Saturday, October 17, 2009

Save The Vermonster!

So here's the scoop: On September 4th of this wonderful year, Hansen Beverage Company (creator of Monster Energy) sent Rock Art Brewery an order to "cease and desist" from using the "Vermonster" name in any way (they even want to be compensated). Apparently, Hansen thinks that there is going to be confusion among their valuable customers...ya know, with the two products bearing similar names. What!? Monster Energy? Monster Moron.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this nice little microbrewery situated in Morrisville, Vermont, "The Vermonster" is the name of one of their Barley Wines. The letter from Hansen can be accessed here. Now, you'd assume that if Hansen was issuing this "cease and desist," they'd have sufficient reason to do so, correct? Well, you're very wrong - incredibly wrong - if you did just that. They don't. Rock Art Brewery has the legal rights to that name - and has had those rights. Matt Nadeau, President of Rock Art, has even offered a generous comprise (on September 28th), gladly forfeiting the rights to use the name for energy drinks. His full response can be accessed here. It doesn't really look like this is going to go well, though.
You see, Hansen is a big, bad corporate harlot. And no, the money they whore on in doesn't reap the typical results one would expect (unless, of course, one considers rotten teeth and an energy facade sensual). Here's how things have a very good chance of, unfortunately, turning out:

Hansen is going to bombard Rock Art, stripping them of their resources via court and lawyer fees, among other things. They can do this simply because they have the resources to get away with it. Rock Art could be forced to settle this dispute in an unreasonable and ridiculous way - by default! This is not only unfair, it should be illegal in its own right; these harbingers of bogus lawsuits should be fined, quite simply. I can't help but be reminded of similar situations going on throughout states with medicinal marijuana laws in effect; the DEA butts in and ruins the lives of 80-year-old dying cancer patients...enforcing policies functioning at the "federal" level. Funny. I'm pretty sure our government is set up so that the federal level isn't able to...ahhh, I better not get into this right here, right now. Angers me, deeply.

You know what's hilarious, though? Brooklyn Brewery has been using the name "Monster Ale" for quite some time. This is almost too amusing. Almost. I guess Hansen doesn't see the resemblance here, or at least not yet. Or, maybe they realize that Brooklyn Brewery (which is much larger than Rock Art) has the resources to beat them back. Who knows? The important thing to note here is that Hansen is essentially a bully, in all aspects: pushing someone smaller around, doing so simply because it can, possessing the intellect of a toddler (or at least someone who has yet to discover semantics and the meaning of syntax), etc.

There is a boycott currently underway. I encourage you to participate as well, regardless of whether or not you enjoy craft beer or drink Monster Energy drinks. The issue here is much deeper, and I don't think I need to spell that out.
By the way...Kokopelli, what in bloody hell is that? Short answer: Southwestern Native American fertility deity. He's usually depicted, as can be seen in Rock Art's logo, hunched over, playing a flute (he's also associated with music...but actually, some scholars think it may be a blowgun of sorts too, but let's not drag this post out too much longer). Matt became particularly fond of this image while embarking upon hikes, mountain biking trips, and river trips while living in Colorado and adapted the image to the future company's logo; the petroglyph can be seen on many rock formations, in many locations throughout the Southwest.

But anyway, more information on this dispute can be found at Rock Art's website here, and is being documented here. Also, quite the following has formed on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Rock Art on Twitter here, and add the #ISupportRockArt hashtag to your tweets. Join the official Facebook group as well: Vermonters and Craft Beer Drinks Against Monster. Spread the word!

Down with the Monster!

Peace and Love!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bunches of Oats (And Congrats, Fuzzie Berr!)

