.

Mike

New Belgiums first system is behind the lady with the pretty gloves.

New Belgium's first system is behind the lady with the pretty gloves.

When I posted last week about looking for an engineer, my buddy Phill sent a note to some friends. Mike responded, and wants to help out. Mike is currently an engineering student who enjoys beer and long walks on the beach. Well, beer at least. Anyway, he’s going to help us figure out if designing and fabricating our own equipment will be cheaper than buying it used from various sources. I’m excited to work with him on this project.

[EDIT] Mike is no longer a student. The test he’s studying for is for work, not for school. Ooops! Also, he prefers long walks up steep rocks, though sunset walks along the surf are also appealing.

Andrew

Through another slightly random connection – Facebook message from a friend, Dan, from my high school years, who’s friend’s brother, Andrew, started a brewery in Brooklyn and now lives in Denver – I had the pleasure of meeting with Andrew last night at Great Divide. Andrew has a lot of experience with what I’m trying to do. He started a brewery from the ground up, worked on everything from cleaning the tanks to closing the sale, generally in the same day. We have a lot of talking and meeting and whatnot to do, but I’m very hopeful that our goals and Andrew’s goals are aligned. He’s interested in doing it all again, from the ground up, and I’m interested in having someone with that knowledge and experience be around all the time. Potentially a great partnership in the works. We’ll take it slow and make sure everything is in order, but keep an eye out for more about this.

That’s about it so far this week. It’s only Tuesday, so we’ll see what else is in store. Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions, or just want your name to appear in the comments.

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