Food, Beer & Buffoonery - Hops

What is THAT doing in my fridge?!?!

So, I’ve been taking some spare time lately and converting the new updated 2008 Beer Judges Certification Program styles into XML format. Their last update was in 2004 and the guy that created the XML for the 2004 guidelines has either disappeared or doesn’t have time to update.

Terrible Beers in my FridgeSo….. I’ve taken up the effort to update the XML version of the guidelines for the 2008 version. It’s a whole lot of copying and pasting. I’m on category 7 now. I do a little bit each evening. I figure it’ll take a month or so. Seems like a lot? Just take a look at how extensive the 2008 BJCP guidelines are. You’ve got 23 categories, each category divided into 1 to (around) 6 styles of beer (or mead, etc). In pdf format, it’s 51 pages.

So, while I’m at it, I figured, well, I’m reading all these style guidelines, perhaps I should taste the beers too. I don’t plan to taste the beers in sync with my editing of the XML. I think that would be a tad on the dangerous side. It’ll take quite some time, but in the end, I’m sure I’ll be ready to take the BJCP exam!

My good friend Dean, and fellow BrewSession author has taken the exam and is a certified beer judge. So, I guess I’m playing catch-up!

Tonight I decided to go out an get the first beers, representing the first two styles in the BJCP guidelines. Here’s where problem #1 arises. The first two styles in the guidelines are: “Lite American Lager” and “Standard American Lager”. Probably my least favorite of all beer styles! But you gotta do what you gotta do (even if it means typing out phrases in terrible grammar).

So, take a look at my fridge in the above photograph. Now THAT is a scene that you will never EVER see again. I promise.

To represent the Lite American Lagers I purchased Amstel Light (yeah, it’s made in Holland, but it’s “style” is in this category), Miller Lite, and Bud Lite. Tonight I split a Miller Lite and Amstel Lite with my wife. She hated them. In fact, I was given a lecture for actually wasting money on such awful beer. Depending on your outlook, this sort of lecture from a wife can be a really bad thing, or a really good thing. I choose to see it as a very positive thing. A toast to wives with good taste everywhere!

To represent the Standard American Lagers, I bought: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors, and Miller High Life. Ouch, ouch ouch. Sometime later in the week, or more likely, on the weekend when I have help, I’ll sample these beers.

So, problem #2 arises in the fact that I was stupid enough to buy two bottles of each beer (note again, the photo). What was I thinking?!?!? Two bottles of Fullers ESB might be considered “not enough”, but 2 bottles of Coors? Damn, I wasn’t thinking. I must know SOMEONE who I can invite over for a “beer” this weekend. 😉

In any case, both of the Lite American Lagers we sampled were watery, had what I’d call an “odd bitterness” and were generally unpleasant to drink. The BJCP guidelines say these are very thirst-quenching. I’d rather just drink water. It also states, “Strong flavors are a fault”. That almost needs revising…”flavor is a fault”. Okay, they do have some flavor. It’s just not particularly enjoyable. There’s a bitterness, but it’d be difficult to identify it as a “hop bitterness”. Could be anything. There’s little maltiness to these beers. There’s little to enjoy.

Going forward with this little endeavor, my goal is to try and get beers that are actually stated as “examples” for each style in the BJCP Guidelines. I may or may not succeed, but occasionally, I’ll update you here on how it’s going.

By all means, if you’re interested in going through all these beers with me…post a comment here, drop me a line, whatever. It’d be great to get a discussion going.

My analysis for tonight? Both beers are extremely bland. Amstel light is a bit more watery than Miller Lite — which strikes me as odd because I always heard that Amstel is one of the better light beers. Well, I think it’s the sophisto-foreign aspect of Amstel that causes people to say such things. Trust me. It’s not any better (than Miller Lite, at least), just more watery. Both beers are light in body, light in color, light in mouth-feel, and low on taste. I don’t see any reason for anybody to drink such a beer. Honestly? I’d rather have a Clausthaler non-alcohol beer. At least you’re just going all out at that point — and Clausthaler is actually not bad, considering. The BJCP doesn’t seem to have a non-alcoholic beer category though.

Schwarzbier and Sticke Alt

So, I’m finally making a post on my blog. I thought I’d just reminisce on my latest brews.

Currently in the fermentor I have a German Schwarzbier (black beer). It’s probably in my top 3 favorite beer styles and the one I made last winter turned out great. It’s fermenting in the shed we have out back where it’s staying a cool 55°F. Last week it was down to 50°F in there. Next week it’ll be time to keg it and stick it in the fridge to lager for a month. I haven’t brewed since we moved and my keg fridge has been unplugged the whole time. Needless to say it’s very, very stinky (to put it mildly) in there. I think I’ll have to make use of some old clothes and bleach before putting any precious beer in there!

I was reading my book on German Alt beers today and read a section on a special type of Alt, called a Sticke Alt, meaning “secret” Alt in the local Düsseldorf dialect. Apparently the Alt breweries in Düsseldorf (the home of Altbier) brew a special Alt beer once a year and call it Sticke Alt. It’s a chance for the brewers to play around, so the recipes differ from year to year, but there is almost some stylistic guideline that can be taken from these beers. Basically, they are an Alt beer made stronger, darker and hoppier. It’s almost a German stout, if you like. So, I formulated a recipe for one of these and I think this may be my next beer….or….one of my next anway. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Greg’s Sticke Alt

This is closely based on a recipe for a Sticke in my Alt book, though not exactly the same.

1.057 OG and 50.2 IBU
90 minute boil

5.3 lbs Pilsner malt
2.6 lbs Munich malt
2.5 lbs CaraAmber (or Crystal 60L)
13 oz CaraHell
0.25 lbs Black Malt

(I know, that’s a lot of Caramel/Crystal, but the guidelines say so. 😉 )

2.7 oz Spalt (4.8%) at 60 min
0.6 oz Spalt @ 5 min
1.2 oz Spalt steeped for 5 minutes after boil or dry hop in secondary

Then use a nice Alt yeast. A must! A protein rest is recommended.

Once brewed, I’ll let you know how it is….

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