Monday, December 29, 2008

Brew Years Resolution

In the spirit of the new year, I've decided to put together a list of my 2009 new years beer resolutions.

1. Brew at least once a month.
2. Enter more homebrew competitions (in order to get better feedback about my beer)
3. Finish my business plan (if I'm ever going to get this business started, i need to finish it)
4. Learn and understand more about water composition in certain styles
5. Buy a grain mill so I can start buying bulk grain
6. Find a place to store the grain
7. Post more on the blog (goes with brewing more)
8. Post more educational information about brewing (for the beginner readers I have)

So....I know that's a lot, but I figure if I can get half of those done, then I've accomplished a lot. I hope you all had a great holiday and have a happy new year. I'm brewing my Belgian Wit tomorrow so I'll post the recipe and notes after.

Also, I finally popped my Winter spiced ale with a few friends over Christmas, and it was a big hit. My brother and I were very excited as you can see. When I originally tasted the first a few weeks ago, the cinnamon was overpowering, but the extra time in the bottle really allowed the cinnamon to mellow and balance very well with the nutmeg and ginger. I was very please, although Christmas night I had a few too many of them and had a hard time walking home. Oh well!!

Cheers and Happy New Year!!


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pike Entire Wood Aged Stout

I was recently sent a bottle of Pike's Entire Wood Aged Stout. Since I can't get Pike here is MA yet, Linda, the marketing manager for Pike offered to send me a bottle. I received it this week and finally had the chance to pop it open. Below is my review.

Appearance. Pours a dark black color with a thick creamy two fingered dark coffee color head. The head was very slow to disappear and left a decent lacing on the glass.

Smell. I think I didn't give it enough time to come down to proper temperature, but there was not a big aroma. I got hints of coffee and some malty bready notes.

Taste. The malty backbone of this stout is very obvious. Very well brewed on it's own. Hints of caramel came through and sweet chocolate flavors were present. There was a small hint of oak early on in the glass, but by about half glass the oak was very obvious, but not over powering. Very pleasant.

Mouthfeel. Mouthfeel was very smooth. Velvety was the word used in the press release and I agree. At the end of the sip the crisp carbonation came through a little.

Drinkability. I was very pleased with this beer. I can picture having a few of these after dinner. The high alcohol (9.5%) was very warming. The hints of oak and chocolate were perfectly balanced with the stout base and blended together well.

Overall, I was very impressed with this beer, although it didn't start out well. The neck and cap of the bottle were dipped in wax, which presented the bottle nicely. Unfortunately, it was a huge pain in the ass to get off. This is my first encounter with a waxed dipped bottle and I was not a fan. The contents inside where more than capable of making up for the wax issue. I can't wait until this beer makes it's way out to Boston. I can already see it becoming a favorite treat at the candy....i mean beer store!!



Monday, December 1, 2008

Weekend comes to a crashing end

Thanksgiving each year for me is shared with my wife's family in PA. Since there are so many of them (28) we celebrate thanksgiving and Christmas together, and then my wife and I spend Christmas with my family. This year, instead of going to my wife's aunts house, we all rented some condo's in the Pocono Mountains in north eastern PA.

The week was great, minus the fact that there was no good beer around. Thankfully I thought ahead and brought a bunch of beers, plus some of my own (Brown Session and VB Porter). I gave some tastings to some family members and they all loved them. I think I've secured beer duty for all future family gatherings.

When we got home and unpacked, I had to re-stock the fridge with all the left over beers ( i brought beer for everyone, but apparently only needed to worry about me and my wife so I had a ton left over to bring home). I was in the basement about an hour later and heard a sudden crash come from the fridge, and then the door flung open and out poured bottles of beer, shattered glass, waves of beer spilling from the broken bottles, and a few bottles which thankfully didn't break.

Apparently it's not smart to fill a shelf made of glass with 2 + cases of beer, because it will shatter and spill everything on it. The real problem is that I didn't label my last two beers (Brown Session and VB Porter) because I was going to enter them into homebrew contests and as most of you know, labeled bottles are frowned upon. I had it all down though, the VB porters on the right side of the top and bottom shelf and the Brown Sessions on the bottom shelf. Well, when the shelf shattered, it mixed them all up and now they got all mixed up and I don't know which ones are which. So needless to say, I might be entering them into the wrong categories. Oh well....Might as well start drinking the little that is left over and find out which beers are which.

Hope you all had a good turkey day!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Press Releases

So...from time to time, you might start seeing press releases from Pike Brewing Co. Linda Stratton, from Pike emailed me and asked if I would post them and even though I have yet to have one (she is sending me a sampler of their beers) I feel that if I could help spread the word about craft beer, I should. I know I have at least 4 readers so if 4 people are informed about something, then I guess it worked. And if you've had any of Pikes beers, let me know your thoughts.


Pike Brewing Company Releases Pike Entire Wood-Aged Stout

Seattle, Washington November 20, 2008. Pike Entire is a blend of three beers: Pike's XXXXX Extra Stout, original gravity 10.73 / alcohol 7.00%; the same beer aged for more than half a year in oak Bourbon barrels; and an Imperial Stout original gravity 10.98 / alcohol 12%. The Entire blend contains 42.7% barrel aged beer and finishes at 9.5% alcohol. The taste is complex with velvety malt tones, a coffee aroma, and a palate and finish of bitter chocolate. The biscuity character of pale and crystal malts, along with roasted barley, is balanced by a generous amount of Yakima Valley Willamette, Goldings and Columbus hops in the boil; finished with even more Willamette and Goldings. Adding complexity are the underlying wood tones perfumed by the caramel sweetness of wood-aged Kentucky Bourbon.
Pike Entire was unveiled for the first time on November 8 at the Washington Beer Lover's (WABL) Third Anniversary Party in Seattle that featured 20 local "rare and hard to find" beers on draft. The next morning, Seattle P-I beer writer, Geoff Kaiser, commented: "this was everything I hoped it would be.... It had plenty of bourbon and oak character without being overwhelming and it still allowed the stout to do most of the work. Quite lovely, and easily my favorite of the night."
Until the 18th century, malt was "kilned" over wood fires making most beers dark brown or black, and contributing significantly to the pollution in cities like London. The use of coal allowed brewers a little more control, but it was not until coke, a bi-product of coal, was introduced as a fuel that pale malt could be made. Pale malt yielded more sugar than black malt. Because the Thames was polluted, soft water was drawn from wells, ideal for dark beers, but yielding unpleasant flavor to black beers unless they were blended with the paler beers made by country brewers who had access to hard water. These country brewers also bought dark beers from London and aged them in large oak casks. After aging they sold them back to the London brew pubs as highly desirable, "stale" (aged) beer. Home brew houses then began to blend the black, pale, and stale beers and the result became known as "three threads", a corruption of "three thirds." Ralph Harwood's Bell Brewhouse, one of London's original common brewers and was the first to market an already blended beer to other pubs, called "Entire". It is believed that he blended his own black beer with purchased pale and stale. Since it saved publicans the chore of blending their own three threads, it became an immediate success and the beer style of choice that was sold by London's train porters. Ultimately the style became known as Porter. As brewing moved away from the brew pub to common brewers, Harwood's creation became London's great contribution to beer. As the British Empire expanded, "Porter," later known as "Stout Porter," then simply "Stout," became the world's most widely distributed beer style. In order to brew a beer in keeping with the original style but still distinctly American, Pike acquired oak Bourbon barrels last year and filled them with Pike XXXXX Extra Stout in April 2008 to be blended back. Pike Head Brewer, Drew Cluley, describes the beer as "complex and chocolaty with a great vanilla wood overtone." On Monday, November 24, 2008, Pike Entire, in wax-dipped 22 oz. bottles, will be released. It will have very limited availabilty at the Pike Pub and in select bottle shops, primarily in the Seattle area. A few quarter-barrels will be released for sale on draft. The Pike Pub will tap its one and only quarter-barrel of Pike Entire on Friday, November 28.
The Pike Brewing Company is a family-owned gravity flow craft steam brewery and pub in the heart of Seattle next door to the entrance to historic Pike Place Public Market. Founded in 1989, it was one of the earliest American craft breweries to offer styles like Imperial Stout, IPA, and Barley Wine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Catching up

It's been a few weeks since I've last posted, but I haven't been able to brew since TAFTHBD so I haven't had much to write about. A few things have happend since then. Firts, my company laid off 1500 people in the first of 3 rounds of layoffs. Thankfully I was spared for now. Second, I tasted my first all-grain batch (American Brown Ale) the other night and I was very pleased. Great sweetness from the carmel malts, and just the right amount of bitterness I was looking for. The was some bready/malty flavors that I think came from the munich malt and it was a little darker than expected, but still great. Next time, I will leave out the munich and use some cara-pils for better body. This beer had good carbonation and head retention, just didn't have the prickly co2 bubbles in the drink itself. I'll post a proper review when I get a chance.3

Also, we're bottling up the APA from TAFTHBD this weekend. My friend is very excited since this is his first beer, and I am too since I only have to split it with one other person! More beer for me!

