More Red Racers

These three treasures in the picture (left to right) are: Red Racer IPA, RR White Ale, and RR Extra Special Bitter.

This is a brief follow-up post to Red Robster’s post on Red Racer IPA, which can be viewed here: https://beersforbreakfast.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/red-racer-ipa/

I happen to be residing in BC right now and Red Racer is readily available. It even seems to be a highly acclaimed, local favourite. Admittedly I’m in Powell River, BC, not Surrey where The Red Racer Brewery is located, so, it’s still not as local as can be. There is a brewery in the small town of Powell River and they do make a delicious IPA and a wheat beer, but I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty hard to beat a Red Racer. I did find myself going back to the RR shelf at the liquor store again and again.. until recently I became over-stocked so much on home-brew that I can hardly justify buying beer at all.

I completely agree with Rob’s review of the IPA. Never have I tasted such a citric, hoppy brew. It’s hard to believe that there isn’t actually any grapefruit in there! This is a very refreshing, delicious beer that can be enjoyed over and over again. At about $15 /six-pack it is more expensive than most six-packs of cans, but well worth it for the quality in my opinion.

 
The White Ale (wheat beer) and the ESB are also tasty treats. They both definitely have elements that are reminiscent of the IPA. They are not quite as hoppy of course, but there is a certain flavour that transcends them all. I would imagine they are using some of the same variety of hops to achieve a signature taste across their entire selection of beers. The White and the ESB taste pretty much as you would expect (or at least as I did). The White is light, crisp, cloudy and refreshing as wheat beers tend to be. The ESB is darker, not actually that bitter, kind of roasty and fruity. Both of these beers are worth checking out if you get a chance. They’re good but not irresistible like the IPA.

IPA            

White Ale 

ESB           

Ah yes – IPA

From left to right in this picture you see: (5 gal. jugs) Ah yes -IPA, and Yarrow Honey Mead (1 gal. jugs) Raspberry Melomel, Pear & Rhubard Melomel, and Rhubarb Melomel

Ingredients:

-3lb. Light malt extract

-4 lb. Amber malt extract

-1 lb. Crystal malt

-1/2 lb. Toasted malted barly

-7 oz. Cascade hops

-2 oz. Northern Brewer hops

-2 tsp. Gypsum

-1/2 tsp Irish moss

-1 pkg. WYEAST (Irish Ale)

-1 1/4 cup Amber malt extract (for priming)

This is another recipe from “The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing” by Charlie Papazian. I did make some modifications based both on what was available to me, and my own taste. I used liquid malt extract instead of the dry malt extract that the recipe called for. I’m not sure what the implications of this change will be. Liquid malt extract is readily and cheaply available to me in bulk from the local U-Brew establishment. (As are all the other ingredients.)

I am apparently the only customer in Powell River who uses the U-Brew for their bulk ingredient purchasing service, everyone else pays them to make the beer for them! The guy there does all the work and to make it legal, the customer has to go and pitch the yeast. That brew-master’s got pretty sweet job if you ask me. The health food stores in town also sell some beer and wine-making equipment, but only the “basic” kit-brewing supplies are available and they are more expensive. You can however find drilled bungs at the health-food store. It’s so nice to find a place that will drill your bung at a reasonable rate. Ah yes, drilled bungs.

Back to beer. This recipe was described as sweeter than a traditional IPA. I prefer a dryer beer so I upped the hops. Hop hop hops. I Added the bittering hops (Northern Brewer) several times throughout the process instead of just at the beginning. I also added the aromatic hops (Cascade) 10 minutes before the end of the boil and again during the last minute. I plan on adding 5oz of Cascade again when I transfer the beer into the secondary fermenter.

The Irish Moss was also not part of the original recipe. Irish Moss is a positive addition to almost any brew. Actually, it is a negative addition with a positive result. Irish moss is negatively charged and attracts the positively charged precipitated and coagulated proteins in the brew-pot. This causes the proteins to settle to the bottom, helping the beer to become clear and less cloudy. I also use Irish moss in mead.

I’ll keep ya’ll poster on how it goes.

Red Racer IPA

Here we go, a good old-fashioned commercial beer review…

This one is from Canadia, but it’s about as far from local as you can get. It’s from Surrey, BC. I know, shame on me for not buying local craft beers, especially since there is such an outrageous amount of local IPAs being produced right now.

I went to a craft beer tasting/show/thing here in Hamilton on the weekend, and was really shocked at just how many IPAs there are right now. Some are being produced on a large scale, while others are short-runs or even just experiments. The IPA trend right now is ridiculous… but awesome. I really like IPAs, especially in the summer. I find the crisp, citrusy bitterness of a retarded amount of hops to be completely refreshing, yet bold enough to still rank amongst some of my all-time faves.

I know that seems like an excessive amount, but the last time this beer made an appearance was in February. That’s a long time to wait for such a perfect summer-time ale. Thought it would be for the best to stock up.

Anyway, so you’ll have to excuse my indulgence in this not-so-local Canadian brew. It’s just too good to pass up. Out of all the IPAs I’ve had recently, this one REALLY stands out. It’s a strong ale, but not too strong. It is quite clean and easy-drinking, but it’s just strong to remind you to take it easy and make it last. To get an idea of what the real appeal of the flavour is, simply refer to the image below:

Whatever combination of various hops varieties they used for Red, it has an overwhelming citrus flavour. It’s like eating a ridiculously bitter grapefruit, but with just enough sugar to tone down the bitterness so that it isn’t overwhelming. This is a NEAR perfect IPA, in my opinion. Completely delicious.

