Archive for October, 2009

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chocolate, coffee, beer and me.

October 23, 2009

I am admittedly a complete beer geek and/or beer snob. I’m one of those people that drinks hopped up double IPAs and Belgian ales and seasonal small batch beers from regional craft breweries and can’t stand hanging out at bars where everyone is chugging Miller Lite, Bud and Coronas right out of the cans/bottles.  I regularly cross state lines to buy beers that aren’t distributed in my state.  When I take a trip somewhere, I look up what beers I can get in that city, where the best brew pubs are and if there is a decent brewery in the area that I can tour. I’m that guy.

I’ve also now been a homebrewer for about three and a half years.  I stick mostly to the styles I enjoy drinking the most: India Pale Ales, American Pale Ales, Dunkelweizens and Hefeweizens. I’m capable of making some pretty damn good beers if I do say so myself, and since I’m the one that drinks the majority of the beers that I brew…well, self hi-five.

However, toward the end of this past spring I decided to brew my first Stout. I’d gotten a bit bored making variations of the same basic styles over and over and wanted to try brewing something else. I was a little discouraged because of a bad experience with a Belgian Tripel I tried making a few months into my homebrewing that turned out far short of wonderful. Not being the biggest fan of Stouts in general, I often find the ones I try to be overpowering and entirely too filling. Most beer geeks flip out over the insanely strong Russian Imperial Stouts and the many barrel aged deep, dark seasonal Stouts that pop up from many great craft breweries throughout the country. For whatever reason, I’ve yet to develop a real taste for them. I figured that if I were to try brewing a Stout that I may as well try to brew one of the few Stouts that I truly love and appreciate, Founders Breakfast Stout.

There is nothing subtle about this beer. With flaked oats, coffee and chocolate in addition to four different types of malt, the flavors are intense. Yet it presents a really nice balance between bitter and sweet while at the same time maintaining a complexity that I often miss in many of the Stouts that beer geeks tend to rave about. The commercial version is highly recommended if you can get your hands on it. Strong coffee and chocolate flavors absolutely rip through this excellent brew which beeradvocate.com rates an A+/A and ratebeer.com rates a 100. So yeah, it’s a pretty serious brew. My go at it was based on the clone recipe that was published in BYO magazine. I followed it pretty closely with just a few minor substitutions with the chocolate.

Chocolate and coffee getting ready to be thrown into the boil. April 2009.

Chocolate and coffee getting ready to be thrown into the boil. April 2009.

Since brewing it back in April, and then bottling it in May, its been sitting quietly, well hidden and packed away in a couple of cases at the bottom of the pantry, just waiting to be broken into for the cold fall and winter months. Bottle conditioned now for five and a half months, I decided that the time was right to pour a few bottles on this chilly, windy and rainy day.

Looking, smelling and tasting amazing. The finished Founders Breakfast Stout clone. October 2009.

Looking, smelling and tasting amazing. The finished Founders Breakfast Stout clone brightens a cold and rainy autumn afternoon. October 2009.

I’m really pleased with the way this turned out. The bottle conditioning time has done it well. Patience was the key with this brew. The couple of test bottles I tried over the months while it was conditioning were huge on the coffee without much else coming through. Now, just a few weeks shy of  seven months since brew day, there is a really nice balance between the coffee and the chocolate up front and as it warms a bit the chocolate becomes even more pronounced. I’m hoping to stash some away to enjoy in Jan/Feb ’10 just to see how much more the flavor profile will change. If there is one problem, it is head retention. The nice head you see on the pour in the photo above only lasts for about 3-4 minutes before dissipating almost completely. I’ve read that this is mostly due to the oils from the Kona coffee that the brew was conditioned with during secondary fermentation. I suppose we’ll see what I can do about that when I brew this again next spring. Until then, I’ve got about forty 12 oz. bottles of Breakfast Stout to help get me through this Chicago winter.

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solo show.

