Sunday, December 27, 2009

I see your Schwartz is as big as mine.

Update 3/18 - I think they liked it. Tapped for a St Paddy's party yesterday, just a bit of foam when I reached for *my* first pint of the stuff tonight. Maybe I should brew bigger batches.
Update 1/18 - Okay, the gravity hasn't changed in a while, we're just done at 1.018. A little high, but whatever. I'll empty out a keg and pop this in the lager fridge in the next day or so.

Nice black lager. I think this is another one of Jamil's recipes. Or at least I took inspiration from it. Not too roasty. It's a trick, really. Looks and smells like a big roasty thing, but comes through much softer. The carafa is nice because it's been dehusked, giving a less harsh roast character than other forms of roasted barley. WLP800 isn't necessarily the best choice - it's supposedly from Pilsner Urquell - but it's what I have and I didn't feel like making a starter of German yeast last week.

Batch #52
--8lbs Pils
--2lb Munich
--0.42lb Chocolate
--0.58lb Carafa II
--0.5lb Crystal 40L
--0.5lb Melanoidin
--0.5oz Perle 7.5%AA (60min)
--0.5oz Perle 7.5%AA (45min)
--0.5oz Perle 7.5%AA (20min)
--0.5oz Perle 7.5%AA (0min)
--Whirlfloc (10min)
--WLP800 Pilsner Lager Yeast, slurry from pilsner
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.018
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: ~25

Mash in all grains except chocolate and carafa at 154F, hold for 30m. Stir in dark grains, mash temp falls a bit, hold for 30m. Batch sparged (again didn't get as much extracted as I thought I would...). Used a 75m boil to compromise between the DMS issue and the low extraction volume. Chilled to 50F, pitched yeast.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Because wine ought.

Update 1/30 - Bottled. Ended up with 23 bottles. Floor corkers are wonderful.
Update 1/12 - SG 0.995. Metabisulfite, sorbate, fishguts added. Stirred to degas...will use drill next time.
Update 1/10 - SG 0.995
Update 12/31 - Damn it. I racked into the wrong size carboy and had to dump a gallon of wine. Oh well. SG was 1.009 today.

Mead bottled.

I "made" "wine" today. By which I mean I mixed some cat litter, grape juice, and water, and then sprinkled yeast on top. Seriously, it took longer to sanitize everything than to actually mix the must up. I'd like to try starting with grapes at some point, but really...why? This was super easy, and short of growing my own grapes, it doesn't seem like there's too much room for improvement on the grape end of things. I could be wrong. What do I know?

Wine Batch #01
Vintner's Reserve Pinot Noir
OG: 1.075 (18.2 Brix)
FG: 0.995
ABV: 10.5%

Follow the kit instructions. So far, that's mix 10g bentonite with 2L hot water, add 10L juice, dilute to 23L, and add yeast (Red Star Premier Cuvée, included in kit). Still, I had fun. I'm excited about having 30 bottles of home wine to hand out to people.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The lady's little sister heard such nice things about this one, that she requested it be around when she visits. She'll be here in about three weeks, so it's a little rushed, but here we go again.

Batch #51
'bout Damn Time Oatmeal Stout
--9.75lbs Pale
--1lb Flaked Oats
--1lb Flaked Barley
--0.75lb Pale Chocolate
--0.75lb Victory
--0.5lb Crystal 75L
--0.5lb Black Roasted Barley
--2oz Willamette 4.9%AA (60min)
--whirlfloc (10min)
--WLP002 English Ale Yeast, 1.5L starter
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.018
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: ~25

Single infusion 154F for 60m in 18qts water.
Batch sparge with 16qts to collect about 6.5 gallons.
Fermenting at 64F, so probably going to miss some of the esters from that yeast. I'll probably have to swirl the fermenter a few times to keep the yeast going, too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

That's a bit more like it.

Did the mash and sparge/lauter work on a 7 bbl brew yesterday. Had to take off before the first hop addition, but still. =)

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Batch #50
Bohemian Pilsner
--8lb German Pils
--9oz CaraPils
--9oz American Munich
--3.9AAU Saaz 3.9% (60m)
--3.9AAU Saaz 3.9% (45m)
--3AAU Saaz 3%, whole (30m)
--3AAU Saaz 3%, whole (10m)
--whirlfloc (10m)
--pinch gypsum in mash
--WLP800, 2L starter
OG: 1.046
FG: 1.009
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: ~30-35

Meant to mash 60m at 154F, ended up mashing in to 158, dropping to 145, raising to 150, and holding for 45 more minutes. Used a 90m boil, ended up with just about 5 gallons exactly in the bucket. Probably 4.5-4.75 in carboy. This is what happens when you brew outside in the rain on a cold day and screw up the mash. Oh well. Smells good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Half barrel brew

Update 12/09: Rumor is this has been filtered, carbonated, and kegged. I should be bringing some home and find the FG/ABV soon enough.

So, this is a different. I brewed a 20 gallon extract batch at Devil's Canyon using their brew-on-premise system. It sounds like after filtering and transfers I should get about 15 gallons out at best. The gravity is a little higher than I was planning for, but it'll be okay. That's why it's an "imperial mild". This is the Dark Mild recipe from Brewing Classic Styles scaled up by a factor of 4.5 instead of the 3.3 for going by just volume...hence "imperial". I added the Fuggles to give it a little more complexity. We'll see how it turns out. The recipe is a lot darker than I was hoping for, but that's my fault for scaling up the black malt...I would have liked something closer to a deep ruby color. There's always next time.

