Archive | December, 2011

Barrels of bourbon fun

Bourbon barrel

Used bourbon barrels are all the rage these days, but filling a 53-gallon barrel (the standard size) can be a challenge for a homebrewer.

These five-gallon barrels from Woodinville Whiskey Co. are more suited to smaller batches. In addition, the smaller barrel sizes provide a greater surface area to volume ratio (more wood in contact with liquid) which results in increased extraction.

Woodinville currently is sold out of these barrels, but is taking orders now for deliveries in February.

Books, books and more books

Oxford Companion Guide to BeerBook publishers seem to have caught on to the fact that increasing sales of specialty beer reflect an overall growing interest in beer. There are plenty of new books for the season.

* The heavyweight — both in terms of its own weight (4 pounds) and the attention it has attracted — is the The Oxford Companion to Beer. Nine-hundred and sixty page, with more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 contributors.

* Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch has his name on the front of two books. The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. is the one fans of the brewery will prefer, with plenty of company history, presented Stone style (another words with the “Unabashed Arrogance” the sub title promises). The full lineup of Stone beers gets equal attention, with both beer recipes and food recipes included. The Brewer’s Apprentice is more of an around-the-world adventure, with 18 international (that includes the U.S., of course) brewers sharing philosophies and brewing tips.

* Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest. Lisa Morrison (@Beer_Goddess) leads a tour through breweries and brew pubs in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. She suggests using the book as a compass, and in this case the compass comes with great maps and engaging commentary.

* The Book of Beer Knowledge. A little book with a lot of beer facts. Just the right size for a Christmas stocking.

* Let Me Tell You About Beer. Simon Johnson calls it “the best book about beer since Michael Jackson’s ‘Great Beer Guide.’ And then some.”

* What the Hell am I Drinking? Don Russell provides checklists for more than 1,500 brands and 50 essays on beer styles.

* Brewed Awakening. Previously reviewed here.

* Brewing Better Beer: Master Lessons for Advanced Homebrewers. Technical, practical and creative homebrewing advice from Gordon Strong, three-time winner of the National Homebrew Competition Ninkasi Award.

* The Great American Ale Trail. A guide to the best places to drink craft beer in America. Hundreds of entries, including top-ten lists for “Best Dive Bars for Craft Beer Lovers,” “Best Beer Festivals,” and “Best Beer Cities.”

Beer Can Xmas Tree

400 cans = one Christmas tree

Who: Percy Street Barbecue, one of Philadelphia’s top spots for barbecue, serving a straightforward selection of slowly smoked meats and homey side dishes canned beers and cocktails (900 South Street in Philadelphia, 215-625-8510).

What: “Beer Can Xmas Tree” featuring over 400 beer cans. This 8-foot tree took General Manager Aric Ferrell and Desiree Howie, a staff member and local artist, over 12 hours to assemble.

Why: Spreading Canned Christmas Cheer. Percy Street carries over 60 varieties of canned beer (click here for beer list). Most of the cans used on the tree are from Percy Street’s Six Pack Program, where guests select five beers and the sixth can is on the house. The beers are served in custom galvanized steel buckets (see the top of the tree.)

Corsendonk Christmas Ale

First brewed and released in 1998, Corsendonk Christmas Ale is a rich, dark, joyous brew with which to celebrate the holiday season. Its aroma features chocolate malt and spices. On the palate it is predominantly malty, with smoky, spicy and citrusy notes, and a long, lingering finish that is lightly tart and malty.


Bottle conditioned for a fresh, lively taste, it will complement or contrast with virtually any holiday fare, from soup to nuts.

Original gravity: 1079; international bitterness units: 30; 6.7% abw; 8.5% abv; shelf life: up to three years at 55-60° F.

Just type ‘beer’ and hit search

Six Pack Holder

Deadlines probably loom for handmade items, but Etsy is bursting with beer-related choices. Just type “beer” in the search box.

The six-pack holder pictured here is made of birch plywood and laser engraved. The chambers are 2.75″ across and hold standard 12oz beer bottles (with a little wiggle room). All personalized engraving – which can include photos – is included for $39.50.