Octopodial Chrome

Stuff that Made Sense at the Time

The Personal Weblog of Bob Uhl


Tuesday, 08 February 2011

White House Honey Ale

This is pretty cool: one of the White House is a homebrewer, and so the President’s Superbowl party featured homebrewed ale.

Tuesday, 09 March 2010

Unjust Beer Laws

Forthwith, a rogues’ gallery of unjust beer laws. Florida bans bottles larger than 32 ounces; Iowa beers stronger than 5% ABV; Utah beer over 4%; New York bans beer an liquor in the same business.

When will the madness end?

Tuesday, 08 December 2009

Aging Beer

The New York Times discovers aging beer like fine wine (or maybe we should say that wine is aged like fine beer? I m deeply envious of the Coloradan gold mine filled with beer—that’s several different kinds of cool.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Disaster at a Brewery

Drie Fonteinen have lost 13,000 gallons (300 barrels) of beer to a thermostat failure. This is about a third of their annual revenue lost. The brewer is hoping to cut his losses a bit by distilling the spoilt beer.

Please go out an buy 3 Fonteinen wherever you can find it in order to help support the brewery.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Three Cheers for Jim Koch!

For years, I’ve not been a huge fan of Jim Koch (head of Samuel Adams). He’s popularised decent beer, which is good, but IMHO he’s been more marketing than anything else. But now I read that he is selling ten short tons of hops at cost to other craft brewers. This is an amazing act of generosity: on the spot market those hops could fetch many times what he’ll be selling them for.

There are some economic implications, of course. Basically, what he is proposing is a blend of first-come/first-served and rationing, both known inefficient methods. But while the free market is the most efficient mechanism in the long term, right now the hop shortage has a very real chance of destroying many small brewers. Koch’s action is like tossing a life preserver to a dying man: sure, it’s best to teach him how to swim, but right now the important thing is to save his life.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Random Beer Name Generator

Just found a random beer name generator. Some of the names are pretty lame, but I rather fancy a Black Christmas Doppelbock.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Tasting Notes Update

I've updated Tasting Notes, my database of beer, brewery & bar notes, once again. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Tui Beer

Thank to my buddy Rob, I had found the best beer commercial ever.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Hop Shortage Threatens Beer Supply

Seriously, there’s a hop shortage which threatens to increase the cost of beer drastically. Maybe I should go into the hop farming business?

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Great American Beer Festival

This year, as in every year since 2000, I attended the Great American Beer Festival, one of the great perks of living in the Denver metroplex. The problem with going just one night is that the temptation is to try to drink as much beer as one can from 1730 to 2145; I’m getting older though and I really can’t drink 8–10 bottles of beer in a night—three’s about my limit these days. So I decided to go to all four sessions; unfortunately I delayed getting tickets so I was only able to get to three of the four. Bummer, but that’s life.

Thursday night I went with a buddy of mine from work. We had some excellent beers—the most memorable was Short’s Black Licorice Lager, which doesn’t actually have licorice in it (the flavour of licorice candy is licorice root, star anise and brown sugar; the beer had a quantity of anise), but I also had several excellent fruit beers and a surprisingly good beer from Anheuser-Busch of all brewers. I feel sorry for them: they have proven that they can brew excellent beer, but they are stuck. Beer geeks won’t buy their beers because they are Anheuser-Busch; beer twits won’t buy them because they love Budweiser or Coors. It’s kinda sad. Over the course of the night I tried twenty beers; at one ounce apiece, that’s less than two bottles of beer (granted, some were much stronger than normal beer). Definitely an improvement over the drink-drink-drink pace of a normal GABF evening.

Friday night I went on my own and had a further 26 beer samples. There were several top-notch sour beers I had that evening. My favourite beer that evening had to have been the Raspberry Tart from new Glarus. After I left the festival, I headed down to the Falling Rock Taphouse for the Dogfish Head tapping party. The beers were amazing and excellent, particularly the vintage bottles of the no-longer-brewed Festina Lente, although the Chateau Jiahu was pretty good too. I enjoyed some excellent beer-geek conversation and discovered that this year’s American Homebrewers’ Association conference had been in Boulder—and I’d missed it! Oh well.

Saturday night I went with my brother John. It was his first GABF, and I think he enjoyed it. We’d some very good beers, although by this point many had run out. I did have an excellent cassis (lambic black-currant beer) from a brewer whose name escapes me. All told, I had an even two dozen 1-ounce beers. Afterwards we went to the Falling Rock where New Belgium were having a tapping party. There were beers there which one cannot even get at the brewery itself, chosen just for that night. They were…wonderful.

