Learn To Homebrew Day 2015

I have been homebrewing for about four years now. While I have had other hobbies longer, homebrewing is probably the most interesting one I have ever had. Think about it- do you like cooking? Do you like making things? Do you like to drink? I don’t know too many people that cannot say yes to at least one of these questions.

The more people I talk to about it, the more I realize that homebrewing is much easier than people think it is. Sure, it can get difficult as you start to experiment with bigger batches, different ingredients, and new technology. But when it boils down, (all the puns intended), you are basically just following a recipe.

Saturday, November 7 is Learn To Homebrew Day. It was established by the American Homebrewers Association in 1999 to give homebrewers a chance to show non-brewers the ropes, and maybe get some new people into the hobby. Last year, a total of 6518 gallons of beer was brewed, at least according to the AHA report.

Like any other hobby, homebrewing has clubs. Connecticut has several, and I recently started going to a few meetings and events from Brew Haven, which is the New Haven area’s local club. Brew Haven will be hosting a Learn To Homebrew event this Saturday at the Outer Space in Hamden. Both extract and all-grain batches will be brewed so you can learn about the differences between both methods. Local homebrewers will also be on hand to answer questions. I myself might even make an appearance. Oh, and there will be plenty of beer to drink. Stop by between 12 and 4 PM- you just might learn something.

 

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ConNEWticut: New Brewing In The Nutmeg State

The Internet has been buzzing with a bunch of new breweries opening up in Connecticut. Here’s what you need to know about a few of the up-and-comers.

Overshores Brewery of East Haven has a unique spin on their brewing. They are dedicated to Belgian-style brewing, which is a refreshing sight to see against all the super-hoppy IPAs that seem to be so popular in the beer scene right now. So far, I have tried their Belle Fermiere, which is a saison. Super tasty and light, and the bottle conditioning gives it an interesting flavor. The hops are a blend of the noble European varities, as well as American Simcoe, so it gives a nice combination of both continents. Belle Fermiere is already available at a whole bunch of bars and liquor stores across the state, and more styles will be released as the summer goes on.

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Black Hog Brewery is opening this summer in Oxford, and is owned by brothers Jason and Tom Sobocinski. Their name may be familiar to cheese-lovers in the New Haven area; they own the restaurant Caseus, which has a great menu and beer list. OmnomCT caught up with the brothers, as well as head brewer Tyler Jones.

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Oxford will also be the home to another new brewery. OEC, which stands for Ordinem Ecentrici Coctores (Order of the Eccentric Boilers). OEC comes from the folks at B. United, who distributes some really interesting beers, ciders, and meads, from all over the world. OEC’s grand opening is this Saturday, June 7. Six of their beers will be on tap, and growlers will be available for fills.

A few other new breweries of note:

The CT Beer Trail and CT Beer and Wine both have running lists of all the new breweries opening up, so stay tuned!

LocalBrew: Shebeen Brewing

The 4th of July holiday gave me an extra day off, so I got the chance to check out Shebeen Brewing in Wolcott, CT.

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The brewery opened earlier this year. Pronounced “shuh-been“, The brewery’s name comes from the Irish word “sibin” which means “an unlicensed establishment or private house selling alcoholic liquor“. Basically, the term for local brewhouses. Shebeen has already created a variety of interesting brews. I tasted the Irish Pale, Royal IPA, Pineapple Wheat, Cannoli Beer, and Rye Porter. I was hoping to try the Bacon Kona Stout and the Concord Grape Saison, but they did not have any kegs available. I definitely plan on returning when they brew more of those two!

The Irish Pale, at around 3% alcohol, is a perfect session beer. Light, slightly sweet, a great beer for all-day consumption.

The Royal IPA was excellent as well. I tasted it both at the brewery and at a local bar, the Pourhouse Tavern, which is one of a handful of bars starting to carry brews on tap from Shebeen.

The Rye Porter is lighter and has many qualities of a brown ale, with more of a toasty flavor.

The Pineapple Wheat was surprising. The tropical flavor was not overwhelming, and the pineapple taste was strongest on the finish.

I love that they take classic styles and put an interesting spin on them. My favorite that I tasted was the cannoli beer. Sweet and spicy, I tasted vanilla and cinnamon. An awesome sweet beer, and a perfect alternative to the sweet stouts I enjoy so much. I also loved the presentation on this one- the glass was rimmed in powdered sugar and the fluffy, cream-colored head was sprinkled with cocoa dust.

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If the numerous beers already brewed aren’t enough of an indication, the size of the brewery shows that there is a lot of room for growth. During the tour, the head brewer explained that he purposely got a larger space (2,500 square feet!) that they could expand into quickly, without running out of room.

The brewery has tasting hours Wednesday through Sunday, which vary by the day and can be checked out on their website here.

Q&A: Lipgloss Crisis

I have been a resident of New Haven, Connecticut for a little over a year now and am constantly pleasantly surprised with discovering places and venues to check out music, art, and of course, craft beer. Now there will be a new one to add to the list- Lipgloss Crisis. I did a little Q&A with Lipgloss herself, the lovely Sara Scranton, who will be opening a new art space this weekend in the Elm City.
Can you give me a little history of Lipgloss Crisis?
Lipgloss Crisis is the name that I have been making art with for over a decade.
What are your initial plans for your new space?
The plans for the new space are it is going to be a retail store with a art gallery attached, The retail shop in the front is a collection of home made goods from local New Haven artisans and selected goods from Vintanthromodern Vintage. The art gallery is going to have a revolving collection of artist from New Haven. I will also have a photography studio, classes ranging from organic art for kids to belly dancing, and event space rental.

