White Balance Testing

After being (slightly) disappointed with the pictures I took at the Ommegang Hop Chef Competition I had a quick back and forth on Twitter with Sean M. Buchan today. I’m an avid reader of Sean M. Buchan’s posts on Beertographer and Serious Eats and I’m extremely impressed with how bright and clear his photos are, so after our discussion I decided to go home and do a little homework on how to better take advantage of my cameras white-balance functions.

Most of my pictures are taken at home are at night, with the 3-4 (crappy) light sources I have in my kitchen. The above photo of the beginnings of tonight’s Carne en su Jugo was taken with white balance set to Auto. As you can see, the white of the spine of the jalapenos are very warm in color, more tan than white.

This is (almost) the same picture with the white balance preset. As you can see, the whites are actually white! A huge improvement in my opinion. Now on to something I take pictures of much more frequently: beer!

These are bottles from last night’s comparo between Iniquity and Self-Righteous. (Self-Righteous was the clear winner, a little disappointing considering how much of a Southern Tier fan I am.) Notice again, there are no real whites in this picture, all off-whites. Here’s the preset white balance (slightly out of focus) version:

It’s like someone OxiCleaned my photo! Huge difference. One last one of this weekend’s Lawson’s haul. Auto, yellowy:

And Preset:

Only a slight difference but enough that the second pic is much clearer and crisper.

So, that was my homework for the evening, and it was very enlightening. Har har. Now I need to snag a gray card or one of those White Balance caps or something so I can do this on the road. This’ll be a learning process but well worth the effort.

Fegley’s Brew Works – Hop’solutely

As Rodney Dangerfield would say, this beer gets no respect. It’s rated something in the mid 80s on Beer Advocate (and conversely it gets some ridiculous 96 on Rate Beer). This falls someone in the 89-91 range for me.

This was the first big DIPA I ever had so there’s definitely some nostalgia mixed in there with the rating. This was a time when I was just coming off my Russian Imperial Stout obsession so this was a huge change in pace. Ton of sweetness (honey), pine, maybe some grapefruit. Caramel as it first hits your tongue that fades into bitterness and a little hint of the 11.5% ABV in the end.

Overall a very good DIPA from a brewery that’s well worth the stop if you’re passing through that part of Pennsylvania (which we were when we went to go visit/pick up Kuma). I still have a couple of bottles from that trip that I’ve been waiting to crack open: An Insidious, and a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Insidious. (These are other beers that have wack-job ratings between BA & RateBeer. 82-84 at BA and 96-98 on RB. C’mooonnn.)

I’m taking the rest of the weekend off. Happy Memorial Day, folks!

Long Trail Brewing Company – Double IPA (Brewmaster Series)

What is this, double IPA week or what? Might as well end the week with a couple of more of my favorite DIPAs. The first one comes from Long Trail’s Brewmasters Series, which are definitely the cream of the crop for the brewery. This one recently went year-round which I’m totally A-OK with.

This is an extremely well-balanced IPA. No gimmicks here, just some slight maltyness, some slight citrusy, floral hops and a nice bitter finish. This isn’t an IPA that stands out above the rest, but it’s still a very good IPA that’s a steal for the $4-5 bottle price that goes down very easy for it’s 8.6% ABV. The perfect beer for summer.

Three Heads Brewing – Bromigo Smoked Maple Amber Ale [#Beertography]

Snagged this at TAP NY (thanks John). I’m seeing a lot of  ”maple” on beer labels this year, most notably Lawson’s Finest Liquids Maple Tripple.* Hell, it’s even been featured on NPR.

However, other than some homebrew kits this is the first smoked amber I’ve seen. Slight hint of smoke on the nose that carries on to the finish of the taste. I don’t taste a ton of maple flavor, but I do get a lot of sweetness that comes from the maple. That fades quickly to smokey campfire and a little bit of bitter sticking around on the finish. This isn’t a beer that’s going to knock you on your ass or anything, but it’s definitely an interesting brew that I could see bringing Memorial Day camping this weekend and starting the morning by drink this with a nice applewood smoked bacon, egg, and cheese prepared over a campfire. Mmmmm morning drinking.

*The release of LFL Maple Trippel is June 9th at the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market. I plan on going and I don’t mind mule-ing beer for you folks, but I am NOT fronting money for you slackers. Plan ahead.

