Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Homebrewing 101 – Introduction

I’m moving these next few weeks, which means it’s time to set up a new brewery. Share in the excitement! It’s easier than you might think to get started. In fact, it can be broken down it into 8 easy steps.

1) Get the needed equipment.
2) Get the needed ingredients.
3) Clean, clean, clean the heck out of everything.
4) Get down to brewing.
5) Put a little life into your beer. (then wait 2-3 weeks).
6) Clean, clean, clean the heck out of everything. Yes, again.
7) Bottle your beer (then wait 3-4 weeks).
8) Enjoy.

I’ll be taking you through the process step by step. Look for future installments, and other hombrewing courses.

This week, Step 1 - Get the needed equipment

Monday, September 22, 2008


It's Oktoberfest time!

Is there a better way to wrench oneself out of the end-of-summer beer doldrums then to cast one's palate full-force into Oktoberfest? If there is, I certainly can't think of it. Fall has arrived! Halloween merchandise is on the shelves, the air has that wonderful chill, the kids are back in school, and breweries are peddling their Märzen creations. I can't say I'm disappointed in any of this.

This year, I was lucky enough to attend a Labor-day Okt
oberfest extravaganza. Nine local microbreweries brought their shot at the celebratory brew. A complete list of the offerings can be found on the Berea Oktoberfest Website. I got to try them all and, subsequently, vote on the best. This gal was in beer_nerd heaven.

Great Lakes Brewing Company offered a disappointingly watery brew with a strange fruity aftertaste. Luckily, this is not what the beer tastes like in either the bottle or at the location, so you should be safe grabbing it elsewhere. Actually, it's quite good, so I recommend you do so.

Rocky River Brewing Company is one of my favorite local brewpubs, but their Belgian and English-style offerings seem to be on the whole stronger than their German. Their Oktoberfest was no exception. It was still one of the best and, in fact, took home the gold.

Willoughby Brewing Company, unfortunately, often disappoints me. Their beer
was not terrible, but was nothing stellar. Not necessarily a bad thing in an Oktoberfest beer, but I would have liked more richness.

In my opinion, The best of the evening was by the Rock Bottom Brewery. It was well balanced, smooth, and left none of the funky aftertastes common in the other offerings. I could have drunk quite a bit of this stuff. And, really, isn't that the point?

Oktoberfest beer, at least a good one, is two things:
  1. A well-balanced lager that is malty but not cloying, and
  2. Easily drinkable in mass quantities.
If you want to get technical (and as a beer_nerd, I do), here are some more official stats:

3. European Amber Lager
3.b. Oktoberfest / Marzen
  • OG: 1.050 - 1.056
  • FG: 1.012 - 1.016
  • ABV: 4.8 - 5.7%
  • IBU: 20 - 28
  • SRM: 7 - 14
Good flavors / Impressions:
  • Dark Gold to Deep amber
  • Toasted
  • Malty
  • Rich
  • Starts sweet, ends dry
Bad flavors / Impressions
  • Too light / dark
  • No head
  • Cloudy
  • Fruity
  • Roasty
  • Caramel
  • Overly Hoppy / bitter

You might not live in Cleveland or, even worse, might not live near any Oktoberfest celebration at all! Here's some brews you just might be able to grab in your local store. Why not have your own competition?
And, while you sit back with one of those beers, why not learn more? Read up about the history of Oktoberfest the celebration and Oktoberfest the beer.

Do you have a favorite Oktoberfest? Break out those steins and tell me about it in the comments!


Monday, September 15, 2008


Beer_nerd will be up and running next Monday (Sept 22) with a brand-new look and a post about Oktoberfest. Look for updates every Monday from there on out, with occasional reviews.