What can we expect at the grand opening party? 

The grand opening party is June 15th 6-9 p.m. I have some fancy live performers up my sleeve… and will be selling all the goods previously listed.
 
Do you have any events in the works that you’re especially excited about?
I am particular excited the live model drawing sessions. Additional to the classic model set up, I will be designing the sets from all different eras and have live musicians playing during the sittings.
Will you be serving beer at your space?
We do like beer at Lipgloss Crisis…
If so, do you have any interest in having local beers available there? 
Of course! I am all about local!! Do you have any good blondes up your sleeve?
How can local artists and artisans get involved?
They can email me at sara@lipglosscrisis.com I am always looking for new fun things for the store!!
Lipgloss Crisis is located at 756 Chapel Street in downtown New Haven. The grand opening will be this Saturday, June 15, from 6-9 PM. You can RSVP and get more information on the party on Facebook here.

‘Ale Of Winters’: The Sword Is Getting A Beer!

Adding to the constantly growing list of awesome bands collaborating with breweries, we now have the Sword!

The beer, brewed by the Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco, TX, will be called Iron Swan, and perfect for summer, served up in cans.

No news about what style of ale the brew will be or when it comes out officially, but I’ll be on the lookout for sure when it does. The label looks totally badass, between the swans, swords, and massive ship.

I am especially excited for this one as the Sword is one of my favorite bands right now. You can check out my review of their most recent release, Apocryphon, here.

LOCALBREW: Maltose Express Brewshop

The Maltose Express brewshop in Monroe, CT is where I first got my supplies to brew, so I was pleased when I was able to speak with Mark and Tess Szamatulski, the owners, last week. Aside from running a successful brewshop for over 20 years, they have plans to open a brewery on the same premises as well. We chatted about their future plans, recent travels, and of course, favorite beers.

For those unfamiliar to the area, Maltose started off filling a need for brewers. Mark and Tess originally started the business in their home, ordering supplies and having customers picking them up.

Although some of the most popular clone kits sold are Guinness, Fat Tire Amber Ale, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Mark and Tess both agree that the best-seller for them is the pumpkin ale kit that they make every year. They use a variety of pumpkin pie spices and vanilla. They recently created a “jacked up pumpkin” kit as well, which is a stronger version of their best-selling pumpkin ale. Mark brought me out a bag of the spices to take a whiff of, and it smells amazing. I definitely plan to make this one when it gets closer to the fall!

Mark and Tess recently traveled to England to do research on more beers for cloning. They mentioned that while many of the English beer styles are starting to branch out with other non-traditional hop and ingredient varieties as American breweries are doing, they remain different from the beers brewed here in that they are low ABV. Mark mentioned that many of the beers are 3.5% alcohol. Here in America, a 3.5% ABV beer usually means some sort of swill with little flavor. However, he said that the low ABV beers in England usually are very drinkable, with a lot of character to them.

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They luckily had a place to stay there that allowed them to clone while they were there, since it’s difficult to fly with liquid. Mark and Tess said that they cloned 12 or 13 beers while there. Cloning the beers requires a good deal of work. They first research some varieties of a style of beer by contacting the brewery, and then pouring the actual beer. They sort the beers by color and make note of the head to determine what grains would be involved. Next they look into the aroma to see what hops, malts, or spices that they can smell. Tasting is done next, to figure out what hops are in it, as well as if it’s been dry hopped or not. They then brew the beer and make more notes of how it turns out. Sometimes they need to brew more than once! Tess says that they once had a beer that had to be brewed 9 times to get it perfect. She also says that they are the only authors that brew the beers multiple times as well.

Mark and Tess have published two books; Clone Brews and Beer Captured. They are currently working on a third book, as well as revising Beer Captured. They said that their first book’s publisher wanted them to do beers from all over the world, which Mark said involved a lot of lagers originally. Now they have updated the book to be based more on style, rather than the beer’s location.

The books are a great way to try beers that are no longer made anymore, or ones that are brewed in a different location or differently.

One of the best things about Maltose is that you can sample homebrews while at the store. For those who haven’t brewed, it’s a great way to see the potential of what you can do. And for those who are brewing veterans, it’s a great way to get new ideas of what to make next. While I was at the shop last week, I sampled a scotch ale and a pale ale.

There will be even more tastings coming soon; Mark and Tess are planning to expand and Maltose will have its own brewery on premises. They plan on opening officially in November. They have already purchased the brewing equipment and are brewing test-batches to decide what will work best.

The shop also recently started selling hop rhizomes, so that brewers can easily grow their own hops. Tess sent me home with a Zeus hop plant, so hopefully I’ll be using some of my fresh hops in an upcoming batch!

Maltose Express is open 6 days a week, with different events and classes happening all the time. Their beer-making classes happen on the regular, and they aren’t just for new brewers, although Mark and Tess both say that they help get many new folks into brewing. They are a great way to get ideas on new recipes and meet fellow brewers. I am actually planning on going to the next one to learn how to set up a kegging system! They also have classes for mead, cheese, and even bee-keeping!

They also have open houses a few times a year which bring in tons of local brewers and make for a great day. Check their website and facebook for details about upcoming events as well as new brewkits and supplies to pick up in the store!