Barley Mowat 

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Obligatory VCBW Post

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Today is the first day of VCBW3, and The Twitter is abuzz with all sorts of beer nerdgasms. You can almost smell the excitment in the air. It smells like some sort of musk… that’s been left out in the sun far too long.

So where’s my beer nerdgasm? Well, I have a pretty subtle beer O-face, so I won’t be spurting barley enthusiasm all over this blog, at least not just yet. Sure, VCBW has started, but it’s off to a slow start with only one event for the next two nights. I might wait a while and build up a decent back-pressure of stories and anecdotes before I can’t hold it back anymore and just dump it all in one post.


Hands up if you noticed my use of “dump” in a long paragraph of sexual innuendo.

Enough of that–writing that shit is tiring. VCBW starts tonight at the newly renovated roundhouse in Yaletown, but I won’t be there. I won’t be there tomorrow either. Nor will I be at the homebrewers’ judging tomorrow. Instead, I’m going to play the tease and hold back a bit. My first VCBW event is this Sunday… at The Alibi Room. Yes, I have Hoppapalooza tickets (side note to self: buy Sharon something nice. And expensive). Nigel’s already taunting us with promises of 20+ IPAs and 10+ casks. I’ll be joined by this blog’s Chief Insanity Officer and Occasional TV Celebrity Dr. Jenn Gardy.

From there I plan on taking Monday off to give my taste buds a bit of time to grow back, although I might be tempted into Kits for the Parallel 49 launch party. The preview I’ve had of their Watermelon Wit excites me, and I’ll likely be a solid customer of theirs from day one. It only makes sense to get to known Graham and begin the long process of Scoring Free Beer.

My next ticketed event is a nice evening Tuesday at the Pourhouse for a dinner with Driftwood. I have to admit, I picked this event for two terrible reasons: first, it’s a dinner, and dinners tend to not wipe out my productivity the next day and second, it’s in the building I work in, and I’m so very lazy.

Wednesday is another rest day for me (is this starting to sound like a workout schedule?). If I’m up for it, though, I might drag my sorry ass out to the Portland Craft grand opening. A whole bar dedicated to my favourite city on the planet? Yes, please!

Thursday will see me trucking all the way out to Richmond for the Elysian Tap Takeover at the Pumphouse. Ms Jenn will also be coming out with me to that one, so look closely for us giving stern (but 100% incorrect) lectures on beer, microbiology, unicorns, and pretty much anything else.

Friday, I’m taking off. I mean it this time. Gotta save up for the closing event Saturday.

And on Sunday he rested.

Written by chuck

May 18th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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How Hard Can It Be?

with 4 comments

Alright, it’s game time. This weekend I took some time out from patio lounging and beer drinking to decant my barrels and shift this project into high gear (just kidding; I was drinking beer the whole time… which might explain a few things).

You’ve probably heard about the “angel’s share” when it comes to barrels. I had, as well, and I was curious to experience it firsthand myself. If you have no idea what I’m talking aboot, oak barrels are permeable to the air outside and liquid inside them. The liquid inside the barrel diffuses into the oak, migrates to the surface, and then escapes due to the lower partial pressure of sweet sweet booze outside the barrel (replacing the lost space inside with nasty horrible air). Honestly, if that bastard Dalton hadn’t geeked things up we’d all be in much better form… except for that whole part about our lungs not working… and booze going straight through us… okay, fine, Dalton and his law can stay.

This missing amount of liquid is the Angel’s Share, presumably because it disappeared when no one was looking and Underwear Gnomes hadn’t yet been invented to take the blame for this sort of thing. But, how much IS the Angel’s Share? If I were to put 750ml of bourbon in a barrel and age it for two weeks, how much would be missing?


Fuck you, angel

For those with a poor sense of volume, that’s about 250ml, or ~1/3rd of the bottle. The ratio is a bit better for the 2L of cheap red wine I put in the other barrel: about 500ml was stolen in the middle of the night by the Missing Booze Fairy.

Perhaps the most important bit of knowledge, though, is that those missing volumes of liquid mean that an equivalent volume of air has been added to my barrels. All those pains I took to keep oxygen from getting in the barrels and ruining my beer might be for naught if 500ml of O2 gets pulled through the sides of the cask anyways. O2 oxidizes your beer, and oxidized beer tastes like ass (well, more like cardboard… assy cardboard). As local beer guru Dave Shea pointed out to me during my brewing mentorship: Oxidation is a Bitch.

The hope is, of course, that the C02 produced by my brettanomyces and champagne yeasts will fill up the space first and keep that evil bastard oxygen at bay, but only time will tell. While it appears that I might not die from this experiment, there is a decent chance I’ll have to drink some awfully crappy beer.

Making this chance even more likely is the fact that, despite as much tender care as I could give it, my brett culture never really took off. Oh sure, it produced slightly Belgian-tasting sugar water, but it also seemed to enjoy sharing that space with a healthy dose of lactobacillus. Yes, lacto is desirable in a brett-conditioned beer, but oh man is it much trickier to work with than I’d bargained. Screw up your lacto, and you’ve essentially got vinegar.

And as much as I love me some fish and chips, that really wasn’t the purpose of this exercise.

Tasting Update, Day 4:
White Bark, grapes, brett: Starting to see some potential here
Pothole Filler, vanilla, bourbon: Oh. Wow. All stouts go in here now.
4Way plain: Um… I think I might be pouring out five litres of fruit beer

Written by chuck

May 16th, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Beer and You

A Recipe for Disaster

with 2 comments

Last weekend, Sharon and I sat down with a few beers, a large amount of fruit, and mixed and matched until Sharon no longer wanted beer and I no longer wanted fruit. The reason? To devise three solid recipes with which to populate my three newly primed oak barrels.

In the end, though, I decided to play it safe, and only one true fruit/beer combo will be making an appearance in this round of “Chuck Tries To Poison Himself.” (Stay tuned for next round: “Licking things found in the alley beside Bitter”)


He tastes like… banana! Oh wait… no, no… I got it! That’s meningitis, isn’t it?

So what won round one? The boring and the safe, that’s what:

2 Litre Barrel Primed with Red Wine = Driftwood White Bark, Red Grapes, Brettanomyces
2 Litre Barrel Primed with Bourbon = Howe Sound Pothole Filler, Vanilla Beans, Dextrose, Champagne yeast
5 Litre Barrel Primed with Nothing = Howe Sound 4Way, Dextrose, Champagne yeast

And that’s it, really. The HS beers feature prominently half because I found some Pothole Filler at Darby’s, and half because I’ll need a lot of HS’s bottles to put all this beer back into when it’s done going off in my tiny oak botulism machines.

Hopefully the 2 litre barrels will be ready to go in as little as two weeks, but don’t you worry, I’ll keep this spot updated as I sample these guys along the way.

Oh, and for the curious, yes aging Jackson Triggs in a tiny oak barrel for two weeks did manage to make it somewhat drinkable. And Bulleit becomes… deadly smooth.

Written by chuck

May 10th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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