Ballast Point to debut in Louisiana

2 Dec

San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing will (finally) make its Louisiana debut later this month. For real, this time. Beginning the week of December 19th, you’ll be able to find bottles of Sculpin IPA, Grapefruit Sculpin IPA and Victory at Sea, a coffee vanilla porter. Also available will be cans of Mango Even Keel, a fruited session IPA. These will also be available on tap around the state, along with some specialty beers at rollout events. Sometime in early 2017 canned Sculpin and Pineapple Sculpin IPA will be available.

Mockler Beverage will distribute Ballast Point in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas.

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Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

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Ballast Point Victory at Sea

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Ballast Point Mango Even Keel

Bayou Teche brewery expansion and new year round IPA

22 Nov

Bayou Teche recently announced plans to expand their brewery, and they have a few exciting changes on tap (see what I did there?). The expansion will add nearly 50% more room to the brewery, meaning a bigger taproom, more space for a lab, and additional room for their ever-growing collection of whiskey and wine barrels that are used to age beer in. But, according to Bayou Teche co-owner, Karlos Knott, the most exciting part of the expansion is that it will create room for a brand new brewhouse, the first of its kind here in the United States.

Bayou Teche is expecting delivery of a brand spanking new Simatec Multi-Brew, which is branded as a super efficient, multi-functional and modular brewhouse, with each vessel capable of performing all phases of the brew day process. So in the time it takes a standard brewhouse to produce three batches of beer, the Simatec Multi-Brew can brew 9 batches! The Simatec Multi-Brew system is modular in the sense that you can just plug in more of the vessels to increase your production based on your needs.

According to Karlos, Simatec has “installed nearly a hundred of these in Europe, and Bayou Teche Brewing will be the first in the US to take the plunge. I called quite a few breweries in Europe that have the Simatec, and from Scotland, France, Italy and Germany, I have gotten pretty rave reviews. It’s showing up here first quarter and we are pretty freaking excited!”

If you’re interested in reading more about the Simatec Multi-Brew system, Craft Brewing Business has an in depth look at it here.

Bayou Teche will undergo a rebranding of sorts with not only their labels, but with the recipes of several of their flagship beers. They are also introducing a brand new year IPA, to be called Swamp Thing. “We did not want to do the emulative thing and brew a West Coast IPA, or an East Coast IPA, or heck even an English IPA,” says Knott. “We opted to do an IPA that was designed for Louisiana, something we’d consider a Gulf Coast IPA. Swamp Thing is a hoppy, citrusy, unfiltered IPA made with German Pilsner malt and a blend of hops that includes Mosaic and Citra. It’s fermented with an ultra-clean ale yeast that allows these hop flavors to shine. The ABV is on the low side for an IPA – 6.3 %. We feel that’s perfect for the humid heat of South Louisiana. For an IPA, it’s pretty dang crisp and refreshing (almost lager-like), as well as very hoppy and citrusy.”

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Bayou Teche Swamp Thing IPA

Swamp Thing IPA should start hitting the market in mid-December, with plans to deliver a limited number of kegs and six-packs to distributors throughout Louisiana on the same day that the beer is packaged, giving customers the opportunity to drink the beer as fresh as possible.

More recipe and package changes are coming as well, so stay tuned!

Homebrew Recipe: Coffee Vanilla Porter

16 Nov

Alright, I’ve been meaning to get around to this for some time, and well, I just never got around to it. I’d love to share some of my homebrew recipes with readers here, and there’s no time like the present to start.

First, let’s jump back to when I started homebrewing. In the summer of 2012, I bought a one gallon homebrew kit for something like $40, just to see how I would like it. It included most of what was needed, including the ingredients. It was an extract kit designed to brew on the stovetop in kitchen pots already on hand. It was an IPA, and of course I ended up adding more hops than the recipe was designed for, because, well, you can’t have too many hops. The beer turned out pretty nice for a first effort. From there, I did about 4 more of those one gallon recipe kits, tweaking each recipe with something different, like adding pumpkin spices to an amber ale and basil to a wheat ale.

That fall, I decided I liked brewing enough to go ahead and start doing 5 gallon batches. I was still doing extract recipes in the kitchen, just on a larger scale. I did a peanut butter chocolate stout first, which turned out to be pretty damn good. The second one was a double IPA that was basically a Pliny the Elder clone, which is the beer that got me kicked out of the house. Well, my kitchen brewing days were over after I made the house smell like glorious hops for an evening (I still don’t see what the problem is with that).

