REVIEW: Steven Wilson “Hand. Cannot. Erase”/Stone Pale Ale 2.0

At the encouragement of several people, I am going to start writing reviews again. It’s been awhile, so many of these records won’t be that new. However, they are all ones I’ve enjoyed very much. The first one might be my favorite record of the year, and it is from a musician that I respect a great deal- Steven Wilson. While I generally love everything he has a hand in, his most recent solo album Hand. Cannot. Erase. felt more personal to me than his other recordings. I was also lucky enough to see the album performed live in New York this spring, which really brought it to life. Continue reading “REVIEW: Steven Wilson “Hand. Cannot. Erase”/Stone Pale Ale 2.0″

LOCAL Live Hops: Jamaican Queens/Passalacqua/Thimble Islands American Ale

I usually review shows after I’ve been to them but this is too awesome to miss. I am a huge advocate of getting some great music in the area and enjoying some local brews so here you go:

Here’s what’s going on. Jamaican Queens and Passalacqua will be in New Haven tomorrow night along with some fine DJ sets from Dooley AND local beer from Thimble Islands Brewing Company in Branford. Oh, how about some art and film? You’ve got that as well.

I just checked out the bands earlier this week and am really looking forward to seeing them live.

You can watch one of their videos below, or go to the Jamaican Queens website which I am on right now and it’s kind of insane and worth checking out of you have some time.¬† I am especially digging Passalacqua on this Election Day with this one line about Dennis Kucinich. But seriously. These bands are fantastic and I’m basically seeing them in a living room. As you should too! Details on the show are here.

The featured beer is American Ale from Thimble Islands Brewing Company. I just stopped by their headquarters in Branford, CT and chatted with them earlier this evening. The American Ale is classic; it has an incredibly drinkable quality to it. A bready finish without being heavy at all. I’ve had it on draft many nights at the Outer Space in Hamden, CT where it’s getting to be one of the most popular beers on tap. If you dig it but want something darker, no sweat. I asked what they are planning to brew next and it sounds like a stout is the direction that they are going.

So if you’re looking to catch a sweet blend of hip hop, electronica, good beer and good vibes, State Street is the place to be tomorrow (today?). Party on a Wednesday.

Homebrew Chronicles: Courage Director’s Bitter Clone

In addition to being a lover of music and consuming beer, I have also started homebrewing this year. It has been incredibly rewarding so far, so I am hoping my next batch comes out good as well.

My brother and I brew in our kitchen under the name Quenk Brewing Company. Right now we have only worked with extract kits, but eventually would like to move on to partial-mash and ultimately all-grain brewing.

After our previous batch, a maple brown ale, we decided to go for something not quite as sweet. A pale ale, or something similar. After a quick (well, maybe like an hour) stop at our local brewing supply shop, Maltose Express, we came home with supplies to make a clone of Courage Director’s Bitter. I’ve actually never even heard of this beer, so unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to try it. However, it seems to be exactly what we were looking for- low ABV but a lot of flavor, not much sweetness.

We used mostly British Crystal malt, as well as black malt. For hops, we used German Hallertau Hersbrucker, Styrian Golding, and Irish Moss. I think it’s really amazing firstly, how many different kinds of hop varietals there are, but more importantly, the way they all come together when mixed and combined. For example, I’ve used Irish Moss in sweeter beers, but here with the Hersbrucker and Golding, I am expecting to have a more bitter result.

Now the most important part- the records. I like listening to vinyl while brewing because it breaks up the process a bit. Depending on what you’re listening to, it’s a fun (but not necessarily accurate) way to notice how much time has elapsed. Especially during those long boils when you’re flipping records over in between.

Steve Miller Band- Book Of Dreams

Billy Joel- The Stranger

Rush- Signals

Traffic- John Barleycorn Must Die

I tend to shoot for the classics- in case the brewday turns stressful, you want that familiar record playing in the background to get you back in the right mindset. I’ll turn to the new music when I’m tasting the beer- it’s experimentation with new things across the board. But for stirring 5 boiling gallons of wort, give me the familar records that in some cases have been worn out from playing them too much.

We should be ready to move into the secondary fermenter shortly. And I’ll also be trying my hand at dry hopping for the first time!