Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beer Schooled at the Hulmeville

This past Tuesday I drove up to the Hulmeville Inn for a home brewing class offered by Beer Schooled.  When I first found out about the class, I figured it would be an interesting way to solidify my random knowledge of home brewing and I was pretty much correct.  It also turned out to be a good way to hang out with Kevin and Greg and have a couple good beers.

I started with a small glass of Stone Double Bastard, an American Strong ale aka a strong, hoppy beer.
Smelled hoppy as expected.  Taste had some sweetness followed by hops and bitterness.  As I drank more the bitterness took over and lingered.  I have heard a bit about people aging this one as it's quite strong and I'm curious what it would turn into.  This one wasn't bad, but wasn't really anything to write home about.  Basically a stronger, sweeter version of Arrogant Bastard.  As a side note, the American Strong ale style, in my opinion, is one of those catch all styles.  I find beers that are slightly uncategorizable get thrown into these ones just to have a place to put them and so you don't quite know what you're going to get.  Belgian Strong Dark Ale has similar issues.

However, the next one I got was fantastic and that was Dark Horse Too Cream Stout, a milk stout.
Hard to completely tell in the picture, but this poured a beautiful dark chocolate brown color with a more chocolate colored head on it.  Very inviting.  Smelled mildly of coffee in the nose.  First sip and wow, really good.  Mild chocolate and coffee flavors mix with a full, creamy body and a pleasant lactose sweetness.  Very tasty.  I'm not sure if it was brewed with coffee, but whatever caused the flavor is really well balanced with everything else.  Some chocolate notes come out making it taste like a mocha.  If you couldn't tell, I really enjoyed this one.

After that it was time to go upstairs for the class.  It was run by Jeff Louella who I believe is the head of the Aleiens homebrew club that meets at Hulmeville once a month.  While he seemed a little nervous to start, he loosened up a bit and gave us a lot of really good information by the end.  It's hard to remember everything he covered but it started with ingredients (malt, hops and yeast), moved on to equipment, next up was cleanliness (next to godliness!), and finally what occurs on an average brew day.  Now, it seems short when I sum it up like that, but he talked for nearly 3 hours so there was quite a lot of information.  As I said earlier, I know a bit about home brewing just from reading some stuff and chatting with people, but this class was really great on putting all of that information together.  I finally got to see what real homebrew equipment looks like (a bunch of buckets and an upside down water jug...), what a secondary fermenter is, and other things like that.  Also got some nice info about common brewing suggestions and simple mistakes to avoid.

During the class he also gave us samples of some of his own homebrew.  He started with a sample of a Vienna Lager which was nice and clean.
Moved on to a coffee stout which was definitely a coffee stout.
And finished with his monster Triple IPA which coated your mouth with huge, grassy and slightly bitter hops and honestly was pretty good considering it was 11%.
All in all, pretty great class and I really feel like I learned quite a bit.  I don't have the space to do any brewing right now, but at least I can do some reading and preparation based on some actual knowledge.  I'll definitely be keeping an eye on Beerschooled for future classes based on this one.  Plus the visit to Hulmeville had some great beers as usual.  Definitely keep an eye out for the Dark Horse Too Cream as it was delicious.


  1. Thank you for your comments. You are right, I was a little nervous at first. It was my first Home Brewing class with beer schooled. Plus, the Allagash Big Little Beer didn't kick in yet!

  2. Hah. The nervousness didn't affect anything and went away so I wouldn't worry about it. As I said, I enjoyed the class quite a bit and learned a lot. The only thing I forgot to ask is what is racking? Like, some people mention "racking the beer" but I have no idea what that really means.

  3. Racking is transferring the beer from one vessel to another. You rack the beer from Primary to secondary.

  4. Ah, awesome, thanks. That makes a lot of sense considering the context I've read it.