Travel Like Gandhi

Simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind

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Author: Ibanpare

Beer Tasting – Limoncello IPA

I often taste beers at home, alone or with friends.
Not sure if I mentioned yet but I’ve recently become a BJCP beer judge, too.

Anyway, I want to start recording these tastings here. Sometimes they may be just a few notes, some other times I may compile a full BJCP evaluation sheet. Here’s the first one!

Last Thursday I tasted the Limoncello IPA, a collaboration of Siren Craft Brewing with Mikkeller and Hill Farmstead. They claim to have created this beer to bring to mind the famous Italian digestif called Limoncello, made with alcohol, sugar and lemon zest.

In my opinion, they made it!
The beer has an interesting aroma, with lemon zest (surprise surprise), other citrus fruits, minor notes of tropical fruits and resin (presumably from the Sorachi Ace and Citra hops) and low, perfumed, alcoholic notes that remind of rose water. Even more interesting is the flavor of this beer, with a medium acidity (slightly less than a Berliner Weisse – the beer is kettle soured) but a lot of residual sweetness as well thanks to the lactose they added. Combine this with its creaminess, derived from oats and wheat, and its pleasant warming alcoholic feeling, and it really feels like drinking Limoncello.

So, a very interesting beer, to drink in small quantities (I’m not sure I’d drink a full 33cl bottle), maybe after a meal, exactly like the Italian digestif!

Valnontey – Rifugio Sella – Casolari di Herbetet – Valnontey

Aka, our first long hike in Aosta Valley.
You can see it below on Strava (and there it goes the original idea of keeping the blog anonymous…) if you’re interested in some more technical data.

We really liked this hike, even though the mountains may not be as spectacular as the Dolomites, where we’ve been a few times in the last two years, the trail was really enjoyable (and tough, which is part of the fun for me).

Rifugio Sella

For dinner, we rewarded ourselves with a massive cheese tasting, with 18 different types of cheese, mostly from the Alps. It wasn’t too impressive to be honest, since we found many of the cheeses to be pretty standard in terms of quality. Not bad, just not wonderful. Maybe our expectations were too high. Still, it was a nice dinner at Bar á Fromage, in Cogne.

One of the three cheese plates we got. This was the most interesting one, with the truly seasoned cheeses. The 2 year old Fontina was especially good!

Off to Aosta Valley

It’s time for a few days of vacation, I’m leaving for a few days around Cogne, Aosta Valley, tomorrow morning.
It’ll be me, my girlfriend, two friends just for the first two days, a tent and not much else. 
We’ll hike, eat good food, have sex, sleep and repeat.
It should look more or less like the picture above.
I’m happy and looking forward to it, I love getaways in the mountains!
I’ll definitely post info and pictures on our hikes, provided there’s signal.

Getting ready for my next brew

As mentioned in my previous post, my next homebrew will be a Porter. A bit of a special porter – actually not at all nowadays, especially in the US, it may have been special in the 1950s – since I want to add a few spices (vanilla and cinnamon) and oatmeal.

To get ready for a batch I usually do three things:
1 – think about what I want to brew (duh)
2 – figure out how the style/recipe tastes like (reading online and drinking similar beers)
3 – put together a recipe

I’ve got step 1 figured out, step 2 is in-progress (my order should arrive tomorrow) and step 3 is also under construction but almost done.
This is the recipe I’ve put together so far:

Munich Malt II (Weyermann) – 73.3%
Pilsner Malt (Weyermann) – 8.9%
Flaked Oats – 8.9%
Carafa I – 5.3%
Black Malt –  3.6%
Styrian Golding hops – 30g
Mangrove Jack Empire Ale yeast
Vanilla and cinnamon tinctures at bottling

It’s still in progress, I’m not entirely sure about the roasted malts and whether to add some crystal malt or not, but I felt like sharing. I plan to use mainly Munich as a base malt to get a nice malty backbone. I’ll need that since it won’t be a strong beer (OG should be between 1040 and 1050).
Something I’ve just read about and definitely want to try is toasting some of the flaked oats (let’s say half). It’s a very easy process (see a guide here), which apparently gives a very interesting cookie note that, together with cinnamon and vanilla, should create the impression of a liquid oatmeal cookie, yummy!
I’ll also have to create a vanilla tincture and a cinnamon tincture, which I’ll use at bottling to better calibrate the flavor of these spices in my porter. To do that, I’ll have to find some good quality vanilla and cinnamon.
I’m sure there will be some in Milan, Italy (I don’t live that far from the city). 
I’ll keep you posted on these preparations!

Order #100036369

Mysterious number, isn’t it?
Or maybe not so much, depending on what kind of person you are I guess.
As far as I’m concerned, I can’t avoid noticing a sort of pattern here. It looks like my order is number 36,369. Not too bad for an Italian website selling craft beers, born in 2012. It means an average of 6,000 orders per year. Assuming an average basket size of €100 (I think this is on the low side), it translates to a minimum of €600,000 revenues per year.

So yes, as you may have guessed, that title is the subject of the confirmation order email I got from http://cantinadellabirra.it/ , a good website selling craft beer in Italy.

I buy beers from them, or similar websites/beer shops, every two-three months, always with some sort of tasting goal in mind. This is what I bought this time.

As you can see I want to focus mostly on porters, a style I’ve always liked. I’ve always been fascinated by the complexities malts can give to beer, much more interesting than hops to me (having drank several liters of IPAs in my first beer years may have played a role here).
Besides them you’ll see a few IGAs, always interesting, a couple spiced beers, two crazy brews by Mikkeller, some American cans (there was a discount and we don’t get many of them here in Italy) and a couple British classics; British beer is my true beer love.

Anyway, back to porters, I want to taste a few examples of this style since my next home-brew will be a porter. Definitely a porter with oatmeal, possibly with vanilla, if I really feel lucky with cinnamon, too. A friend suggested these two spices and I thought “well, why not”. Hopefully tasting a few porters will give me some ideas on how to fine-tune my recipe or at a minimum set my palate for when I’ll taste my own. It’ll be fun, too! 
I’ll brew it at the beginning of September and will definitely write a post about it!

My first 10k race

I’ve signed up for my first 10k.
It’ll take place in Milan, in October. 

I’ve always had a good relationship with running, since I was 16 at least. I like running, I love the running high and competing with myself always motivates me hugely. 
Unfortunately I’ve never really managed to train constantly for it. It’s always been a secondary sport for me, but that wasn’t really a cause for my vicissitudes with it.
The main reason why I’ve had up and downs with it and never managed to train regularly could instead be injuries. I’ve always had minor ones when running and, since I’m an active person who doesn’t like downtime at all, eventually stopped running after each single serious-but-not-so-serious injury. I just thought running wasn’t compatible with my other “primary” sports (sailing a few years ago, rock climbing now) and preferred focusing on them instead on understanding why those injuries occurred.

However, around two months ago, I read Born to Run (a popular book by Christopher McDougall, which I strongly recommend) and found the necessary inspiration to start running again. Not only that, I may have found the reason for my injuries too. More on that on some next post, or not, depending on how things go.

Anyway, I’ve been training constantly for a month now and decided to sign up for a 10k.
I believe this first race (first in my entire life by the way) will help my training, providing an additional motivation. In addition, it’s organized and sponsored by a very famous Italian radio network, which I’m a fan of. It’ll be nice to meet my favorite speakers while running!

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