CANFEST

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Beer Diary,

I have seen heaven and its roads are  paved in aluminum. Last weekend I attended CANFEST put on be BuckBean and tried a beer from every brewery participating in the event.  Well… every microbrewery.  It was insanely fun filled with mini bikes running around, tons of beer lovers, music and food.

I was on the hunt for the sleeper brewery waiting for someone to surprise me. I was having some solid beers but I was having some so so ones and I got to admit there were few with major flaws in their brews. But I was looking for someone to impress me and it came in the form of a brewery I have never heard of. They didn’t even have a sign and they were stuck in the corner.

Crow Peak Brewery  impressed me with their porter, nice full flavor, rich coffee tones, creamy going down. It was tasty for sure.  I think it stood out because it went down so easy and most everyone had their IPA’s in full swing. Which I love don’t get me wrong but I tried a lot of IPA’s that night and they all start to meld together.

21st Amendment did a special tasting of their Watermelon Wheat and it kind of disappointed me. Mostly it tasted like watermelon jolly ranchers. But the rest of their beers were excellent as usual.

It was my first CANFEST and it was good times, I was with a buddy and we tried 30 breweries 2 beers a brewery so I tried around 60 beers.  I bought 5 dollars in raffle tickets and won a nights stay at the Peppermill so that was rad. I am going to use it for Happy Day next Friday!  I hope to see you there.

Best Snacks with Beers

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Last weekend this chick from on of my class groups texted me “I think your next blog post should be Best Snacks with Beer I need to know these imperative things in life.” Since I am lazy and thinking of post ideas is rough I was like “Hell ya, I will write that.”  I will cover  appetizers, more mealish and dessert.

For appetizers you can go basic pretzels or fancy pub mix which I would pair with a nice light lager like Session.  If you wanted to get a little more crazy I would try a mango salsa paired with a nice IPA. The citrus in the mango salsa will bring out the citrus tones in the IPA.  Some good IPA’s are: Racer 5, Yellow Snow, Lagunitas IPA

Next I would recommend lil smokies covered in BBQ sauce or some nice hot wings. The lil smokies will go nice  with a malty brown ale. The a brown ale will complement the sweetness of the BBQ sauce with its mild flavor.  For the hot wings I would say another IPA because the you’ll be able to have both the spicy and hoppy flavors come through.  After this though your taste buds will most likely be destroyed from the hops and spice so make sure you let your palate recover before dessert.  Browns: Moose Drool , Calico Brown , Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Only one dessert will be needed because it involves bacon and really no other dessert could hang. It is cupcakes made by the Sweet and Stout blog that uses Smoked Porter by Alaskan brewing.  The cupcakes have maple flavored frosting that is topped with bacon bits. YUM. I will make these soon. Pair with the Smoked Porter or a nice bourbon stout not really sure how the the bourbon stout will go with it but it sounds tasty me for some reason. Oaked, Bourbon: Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Black Butte XX/XXI, Black Tuesday  Oaked Arrogant Bastard should be easy to get, Black Butte when it is out you should be able to find, but don’t be afraid to try something else and especially something local to you! Check out Sweet and Stout’s blog for more tasty treats.

So here you go Whitney Best Snacks with Beer just for you.

Book Review: Designing Great Beers

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Beer Diary,

Someone once asked me how do I write a new beer recipe? I thought about it and it always starts with one book Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels.  It is my most valued resource when it comes to recipe writing. It covers the basics of all grain but moves into chapters on the classic styles of beer.

WHY IS IT SO GREAT? First off you don’t need to yell. Second because it gives you some history, then the style guidelines for a beer and then gives you a nice break down of second-round NHC beer recipes.  Break down of recipes meaning how many recipes used X yeast strain , X hops etc.  Allowing me to get a feel for the style, common threads and what I should do to highlight the flavors I want to bring out.