I posted a question on the tastybrew forum about when I should bottle my Winter ale. So, I will ask you, my readers, as well. I brewed this beer in early October and it's still in the carboy aging. Should I continue to age it in bulk in the carboy, or bottle now and let it sit until christmas? My plan is to age it until christmas regardless of where, but I'm curious to see if it is better to age all togther, or in seperate "batches" in each bottle. Let me know you're thoughts!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Teach a Friend to Home Brew Day - APA

TFTHBD was a good success, brewing wise at least. Only had one of my friends from work show up and my neighbor (who brews as well) came by for the afternoon. The day started pretty early (around 10:30 am) and we cracked open our first Pale Ale from Opa Opa. It was great beer, and get our creative juices flowing.

We chose an American Pale ale as our brew and decided to drink those types all day. The mash went well, although we were a little on the warm side (158) which I'm not too happy about, but thats what happens when you put the lid on, then go drink and don't check it for an hour! I tried to add our first hop addition as First Wort Hops (FWH) to prevent a boilover, but that really didn't work and I once again had a pretty big boilover. Hopefully it won't effect the IBU's too much. We hit our target gravity right on the money, 1.055. That made me happy because my first all-grain batch was a tad bit off the mark.

I used Magnum for the first time and I was very please. Very high alpha (ours were 13.5) and awesome aroma. The recipe is below.

Brewed - 11/1/08
H20/Grain ratio - 1.3
Mash Temp/Time - 158/60min
Pre-Boil Volume - 8.5 g
Post-Boil Volume - 6
OG - 1.055
IBU - 41
SRM - 7

11 lbs Two Row
.5 lbs Crystal 40l
.5 lbs Crystal 20l
.75 lbs Munich Light
.25 lbs Victory

.5 oz Magnum (13.5% AA - FWH)
1 oz Chinook (12% AA - 15 min)
.5 oz Cascade (6.6% AA - 10 min)
.5 oz Cascade (6.6% AA - DH)

Wyeast - 1056 American Ale

It is bubbling away pretty good right now, so I'm excited for this to be done. Tonight, I bottle my Brown ale. I took a reading last night and had a great fermentation, slightly more than I had planned though.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vanilla Bourbon Porter tasting

I popped open the first bottle last night and was unpleasantly surprised. The Vanilla had mellowed A LOT, almost to the point where I couldn't taste it. And, the carbonation was lacking to say the least. I've had it in the bottle for exactly 3 weeks, and the only thing I can think of is that it's too cold in my kitchen where I store them. I moved them into the dinning room right next to the heating vent last week. Hopefully that will have an effect, but I don't know.

I had big hopes for this beer, and it still tastes pretty awesome, but the carbonation sucks and I need more cowbell.........I mean vanilla. Any hints on what went wrong or how to fix it? I primed with 5 oz. of corn sugar. Do you think the addition of the bourbon killed off the remaining yeast which would lead to little or no carbonation??

Let me know what you think!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brewing Calculations site

Marcus over at Final Gravity found a great site on brewing calculations. It has temp corrections for Hydrometers, Refractometer conversions to gravity from Brix/Plato, yeast pitching rate calculator and a fermentation calculator. Very cool site. I'll post the link on the sidebar on the left as well for permanent use.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

First All Grain Batch

Today, I made the jump to all grain brewing. It's been a long time coming. I've been saving up so I could upgrade my equipment to allow me to do all grain. I recently bought a 10 gallon Rubbermaid mash tun from more-beer and a 60,000 BTU propane burner. Added to the blichman brew kettle my wife bought me for my b-day, I'm ready to rock.

I wanted to do a somewhat easy beer, but something I could brew a lot and make my "house" beer. Lately, I've been hooked on Harpoon Brown Ale. It's their rendition on an American Brown, with some good up front bitterness, and balanced malt sweetness. I'd probably tell you it's my favorite beer right now, but that's because I have one in front of me.

My goal for my first batch, was simple.....clone the harpoon Brown and I'm good. So, I went out their site and noted the stats (they don't list malts or hops they use) and hoped to try and match that. I've been listening to Jamil Zainasheff over on the Brewing Network and he had a show on American Brown ales, so I took his recipe and scaled it down to a 6 g batch and reduced the IBU's so it would be closer to Harpoon. I had a problem though, because the day before i was listening to his show on APA's and when I was going through my notes I seem to look at the APA recipe at the last minute and made a change from cara-pils to Munich, why I don't know. Not sure how much of a difference it will make, but we'll see. Below is the recipe and stats.

American Brown Session Ale

OG - 1.052
FG - 1.010
ABV - 5.5%
quarts per lb - 1.3

10 lbs American 2-row
.25 lbs Victory Malt
.5 lbs Munich Dark
.75 lbs Crystal 40L
.25 lbs Crystal 60L
.5 lbs Chocolate Malt

1 oz Phoenix (10% AA - 60 min)
.5 oz Amarillo (7% AA - 15 min)
.5 oz Amarillo (7% AA - Flame out)

Wyeast 1.056 American Ale

Grains were mashed in 4 gallons of water. Dough in was at 164 f and mash stabilized for 60 min at 150. The mash temp dropped to about 148 f by the last few minutes, but I think it was because I had the top to the mash tun off a bit then getting ready for the sparge. Sparge was with 5.5 g of water at 175 f. The wort boiled down to about 6.5 gallons and I collected about 5.5 in the carboy.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Catching up - Christmas Ale

I've been a little distracted lately. I've been on the hunt for a new job, interviewing and traveling almost every weekend for some reason or another, and entertaining family a few weeks ago for my B-day. My B-day was a great one. I was pretty bummed about turning 30 this year, no0t because I think it's old, but because I feel old. I used to be a great athlete back in college (I'm usually modest, but I'm 30...time to be proud), but since then my lazy attitude toward training, and ridiculously busy schedule has led me to gain a ton of weight, and constantly injure myself. So, needless to say, even though I was turning 30, I felt like I was turning 60.

But my attitude changed greatly, when my wife pulled out the best gift a home brewer could ever get....a shiny new Blichman Boilermaker 10g brew kettle complete with the Brewmometer, ball valve spigot and borisilic glass sight gauge (yes, I wife rocks). So, what to do with my new kettle....well, brew DUH!

