Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sam Adams Single Batch: Tasman Red

I have finished the Samuel Adams Single Batch series on a great note.  Tonight's final selection is Tasman Red.  I happen to love big malty beers as much as I love big hoppy beers, which is thankfully better than my college years when I loved Bud Light, or as I prefer to state: The Beer Years I try to Forget.

Tasman Red, a Red IPA, really pushes these two worlds together.  The name derives from the hops, which are grown around the Tasmanian Sea, an area previously never explored by the Sam Adams brewers, and an area almost exactly opposite of the hops found at the northern 48 latitude.

Tasman Red

The beer poured a dark mahogany with a thick head.  I tasted hops throughout, however they became much more pronounced towards the finish.  In the middle, the malt kicked in with flavors of molasses and toffee.  The sweet maltiness really blended well with the bitterness of the hops.  Definitely, another win.

Typically, today is Wordless Wednesday.  However, I really wanted to talk about Tasman Red and I didn't want to just post a picture.  So instead, I'm posting my thoughts on the beer and adding something I call "Not Necessarily Motionless Wednesday":

I couldn't finish this post off, without Jim Koch's tasting notes.  I absolutely love the exuberance, knowledge and zeal he uses to describe the beer.  His passion is contagious. Cheers.

Note: In the beginning, they were just my great friends at Boston Beer, but after this final set, they are my fabulous friends, as they have provided me some great beer I've been thrilled to drink and excited to share.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brew Day: Thanksgiving Edition

Not being ones to let a good holiday go to waste, the Backyard Brewing Society opted for a post-Thanksgiving brew day.  Although it was somewhat last minute, our plans were in overdrive.  There were several highlights to the day, too.  Several.

The first, was the fact Dave & I decided to finally go in together on our own grain mill.


One of the "excuses" we give our spouses about our homebrewing hobby is that it's "cheaper" than buying beer.  Well, on face value, this is true.  However, with every new gadget, the "break even" point tends to extend…a little.

Friends help friends grind...

We went with the Barley Crusher, which lived up to its name.  Typically, we would either order our grain pre-crushed, crush it at Brewtensils, or use Drew's "pulverizer".  The problem with crushing at Brewtensils is when you buy more than your grain bill, you head home with uncrushed grain.  This is great to extend the life of the grain, but problematic when you actually want to crush it for a future batch and not work in a 20 minute drive to the shop.  The grain mill also allows us to buy our base malt in bulk, which saves us just about a dollar a pound.

Our Baby….

The mill worked great.  Although, since we had about 30 pounds to crush, it was quickly determined we needed a mechanical advantage.  This advantage was called "Andrew and his drill".

Power Time

As readers of this blog can attest, food is an integral part of the festivities.  For my part, I made baby rack ribs.  When it comes to ribs, I'm typically not a briner, but this time I opted for just that.

Brined Ribs

Using some homebrew ESB from a previous Brew Day, I mixed in salt to make a 5% brine.  I removed the membrane from 3 racks of baby backs and placed the brine and the ribs into a 2 gallon bag, which I let sit overnight.  Just before the start of brew day, I removed the ribs from the brine and rinsed them off.  A little bit of a rub and they were off to the Saffire to smoke.

Outside of simply having food on Brew Day, we also have to have food "spread out".  Brew Day is not a sprint, it's a marathon.  To start things off right, Dave brought two fatties.  After about 45 minutes on the grill, they were sliced and served before we had even started our mash.

Ye Old Fatty

As the mid-point meal, Eric served up some awesome Arrogant Bastard Chili.  We were hungry and we were worthy.

Chili Time

On the brewing side, Eric and Dave each brewed a batch, while Eric and I went in together on a collaborative batch.  We were lucky as well to have my neighbor, Bryan, swing by and Landon and Keith also came out to spend the day with us.  Bryan is planning on brewing his own at our next get together.


Several weeks ago, Eric asked me if i wanted to brew a "Sweet Potato" beer.  My typical answer to anything following the word "brew", is yes.  This time was no different.  Eric told me his brother recently had The Bruery's Autumn Maple and loved it.  After doing a little bit of research, Eric stumbled on the Black Alley Brewing website and found they had cloned the recipe.  Amazingly enough, it is made with sweet potatoes and for our 10 gallon batch, we needed 10 pounds of them.

Yams in the mash

I'll let you click over to their site for the grain bill and recipe.


Outside of adding the sweet potatoes to the mash, we later added spices, vanilla beans and molasses to the end of the boil.

Vanilla Beans

I ended up substituting hallertau hops for the liberty, as I had them on hand, but everything else was pretty much by the book.  The guys at Black Alley did a great job of working out the recipe and documenting their project.

20 lbs of grain

The biggest challenge for me was fitting 20 pounds of grain and a little over 8 gallons of water into my mash tun.


