It’s the most wonderful time…

It’s that special time of year again! The weather gets frightful and, in return, the beers become quite delightful. Winter Warmers, Barleywines, Russian Imperial Stouts…this is the time of year where you start seeing a lot more wax dipped bottles in the liquor stores. So what’s the deal? What do we recommend? Well first let’s get some business updates out of the way.

Demolition


Demolition at the brewery has been underway for a few of weeks now. Cool and pretty exciting, but not without its issues. The thing about the building is that it’s been estimated to have been built some time between the 1930’s and 1940’s. Don’t get us wrong, that’s admittedly pretty cool. The downside seems to be that every single tenant since then has built over top of every previous tenants stuff. That part is not so cool. So far we’ve found secret doors, secret windows, and secret walls built on top of secret walls. Just a lot of extra…stuff. No doorways to Narnia yet, but we’ll keep you posted. Our permit applications have been submitted as well. So hopefully those go through and we can actually begin to build something shortly. Our equipment is also on order and being assembled as we write this.

We’d also be amiss for not giving a shout out to everybody who submitted letters of support to the city for our lounge endorsement! They have received your letters, they have our plans, and now we wait. Hopefully we’ll have a decision in the next month or so. Big thank you again to all those who submitted. The support is fantastic and much appreciated!

More Festivals!


We’re very lucky to have a great deal of support for the brewing community as well! Not only have fellow brewers been super helpful with information on starting a brewery, but they continue to support us in helping promote our product. Maple Meadows, Foamers’ Folly, and Moody Ales continue to allow us to brew under their licenses to make sure we can legally participate in as many local cask festivals as possible. We just recently submitted for the Fall Tri-Cities Cask Festival with the help of Moody Ales, and will also be at the upcoming Winter Pro-Am (so get ur tickets!). Lots of fun and great feedback. We are HUGE fans of these events.

Collaborations


If you’ve been monitoring our social media feeds and it wasn’t already 110% clear, we now have one of our beers on tap at Maple Meadows Brewing. This one is our Dark Necessities Mocha Stout which Carlo was kind enough to help bring into reality using his brew house. It’s comprised of equal parts, American Stout, Coffee, Cocoa Nibs, and Awesome. It turned out fantastic and we couldn’t be happier! So feel free to stop by Maple Meadows for a growler fill and be sure to try plenty of their beers while you’re at it. They make some great beers that you should definitely try.

Cool beans!…..Soooooo winter beers?

Oh yeah! Winter beers. You should definitely drink those! I dunno…if it’s over 8%, and has a waxed top you should probably give it a try.

Cheers!

SVB

What to drink on St. Paddy’s Day

NOT GREEN BEER………..END OF POST!

Green_beer

All kidding aside, if you really want to drink like a full blooded Irishman or woman, then there’s really only a few choices available to you. And, since picking a beer on St. Patrick’s Day is serious business, lets not mess around with any clever jokes or anecdotes and get straight to the goods!

The Irish Stout (aka Dry Irish Stout)

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Any red blooded (or black blooded if they drink enough of it) Irishman/woman will tell you that there’s only one style of beer to drink on this special day and that’s a fresh pint of “the black stuff”. Don’t let the colour fool you though; this is not a heavy style. Weighing in between 4-4.5%, this is a sessionable stout that will let you knock a couple back without knocking you off your seat. The go to for an Irish Stout is usually a Guinness (especially when they’re on special) or Murphy’s also makes a good one. However, there are some amazing local examples from Persephone, Strange Fellows and plenty more that you should definitely check out. This style pairs nicely with fish and chips, pork, or chocolate deserts.

Irish Extra Stout

Guinness_Foreign_Extra

The bigger brother of the Irish Stout; this version simply has more of everything. More alcohol, more flavour, more hops. There’s really not much more to it then that. Food pairings would be similar, but since this is a more robust version of the Irish Stout, you may want food with more robust flavours. BBQ pork or Beef would work well, as do rich chocolaty deserts. Dark chocolate would also be quite complimentary.