So this weekend, I spend the few hours of free time I had brewing a Christmas spiced beer. I was always a fan of the Saranac Seasons best beer in college, so I wanted to make a spiced ale for Christmas. My brother has always said he has a Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale every Christmas eve while putting the kid's toys together, so I told him my goal was to make one to replace that. My intention wasn't to clone it, but to make a very big, warm and spicy beer that you can enjoy by the fire on Christmas eve, or anytime during the winter. Hopefully I hit the mark. The recipe is below:

Christmas Spiced Ale (recipe created on tastybrew)

Target OG - 1.082
Actual OG. - 1.084

6 lbs light DME
4 lbs light LME
1 lbs wheat malt
1.5 lbs Munich light
1.54 lbs crystal 80L

2 oz. Kent Goldings pellet (5%AA - 60 min)
1 oz Tettnanger plug (4.5%AA - 2 min)
1 oz Hallertau pellet (4.5%AA - 2 min)

.5 tsp fresh ground cinnamon (10 min)
.25 tsp fresh ground ginger (10 min)
.25 tsp ground nutmeg (10 min)
1.5 cinnamon sticks, 2 inch (secondary)

Wyeast 1056 - American Ale (primary)
Wyeast 1056 - American Ale (secondary)

I was hoping to have a little more aroma and taste from the spices when I racked it to the carboy, but it was very faint. Next time I will definitely shy away from the plug hops too. They broke apart and clogged by auto-siphon and it was a pain in the ass to get it to the carboy. I will add the remaining cinnamon sticks to the secondary to hopefully get some more spice in the beer. That all depends on how it turns out.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

White Water Rafting on the Kennebec River

I spent this past weekend with some friends up in The Forks, Maine doing some white water rafting with the Northern Outdoors company. I've never been rafting and I was very excited. My wife, not so much. She was petrified! But, she faced her fears, and got on the river and loved it. We rafted on the Kennebec river leaving from a Hydro electric dam about 20 miles north of where we stayed. Luckily for us, Saturday was a scheduled dam release, so the normal 3,400 CFS (cubic feet per second) was more than doubled to 8,700 CFS. That made for some pretty big rapids, two sections were class IV. It was a long day, but we all managed to stay in the boat without getting tossed by the rapids, thanks to our guide Nick Atwood. I recommend him if anyone goes up there. He knows the river well and will make the trip a lot of fun for you.

The best part of the weekend happened when we got to the lodge and I realized that not only was this an outdoor adventure company, but they were a brewpub too. They had 5 beers on tap this weekend, Kennebec Logger (a pilsner lager), Kennebec Summer Ale, Big Mamma Blueberry Ale (named after the big mamma rapids), Ripogenus Red (amber ale), Magic Hole IPA, and were out of their Class V Stout which according to all the guides is there best beer.

My personal favorite was the Ripogenus Red, but I really liked the blueberry. It was a lot darker than most commercial blueberry's I've seen, but it tasted every bit as good. Although we didn't eat dinner there, we had breakfast and lunch and both were fantastic. I am definitely going to plan another trip. They also raft on two other rivers up in Maine, The Dead River and the Penobscot river. The Dead river is supposed to have equally big rapids, but they last almost the entire 15 miles. It has the most continuous white water than any other Eastern river and some are even class V. The Pennobscot is a much bigger class river with bigger rapids, mostly class V, but they are short technical sections. Our guide is pushing us to come up and do the Pennobscot next as he said it's so much better.



Monday, September 1, 2008

Robust Vanilla Porter

I had high hopes for this beer. After making a test batch and missing the mark, I decided to move forward with a full 5.5 g batch. I used tastybrew for the recipe formulation and couldn't wait to get brewing. The brew day started off very well, and I noticed as I was steeping the grains there was a frothy foam in the kettle. I figured that was from the flaked barely, which helps with the head of the beer.

I went into the boil, and hopped as scheduled. After I cooled the wort and topped off to 5.5 g, I took a gravity reading and to my surprise, I overshot it by a mile! I couldn't (and still can't) figure out why I overshot it that much. After the session, I re-did the recipe in tastybrew and in my spreadsheet thinking I miscalculated, but it was exactly what it should be. My only thought is that the guy at my LHBS didn't hear me right and gave me more than asked for. I guess I'm going to have to start re-checking everything I buy, which sucks.

I bought two Madagascar vanilla beans which I'll boil to sanitize and add them to the secondary and most likely will add an additional packet of yeast. I'm still confident this beer will finish well, just not exactly like I planned. Sometimes, that's not a bad thing I guess. Recipe and stats are below.

Batch Size - 5.5 g
Boil volume - 4 g
Mash ph - 5.0
Target Gravity - 1.057
Actual OG - 1.082

8.5 lbs Dark Malt Liquid extract
.5 lbs British Crystal 135-165
.5 lbs Black Patent
.5 lbs Chocolate
.5 British Brown
.5 Flaked Barley

2 Madagascar Vanilla Beans (secondary)

.5 oz. Challenger (7.5% AA - 60 min)
.5 oz. Challenger (7.5% AA - 30 min)
.5 oz. Fuggle (5.1% AA - 15 min)
.5 oz. Fuggle (5.1% AA - 1 min)

Yeast: - Wyeast 1275 -Thames Valley

New Notes:
(9/2) - Fermentation started with a bang. I woke up this morning to see that overnight, it had blown through the blow off tube into the collecting bowl and already dissapated back down into the carboy. It's still bubbling very frequently (every 2-3 seconds) and hopefully will ferment all those extra sugars I apparently put in.

(9/9) - It's still bubbling away. The bubbles have slowed to about once every 20-30 seconds, but it still going. Once it slows considerably, I'll rack it to the secondary and add the vanilla beans.

(9/15) - I racked it to the secondary yesterday and took a gravity reading (1.020). It still has a little ways to go. I halved the vanilla beans and they are soaking in 1/2 cup of Basil Hayden's small batch bourbon. I'll add that to the secondary tonight.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fresh Hop Harvest Ale

I had a great bewing day today. I was able to harvest a small amount of my cascade hops (I took 1 oz) and brewed my Fresh Hop Harvest Ale using the Cascade hops right from the vine as well as some Centennial pellets. I used Tastybrew to pull the recipe together since my recently created spreadsheet is not reliable at this moment. I was able to hit my target gravity right on the money. Below is the recipe and brewday stats.

Water PH - 5.4
Mash PH - 5.0
Target Gravity - 1.056
OG - 1.056

7.5 lbs Amber Malt Liquid Extract
2 lbs. Pale two-row
.25 lbs Belgian Biscuit
.25 lbs CaraPils
.25 lbs Crystal 20L
.25 lbs Crystal 40L

.5 oz Centennial (pellet, 10.5% - 60 min)
.5 oz Cascade (fresh wet hops, 6.6% estimated - 30 min)
5 oz Cascade (fresh wet hops, 6.6% estimated - 15 min)
.5 oz Centennial (pellet, 10.5% - 5 min)
.5 oz Cascade (fresh wet hops, 6.6% estimated - Dry hop in secondary)

Wyeast #1056 - American Ale

New Notes:
(9/2) - Primary fermentation went great. When I woke up the next morning, the bubbles were vigourusly popping. I racked to the secondary 8 days later (8/29) and added another .5 oz of fresh picked hops. Thankfully, I have another ounce or so on the vine which I'll dry and store for later use. The hop smell was amazing. Fresh cascade aroma filled the air as I racked the brew. I gave the .5 oz that I was dry hopping with a big squeze and rub to release some more aroma and dropped them in. I'm getting very excited about this beer.

(9/15) - I bottled this yesterday. When I uncovered the carboy to bottle, it had an interesting white film on the top of the beer. It tasted fine as I sipped the hydrometer sample (1.012) so I'm not too concerned. Hopefully the hops didn't have a bacteria on them when I dry hopped. Anyone have any experience with this or have seen this film on their beer before?

(10/6) - Bad news.....I tried the first bottle and it is completly ruined! It tastes like vinager so I'm going to jhave to dump them all. I'm am not happy. I guess thats the risk you run with fresh hops....lots of bacteria on them. Next year I will make sure that I boil them all and not dry hop with them. I had real high hopes for this one....oh well!!!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Me vs. A Big Bear

It's a slow day here at work, but a friend of mine sent this to me today and I had a good laugh and thought I needed to share. We were at a post wedding reception "after party" and I got in a slight tussle with a bear. I totally kicked that bear's ass. I mean, if it were alive....I would have killed it! Anyways....back to work.

Test Porter and Starter Session

Last night was a busy night for me. I brewed two 1 gallon batches. One was just a gallon of un-hopped wort for starters, and the other was a 1 gallon test batch of a Porter. And the most exciting part about last night was it was the first time I got to use my new wort chiller that I bought from

For the 1 gallon starter batch, I was able to squeeze 9, 500 ml bags of starter wort to save for later use. I separated them out in Ziploc bags and put them in the freezer. My goal here is to start to save and re-use my yeast for future batches. Not only will it help with the cost aspect (I hope to be brewing a lot more now) but a friend of mine tuned me into the tidbit that if I plan on making a lager, that the best results come from 3rd or 4Th generation yeast. That being said, I'm starting. I'm going to order some test tubes so I can store them in the fridge and label them easily.

