Belgian, IPA, Saison

Weekend Beers

This weekend, I enjoyed two Belgian style American brews: Ovila Abbey Saison and Cali-Belgique IPA.

The Ovila Abbey Saison is a collaboration beer between Sierra Nevada and the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux. This is a beautiful bottle of beer. It stood out on the shelf commanding my attention-and it got it. This beer shows the range of Saison. Nowhere near as dry as what you would typically expect from a Saison. This beer was more like a Saison mixed with a Tripel. And how could you go wrong with that.20130902-122304.jpg

The second beer was a Belgian inspired IPA by Stone. Half the bottles are labeled Cali-Belgie and half Cali-Belgique. The idea of brewing an IPA and adding Belgian yeast sounds simple enough and makes you think “hey, I could of thought of that.” But you didn’t and Stone did, and it’s brilliant. I will add an IPA with Belgian yeast to my must homebrew list because this beer is delicious. It tasted like a Belgian Tripel with lots of hops. The purist, old world beer side of me loved the Belgian spiciness and the American in me loved the smack in the face from the hops.
20130902-123939.jpgI love Belgian beer, who doesn’t, right? But American takes on Belgian beer are making me fall in love all over again. Everything New Belgium is doing, to the beers I just mentioned, the New World is shaking things up.

Homebrewing, Smoked, Wheat

Bottling Smoked Wheat

Bottling day is judgement day. Unless something went terribly wrong, it is now that you can tell if this batch fermented properly. I tried a few new things with this batch- using a blowoff tube for the entire fermentation and a strictly controlled temperature-as strict as a bucket of water and ice can be. So I am justifiably nervous. We transferred the wort to a pot that had 1/2cup water and 3Tbsp of honey. It looked good, smelled like beer, nothing out of the ordinary.



I could count the wheat beers I have drunk on one hand. What a shame. I have really started to appreciate and enjoy them. I know I posted on my weekend beers and these were not on the list but brew and bottling day beers don’t count-that’s what I tell my wife. These are working beers required by my homebrew union.

I have seen these bottles at the store and they have always caught my attention so time to give them a try. The Ur-Weisse was sweet and refreshing. Just under 6% ABV made it a good working beer.

I also had to try the Altbairisch Dunkel. Hops are great but sometimes you want a nice malty beer and this hit the spot.

Beer wasn’t the only thing on the menu on bottling day. While I was cleaning and sanitizing everything, we peeled some freshly roasted green chile. Fresh green chile on a tortilla with a wheat beer… good Labor Day weekend.


Food, New Mexico

Chama Beer Dinner

Chama River Brewery has great beer. They also have great food. My wife and I can always agree on a date night at Chama. She loves the atmosphere and food and I love the beer and food – the atmosphere is good too. For a brewer they have fancy food – duck legs in red chile or goat cheese stuffed zucchini- as well as favorites like fish and chips, burger and ribs.

Chama River Brewery

Every so often they have a beer dinner. I have never been and will probably miss this one, but I am going to one someday! Check out this menu.


Homebrewing, Smoked, Wheat

Smoked Wheat Brewday

Batch #2: Smoked Wheat from Brooklyn Brew Shop. I told myself I would make some changes in this batch – hydrate the yeast, more water, and better fermentation temperature control. I did two of these. I added an extra 16 ounces to my mash and used a thicker walled pot. The temperature held much better than my first batch in an aluminum pot.

Sparging went well, but it looked like a lot of wort. And it turned out to be. I don’t know if the boil was not as high as the first batch or if the addition of wheat reduced the amount of water lost to the grain or a combination of both.


After pouring in the carboy we had what looked like 32 ounces of wort left. So sad to see it dumped down the drain. A little for my hommies I guess. It was at this point I felt things were taking a turn for the worst. Side note: limit your alcohol consumption while brewing. My Brother In Law and I may have had a few too many. It didn’t seem like too many but forgot to account for the average ABV of 6.5-7.5 of the brews we bought.


Because of the high fill, I used a blowoff tube. This made me very nervous. For one, how do I replace the hose with my airlock? If I pull the hose, air will get in, right? I decided to leave the blowoff hose on permanently. This makes sense since the end of the tube is in sterilizer it should be the same as an airlock. Thank goodness I did because the tube is full of gunk. But I did not lose any beer! Here it is, in my messy closet, with the blowoff tube. I put the cup of sanitizer in a bucket so if it makes a mess my wife doesn’t kill me. I placed the carboy in a pot and filled it with cool water and a thermometer. I check it constantly and add ice if necessary. It has always read between 69-72.


I didn’t rehydrate the yeast. It worked so well last time I figured why mess with it. After my initial fear that this beer would be a disaster, watching the fermentation has put my mind at ease. Bottling this weekend – I wrote this post almost 2 weeks late – and will take a taste to kill the last lingering doubts I have.

Porter, Smoked

Rauchbier and Stone Smoked Porter

In preparation and anticipation of my next homebrew – smoked wheat – I thought it a good idea to try a smoked beer – or maybe even two. I started with a Rauchbier, because like my first experience with Saison, go for the standard then branch out. And while I am trying a rauchbier, why not get the biggest and baddest? This beer smelled of a campfire, and not in the sitting by one having a beer with a clear sky good way but the I just got home from a 3 day camping trip and my clothes reek of campfires past bad way. Getting past this, you can taste the smoke. The beer is also a bit sweet. After a few sips, it starts to go down much smoother. I can understand how all the reviews are either love or hate. I liked it. It is by no means a beer for every weekend, but I am glad I tried it and it will be in my mind for special occasions – like while camping or getting my grub on with a rack of ribs.



On a lighter note, I tried Stone’s Smoked Porter. It did not compare to the rauchbier, but it brought back lingering memories. I wonder, if I never had the rauchbier, would the porter have tasted smoky? It was a good beer nonetheless. A tad bitter but i’m guessing that’s from the smoked grains. This is only my second beer by Stone and I have enjoyed them both – Arrogant Bastard Ale being the other.



I am sure my homebrew will be nowhere near as smoky or dark as the rauchbier or the Stone Porter, but am now salivating to try it.

New Mexico

Happy Hour

Albuquerque has some great restaurants, some of which are fairly pricey. But most of these places have happy hour at their lounge/bar. My wife loves Yannis so we went to their new Lemoni Lounge. They have a Lounge menu with some good beer – I got a La Cumbre Elevated IPA and my wife had a Stella Artois – and you can order off the full menu if you want – which is great because the appetizer sampler makes for great snacking.


Great beer and food.

For great food, beer (wine and cocktails as well) and atmosphere at a great price you have to come to Lemoni – and get the flaming cheese dish.

Try some other places for happy hour like Nick and Jimmy’s or Artichoke Cafe.