Thursday, July 23, 2009


It appears that the report (via Fat City) that Rick Martin had left Free State is inaccurate. Rick posted this comment on my previous post:
I have not left Free State, nor will I ever. I have a new place that continues the level of food that illustrates what I want in a beer pairing. Please come and see for yourself. And continue to see me at Free State as well. Thanks for your support! Your blog is great!

Rick Martin

So there you go.

I think I'll head down to Free State to celebrate.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The End of an Era

It was with fear and trepidation that I followed the recent articles on the new restaurant, The West Side Local. Not because I don't like the idea of a beer-centric restaurant that makes it's own kraut and pickles, I love the idea. Rather, I was fearful because my favorite chef, Rick Martin, was the Executive Chef and that must mean he has left Free State, the greatest brewery ever, and that made me sad. But none of the articles I read definitively stated he had left, so I held out hope that maybe he would be working at both places, maybe. Then I saw this,
"I just want to make comfort food -- food that makes people feel welcome," said Executive Chef Rick Martin, who left Free State Brewery after 17 years for the chance to run his own kitchen.

Double Damn!

If you don't know Rick Martin, he is one of the better food & beer chefs in the country. He's talked or presented at some of the biggest beer events, including Savor, the Great American Beer Festival, and the Craft Brewers Conference, his recipes are featured in Lucy Saunders' book about beer and food, and he was recently awarded Mentor of the Year by the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association.

He will surely be missed by myself and many of us in Lawrence who look forward to his daily specials and especially the Annual Beer Banquet where he comes up with amazing dishes. My wife and I have been to about five banquets now and it was beer that originally attracted us, but it's the food that keeps us coming back year after year.

Monday, July 20, 2009


My fifth brew is a nice simple Hefeweizen. This is the simplest recipe I've done to date (no steeping grains, dry yeast) but, you wouldn't have been able to tell by the mess I made, spilled water, spilled wort, broken hydrometer, nothing was going my way. In the end, I still made beer and it tasted good.

The key to good Hefeweizen is a good German wheat yeast that kicks off plenty off banana and clove aromas. I really enjoy the one that Free State makes every summer. For this brew I decided to give a dry yeast a try and see if I could make a good Hefe with it.

Tasting Notes: Pours with a huge fluffy white head, I think I overdid the carbonation a bit. Color is a hazy golden straw color. Aroma is full of cloves with just a hint banana, not the balance I was looking for. Flavor is about the same, wheaty with a nice clove flavor, not a lot of malt or sweetness. Finish is rather dry with plenty of carbonation, very refreshing. Mouth feel is a little light. Good beer overall*, but not exactly what I was aiming for. I was really surprised that the FG came out so low.

*I had picked up some Sam Adams Hefeweizen to use as a comparison beer because I usually find Sam Adams' beer to be pretty true to style, they're never great but always solid and accurate. Well not this time, what I bought was just another boring American wheat. It made my Hefe taste great in comparison. It's frustrating that breweries can't label their wheat beer correctly – If you want to use German words, use German yeast, simple enough.

For the next batch I want to try to get more banana than clove and hopefully a little creamier body via less carbonation and yeast attenuation. I'm going to try using a liquid yeast instead of the dry. The dry was good, but not the profile I want.

Recipe & Notes:

Original Gravity: 1.055
Expected Final Gravity: 1.013
Actual FG: 1.010
IBU: 12-16
Boil: 45 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 5 gallons
Final Volume: 5 gallons
Apparent Attenuation: 81% (!!)
ABV: 5.9%

Muttons Wheat DME 6.0 lbs.

Vanguard 5.0%, 45 min. 1.0 oz.

Safbrew WB-06, 1 pack

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

Brewed on 05/21/2009 by myself.

Add 5 gallons of water and 3 pounds of extract, turn heat up. Add hops and boil for 45 minutes. At about 5 min. add the rest of the extract and the chiller to sanitize it.

Chill wort to about 80˚ or less, transfer to carboy, add water to 5 gallons, pitch yeast.

5/21/9:00pm – Pitched yeast at about 68˚. Managed to break my hydrometer and spill water and wort on multiple occasions.

5/22/10:30am – Kraeusen starting to form, just a thin film. Temp = 66˚.

5/23/7:30pm – Kraeusen starting to settle down, primary appears to be past. Temp = 68˚.