The 1 gallon test batch was a little different. I completely missed my target gravity (reached 1.046, target was 1.057). After the boil, I had to add some chilled water to try and top off to a full gallon but was unable to reach a gallon before the gravity was already at 1.046 (I originally measured it at 1.096 after I chilled it). I have no clue how that happened. I followed my recipe from tasty brew to the T, but was still not able to make it happen. Unfortunately because I was trying to multi-task my two brews while watching the Red Sox/Rangers slug fest, I took horrible notes and now can't go back and review. It's currently in the jug fermenter (Carlo Rossi jug....thanks for the idea Ted) so we'll see how it comes out in the end. It looks and smells fantastic, but I was a little dissappointed when I took the gravity reading. I guess this will be a good learning experience....if I can ever figure out what the lesson is?!?!?!?

1g Starter:

1 lb extra light DME

Boiled in 1 gallon of water for 10 min, chilled and bagged.

1g Test Porter:

1 lb Muntons Dark DME
4.2 oz Chocolate Malt
2.1 oz Crystal 120
4.4 oz British brown

.5 oz UK Challanger (7.5%AA - 30 min)
.5 oz Cascade(6.6%AA - 15 min)

Wyeast #1275 - Thames Valley Propagator


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Almost Harvest Time

The hops are growing at record pace and I'm psyched. I'm working on the fresh hop APA that I'm going to make with them, along with some centential pellets. I can't wait. I couldn't believe how quickly they grew from just 2 weeks ago. I gave them a squeeze last night and they are still a little ways away from being harvested and some of them are weeks away. I'll post the recipe and pictures of the harvest as it happens.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Designing Great Beers

I just finished reading the first section of Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels. The first section talks about what goes into a recipe, from the malt bill, color characteristics to hops, calculating bitterness and yeast. I'm a few chapters deep into the second part of the book which goes into details of the various classic styles of beer that are out there. I highly recomend this book for anyone who is trying to learn how to create your own recipes.

After I got through part one, and highlighting all the formulas and good things Ray had to say, i decided to try and put together my own recipe spreadsheet that has the calculations for IBU's, water needs based on evaporation and other factors, beer color ( I use HCU's and convert to a range of SRM's) and hop bitterness. Overall I think it's a good spreadsheet. I designed a recipe using the sheet and compared it to one of the online recipe calculators and I was damn close to exact. That made me smile. I have yet to brew the beer because it's an all grain recipe and I am in need or 4 stainless steele fender washers to complete my mash tun and for the life of me can't find a damn place that sells them. I'm hoping to have them soon, and FINALLY make the move to all grain!

On to the point of this post......I wanted to ask some people out there if they would take a look at my sheet, test it out and let me know their thoughts. Just post your email and I'll send it off to you. I'm a firm believer in feedback, and I think a lot of readers of my blog are brewers and coudl help me out with this. It should actually work for extract w/specialty grain recipes as well as long as you know the gravity of the extract and efficiency. So, post or send me an email and I'll send it off to you. Thanks for you help in advance.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hop buds arrive

I guess I am proof that you can grow hops in a planter. The buds on my centenial hop plant are blossoming in large quantities and looking great. They are all over and there is more than i though there would be.

I haven't decided what type of beer I'm going to make with these, but I'm hoping to get enough to strictly use these hops and make a fresh hop ale. I'd like to make it close to what Sierra Nevada does with their hop harvest. That's probably one my favorite highly hopped ales. I had the Southern Hemesphere Hop Harvest at the ACBF in Boston last month and it was amazing.



Friday, July 11, 2008

BBC - Framingham

It was much to my delight, that last night while driving down rt. 9 in Framingham I saw the beginings of the newest British Beer Company location. If you've ever been to a BBC, then you know how great a beer bar it is. It has a large selection of beers from around the world. Mark Anderson wrote about it on his blog, Beer Paradise. I have only been to the location in Hyannis, and I was very pleased. It definitely doesn't compare to Bukowski's in Boston, but it made me smile.

Two great things for the area, 1) prior to this, there is only one brewpub in the area to go to. 2) it provides a little competition for the only other brewpub in that area, which I hope will improve the beer made at John Harvards and the selection from the BBC as they battle it our for ownership of the Natick Mall stretch of Rt. 9. If any of you are familiar with this stretch, there are too many restaurants to count, but up until now John Harvards was the only brewpub.

I'm looking forward to having a little more selection now when I want a good beer and some good food. Can't wait to see it finished and the doors open!!



Monday, July 7, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Well, it's been some time now since I've last posted. I had a pretty busy month of June. Unfortunately, there was only one brewing and it was the last recipe post I had. I ended up kegging it and priming with sugar since I don't have the funds right now to purchase the Co2 tank and regulator. I did, however find a great website that sells tanks and regulators for pretty cheap.

The kegging went pretty good. I read somewhere that when you keg with the same amount of sugar as you would use when bottling, the beer can be over carbonated. So, I let a little pressure bleed out twice in the two weeks it conditioned in the keg. The beer ended up being a little under carbonated, so I'll make sure I don't release the pressure the next time. I'm going to be brewing a traditional Bavarian Hefeweizen and kegging it for a party in August, so I'll post the recipe as soon as I brew it and get the stats.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great Month, and a great 4th of July (for those in the US).

Hops growing on the Trellis

The trellis is FINALLY built and in the ground. It's kind of funny how simple it was, I guess I'm just lazy! Anyway, I decided I didn't want to transplant them from the pot into the ground and risk killing them, so for the first year they will remain in the pot.
The hops are starting to show signs of small buds on some of the shoots. I'm hoping they are actually cones and not more leaves.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hops Update

The Hop plants are moving along pretty good. A squirrel or bird bit off the tops of both of them a few weeks back and I was nervous they we're going to keep growing, but they're doing well. Can't wait to see the buds!!



Sunday, June 1, 2008

Red Tide Amber Ale #2

This is a re-brew of the Red Tide Amber I made a few months ago. After getting the results back from the home brew competition, I decided to make a few changes and brew it again. One change that I made was swaping out 8 oz of Victory malt for 8 oz of Cara-pils ans 1 oz of Perle hops for 1 oz of Halertauer. I'm hoping that this won't change it too much, but just slightly enough.
I think the reduction of alpha's from Perle to Hallertauer will please me a bit more (probably not the home brew judges, but oh well). I like my hops, but this beer is for my family reunion an my family isn't into the hop bombs, so I'm giving this one a shot.


1 lb. 2-row
8 oz. Vienna
8 oz. Crystal 40l
8 oz. Cara-pils

5lb 8 oz. Amber Malt Extract

1 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 60 min)
.5 oz. Hallertauer (4.25% AA, 45 min)
.5 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 45 min)
.5 oz. Hallertauer(4.25% AA, 30)
.5 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 30 min)
.5 oz. Fuggles (4.75% AA, 15 min)
.5 oz. Fuggles (Aroma)

Wyeast #1272 American Ale II

Mashed grains @ 150f-155f for 90 min in a cheese cloth bag. Mashed out at 168f for 10 minutes. Removed grains and brought to a boil. Follow the hop schedule from above and boil for 60 minutes. Cool to 75f and rack to carboy. Pitch yeast and let ferment. When fermentation is slowed to 1 minute between bubbles, rack to secondary.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Raspberry Wheat's been a long time since I've last posted. I've had a horrible couple of weeks personally, and on top of that work has been really busy. I have been struggling with time to do anything so with the few free hours I found, I brewed. I only had a few hours, so I decided to take the easy/road and do an all Extract brew. I'm ok with it though, because the extract brews I've done have turned out great, so why not. I needed to reduce the insanity in my life, and anything helped. Here is the recipe. I'll bottle it this weekend, so i'll update with the outcome.


