Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jefferson-Inspired Monticello Ale

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation is currently collaborating with Starr Hill Brewery to produce Monticello Reserve Ale, "the official beer of Monticello." The recipe is inspired by what was historically brewed and consumed at Monticello, back when Jefferson himself was stirring the kettle. For the Jeffersons, beer was a crucial part of the family meal, and brewing was an important activity on their plantation. About every two weeks, roughly 15 casks of this low alcohol "table liquor" was being brewed, with his wife Martha overseeing the production. Large scale brewing at Monticello didn't commence until Captain Joseph Miller (a British brewer) was detained during the War of 1812. Miller helped facilitate the production of a beer with a much better shelf-life, focusing on the quality and overall quantity of the beer currently being brewed (eventually about 100 gallons every fall and spring). The recipe was far from uniform, being mostly based on which grains were currently available at the time of brewing (usually some type of combination of either barley, wheat, or corn), with about three-quarters of a pound of hops per bushel of malt.

This lightly hopped, wheat and corn-based brew will be available from Starr Hill Brewery in 750ml bottles beginning February 21st (President's Day), as well as on tap at local restaurants. Additionally, there will be a tasting open to the public (and free!) when the first keg is tapped in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop between noon and 3:00pm. Talk about tapping into some interesting - and tasty - history!

Peace and Love!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Upcoming Changes...

As all my readers out there know, this blog and the corresponding Twitter and Tumblr pages have chronicled both my own homebrewing and recent movements regarding sustainability and brewing. That isn't changing, per se, but what is changing is the manner in which this information is conveyed. From now on, the blog will be dedicated to sustainability in the world of brewing and the Tumblr page (I know, this hasn't seen much action lately) will be dedicated to my own homebrewing adventures. The Twitter page will continue to provide quick, brief updates pertaining to both (as well as the witty remarks you all have come to love and hold dear). I'm also on the fence right now with whether or not I should purchase a custom domain name for the blog (, for example), so this might be something else you all will see in the near future. The idea would be to make the URL much more simple, but the default one provided by Blogger really isn't all that long or complex, so we'll see (of course, it's also dirt cheap these days to buy a domain).

Another change, which many of you probably never really noticed anyway, is that I've now permitted the blog to be found through web searches. I've had this disabled in the past for a few reasons: the personal nature of this site (in that it's mostly been about what I'm doing...for friends of mine to read and follow), the fact that I really didn't want it to be all that public (as in, known outside my circle of friends), and that I worried about the use (theft) of my logo (which I now know really can't happen). Since the content of the blog is going to deal with matters beyond my own brewing (which it has already been increasingly doing), and very important ones for that matter, I think extending the reach of the site is a logical step.

But, just to mention a few things real quick before this change is officially implemented, I brewed a heather braggot this past Monday. It was a small, 3-gallon batch (just like the witbier braggot I brewed a few months ago). I crossed a traditional wildflower honey mead with heather ale (this was made with heather tips and was completely unhopped, thus making it, by today's standards, somewhat of a gruit beer). That previous parenthetical note (the "somewhat"), by the way, is in regard to the fact that traditional (medieval) gruit beer was typically made with the combination of these three herbs: marsh rosemary, sweet gale, and yarrow. However, today, any beer made without hops, but with the addition of other herbs/bittering agents, tends to get labeled as gruit. I envision myself making more small batches with ingredients other than hops in the near future as well. Growing my own hops isn't really feasible at this point, but if I can grow my own brewing herbs to use in these batches...well, that would just be wonderful, now wouldn't it? Especially if they turn out well!