After those two batches, and the associated total pain in the ass of bottling them, I jumped into kegging after being gifted a spare refrigerator from a neighbor who was moving out of town. I turned that fridge into a two tap kegerator, and got all the equipment needed to keg and serve my homebrews. The first beer I kegged was a pecan strong ale that was perfect for the holiday season, and a beer I hope to revisit soon. I continued with the extract brews for another year before finally making the leap to all grain brewing on January 1st, 2014. I brewed my first all grain beer on that New Years Day, right after LSU defeated Iowa in the Outback Bowl. That first all grain beer really opened my eyes to how much better homebrew can be, and despite the trepidation of jumping into all grain brain brewing from extract, it really wasn’t that much more difficult than extract brewing. That beer, a coffee vanilla porter that I dubbed The Mighty Quinn, is still probably the best beer I make, and its iterations have won numerous homebrew awards. So, without further ado, I present to you the recipe for The Mighty Quinn coffee vanilla porter:

Everyone’s homebrew system is different. I brew batches to end up with 5 gallons of beer in the keg. I batch sparge rather than fly sparge, because frankly, that’s just easier and less time consuming. I’ve brewed this recipe enough times now that I know what I’m going to end up with, and the only differences between batches are due to what kind of coffee I use. Here are the ingredients for the base beer, and I always purchase them from my local homebrew shop, LA Homebrew:

  • 11 pounds Maris Otter malt
  • 1 pound brown malt
  • 1 pound chocolate malt
  • 1 pound flaked oats
  • 12 ounces Crystal 60 malt
  • 8 ounces black patent malt
  • 2 ounces Northern Brewer hops added for 60 minutes
  • London ESB ale yeast (Wyeast 1968)

This beer is designed to be a 1.072 OG and should finish somewhere around 1.020 FG, making the ABV somewhere around 6.9-7.0%. IBUs are calculated to be 47, but it is definitely not a bitter beer. It’s a very dark beer, actually darker than the style guidelines indicate at almost 41 SRM.

Our Baton Rouge water is actually pretty perfect for dark beers, so I use it without any adjustments. I mash at 156° for 60 minutes, which allows for a fuller mouthfeel, as this is a beer that you don’t want to be too dry. After sparging with 168° water and collecting about 7 gallons of wort, I boil for 60 minutes adding the Northern Brewer hops as it comes to a boil. I then chill, transfer to my fermentor, and pitch the yeast starter that I made previously.

The real star of this beer is the coffee and the vanilla. The first couple times I made this beer, I made a batch of cold brewed coffee with 5 ounces of coarsely ground beans to go with nearly a quart of water. After sitting in the fridge for a day, I filtered it and added the cold brew directly to the keg before racking the beer on top of it. These days, I simply add 12 to 16 ounces of whole beans (just depends on what size bag I use) directly to the fermentor for 24 hours before I keg the beer. That method is simple, it allows for really easy cleanup, and the coffee flavor and aroma imparted on the beer is fantastic.

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For the vanilla, instead of splitting and scraping whole Madagascar vanilla beans, I use a product called vanilla puree from Red Stick Spice Company (see image below). It’s sold in 4 ounce bottles, and I find that 2 ounces is perfect for a 5 gallon batch. It adds a rich and creamy flavor that softens the coffee flavors and rounds the whole beer into shape. The end product is basically adult coffee. It’s smooth and rich, never bitter.

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Red Stick Spice Pure Vanilla Puree

This is the beer that advanced to the finals of the National Homebrew Competition in 2015, won the Specialty Beer category at the 2015 Dixie Cup, and I’ve picked up several other homebrew awards in various other local homebrew competitions.

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I’ve also done some spinoffs of this recipe, such as upping the Maris Otter malt by 6 pounds and aging the base beer in a whiskey barrel to create an imperial barrel aged version. Also, a few weeks ago I brewed it with Jay D’s single origin coffee roasted by Cafeciteaux and put in a pumpkin spice blend from Red Stick Spice to make a virtual pumpkin spice latte beer for our annual Halloween party.

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Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions about this recipe, or homebrewing in general. I’ll certainly do my best to answer them. Cheers!

SweetWater Squeeze Box IPA

2 Nov

SweetWater Brewing jumped on the fruited IPA train back in the summer with Goin’ Coastal IPA back in the summer. That pineapple infused tropical IPA was a success, so now the brewery is releasing another rendition, Squeeze Box IPA with grapefruit. SweetWater was again kind enough to send me a couple of sample cans of this beer, so let’s dive in and see what I think.

squeeze-box

Here’s what SweetWater says about Squeeze Box:

Slice open citrus heaven with this grapefruit laced IPA. Bright and crisp with five tropical hop additions and dosed with a shot of grapefruit, it’s a refreshing new squeeze.