6.6 lbs. Wheat Malt Extract


1 oz. Cluster (6.5% - 60 min)


Wyeast 1056 - American Ale

Fruit Extract:

4 oz. Raspberry extract

OG - 1.044

Boiled for 60 minutes, chilled to 80 f and pitched yeast. Racked to secondary on 5/8. I think I might have racked it a little too soon (stupid I know) because there was still some action in the primary, but very sporadic, so I decided to do it anyway. It's slowed significantly, so I will bottle this weekend with 5 oz of priming sugar.



Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hops - 7 inches tall

My hops are now a full 7 in. tall. This one is growing very rapidly, and I'm psyched!! The Centennial plant is growing, but hasn't popped through the surface yet. I had to dig down to see if it was even growing, and thankfully it is!! Time to start building the trellis one night.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Home Brew Competition - Results in

I received the results from my entry into the South Shore Home Brew Competiton. I was very happy with the reviews I got from the BJCP judges. I received a 33 out of 50. Below are the reviews.

Judge #1:
Aroma 9/12 - Balanced hop aroma and malt sweetness, very pleasent I thought. Malt has caramel aroma
Apperence 3/3 - Very clean, dark amber color, big initial head
Flavor 12-20 - Good balance between malt and hops but both were on the low end of the style. There was a lingering bitterness.
Mouthfeel 3/5 - Medium body and carbonation. Carbonation was a little prickly. After I reduced carbonation, body seemed much thiner.
Overall Impression 6/10 - This beer was well brewed with a very pleasent aroma. I didn't detect any obvious flaws. I would suggest that making this beer bigger would improve it significantly, and would help it compete better. Nice brewing job!
Total - 33/50

Judge #2:
Aroma 7/12 - Citrusy hops, predominate malt component is clean, but could be more pronounced.
Appearence 3/3 - Crystal clean, dark amber, creamy head
Flavor 11/20 - Some creaminess up front, but not enough. Finishes quite bitter. Bitterness lingers too long in throat. Clean
Mouthfeel 4/5 - Med mouthfeel, high carbonation
Overall Impression 7/10 - Well-made, clean beer. Try adding more caramel malt to the grain bill. Balance is too heavily in favor of hops. Cut back on flavor & finish hops.
Total 32/50

Back to the kitchen to make this better!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Growing Hops - First sprout

I came home Sunday from a week in NYC to see the first sprout from my hop plants. The Cascade I planted is growing at record pace. As I write this post, the shoot is already a half of an inch taller than in the picture. The Centennial has yet to pop a shoot out of the dirt, but I think I might have planted that rhizome upside down and a little deeper than the Cascade. I guess I'll just have to wait and see!
This weekend, I had planned to build the trellis so I can get it ready as the shoot continues to grow. I purchased the materials already ($12 at home depot for a total of $30 to grow these hops inluding the soil, fertalizer and planters) so I just have to get it in the ground. It's supposed to be awesome out this weekend, so hopefully I'll get that up and get a brew session in.

Monday, April 21, 2008

South Shore Home Brew Competition

My first official home brew competion that I entered and the results are in. Drumroll please................I didn't win! :-( But thats ok, I really only entered for the feed back from the club. Hopefully I'll be receiving that in the mail soon. As soon as I do, I'll post what was said. Hopefully it wasn't too bad and they weren't very harsh, but if they are then I'll roll with it.....and then perfect the next batch!


Friday, April 11, 2008

Red Tide Amber Ale

This was the second recipe that I created and it came out pretty damn good. I entered it into a local homebrew competition, and they did the reviews today. Haven't heard back yet on what they though, but I'm very axcious. I have't written a review for it yet, but I have almost finished it all. I will put one down on paper this weekend. I was so happy with it, that I just kept getting another and not writing anything down...shame on me!! Here it is:

Brewed 2/17/08
Racked to Secondary - 2/26/08
Bottled - 3/1/08
Tapped/Drank - 3/20/08

Grain Bill:
1lb. American 2-row
.5lb. Vienna
.5lb. Victory
.5lb Crystal 40L

5.5lb Amber Malt extract

1oz Perle (8%, 60 min)
.5 oz Cascade (6%, 45 min)
.5 oz Cascade (6%, 30 min)
.5 oz Cascade (6%, 15 min)
.5 oz Fuggles (4.75%, 15 min)
.5 oz Cascade (aroma, 1min)
.5 oz Fuggles (aroma, 1min)

Wyeast #1272 - American Ale II

Grains were steeped in a cheese cloth bag for 90 mins. at between 150-153f. I mashed out at 168 for 10 minutes before bringing to a boil. Fermentation was a little slow to start, but finished in about 4 days. I didn't rack until the next week since I was not around that weekend. Secondary had very little action. It was bottled 13 days after brew day. I put some in my mini-keg, and bottled the rest. Priming sugar was used for the entire batch. Next batch I will force carbonate the mini-keg and prime the bottles to see the difference. It was a little cold in my kitchen so the carbonation took some time to come about, but when it did it was right on!

The beer came out better than expected. After my first original recipe, I was a little nervous this would suck, but I am a big fan. I think I could tone down the grains a bit. It did have a strong malt character, that I was hoping was a little less week, but it did balance nicely with the hops.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Refocusing: Back to the basics

When I first started this blog, it was my goal to write about things that pertained to my dream of opening a brewery. I had dreams about posting my recipes and brew sessions and starting discussion from other home brewers that read this blog. That lasted for about a month. Then, I got caught up in the kingdom of beer blogs, trying desperately to grab readers attentions and "boost my stats" so I could be one of the big guys in the blogosphere. But there were two big things I realized that swept my leg like Johnny did to Daniel-son in Karate Kid......I'm not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't work in the industry and thus don't have the contacts available to spread the word about my blog. Hmmm....time to refocus!

Throughout the time I've been blogging, I make it a habit everyday to visit the "big guys" of the beer blogosphere. Each day I visited blogs like Appellation Beer, A Good Beer Blog, Beer Culture, Lew Bryson's Beer Blog, Stonch's Beer Blog, Roger Protz and others written by beer writers and other people who have been in the industry for a while. Then it hit me......I realized the struggle I was having trying to get tons of visitors and be a respected beer blogger was similar to the struggle that craft brewers once went through when trying to break into the beer market back in the 70's and 80's against the "Big Guys" of the macro world. And please, by no means am I comparing those writers to macro brewers of the US. They are all great writers, and are doing wonders for the craft beer industry, (hats off the them all) but they are the big guys of the blog world.

After realizing this, I started to think about how the craft brewing revolution finally got some traction. The answer was easier to figure out than I had hoped. They stopped trying to be just like the macros, and started to create an identity of their own. BRILLIANT!!!!! Be yourself, and the rest will take care of itself. Shouldn't this be the motto of every entrepreneur? Distinguishing a different product and offering a choice to their customers? (note to this when you start you're brewery. Express yourself through your beers). I am reading Sam Calagione's book, Brewing up a Business so this is where all these ideas and realization are coming from.

Another great blog that I like to read daily is Ted's Homebrew Journal. Ted is a home brewer from Chicago who is extremely detailed about his brews and essentially does what I originally set out to do. He brews beer, posts about his brewing session with brew stats and his notes and thoughts. Lots of comments on each post discuss his beers, techniques he used, and results. He frequently experiments with yeast's to determine fermentation profiles of yeast strains, brews odd beers like Dandelion wine and herbal beers mixed with ginger, fennel, cardamom and fresh sage. He is a great resource for home brewers and I'm sure he is one hell of a brewer (Ted, if you're reading this.....I'd love to sample some of your beers).

As Pablo Picasso once said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal". So, with that being said, I'm stealing his blog! No, not literally, conceptually. His blog is exactly what I had wanted my blog to be like only I will also post updates as I get closer to opening a brewery, but still very similar. I know, I can I write about getting my own identity and not following suit, and then copy someone else. Well, here's how. That's what I was trying to do in the first place. Just because I'm copying his format, doesn't mean I'm copying him. Would you say that Harpoon copied Sam Adams? No...they are similar in the fact that they are both craft brewers, but the content of what they brew is a style all their own. Which is what I hope to do.

