Sunday, October 14, 2012

He's still around??

Yes, I'm still around my beloved southern Illinois.  Not that long ago my voice graced the beer fest held in Hanger 9's parking lot.  I felt I needed to draw some attention to Mayor Joel Fritzler tapping a firkin (thanks Matt for the pic) and to try to boost sales for tickets for the Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest going on Saturday, October 20.

 (That's me there in the beer shirt.  The mayor is the one with beer on his shirt)

So, are beer fests on the rise?  You tell me.  49,000 in attendance.  Tickets selling out in 45 minutes. Is this some rock concert?  Heck no.  It's the Great American Beer Fest out in Denver.  580 breweries, 2,700 different beers, 36,000 gallons of beer!!  Oh my!!  You can read the details here on NPR. 

I hope to see many of the local beer people at the Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest next weekend where once again I will be giving the blessing of the beer.  I've been thinking and refining a blessing to make it sound actually... well... church like.  What do you expect from a Minister of Perpetual Consumption? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Beginnings

Brother Chris is off in OK getting ready to deploy overseas.  Brother Charles is in beautiful downtown Southern Illinois until Saturday when he goes off to Afghanistan.  Is this the end of the Monks??  Heck no!!  I even told Brother Charles that I'm going to keep brewing (I'll have to get the rest of my gear from his house).  I plan on entering something in the Big Muddy Monster Brewfest under the name of the group.  And there are a few folks that are interested in brewing with the Reverend.  So it's a new start with new people but I look forward to my brothers coming back.

And then there is Kindling.  Today they are closing their packaged liquor store.  Larry Emery reported a decline in sales and a change in their business model as the reasoning.  With craft beer doing so well in southern Illinois I can see that the store that was the ONLY store with good craft beer having sales decline.  And the folks there want to change Kindling to more of a restaurant/bar model.   It makes sense to close down the package store for a space for the bar.  No matter how much is makes sense, it's a little sad.  I helped get Kindling started with the packaged liquor store.  It's kinda sad to see something I help start going away.  Regardless, I wish everyone there the best of luck.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What's happening with the Monks?

Things are going to get a little slim with the Monks.  There are three regulars - the founding members: Brother Charles, Brother Chris, and yours truly, the Reverend.  Brother Charles is shipping over seas to Afghanistan for a year to help reforest parts of the country.  Brother Chris is headed off to parts unknown with Uncle Sam.  That leaves the Reverend to keep the brew kettle boiling.  We had send offs for both of them.  Out at Giant City, I shared some Arcadia Loch Down Scotch Ale.  Talk about rich, sweet flavor!!  At Brother Chris's send off (knowing that Brother Charles was going to be there), I broke out the Utopias!  I poured a shot for each of us and toasted them.  I pray to the Great Brewmaster that they come back safe and sound, inspired by their world travels, and ready to brew.  I'm going to miss them and look forward to their return. 

What's the Reverend been drinking?

Hmm...  Let's see...

On the 4th of July I started off with a little Chimay Première (Red) as I had to use a splash or two in a BBQ glaze.  I remember drinking that and thinking "What the heck am I doing?" as I was barbequing pork tenderloins with a chocolate glaze sauce while it was 109.5 degrees on my deck.  That was some darn good pork!!  When it was all said and done, my family and I headed over to friends of ours.  We've been going over there for the past three years for a 4th of July gathering and swimming.  While there I had something from my favorite American Belgium style brewery - Brewery Ommegang.  Now, it was HOT on the 4th this year.  I have three bottles of their limited edition beers.  I did bring two but only had one - Aphrodite.  This was perfect for a hot day.  On the pour it looked a little red and the head had a rosy tint.  Brother Chris said he could taste the pear but for me the raspberry came across.  That might have been due to the tartness imparted from the Brett yeast.  Refreshing to drink but could hit hard if you drink the entire 750 ml as it weighs in at 8.9% ABV.  I'll comment more on Ommegang's Limited Edition releases in another post.

A few parties ago I finally decided to open up my Samuel Adams Utopias!  Oh my!!!  Zero carbonation, smooth going down with a little alcohol burn.  Some people have said it was more like drinking bourbon.  I'm glad we had a shot!  Oh...  The we?  I'll say something about that in my next post.  Regardless, I then took Brother Chris through all three colors of Chimay: Première, Triple, and Grande Reserve. 