Since we were brewing something new, Eric rightfully felt it appropriate to taste the real thing and broke out a bottle of Autumn Maple.  I thought it was great.  Eric breathed a small sigh of relief, when he realized the morning I spent grilling yams wasn't going to go to waste.  I was all in.


The nice thing about getting the guys together, is a great chance to try other beers.  Thankfully, I had some special stuff sitting around.  First, was Samuel Adams 2011 Infinium Ale.

Imperium 2011

Infinium is the annual collaboration between Samuel Adams and Weihenstephan.   It was great…so good, in fact, several of us want to find additional bottles to stow away. We also ventured into the Sam Adams Single Batch Series with The Vixen.

The Vixen

This, in my eyes, was another winner.  This whole chili beer thing is growing on me.

Sauced & Stacked

We finished up the day with ribs.  Well not just ribs, but a mountain of ribs.

Sliced Ribs

And most importantly, carboys full of beer.

Filled and Doneg

It really was an amazing day, and much like this post…really, really long.   Brew Days epitomize my belief that the journey is often as much fun as the destination.  Our final batch, still weeks away from completion, may not turn out.  However, the journey it took to get there was great.  Which, in my eyes, makes this a win no matter what.  My thanks to The Society, Eric, Dave, Keith, Bryan and Landon for making it happen.

TessaHanging OutHops InKeithEricOur MottoMore tastings...Getting Dark

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sam Adams Single Batch: Third Voyage

My second Single Batch selection was easy, Third Voyage, the Double IPA.  I love hops, so the attraction was immediate.

According to the fact sheet, Third Voyage was brewed with cascade hops, all grown in areas of Capt. James Cook's route from England to New Zealand to the Pacific Northwest.  As the name suggests, it was his "third" voyage.

Third Voyage

I found Third Voyage to have a very flowery nose.  It poured a beautiful amber color.  Being a double IPA, the hops hit right away.   An earthy bitterness slowing faded to a sweet finish along with strong hits of Grapefruit and pine.  The ABV clocks in at 8 %, but it's presence was fairly subdued.

This was a solid Double IPA.  Although, I would like to have another, as even though I liked it, I'm not sure how memorable it really is.  Two down and two to go.

For a more intelligent tasting, here again is Jim Koch:

Note: Thanks to the great folks at Samuel Adams for providing me with these Single Batch beers.   I salute you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's on the Grill #233: Stuffed Flank Steak

I'm typically not one to stuff or roll anything, yet as of late, that's what I've been doing.  Strange, I know.  Part of this rolling phenomenon might be the fact Zoe and I like our meat two distinct different ways: dead and alive.  If I have to grill steaks, I start one mega early to make time for Zoe's English understanding that cooked meat is devoid of pink and absolutely all life.  I, on the other hand, prefer a little fight left in my beef.  Now, when it comes to cooking meat several degrees past rare, I make up for the phsilosophical differences in cooked temperatures by having a little detente in the form of…stuffing.  Yes, it isn't a perfect truce, but if it has cheese and garlic, I can be persuaded.

Stuffed Flank Steak
Adapted from  Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Grilling

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Romano and/or Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup chopped salami
3 T coarsely chopped pine nuts
3 large gloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 chopped flat leaf parsley
2 T chopped fresh oregano

1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs
salt and pepper
olive oil

Chopping Salarmi

Prep your stuffing ingredients.  Chop your nuts, chop your herbs and chop your salami.

Cheese In

Add the ingredients to a small bowl and mix.

The Stuffing

Next, prep the flank steak.  We want to fold the flank steak open like a book, but before we do we need we need to cut it in half, lengthwise.

Slicing In

The flank steak is thin, so although it sounds easy, even with a sharp knife, it's tough to not cut to deep or shallow.

Don't cut through!

I found success by stating at the top, working my way towards the "open" side and then back towards the "spine".

With the steak spread open, rub olive oil onto one side of the meat.  Then, lay the oiled side of meat down on a piece of aluminum foil.  The foil should extend past the edges of the steak by at least 3 inches on all sides.  From there, add the stuffing.

Spreading it out

Spread the stuffing to within about a half inch of all sides of the steak.

The Roll

With the stuffing spread, start to tightly roll up the steak.

Keeping it Tight

Once the steak is rolled, wrap it in the aluminum foil.


Twist the sides of the foil to keep the roll closed.  When done, it should look like this:


Prep the grill for indirect medium, about 350 degrees F.  Plan on cooking the stuffed flank steak for approximately two hours, or until a fork effortless pierces the meat.  Flank steak is normally a fairly tough cut of meat if not prepared properly.  Between the filleting, stuffing and slow roasting, there is really no way to get this wrong.


This turned out about ten times better than I was expecting.  The meat was more moist and the stuffing…well, it took it up a whole level.