I'll continue to participate in The Sessions but I am re-dedicating myself to writing about my adventures in beer. I hope you all stick around and continue to read and comment on things I am doing, and your comments and suggestions will be important in helping me. I'm going to try and figure out how I can get a possible distribution list pulled together so I can use some of you as samplers. If you're interested, drop me a line with your address and I'll see what I can do.


Boston Beer Voluntarily Recalls Select Bottles of Samuel Adams Beer

Boston Beer company has voluntarily recalled bottles of their beer that were bottled by one of their vendors. If you have 12 oz. bottles of Sam Adams with the code N35 OI, seen at the leaft, please bring the bottles back to your beer store. For more info and the full story, check out the story on the Boston Beer Co. website, or go to Beer Advocate. This is an great move from Boston Beer Co. to protect their customers, and to get on top of this before the complaints come in, if they do at all. Hats off to Jim Koch, and the rest to the folks at Boston Beer Co.


Friday, April 4, 2008

The Session #14 Beer People - The Bier Kaiser

This months Session (hosted by Stonch) is about beer people. "I'd like you to write about people. Choose someone you know personally. That person might be a brewer, a publican, someone who sips at your local, or maybe just a friend who is passionate about beer."

So, for my first session post, I chose my good friend and former colleague The Bier Kaiser! The Kaiser and I met when I started my current job. He had been in the role for quiet some time when I started and like all people when they start new jobs....I knew nothing about him, or anyone else on my team for that matter. After a few weeks on the Job, my team went to lunch. That lunch transformed our professional relationship, to a beer camaraderie.

While at lunch, we somehow got on the topic of beer and brewing. The Kaiser started his basic explanation of how beer is made. His explanation of how yeast works was my favorite part of the story.."the yeast in the wort eats the sugars. then as it eats, it pee's out alcohol and farts out CO2" Couldn't have said it better.

After that conversation, I let him know that I too was a home brewer....and from that day on our productivity at work went down the drain. He has been an advisor to all things I do regarding brewing. I've already told him that he will be my "Brewery Advisor" once I get my business started whether he likes it or not. He has since left our company and resides in Central Ohio. So, in the spirit of the Session, I decided who better to talk about the Kaiser, then the Kaiser himself. Below in the interview I conducted with him. You can check him out on his Blog, Noch Eins. Enjoy!

JF: Where are you from?

TBK: I was brought up in central Ohio, having lived in a couple of different towns in and around Columbus.
JF: How were you introduced to craft beer?

TBK: I started home brewing based on inputs received from several of my clients. I was consulting at a large bank and a couple of the guys there had been brewing for about six months. They brought in some beer which I tasted and I became very intrigued with both the process and the potential end result!

JF: How long have you been home brewing?

TBK: I brewed my first batch of beer in 1991. It was a brown ale which I suspect is the first batch brewed by at least half of all home brewers.

JF: What got you started into home brewing?

TBK: After my initial foray into home brewing, I took a consulting assignment in Germany and worked there for about a year and a half. This offered me the opportunity to sample a great variety of lagers, pilsners, wheat's and alts. When I returned to the States, I wanted to begin replicating these beers at home. At the time, the range of German beers available in the local beer retail shops typically included Beck’s, St Pauli’s and Lowenbrau, which was actually brewed in the US by Miller at the time, and perhaps Henninger, if memory serves. That was about it! I concentrated initially on wheat beer and managed to produce a product that was consistently faithful to the style – good cloves and banana flavor and a light crisp taste. At this point, I was hooked!

JF: Do you still home brew?

TBK: I have taken a break for about a year as we move house. We have unfortunately been caught in the mortgage meltdown and are still trying to sell our old house. For the duration, we have put quite a bit in storage, including my brewing equipment. Additionally, I have been working out of town during the week on a consulting assignment which puts an additional crimp on my brewing style. I am definitely looking forward to firing up the brewery once we get things sorted out. In the meantime, I have been keeping sharp helping out several of my friends who are avid brewers. Hey, I work for beer!

JF: What is the best beer you have ever brewed? Worst?

TBK: Best - I have made several batches of Hefeweizen that simply rocked! Worst – My initial lagering attempts were fairly awful, there was one batch that was so bad, I couldn’t even justify using it to boil sausages – which is the usual alternative for my bad beer batches. It was definitely skunked and probably had one or two yet undiscovered microbes floating around inside.

JF: Who do you admire most in the craft brewing world? Why?

TBK: Not to be macabre, but I seem to be partial to the recently departed – Bert Grant, Karl Strauss and Michael Jackson. I am still fascinated by Grant’s concept of continuous fermentation. I suspect that it is really just another form of a perpetual motion machine and hence impossible. However, it just may be possible to flow wort over yeast in such a way that fermentation occurs, the yeast remains viable and does not mutate and all remains hermetically sealed so that beer and yeast are not infected. As for the other two, Jackson basically made popular the concept of the sophisticated beer connoisseur and is probably responsible for preventing the demise of more than one beer sub-style by raising the awareness level of these non-mainstream beer types. Strauss is to be admired for re-introducing traditional central European brewing sensibilities at both the micro- and macro-brewing levels within the American market.

JF: What is your favorite beer memory?

TBK: Oh God, this is a tough one. Beer memories for me, at least, are both the drinking of great beers and doing so with good people. The best beer in the world drunk by oneself is not necessarily an impressive beer moment. A beer memory of note would be an evening I spent near the small town of Vent in the Austrian Tirol in Autumn 1992. I was with a group of perhaps a dozen and a half Europeans and Americans on a two day hike of the Kreuzsptize which is a mountain in the Alps right on the border between Austria and Italy. On day one we climbed up to an alpine lodge which was at about 2800 meters elevation, the Kreusptize itself tops out at 3457 meters. For the novice hiker, like myself, the climb was exhausting. We got to the lodge, which was a solidly constructed stone building about the size of a small church, at around 3:00 in the afternoon.

After a short rest, I was persuaded to cross the glacier to the Italian side of the border to take a late lunch at a lodge there that was famous for its bean soup. It was an hour’s hike to cross the glacier, but the soup was worth the trek. On the way over, I was informed by my traveling group that we were crossing at almost exactly the spot where Ötzi, the iceman, was discovered the previous year. Ötzi, as you may recall was the mummified corpse of a Copper Age man found in the retreating portion of a glacier in September of 1991. He was dated at approximately 3300 BC and is the best preserved mummy found to date in Europe.

Well that night we were all surprised to find out that we were part of the one year celebration of the discovery of Ötzi and that Austrian, Italian and German television crews were at the lodge to document the celebration. Most of the other guests at the lodge were somehow connected to the events of the previous year involving the discovery of the iceman. Our group managed to secure a large table and we enjoyed an extended session of food, drink and round after round of a dice game called Lugen, which is basically a form of Liar’s Poker.

The food was simple, hearty fare and the beers were Austrian and Bavarian standards including Spaten, Ayinger and Stiegl. However, this particular session was truly magical. I have thought about this often and reason that multiple reasons come into play here. Clearly a six hour hike built not only hunger but thirst. The piping hot goulash stew and coarse bread begged for a crisp Bavarian Lager which elevated simple thirst to a near fatally parched state. And when it came to quenching this thirst, the elevation had its affect. The elevation at the lodge was around 9,000 feet which, though insufficient to cause altitude sickness, was capable of inducing a markedly light headed state which made the first beer feel like the third or fourth and the third or fourth feel like the seventh or eighth. This sense of heightened euphoria was shared by our entire group and engendered an intense camaraderie and positive spirit.

After dinner we spent several hours talking in a combination of German dialects and English, playing Liar’s Poker and giving interviews to the various TV crews who were keen for a story from us concerning our role in the discovery of the iceman the year before or how his discovery had impacted our lives in the year since. Let’s just say, as the evening wore on, that we all tended to claim somewhat more connection to the not so recently deceased. Our interviews with the news crews became a type of informal one-upmanship to see who could spin the most convincing tale of his or her relationship to the discovery of our good, dear, departed friend Ötzi.

The evening ended with multiple rounds of beer drinking songs and toasts, in several languages and the passing of the Stiefel, or beer boot, all around. To this day I still remember the admonishment given to me about drinking from the boot in broken English, “toe in – that’s no sin; toe out – watch out!”

