Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Divergence from the original Divergence

To My Readers,

     My last post said that I was going to split off the craft beer portion of this site in order to more accurately portray what was being posted.  Homebrew stuff on this site and craft beer content on the new one.  This is still the case, only the venue has changed.  Portlandcraftbeer.com is a little limiting of my interests, also it does not truely reflect the current content of the site.
I have since purchased an additional domain and will be putting all my content on CascadianBeer.com.  Sorry for the confusion but I feel like this will be more accurate portray the content that I will be producing.

Thank you again,

Joseph M. Cooley

Thursday, May 22, 2014


To my readers,
     I have been blogging on Buffalo Theory Brewing since May 2010.  What started off as a place for me to keep track of my home brew recipes has evolved into a semi legitimate craft beer blog.  I will be launching a new website more aptly named for the content provided.
     I have imported all the previous posts that are craft beer related to the new site so the content is not lost and I will be removing it from this site. Buffalo Theory Brewing is not dead and I will not stop posting to it.  However, BTB will return to its original purpose, as a hub for my home brew recipes.  The new website CascadianBeer.com will officially launch on June 1st., and will be the source of my non home-brewing, craft beer related posts.  Please check back on the June 1st to see the new site.

Thanks for your support,

Joseph M. Cooley
Buffalo Theory Brewing

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Against the Grain Brewery Visit

Let's go out to the... brewery?
     This week I traveled to Louisville, KY for work and decided to visit historical Louisville Slugger Field. Home of the Minor League Baseball Team the Louisville Bats...  also Against the Grain Brewery and Smoke House.
     Upon entry into the brewery I immediately was overwhelmed by the smokehouse portion of this establishment.  Heavy charcuterie and other smoked meats are forced onto you by an airlock blower above the door.  Eventually the smoked meat aroma faded as I became acclimated to my surroundings.
      I ordered a flight of their current six beers on tap.  Agianst The Grain Brewery has a pretty unique way of deciding what will be on tap at any given time.  The beers are divided into six categories: Session, Hop, Whim, Malt, Dark, and Smoke. Each of these catagories remains the same year round but the beer placed in it changes.  I thought this was a novel scheme since you can always go in and get a certain type of beer you enjoy but it might not always be the exact same beer.  The selection that was currently on tap and in my flight was as follows:
Session - Pacific Rim Career
Hop - Hop Party #2
Whim - Deborahs Deux Helles
Malt - Meconium Falcon
Dark - We Shuck on the First Date
Smoke - Goin' H.A.M.

While eating lunch and enjoying my flight I had a chance to speak with co-owner Sam Cruz about the brewery.  I had not known this but it seems that Belmont Station in Portland caries their beer.  However,  Louisiana has some pretty strict brewing laws that make it difficult to do so.  Even the brew pub has to buy their own beer through a distributor in order to sell it on site.  If you're in the Louisville area I would definitely recommend checking out Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Base Camp Brewing Company S'more Stout Review

Brewery: Base Camp Brewing Company
Location: Portland, OR
Beer: S'more Stout
Style: American Stout
Serving: Snifter Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 70

I've had this beer at Base Camp before they serve it with a toasted marshmallow as a garnish on the glass.  Unfortunately I didn't have one to complete the s'more ensemble.

A (3/3): About two fingers of dark beige head pours extremely nice but eventually fades to a few patches of bubbles floating on the surface.  Topping the beer off really reinvigorates the foamy bubble blanket but it is recedes almost as quickly as it returns.  The beer is murky black and completely opaque.

S (9/12): The aroma is that of light cocoa notes mixed with some coffee aromatics.  The bottle says there I should be detecting figs, but not without drinking it.

T (16/20): Lots of dark chocolate notes with quite a bit of coffee bitterness.  A couple of sips allow you notice the toasted character as well as the light smokiness of the beer.  No detectable fig character as stated on the bottle but not a detriment to the beer.

M (3/5): Medium to thick body with a creamy, silky texture and a light carbonation.  The beer finishes smooth, but with a slight residual malt bitterness.  The beer hides the 7.7% ABV very well,  almost no detectable alcohol character.

O (7/10): Pretty good beer I remember it being much sweeter the last time I had it.  The malt bitterness hangs on the palate a little longer than I would like but over all I would drink again.


Friday, March 14, 2014

CRAFT movie Director/Producer Craig Noble Interview

     I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Craig Noble, director and producer of the upcoming movie CRAFT. In this film Craig Noble travels around the country documenting the craft beer scene.  Below is a trailer for this movie and my interview that is sure to interest any craft beer enthusiast. 

Buffalo Theory Brewing: What inspired you to make this movie?
Craig Noble: I love Craft beer.
2 1/2 years ago I came back from an extensive working vacation in Asia and I landed in SoCal. I was either going to do a photojournalism piece on Boarder cities of the SW or do a San Diego brewery tour, I chose the latter.
After being inspired by the scene there I committed to do another feature documentary. It's been all beer all the time since.

