Saturday, May 13, 2023

Impact of Extreme Aging on NEIPA Flavor

Last time I got ahold of some Alchemist Focal Banger--March of 2017--I held back one can for an aging experiment. This week I finally got another batch. Equipped with two examples, one which is less than two days from the brewery and the other a bit over five years old, it's time for the taste test.

I had my wife pour each blind for me. It was immediately obvious which was the fresh can. The older can had no volatile odors at all. The newer can had all the fresh, floral and grapefruit peel aromas I expect from it, although those dissipated even from future pours after about ten minutes. Oddly, after the fresh can smells had dissipated, the older can presented some burnt caramel smells that matched the dominant flavor difference between the two.

You can see from the picture that the beer from the older can on the right is slightly darker than the newer can. That is consistent with the aged flavors of caramel that developed in it with time. It's a similar flavor difference that you might get from an aged wine. Besides a little more bitterness and the burnt caramel notes in the older beer, the two were difficult to tell apart.

Bottom line--I liked the fresher beer better, but it wasn't so much better that I'd turn down a can of good beer that was theoretically past its prime. No need for beer age snobbery.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Beer People

I stopped into a liquor store in a small town in Kansas passing through on a road trip to visit my daughter. I wanted to pick up something local. There was a guy there picking out some singles and I asked him if he had any recommendations. He pointed out a few, but showed me one he was buying that was one of his go-tos: Ethos Redux IPA from the Tallgrass Brewing Company line of the Wichita Brewing Company. As I finished picking out what I would buy, the guy stopped me and handed me one of the beers from the six pack he'd just bought, wanting me to try one of his favorites.

I was wearing my Treehouse shirt and mentioned that it was my local favorite. He'd heard of them, but never tried one. I happened to have one last Treehouse beer in my cooler in the car. I asked if he'd enjoy it as a thank you trade. His face lit up. I went out to the car and brought it back to him and he did happy little wiggle as he put it in his bag. The interaction was such a delight, so was the Ethos Redux IPA, with a nice bitterness and combination of caramel and bell peppers.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Fun Beer from an OG Brewery

Here on the East Coast we are used to a certain style of IPA; unimaginatively called the East Coast IPA. The whales come from Tree House and Trillium and of course, the original Heady Topper from Alchemist. There are so many newer breweries that are giving them a run for their money, but there is something special about the beers from these destination breweries.

On the West Coast, the OG of breweries is Russian River Brewing. They were the original destination brewery in California, known as the exemplar of the best the US IPA style could be until Alchemist came along with their East Coast version. They are best known for two of their everyday offerings: Blind Pig and more so Pliny the Elder. Even more, they are known for the long lines for their annual release of their triple IPA, Pliny the Younger.

They have a number of other great beers and tonight I enjoyed this Happy Hops IPA. Yummy. This is an unusual exemplar of the West Coast IPA style. (Yes, we have started to call these West Coast IPAs, although it seems like they have earned for IPA to mean West Coast style.)

Where East Coast tends to be cloudy and fruity, West Coast tends to be clear and piny (line pine cones; and probably where the Pliny name comes from) with a stronger bitter component. This is clear with a creamy head and the classic bitter components, albeit a little less that others I've had, but where I expect pine this has notes of caramel and even bell peppers, almost like a good German Marzen. Well worth a taste if you get to visit this destination brewery.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

USPS Flat-rate Price Comparisons

We were curious to know how good a deal the USPS flat-rate boxes were, so I went over to their online calculator and ran some comparisons. The Priority Mail boxes come in three price categories across five box shapes (don't forget that the USPS changes this stuff all the time):

    23-11/16" x 11-3/4" x 3"    (835 cu in)    $22.65 (2.7 cents/cu in)
    12" x 12" x 5-1/2"              (792 cu in)    $22.65 (2.8 cents/cu in)

    13-5/8" x 11-7/8" x 3-3/8" (546 cu in)    $16.25 (3.0 cents/cu in)
    11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2"         (514 cu in)    $16.25 (3.2 cents/ cu in)

    8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8"     (78 cu in)      $9.20    (11.8 cents/cu in)

First, the small box is by far the worst deal by volume, although who cares if you have something smaller to ship.

