Nick’s Friday Brew Review! 4 Hands Brewing Co. Absence of Light

Can you say peanut butter and chocolate galore? Because I hate peanut butter but this might be enough to convert me.

4 Hands is based out of St. Louis on the Missouri side. This is another great craft beer coming from the Quad Cities region. Give them a look if you’re ever by the Arch!

The Taste.

As previously mentioned, it tastes like chocolate and peanut butter. It’s fantastic. It carries some sweet notes with it because of that chocolate an those sweet malts you find in your stout-style brews.

How’d it smell?

Again, just look at everything else. This brew nails everything on the checklist of beers that are supposed to have the advertised flavor and actually able to taste it. Subtle notes of chocolate, peanut butter, and malt.

The verdict.

This craft beer is fantastic. Holy crap. I highly recommend picking yourself up a bomber if you find one!

To see the full review, check out the video!

-Nick

Nick’s Friday Brew Review: Alesmith Brewing Co. Grand Crue

I won’t lie here. This was fricken’ delicious. The ale has sat in its various locations for the past few years.

Can you say cellar-ed? 

It was bottled on January 8 of 2014. The climate and conditions of the store I got it from were ideal for the cellaring method of aging beers. It was a strong taste and I’m not disappointed in the purchase!

How’d it taste?

Oak wood. That’s the strongest flavor I took away from it. The barley used also lends an intense taste, too. The unintentional cellaring helped with that certainly, I’m sure.

Intense, thick, and flavor all the way through.

The aroma?

Fantastic! It smelled great. I asked my significant other what he thought of it. He said gnarly. But his taste isn’t as refined, either. So there’s that.

The verdict?

Awesome is all I can say. If you find yourself in a Schnucks grocery store in northern Illinois, pick one up!

Nick’s Friday Brew Review: Tired Hands Brewing Co. Such Passion passion fruit IPA

Here’s a hint: it has passion fruit in it. And some hops. It’s f*****g delicious.

Tired Hands Brewing Co. is based out of Ardmore, Pennsylvania and they’re a popular spot for the craft beer drinkers in the East.

How’d it taste?

This IPA was delicious. Fresh notes of passion fruit and hops blew my mind at first taste. It had a rather delightful mouth feel and was super light; a great BBQ or session ale for those weekends with the friends taste-testing the latest haul of state-line crossing deliciousness.

How’d it smell?

The aroma was strong with that passion fruit-y goodness too. A strong hit of fruit hit my nose at first sniff and then the passion fruit was super close behind that.

Each sip reinforced that fruit flavor.

The verdict.

I won’t lie. Like I said before, I could sip this bad boy all day. 3.75 out of 5 stars!

-Nick

I made a batch!

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve made a batch of homebrewed craft beer.

I forgot how great brew day is. It’s an excuse to talk about, drink, and make beer.

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Rocking the Oskar Blues IPA for the brew session.

Where’d you start?

This may make some people cringe and others left in confusion. Dont worry, I’ll explain.

The extract kit I used was a bit dated. The best-by date was September of last year. Before that, it sat in a myriad of storage conditions ranging from hot garage to freezing basement. It was old.

Extract kits contain the basic ingredients needed to brew a home batch. The liquid malt canisters in the feature photo have an incredibly concentrated sugar syrup that provide the starches needed for the yeast to do its alcohol-making thing.

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Heating up 3 gallons of water to a boil on the world’s smallest stove.

Cleaning and sanitizing.

I used a soft wash cloth to wipe down my ferment bucket and ran my various tools through the dishwasher.

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My oh-so-clean cleaning area.

After they were finished, I filled the bucket with IO Star-San and threw them in it.

I’ve learned to streamline the process a bit by not cleaning every single piece used, including the racking and bottling tools.

The boil.

I let my grains steep in the water from the time that I fill the pot to the point that I’m adding the liquid and dry malt.

I let the batch get to a low roil and wait for the hot break in the surface.

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We’re almost to the ideal temperature. I also didn’t ever actually take ANY temperature readings for this.

For this specific batch, it was a 6-row 20L and 2-row 60L barley mixture. It smelled delicious.The hops used were Hallertau at the start and Fuggle hops 10 minutes from the boil termination point.

We then let the batch sit on the stove with the lid on for the next 4 hours for it to drop to our ideal pitching temp, which again, was getting eyed.

Sealing it up.

Once it cooled down, we moved it to the ferment bucket for the water topping, yeast pitch, and the lid and airlock put on.

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In case it isn’t clear yet, we did not follow proper cleaning procedures for any of this.

My friend has a rickety stair case that leads to his basement which this had to be carried down. That was probably the hardest part of the night. But once I survived the 10-step trek, I put the warming blanket on it to keep the temps around the sixty-degree mark.

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Pictured: fabulous climate control

His basement is chilly and the fermenting of the beer produces heat, so I planned ahead. Now to wait for the next two months.

-Cheers, Nick

 

 

Nick’s Friday Brew Review: 3 Stars Brewing Co. #ultrafresh

The first thing that I noticed when I took that first sip was the hoppy-as-hell bite. You can see me recoil just a little bit in the review video after the first sip.

How’d it look?

The design on the can is super-simple as well. The hops in the beer are also shown right on the side of the can and you definitely taste what each one brings to the flavor. And the can has a sticker on the side as opposed to the fully painted aluminum.

That means they don’t have to stick to just on design and can change out labels much quicker and easier.

How’d it smell?

The aroma was also intense. It had a fruity smell at first, but prolonged indulgence lent way to the smell of bitter hops and light malt.