Batch #49 (20 gallons)
Imperial Dark Mild
Brown Ale
--7L (~22lbs) Golden Light LME (Briess)
--2.25lb Crystal 60L
--27oz Crystal 120L
--18oz Brit Pale Chocolate
--9oz Brit Black Malt
--18.2AAU Kent Goldings 5.2% (60m)
--4.8AAU Fuggles 4.8% (30m)
--whirlfloc (15m)
--WLP002, yeast cake from batch 48
OG: 1.050
IBU: ~25

Steeped the grains for 30 min with temperature ranging from 145F at start to 163F at finish. Normal 60m boil with all extract added at the start. Fermenting around 68-70F.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


It's been a long time since I brewed a porter - dark and chocolatey, but not as roasty as a stout. Thought I'd go with the Fuller's yeast to give it some nice fruity aromas and a little lactose to drive home the chocolate milkshake impression. If only I had a stout faucet - a good porter on nitro is really wonderful... Some of the grain amounts are weird because I was cleaning out my inventory. The hops are set up so that it totals 2oz of pellets.

Batch #48
Beer Flavored Milkshake
--7lbs 2-Row (RAHR)
--2.25lb Ger. Pils
--8.25oz Crystal 75L
--6.25oz Brit Pale Chocolate
--6oz Brit Black Malt
--4oz Brit Roast Barley
--4oz Lactose
--8.4AAU Kent Goldings (60m)
--1.5AAU Kent Goldings (15m)
--.25oz Kent Goldings 6.1% AA (5m)
--.125oz Kent Goldings 6.1% AA (flameout)
--1/4 tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/8 tsp gypsum (mash water)
--WLP002, 1.5L starter
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: ~30

Mash in 20qts water at 156F, hold for 60m. Batch sparge with 3.6gal water at 170F ro collect 7.25gal wort. Boil for 90m (pilsner malt), ferment at 68-70F. I went with the larger infusion to try a thinner mash and see what it does.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More like Certifiable

The BJCP finally updated again, my test score and points are all there (dang, NOHC posted fast!) and I've ranked up to 'Certified'. Sweet. I'm just under halfway to 'National', too. Can probably reach 'Supreme Champion' by mid-April. That last one's made up.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My First Mead

Update 12/23 - Bottled. Only got about 3/4 gallon. It's pretty tasty, so we'll see how it ages. Easy to make, so I'll probably throw in another one soon, too.

Because why not. Based on what some people recommend as a mead to start with - Joe's Ancient Orange Cinnamon Clove Mead. And because I had the itch and was lazy. Just like any recipe, I made changes and subs based on what I had and what seemed like a good idea.

Mead Batch #01
Joe's Ancient (1 gallon)
-3lbs Mesquite Honey
-1 large navel orange
-1/4 cup dried blueberries
-1 cinnamon stick
-1 clove, whole
-dash nutmeg from grinder
-1/8 tsp Fermaid K
-1 tsp bread yeast
OG: 1.110 (calculated)
FG: 1.019
ABV: 12%
Brought a half gallon of water with yeast nutrient to a boil. Washed and cut the orange, and jammed it into my fermenter. After water boiled for a little bit, tossed in berries, spices, and killed the heat. Added the honey while heating a quart of water in a tea kettle. Used the hot kettle water to rinse out my can of honey. Let it cool off a bit, and poured everything into the fermenter. Topped off to 1 gallon with the left over kettle water. As it turns out, 3lbs of honey is dang close to 1 qt in volume and with the orange this method got me just about on the nose for volume. Let the whole mess cool to room temperature and added the yeast. I know, it makes no sense, but I'm just going to trust Joe on this one. Fermented at ambient in the dark. Waiting for mead.

I'm actually sort of excited about this. It's a lot faster than brewing, and there are a few recipes I want to try - persimmon mead, t'ej (hopped, had some at GABF...dang good stuff), chocolate mead...maybe even one that's just mead. Damn. Now I have to go to the Renaissance Festival.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


It's October, and there are pumpkins aplenty. Two pie pumpkins are used in this bottom of the grain bucket amber (hence the odd quantities on a couple of the grains). Spice should be fairly restrained. I'll likely add a little vanilla extract at kegging.

Batch #47
Pumpkin Beer
--8.5lbs 2-Row (RAHR)
--0.5lb Crystal 75L
--2oz Brit Pale Chocolate
--6.75oz Melanoidin
--7.62oz Crystal 40L
--1 fresh pumpkin, ~3lbs pre-cooked weight (15min)
--1 fresh pumpkin, ~3lbs pre-cooked weight (mash)
--1 oz Kent Goldings 6.1% AA (65min)
--1 oz Kent Goldings 6.1% AA (20min)
--1/4 tsp supermoss (15min)
--0.75 tsp pie spice (15min)
--1 tsp vanilla extract in keg
--1/4 tsp gypsum (mash water)
--Safale US-05 Ale Yeast, 11.5g
OG: 1.048
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.7%
IBU: ~30

Cut, cleaned, and cooked both pumpkins. Removed the skin, and mashed into a paste. Mashed one of the pumpkins and grains for 60m at 152F. Collected 7 gallons wort. Boiled for 65m (I've got my reasons...reheat time after adding pumpkin and such), adding rest of ingredients as indicated. Chilled and pitched yeast (without rehydrate).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The commish

Batch #46
Neil's White
--4.5lbs Ger. Pils
--0.5lb White Wheat Malt
--4lbs Flaked Wheat
--1lb Flaked Oats
--5.2AAU Mt Hood(60m)
--5.2AAU Mt Hood(2m)
--1/4 oz orange peel
--1/8 oz crushed coriander seed
--1/4tsp Supermoss (15m)
--WLP400 Belgian Wit Yeast, 1L starter
OG: 1.038
IBU: ~20

Mash at 152F for 60m. Mash out at 165F, recirc, and collect 6.5 gallons. Boil for 60m. I'd prefer to collect more wort and boil longer, but the wheat and oats absorbed more water than I expected. Spices at flameout. OG came out way low...I forgot to add calcium to the mash and the single infusion with all of that wheat probably wasn't the best plan. Crap.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The List

We're back from the Great American Beer Festival. There are a few that I tasted that didn't make the list since this was put together during the recovery hours. I've included the state, a better style description, and any medals. Italics means I had it at the brewery. This is only around 5% of what was available. But hey, it was my first try.