Three Floyds Brewing Co. – Dreadnaught IPA [#Beertography]

We reviewed this beer back on Super Bowl Sunday on Jay’s Beer Review so I’m not going to go into a full review or anything. It was no less than fucking fantastic. This is one of those beers that I’m on the fence about and I go back and forth between this and Heady Topper being my all time fave DIPA. I just can’t make a decision and it usually comes down to whatever I’m drinking that day.

HT has this tidal wave of hops but without so much bitter found in a lot of DIPAs because there’s also a ton of grapefruit and orange juice flavor to it. Dreadnaught comes back with almost as much hops with a bunch of mango flavor but has this extremely well-balance malty back-end that Heady Topper just can’t match.

I think I’ll just have to suffer through it and just keep drinking both.

The Alchemist – Heady Topper

Booooo. This was my last Heady Topper for a while, as I promised merc7186 my last two cans and I have no idea when I can make the trek to grab more. I’ve been doing a pretty good job about having the fridge stocked with a continuous stream of HT since October so it will definitely be missed. But we all know that Heady Topper is worth the 6 hour round trip to Waterbury, VT that I’ve done on multiple occasions so I don’t think the wait will be too long. Who knows, the last couple of four-packs were picked up from the considerably closer Manchester Discount Beverage, so if they still have some a trip there might be necessary before Memorial Day Weekend camping. We’ll see. :)

Troy, NY: Preview of The Return of Dogfish Head Night at The Ruck [#DFHNight]

Quick little preview of what’s in store for The Return of Dogfish Head Night for those who haven’t made it in yet. I stopped by this morning around 11 and grabbed some of the rares and will be back to party later on. Don’t forget DJ Jared Kingsley starts at in a few short hours!

After checking out my Dogfish Head Night Beer Stats spreadsheet I put together this morrning, I settled on these for my morning/afternoon libations (all 5-10 oz tastings):

  • Poppaskull – huge fan of Three Floyds so I had to check this out.
  • Saison Du Buff randalled through pineapple and habanero – I’m a HUGE hot spice fanatic and this beer absolutely made my day. I LOVED it.
  • Mile’s Davis Bitches Brew – I’ve had it before but it’s phenom and not that easy to come by.
  • Fort – Nuzzy’s recommendation. Interesting fruit beer, I’ve had it before (on his birthday and probably past DFH Nights) and it’s good, but a little fruity for my tastes. Hides the alcohol extremely well.
  • 75 Minute IPA – 90 minute and 60 minute are probably DFH’s best mainstay all year round brews. Mix to the two together and cask condition it with maple syrup and it’s a no-brainer: beervana. I have no idea why they bother trying to bottle this when it’s so fucking kickass on cask.

That’s all for now. I’m taking a little breather until the rest of my crew shows up later on tonight. Met a lot of new folks from my various beer forums and social networking websites today, hopefully I’ll meet a few more tonight. See ya then!

Keegan Ales – Joe Mama’s Milk [#ACBW]

Sippin’ on one of this weekend’s leftovers when it was my first time having it on bottle. You guys know I think Joe Mama’s is one of the best (non-whale) beers out there. The bottle version is contract brewed through Mendocino Brewing Company, and hits pretty close to the target. Little less coffee, little thinner than the real deal, but that could just my tastes. Overall still a really solid beer.

Allagash Curieux (Bourbon Barrel-Aged Tripel) [#Beertography]

Wow. Right before I cracked this bottle of Allagash Curieux someone told me the beer was “life changing” … and I tend to agree. It’s been awhile since Belgians have really excited me, given me a reason to want to rush right out and buy another. I feel like I probably overdid it with Belgian Tripels and Quads when I first started getting into craft beer (especially with Ommegang and their beer fest at my fingertips). So for me to crack out a tripel that not only do I genuinely enjoy, but totally floors me the way that today only the hoppiest DIPAs and biggest barrel-aged imperial stouts do is even more impressive.

The first thing you notice when you crack open the bottle is the huge bourbon/vanilla nose the beer gets from it’s aging process in Jim Beam barrels. This combo carries through to the flavor of the beer with some oak added and some fruity sweetness along with the usual character Belgian yeast adds to a beer. Like most Tripels, the drinkability of this 11% beer categorizes this as a ninja beer for me, because it’s going to sneak up you and knock you out.

I picked this up on our stop at Table & Vine on our way back from StoutFest and I couldn’t be happier that I did. This is an outstanding Tripel that’s restored my faith in Belgian-style ales, and merits a brewery visit the next time I’m in Maine.