BTB: What did you learn from making this movie about the craft beer industry that you didn't know before?
CN: Well, I got to say that I was happily surprised by the general good will within the industry as a whole and the cooperation between craft brewers is pretty special, considering how much competition there is right now. I am also taken aback by the shear growth in the industry, both in volume and number of breweries. The level of enthusiasm for brewers and consumers is amazing.

BTB: How did you choose the breweries to spotlight?
CN: It was very editorial. I wanted to get a complete spectrum of scale and style within the breweries covered, but mostly I chose these breweries for their outstanding product. I had the privilege of drinking some of the best beer on the planet the last 2 years! And when drinking that level of beer you get turned on to and poured so much more amazing brews that it really was inspiring and delicious.

BTB: What challenges did you come across in the making of the movie?
CN: I'm a one-man army, so production, logistics, post, that's all on me, so it's an incredible amount of work, and boarder-line insane. There was a lot of travel involved and a lot of ground covered so I was pretty much a gypsy most of last year.

BTB: Do you have any plans for future beer related projects (not necessarily film related)?
CN: Yes. I have taken a recipe development/brewing position with a start-up brewery in Vancouver,(my hometown) and was basically given carte blanche to design beers that I could drink a lot of, that were not available here, which is awesome. And I will be starting a more geeky bottle-conditioning program as well, which has to remain nameless at this point.

BTB: What made you choose Portland, OR as the city to premiere the movie in?
CN: I have been coming to Portland for years now, and have quite a few friends there. There are a lot of beery cities in America but when it comes to Craft beer, Portland I would say it has the most heart. The quality, number of breweries per captia and the level of support is phenomenal. Portlanders have some of the best beer and selection of anywhere in the world. Luckily for me, it's 6 hours down I5.

BTB: Was there anything that you would have liked to get into the movie that you were not able to?
CN: There are so many great brewers, breweries, scenes, cities and farmhouse breweries that it is impossible to fit them all in. There are some regions I would like to have travel to and filmed at but... there's just too much good beer!

BTB: Do you homebrew? If so how often and in what capacity?
CN: I got into homebrewing a few years ago after I produced a video series on how to make your own booze at home. I have expensive wine making experience and even do my own distilling. For my recipe development contract I build a 10 gallon three tiered system to test batch on. 2 batches per week since the beginning of November.

BTB: What was it like brewing a professional batch at Coalition Brewing?
CN: Elan and Brad are great. The brew day was flawless, and we hit all our gravities and volumes and the quality of raw ingredients were top notch. The Farmhouse Ale for Portland will be amazing. It is a little 10 bbl system with limited automation which was fun. Very crafty.

BTB: What is the story behind the first beer that got you into craft beer?
CN: I was shooting my sustainable food documentary TABLELAND and I went to Crannog Ales to shoot their organic farm brewery. I drank a lot of craft beer there, but I really must say that Brian's Backhand of God Stout is an amazing beer, and gained a full appreciation for hand crafted brews.

BTB: What is your favorite style of craft beer? Why?
CN: Depending on the weather, my mood or food... I would have to say Saison if I was only allowed one style.

BTB: What is your favorite commercial beer? Why?
CN: That’s entrapment! If I was to choose one, I will go super-classic, OG and say Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. It’s almost a perfect beer.

You can buy tickets at the Hollywood Theater website for the world premier of CRAFT on April 3rd.  The premier will be preceded by two of Noble's previous short films.  This event will also be a beer release party for the Altered State Farmhouse Ale brewed in collaboration with Coalition Brewing in Portland durring the filming.  There will also be beer on tap from The Commons, another Portland based brewery featured in the film.  I hope to see everyone at the premier.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hipsters Love Beer

I have seen this video floating around the internet, and posted on various Facebook pages for the last few weeks and I wanted to comment on it.
This video shows a bunch of pretentious hipsters ordering beers with ridiculous names like "Baby Dick Belgian White" and "Pompous A**hole" poking fun at how some breweries have got creative with beer names.  Some classic examples are Stone Brewing's "Arrogant Bastard" or Firestone Walker's "Velvet Merkin". 

 I understand the this video was supposed to be funny but it brings up a larger problem I have seen develop in the craft brew scene.  Craft beer has increasingly become associated with hipsters and a certain snootiness around beer knowledge.   This video is more of an indictment of beer snobs than hipsters.  Actually, its an indictment of a subsection of beer-snobs that are also hipsters.  

Hipsters and beers snobs do have some similarities they both proclaim their preference for things before their introduction to "the mainstream".  Also, both have been know to publicly denounce a product simply because of its ownership (i.e. Goose Island being purchased by Anheuser-Busch.)

However, their main characteristics remain very different. Hipsters usually spend their time pining over heirloom tomatoes, irony, and fixed gear bicycles. Whereas a beer snob will go on diatribes about drinking from the wrong glassware, their latest "drain pour" and judging others for enjoying a beer they have deemed unworthy.

So go out, be knowledgeable about your beer, drink what you like and above all else, don't act like a pompous asshole.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pumpkin Ales

Zymurgy had an article on pumpkin ales this issue and it reminded me that "tis the season" and now was the time to start brewing if I wanted my beer to be ready for the holidays.  No clever name this time sorry.

