Six Packs for Christmas

Six Packs Make the Best Gifts

What’s Happening Now

This week has been a slow one in terms of brewing. We have the ingredients to make a hefeweizen, but did not get to brewing it. Life got in the way and we had other last minute commitments.

We have an IPA and a Stout that are finished and are waiting to be drank. Our brown ale should be done bottle conditioning later this week and by the next post I will be able to tell you if the maple syrup we added made any difference. You can find that brew log at Watch for the Over Boil.

The Christmas season is upon us and everyone is scrambling around for the best deals, latest gadgets, hottest clothing, and shiniest jewelry. Why not give the gift of beer this Christmas? That’s what dad and I are doing this year.

We have all this beer sitting downstairs and an extended family filled with Bud Light drinkers. The plan is to create a six-bottle variety pack for my uncles and cousins who are of drinking age. It will house six beers: two IPA’s, two stouts, and two hefeweizens.

This is a great, cheap, and easy way to give gifts during the Christmas season -and we don’t have to go a mall or wait in line.

Hey, Did You Know?

Porter vs. Stout- Do you know the difference?

Porters and Stouts historically stemmed from the same family of beer. The difference is summed up well by Wayne Wambles, brewmaster at Cigar City Brewing in Craft Brewing Business blog, “’Simply put, most people approach it from the perspective of stout being roasted barley-centric, which gives coffee to espresso aroma and flavor, and porter being more chocolate and mocha oriented by the use of chocolate malt.’” Stouts have an espresso aroma and flavor, while porters have a more chocolate and mocha flavor. Stouts tend to have high levels of bitterness, while porters are sweeter.

Beers for the Christmas table

This is going to sound similar to my Thanksgiving Beer post, because there are a lot of similar flavors at Christmas. Every Christmas dinner table is going to have some variation, but I think most will have a centerpiece of meat either ham, turkey, or roast beef -unless you’re at my grandma’s house, because she makes all three (thanks Nana). These three meats and their perspective sides won’t have a lot of stand out flavors so we don’t want to pair strong beers that will overpower the rest of the meal.

Look for beers that have low bitterness (hops) and a higher sweetness (malts) flavors. Brown ales, stouts, porters, bocks, marzens, and hefeweizens are all great beers to have at the Christmas table. My recommendations are: Bofo Brown Ale (review found here), Great Lakes Christmas Ale (review below), and Rivertown Dunkel (review here). These beers are going to be high in malt flavors and sweetness, while being low in bitter coffee and hop flavors. You’ll be pleased with any of these beers at your table.

Now you know.

My Unadulterated Opinion

This week’s flavor comes from my home state of Ohio and it’s called Christmas Ale by Great Lakes Brewing Company. This is my favorite winter ale and will be for some time. I could drink this beer until it ran out and I was unfit to drive to get more.

The beer is lighter in color than I expected from a winter ale and it’s quite clear. This is one of the few beers that is exempt from our beer drinking rule –see the About page for rule. Mine wasn’t very carbonated and had almost no head, but that could be from many different factors and not a deal breaker for me. I don’t care that much about a foamy head on a beer anyway.

What sets this beer apart for me is the hint of cinnamon. Other winter ale archetypes are bursting with cinnamon, have tons of sweet malts, and roasted nut flavors everywhere. This beer has all that, but in reasonable portions. I don’t hate the little brown spice, but I don’t want it to be overwhelming. The cinnamon is subtle and allows the other flavors to meld together and compliment one another.

Drink this beer.

Conclusion

Make sure you comment below, like, subscribe, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com to suggest beers to be reviewed or topics discussed. I’m always open to constructive criticism. Frankly, I do this for the readers and I want to bring you want you want to read.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on the other side of the pint glass.

Discussion question

What types of beer would you put in a sampler pack as a Christmas gift?

Featured Image Credit Schulte

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Tour of Rivertown Brewery

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Last week my girlfriend surprised me with reservations to tour the Rivertown Brewery in Lockland, Ohio just north of Cincinnati. Rivertown Brewery, started in 2009, have now have reached: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Florida. They have two brews a day to meet up with their demand. I have been to several breweries in the Cincinnati area, but never had a formal tour. This was such a great experience and I highly recommend anyone reading take a tour of your local brewery. We drank beer through the whole tour -that’s a plus.

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We got there over an hour early like the tickets said to. As soon as we walked in there was a huge a bottling machine capable of filling 72 bottles at a time (back left of picture). The whole place smelled of fresh grains and sweet malt. Their taproom stood off to the right of the door. We had a few pints while we waited for the tour and talked to the bartender.

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Six o’clock hit and Josh, Rivertown Brewery’s general manager, gave us a tour of the brewery. It started with showing us the different types of ingredients they use in the beer. We sampled different malts and grains. Josh encouraged only smelling the hops – and rightly so. We moved into the room with their 31 barrel (976.5 gallons) mash tun and half a dozen fermenting vats of varying sizes.

Next was their old bottling machine. At 24 bottles at a time the machine did it’s job well, but Rivertown Brewery is expanding too rapidly for the small thing to meet up with demands. They have a huge rotating 72 bottle capacity machine, but it is not in operation as of yet.

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Josh moved us on to the wooden barrels where they age some of their beers, the pallets of bottles and kegs, and finally to a cooler the size of a three car garage. After the tour we met back up at the front bar and some other employees answered questions.

The shining star of the whole visit was their sour beer. Yes, dear readers, sour beer. I’m not talking about old, skunked, or stale beer. Sour beer is the new style of beer that brewers are making. Think about how food companies take cream and add bacteria to make sour cream for your tacos. This is the same process. Rivertown takes a few of their “normal” recipes, adds bacteria, and creates sour beer.

I wasn’t excited to try it at first, but I knew that I had to take the plunge for my home brewing readers. I did it for you. It took some getting used to, but by the end of the night I got a full pint down and was satisfied. It’s not a beer that you throw back during a sports match or one to sip on.

The preferred technique from the Rivertown brew masters is to drink it in large mouthfuls to saturate the taste buds. The first few drinks were the worst, but as time went on the beer got so much better. I felt myself waiting with anticipation until the next drink. It tasted like someone took a beer and put Warhead candy into it.

I thought that sour beer is genius and Rivertown expects it to be the next big thing. There are several breweries across the country that makes sour beer. I don’t know if this will ever rival the IPA as the flagship of craft brewing, but it could give it a run for it’s money.

Check this beer out and my new friends at Rivertown Brewery. I can’t thank them enough for the amazing experience and knowledge they shared with us. I would also like to thank my lovely partner in crime for surprising me and arranging everything.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

Discussion-

Had you ever heard about sour beer and would you ever drink it?

PROST!