Sunday, September 20, 2009

Making up for Time Lost

Kazoo Brew now has room to spread out! A rack in the kitchen devoted to beer equipment, a closet nook for busy fermenters oh my! To celebrate the advent of some cooler weather as well as the kickoff of the Steelers' season, a Tangerine Porter is gurgling away in the carboy. This was Kazoo's first foray into a big mash, weighing in at about 12# of grain. Still working out the best way to construct a mash tun from a water cooler, we just used a grain bag in a cooler to keep the temperature at about 156 F for 35 minutes. The result was a very concentrated, small batch of squid ink, smelling of hops and tangerine as well as other, darker notes. This will be perfect in November, so we quickly brewed a lighter, easier batch of Abbey-style Singel. Bypassed the mashing process by using a mini-mash + extract recipe and pumped this beer out in about 4 hours from grain infusion to yeast lob. Kettle Defoamer played a role in this brew to keep the yield high while fermenting in a smaller vessel. Should be ready in 4 weeks, +2 to bottle condition.

BikeToBeerFest @ HUB, Portland

I don't know the brewer's significance of the 19th of September, but several Portland breweries (of which there are many, many) hosted variations on the theme BeerFest yesterday. I live across the street from Laurelwood Public House, whose sign urged me to "save the date" for their beer party. But having looked in on the restaurant earlier in the week, I decided it was too nice a day to hang around the dimly lit corners of a pub, and instead opted to bike to SE and check out Hopworks Urban Brewing's Biketobeerfest, a convoluted play on the popular Oktoberfest.
I am thoroughly impressed by the PDX bike culture, and bicis of all kinds roosted in the racks outside of HUB's party...the hipster standard, single speed road bikes, locked alongside enormous hybrid commuter behemoths, the faux beach cruisers popular everywhere but Orange County, and the occasional recumbent, lurking among the kid-toting trailers. Everywhere were the workhorses of this uber bike friendly town.
Which is why I found it odd that inside the gates were more of the same, ostensibly, on display. The phrase "handcrafted bicycle" has several interpretations. In my mind, it means some welder with a vision and a pile of bike frames and parts: double talls, odd tandems, pivoting frames, bikes with steamroller wheels made from old kegs, backwards bikes with a tiller to steer, in short, a celebration of everything a bicycle can be, with emphasis on fun. In this case, it was taken to mean really fly, pricey bikes in custom colors for you to drool over and wish you could own. Aside from some synchronized bike dancing and a few smallies on bmx, the only interactive bike themed event was a K-mart brand bicycle hammer-throw. More accurately, watching some guy throw a cheap bike around. Hooray!
I guess a brewery can appreciate bikes without really understanding "bike culture" if the beer they put out is as good as HUB's. Two fresh hop beers were created just for this festival, and 14 others were on taps arranged around the grounds. I tried the "Fest of Fury," a very full-malt tasting deep amber beer with a delightful hop aroma and finish. I've reached the point in the year when extra supa hoppy ales taste skunky to me and I make the slow transition to porters and stout and the like. This is a brilliant transition ale, full of nuanced malt flavor, hoppy but not astringent, dark enough to warm me up when the sun was out to lunch.
"Bike Beer" was lighter, hoppier and delicious. Like I said, the days of Pliny the Elder with a slice of white peach are over. This beer was thirst quenching and quaffable.
The 7 Grain "Survival" Porter hearkened back to the origin of beer as safe drinking water, a loaf of bread and a warm blanket all in one inky black glass. HUB threw in some freshly roasted local coffee to round out the cacao notes in this new moon colored brew. This one was my favorite of the day, it felt like the right beer for the season.