I'm feeling kind of bad because I've not really been keeping up with my "study" of what I drink, when I drink it, and where I drink it.  I'd been doing that to track my habits and preferences.  Plus, as various as my tastes are, sometimes it's good to have something to prompt the memory.  For example, I knew I had a Samuel Adams Porch Rocker (similiar to Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy) and a few others but I'm not sure what the others were.  I do remember Grant's peppers lined with cream cheese wrapped with bacon and smoked!!

Well, that's enough for now.  More later.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What's the Reverned Drinking?

Last night I had the pleasure of drinking a bomber of Epic Brewing's Brainless on Peaches.  The label says it is a part of their Exponential Series.  Wha?  From their website:

Epic’s special line of ales and lagers for the accomplished consumer or the ever-curious.  This is where the Epic journey never ends…
 Hmm... Ok.  More specifically about the beer from the site:
We took our double gold medal winning Brainless® Belgian, added organic peach puree and aged it in French Chardonnay casks from Sawtooth Winery. Drink from a Pinot glass, serve on the warm side of cold, it develops nicely as it warms displaying more fruit and wine.
 They even have notes broken down based on the batch.  The batch that this one came from was #8.  You can read their notes here.

 With the weather hinting (like a sledgehammer) of being warmer, sometimes my tastes go a little lighter in color and I like exploring the fruit adjuncts.  The pour was angry.  Even as gentle as I could, I got 1/3 beer, 2/3 head. But what beer I got was a nice golden color with lots of carbonation.  The taste was good.  The peaches didn't overwhelm the flavor.  And at 10.5% ABV there wasn't an alcohol burn.  Bombers would be better to share with friends than try to tackle on your own.  Nothing against it but for a session beer, this one is good spread around.

Now, I know some of you in the southern Illinois area might be saying, "We can't get that around here. Where'd you get it?"  Good question.  My day job sent me out east to Richmond, VA.  Since I was driving (12 hours one way, UGH!) I made sure to do a little shopping.  Not far from where I was working, there is a nice store called Corks & Kegs.  Imagine a store the size of some of the bigger liquor stores in Carbondale but it dedicated to beer and wine.  The bigger bottles of beer are laid out in racks like you see most wine bottles.  They had a good selection and, as expected, stuff that I could not get around my beloved southern Illinois.  I made sure to make a few select purchases and will have the pleasure of trying them.  Although, with as many big bottles as I purchased, I'm more tempted to have a tasting at my house.  It's a little awkward to tell my wife that I'm having only one beer and then down a bomber of a high alcohol beer.  Regardless, if you find yourself in the Richmond, VA area, make sure to stop by and check out Corks & Kegs. 

Anyway, that's it for now.  I've got chores to do around the homestead.  Maybe I'll have one to help the work go quicker.  Until later, have a good one.


Well, Brother Charles and I were thinking about brewing this weekend (in light of some changes coming up) but it dawned on us that this Sunday is Mother's Day.  Duh...  We AREN'T brewing on Mother's Day.  But something will be coming up soon (like maybe NEXT weekend) because we have a need to brew!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tales From the Hopvine

The ol' hopvine has interesting news.  I mean... Um, what?  Oh, the hopvine?  It's the beer version of the grapevine.  You mean what I know...

Anyway, first of all, Kindling is working on expanding in terms of a brewery.  A certain old friend of mine is going full time there and they are trying to work it up where they will have a brewery.  This isn't a new idea.  Larry was talking about a brewery years ago when I worked there.  But with my old friend there, I'm sure they will gain momentum with it.  They are also planning on cutting back the amount of the big name beers and making more room for craft stuff.  They were leaders of craft beer back in the day but now everyone is carrying it.  They want to be able to improve on the craft beer scene instead of fighting the others.  My prayers go out to them.

Next on the list is the possibility of a major midwest brewery opening up something here in Carbondale.  Schlafly is looking to open up a new brewery.  They are doing a lot of "contract brewing" where they lease space from other breweries to help keep up with production.  They are looking at three possible locations to open up a brewery to help bring brewing back in-house.  The attractive thing about southern Illinois is the possibility of also acquiring farm land so they can grow some necessary ingredients - helping reduce costs even further.  Heck, if they need an IT guy, I'm the man!!  While I won't work for beer - I do have bills to pay - I will accept beer as a perk.