Irish Red

Murphy's_Red_Irish_Beer

If stouts are not your thing, then the next runner up would be a good ol’ Irish Red Ale. Similar to an American Amber, but with a heavier malt character and less hop presence. A traditional Irish Red will usually have a similar amount of alcohol to a Irish Stout (4-4.5%), making it another sessionable beer. The problem with finding one in the Lower Mainland though, is actually FINDING a traditional version of it brewed locally. While there are some great Red Ales out there, most of the local ones you’ll find have a strong West Coast influence….meaning more hops. This makes them more of a Red IPA then an Irish Red. So, if you don’t mind breaking with tradition then check out offerings from Red Racer, Off The Rail Brewing, and Black Kettle. Roxy, from Moody Ales, also makes a great Honey Red Ale that’s offered in small batches on occasion. Otherwise Smithwicks, Kilkeny, or Murphy’s Red will offer the most traditional Irish Red experience. Roasted meats pair very well indeed.

Irish Lager

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So you don’t like Stouts and you just can’t get on board with Irish Red’s, but desperately want to stick with the Irish theme? Well you can always go with an Irish Lager.What sets an Irish Lager apparent from a regular North American Lager? Honestly, we couldn’t really tell you and there’s only one we can really name that uses that style identity and that’s Harp’s Irish Lager. It’s only a little different then North American Lagers so if that’s your comfort zone then this should suit you just fine. Harp is a little tough to find on tap in these parts, but specialty liquor stores usually have it available. Mild foods like fish, chicken, or salads pair well with Lagers.

So that’s it peoples! Have yourselves a fun and safe St. Patrick’s day and, no matter what beer your drinking, try and support your local brewer whenever you can.

Cheers!

SVB

Happy 2016!

Happy New Year peoples! Sorry again for posts being so few and far between. As mentioned on previous posts, things have gotten a little crazy over the past few months. So what’s going on? Lots! Here’s some updates.

We’ve been doing a fair bit of brewing, but things have been stalled lately since we’ve been working out quite of few kinks with our new brewing system and brewing processes. So, as you can imagine, developing new and perfecting existing recipes has been pretty tough. Unfortunately you probably won’t be seeing any big reveals for new beers until we get that sorted. That’s all part of home brewing though. It’ll get sorted, we just need to be patient.

School! I’ve completed the first course of the Craft Beer and Brewing Essentials program at Simon Fraser University. This course was Introduction to Brewing, which covered everything from the history of beer to modern brewing practices, and even covered some of the biological science that is involved in the brewing process. Overall a very interesting and a worth while program with some fantastic guest lectures from industry heavy weights. That being said, I’d definitely recommend taking a very basic brewing course or do a few home brew batches first as a primer. Some of the science aspects are pretty complex, so if you don’t have a very basic understanding of the brewing process to reference, you may get lost pretty quick. If you live in the Tricities area, there’s a good one at Beyond the Grape in Port Moody. I’ll be starting the next course, Craft Beer Business Fundamentals, next week and will be sure to report back on that one as well.

The brewery! So what the heck is going on with that? Is anything happening? The answer to both of those questions is “something” and “yes, definitely”. Our business plan has been completed, The Silver Valley Brewing Company has been incorporated, and we have funding. Now we’re just trying to find a spot to put it. So far this has been the toughest part of the entire process. Why? Lot’s of reasons. First of all you need to find a building that meets all of your production needs (space, loading bay, floors etc.), then you need to make sure that building is zoned correctly for liquor retail and production. On top of all of that, if you want to upgrade your tasting room to a lounge license, you really need to work closely with the municipality to make sure your in the right spot for it. While a regular tasting room (serves a maximum of 12oz samples per customer) really only needs to meet zoning and municipal bylaws to get approved, lounge license approvals (no maximum sample size) are usually up to the discretion of the local counsel and community. Details like parking, walk-ability, noise, and surrounding businesses are all taken into consideration when applying for a lounge license. So, regardless of how well the space works and is zoned, it’s important to run it past the municipality first to get an idea of whether or not it could get approved for a lounge. There’s still a chance that it may not get approved since there are public hearings involved in the approval process, but it’s always smart to work with the municipality right from the get go to help increase your chances. So far we’ve zeroed in on a basic area. I can’t really share where that is as of yet since there’s still a lot of discussions going on. Even when we have a spot we’ll still have a bunch of subjects to remove before we can announce anything officially. We hope to have something to report in the coming months.