My updated list

List of participating breweries
List of all medalists

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In Tsaric Russia, stout drinks you!

11/12/10 - Just found out this took 2nd at the 6th Annual MoreBeer Forum Comp, too!

Update - On to Minneapolis!

It's brew day again and we've got another biggie lined up...

Batch #45
Russian Imperial Stout
--19lbs 2-row (RAHR)
--1.5lbs Roasted Barley (Brit)
--1lb Belg. Special B
--0.5lb CaraMunich
--0.5lb Chocolate (Brit)
--0.5lb Pale Chocolate (Brit)
--28.8AAU Magnum (60m)
--15AAU Cascade (30m)
--9.8AAU Willamette (15m)
--2oz Willamette (0m)
--1/4tsp Supermoss (15m)
--1/4tsp Fermaid K (15m)
--WLP001 California Ale Yeast, 4L starter, and 11.5g US-05 dry yeast
OG: 1.094
FG: 1.018
ABV: 10%
IBU: I don't know. Like, 80-100.

Mash in at 153F and hold for 90m. Collect 7 gallons of wort, boil one hour. Chill to 65F and pitch yeast. My efficiency is a little low on this one (no calcium added...really big beer...too much going on...excuses...) but it actually turned out close to what the original recipe (one of Jamil Z's) estimated for OG. I might add some sugar, we'll see. I can't get wort down to 65 with my chiller, so it's in the fermentation cabinet and capped with foil but the yeast will be added when the temperature is right this time. Which will hopefully be before I go on VACATION. Oh, and yes, lots of yeast...the last thing I want is an underattenuated RIS.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Dark One

To compliment the Golden Strong Ale from last week, a Dark Strong Ale...this is actually about as much malt as I can fit in my mash tun, so next week's brew will be tough. I had intended all the bitterness to be from the Tettnanger hops, but didn't have as much left as I needed, so had to add some other stuff in, and still came up a little low on the IBU estimate. Missed my mash gravity reading, and was a little surprised to see that my OG was as high as it is...probably because this recipe was originally for 6 gallons. Alas.

Batch #44
The Dark One
Belgian Dark Strong Ale
--15lbs Ger. Pilsner
--3lbs Amer. Munich
--1lb Belg. Aromatic
--1lb Belg. Special B
--1lb CaraMunich
--0.5lb Amer. Wheat
--0.5lb Melanoidin
--9AAU Tettnanger (60m)
--3AAU Glacier (60m)
--0.7AAU Saaz (60m)
--1/4tsp Supermoss (15m)
--1/4tsp Fermaid K (15m)
--WLP500 Trappist Ale Yeast, 4L starter
OG: 1.110
FG: 1.027
ABV: 10.9%
IBU: ~25

Mash in at 155F, allow to fall to as low as 150F. Mash 90 minutes. Extract 7.5 gallons, boil two hours or long enough to yield about 5 gallons into fermenter. Pitch at 68F, allow to rise into 80s after a few days. My efficiency was ~76%.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some unnamed horror

Finally, a strong golden belgian ale, roughly the BYO Duvel clone recipe. This is why I bought pilsner malt for brewing this summer.

Batch #43
The Whisperer
Belgian Golden Strong Ale
--10.5 lbs Ger. Pilsner Malt
--6 oz CaraPils
--26 oz Cane sugar (15min)
--1 lb Cane sugar (secondary)
--1.9 AAU Hallertauer (60min)
--4.1 AAU Tettnanger (60min)
--3.75 AAU Saaz (15min)
--3/4 oz Saaz (0min)
--1/4 tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/4 tsp gypsum (mash)
--WLP550 Belgian Ale Yeast, 2L starter
OG: 1.065 (primary), ~1.073 effective
FG: 1.015
ABV: ~7.7%
IBU: ~20

Mashed in 14qts at 100F, slowly ramp (50min today) the temperature to 150F. I used direct flame, so had to stir very frequently (really, like, every minute, so grab a brew and a book) to prevent scorching and tanin extraction from hot spots. Held at 150F for 40min. Mashed out at 168-170F for ~10min, extracted 7 gallons wort. Boiled for 90min, yielding 5.3ish gallons of wort in the fermenter (a little boil over since I was distracted with measuring hop additions).

Ferment starting around 68F, allowing temperature to rise to low-mid 80s after 2-3 days. Rack to secondary, add sugar, and wait, etc...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yeasty experiments

Update 8/29 - It's all bottled now. The small batch was in bottles last week, and I finally had some time to rack the other 4 gallons today. It didn't taste sour, but the gravity sure reads like it.

More Saisons today...this batch was split into two fermenters, ~4 gallons in one carboy, and the rest in a gallon jug. The idea is to compare WLP565 Saison with Wyeast 3711 French Saison. I also added the sugar during the boil to make less work for myself since I'll be bottling the scotch ale and making root beer this week, too.