Slice one open!

Availability–12oz cans, 6-packs 12oz bottles, Winter Variety Pack can and bottle, 15.5 Gallon 1/2Bbl kegs (US Sankey), 5 gallon torpedo kegs

Grains – 2-Row, Munich, Wheat, 70/80, Midnight Wheat
Hops – Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, Simcoe, Goldings, Centennial
SpecsABV: 6.1% IBU’s: 45

Squeeze Box pours a light orange color and has nice clarity to it. The slightly off white head sticks around for a bit. The aroma wasn’t nearly as grapefruit forward as I anticipated it to be. There were some slight citrus notes to it, but overall, it was pretty tame. The first sip also seemed restrained. Some of the grapefruit IPAs I’ve had have been pretty intense. This one swings the other way. Had I tasted this one blind, I never would have guessed it was a grapefruit infused IPA.

Where I really had an issue with this beer was on the finish. It was actually kind of off putting. Perhaps that’s where the grapefruit came in, but honestly, it had some light Band-Aid flavor to the finish. I thought I was imagining things, so I gave this beer another try a couple days later on a clean palate, and got the same thing. Maybe it’s grapefruit bitterness coming through on the finish, but to me, it was Band-Aid. That’s not my jam.

I hate to pile on, but this beer wasn’t very enjoyable for me. Usually I can count on SweetWater to produce a solid beer, but this one was a swing and a miss.

As always, don’t take my word for it though. Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think.

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As always, thanks to Tucker at SweetWater for the samples. I wish I enjoyed this beer as much as I did Goin’ Coastal IPA or especially the Hash Session IPA, but it just wasn’t to be for me.

Tin Roof Juke Joint & Gameday IPA Updates

20 Oct
gameday-juke-joint

New versions of Tin Roof’s Gameday IPA and Juke Joint IPA are now available at the brewery’s taproom.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit down with William McGehee and Charles Caldwell, co-owners of Tin Roof Brewing Co, to discuss many of the recent changes at the brewery, as well as some exciting things planned for the future. There was certainly a lot to digest, most of which I will get to in another post in the near(ish) future.

But in a nutshell, there’s a new director of brewing operations in place, as well as several other key positions that are staffed with new to Tin Roof employees. There’s a ton of professional brewing experience that has come on board and there’s a new sense of teamwork and collaboration that’s helping to create new ideas and breathe life into some of the older beers.

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Juke Joint IPA

With that said, one of the first things on the list was to rework Juke Joint IPA. The first batch of that reimagined Juke Joint was canned on Monday, and you can look for it by checking the bottom of the cans for a 10/17 date. In speaking with William and Charles, they emphasized that this is just the first batch, and not the finalized recipe. There are still some tweaks to be made. However, upon tasting it, it’s clear that this is a huge step in the right direction for them. The beer pours a much lighter shade of golden orange than its predecessor. The head faded a little quicker than I’m used to, and that’s one of the issues the guys said needed some tweaking. Immediately noticeable are the dank and pungent hops on the nose. The aroma is much more pronounced now, and certainly an improvement. The flavor of the beer itself is very grapefruit forward, and with a clean malt bill. Gone is the muddled graininess of the previous version. The hops linger a bit on the finish to let you know you’re drinking an IPA, but it’s not a bitter finish at all. The mouthfeel is right where it needs to be, neither too thin or too heavy. William said this batch finished just a touch above 6% ABV, so it’s a bit lighter than the 7% of the previous recipe. This version of Juke Joint IPA is certainly something I’m happy to drink now, as I had passed on it previously when seeing it in stores or on tap. And with some more tweaks in store to improve it even more, it should be a staple in my fridge. William commented that it was about 80% of to where they want it to be.

gameday

Gameday IPA

Gameday IPA is the fall seasonal, and the last batch of it has been brewed for this year. While you can expect a full revamp of it in 2017, the brewers at Tin Roof decided that they’d double the amount of dry hops in this batch. So any cans you find with a 10/19 canned on date will have twice as much Simcoe and Amarillo dry hops, meaning a much more robust hop aroma, which also translates to flavor. And sure enough, this batch does smell more like, well, an IPA. Personally, I still think the malt profile and hop schedule needs to be adjusted. While many people aren’t fans of session IPAs in general, I think the style certainly has its place, and there are many examples I enjoy. I’m fond of Founders All Day IPA, Oskar Blues Pinner IPA, and recently rediscovered Stone’s Go To IPA, which finally made it to our market in cans. Each of these session IPAs have bold hop aroma and flavor with simple grain bills that don’t get in the way. I’d like to see Gameday IPA’s grain bill simplified a bit so that the hops are the star of the show. The good news is that Tin Roof has about 9 months to work on that for next year’s release.