So that’s it for now. Thanks for coming back to visit and sorry again, that it’s been a while. I’ll do my best to post when I can, but just a heads up that, with school starting, it might be a while. Hopefully the next one will be about finally nailing down a location!

Cheers!

SVB

What’s the deal with sours?

The year was 1990. I was a young pup starting the 5th grade playing around on the school yard when I saw something strange. All of the kids were huddled around a lucky boy who looked to be sharing a new treat with the school yard. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but it seemed like everybody was being give one of these flying saucer shaped candies, popping them in their mouths, making a disgusted look, then laughing as they ran away with distinctly blue tongue, showing anybody that would care to look. My curiosity was peaked so I thought I’d give it a go. I popped one in my mouth and immediately produced the exact face that everybody else had made and immediately spat it out. I’m not sure exactly WHY I thought my reaction would be different, but regardless this was my first introduction to sour candies.

Fast forward to 2014 at one of Dennis’ house parties and our introduction to sour beer was very similar. A friend opened a new beer we hadn’t seen or heard of before so we all huddled around with tasters curious to try it. He didn’t know what it was and picked it specifically because it had a cool looking hawk on it (FYI hawks are cool!) and was made by Driftwood. With all tasters poured we all took a sip and, just like the school yard kids years ago, we all had that look of disgust as we attempted to swallow this new “beer” and some even spat it out into the sink. Jesse quickly grabbed the bottle to read the label. “What the f%ck is a Flanders Red? Is it supposed to taste like this?”. The short answer? Yes. However, unlike the sour candies we’d tried in the past (and this being beer), we decided to stick to it and give it another shot. After having a few more sips we began to appreciate the type of flavor that was being produced. This was our first introduction to Sour Beers and was our first step into a much larger and very interesting world.

So far there are six official styles for Sours (according to BCJP), but many brewers are all ready experimenting and creating soured versions of their regular beers. This can make it difficult for the new comer to find a starting point to ease into the Sour styles and fully appreciate the flavors that are being produced and discover what styles they may or may not enjoy. Rather then give a detailed description of all the styles, we’re going to share a few of the basics so that you can get a better idea of what to look for when you decide you want to dip your toe in. Enjoy!

Berliner Weisse

Berliner Weisse
Berliner Weisse

Love me a good Berliner Weisse! It is light in alcohol, effervescent, and refreshing. Making for a great summer seasonal. While the sourness can be quite sharp, it is actually very clean and has characteristics similar to Champagne. In fact, Napoleon’s troops referred to the style as “The Champagne of the North” all the way back in 1809 (before sour candies). If somebody was to ask me “what style of sour should I start with” this would be your safest bet. Some good local commercial examples we’d recommend can be found at Old Abbey Ales in Abbostford and Four Winds Brewing in Delta.

Flander Red

A Flanders Red Ale
A Flanders Red Ale

While I’ve grown to love the style, it is not for the uninitiated (see paragraph number two). Think of this as a maltier, higher alcohol, and more complex Berliner Weisse. Which, now that I write that out, suggests that it’s not really anything close to a Berliner Weisse at all. So scratch that last statement. It’s much darker, smoother, and has a more substantial fruity character. Very similar to a fine wine but, you know, sour. Depending on the brewer, the sourness can range from balanced to intense and typically has a much higher alcohol level. If somebody offers you one of these you may want to deeply inhale the aroma first to properly prepare you for what lies ahead. Some tasty local examples can be found at Yellow Dog Brewing in Port Moody and Storm Brewing in Vancouver.

What about Wild Ales?

Wild or not this is a delicious IPA!
Wild or not this is a delicious IPA!