All in all, I think that going to three sessions is better and more enjoyable than just one. I did notice that the crowd seemed much rowdier this year, although that could just have been because I was less rowdy—no real way to tell. I imagine that the price of a ticket will increase next year in order to keep out the riff-raff; they’ll still sell out, and have a higher-class event to boot.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Tasting Notes

Today I rewrote my collection of beer tasting notes in Common Lisp (it used to be in Python). I used the Hunchentoot web server & the CLSQL set of SQL bindings; the former works like a charm and the latter is alright—it has a few annoying bugs, but I’ve been able to work around each one.

Next I have to work on actually updating it with data on a regular basis…

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Samuel Adams Unveils New Beer Glass

It looks like Sam Adams has come up with a new style of beer glass. It looks a little odd, but I think I could grow to love it. Bit pricey, but in a few years the price should come down somewhat.

Brewing Calculators

This weekend while in the middle of brewing I discovered these nifty brewing calculators which allow one to estimate colour, alcohol percentage, bitterness, efficiency, priming and so forth. Very cool—and 100% webbed, so usable to anyone with a browser.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Brewing an Ancient Beer

Over a decade ago Ed Hitchcock made an amazing attempt at an extremely early beer. He malted his own grains, baked them into loaves, mashed & fermented them—and he came up with a good beer as an end result. He also took the post-fermentation yeast cake (with much included grains and starches), mixed it with flour and made more bread. Someday it might be a fun experiment to try.

Saturday, 29 July 2006

Bob Uhl, Advanced Homebrewer

Some of my regular readers may have noticed that this blog has been silent recently. Well, there’s been a reason: I was attending the Advanced Homebrewing Programme offered by the Siebel Institute in conjunction with Ft. Lewis College. The course, only in its third year, is a comprehensive review of brewing techniques & technology, beer styles, sensory perception of beer and so forth. It was incredible. More on it to follow…

Thursday, 13 July 2006

Beer Odyssey 2006

One week ago my college buddy Darren & I embarked on our second Beer Odyssey (the one last year having been such a very great success). This time our target was central and western Colorado (last year's epic having covered the northern end of my fair state). We set out on I-70 with but a single goal in mind: to enjoy great beer and beautiful scenery; we were to get both in spades, although I should note that as the driver for this expedition I enjoyed mere sips of beer whilst watching Darren drink. But I live here, and thus can always return, whilst he must travel from Texas.

Our first stop was the Dillon Dam Brewery, where I'd an excellent hamburger and he'd a passable bratwurst. I purchased a glass, a pack of cards, a guide to Rocky Mountain drinking holes, a growler of pilsener and a six pack of their lager. Thereafter we headed to Hanging Lake (just east of Glenwood Springs) where we saw one of the natural wonders of the world: a lake which collapsed from a cliff face, leaving a pair of cataracts and a beautiful crystal clear lake on the side of the cliff. The shores are composed of travertine in its primitive state. I can highly recommend it to anyone who's travelling in the area---it's roughly a three-hour hike, but worth every minute.

We journeyed on to Palisade, where we visited both the Palisade Brewery and Peach Street Distillers. The former had some excellent ales on tap; I left with a growler of their Dually Imperial Pale Ale, a deceptively smooth beer with a massively high alcohol content, and another growler of their peach ale. The latter had an exceedingly friendly staff; had I not been driving I would have dearly loved to settle down and throw back a few drinks with them. As it was I purchased a bottle of their Goat Vodka to bring home---a truly wonderful vodka, sweet with just a slight hint of maize (it's made from the semi-famous Olathe Sweet Corn).

We then continued on to Grand Junction and booked ourselves some rooms, then headed out to dinner at the Alehouse (a tied house of the Breckenridge Brewery) where I'd a steak and Darren'd a burger (and we shared some great pub chips); then we were on to the Kannah Creek Brewing Compant, a brewpub/pizzeria. I wasn't terribly impressed, to tell the truth: they struck me as more of a non-drinker's brewpub. Still, friendly staff. We walked to our rooms from the pub, and were soon fast asleep.

On Friday we arose and stopped briefly in Palisade to visit the Meadery of the Rockies, whereat I got a bottle of their Chocolate Cherry Velvet, a mead-port) as well as a six pack of perry (pear cider). We then headed back to Glenwood Springs, where we stopped off at the Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub, which I will wager money is owned by a Greek. Excellent food, wonderful beers. I believe that I brought back a growler of the raspberry wheat, IIRC. Darren had a gyro and I'd a very good fish & chips. Then we headed to Glenwood Caverns, a somewhat new attraction in the area. The caves are very cool, and the Alpine Coaster is loads of fun. We set back on the road just as he weather began to turn. We stopped off at the Gore Range Brewery, a nice little brewpub nestled in Edwards (an otherwise nondescript town); we'd an order of chips & salsa and I left with a growler of their red ale. As the weather turned decidedly nasty we stopped off in Frisco at the Backcountry Brewery for a dinner of pizzas---very good, and well-worth a repeat visit. This was the first brewery whereat I failed to buy a growler, not because their beers were subpar but because I can buy them here in town and the car was getting very cramped.