6/5/09 – Bottled ten 650ml bottles, ten 22oz bottles and seven 500 ml bottles which is about 4.6 gallons. Used 8.7oz of corn sugar which came out to about 4.3 volumes of CO2.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Boulevard Saison Brett

So, I'm finally getting around to reviewing a bottle of Boulevard's Saison Brett. This was a bottle from their 2008 batch (bottle 00212 to be exact), it's been hanging out in my cellar for about 8 months now and I decided it had aged long enough/I could wait no longer. The Saison Brett starts out as slightly beefed up version (8.5%) of Boulevards regular Saison but then it is dry-hopped with delicious Amarillo hops and is inoculated with some brettanomyces, a special kind of beer yeast that kicks off unusual flavors, at bottling time.

The appearance was pretty simple and understated. A bright, clear straw colored beer with a big tight, slightly yellow head that left plenty of lacing in its wake. The aroma was complex and hard to describe. Here's a sample of the smells I thought I smelled: floral perfume, pineapple, must, coriander, pepper, lemon zest, etc. Did I mention that it was very complex?

The drink pretty much followed the aroma, maybe a little less complex but very tasty. Earthy and musty with a light citric tartness. Mouth feel is light and crisp, but not watery. A touch of alcohol burn in the back followed by a crisp dry herbal finish. More, I must have more.

I have to say that this is one of the finer Saisons I've ever tasted, hell it's one of the finer beers period. It just recently cracked the Top 100 over at I was really impressed that I was able to hold off so long before drinking the first bottle. I wanted to give the brett plenty of time to do it's thing, and it did. The question now is how long can I hold out on the other 2 bottles of the '08 batch?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Robot Pale Ale

As some of you may know, I'm a proud new Father of a baby boy and as a homebrewer I decided it would be apropriate to give out bottles of homebrew instead of the traditional cigar (or cigar shaped gum, if that's your thing). For the style I chose to go with something that would have a fairly wide appeal and be drinkable, instead of a big beer that would age well. I also wanted it to have an interesting flavor profile. I settled on Belgian Pale Ale, I figured the flavors from a Belgian yeast would make a nice tasty brew that most would enjoy.

The color is a nice hazy copper/amber color, about what I wanted, Aroma has a classic Belgian yeast aroma, slightly fruity with an underlying bready sweetness. The flavor is similar with a little caramel sweetness up front followed by some dried fruit flavors and a little hint of spice. A nice overall Belgian character. Not overly complex or deep. Body is about medium and could use a little more dryness and carbonation.

Overall: I think the beer came out pretty tasty and went over well with friends and family. On the next batch (Baptism Robot Ale) I'm going to try for a lower FG and a little more carbonation. It'll also be my first partial-mash brew.

Recipe & Notes:
Original Gravity: 1.062
Final Gravity: 1.016
IBU: 22-25
Boil: 60 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 4.5 gallons
Final Volume: 5.5 gallons
Apparent Attenuation = 73%
ABV = 6.0%

Muttons Extra Light DME 6.0 lbs.
Corn Sugar 1.0 lbs.

Steeping Grains:
CaraMunich 12 oz.
Biscuit 4 oz.

East Kent Golding 5.4%, 60 min. 1.5 oz.
East Kent Golding 5.4%, 1 min. 0.5 oz.

Wyeast 3864-PC Canadian/Belgian Ale (Unibroue), 1 smack pack

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

Brewed on 04/19/2009 by myself.

Steep grains for 30 min. at 150˚ in one gallon of water. While the grains are steeping heat 3.5 gallons of water up to about 170˚ in the boil kettle. When the steep is finished take the bag out and dunk it around in the boil water for about 5 minutes.

Add the steep water and 3 pounds of extract, turn heat up. Boil for 60 minutes, adding the hops (all pellets) at the intervals listed above. At 5 min. add the rest of the extract, the sugar, and the chiller to sanitize it.

Chill wort to about 80˚, transfer to carboy, add water to 5.5 gallons, aerate, pitch yeast.

4/19/2:00pm – Pitched yeast at about 74˚.

4/20/9:20am – Kraeusen is already near the neck of the bottle. Temp is around 66˚ or so.

4/21/12:50pm – Kraeusen has fallen a bit, but fermentation still looks active.

5/16 – bottled 48 - 12 oz. bottles and 1 330ml bottle.