Sours are really popular right now, but Wild Ales are also all the rage. These are NOT to be confused with Sours, but some may have sour or tart characteristics, these do not necessarily mean they are categorized as “sour beers”. The most common ingredient with these beers is a microbe called “Brett” (short for Brettanomyces) that can create a broad range of different flavors and aromas. This is added during fermentation and typically creates a musky “horse blanket” funk to the aroma, while also introducing tropical fruit and earthy farmhouse characters to the flavor. Sounds weird? Yeah, kinda. However, when you consider that those microbes are typically found in farmhouses and barnyards where farmers used to brew their own beer it all makes perfect sense. Traditionally speaking Brett can be found in Saisons and other Belgian beers, but lately brewers have been experimenting with its use in non-traditional styles. Brett IPA’s, Brett Browns, Brett Blondes…throw out a beer style and there’s a good chance that they’re adding Brett to it (and yes, Sours can be thrown in with those styles). It’s hard to give proper commercial examples, but if you’re about to try a “Wild Ale” from a local brewer, then you may want to inquire on how it came to be. Some may have a mixed fermentation using a combination of  Lacto (short for Lactobacillus and is the key to souring beer) and Brett to create something very complex and different from traditional Sours. If those types of questions go over the bartenders head, then fear not! For, if it is sour, there’s a good chance that Lacto is in there somewhere making it some kinda weirdo Sour-ish, Brett, Wild Ale monstrosity. The likes of which mere mortals have never seen!….Or not…Most likely not….okay forget I ever said that. Just drink it, I’m sure it’s tasty. Four Winds are actually become widely renowned for their Wild Ales. Here’s hoping they come up with a few more sour styles in the near future as well!

So that’s it for now. Again, these are just some basics and are generally pretty easy to find locally. Oud Bruins, Lambics, Geuzes, and Fruit Lambics are other traditional styles to keep an eye out for, but may be harder to find since they usually require longer aging, the blending of older batches, or are just a little too sour for most peoples palettes. Keep in mind that Sours are not for everybody. If you try a few and don’t like them then it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means that your taste buds may be extra sensitive to sour flavors or you may not have found one that you like. So best not to commit to filling a 64oz growler or a bottle until you’ve figured that out. Sours can also be more costly to produce which means you may be spending more money on something that you may not even like. I’d encourage you to visit the tasting rooms and stick with tasters until you find something that works for you. Enjoy!

Cheers!

SVB

Getting back to the basics

It wasn’t long ago when we were talking about how much we were about to “ramp things up” and all the contests we were about to enter with our “dialed in recipes”. Since then you may have noticed an absence in posts and not as much going on with our Facebook page. There are a few reasons for this, but the long and short of it is “life happened” and as a result much of the forward momentum we had needed to reigned in for a bit while more important things were attended to. Yes there are more important things in our lives then brewing beer. Not many, but they do exist.

So what’s been going on? Well things did ramp up considerably in the brewing department. Last weekend we have over 30 gallons of beer kegged and ready to be bottled/consumed. However, only 10 of that 30 gallons got bottled and or saved for later. What happened to the rest? DUMPED! If you’ve never dumped a batch of beer (which we hope you never have to do, but it’ll probably still happen) it’s one of the more soul crushing things that you can do or witness. It’s not really the monetary loss, but rather the amount of effort that went into all aspects of the brewing process. All of those things go through your head while you witness your frothy, handcrafted creation pour down the drain.

Minutes before everything went wrong. Look how blissfully happy we were!
Minutes before everything went wrong. Look how blissfully happy we were!

It was the crescendo to what has been a string of weird and not so great results from our last bunch of brews. Version 2 of our Black IPA? Some how it managed to taste more like a porter with hardly any hop or dry hop characteristics at all. The new ESB? Not bad, but also missing the dry hop character. Version 3 of our Porter? Sour. Version 2 of our Cream Ale? Also Sour! What the frick is going on here? Did somebody open our fermenters and hock a loogie in them or did we fly too close to the sun? Luckily it appears to be neither of those and more about what we changed.

Luckily with all of those brews we know (because of our relentless note taking) that each one of them involved a new part or a change to our normal brewing routine. Black IPA? Fermentation stalled and we re-pitch the yeast. Also we bagged the dry hops rather then just dumping them in. ESB? It was a 10 gallon batch so we used a different fermenter as well as bagging our dry hops. Porter? Also had to re-pitch, but we took a lot more gravity readings before racking which could lead to a higher chance of infection. We also waited until the yeast was completely done before racking which means there’s not even a small amount of CO2 protecting the beer in the secondary. This increases the chance of infection even more. Given that we carried that habit over to the Cream Ale, we can start painting a picture of what could have happened and how we might be able to prevent it next time around.