 

There are many, many more exciting things going on at Tin Roof. There will be other recipe redesigns and new beers in the offing. One of those is the release of Rougarou Imperial Black Ale (i.e. black IPA) at the brewery this Friday (October 21st). The recipe for this annual release has been cleaned up as well, and I’m excited to give it a taste. If you’re around Baton Rouge, go check out the release party, try some Rougarou, Juke Joint and Gameday, and don’t forget to get a bite of the best brisket in town from Barbosa’s Barbecue while you’re there, because it is legit!

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Barbosa’s Barbecue will be at Tin Roof Friday for the Rougarou Imperial Black Ale release party.

Founders PC Pils

27 Sep

Founders Brewing recently launched a new fall seasonal, PC Pils. The brewery was kind enough to send me a couple cans to sample, and sample I did. Here’s what Founders says about PC Pils:

Pleasantly crisp, perfectly clean and profoundly crushable, PC Pils is our take on the classic Pilsner style. While Noble hops have been the preferred choice of Pilsner brewers around the world, we went with some of our favorite American varieties. Piney Chinook, pleasantly citrus Cascade and punchy Centennial make this an easy-drinker with floral hop characteristics. Pretty cool, if you ask us.

pcpils

I poured the can of PC Pils into my Founders can-shaped glass. Unfortunately, the glass went from a cool room onto my patio on a hot and humid evening, so the beer itself doesn’t appear as clear as it should in the below picture due to condensation. It pours a clear straw color with a small head that’s white as a bone. The aroma is distinctly hoppy, with floral and pine notes. PC Pils certainly doesn’t have a traditional pilsner flavor, as the American hops shine. I get the citrus and pine flavors up front, along with a bit of cracker from the pilsner malt. The finish is crisp, but there’s a bit of bitterness that lets you know this is no ordinary pilsner. Overall, it’s an enjoyable beer for me. I like Founders’ spin on the style, mainly because I’m not a huge pilsner guy in the first place. Their interpretation brings it into my territory of hop forward flavors. This would be a great lawnmower or tailgate beer, as it’s refreshing and crushable at a mere 5.5% ABV.

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Founders PC Pils

Check it out when you get a chance, as it’s both bottled and canned, in addition to being on draft.

SweetWater Hash Session IPA

15 Sep

Back in August, I took a vacation with the family to Orange Beach, AL. Of course, I had to make a beer run, and one of the first things I noticed was a SweetWater fall variety pack with cans of 4 different beers. We get SweetWater beers over here in Louisiana (but only 420 pale ale in cans…come on Mockler, give us more cans!), so I didn’t purchase any while over there. But lo and behold, I got home from vacation to beer mail from SweetWater (thanks Tucker!). I got a can each of the Hash Session IPA and Hash Brown IPA.

Hash Brown was released last fall, and it’s back again this year. I reviewed it last year, and really enjoyed it, especially as the weather cooled off (which apparently is not going to happen any time soon in these parts).

Hash Session was released this spring as a seasonal, but its success led it to become a year round beer rather quickly. This is what SweetWater has to say about Hash Session:

Cooling out on the dock, jamming tunes and popping tops, waiting for da rod to bend. Gist of the grist is mellow at 4.20% ABV, laying down the base to showcase the blazin’ Amarillo hop hash sunset.

The star of the show here is the hops, specifically the hop hash! We kept the malt bill light to allow the hops to shine through.

We dosed this sucker with a boatload of Amarillo Hop Hash. Pungent with floral, tropical citrus fruit flavors and the hop hash gives it that one of a kind chewy, gooey, resiny mouthfeel. As the chase, we are giving it a hefty dry hop to enhance the potent aromas. Ahtanum gives it orange and grapefruit tones, Crystal for a little kick of spiciness, and El Dorado bringing some pear and watermelon characteristics.

Grains: Maris Otter, Pilsner, Wheat, Midnight Wheat
Hops:Bravo, Amarillo Hash, Ahtanum, El Dorado, Crystal
ABV: 4.20% IBU’s: 55

Hash Session pours a light golden straw color with a light head that sticks around for a bit. The aroma is great, with tropical fruit and floral notes abundantly clear on the nose. It’s packed with hop flavor as well, with a nice pungent hop bite to it, yet with a clean finish. The most impressive thing to me is that Hash Session never seems watered down or too thin bodied, especially given that it’s only 4.20% ABV. It’s super crushable and the hops shine (as they should). It’s a really well done session IPA.

hash-session

SweetWater Hash Session IPA

Gnarly Barley to release Brightside IPA

24 Aug Gnarly Barley Brightside IPA

IPAs utilizing a lot of late hops are all the rage these days, and for good reason. Many people who were not fans of the IPA style, thinking that they were too bitter, are coming around on the new guard of IPAs, which focus much more on the hop flavors and aromas than they do on bitterness.

