A French Press And Some Craft Beer

If you’ve been to a brewery tasting room or a beer festival you have probably seen a Randall hooked up to a keg.  This is essentially a big plastic tube that is filled with something to add flavor.  Usually it’s filled with fresh hops or fruit to give some extra flavor to the beer, but you can fill it with anything, I’ve seen a few filled with candy at beer festivals.  The beer runs from the keg, through the Randall, and then to the tap.

I thought this would be something fun to try at home.  I don’t have a draft system at home, so I didn’t have a need for an actual Randall.  I looked online and Dogfish Head sells a Randall Jr.  It will run you about 20 bucks plush shipping.  Their product holds 16 ounces and has a filter on top so whatever you are using to flavor your beer won’t pour out with the liquid.  This didn’t seem too expensive, but I wanted to start with a cheaper alternative in case I didn’t use it as much as I thought I would.

I ended up getting a French press on a trip to Ikea for under $10.  I thought this would be a good start for experimenting with flavoring beer.  It holds 34 ounces so if you want to use a 220z bomber, or pour in a couple of 12oz bottles to share with others you have plenty of room for the beer and whatever you might be adding for flavor.

So far I’ve only tried the French press with IPAs.  The first time I tried it was with Pizza Port’s Ponto S.I.P.A.  I added grapefruit to this beer and gave it an extra kick of citrus.  For the most part I’ve only experimented with beers that I enjoy, that are easy to get, and that don’t have extreme flavors on their own.

I like to use a lot of citrus (grapefruit, tangelos, oranges), but I have also used watermelon and cantaloupe.   I think when I used the melons I didn’t add enough, or the ones I had may not have been juicy or flavorful enough to make a real impact.  I’m still trying to get the timing down of letting the beer sit to soak in the flavor, but not let it sit too long to cause it to go flat.

Using the French press is fun, but I don’t think it improves the beer.  Most of the beers I buy are from awesome breweries who know what they are doing and put out solid beers.  There are a few occasions where I’ve got stuck with beers that are a little past their prime, and a little maltier than I would like.  In those instances getting out the French press does make the beer more drinkable.

In the near future I plan to experiment with some stouts and will add coffee or spices, if those work out I’ll write a post with some suggestions for others to try.  If you have used a French press with craft beer and have some success stories please share, it would be nice to hear what others are doing that I may not have thought of.

Proper Glassware-The IPA Glass

The pint glass, the glass that most bars will serve you a beer in.  But it is for their benefit, not yours.  They usually are made of thick glass so that they don’t break  easily, and their shape makes them good for stacking.  But they don’t do much to keep your beer cold, or enhance the aroma when you drink. We all probably  have a couple novelty pint glasses that we’ve picked up over time, and it is better to drink your beer out of that as opposed to straight from the bottle.

tulip glassBefore I knew about the concept of proper glassware, the pint glass was my glassware of choice.  About 6 years ago I got a new tulip glass from The Bruery in Placentia, CA and since then, that has been my go to glass.  The shape of the glass helped with the aroma and the glass itself was much thinner.  I felt like a little bit of a beer snob when I’d make a point to drink out of this glass when I was at home, but I could tell that this  gave a much better beer drinking experience than a pint glass did.  For some beers, this is the best glass to use, but most of the beers that I drink are big hoppy IPAs, and out in the craft beer world there was a better choice of glaswware for me to be using.

It wasn’t until Valentine’s Day two years ago that I truly learned about the benefits of proper glassware when it comes to hop forward IPAs.  My wife got me a set of Spiegelau IPA glasses.  Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head teamed up to work on the perfect glass for an IPA and this was the result.  I chose a Lagunitas Sucks Double IPA to try out the glasses.  The aroma was much stronger due to the smaller opening of the glass.  This smaller opening is the perfect size to get a good sip and keep all of the aromatic characters in the glass ready for you to take in with each sip.  The glass is really thin, and this would usually make me fear breaking it, but the Bruery glass that I usually use is also pretty thin so I am used to washing it carefully.ipa Glass

The shape of the glass not only helps with the aroma, but the ridges on the bottom and the way the glass narrows towards the middle helps to aerate the beer and keep it carbonated when you are drinking.  You will notice this when you are halfway though the beer and there is a good amount of head on the beer after each sip.  There is also a tiny etching in the bottom of the glass that helps produce bubbles as the beer hits the surface.

I did do a side by side test with the IPA glass and the Tulip glass.  I used 12oz cans of Golden Road Brewing’s Point the Way IPA.  I did notice that the aroma was stronger with the IPA glass, and it did stay carbonated longer.  I didn’t notice much difference in the temperature of the beer over time, but as I stated earlier, both of these glasses have thin walls so that is probably the reason.  I didn’t even compare the IPA glass against a pint glass because I already have come to the conclusion that the tulip glass is a superior glass, so that is why I thought the tulip glass was a better benchmark to test against.

You can get a Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head logoed glass from each brewery, or you can order a set of 6 plain ones through Amazon for just under $60.   I have two at home, and that is enough for myself, but the bigger set would be nice to have when friends are over enjoying IPAs.   I believe that if you enjoy IPAs you will notice a difference in your beer if you use these glasses.