The latest brew session was a pretty interesting whirlwind of unexpected occurrences. First, our AC decided that it would rather warm up the apartment than cool it down. It was a good 83 degrees in here during the night (and even warmer the next day...up to 89 at one point before it was "fixed"). Then, since I still haven't gotten around to building an immersion chiller, I have to put the carboy on an ice bath to drop the temperature. Usually, this takes about 2 or so hours (depending on whether or not I steep something cold - like frozen berries - into the wort before transferring) to get it to pitching temperature. But this isn't anything new. However, since I got it onto the ice around 3:30am, I figured I'd be able to sleep until 6:00am and pitch when my wife got up for work. Wrong. I guess since the air temperature was almost 10 degrees warmer than usual, it wasn't ready in the usual amount of time. Long story short, I missed my alarm to check the temperature again and ended up leaving it on the ice bath for over 5 hours. It got colder than expected (down to 60 degrees), and I encountered an early, really good, "cold break," leaving me with a nice amount of sediment (freaked me out at first, but some rather cool cats over at Home Brew Talk helped me figure out what had actually happened). By the following night, the temperature was back down in the apartment, quelling my nervousness about the yeast being in too warm of conditions.

Okay. Enough complainingly, let's get to the goods. An Oatmeal Stout, and not just any Oatmeal Stout, an Oatmeal Stout that received 1/2 lb. of lactose about 10 minutes until the end of the boil. This will help give it some more body and sweeten it up a bit. Let me make a little note here. Oatmeal Stouts typically receive their body and complexity from the oats, while Sweet (or Milk) Stouts typically receive their body and sweetness from lactose. So, I've combined the two, in hopes of making an all-around rich, full, and mildly sweet stout for the latter part of the fall season. In fact, I think...yeah, I do...have a nice picture that was taken by my official brew-day photographer and assistant as I added the lactose into the boil:

Glorious, is it not? So let's get down to the nitty gritty (pun intended, of course). My mash consisted of 1 lb. Briess Pale 6-Row Malt (1.7 °L), 1 lb. 2 oz. "quick-cook" flaked/rolled oats (this kind is cut smaller than regular oats, so the utilization was more efficient), 1 lb. Briess Crystal 2-Row Malt (60 °L), 1/4 lb. M&F Roasted 2-Row Barley (462 °L), and 1/4 lb. M&F Black Roasted 2-Row Malt/Black Patent (432-525 °L). I mashed at about 150 °F for 60 minutes.

After sparging the grains and removing them from the pot, I added 6.6 lbs. of Briess Dark LME and 1 oz. of Whole Fuggles Hops (4.9% alpha acid); I've decided, since last time went so much more smoothly with whole hops, that unless I can only find it in pellet form, I am only going to be using whole hops from now on. I boiled for 60 minutes and added 1/2 lb. of lactose to the boil with 10 minutes remaining. All said and done, when I pitched, I used Wyeast Irish Ale 1084.

Here's what we're looking at:

10/09 - Bunches of Oats
*Original Gravity: 1.064
*Potential ABV: 8.6%
*Homebrew Bitterness Units (HBU): 4.9
*International Bitterness Units (IBU): 16.82

My potential alcohol content is pretty high (that should drop, though), and my IBUs are below the range for both Oatmeal Stouts and Sweet Stouts - but it's closer to the latter than it is the former. The gravity is right in range for Oatmeal Stouts. I've got good vibes about this one and am going with some form or another of "Bunches of Oats" for the name. We'll see for sure after the initial taste. I should be bottling next week sometime, and will hopefully have some ready in time for my homebrew meeting next month. Speaking of that...

The results from the Commander SAAZ competition have been announced, and I am proud to report that Fuzzie Berr placed second in the Fruit Beer category! My first competition, my first placing - I'm very excited. Both Fuzzie Berr and Gizmo Gold will be accompanied by Bunches of Oats in my own homebrew club's sponsored competition next month: Sunshine Challenge. I'm very excited to see how things go. As far as I know, my entry was received by Seven Bridges Cooperative for the organic competition as well, so I've got my fingers crossed for my little Gizmo Gold in that one too!

Peace and Love!