That's it from the hopvine for now.  Until later, have a good one.  I just had some Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.  That will count!!

Blessed be the Brew!!

UPDATE: With some other conversations I've had, this MIGHT be going to the Champaign, IL area.  I say MIGHT because things are always "in discussion" so it MIGHT change.  I'll keep you updated.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Day in Forest Park

For those who read this blog, you'll have to wait until later for my impressions on the 17th annual St. Louis Microfest.  The whole thing - trip up, walk through the park, drink, walk back through the zoo, dinner, and trip back - took about 12 hours.  I'm tired.  Aaaand a little sunburn.  Regardless, I'll be updating soon with notes about the incredible time at Microfest.  Until then, have a good one.

Friday, May 4, 2012


If you are sitting there saying "Wha?" I won't feel bad.  This fest was brought to my attention by a good friend and fellow brewer Marika Josephson.  I've been to the St. Louis Microfest site and thought that it would be cool.  Today, my wife had an article from STLToday and there, amongst a list of some big name breweries, I see Scratch Brewing Company - a brewery started in part by the a fore mentioned Marika.  This is awesome!!  I think this will be their first big pouring.  And they will be in good company.  If you get a chance, shoot up to St. Louis on Saturday and congratulate them.  But make sure to celebrate responsibly.  A total of 110 breweries will be there.  That's a lot of beer!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Beer Taste...

Last year I decided to track my beer habits.  I've found myself continuing this study to see where my tastes wonder.  I'm not saying that I can't remember every beer that I've tried.  With so much on my plate at the moment, I could see it happen if one slipped my mind now and then.  I can pull up my calendar and see what, when, and where I consumed.  I also kept track of the new beers I tried.  If I could not remember if I had tried something before, I tagged it as a new beer. 

Today as I was doing some chores around the house, I decided to pop open something new.  Today it was Miles Davis' Bitches Brew from Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales up in Delaware. 

Kind of a disclaimer here: I LOVE Dogfish Head.  Sam Calagione is somewhat of a beer brewing hero of mine.  Not only do they have their normal production batches, but they also have some reproductions that are formulated by working with a chemical anthropologist.  Resurrecting ancient brews gives us a good perspective on how beer has evolved over the millennium.  Regardless of regular or special batches, the dedication to detail and quality never wavers.  I will say that not every style they come up with is my favorite but they do make some damn good beer.

Where was I... Oh yes.  The Bitches Brew.  So, if the label says that it is an "ale brewed with honey and gesho", what would you think?  Well, I know what I thought.  What the hell is gesho? Gesho is the Ethiopian name for rhamunus prinoides.  Apparently it is used like hops.  Regardless, when I thought of an ale brewed with honey and something I didn't really know, I thought it was going to be like a honey wheat - light in color.  Boy was a wrong.  The first thoughts as I was pouring was, "What the hell" and soon turned to "Oh my goodness this is good!"

I wasn't vigorous enough on the first pour in my tasting glass and ended up not producing any head.  The second pour produced a mocha color head that faded away to a persistent ring suspended on rich, dark ale.

(More to come)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Inspiration comes from strange sources

So I just finished reading Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid, Book One of The Kane Chronicles.  If you aren't familiar with Riordan's works, he's the one that did the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and the Heroes of Olympus series.  Now I can already hear some of you saying, "Aren't those kid's books?"  You have to understand something about me: I'm a mythology geek!  The Percy Jackson series is about Greek mythology, Heroes brings in Roman.  The Kane Chronicles is about Egyptian mythology.  In reading the Red Pyramid I found a lot of familiar names.  The should be!  I did some research on Egyptian mythology when writing my paper on Beer and Religion.  After all, Egypt was the brewing capitol of the world before those pesky Romans came to town.  I digress...  Even for a "kid's book" they reference a story from Egyptian mythology that I am familiar with.  If you have a copy of The Red Pyramid, Riordan's retelling starts on page 419.  The story goes something like this...