Now, let's consider what it would cost to ship similar sized boxes at the same priority postage rate for something about the size of the large and small boxes above to book end the comparison. I'll work with the following two custom box sizes:

My Large Custom Box -- 23" x 12" x 3" (828 cu in)

My Small Custom Box -- 9" x 5" x 1.75" (79 cu in)

When shipping a custom box, USPS charges based on distance, weight and size. It's a complicated formula that is completely different than the fixed-rate boxes, making it hard to do a simple comparison, but I'll do my best to give you a sense of it.

Since weight it such a big part of the equation, let's look at an empty box--let's call that 5 oz. Then, we'll look at a box filled with books. Paperbacks weigh about 0.5 oz/cu in.

The cheapest thing you could do custom is to send a small custom box within your same zone. With smaller boxes--those with no side longer the 12 inches, the prices for a 5 oz box is $7.95. For our small box filled with 40 oz of books, you'd pay $9.30, just a dime more than the standard post office small box.

Everything changes with distance. A coast-to-coast box (say MA to CA) is much more expensive:

My Large Custom Box:
    Empty at 5 oz                          $10.65 (1.3 cents/cu in)
    Filled with 3 lbs of stuff         $21.15 (2.6 cents/cu in)
    Filled with books at 414 oz    $97.20 (11.7 cents/cu in)

Small Custom Box
   Empty at 5 oz                          $10.65 (13.5 cents/cu in)
   Filled with books at 40 oz      $21.15 (26.8 cents/cu in)

A lightly filled large custom box is less expensive than the standard USPS box, but gets more expensive fast. The breakeven point for the large box is 3 lbs, which would cost you $21.15. Interesting that the USPS small box is always less expensive going coast to coast.

If you want to save money shipping a package there are other shipping options than Priority Mail. The post office doesn't make those other services easy to find, in fact there's no way to do the less expensive options on-line--you'll have to go into a post office and ask for them. Looking at our large box of books, we'd get:

First Class Package Service (1-3 days): Not available over 13 oz.
USPS Retail Ground (2-8 days): $81.10
Media Mail (2-8 days): $18.94

And, if you really want to get it there fast, there's always Priority Mail express, which has a 1-2 day promise for $195.45.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

How Much Milk is Left?

My wife made an interesting observation this week. A gallon jug of milk does not empty evenly. We did an experiment of marking the quart marks on a gallon.

Notice that the top quart takes almost half the jug. There is a lot of jug taken up by that handle.

Of course, you still shouldn't put the jug back in the fridge with less than a juice glass at the bottom, you animal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Treehouse Little Ripper

Just a quick blog post to share how much I enjoyed Little Ripper from Treehouse. Unusual beer from Treehouse, Little Ripper is a pale ale coming in a 5.2% abv. It lacks the sweet, fruitiness of most of their doubles and triples, but still has the rich hops profile I anticipate from them with a mix of east coast fruit and west coast pine flavors. An excellent, lighter choice. So good.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Playing with Quail Eggs

Gail found quail eggs from young, local, quail-raising entrepreneur. We are never ones to pass up a cool new thing. This morning, we turned them into three separate dishes. You see, with quail eggs, you can have three breakfasts without guilt.

First up was Scotch eggs. The quail eggs were the perfect size for a Scotch egg. A regular sized Scotch egg is frankly daunting, not that I wouldn't eat two if you sat them in front of me, but these dainty things were much more sane. We started by par-boiling the eggs for 3 minutes. Peeling the little things was a pain. While the half-hard eggs were firm enough to handle--regular eggs would be a mess after just 3 minutes--the shells were harder and broke into tiny bits that were difficult to remove. We covered them in a maple breakfast sausage, which, while delicious, overpowered the flavor of the eggs, so we couldn't reasonably tell the taste. The presentation was dramatic enough, but I can't imagine peeling enough of the little guys to make a reasonable meal.

Next up, we made two fried eggs. We did them in olive oil thinking that butter might overwhelm the flavor of the eggs. We served them over a single piece of toast cut up to fit them. Boy, these were good; richer and more flavorful than a chicken egg. They were easily worth the effort of this simple preparation. Oh, and so cute.

Finally, we made shredded potato bird nests. You can see in the picture that we used mini-cupcake tins for the quail egg nests and regular cupcake tins for a chicken egg comparison. (So, you might say we had four breakfasts this morning, but who's counting.) What you probably can't tell from the picture is that we shredded the quail egg nests using the fine shredder. We wouldn't bother with this in the future, it made no difference to the final texture or taste. These were also quite good, and indeed, tasted better than the chicken egg versions.

Next stop, the emu egg.