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!