What if I want to make a crazy beer that is not in the book? – This summer I made a Butter Beer from Harry Potter.  I checked and there isn’t a chapter on it. BUT. It does cover the Kolsch which I used as starting point for my Butter Beer.

I recommend this book for people that are looking to learn a lot about beer and to take their beers to the next level. If you are happy cruising down to the brew store grabbing a brown ale recipe sheet getting the stuff and heading home to brew it on your stove top then you most likely don’t need this book. If you have an all grain set up, bored of kits and want to start creating some of your own recipes then I highly recommend you get this book.  Christmas is almost here, Christmas list here Designing Great Beers comes.

Tenaya Creek

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Beer Diary,

37-0 was the score of this years UNR/UNLV game. Which was our 7th straight victory over the Rebels. Just wanted to mention that because I am reviewing a brewery out of Vegas and lets face it they may suck at football but they got some things right UFC is based their, Zappos is too, the Hoover Dam is pretty handy so I figured I should see what their beer is all about. I still want them to know North Nevada is boss before I give them some love so again 37-0.

Tenaya Creek started as a brewery restaurant and in the 2008 the company decided you know what? We love making beer not running a restaurant and shut down restaurant operations. Now you can find their beer in Utah, Ohio, Vancouver British Columbia, and of course across Nevada. Selling their beer in Canada made them the first brewery to export out of Nevada.

I found their beer at Total Wine in Reno who happens to have a pretty bad ass selection of craft beer and good customer service. I grabbed Tenaya Creek’s Hop Ride and Calico Brown which are some of their staple beers available year round.

I am a hophead so I was stoked to try the Hop Ride reading the label my eyebrows kept going higher and higher 7.2% alc/val, magnum hops one of my favorite strains of hop, and it is dry hopped.  So I cracked it open first and during the pour I got hit with the citrus/floral/piney hop aroma I love. The color is a hazy yellow/orange. You get hops from start to finish with this beer first in the aroma, then taste and that lingering bitterness that lets you know they are not skimping on the hops. It is what every IPA lover wants tons of citrus, floral and a nice alc. %.  As always I don’t give grades but here is the BA rating. I recommend it to hopheads, IPA lovers but not to beginners.

The Calico Brown comes in at 5.6% Alc/ Vol it poured a reddish brown color with a malty/semi-spice hop/vanilla aroma. The flavor was a nice toasted malt and finished with a light vanilla creamy flavor. I really liked the finish of this beer. They added some unique complexity to this style which was awesome to taste and try to pick out all the flavors coming through. BA Rating. I recommend it to anyone that likes browns, lots of flavor and it is safe for beginners.

Tenaya Creek is just a hair under 2000bbl per year as of now and I see them growing fast. Especially since they only have been distributing bottles for one year and are already in three states and Canada.  Be on the look out for their Old Jackalope Barley Wine and Imperial Stout this winter. I know I will be! You can find Tenaya Creek in Reno at Total Wine and Ben’s. Special thanks to Karl their GM for taking my call and giving me an interview!

Stout: A love letter.

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Beer Diary,

Stout you tasty bitch you. You have your own day! Rich, chocolaty, coffee, sweet, dark and thick all come to mind when I think of you. Stout you have been done by many and mastered by few but what does it mean to be you?

You come in Dry, Oatmeal, Sweet, Aged, Imperial and you are the beefed up son of the porter. Brewers also like to flavor you with fruit, chocolate, coffee, or bourbon. Stout you have soul.

Stout I love you. From your creamy foam down to your deep dark soul, cheers to you Stout!

Yeah I just wrote a love letter to Stouts.

Now if you want to brew a Stout here are some tips. Stouts come in many different styles so you first have to decide on a style. My experience comes in the form of a sweet style stout. But it is not to hard to brew whatever tickles your fancy. First I will start with the common thread in all stouts. Color is the main one, a dark black is found in most stouts. Then the nice thick head, which is promoted by the darkness of  the grain, carapils, oatmeal, and flaked barley.