Unfortunately “could” and “might” don’t really fill us with enough confidence to go ahead and simply brew the same beers with the same new equipment, using the same new processes. The chances that one of those changes affected the results are still too high for our liking. This means that for our next brew day we’ll be “kicking it old school”. No more fancy shmancy keg turned fermenter for the primary. No more waiting until the final gravity is hit before racking to the secondary. For this brew we will be going back to our more laid back (and slightly impatient) fermentation schedule using our tried and true equipment. Will we still make changes to our brewing setup and process down the road? Absolutely! However, from here on in we’ll be adjusting our brewing process and equipment just like we adjust our recipes. One change at a time.

Cheers!

SVB

Dialing in your recipes

We love experimenting as much as possible. Especially if one of us comes up with a wild and wacky idea. In rare cases we’ve lucked out and nailed the recipe on the first batch, but more often then not we’ve found that the results are generally “good”, but need some tweaking here and there. These tweaks are usually made because it either doesn’t quite meet the vision we had in our head or it just didn’t go over well with others (we are trying to appeal to the masses after all). So here’s some quick pieces of advice that have worked well for us when perfecting our ever evolving line up.

Make one change at a time

This is probably one of the best pieces of advice we’ve received and was given to us by a friend and fellow club member. Whether it’s the combination of grains, hops, yeast, or even the temperatures used, all these factor into the resulting beer. It’s important to remember that there’s a lot of different things that happen on the chemical level when brewing beer. One small tweak to any one of those details could drastically change the overall flavor. Limiting your changes will help you get a better handle on what works and what doesn’t. It may take more time, but the results will be worth it.

Be a scientist

Even if you’re only making one tweak at a time, keep a journal of all of your brew days and approach your brewing scientifically. This is particularly important when a brew doesn’t go as planned and events transpire that may affect your beer. More often then not the results from these mishaps are not ideal, but on occasion they may be beneficial. Best to write it down so that it can be replicated in the future.

Get opinions from others…and not just the nerds

Even the sharpest palettes have short comings and while the more experienced home brewers may be able to pick out more subtleties then most, you may be surprised by the feedback from the casual beer drinker. Even the description of what their tasting can be much more informative since the language they use is often much less technical since they are less familiar with the brewing process. It also helps to gauge the accessibility of your beer, especially if you’re trying to nail down something more sessionable and easy to drink.

Use BJCP guidelines

Just because your beer may not fit into a BJCP category doesn’t mean it’s a bad beer, but if you are trying to dial in a particular style of beer then reading through the guidelines for that style could provide some clues as to what’s missing or needs adjustment. We’ve found the “Vital Statistics” section particularly useful when first designing a recipe. Sometimes the “Ingredients” section will even provide you with a shopping list if you want something more authentic.

Clone recipes are useful

Personally, we’ve never had much interest in cloning or brewing a clone recipe. That being said, if you really like a certain character of a commercial beer, they can provide good insight into achieving similar results. Finding a good clone recipe can also give you a good starting point to put your own spin on a recipe or may provide you with the last piece of the puzzle with a beer you’ve been developing.

 

Hope these help.

 

Cheers!

Kevin

Does Beer Have A Shelf Life?

None of us here have ever had any formal training in the art of home brewing. Most of what we’ve learned is through reading, Youtube, homebrew club meetings, and trial and error. So over the summer I decided to take a “Brewing 101” course a friend was teaching in hopes of learning a little more and giving our brew days a bit more structure. While attending, one of the students asked whether or not the 5 year bottle of Heineken above his fridge would still be good. Needless to say, in this case, the answer was a definite “no”. It’s not the first time I’ve heard questions about the shelf life of beer though. This gentleman’s beer was long past its prime, but does that mean all beer has a shelf life? The answer is a clear and uncomplicated “it kinda depends on a bunch of different factors”.

What kind of beer is it?