JF: Where is your favorite city for beer in the US?

TBK: I don’t think I’d win any creativity points for picking Portland, Oregon; but the city is truly deserving of its beer credentials. For the beer drinker, it actually has a couple of things going for it. The most important, obviously, is great beer and beer tradition. As one of the cradles of the American micro-brewery renaissance, Portland enjoys well established local breweries which have had years, even decades, to enmesh themselves into their neighborhoods and become fixtures of their local societies. McTarnahan’s comes immediately to mind as not only the purveyor of great beers, but a destination spot for the locals of that area to meet, socialize, conduct business, or just simply get out of the house for awhile. Another ace up Portland’s sleeve is the mass transit system.

Drinking and driving is a fool’s game and this city solves that problem nicely with an urban rail system. The Trimet is actually a combination of urban light rail and a trolley line loop that provides access to most of the central core of the city. For less than $5 a day, a pub crawl can become significantly less taxing on one’s knees – just make sure to bring an umbrella!

JF: If you were stranded on an island with only a random 6 pack and a bottle opener, what beers would you want in the six pack?

TBK: Another tough question! I’m taking this question to mean I can pick six different beers and let’s assume we have refrigeration on the island, so that I can pick something other than IPAs. Can I assume the Swedish bikini team is also on the island? Well, back to beers, my “select” six would include the following:

·Schneider Edel-Weisse – my favorite unfiltered wheat beer and a great brew for hot, dry, deserted islands;

· B.B. Bürgerbräu – my favorite Bohemian Lager and a great accompaniment for the fish I am determined to spear and grill;

· Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Lager – my call for the best lager brewed in the US and a nice pairing for the sea birds that I will trap and roast;

· Hofbrau Maibock – a stronger brew to help me get through those cool nights tending the signal fire;

· Anchor Steam Porter – my call for the best Porter brewed this side of the Atlantic and one that will undoubtedly go well with the wild boar that I plan to snare and roast; and

· Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock – this is the strong beer I will bury deep in the sand to keep it cool and the one I will save to drink when I am rescued!

JF: If you could change one thing about the Craft Brewing Industry, what would it be, and why?

TBK: The obsession with hops in many US craft brewers drives me a bit crazy. Hopping is one of those things that takes on a near-religious tone when brought up in beer discussions. No doubt over-hopping is a straight forward way to a distinctive beer taste. But, what is the point? Beer should be all about the balance and the way the components of the beer work together. Great beers don’t necessarily need to be complex beers, but they do tend to benefit greatly when their components meld harmoniously. Overwhelming all other components with hops – to my taste at least – defeats this purpose.

My other beef on this topic is the impact that excessive hop usage has on the overall hop market. As we have seen earlier in this year, hops are scarce and are a choke point that major brewers can utilize to destabilize the economic fundamentals of craft brewing. If a certain segment of the craft brewing industry is utilizing hops at an excessive rate, it has a negative impact on the whole industry.

JF: Any last thoughts?

TBK: I’ll leave you with the motto of the Flatlander’s Brewery: “Drink good beer, be kind, tell the truth.”

Many thanks to The Kaiser for doing this interview.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sam Adams Irish Red

A) Poured from a bottle into a beer clean pint glass. Clean, light brown frothy head formed in the glass. The beer was a deep red color, as it should be.

S) Smelled of sweet maltiness. a mild hop bitterness was present.

T) First sip was a mouthful of pleasant maltiness. Hints of caramel came through. Hop bitterness appears towards the end of the sip as expected. Very good balance of malt and hop bitterness.

M) Carbonation was great. Bubbles were present with every sip and held through the end of the mouthful.

D) Great beer. Again, Jim Koch over at Sam Adams has created a fantastic beer. After the first one, I was scrambling to my fridge to grab another. This is probably one of my top 5 from Sam Adams.



Growing Hops - Planted

Well, since I received my rhizomes a little early, I thought if I left them in the sandwich bag in the fridge they might get ruined. So, I decided to plant them indoors. I put them in two large planters and I have them in the room that gets the most sun in our house. I'm hoping that in the next few weeks it starts to warm up and stay warm so I can get them outside permanently.

I found a link online to a hop farm called Puterbaugh Farms, so I emailed them to make sure I could plant them in the planters. Elizabeth, from their staff was great and emailed me back in no time with this response:

On 3/28/08, Orders <>
Hello Jason,

Thanks for the inquiry. Hops will typically grow any which way you
train them to grow. Putting them in pots would be fine, as long as there is good

Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments.



HOPS Direct, LLC

So, with that re-assurance, I planted them. More updates once I move them outside!



Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Growing Hops - Update

I find it extremely ironic that I first posted about my hops today. Much to my ironic surprise, when I got home I was greated by............MY HOP FUTURE!!!!!!!! They look so cool. Here they are. I guess I'm officially a hop grower. They came a lot sooner than I had though, which I guess is good. I now have to go to home depot and start building the trellis.

Growing hops....Oh boy!

So, in this time of rising hop prices in the world and brewers struglling to cope, I've decided to take my homebrewing to the next level in their honor. I'm going to start growing (or trying to grow) my own hops at home. I purchased 3 rhizomes from Northern Brewer and I designed a trellis to build for the hops. I have limited space so I'm going to give it a stab by growing them in large pots on the south side of my house.

My experience with growing hops is ZERO! I previously (and successfully) had a pepper garden and grew some fantastic hot peppers. There is a large difference in the plant, but I figure what the hell. Why not try it. The rhizomes were only about $5 each, so it was a small investment for a large potential for fun and great beer!

I've treid to do some reading on growing hops, and I know that I won't get a great crop, if any, in the first year. I'm hoping to maybe get at least an ounce or two from each plant as they normally yield over a pound per plant, so we'll see.

The ryzhomes won't arrive until april sometime (oops...see above), so once I receive them I'll post an update with some picture of the crop. If you've grown hops before and have some tips of the trade, please let me know!



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Session: #14 Beer People

Since I'm new to the beer blogosphere, I have yet to participate in the Session which was started by Stan Hieronymus from Appelliation Beer. This months Session is being hosted by Stonch and is sure to be a good one. The theme: Beer People.

"On Friday 4th April, the date of the next Session, I'd like you to write about people. Choose someone you know personally. That person might be a brewer, a publican, someone who sups at your local, or maybe just a friend who is passionate about beer. Let's read some pen portraits of your companions on the path to fermented enlightenment."

Be sure to check back for my post and also check out Stonch's blog around the 4th of April for the full re-cap from other beer bloggers.



Friday, February 29, 2008

2007 Craft Beer Industry thoughts

The Brewers Association released it's 2007 Craft beer industry stats earlier this week. I posted the press release below. After carefully soaking up the stats, I was amazed. 8 million barrels of craft beer is a whole lot of beer....and it only makes up 3% of total us beer sales. But the real amazing thing is that out of the 1,449 breweries in the US, 1,409 are craft brewers. So, 97% of the US brewery's, only produce 3% of the total barrels. I knew that the craft brewery sales made up a small portion of the beer market, but that's amazing. Brewpub closings were down 43% and since the brewpub is a restaurant, and restaurants have such a high failure rate, that is pretty impressive.

I think the greatest thing that I got from this, is that it makes you realize that you have a lot of great choices of beer out there. From coast to coast, there are lots of craft brewers are making lots of great quality beer for consumers like us to choose from. And unlike other industries, brewery's work together to help each other. From guest brewer series, to offering Hops to other brewers to lend a hand, the beer landscape should be called "the Craft Beer family" rather than the Craft Beer industry. I doubt Target would ever reach out and sell some cotton t-shirts to Wallmart if there was a cotton shortage. Hopefully this will help the Craft Beer Family break the misconception they all beer drinkers like watered down beer, watch nascar and eat domino's every night. That's not the case. Craft beer lovers are sophisticated, and have sophisticated palette's, like complex foods and watch other things than nascar.