Then comes the variety of styles within the style, BJCP style guidelines cover six styles dry, oatmeal, sweet, foreign, imperial  and American. Once you have the style you are going after then you need to decided your grain and hop bill.

Hop bill should be pretty simple nice light hops and not to many  unless you are going after an imperial or American where you can begin to push up the IBUs  and maybe add a dry hop. Grain bill you need to decide your dark malts and the ratio of them. Chocolate, black, and roasted are the most common. Not sure on what you should pick? Smell and taste the grain to get a feel of their flavor. Use a recipe calculator to make sure your are getting the SRM you need out of your grains. I would add some crystal malt to gain some sweetness and body. Oats and flaked barley are often found in stouts as well.

Yeast I would go with American 1 not a lot flavor added, but Irish and London can be used as well.

Stout is a wide deep style and very complex. You can do a lot with the style so I encourage creativity when brewing yours. It is a style where you can find a niche to stand out from the crowd if you do your buddies will be patting you on the back and the ladies will be knocking down your door.

Labels: Try not to suck at them.

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Beer Diary,

I have a confession I judge books by their cover and even worse beer.  Unless it has been recommended to me the label is where I start to make my selection at the beer fridge. I could be missing out?! Right? I know! I don’t like it but is it my fault? I put it on the brewery it is part of their image and like it or not that’s a big part of the battle of selling beer. I don’t want to drink out of a bottle that has art that looks like it has been made in MS paint.  For the same reason I don’t want to date chick with Ugg boots and orange skin. It is painful to look at.

Some breweries need to step their game up. Some of these breweries I like!! But if I haven’t tried your brewery yet, no one has recommended you and your labels suck I AIN’T BUYING. I was at Total Wine tonight buying beer and snapped some pictures of what I liked and didn’t like.

I will start with the ugly.  Breweries avoid having your labels look like clip art there is a difference between simple and clip art. This brewery topped it off with a bad font choice as well. Plus zero branding I don’t even know what brewery I am talking crap about! If your label looks like it was done by an amateur… scratch that 5th grader I am forced to assume your beer was done by a 5th grader.  Now the bad. Hawks are cool. Font is ok. But it is just blah I feel like they could of done a better job making the hawk more epic and axe the green.

Now the good. The Hop Box label is art. Catches the eye and pops out on the shelf in a good way. Firestone Walker I like because you always know who it is and plus the lion and bear are just classy as hell.

It gets worse and better then what is shown here so… What labels do you love? What labels do you hate? What brewery has the best/worst overall labels? Let me know your thoughts!

Hoppy Day Brew Day

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To fully understand this post I suggest reading this old post.

Beer Diary,

This year marks the 3rd year of brewing beer for Happy Day and the 10th Anniversary  of Happy Day itself. We wanted to do something big and not pull any punches. Out came the idea for Hoppy Day Ale (IPA) it has 10 hop additions through out the brew process, 10 SRM (units to measure color) and a FG of 1.010. The other unique thing about this beer was that we added hops to every stage of the process so the sparge water, mash, boil, and fermentation all get hops added.
This brew went down on Friday and if I thought I couldn’t get more pumped to brew I remembered we got to try our new wort chiller out for the first time. It is the Shirron plate chiller and you can get your own for 100 bones from northernbrewer.com It isn’t the biggest and baddest chiller out there but it got the job done pretty much as quick as we pumped the beer so I was stoked with the performance.


The brew went pretty much without a hitch got a solid extraction from the grain and were able to squeeze in the 34 pounds of grain into our mash tun needed for this near 7% brew. We used generous amounts of magnum, cascade, and centennial hops. We also added 40L crystal, carapils and flaked barley to add sweetness and body. The yeast we used was American Ale by Wyeast.If you want to taste this brew you must come to Happy Day and you can get all the info you need at Happydaynv.com