Ra was upset.  More than that, he was mad!  Humanity was disrespecting him: not following his commands, scoffing at his judgements, etc.  Ra decided to punish humanity and sent out his wrath in the form of Sekhmet.  Sekhmet started ravaging the country killing the wicked.  But, Sekhmet got out of control.  She became filled with blood-lust and started killing the innocent as well as the wicked.  Ra felt remorse and called Sekhmet home but she refused!  Ra dyed some beer red with pomegranate to look like blood.  Sekhmet saw the beer and drank her fill, became drunk, and passed out.  When she regained consciousness,  the blood-lust had left her and she became a different aspect, Hathor, the goddess of love and music.

Maybe it's because I live in an area called Little Egypt.  Maybe it's because all around me there are references to Egyptian hunting dogs.  Maybe it's because Sam Calagione is a brewing hero of mine and I just got done drinking some Ta Henket.  Regardless, I'm inspired to attempt an ale infused with pomegranate.  Maybe I'll call it Sekhmet's Feast.  Maybe I should seek inspiration for a better name... 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

And we're off...

The Monks' first two batches of 2012 are under way.  Brother Charles is going for a Scottish ale while I'm gunning for a chocolate oatmeal stout.  I love the way the Brewhaus smells while we are brewing!!  To fuel our efforts, I had a batch of chili cooked up that I brought over.  The sad thing is that there were only two of us.  There was a lot of chili to eat.  Thankfully Charles's family assisted.  Good eatin' and brewin' were going on. 

Looks like we will try to bottle next weekend.  Until then, I've got more beer to drink.  While brewing I had some Brewery Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence and Bell's Hopslam Ale!  Oh man!!  If you haven't have Chocolate Indulgence, it's Brewery Ommegang's Belgian stout with Belgian chocolate!!  The flavor in heavenly: rich, creamy, smooth and balanced.  Something that one can get addicted to (that's why I have another bottle in stock).  And then there was Hopslam!!  Wow!! All the label says is "Ale brewed with honey."  The incredible hops flavor mixed with the honey seems to mask the alcohol - 10% alcohol!!  I didn't know it was an Imperial Ale.  No wonder why Beer Advocate rated Hopslam as a WORLD CLASS beer. 

I won't say too much about the chili.  It's for a competition at work.  Muhahahaha.  Enough of this.  More later. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh woe are we...

I know it's been a while since I've posted but I have to tell this.

Sit right back and I will tell you a tale of woe.  It's about thirsty people and a cask of  Poet.  I know... I should stick to my day job.

Yesterday I showed up at Hanger 9 a pinch before 5pm just in time for the New Holland Poet (their oatmeal stout) cask party.  Cheech was there with tap and rubber mallet in hand ready to whack away.  Patrick from Koerner Distributing was by the cask's side.  This is where the fun began but not as you would expect.  Cheech lined up the tap and gave a might whack or five.  The tap would not go in.  Cheech tried more.  Patrick gave it a try.  Even yours truly gave it a shot.  We must have tried to smack this thing close to 100 times and the tap would not go in.  Patrick finally called for a screwdriver and a towel.  He wrapped a towel around the tip of the screwdriver and tried to use that to puncture the bung.  To be safe we got a bucket to have below just in case the beer started flowing.  When we noticed the dark liquid staining the towel we tried the tap again.  The damn thing would still no go in.  At this point every smack of the tap is sending a spray of the aromatic liquid all over (I won't be able to wear that jacket at the office until I get it laundered).  Finally something flew off - it was the outer ring of the bung.  We got the tap in place and tried to get in it but the rest of the bung went into the cask.  There was no bung - nothing to form a seal around the tap.  The beer was free flowing at this point.  Cheech was calling for pitchers - LOTS of them.  They were pouring glasses from the pitchers as quickly as they could to keep the pitchers in supply.  Once the level of beer was low enough so nothing would spill out the breather hole, we put the cask on end and took a breather. 

I can guess what some readers would say: You guys don't know how to tap a keg.  This wasn't a keg - it was a cask.  It lays on its side.  There is a breather hole on top with a plug (and the plug did shoot out at one point during the whacking).  At one end there is a rubber seal that you have to hammer the tap in to get the beer out.  Cheech got his workout for the evening!!

The beer was worth the effort.  (More later...)