Batch #42 (and 42.5)
The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything
--10.5lbs Ger. Pilsner
--1lb White Wheat Malt
--0.5lb Amer. Munich Malt (mostly, a little CaraPils to round out the half pound)
--1lb Cane Sugar (15min)
--2.25oz Hallertauer 3%AA (60min)
--0.75oz Hallertauer 3%AA (15min)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/4tsp gypsum (mash water addition)
--Wyeast 3711 French Saison, 1L starter (for carboy)
--WLP565 Saison Ale Yeast, vial saved from previous batch (for jug)
OG: 1.068
FG: 1.000+ (Read ~0.999, but hydrometer tube is unreliable below about 1.008)
ABV: ~8.5-9%
IBU: 20ish

Mash in 16qts at 150F, allow to fall as low as 145F over the course of 90min. Batch sparge to 7 gallons wort. Boil for 90 minutes. Ferment at 68F for 2-3 days, then allow to rise into mid to high 80s F.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Strawberry Corn Flakes?

Update 8/16 - Most of the berries have fallen to the bottom, a little fermentation still going. I did figure out how to account for the berries, though. Strawberries are around 5% sugar by weight (maybe a little more since these were so ripe), so let's be generous and say I added 0.5# of sugar as berry puree, 100% fermentable at ~40ppg, so we'll call it at ~0.5% ABV added by the fruit.
Update 8/9 - Racked to secondary with berry puree. SG ~1.012

Some of the ripest strawberries I'd ever seen were $7 a flat a month or so ago. I bought a few, and we ate lots of them with shortcake, sparkling wine, in salads, etc. And I pureed and froze about 8.5lbs of the ripest, reddest berries. The lactose is to give the beer a little body, since it should ferment out pretty well (and will dry out with the berries, although crash cooling should help there). I considered using the frozen berries to help chill the wort quickly, but decided against it because fruit in primary is a good way to guarantee blowing out your airlock. 8.5lbs should give this cream ale a moderate berry flavor, since it's such a pale base brew. Ray Daniels recommends closer to 2#/gal in his book, but we'll start here and see what happens.

Batch #41
Strawberry Cream Ale
--10lbs Am 2-row (RAHR)
--1lb Flaked Corn
--0.25lb Lactose (15min)
--8.5lbs Ripe strawberries, pureed, frozen (secondary)
--1.5oz Willamette 4.3%AA, whole (60min)
--0.5oz Willamette 4.3%AA, whole (30min)
--1/4tsp supermoss (10min)
--Wyeast 1450 "Denny's Favorite", 1L starter.
OG: 1.058
FG: ~1.008
ABV: ~6.5-7%
IBU: 20ish

Mash in 19qts to 150F, hold for 60 min. Batch sparge with 3.5gal to collect 6.75gal total. Boil 60 minutes. Ferment in low 60s to minimize esters. Crash out the yeast, rack onto berry puree in secondary. Going into the fermenter, this does actually taste a lot like a bowl of corn flakes :D

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More brewing furniture

Based on the write-up of "Son of Fermentation Chiller" (PDF). I constructed an end table for my living room that houses not one, but two, independently controlled carboy chillers. I scaled down the interior dimensions to ~14"W x 21"L x 22.5"H (or thereabouts, I'd have to measure again) so that there's around 1" or less of wiggle room for a carboy horizontally, and actually about -1/4" of space vertically for a carboy with a 1/2"OD vinyl hose running to a jar of sanitizer. In other words, it's just barely big enough. The extra space behind the carboy houses the fan and gallon jug of ice. Everything is inside a simple wooden frame, and I used 4 pieces of 24" x 48" x 1-1/2" foam insulation (not the extruded stuff...wasn't going to be able to get it home as a 4' x 8' sheet). The table top is split down the middle so I can open one side at a time (coming soon: hinges in the back), and the front is held on by magnets. All of the foam that doesn't move (the top and front panels come out for loading/unloading) is caulked in with silicone. I plan to add some weather stripping to seal the top and front, as it's all a little leaky now. Two thermostats control the fans, the wiring is identical to the basic diagram in the pdf above, just with an additional thermostat and fan in parallel. So, here's my parts list followed by pictures.

-2 thermostats, low voltage, bimetal coil nonprogrammable heat/cool, $30 (eBay)
(as it says in the PDF, these things say "24V" on the package, but you want 12V for the fans)
-2x 80mm muffin fans, $2 (thanks, craigslist!)
-12V 500mA power adapter, $9 (Fry's)
-Extra wires from old cell phone chargers, $0
-Scrap wood from an old couch for the frame, $0
-2x 24" x 48" x 1/4" plywood sheets, ~$10 (Home Depot)
-1x 24" x 48" x 1/8" MDF for base ~$5? (Home Depot)
-2x 8' strips of moulding, ~$20 (?...don't remember exact cost, Home Depot)
-8x 1/2"ish disc magnets, $2 (home depot)
-L brackets for frame, ~$10 (Ace)
-Old worktable for top surface, $20 (craigslist again)
-Assorted finishing nails and whatnot, ~$5
-4x 24" x 48" x 1-1/2" foam insulation, $20 (Home Depot)
-Silicone caulk left over from kegerator construction, $0
-2x Plastic hose barb T-joint for blow-off hoses, $4 (Home Depot)
-3/8" ID vinyl hose for blow offs, ~$5 (MoreBeer)
-Stick on thermometers for carboys, ~$6 (MoreBeer, "fermometers")
-Stain for wood (already had primer and clear coat), $10

Easy enough to put together: build frame, add panels, cut and insert insulation (my middle panel had to be two pieces), wire it up, caulk it up, stain the wood, make girlfriend happy it doesn't look like a box made of foam insulation. Oh, and it works. I've got a DIPA fermenting at 68F inside the box and an uncontrolled saison at 74F (at 8am, higher at 5pm I'm sure).

All told, about as much as I would end up spending, if not more, for a chest freezer and temp control. BUT this has several advantages over a chest freezer: it's smaller, it uses less power (although freezing the ice might negate that), it looks nice in my living room, I can independently control the temperature on two separate fermentations. The ice is a pain to change all the time, but that's okay with me.

