Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie
will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:
How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find
it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer
you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.
One of the great many things about homebrewing your own beer is bottling. Well, not the bottling process, per se -- cleaning, drying, and filling 50 or more bottles with beer can make you long for the simpler process of just getting a keg and force carbonating the whole batch so it's ready to drink in minutes. But the aside from giving you a tangible product of your homebrew efforts, bottling a beer does something to change your brew that can't be matched by kegging.
Before bottling, brewers add what's called priming sugar to the
batch (alternatively, they add a little bit of wort, which is unfermented beer). Once the beer ends up in the bottle and is capped, the yeast
that's still alive in the brew goes to work on the sugars sugar,
creating carbon dioxide. That Co2 is what actually carbonates the beer,
giving it the tingly fuzz and thick head you crave. And everyone craves
Of course, other nifty things happen when
carbonation takes place in the bottle. Additional aromatic flavors can
be introduced. And unlike filtered beers, which are relatively
yeast-free when they hit the bottle, "bottle conditioned" beers are
given an extended life span thanks to the presence of yeast. That yeast
also enables these beers to change over time. I can't tell you how
different my bottles of homebrew taste at different aging intervals.
One beer I brewed, a pale ale, was tinny and plain after only a few
weeks of conditioning. But after about six months of hanging out in the
bottle, it became a whole other animal.
All this is why Dogfish
Head's latest entry, Squall IPA, is really enticing. It's an entirely
bottle conditioned, unfiltered version of their 90 Minute IPA, meaning
it was carbonated and finished in the bottle. The difference the
conditioning process makes on the brew is clear from the first sip:
It's spicier, warmer, and fuller-bodied than its filtered younger
brother. While Squall retains 90 Minute's fruity, sweet aroma, to me
it's a more aggressive beer reminiscent of drinking a quality batch of
Of course, there's also the fact that Squall IPA
will age great in a bottle, preferably for a year or more. Since it
just came out, I highly recommend grabbing a few bottles; sample some
now and store the rest to crack at different aging intervals. If you
want to get fancy with it, you can even take notes on how the beer has
changed over time. If you're not already a homebrewer, it might give
you an appreciation for the difference between homemade beers and the
filtered ones you purchase in the store. Not to mention, I think the
label is pretty bad ass.
Squall is 9 percent alcohol by volume. Pick it up at Total Wine and Spirits (about $8.99 per 750 ml champagne bottle).
quick note: Bottle conditioned beers usually have yeast sediment built
up in the bottom of the bottle, and as a result can pour slightly
murkier than filtered beers. This is good! Whether you like the taste
of yeast sediment or not (it's a preference), yeast contains lots of B
vitamins which are good for you. For best results, store bottles
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upright so these "dregs" sink to the bottom. Pour smoothly and stop
when you hit the dark brown stuff. Enjoy!
Here's a quick video about Squall from Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione.