July 30, 2009

The Audacity of Hops

This has been a very, very good week for beer in the news. Though I am very, very disappointed to hear that the President drinks Bud Lite:

Red, Lite and Blue: The Beers Obama, Gates, Crowley Will Drink at the White House

[Update: Read this, too]

July 27, 2009

Broadcast News

The FiOS News piece ran this week...and it's pretty damn fun.

I kind of love the way it's in such a recognizable news format (the reporter's stand-up in front of our house is the same one it would be for a crime scene or any other regular new story...the key difference being that it's about Nahum and me and our brews). Thank you Ms. FiOS!

Fairy Tale

This weekend, the Beer Fairy brought 4 six-packs into the 2JB fold, and was rewarded with 5 wheat beers and two Originales.

Which means that my personal stock is running dangerously low.

Which means we really need to get to some brewin'.

July 26, 2009

Brewing With My People

Nothing to report on the brewing front (our schedules are unlikely to align in just the right way until August), but Nahum passed along an interesting/topical post from the blog of fellow brewer Amy Mittelman.

It seems Amy is enough of an expert on the intersection of Jews and brews to have been invited to give a talk on the topic for the Jewish Community of Amherst. It seems that my people were not especially into the brewing experience upon their immigration to the U.S., but that didn't stop Samuel Leibmann from starting up the Rheingold brewery in the 1850s...then some other stuff happened...then in 2008, Nahum and I got into the act. That's the story (more or less).

I'll invite you to click here to read the whole thing, but the real takeaway is that Leibmann found an audience for his beer in the same way that pretty much anyone with any product ever found their audience: he put a pretty woman's face on it. Starting in 1940, the brewery started the Miss Rheingold competition, a practice that continued for the next 25 years. L'chaim to that!

July 19, 2009

Interlude: Trap Rock Brewery

If there's one tangible difference of all this homebrewing, it's the fact that neither Nahum nor I buy all that much beer anymore. I mean, more often than not we've each got close to a case (and sometimes more!) of 2JB goodness around; and my taste for our brew has driven me to prefer ordering wine in restaurants.

But if one is going to hone one's brewing acumen, then it also stands to reason that one should hone one's beer palate as well, right? With that in mind, last weekend Nahum and I (and the wives) decamped to the Trap Rock Brewery in Berkeley Heights, NJ. This nearby brewpub had, in addition to an appealing food menu, no fewer than eight microbrewed beers on tap at any given time. If one must do one's research, this seemed like the way to go.

Our biggest worry was dispelled immediately: instead of fretting over how many of these beers we could reasonably (and soberishly) sample, the Trap Rock folks offered a 6-beer sampler for under 10 bucks. We each got a hilariously sizable carousel of 5 oz. glasses, each containing a different beer. It quickly became hard to picture how, exactly, our food would fit on the table.

But that was someone else's problem. Our issue was to try the Ghost Pony Helles Lager, Schroeder Weiss, JP Pilsner, Dr. Otto's Rye Bock, Yankee Porter and Kestrel IPA.

The simple evaluation goes something like this: the Ghost Pony was good, a lightly flavored beer, but nothing special; the Weiss was fantastic, with a complex set of citrus notes that rivaled our own wheat-based concoction; the Pilsner was malty, hoppy, and one of the clear highlights of the sampler; Dr. Otto's was peculiar but good, not as clearly rye-tasting as advertised but still summery & yummery; the Porter was a dark-horse favorite, with rich color and flavor; and finally the IPA...which was undrinkable--not because it was bad, necessarily, but more because the inordinate blast of hops and 7.0% alcohol just made it too much to enjoy next to all of its subtler brethren.

Sadly, the sampler did not include two of the Trap Rock's other brews, and Irish Ale and something from their "Secret Tap" (whatever the heck that means). The lessons learned included a realization that it is possible to make a too-hoppy beer, that we totally need to make a porter come the cooler days of autumn/winter, and that we need (need) to get rolling on a batch of pilsner soon.

July 2, 2009

Linked Again

This week I had a piece published on The New York Times' local blog...and it goes without saying that 2JB gets talked up & linked up. That's just how I roll.

Some Have T-Ball, We Have the 8:05

Strong Ws

On Monday morning I put two bottles with W labels into the fridge (tho to be honest, the dubbyas are a little mushy...could be Ms or even Es depending on the angle) and brought the cold ones over to Nahum's for our 1-week sampling of the wheat beer.

Normally, the 1-week sample is just to see how the carbonation is coming along; two weeks is pretty standard for the beer to get a good head o' steam going. Not so for the Ws--as soon as we popped the tops and started the pour, it was clear that these were ready, and were already pretty much our most carbonated beer.

And after a couple of sips...it was also clear that we had pretty much our strongest beer, too! Without doing any actual measuring or math or any such thing, I'd guess these beers are about 6% alcohol. Which considering we're usually shooting for 3 - 4% is a significant bump up. Not that I'm complaining.

Aside from the bubbles and buzz, the Ws had a darker-than-expected color (tho lighter than the pics suggest), but clearly that light feel & flavor that you'd expect from a wheat beer. And the dried orange peel gave it just the right subtle citrus kick; I'll have to remember to drop a slice of lemon into my next one. Now all we need is just the right kind of lazy, hazy warm afternoon for kicking back and enjoying these summer wheats the right way.