Pictures HERE.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fresh hops

Update 8/8 - racked to secondary, SG 1.009-1.010, 2oz centennial, 2oz simcoe added.
Update 8/4 - SG 1.010, 2oz Cascade pellets added. Temperature no longer controlled.

Two things. I owe Rachel a big IPA because she likes them a lot and I keep adding to the equipment list (post on that fermentation cabinet on its way). Now, before you read the recipe and crunch some numbers to find that you get something like 200IBU, let me yammer on a bit about hops and isomerization. First, I'm using a whole pound of fresh hops. Fresh, as in I picked them from someone's garden yesterday and they haven't been dried. Like herbs in cooking, fresh hops are less potent than dry ones, and ~8oz of fresh hop flowers dry to about 3oz. To compensate, I'm approximating the AA in my calculations as 3% instead of 7-10%. Second, all (ALL) of the models for calculating IBU fall apart at high concentrations of alpha acid in the wort. I could link to some papers but you won't read them...hell, I barely did. The point: it's hard to get more than about 120IBU short of using isoalpha extract. Example, running the numbers on the recipe(s) for Pliny the Elder that Vinnie Cilurzo has published (Zymurgy, Brew Your Own, AHA conference,...) the Rager or Tinseth (Palmer uses Tinseth in How to Brew) methods will give you something like 150-250IBU, and labs that actually measure these things find 95-99 IBU (it is a measurable characteristic of beer). [/geek]

Second, as you may have gleaned from the previous paragraph, I picked a pound of fresh hops yesterday! It was a lot of fun, and the guy who grew the plants is from Minnetonka, so, that's cool. Fresh hops are a bit sticky, and the resin gets all over your fingers. I do not advise chewing on the hops. They taste like lettuce, and then like the most bitter thing you've ever eaten.

Batch #40
Fresh Hop DIPA
--12.5lbs 2-row (RAHR)
--0.5lb Amer. Munich
--0.5lb Crystal 40L
--0.5lb CaraPils
--1lb table sugar as syrup (late kraüsen)
--4oz Cascade, wet, (FWH)
--2oz Magnum 14.3%AA (60min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA (45min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (30min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA (20min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (15min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (10min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA, (7min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (5min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (2min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA (1min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (Flameout)
--2oz Cascade pellets (dry)
--2oz Centennial pellets (dry)
--2oz Simcoe pellets (dry)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/4tsp gypsum (mash water addition)
--WLP001 California Ale Yeast, 2L starter (2nd generation).
OG: 1.063 (1.071 effective)
FG: 1.010
ABV: ~8%
IBU: ~100+

Mash in at 149F, hold between 145 and 149 for 90minutes. Batch sparge to collect 7 gallons wort. Add hops as listed. Ferment at 68F...more details to come (such as how I added the dry hops, 2ndary temp, crashing, etc). Other useful advice: don't break your mill with 3lbs of malt left to go, make sure you know whether or not you've previously made plans for brew day, and use fresh yeast or you'll worry about the damn starter all day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

...and we're back.

Update 9/1 -- 2nd Place ribbon in Belgian/French Ales at 5th Annual MoreBeer Forum Comp. Rest of results here:
Update 7/19 -- Added 500mL active starter of WLP001 and 1lb table sugar as thick syrup to help dry out the beer.

How novel, a few consecutive hours of free time in one day. I started this batch around 6pm, finishing up just before 11, although I batch sparged to help speed things up a bit. This was the first run on my propane burner that I picked up from a Worts of Wisdom member who recently packed up and moved out of state (thanks, Jim!) and I've learned I need to pull more wort from my mash thanks to a higher evaporation rate outside - I lost 2 gallons in 90 minutes versus the roughly 1 gal/hr rate in the kitchen. Stupid wind. Saison! Saison, saison, saison,....dry, crisp, effervescent summer farmhouse ale. It's hot out, so it's the right time. But there's a trick...fermentation needs to start at normal temperatures (~68F) and then slowly come up to 80F or higher. The latter is a piece of cake in July here, but the former requires some cooling. I'll talk about that in the next post. On to the recipe. Pretty close to JZ's Raison d'Saison ("Brewing Classic Styles"...or the Jamil Show, which I recommend giving a listen), but with a smaller volume, so slightly higher gravity. I'm also going to skip the sugar if my yeast brings the gravity down far enough.

Batch #39
Saison d'Jason
--10lbs Ger. Pilsner
--0.75lb Ger. Pale Wheat Malt
--0.75lb Belg. Aromatic Malt
--1lb Cane Sugar (after primary winds down)
--1.5oz Liberty 4.5%AA (60min)
--0.5oz Liberty 4.5%AA (15min)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/4tsp gypsum (mash water addition)
--pinch of grains of paradise, whole - not cracked (5min)
--WLP565 Saison Ale Yeast, 1L starter.
OG: 1.059 (1.068eff)
FG: 1.012
ABV: ~7.3%
IBU: 20ish

Mash in with 16qts at 147F, hold for 90 minutes. That's what I intended. Instead, it was in at 149, fell to 142, came back up to 145, fell to 142...annoying. Oh well, close enough for my first outdoor mash at home, at night. I hit ~76%, so I'm happy. Collect 7 gallons wort, boil 90 minutes. I had more boil off than expected and ended just shy of 5 gallons. I felt like it, so I threw in some grains of paradise...the yeast will probably give more pepper flavor than a few uncracked peppercorns, though. IBUs ended on the low end...another AAU on each addition would probably help. Ferment starting ~68F, bring up to 80s after a couple days (to avoid fusels during early alcohol production)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

NHC '09

has come and gone. I regret not attending the whole conference (too much $), as there were some neat talks lined up, but I did make it up to Oakland for a few events. First was the BJCP reception dinner. Sean Paxton cooked up a three course meal - greens with roasted tomato and Union Jack IPA dressing and candied walnuts, a chicken thing made with a wit (21st Amendment, I think) , and .... a dessert thing with RR Damnation. I'm still kind of tired. Gail over at Beer by BART did a better job summing up the conference. I sat next to her at the dinner and judged with her on Thursday, so some of the experience is similar. The talk was great, the off-flavor tasting was interesting, too.