Stuffed Flank w/Grilled Peppers & Onion

Although we had enough food for a couple days, it was gone in 24 hours.  Probably the most important part of this meal, acceptable levels of doneness.  Zoe didn't see any pink and I was distracted by the cheesy, herby and garlic-ly goodness.  Good times all around.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Samuel Adams Single Batch: Griffin's Bow

I'm usually fairly up to date with what Samuel Adams is up to.  That being said, I must have let my guard down, because their "Single Batch" series totally caught me off guard.

Sam Adams: Single Batch

Billed as a limited edition collection of their brewer's favorite beers, the descriptions alone already have me wishing I could find these on tap at my local.  And, if I can't, it sounds like I really need to plan that trip to Boston.

1 of 4

After glancing over the batch, I immediately shot towards Griffin's Bow.  For me, this was a little odd.  Griffin's Bow is a barley wine and although I am a fan of big beers, barley wines typically tend to not be my favorite style. Well, much like this "Single Batch" caught me off guard, so did Griffin's Bow.

Griffin's Bow

Griffin's Bow is a golden ale barley wine.  I found the nose to be rather citrusy, with notes of grapefruit.  My first taste made me think, "yup, golden ale!".  This minor note, was quickly followed by tastes of lemon, more grapefruit, some lingering dark fruit towards the finish and the wonderful earthy hint of oak.

By far the biggest thing I took away, was the complete lack of overpowering alcohol hit.  With an ABV at 11.5 % ABV, I found this amazing.  The reason I always steer clear of barley wines is because I find the in your face alcohol taste off putting, compared to all of the wonderful notes you get from lower ABV beers.  Griffin's Bow is a complete sleeper in that category, and I loved it.

In the end, don't listen to my layman's meandering.  Here is Jim Koch telling it how it is.  After making my notes, I watched his.  I'm glad I wasn't imaging things.  This is really a great beer and his description brings it home.

Note: Thanks to the great folks at Samuel Adams for providing me with these Single Batch beers.  You are my heroes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

Relatively Wordless Wednesday, The Late Edition…I can't believe it's Wedneday, it feels more like Friday…which really doesn't help my case, I know.

Anyway, perhaps Thursday would have been appropriate, as Thursday is my fish night.  Enter, an amazing piece of Swordfish:


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Island Grillstone

My friend Gary, at Cooking Outdoors, my inspiration for all things cast iron, was kind enough to hook me up with The Island Grillstone, a porous volcanic rock cook surface.  In turn, Gary posted my thoughts on the the Grillstone over on his site.

Steak on Stone

I've been looking for a griddle, or in this case, "griddle like" device for the grills for some time.  For my take, hop on over to Cooking Outdoors and take a look.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

Today, a twofer.  First, fall grilling.  It's colder, it's dark early and I need to get used to it.

Fall Grilling

Second, wine, wine & wine.  My Friend Gregg's wine room.  Or, at least part of it.  Shameless plug: He's also the guy behind Bacchus Cellar Systems, the link on my right sidebar.

Wine and wine and wine….

Sunday, November 06, 2011

What's on the Grill #232: Grilled Basil Chimichurri Chicken Wings

Zoe has this thing for sauces.  Whenever we figure out what we are having for dinner, I know the one outstanding question: what's the sauce?  Steak, chicken, fish, you name it.  They all need a "sauce".  Now, some may attribute this to her love of French cooking.  I, on the other hand, attribute it to her being English.  What better way to hide the taste of English cuisine then a splash of brown sauce.  I'm just kidding of course, her mum is an excellent cook and I happen to love food in the UK.  This sauce obsession must be…wait, my cooking.  Damn.

Thankfully, when it comes to sauces, we both like chimichurri.  I opted to forgo the required mint and instead went with basil, basically because I had a boatload on hand.  Oh, and better yet?  This was the second meal the chimichurri graced.  Originally made for steaks, I had leftover chimichurri in the fridge and chicken wings in the freezer.  Yup, circle gets the square.

Grilled Basil Chimichurri Chicken Wings
Adapted from Bobby Flay's Boy Gets Grill

2 cups Basil
1 cup flat-leat parsley leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 serrano chilies
3 tbls honey
3 tbls Dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Add the basil, parsley, cilantro, garlic, chilies, honey and mustard to a food processor and mix.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified.

Prep the grill.  You can either go direct or indirect.  Since I am adding a sauce, I choose to go indirect.

With the grill about 350 F, I added the wings, covered with the the chimichurri, and grilled them for about 20 minutes, flipping once.  I snuck in some BBQ wings too, but don't tell anyone.

Chimichurri Wings

For a quick side, I roasted some peppers. After steaming, peeling and chopping them, I topped them with a balsamic vinaigrette.  It is a great, fast side.

Grilled Peppers

In the end, the sauce was "approved" as a great accompaniment.  Mission accomplished.

Grilled Wings & Peppers