October 15, 2009

There is an element of stoic pride in going to see a rock show all by your lonesome. There is an arrogant self righteous sense of defiance in not caring if no one else you know wants to go. Your internal dialogue immediately writes off your friends that decided to blow it off at the last minute as lame and undeserving of the Rock anyway. No one is going to stop me from rocking!  Besides, I hate it when people talk to me when I’m seeing and hearing a band in some club.

I also hate it when people around me carry on conversations during the band’s set. Though due to our human race’s seemingly ever growing narcissistic need to receive constant attention it is an occurrence that is unavoidable these days. I can barely recall a show I’ve attended over the last few years where I wasn’t annoyed by someone who simply couldn’t shut the fuck up and just enjoy the show that they had just paid to see and hear.  I yelled at a girl half my size and likely a dozen years my junior at a show a few weeks ago. As she conversed nonchalantly with her friend back and forth during the middle of a band’s set, standing just a foot or so from me, I muttered a subtle “shut up” just loud enough for her to hear.  She stopped, paused as if shocked that she really heard that from a total stranger and then decided her response would be a snotty and dismissive, “Whaaat?” Her nerve pissed me off greatly, so I went off on her, yelling in her face to shut the fuck up and stop chatting through the entire song and to have some respect for other people around her. Some others standing nearby in the crowd actually thanked me. I appreciated that, but I was totally acting out of anger and I think I probably scared that girl. After I calmed down I didn’t feel good about it.  Even though she deserved it for talking through an entire song, and one of the quietest of the set at that, I felt shitty for yelling at some young girl I don’t even know. Seems loutish, and I’d rather not be a lout, even if she deserved loutishness and I’m rightly pissed off. Anyway, this is one of the reasons I still love Metal shows. (Metal is always capitalized.)

Go see a Metal gig and it doesn’t matter who is talking throughout the set, who is drunk and obnoxious, how many annoying hipsters are hanging out being too cool for the room, who is right in front of you texting non-stop, who thinks the band sucks and isn’t interested yet stays right in front of you anyway, or who is yelling at someone they don’t know out of anger. In fact, more often than not, the music itself is rooted in anger to begin with. A good righteous anger being exorcised on guitar, bass and drums burns all of those little insignificant annoyances in an instant. Whoever or whatever it is that might distract you is no match for the sheer volume and vigor of the performance. One killer riff will simply decimate all of the bullshit in the room. This is why Metal has remained such a huge part of my musical landscape. I’ve never moved on, never grown out of it, and never turned my back on it when it wasn’t “in.” Metal not only just sounds good to my ears, it feels good to my being. It’s cathartic. Therapeutic, even.

This past Monday night’s therapy session was thrown down by Red Fang and Saviours. Both bands played absolutely killer sets. Red Fang in particular with their genuine likable Metal burnout dude persona, huge guitar tones, and pummeling vibe. When you’re 36 years old and you find yourself going to Monday night Metal shows after a day of working in a grey cubicle, followed by an hour plus commute, by yourself because the few friends you have left that will actually even entertain going to a Monday night Metal show in the first place bailed out on you the day of the show, and your wife who just started grad school has a class and probably wouldn’t have gone regardless, you are:

  1. seriously, one cool motherfucker.
  2. totally Metal, no poser.
  3. someone who doesn’t quite have their shit together.
  4. old and getting older, trying to hold on to one of the few things that you have left that makes you still feel young and irresponsible.
  5. trying to escape the mundane details of your spirit-defeating weekday work life for a few hours.
  6. that kind of weird old-ish guy standing there by himself at the all-ages Rock show.

I am all of these.
Nothing like a good Monday night Metal show to put things in perspective.

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begin.

October 13, 2009

Uncool and Heavy is a blog where I can rant about music, film, politics, atheism, religious beliefs, football, craft beer, homebrewing…basically whatever is on my mind at any given time. Those are a few of the things that occupy my time, so I’m sure I’ll get into them. I hope that this blog, among other things, encourages me to write regularly and acts as a self-inflicted kick in the ass as I try to evolve into the best person I can be in all facets of this bewildering 21st century life.