Judging! That was fun. My first actual judging experience, and the second round of the national homebrew competition, no less! I didn't specify a category preference, and ended up on 23 and 18. That's Specialty Beer (ie, "Other", and spice, fruit, smoke, and wood aging are already covered, so, maybe you get the picture) in the morning and Belgian Strong Ale (think Chimay, Leffe, Delirium, Piraat, etc...) in the afternoon. The morning session started at 8:30am. Yes, that is far too early. But, that said, I had some very nice beers in both sessions and had a lot of fun earning my first judging point. That's right, we can level up.

I also made it up for Club Night on Friday. This is the night where the Ale Camino (pic in Gail's post) was to be found serving up beers. Highlights for me included a nice black kolsch, a 24% barleywine, mango mead, a California common with NO Northern Brewer hops in it, and a really fantastic rose saison. Also, tasting things brewed by a couple of my beer authors: I had an amber brewed by John Palmer and Jamil Z's flanders red. Although, to be honest, I thought the amber had a slight burnt taste to it... Still, that was cool. As was seeing them and Charlie Papazian just walkin' around. Shared an elevator with Ken Grossman (although I was too sleepy to even muster a hungover "Hi"). Oh! I also suggested to the guys from Brewing Network that they look up Wabash Caves for next year's conference, which I keep hearing is in MSP! After Club Night shut down, the party went on until about 2am upstairs in the hotel with, you guessed it, more beer. Something interesting there - three doppelbocks - one single infusion, one triple decoction, and one single infusion plus melanoidin malt. The triple decoction, in my opinion was best, but not by enough to make the time investment in that brewing method worth it.

And the Trappist before Club Night got underway. All that beer is why I crashed in the hotel and drove home the next morning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I am now part of the production team at a commercial brewery. That means I help make beer that people actually pay for. Or, so far, anyway, help make room for it by cleaning kegs and tanks and such.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Low gravity like the moon

Update 6/26/09 -- This is good. This is very good. It dried out a little too much...if I can get it to finish with a little more residual sugar (~1.012 maybe), it would be excellent. Mash at 154 next time...maybe a little more crystal.

Got the idea from Nate Smith when he gave a talk for the Worts of Wisdom club about IPA/IIPA brewing. Figured it would be a good use for the little bit of grain I had left in the garage, or at least a good experiment. Kept the IBUs down (although my estimate is likely not quite accurate as I used a full 2oz of Centennial today...probably just error on the scale). Munich and 40L for some flavor, CaraPils for a little body. We'll see. Session IPAs are...not real common. I'm also new to Palisade.

Batch #38
--6.5lbs Golden Promise
--0.5lb CaraPils
--0.25lb Crystal 40L
--0.25lb Dark Munich
--0.5oz Cascade 7.5%AA (60min)
--0.5oz Centennial 8%AA (40min)
--0.5oz Cascade 7.5%AA (20min)
--1oz Palisade 8%AA (15min)
--0.5oz Centennial 8%AA (flameout)
--0.5oz Cascade 7.5%AA (flameout)
--1oz Palisade 8%AA (flameout)
--0.5oz Centennial, 0.5oz Cascade (dry hop)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/4tsp gypsum (mash water addition)
--WLP001 California Ale Yeast, 1+L starter (2nd generation).
OG: 1.040
FG: 1.008
ABV: 4.2%
IBU: 40ish

Mashed in 10qts to 120F, rest for 15min. Raised (using 1.5gal hot water) to 152F and held for 45min. Batch sparge - drained, added ~3.75gallons hot water to bring to mash out temp, drained. Collected about 6.75gal at 1.030SG for 74.5% efficiency.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fill it with your mighty juice

Patience...75 minute mash, 45-50 minute lautering time (as opposed to my usual 15), and a 90+ minute boil. Cleaned out the freezer a bit with the hops. This is nominally an American amber, but the flavor and aroma hops might argue with you on that point.

Batch #37
American Amber Ale
--9.5lbs Golden Promise
--2lb Amer. Munich
--0.5lb Crystal 120L
--0.25lb Victory
--0.25lb Pale Chocolate
--1oz Columbus 12%AA (60min)
--1oz Willamette 4%AA (30min)
--0.5oz Willamette 4%AA (15min)
--0.5oz Willamette 4%AA (5min)
--1oz Liberty 5%AA (flameout)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--WLP001 California Ale Yeast, 1L starter.
OG: 1.065
FG: 1.015
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 40ish

Mash in 16qts water to 150F for 75min. Mash out to 168F for 10min. Sparge and lauter to 7 gallons of wort (SG~1.048 for 74% efficiency!). I used 1/4 tsp epsom salts and 1/2 tsp gypsum in the mash water - that's Burtonization, Kyle.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cookin' with gas

Update - Yeah, it's tasty,...wheat, toast, banana, but I swear it's got acetaldehyde, too. That's what I get for rushing it to the keg.