The other day I heard a radio commercial from a local convenient store about their coffee. The "actor" bought a coffee, and the were asking him if because he drank that coffee if he liked beer instead of wine or trucks instead of sports cars (I'm not quoting it correctly) but when I heard the "beer instead of wine" comment I was taken back a bit. Why does mainstream America think wine is so much more sophisticated than beer. Is it the name? Or have the other 3% of the brewers in this industry tainted the image of beer drinkers? Either way, the Craft Beer Family is growing, and hopefully that will continue, because as a consumer I am very happy to have this many awesome choices when I go to my local beer store!

2008 will be a tough year for small craft brewers with the much talked about hop shortages, but seeing how the members of the Craft brewing family are already coming together to keep themselves strong during this crisis, I am very positive that they will find a way to get through the hard times and make some outstanding beers. Personally, I can't wait to see some of the new beers we get to choose from this year! I'm sure they will re-invent the Craft Beer landscape as we know it....and that is fine with me!


Craft Brewer Sales Continue To Soar Past Other Segments

Brewers Association Announces Retail Sales Up 16 Percent

Boulder, CO – Thursday, February 28, 2008 – In what has become a true American success story, the craft beer market again grew by double digits in 2007, leading all other segments in the beer category. The Brewers Association reports estimated sales by independent craft brewers up 12 percent by volume and 16 percent in dollars for 2007. Craft brewers' share of the beer category is 3.8 percent of production and 5.9 percent of retail sales.

The Brewers Association annually polls the country’s craft brewers to estimate the total volume of beer sold by brewpubs, microbreweries, and regional craft breweries in the United States, and uses scan data to estimate sales. Results show that the U.S. had 1,449 total breweries in operation in the U.S. during 2007, including 1,406 small, independent, and traditional craft brewers¹. Nearly 70 percent of craft breweries are brewpubs that sell most or all of their beer on-premises.

“Since 2004, dollar sales by craft brewers have increased 58 percent,” said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association. “The strength of this correlates with the American trend of buying local products and a preference for more flavorful foods and beers.”

The Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales figures from craft brewers at more than $5.74 billion, up from $4.95 billion in 2006. Sales in barrels equaled 8,011,141 (one barrel is 31 U.S. gallons) up from 7,147,050 barrels in 2006². The 2007 increase totals 864,091 barrels, which is the equivalent of 11.9 million cases or 285 million 12-ounce bottles of beer.

For more statistics visit the updated 2007 Craft Beer Industry Statistics Web page. A more extensive analysis will be released April 17 during the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego, California. The Association's full 2007 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual brewery, is published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer.

1. The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

2. Note: 2006 adjusted to include Carlos Alvarez/Gambrinus companies (Spoetzl, BridgePort, Pete's, Trumer), Ommegang, Ramapo Valley, adding 411k bbls to 2006 total.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rogue Chocolate Stout

Tasting number 3 from my Julio's Trip. This was poured from a 22 oz bottle into a beer clean glass.

Apearence: Dark black! I held it up to a light and saw nothing but blackness. Great head formed and left a nice lace as I sipped down the beer.
Smell: The first smell was full of malt tones with some slight hints of toffee. My first thought was "wow....they found a way to make a beer that tastes like an ice cream sunday". I'm getting very excited!!
Taste: The frist sip had hints of un-sweatened chocolate. Soon after the toffee flavor fights it's way back to the palate. A slight hop bitterness is present and it finds a great way to mixs with the chocolate/toffee flavors.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth as it rolls across my mouth. The carbonation is definitely noticable, but not too overpowering.
Drinkability: I think it goes without saying that if a beer reminds me of a's very drinkable. I'm a big fan!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Stone Smoked Port

Part two of my Julio's review trip. I'm going through the porters first. 22 oz bottle poured into a glass.

Appearance: It poured a very dark brownish/black color that some reddish tints when held up to the light. A nice dark tan head formed and left a lace of foam on the glass.

Smell: As soon as I poured it into the glass, I could smell the smoked malt. That pretty much drowned everything else out and that was all I could smell. I might have served this beer a little too cold which would mask some of the flavors. I'll have to revisit this one.

Taste: The smoked malt was the most prevelant and obvious flavor given the name of the beer. I though Stone did a good job of still have the "regular" malt flavor come through and mix with the smoked, but the smoked flavor overpowered anything else.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation was the first thing that I noticed. It was very smooth and didn't overpower like i was expecting after the first sip. It was gone as quick as it came in.

Drinkability: Overall, I think this is a good beer. Something I'll probably keep in my fridge, but possibly in small quantities. The smoked flavor started to bother me a little towards the end of the beer. I think I could enjoy one or two of these in a session and then have to move on.
Well, off to shovel some snow. Looking forward to the Rogue Chocolate Stout that up next!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anchor Porter

I'm going to keep these rather short since I'm going to try and write a few a night, but here is the first tasting as a result of my $80 Julios trip!

Appearance: It pours a very dark brown, almost black in color with minimal head. The head that is present is a dark coffee like color hinting to the dark roasted malts

Smell: The first whiff has strong hints of fruityness and your nose fills with a flavor reminiscent of molasses. It took me a while to figure it out, but it was very pleasant.

Taste: Maltiness is the first thing I tasted. But soon after the molasses appeared again and took over. Anchor did a great job of keeping the stongest flavor prevelant in all aspects, while still bringing some of the traditional malt charicteristics to your taste buds. Very well balanced

Mouthfeel: There is hints of carbonation in this beer, as keeping with the style. The beer flows effortlessly to the bakc of the mouth and grabs at your taste buds when appropriate.

Drinkability: I have to admit, this being the first Anchor Porter I've had, I was not expecting this type of flavor from a porter. That being said....I loved it! The balance of the true to character maltiness with the added fruityness and molasses flavors really impressed me. I'm on #1 now....but I can promise you this 6 pack won't last long. I'll be making this a staple in the beer fridge! Overall rating is an A!
Next up, Stone Smoked Porter!



Beer Travels

A great post by the Bier Kaiser on his Noch Eins blog regarding a beer vacation in Germany! I know the Kaiser personally, and if you're thinking of planning a Euro Beer trip, I suggest getting in touch....he's done them all!!!


Stocking the Beer Fridge

This weekend, I took a drive to my local beer store, Julio's Liquor's. This is an impressive beer store with over 900 different beers to choose from. I was about as excited as a little kid is on Christmas morning, but when I got inside, I found myself overwhelmed...(in a good way). So, after I got myself together, I browsed up and down the ailses in search of some beer.

After about 20 minutes of walking up and down the 4 ailses of beers, i realized I had no idea what I was looking for. I was just a,azed at home many different beers they had, and I wanted them all....and now!! But, cooler heads prevailed, and I paused to reflect on what I really wanted to try, and determined I wanted a little of everything.

I started down the cooler ailse and saw Some Harpoon UFO Hefeweisen and though, "hmmm, my wife likes that, so that would get me brownie points and hide the fact that we will need another mortgage to pay for the beer I'm going to buy today". So, I grabbed a six pack. Next, i entered the Belgium/German section. Any beer store that has it's own Belgium/German section rules....plain and simple!! I grabbed three of Ommegangs finest, and two German Weissebeers, 4 Weinheinstephaner Dunkel Weissebier's and 2 Schneider-Weisse.

Next was the mixed 22 oz. ailse. I picked up 2 Rogue Chocolate Stouts, and 2 Stone Smoked Porters. I'm a big fan of the Chocolate Stout, so in keeping with the Porters, I'm looking forward to the Smoked Porter. After I grabbed the Rogue's and Stones, I was in a porter/Stout mood so I stumbled upon Anchor Porter and decided to grab a six pack!

I thought I was done, and I started to walk towards the counter when it hit me. I was about to brew my own version of an American Amber Ale (Style 10B in BJCP) for a competition here in MA. BJCP posts commercial examples of the styles, and one of the examples I saw was Red Seal Ale from North Coast Brewing Co. So, I turned my cart around....searched the ailse and grabbed one last six pack.

$80 later, I have some serious drinking and reviewing to do. I will try to post a review for each of the beers I purchased, so check back in the coming weeks to check them out. Feel free to share your thoughts on any of these beers as well.