With that in mind, Gnarly Barley Brewing will be releasing their newest hop creation, Brightside American IPA on September 17th at the brewery to kick off Louisiana Craft Brewer’s Week.

According to Gnarly Barley co-owner, Cari Caramonta, Brightside is “a massively hopped American single IPA around 6.7% ABV, using Galaxy, Citra, Cascade and Amarillo at about 5 pounds per barrel, with none going in earlier than 20 minutes left in the boil. We’re talking straight hop juice!”

Brightside IPA was brewed yesterday, and here’s a pic of it as it left the heat exchanger:

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Look for more details on the release of Brightside IPA soon, along with other events Gnarly Barley will participate in during Louisiana Craft Brewer’s Week. In the meantime, check out the label for Brightside IPA below.

Gnarly Barley Brightside IPA

Breweries come together to help flood victims

17 Aug

In light of the historical flooding that took place in south Louisiana over the last 5 days, many local breweries are making sure they help with the relief efforts. I was one of the lucky ones in the Baton Rouge area who has not been affected, but many friends, acquaintances and co-workers were not so fortunate. The devastation is, quite honestly, unimaginable. This truly was a 1,000 year flood.

Parish Brewing owner, Andrew Godley, personally rescued dozens of people in the Youngsville area on Friday and Saturday by boat. He’s one of the many heroes of the so called “Cajun Navy” that helped people escape rising flood waters. 
Here’s a list of local breweries and their efforts to collect donations and give back to the community. Thanks to all of them. If I missed anyone, let me know and I’ll make sure to add them to the list.

Tin Roof Brewing is collecting items for the relief effort as well as donating 20% of taproom sales tonight (Wednesday) to flood relief.

Urban South Brewery will collect supplies and donate 30% of sales to flood relief on Friday August 19th.

Gnarly Barley Brewing will donate 50% of all proceeds to flood relief on Saturday, starting at noon. They’ll also accept donations of food, water, baby items, etc. to contribute to the relief efforts.

Chafunkta Brewing will collect donated items at their Free Tour Friday at the brewery. Additionally, 100% of the profits on merchandise sales and 100% of the tip jar will be donated to flood relief.

NOLA Brewing will donate $1 for every pint given out at Free Tour Friday, and is suggesting patrons contribute at least $1 for every pint enjoyed during the tour. They are also hosting a raffle to help support the relief efforts. More details can be found here.

Old Rail Brewing is collecting non-perishable food items and customers can get 50 cents off their bill for each item they donate, up to 10 items per bill.

Mudbug Brewery is collecting donations for the relief efforts and will donate $1 from every pint and flight sold in their taproom all weekend long to flood victims.

Crying Eagle Brewing will donate 30% of taproom sales on Thursday to flood relief, in addition to collecting items for donation.

Southern Craft Brewing will donate ALL of their taproom proceeds Friday night to the BRAF Flood Relief Fund. 

Natchez Brewing will host a benefit event on Saturday August 27th. $25 tickets get you a souvenir glass with six 6oz pours, a plate of food from Roux 61, a tour and live music. Thanks to Mississippi for supporting the food victims here!
Also, Oskar Blues Austin brewery packaged drinking water in cans today which will be headed to flood victims here in Louisiana. 
Fight the Flood

Tin Roof Gameday IPA returns August 12th

11 Aug

It may be 3 weeks until LSU football kicks off against Wisconsin, but Gameday is here now. Gameday IPA, from Tin Roof Brewing, that is. 

Gameday Session IPA makes its return beginning Friday at the brewery with a release party featuring food from City Pork. Try it on tap, and grab a six pack or two to go, while at the brewery’s taproom starting at 4 pm. They will also have a single keg of Game Daze, Gameday dry hopped with Lemondrop and El Dorado hops. 

You may remember that I had an issue with the first batch last year, but I’m happy to report that the new team of brewers at Tin Roof got it right from the get go on this year’s initial release. I get notes of mango, apricot, melon and pine, with a clean finish. There’s no trace of the breadiness or muddled hop flavor in last year’s release. This one has a nice hoppy aroma and full flavor, while still being easy to drink. 

Cans will be shipping to retailers soon, so look for it to hit the shelves at your favorite stores beginning next week. 

Tin Roof Gameday IPA

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