I brewed outside for the first time. Borrowed a propane tank and burner and set to work with a few more brewers. Good times. Having a tree was a mixed bag - ample shade, ample crap falling into EVERYTHING. I was a little worried that this batch wouldn't turn out quite right, but the grains had enough enzyme to do the conversion. My efficiency dragged a little bit, probably because I was using someone else's water and didn't - excuse me, it just foamed through the airlock...okay, problem solved for the moment - add any salts. Still, reasonable efficiency around 70%. I actually ended up using two burners and two kettles, which makes step mashing by multiple infusions a lot easier.

Batch #36
--5lbs Ger. Light Munich
--5lb Ger. Dark Wheat Malt
--0.25lb Pale Chocolate
--1.25oz Liberty 4.5%AA (60min)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--WLP300 English Ale Yeast, 2L starter from ~1/2 vial saved from a Hefe starter.
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.014
ABV: 4.6%
IBU: ~20 or so

Mash in with 10qts to around 125-130 (lots going on, didn't take notes) for 20min. Add hot water to raise temp to 152 (or thereabouts, notes on what actually happened) for 40min. Added rice hulls. Mash out to 168F (more water) for 15min. I undermeasured my water and ended up only pulling 6.5 gallons of wort, so only did a 60min boil. Ended with around 5.25gal of wort. Brought it home, pitched my yeast, and it is going like mad. After 6 hours, I had about an inch of kraeusen, it's out the top now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


This one's another one for the lady. Should be ready in time for her younger brother and his WIFE to visit. The wort was slick from all the oil in the oats...flaked barley was my addition to try and get a little foam in the finished product. The rest (hop sub aside) is basically JZ's Oatmeal Stout recipe.

Batch #35
'bout Damn Time Oatmeal Stout
--9.5lbs Scot. Golden Promise
--1lb Flaked Oats
--1lb Flaked Barley
--0.75lb Pale Chocolate
--0.75lb Victory
--0.5lb Crystal 75L
--0.5lb Black Roasted Barley
--2oz Willamette 4.6%AA (60min)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--WLP002 English Ale Yeast, 1.5L starter
OG: 1.065
FG: 1.023
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: ~25

Single infusion mash, 17qts at 154F for 60min. I attempted a mash-out at 170, but my water wasn't quite ready. Instead of waiting the 5 extra minutes, I ended up only hitting about 160 or so for a 10 minute rest. Fly sparged 2.5gal to make 6.25...I guess flaked grains absorb more than I expected. Boiled for 60 minutes total. Mash efficiency just shy of 70%.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Haus Seeblick Hefeweizen

Another commission. Group ski trip this time, so something that will appeal to craft/home brew noobs and old pros alike.

Batch #34
Haus Seeblick Hefeweizen
--5lbs Ger. Pils
--4.5lbs Am. White Wheat Malt
--1lb Flaked Wheat
--4.5AAU Liberty (1oz 4.5%AA, 60min)
--2.25AAU Liberty (0.5oz 4.5%AA, 2min)
--WLP300 Hefeweizen Yeast, 1.1L starter
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.25%
IBU: ~17

Single infusion mash, 16qts at 155F for 60min...let it fall a bit to around 152F. Batch sparged with 16qts to collect just under 6.75gal. Boiled for 90 minutes total. No clarifier. Mash efficiency just shy of 70%.

Monday, March 9, 2009

More beer for Les' money

Les volunteered to bankroll a couple brews since I'm not getting a paycheck and he's been drinking it up. So, this one's for him - literally, he bought it, he gets (most of) it. Based on the BYO recipe for a clone of Shiner Bock, it's an American dark lager. I subbed in brown sugar because I didn't have grits (or time for a cereal mash this week) and corn syrup just adds fermentable sugar and no flavor. I also used Pils instead of 6-row, and light munich malt since the Vienna was hiding until after I'd mixed my grains together. And I opted for German lager yeast since I couldn't find fresh Mexican. So maybe it's closer to a Dunkel. We'll see how it turns out.

Batch #33
Black Eye Lager
--4.5# German Pils
--1.5# Light Munich
--0.66# Crystal 60L
--1oz Brit Roast Barley
--0.7# Brown Sugar (15min)
--4.3AAU Willamette (1oz, 4.3%AA, 60min)
--1.3L starter of WLP830 German Lager Yeast
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.009
ABV: 4.6%
IBU: ~15

Mashed in to 152 in 7qts water, held for 60min. Attempted to mash-out to 168 with 3qts boiling water, but temp fell too fast. Sparged over ~45min with 5gal at 170F to collect 6.5gal wort at SG 1.030...80% efficiency. Half tsp gypsum in the mash water, another half in the sparge. Pitched at 60F, sitting in the garage.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For intellectuals

Update: Averaged 34.5 in the first round of the National competition (didn't pass to 2nd round,...tough category). I agree with the comments, and will make this again with some minor changes.

It's overdue.

Batch #32
Rumination DIPA
--15lbs Scot. Golden Promise
--1lbs Crystal 15L
--36AAU Columbus 12%AA, pellets (60min)
--8AAU Centennial 8%AA, pellets (10min)
--8AAU Centennial 8%AA, pellets (0min, steeped for 5)
--2oz Centennial, dry hop
--WLP007 Dry English Ale yeast, 2L starter
OG: 1.071
FG: 1.020
ABV: ~6.7%
IBU: ~110

Mash in to 149F with 5gal (1.25qt/lb) for 60min. Mash out at 170F for 10min. Sparge water 180F, 1 gallon. Collected 6.25gallons of 1.067 wort for an efficiency of 71%. I added 1 tsp gypsum (calcium sulfate) in the mash water for two reasons: my water is really soft and the mash needs calcium, and sulfate accentuates bitterness.

I split the finishing hops from last time into two additions to add some complexity. And I have the right hops this time. And rumor has it, the right yeast. My gravity is a little lower than I expected for just over 5.25gal of finished wort...I probably overestimated the temperature correction when I calculated the mash gravity.