   

I can only hope that that IPA we’re working on has a reminiscence of some of the flavour achieved in Red Racer. More on that soon.

 

Clean the Cupboards Ale

Before I ever got the crazy notion of making a Lager, I decided that I should do a little bit of spring cleaning (in February).  I decided to use the leftover grains and hops that have been kicking around for a while to make a nothing special drinking ale.  I shot for 5% IPA-ish brew that wouldn’t take very long to go from grain to beer to belly.  Here are some of the ingredients that I used.  However, I cannot comment about the proportions of anything because I kind of got a little happy with drinking some leffe brun and smashbomb..

Grains

2 row pale malt

pilsner malt

special b

crystal 45L

Hops

Mt. Hood

Styrian Goldings

Perle

Hallertau

Willamette

Yeast

Safale US-05 Dry Yeast

I actually haven’t used dry yeast before up until this point.  I did not rehydrate the yeast so it did take a little while to get going.  Everything went fine, primary fermentation took only 5 days.  I did however leave the beer in the primary for 3 week until I moved it over to the keg where it was force carbed for a week.

How about the review?  Well it is a nice amber colour, simple head that dissipates over a few minutes, quite clear in complexion.  It has a floral aroma and taste to it, most likely given from the noble hops that I used, with a slight bitterness that fades quickly but leaves a residual flavour behind.  Its nicely carbonated and quite refreshing – not too dry, not too sweet.  You can get the slightest hint of the special B malt in there with a faintest of prunes dancing around on your tongue.  Refreshing, floral, fresh, tasty!  I enjoyed this brew with a bag of spicy cajun peanuts, and while its probably not the best pairing, it was heaven during the middle of watching a baseball game.

A very average brew that I will probably make again next year.

Flying Monkeys’ Super Collider

This past Saturday, the B4B crew got together at Chris’ place to partake in our first ever group brew (post coming soon). While we were brewing, we had a bit of downtime to drink some beer and do a couple of group reviews. Since we were all together, we decided to try doing a video review. Keep in mind we had all had a few by this point! Anyway, Chris was kind enough to share his Super Collider with the whole group. Special thanks to guest reviewers Alex and Neil.

 

I did take a photo of the notes and opinions we had written down, but apparently I was not capable of focusing the camera by that point…

Garrison Imperial India Pale Ale

Wow. This is an absolute treat. I don’t think I have ever had a beer that has as much bitter complexity. This one really is quite intense, the name imperial is definitely appropriate. There are so many layers of hops that I am not really sure what to do with myself after each sip. I am very surprised by this ale.

The Garrison brewery is found in Halifax Nova Scotia, and is the only beer that I have ever tried from this province. I am sure that there are other artisan breweries that are amazing, but clearly this facility made a name for itself with this particular beer. It is unfiltered and very cloudy, with a wide red-orange color and long-lasting foamy head. The bitterness of the hops that is used is quite evident in pretty much any beer, but this one takes the cake. The initial hop flavor is sharp and extremely bitter, but fades quickly to a numbing citrus like aftertaste. It is at the level where any more hop flavor would be overwhelming and completely dilute the flavor of the sweet caramel malt.

The alcohol percentage is 7%, so you certainly get quite a bang from this 500ml bad-boy. Good work Nova Scotia, keep up the excellent work. I don’t really have anything bad to say about this beer, except that even after a few sips it makes you violently hungry*. Garrison’s Imperial India Pale Ale is solid, and certainly worth a try. I would get this again, no questions asked. Every once and a while I feel like being overwhelmed with robust flavor. The last sip is also a gritty one… full of all that delicious sediment that is left in there on purpose (I think) after the bottling process for the beer to continue to absorb flavor and gain character over time.

* The bitterness found in Hops, like most bitter plant compounds, stimulates the production of saliva and stomach acid. Thus, it prepares your body for a hearty meal. Drinking or eating something bitter without following with some sort of substantial food leaves your digestive tract at risk of harming itself from it’s own beneficial secretions. So, if you are drinking and feel hungry, eat something! I made home-made sweet potato fries to go along with this beer, and this was a flavor marriage made in heaven.

Southern Tier Double India Pale Ale

I first sampled a taste of this New York brewery in the form of their Creme Brulee Stout, which was deliciously rich and creamy but very sweet. After that experience, a number of months later I tried Southern Tier’s Gemini, which was fantastically full bodied and flavourful. Since trying both these beers, I was under the impression that this brewery produced impressively rich and filling beers that were best enjoyed with moderation. Drinking beers like the latter two every few days would numb my senses (I think) and leave myself constantly overwhelmed.

Given all this, I was pleasently caught off guard by seeing their ‘Double Pale Ale’ amongst the shelves, which I purchased from the Dundurn L.C.B.O. this afternoon. It cost me less than 3 dollars, and is a hilariously intoxicating 8.2%. This beer is really, really good. It is exceptionally ‘Humulus’ in flavour (It is in fact brewed with 4 different varieties of hops) and refreshing with a punch. The bottle also mentions that this beverage contains 3 types of malt, which is apparently impressive or else they wouldn’t have bothered to mention that.

The aroma is moist and fresh, the color dark gold; a pretty good one. Might not be the best beer produced by Southern Tier in my opinion, but their attempt at an India Pale Ale was most certainly a success.

* I walked about 45 minutes to the L.C.B.O. to get this beer. If anyone felt how humid it was today, you know what I went through.