Then commenced one of the very worst drives of my life. There were several times when I thought our numbers were up; the worst was when a passing pickup's rain-shedding tyres obscured our windscreen so badly that I couldn't see for about a second and a half. On a downhill stretch. A curvy downhill stretch. At night. My life flashed before my eyes, I swear. But we got home in the end and our beer odyssey was done.

The following day we would visit a local C.B. & Pott's, catch Pirates of the Caribbean, stop off at Edward's (whereat I bought a fine pipe whereby I shall remember this trip always) and finally brew a batch of beer. Then on Sunday we went to church, had dinner at my folks' house and ended up visiting the finest beer bar in the country, the Falling Rock Tap House. After all this beer-chasing (and due to my own homebrewing efforts) my condo housed roughly 24 gallons of beer---that's over ¾ of a beer barrel! Along with all this beer (and the vodka) I also purchased much glassware---mostly pints, with a few shot glassed thrown in for good measure.

All in all it was an most wonderful trip. I'll be posting pictures soon.

Tuesday, 09 May 2006

In Which Young Robert Brews Malta

Tonight I brewed my first non-beer, malta; it’s essentially a small beer made with hops, then force-carbonated & bottled. Tonight it’s settling in the fridge; tomorrow I’ll rack it into a keg and carbonate it; the following evening I’ll dispense it into bottles and then pasteurise it. It should keep for quite awhile that way as long as it’s refrigerated.

Monday, 01 May 2006

Wal-Mart to Stock Craft Beer

Wal-Mart has opened a premier store in Plano which will carry high-end electronics and…craft beer. Maybe this is the start of a good thing!

Sunday, 26 March 2006

All Grain

This afternoon and evening I brewed my first all-grain batch of beer, five gallons of a mild ale. The term all-grain means that I brewed it using raw ingredients rather than malt extracts. To make beer, one steeps malted barley (and other grains, if desired) in water of a temperature sufficient for the barley’s enzymes to convert all the starches to sugar (mashing), then strains out the grains (lautering) and washes off any residual sugars (sparging), then boils the wort produced thereby (brewing) along with hops and other adjuncts as needed for the recipe in question. A quick way to brew is to use malt extracts, where someone else performs the mash, lauter and sparge steps for one; that’s the process I’ve used up until this point. But now I’m a true brewer, and that’s pretty cool.

Siebel Institute Offer a Homebrewing Programme

The Siebel Institute of Technology, one of the great brewing schools of the world, are offering an advanced homebrewing programme this July in Durango, Colorado. I’m giving some strong thought to attending—it would be an excellent chance to learn more about my favoured hobby, and maybe even get a head start on going pro someday.

Friday, 17 March 2006

The Return of Tasting Notes

My Tasting Notes database is—after a very long hiatus—back online, albeit in very primitive form. I expect to be improving it rapidly, though.

Monday, 31 January 2005

Beer Can Save Your Life

A Slovak man drank his way to safety. His car was trapped in an avalanche, and as he tried to dig his way out he discovered that the car would fill with snow more quickly than he could dig. But then he realised that he could urinate on the snow to melt it down, and that he had eight gallons of beer in his car (he was going on vacation…). So he dug and drank and melted and dug and drank and melted for four days, finally escaping.

Sunday, 09 January 2005

A Batch! A Palpable Batch!

Well, for the first time since before summer I’ve brewed a batch of beer. It’s been something of a comedy of errors unfortunately: I reversed the hopping schedule (bittering with aroma hops and flavouring with bittering hops) and somehow managed to to plug the cooling sink up right, and so all the nice ice cold water for chilling the wort went right down said sink, leaving me with no way to rapidly cool it. Still, I’ve had worse brewing nights, and I see no reason to think that my beer won’t turn out all right in the end.

Sunday, 03 October 2004

Great American Beer Festival

Well, I attended the Great American Beer Festival for the fifth year running, the difference with past years being that I served as the designated driver. This was an interesting experience—I’ve never actually been the DD.

The festival’s great theme this year seemed to be bourbon-barrel beers—that is, beers which have been aged in old bourbon casks. They all looked quite fine. There was also an interesting blended beer made with beer from three different Colorado breweries; my buddy enjoyed it so much that he ended the night with a glass thereof. I’d have like to have tried that.

As with last year’s festival, there was really quite an amazing number of extraordinarily attractive women there. My buddy kept asking if he was just suffering from a massive case of beer goggles—and I kept assuring him that such was certainly not the case. I don’t know what it is about beer attracting attractive gals, but I certainly do appreciate it.

Next year!


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