Dry hopped in keg while carbonating. FG is a little high, but it's crawling, so whatever. My stir plate broke (I dropped it), so the yeast population was lower than it should have been. Still tasty.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beer Week Continues

Hit up the Toronado last night for "Meet Rob Tod of Allagash". I didn't actually meet him, or even figure out if he was still there at 8pm, but I did have Curieux and Interlude on tap at happy hour prices. Nice work! The selection was Four, Curieux, White, Black, Triple, Hugh Malone, Interlude, and about four more I hadn't seen. Very cool. Oh, and Pliny the Younger was on tap here, too.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Still alive! Got up to Hayward a little before 1, grabbed some glasses and tickets and went wild:

Russian River - Pliny the YOUNGER
Sierra Nevada - Hop Secret 393
Stone - Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
Pizza Port - Hop 15
Deschutes - Hop Henge Experimental IPA
Lagunitas - Hop Stoopid
Seabright - Hopnoxious (Hopnotic?)
Green Flash - IIPA
Russian River - Pliny the YOUNGER

Also tasted:
Sierra Nevada - Firkin Chico IPA
Triple Rock - IIMAXX IIPA
Speakeasy - Double Daddy
Magnolia - Promised Land IIPA
Dogfish Head - 120min IPA
Stone - Ruination

Probably some other stuff in there, too. It gets hard to keep track of when the least alcoholic sample is 7%. I started and finished with my favorite, but other highlights for me included the Hop Stoopid, Hop 15, and Stone, which was dark and earthy, but bitter. I'd have more to say on each one, but Pliny destroyed my taste buds and everything was suddenly only "good" or "not as good".

Secret bonus beer: an as of yesterday unreleased bottling of Russian River sour and delicious. Great job, Vinnie!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wry Rye

By request from a fan of the beers (...but no one's actually paid me yet...), a witbier. With rye, because...why not?

Batch #31
Wry Wit
--5lbs Belgian Pils
--5lbs Flaked Wheat
--1lbs Flaked Rye
--5AAU Vanguard 4.4%AA, pellets (60min)
--1/2 oz Sweet Dried Orange Peel (5min)
--1/2 tsp coriander powder (5min)
--WLP400 Edinburgh Ale yeast, 1L starter
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.010ish
ABV: 5% or so
IBU: 20ish

Mash-in at 104F in 7qts water, rest for 20min (lots of unmalted wheat!). Added ~7.5qts water to raise temp to 152F, rest for 40min. That was the plan. For whatever reason, the saccharification rest wouldn't maintain temp. So it ran low at around 148 in the middle of the mash for about 50min. I extracted a total of 6.5gal wort at 1.045 (batch sparge...drained, added 3.5gallons, drained,...ended up adding one more gallon to get to volume) with sparge water at about 170. No mash-out. Works out to around 73% efficiency. Woohoo!. Thanks, 1/2tsp of gypsum in the mash water...and acid rest, I suppose. Again, too many variables to really tell. My next batch should be all malt, so I'll skip the rest at 104 and go straight to the final rest temp. That should make it easier to determine the role of the gypsum. Pitched the yeast around 2pm or so, saw a bubble come through the airlock around 8 or 9pm. Nice kräusen the next morning.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Update 9/3/10 - Just found out this placed 3rd for Scotch/Irish ales in the MoreBeer 6th Annual Forum Competition. Aging strong stuff is good.
Update 4/21 - SG~1.045, racked back into a larger carboy, added two pounds corn sugar to thin it out a bit. It's active but slow now, I'll probably rack to keg in a few months.
Update 2/28 - SG~1.046, even after the WLP001 addition. Racked to secondary...might add champagne yeast, but it might just be done.
Update 1/31 - SG~1.051. Damn. This is too slow. Maybe some yeast nutrient is in order?
Update 1/24 - SG~1.052, a little estery, still VERY sweet, obviously.

I bought a sack of Scottish Golden Promise. Twenty-five kilograms of awesome. So I brewed a strong scotch ale to kick it off. I meant to use a pound of flaked barley, but the shop was out, so I planned to use oats, but then I forgot to put them in the mash. Oh well. A slightly finer crush and a little bit of water chemistry pushed my efficiency up to about 68-70%, which I think is pretty good for such a big beer. I used a little extract because my mash tun is not big enough for 25lbs of grain. Shooting for just the faintest touch of smoke - beechwood instead of peat. I can't stand peat smoke.

Additionally, at the suggestion of the folks at the club, I vented the barleywine and resealed to let some of the CO2 out.

Batch #30
Wee Heavy
--15lbs Scot. Golden Promise
--4lbs Light Dry Malt Extract
--1.375lbs Am. Crystal 60L
--12oz Ger. Melanoidin
--12oz Ger. CaraRed
--4oz Ger. Rauchmalt
--2lbs corn sugar (secondary fermentation)
--2oz Willamette 4.3%AA, whole (60min)
--1oz Willamette 4.3%AA, whole (20min)
--1/4 tsp supermoss (10 min)
--WLP028 Edinburgh Ale yeast, 2 vials in 1.7L starter
OG: 1.115 (effectively 1.132)
FG: 1.039
ABV: 12.2%
IBU: 30ish, according to BeerSmith

Mash-in at 156F in 6.25gal water. Added ~1.5gal hot water for mash-out (didn't quite hit 168F...). Fly sparged with 1.25gal water. Collected 7.25 gallons wort. Boiled down to 6.25 gallons before adding extract, let hot break clear, then add first hop addition (for a slightly longer than 2 hour boil). Really, really, shake it up to aerate. My lag time was about three hours.