Peace and Love!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kate Day 2011

This year's annual release of Kate the Great by Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire will see a partnership between the brewery and the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (NH) and the Center for Wildlife (ME). Kate the Great is Portsmouth's famous 9.5% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, hailed by BeerAdvocate as the best beer in the U.S., and the second best beer in the world. This particular beer has been brewed on an annual basis since 2005 and has stirred up quite the following. With only 10 barrels being brewed (roughly 900 22oz. bottles), Portsmouth has been met with long lines and very disappointed customers in the past. This year, however, they're trying something different. Scratch-off tickets will be sold at a whopping $2 per ticket. Only 10,000 tickets will be sold (only 10,000...yeah), but only 900 of these tickets will be "winners." The holder of a winning ticket is qualified to purchase a bottle of the 2011 Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout, at $15 per bottle, on "Kate Day" (March 7, 2011). The catch, though, is that ALL proceeds from the sale of tickets will go towards both of the aforementioned non-profit organizations ($10,000 each, assuming all tickets will be sold).

Both of these non-profit organizations are certainly commendable. The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire's mission is: "to conserve the significant land and natural resources of southeastern New Hampshire, including water, working farms and forests, wildlife habitat, natural areas, and community landscapes." They've been around for the past 30 years and have succeeded in conserving over 6,000 acres of land. This is done through various deed restrictions and conservation easements, among other things, in an effort to ensure fresh, local farmstand fruits and vegetables, protect water quality, and allow for the continued thriving of wildlife and local woodlands. Good stuff, naturally. The Center for Wildlife is equally worthy of praise, with various educational programs being offered regarding wildlife ecology, human impacts on wildlife and critical ecosystems, and stewardship. Having been around since the mid-80s, the Center is dedicated to the rehabilitation of wild animals. The Center reports that over 1,600 animals are brought to them each year, ranging from suffering illness, injury, and/or infection. The goal? To get these little darlings back into the wild by providing them with complete diagnostic treatment and recovery activities.

Moreover, Portsmouth itself has also tapped into the sustainable efforts of its partners and other breweries throughout the country. Specifically, the brewery makes a conscious effort to eliminate its use of plastics by switching to compostable takeout containers (potato-based biodegradable boxes), straws, and utensils. The brewery also utilizes local food ingredients in its restaurant, produced by local farmers, which of course contributes to the growth of the local economy. More recently, however, they have teamed up with EcoMovement Consulting and Hauling in an effort to sort out recyclable and compostable waste from overall waste produced. The compostable waste is then utilized as fertilizer by the same local farmers from whom they are getting their ingredients, and their spent grains are used as animal feed, which many breweries are beginning to do as well. A little bit certainly does go a long way!

March is just around the corner, so for those of you in the vicinity of New Hampshire, get on over to the brewery and pick up your tickets (only 10 per person per day) and support a handful of wonderful organizations in the process! And for the record, I would love to find a bottle of Kate on my doorstep this March ;-)

Peace and Love!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Oskar Blues Brewery Raises Over $20,000 For OUR Center

Oskar Blues Brewery, one of the leading members in the craft beer "canning revolution," succeeded in raising over $20,000 at the end of this past year for the OUR Center in Longmont, Colorado (with the owner himself contributing a solid $5,000). But, you're probably asking yourself, "What exactly is the OUR Center?" Right. So was I. The OUR Center (Outreach United Resource Center) is a non-profit organization that assists those in their immediate area in becoming more self-sufficient. According to the organization's mission statement, they "help people in the St. Vrain region move toward self-sufficiency by unifying community resources." They do this by providing those in need with food, clothing, utility and rental assistance, shelter, prescriptions, transportation, employment, and child care, among other things. Moreover, the organization's core values include: providing a welcoming environment to all and treating each other with dignity and respect; promoting responsibility, accountability, confidentiality, and trust in all relationships; developing innovative, efficient solutions through the responsible stewardship of our community resources; and dedicating ourselves to every partner's long-term success through ethical and professional practices.

Eloquently titled "Party with Purpose," guests were free to attend this event (hosted by Oskar Blues, at the brewery), with donations being accepted at the door, where they enjoyed live music and food donated by local venders and Oskar Blues. In addition to this, however, Oskar Blues has also collected over 800 cans of food at various locations to donate to the OUR Center.

Now, if this isn't a prime example of how a socially conscious business successfully operates, then I don't know what is. We all should be raising our glasses to Oskar Blues for their constant dedication and commitment to community and sustainability.

Peace and Love!