Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bottle Cap Map

I've had my eye on beer cap maps for some time but hadn't committed to buying one for one reason or another. Recently I was offered one to review and I happily took the folks at Beer Gifts up on it since I have boat load of bottle caps sitting around that I've been wanting to do "something" with.

A week later a package arrived on my doorstep with an Oregon Beer Cap Map. Within minutes of unwrapping the map I was digging into the kitchen drawer that holds bottle caps for one to fit in. A little unsure how difficult it would be to pop them in I was pleased to find it was relatively easy to insert the first one, a Buoy cap, into the back of the map.

From there things got harder as I weighed putting Oregon only bottle caps into the map or simply filling it with the caps I like, regardless of the state they're from. I know the former is the idea of the maps for each state but I'll be honest that it seems a little more ambitious than I'm up for. Instead, albeit it possibly committing blasphemy by doing so, I decided to select my favorite caps from the vast collection I've accumulated over the-beer-gods-only-know-how-long.

So far it's about half filled but it's definitely taking shape and I'm looking forward to completing it so I can work on finding a place to hang it. That'll be a bit of a challenge as we have relatively little available wall space but with strategically placed pre-drilled holes in the map and its minimal weight once I do identify a place it should take mere minutes to put it up.

So whether you're looking for something for yourself or a gift for a fellow bottle cap collector and plan to use it as intended or take my course of action it's an easy to use product that offers an easy way to display those bottle caps that I KNOW you have tucked away in drawers.

With my bottle cap map now complete (save for two spots that are waiting to be filled by caps attached to beers in my fridge just days away from being consumed) I wanted to share a couple of helpful tips.

1. Work from the inside/center, outward. This doesn't need to be a hard and fast rule but it will become more important as the map fills up and you'll find less handholds needed to apply pressure to add caps.

2. Plan on this being a multi-day project. Your thumbs (or whatever digits take the most pressure pushing the caps into their holes) will give out and you'll need to give them a rest. Plus, a little time away from it will provide better perspective on the overall look and outcome of the map.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Creeping Charlie

Disclaimer: THIS beer was not brewed with Creeping Charlie.
It did catch my eye as a nice background.
No, it's not the name of yet another new brewery opening, rather it's something found in many lawns, especially in the Midwest. On a recent trip home my dad was once again beginning his yearly battle against his greatest lawn enemy. Then mere days later a friend mentioned that he didn't care that most people hated Creeping Charlie, he liked it and was going to let it flourish in his lawn. Circling back to my dad, in a call to wish my mom a happy Mother's Day, he mentioned he had heard on some program he was watching/listening to that Creeping Charlie could be used instead of hops in making beer. I threw the question out to the interwebs and one of my Facebook friends was kind enough to dig up some information.

As I had suspected, and shared with my dad, Creeping Charlie would most likely have been used as heather has been in gruit-style beer. Sure enough, not only is that the case but apparently that application of Creeping Charlie was common enough to have earned itself an alternate name - alehoof.

Going back a millennia, Creeping Charlie has been known as a medicinal herb that is extremely high in Vitamin C, making it a great way to prevent scurvy. There are plenty of other medicinal uses for it and apparently it can be part of your next salad as it's a member of the mint family, just don't eat a whole bowl of it as there could be some dangerous side effects of gorging on it.

But what about brewing with it? This guy, who sounds like he would fit in perfectly in Portland, but currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario, posted a beer recipe using solely Creeping Charlie after a couple of previous attempts in which he used it in conjunction with hops. This time he was going all in but unfortunately there was some pretty massive fermentation happening (according to follow up notes) causing his glass carboy to explode and thus preventing him from sampling the beer.

I'll definitely be sharing all of this with my dad although I'm sure he'll continue his fight against what he sees as a stubborn weed. But perhaps for those with less old-school, more progressive views on what a lawn can be this may be an enlightening look at a plant that's great ground cover (another alternate name being ground ivy) and might just be worth cultivating for a future hop-less homebrew.

Many thanks to Michael Agnew who dug up the articles I've linked to. Perhaps he'll don his homebrewing hat for a batch of Creeping Charlie brew and fill us in on how it turned out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CTBB Marks 10th Year

2016 marks the 10th year for Cheers to Belgian Beers, a festival that was started to help introduce Oregonians to the breath of style and flavors of beers brewed in Belgium. Taking place Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th, the festival will feature close to 70 beers from brewers whose beer color and strength was determined by a dart throw the first of February at Horse Brass. While there's plenty of room for interpretation, the results of the dart throw are a glimpse at what each brewer will be bringing.

As the festival nears the festival website will be updating the list with the specific beers, many of which utilize the featured yeast strain, Imperial Organic Yeast 58 Lioness. For the regular drinker the specifics might be more than they need to know but homebrewers may appreciate knowing the details, including temperature range, flocculation and attenuation. For drinkers the important parts are the dates, times, location and knowing that discounted advanced tickets are on sale through 5pm Friday, April 29th (make sure to use the code CTBB2016).

Friday, May 13th 1-9pm
Saturday, May 14th 12-8pm
North Warehouse, 723 N Tillamook St

Another thing to note is that parking is a bit challenging in that area so finding alternatives to driving and parking is recommended. Last year I walked to and from which offered a good chance to build up my thirst beforehand and a gentle transition after the festival to the rest of my day.

In general Belgian beers are not my favorite style, mostly because of the characteristics the yeast tends to impart to many of the beers. However that's exactly why this is a festival I (and others in the same boat) shouldn't miss. Here I have the opportunity to try a bunch of beers I'd probably never consider ordering in a larger format and there's a good chance I'll find a few that surprise and delight my palate. Then there are ones, Flanders Reds in particular and a couple using ingredients like peppercorns and papayas, which are likely to hit higher notes with me. Either way it's the spirit of a beer festival, of trying a variety of beers, that is what's important. Perhaps I'll see you there and we'll compare notes on favorites.