Recipe Specifications:
  • Batch Size: 10.00 gal
  • Boil Size: 13  gal
  • Predicted OG: 1.070 SG
  • Boil Time: 90 Minutes
  • 19.0 lb Pale Malt (6 Row) US
  • 1.00 lb Pilsner Malt
  • 1.00 lb Victory Malt
  • 1.00 lb Crystal-60 Malt 
  • 1.25 lb Melanoidin Malt
Total Grain Weight: 23.25 lb
  • 2.00 oz Cascade, US 9.5% Whole Leaf Hops 
  • 6.00 lb Canned Pumpkin
  • 2.0 lb Maple Syrup
  • 2.0 lb Wildflower Honey
  • 1.0 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • WLP565 Saison Ale
  • WLP008 East Coast Ale
Starter Procedure:
Thursday August 22, 2013 I went to Brew Brothers and bought my ingredients.  I was splitting this batch of beer so I needed to do two starters.  In order to do this I bought another 2000ml Erlenmeyer flask. I only have one stir plate so I did put the saison yeast on the stir-plate and the east coast ale I just left stationary since it is a more active yeast than the saison.  This way the saison will be a little more active when its time to pitch.

Brew Procedure:
      On Saturday August 25th, 2013 I got up early to brew. First I calculated how much mash water I needed. total grain weight was 19.4 lbs. So to calculate mash water I used the following calculation:

23.25 lbs grain x 1.75 qt/lb = 40.6875 qt. x 1/4 gallon/qt = 10.17 gal
Mash out

6 lbs of pure pumpkin
I used 1.75 since because the mash was going to be extremely thick with all of that pumpkin in it and I didn't want it getting stuck.
The recipe called for the pumpkin to be dissolved in about a gallon of water heated and then poured in the mash-tun.  It called for 6 lbs
which is really inconvenient since the cans of pumpkin came in 15 oz. cans, so I had to buy 7 and only use about 6.5 cans.  I
placed my old extract brew kettle on a burner and heated it up while I dumped the cans of pumpkin in.  After the pumpkin was all dissolved, I filled the mashtun with 10 gallons of water and began heating it to 169 °F.  After the water reached 169 °F I added the grain and began vigorously stirring. After the mash was thoroughly stirred I added the pumpkin on top and let the mash temperature stabilize. After a few minutes the temperature had dropped down to a 185°F and then stabilized at 154°F .  I placed the insulation jacket around the mashtun and let it sit for a full hour.
Pumpkin Mash
     After mashing I transferred to the kettle and completed the brew
Nice Orange Boil
 using the following schedule:

Hops/Ingredients Schedule:

QuantityIngredientBoiled For
1.0 oz.NuggetEntire 90 Min. boil
2.0 lb.Maple Syrup Last 5 min of boil 
2.0 lb.Wildflower HoneyLast 5 min of boil
1.0 tbs.Pumpkin Pie SpiceFlameout

Standard and Saison
I cooled the wort and pitched the yeast into two 6.5 gallon fermentation buckets and oxygenated for 30 seconds each bucket.  I also added a vial and a half of clarityferm to each fermenter  I had 3 vials left from my last brew but and there was no real reason for me to just have one laying around.
The final aroma was awesome you could definitely smell the pumpkin and the pie spice but it was not overwhelming just a pleasant note.


UPDATE: 8/26/13 Fermentation has really taken off and it has almost completed.  It was bubbling about ever second withing 4 hours of pitching the yeast.

UPDATE: 8/31/13 Fermentation has basically stopped and I am transferring to secondary before I leave for my honeymoon.  This will give it a couple weeks to clarify since I forgot to add the whirlfloc during the boil.  The standard pumpkin ale had a gravity reading of 1.016 and the saison came in at 1.010.

Saison: 131.25*(1.072-1.010)=8.1375% ABV
Standard: 131.25*(1.072-1.016)=7.35% ABV
Good Lord these are much stronger than I was anticipating I guess adding 4 lbs of extra fermentable sugars will do that.  They still taste kind of young so I am not going to pass judgement on them.  There was a HUGE yeast cake in the bottom of both of them and its still pretty yeasty flavored.  Hopefully a couple weeks in secondary will mellow that out and refine the taste a little more.

UPDATE: 9/19/13 Got back from my honeymoon and bottled the standard pumpkin with yellow caps unfortunately I didn't have enough bottles to do the Saison so I will have to wait until later.  I took a gravity reading and added 4.0 os. of priming sugar.
Standard: 131.25*(1.072-1.014)=7.6125% ABV
The taste was not what I was expecting but hopefully it will mellow out a little the spice flavor is a little intense.

UPDATE: 9/23/13 I sanitized enough bottles this time to bottle the saison with the red caps. I took a gravity reading and then added 4.0 oz. of priming sugar to the bucket.
Saison: 131.25*(1.072-1.006) =8.6625% ABV
This has a bit of a hot alcohol flavor but overall its pretty good It may taste better carbonated.