This is probably the biggest factor in determining the shelf life of a beer. Typically lighter and lower alcohol beers are best served fresh. Mainly because any kind of flaw is much more noticeable in lighter styles like American Lights and Pilsners. The common flaw that occurs in beer that’s passed its prime is oxidization. This is when oxygen works its way back into the bottle and into the beer.The result is a cardboard taste that’s definitely not complimentary to the beer. This can start being noticeable around the 6 month mark in bottles while cans may give you a few more months.

Hoppy beers like IPA’s or West Coast Pale Ale’s will also start losing that awesome hop aroma over time. We’ve noticed it starts to disappear after 3 months so best to drink them as fresh as possible.

Because of the strength of the darker malts used, Stouts and Porters seem to mask the oxidized off-flavors for longer then lighter styles. It’s still there, just more subtle and less noticeable depending on the style.

Sealing your bottles with wax can help reduced oxidization.
Sealing your bottles with wax can help reduced oxidization.

High gravity (high alcohol) beers like Russian Imperial Stouts, Scotch Ales, and Barleywines are actually ideal for aging. Most high gravity beers can have a strong alcohol or “hot” flavor when served fresh. Aging them for 6 months or more can help mellow out these flavors for a silky smooth finish. Oxygen can and will creep its way into the beer, but since these tend to be complex and rich beers (usually good with desert) it’s barely noticeable. That being said, most brewers will try and fend off oxidization as much as possible by dipping the top of the bottles in wax to help seal it.

What Colour is the bottle?

Clear bottles may have “nothing to hide”, but they are far from ideal when it comes to beer. Exposing your beer to UV (ultra-violet) light is a bad thing. That’s why brown bottles work best since they block most of the UV light. If your bottle is clear or green it can begin taking on a skunky smell and taste less then ideal. It’s this very reason that certain large breweries recommend serving their beer with a lime wedge. The acid from the lime has a way of counteracting the skunky character, turning your beverage into something much more pleasing.

The majority of brewers agree that brown bottles are better.
The majority of brewers agree that brown bottles are better.

So how long does it take for UV light to skunkify your beer? Put it this way; if you’re picking up a case of beer that has clear or green bottles, then there’s a high chance they’re already skunky and you’ve just gotten used to the flavor. That being said, if you find a fresh case and want to experiment for yourself then simply put that clear bottled beer next to a window for an hour or two and see what happens. Just make sure you’re within spitting distance of a sink when you try it. This skunky effect can still happen with brown bottles it just takes longer.

What about growlers?

Depending on the type of growler and how it was filled you may get a different longevity, but typically it’s best to open them within a week of filling and consume the contents within 24 hours after opening. This has less to do with possible off-flavors and infections and more to do with the loss of carbonation. Growlers are not designed to store beer for the long term. Having a quick look at the quality of the caps will make that glaringly obvious on most offerings. However, most breweries do offer higher quality options with better seals and insulation that keep your beer fresher and colder for longer. If you’re willing to cough up and extra $50-$80 during your next fill it’s well worth it!

Super fancy growler fillers...from the future!
Super fancy growler fillers…from the future!

Another factor, when dealing with growlers, is how it’s been filled. Most breweries will fill using a counter pressure system that purges the oxygen from the growler using CO2 before filling it right to the top with beer. This is, by far, the best method of filling a growler and will give your beer the longest life span. These systems are easily recognizable since they’ll either look like a filling chamber from the future or they will have some type of seal around the top of the growler when filling.

Filling a growler from the tap does still happen from time to time, but an extension of some kind should be used to prevent too much head. It’s better then nothing, but it’s still best to plan accordingly and drink the contents of your growler sooner rather then later.

That’s it for now! Have more questions about the shelf life of your beer? Do you have an idea for a future post? Comment and let us know!

Cheers!

SVB

The Beer Glass: Does it make a difference?

Yes……..end of post.

Unless you want to find out the how and why. In that case read on and bathe in the science of beer glass awesomeness! We’re not experts in the field by any means, but these are some observations and suggestions we’ve picked up along the way.