And taste?

The combination works perfectly for the beer and made drinking it part of the fun aside from just drinking beer for drinking beer.

Overall, This beer takes a solid 4/5 stars in my book. Easily one of the better beers I’ve had and it was nice to A) get it for free, and B) something different than the normal variety I’ve had to grow use to.

Stay tuned for next weeks review!

Cheers! -Nick

 

I went to Barb City BrewFest!

Here’s the crazy part. I only tried one beer. That’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty to choose from. Quite the opposite.

I had my camera out the entire and was meeting plenty of new people.

The day.

I ran into old friends like JD Heinrich who owns The Forge in Sycamore. He had let me hang out and interview while he was in the middle of making a new batch of brew.

We talked for a few minutes about his opening a new brew pub in the summer and starting the process of opening a production facility in DeKalb.

The need for a second location comes as he has grown short on room in the current building. The current set-up utilizes four large tanks in the dining room and shares space with the beer bar.

“I’m excited. It’s still a long road, but we’re past most of the hurdles.”

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Right next to the Forge’s table was Cademon Brewery. I had worked with owner Andrew Nordman on a previous video project and he let out a loud “Hello!”

He brought his IPA and another variation of the Eve’s Tuition porter. I gave it a sip and was not disappointed.

Like JD, he ran into room constraints at his current building and already opened a second location. Now  he’s working on the menu with a taco recipe that he’s proud of and wants to use.

“Right now, I’m leaning towards tacos as the menu building block!”

A great turnout.

On top of old friends, I floated around to different tables who had people from the breweries. As I found out, it was volunteers doing the pouring for a majority of the breweries represented.

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Overall, the festival was awesome and Alessandro was pleased with the turnout. Before I departed, he told me they were getting ready for the second of wave of ticket holders.

I burned through both camera batteries shortly after the VIP tasting and took my leave after.

I can’t wait for the next one!

-Nick

The Division and Tactical Nuclear Penguin: Getting bombed!

It’s that time again! For this round of pairing, I chose Tom Clancy’s The Division and BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin!

A heavy hitting beer at 55% ABV and a game that gets insanely frustrating when you find yourself wandering around in the Dark Zone.

The Dark Zone?

The Dark Zone, or “DZ” as it’s better known, is the area in the game where the multiplayer component comes in. You can’t enter this area until you get your character up to level 5, which also controls how good the gear you can find is.

The DZ also has enemy AI present as well. Unlike the PvE area where AI enemy difficulty level matches to your player level, enemies in the DZ normally hover around the level 20 mark.

They say that the southern most area of the DZ has enemy level matched to yours, but I didn’t get that experience.

The very first wandering group of AI enemies I encountered spotted me even faster and completely wrecked me.

That was just the AI. The other players in the Zone are even worse.

See, Division’s multiplayer doesn’t have conventional modes of online play. It’s one area and players are free to enter and leave as they please. There are no teams in the typical sense.

Don’t go it alone!

It’s smart to group up with friends or other players you’ve met and go in together. Because of that enter-at-will component, other players love to grief those entering.

You also wouldn’t drink a bottle of 55% ABV beer by yourself. You do that shit with friends. Go it alone and there will be consequences.

Have a strategy.

Now, when you’re drinking a beer that has an insanely high alcohol content, you start slow. You may have a few sips and find yourself going “okay, this is good. I’m going to take my time with this.”

You don’t need to have a steadfast plan, but it’s smart to be looking ahead.

That’s how you need to enter the Zone. You have to pick your ingress point wisely and with tact. Guns blazing on entry will only serve to make you hate the Zone.

Players in the Zone are free to engage with anyone and they’ll try to goad you into firing first. Do not do this!

It makes you the bad guy AND allows for open-season on your triffling self.

The long haul.

If you drink a forty ounce bottle of liquor, you aren’t going to down it within a short amount of time. You’re going to sip it and make it last for a few hours.

You’ll be in the Zone for a few hours, too. Trust me. I went in by myself once and it was open season on me.

Anyone in the Zone by themselves is an easy target unless they have their skills picked correctly and know how to handle an onslaught solo. I didn’t have any of these.

I still spent the next two hours in there by myself.

The lessons.

At the end of it all, I hadn’t gained any experience but I had a few new toys at my disposal. I had to take breaks between fighting though to get my treasures out.

Going back to the bottle example, You have to take breaks to make it last. Too fast and you lose focus and get sloppy. That beer was also more than $650. You’re going to enjoy every sip.

And if you’re like me, you spent way too much on the season pass and a few extra DLC pieces.

Yes, I paid actual money for 5 new coats for my Christian Slater looking player character. They look fabulous, thanks for asking.

Extracting my new-found gear let me take a few minutes to recharge and resupply to head back into the lawless Zone. If I had been with a team or group of players, that extraction break would make the next adventure ten times easier.

Those friends sharing that treat with you will also appreciate that you’re taking it slow and that everyone is getting a fair taste.

How they go together.

You’re going to be working on that bottle for a little bit while you waste time in the Zone with those friends of yours. At the bottom of the bottle while leaving the DZ, You know that the experience was great and that you got some great stuff out of the adventure.

You also used some bomb tactics with your squad and had the penguin spirit guiding you. That and the buzz of victory will be even sweeter with some Penguin buzzing your head and knowing you dodged the bullets whizzing nearby.

Come back next time when I talk about how to play the DZ going it solo! I’ll be drinking a lower ABV beer, too. I’ll be able to keep better focus 😉

-Cheers til’ next time, Nick