One thing that inevitably happens when you’ve been home brewing for a while is you become quite particular as to how beer is presented and served to you. You’ll even start to develop pet peeves and will probably begin bringing your own glass to house parties after you discover that a good glass makes beer taste better. That’s right, just like wine glasses, those fancy beer glasses are designed specifically to enhance your beer so that every bit of hop aroma can be smelt while keeping the head lasting for hours. So what should you be looking for in a beer glass? Good question, but first lets start with what NOT to look for.

The Conical Pint Glass

The Conical Pint Glass.
The Conical Pint Glass.

Two of my biggest gripes when going to a pub is being served beer in a “nice frosty glass” (which kills the flavor of your beer by the way) and having that “nice frosty glass” be a straight, thick walled Conical Pint Glass. They’re cheap, durable, and easy to stack, but unfortunately they do nothing for the craft beer you are paying good money to drink. There are many reasons for this, but the first would be that you’ll notice little to no aroma since there’s no cupping of the glass to trap it. On top of that those thick walls transfer more heat into your beer. This warms it up and causes it to lose it’s carbonation faster and kills the head. Head is key contributor to the aroma of your beer and ,since aroma also effects the perceived taste of the beer, that’s a lot of character to miss out on. If you’re sitting down for a nice well hopped IPA and it’s served in a Conical Pint Glass, you may missing out on some of that beers character.

Drinking from a Conical Pint Glass can also leave something to be desired. Since the walls are straight that means the beer is going pour into your mouth faster and can cause a drowning reaction if you’re not careful. Drowning in beer may be a dream come true for some, but it’s not ideal if you want to actually TASTE the beer you’re being forced to consume.

So what should you look for and why?

Thinner Walls

While thick glass can transfer heat faster, thinner glass will actually reduce this effect and help keep your beer closer to the original serving temperature. Many beers are designed and brewed to be served at certain temperatures so the longer your glass can help maintain that temperature the better.

Curvy Shapes

Funky shaped glassware helps maintain a consistent head on your beer.
Funky shaped glassware helps maintain a consistent head on your beer.

As mentioned above, having a cupped or bowl shaped glass can greatly improve the aroma and head of your beer as well as making it easier to drink. Having a cupped or tapered opening helps trap the aroma. As you go to drink, this shape will cup around your nose and help you take in all the aroma that the beer has to offer. Bowl shaped glasses also encourage agitation. As you drink, the beer swishes around the glass to create a longer lasting head. Some glasses will even have a heavily tapered midsection where the beer splashes from the smaller base into the larger bowl. This will definitely keep your IPA’s fizzy and stouts nice and frothy. Finally a cup or bowl shaped glass will also prevent the “drowning sensation” mentioned earlier as it will let you portion each sip more carefully.

Ribs and Etchings

The glass on the left has etching on the bottom while the one of the right does not.
The glass on the left has etching on the bottom while the one of the right does not.

Bubbles like imperfections in your glassware. If somebody hands you a glass with bubbles surrounding certain spots there’s a good chance that the glass was either not cleaned properly or those spots were designed specifically to promote and maintain the head of your beer. These “imperfections” can take the form of ribs or etchings at the base of the glass. These features will also help your beer maintain a fuller, longer lasting head.

Tall and Narrow

There are some beer styles that benefit from tall and narrow glassware. If you’re drinking a light, delicate beer like a Pilsner you may want to try one of these glasses. Tall narrow shapes help promote head and maintain a healthy carbonation. Just like the beer styles they’re made for, tall and narrow glasses are designed to deliver a crisp and refreshing experience.

Weird Shapes

A thistle glass for the snootiest of the snooty Scotch Ale drinkers.
A thistle glass for the snootiest of the snooty Scotch Ale drinkers.

Boots and Thistles and Flutes ooohhh myyyyyyy! For almost every style of beer there is an appropriate style of glass, if you really want to take things that far. Do they make that much of a difference compared to a more versatile glass? Probably, but it would be unrealistic to scold a pub owner for not serving your Scotch Ale in a Thistle. Specific glassware is always fun to collect for the cool factor, however I don’t feel that many experts would consider them a necessity.

So those are some of the basics! Want to learn more about the impact of glassware on your beer? Check out some of these links below.

http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/101/glassware/

http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/glasses-make-beer-taste-better

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practice/2011/08/22/does-your-beer-glass-matter/

One year later……

It’s pretty crazy to think that we’ve only been brewing for one year. If we hadn’t been recording it on here we’d definitely be asking ourselves “how the heck did that even happen?”. We’re not going to go into too much detail (if you’ve been following our blog you know most of the story already). That being said, here are five lessons that we’ve learned over this past year that we thought we’d share. There’s a lot to brewing, and we’re far from experts, but these should at least help get you on the right path.

1) A stuck mash sucks. Best to avoid it whenever possible.

2) If you’re brewing for the first time, don’t rely on the instructions you get with your first kit or recipe. They tend to assume that you already know what you’re doing. Instead, pick up a good book (pretty much anything by John Palmer is a good starting point) and learn about the process first. It’ll make everything far less hectic. Don’t worry about getting too technical. That’ll come later if you’re interested in taking it that far.

3) It’s okay to start off with extracts and don’t let anybody tell you different. You’ll eventually move to all-grain, but some of those extract recipes are perfectly fine if you’re looking to get your feet wet.

4) However good you think your first brew is now, in a month or two you’ll realize it’s either mediocre or terrible as your tastes develop…….and that’s okay. You can read every book on home brewing ever written, but nothing can replace experience and the sharper palette that comes as a result. Don’t get discouraged. Things are about to get much, much better.

5) Join a home brewing club. Getting feedback from your friends and family is always fun and rewarding, but if you really want constructive feedback it’s best to get it from experienced home brewers. Not only will they be specific about what they like and don’t like, they will also give you great tips on how to improve your recipe and brewing process. There’s other benefits like bulk buys on hops and grain, as well as yeast banks to help you save on your brew supplies.

Honourable mention: Hot Scotchies! Two parts fresh wort and one part scotch. This simple recipe will help keep you warm on chillier brew days.

So that’s it! Stay tuned for our next post and feel free to stop by our facebook page for a recap of our anniversary brew.

Experimentation and why we brew what we brew.

Test Batch

If you’ve ever looked through our brewing history, or kept track of our Facebook page, then you’ve probably discovered our love for English style beers. It’s fair to say that our enthusiasm for a West Coast style IPA is a bit of an anomaly when looking at our catalog. The other thing you’ve probably discovered is that we like to put our own spin on the traditional. Some of these are relatively common tweaks using common brewing ingredients (Rye-Porter) and others are more wild and experimental (Pumpkin Spice Latte anybody?). That being said we try not to stray too far from what makes those styles great in the first place. This is by no means a template or how you should build your own recipes (we still have A LOT to learn). It’s just some insight into how we work.

Our Mocha Stout is a good example of how we like to construct one of our recipes. Naturally we’ll start by deciding what style we want to brew, but it’s not long until we’re racking our brains for a way to throw the drinker a curve ball. Something that makes them say “You put what in your beer? Does that even work?”. We won’t necessarily throw some random object into our for the sake of making it different. What we’re trying to find is something that will complement the style. For the Mocha Stout we had already seen Chocolate Stouts and Porters, as well as Coffee Stouts and Porters, but never a combination of the two using actual coffee and cocoa nibs. It was a suggestion that Dennis came up with after Jesse and I had been going back and forth about whether to go with coffee or chocolate. It was a solid suggestion and one that seemed to be a natural fit for the style.

Barista Mocha Stout
Barista Mocha Stout

Once we figure out what to shoot for we’ll usually start with a standard recipe for the style and make adjustments to help showcase our “wacky” ingredients. For the Mocha we really wanted it to complement the coffee flavor so we upped the Roasted Barley a little, while giving the Chocolate malt a little more love. We also wanted the rich and creamy characteristic you’d get with a real Mocha Latte, so we used Flaked Oats rather then Flaked Barley. All of these small tweaks can drastically change the impact of these new ingredients and how they work together to make a great beer.

By now it’s pretty easy to see how we approach each beer and it’s ingredients. We may have a solid recipe we use for a starting point, but that’s all it really is. Sure we could just take our Porter Recipe and throw cocoa nibs in it, but that’s exactly what it would taste like. Where’s the fun in that? Why not have a beer that stands on it’s own rather then on the shoulders of others?

Stay tuned for our next post!