Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I brewed my American IPA yesterday out in the fridgid cold, and stepped inside to warm up a bit and had a boil over. It was so cold that the bolied over wort froze as soon as it hit the ground. Other than that, it was a succesful day.
I've been very lucky these past few months. Things at work were slow.....very slow. So slow that I had a lot of time on my hinds. Time to do things like plan out 6 brew sessions....Belgian Tripel (3 seperate batches), Munich Dunkel, Winter Spiced Ale 2009 and recently American IPA. I also had the time to look for a new job....which I accepted a few weeks ago and start on January 4th! :-) While this new job won't give me access to great homebrew shops like my old one did, it will put me right next to my favorite beer bar in Boston (Bukowski's) and give me a 45 minute shorter commute.....each way!!!
Anyway...enough rambling. My Winter Spiced Ale turned out ok, but had no carbination. So in order to fix this issue, I sanatized a keg, and dumped them all into the keg and I'm in the process of force carbinating it. My sister-in-law helped me make an AWESOME label (which I'll post when I can get it off my thumb drive which I don't have now) and I think everythin will be saved, just not in time for Christmas. Oh well.
I brought my Munich Dunkel today to a meeting I had at Cape Cod Beer. I was lucky enough ot have the opportunity to meet with Todd and Beth Marcus, Owners of Cape Cod beer, for some insight into the business and starting out as a brewer! It was awesome. And, in edition, he tried my Munich Dunkel and had some good feed back. They're going to serve a few of them at his next homebrew meeting and send me some additional feedback as well. SWEET!!!!!!
Other than that, my wife and I are getting ready to welcome our first child in March. I'm trying to get a few more brew sessions in before then, for two reasons. One, so I'll have enough home brew to last me through the summer, and two because I don't want to assume I'll have enough time to brew much at first.
I hope you all have a happy and safe New Year!!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
So, Alan who writes at "A Good Beer Blog" holds a yearly yuletide photo contest. He gets a lot of amazing photo's from around the world (I use one from last year as my desktop photo). So this year I decided to enter a few of my pictures that I took while at Magnolia's in San Fran.
To my excitement, I received an email from Alan this morning informing me that I was one of the winners. I won a copy of 33 Bottles of Beer. It's a beer diary sort of that allows you to review beers on a flavor wheel so you can visually see how your beers tasted. Very cool. Hell, you could have given me a free bottle opener and I would have been psyched. Anyway, check out what Alan had to say here. Thanks Alan!!!
Back to shoveling snow!!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
So, what does this have to do with beer? Well, they had a great selection. I mean, we're in San Fran so naturally there is some good beer locally. Anchor brewery, Magnolia's, 21st Amendment are some big names here in town. And, about 3.5 hrs away is Sierra Nevada. So, needless to say, they had some good beer served at the show.
My wife and I decided to come out a few days early and she was a trooper. She obliged as we went down to Haight Ashbury and scoped out the "scene" there. I'm a Dead fan so this is like Mecca!! Then we went to Magnolia's. A GREAT brewery restaurant right on Haight street. Its been writen about in All About Beer magazine so I felt I had to go.
I only had two beers. My wife had their Root Beer, which in her words was "AWESOME", and I had a sip or two and had to agree. They make a Root Beer and another fruit soda that escapes me at the moment (hey, I just left a crowes show...throw me a bone).
This week at Magnolias was Belgian week so they featured Belgian beers. I started with there Unblonde. Light colored, spicy/fruity aroma and taste. It reminded me of a mix between a german hefe and a belgian woit. Very good beer!!
Second waas the Dubbel. Cramel colpor and taste. Some alcohol warmth although I'm not sure why as it only came in under 7% (I think....hey, I'm foing this from memory).
Overall, it was awesome. We also got an order of fries (Pom Frittes as Jay Brookes calls them) and they were out of thid world. If your ever in San Fran, I highly recomend Magnolia's.
Cheers....here's to hpping the rest of this conference is as good as the first day!!!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
A little off topic, but a cause of why I have not been brewing, I just renovated my bathroom! This was a full renovstion, down to the studs and I did the vast majority my self, with the exception of the plumbing and electrical work. It is almost 100% complete which will be nice. We have a 110 year old home, so when you do these types of projects, there are always issues. We had many....which caused all the delays. I was planning on being done this past sunday, and then I was going to have 2 brew sessions this week after work, but this delays/issues keep piling up!! So, I'll brew soon enough!
Next up is 2 batches of Belgian Tripel. It was a big hit, so I'm going to brew a lot of it and trade it with some friends for some random things. This should be fun! I also think I'm going to brew up my brown session ale. I've been really craving some session beers lately, but all I have are the belgian tripels and some bigger IPA's. This isn't neccesarily an issue, but when you swill 4-5 of them you definitely feel it in the morning, which IS an issue!!
With the renovation of the bathroom, we rented a dunpster for all the demo. This allowed us to clean out the basement, which was long overdue. It was clutered with things we bought or collected over the years and have no use for. With this new found space, I'm going to try and carve out a space so I can brew down there in the winter. I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not to brew with a propane burner indoors, but I think if I do it by the door and have the door open, I'll have the proper ventilation I need to make everything ok. Besides, I've seen plenty of people in BYO or Zymurgy who have propane setups in their basements and it seems to be fine. We shall see!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
- Belgian Tripel tasting and label update (Allagash clone)
- Christmas Spiced Ale Brew Session
- Munich Dunkel Update
- Big Beer Idea
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thanks to everyone who participated this month. I promise next time I host, I'll get a better topic out there.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
As homebrewers, we all enjoy quality brewed Craft beer. But, if you grew up like I did, there wasn't any craft beer around the house. My father, uncle's and cousins all drank Coors, Bud, Michelob and so naturally that's what I started drinking when I first drank beer. But something made me stray from the swill. So, this month tell me a story. How did you find your way to craft beer? Were you one of the lucky one's who parents drank good beer early one, or did you need to find it on your own??
I'll post a reminder when the date gets closer, but hopefully this will give you some time to reminisce some.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
"Most home brewers I know and read about use the standard 2 row base malt and the 3 big C's for the hops and maybe a nice 1056 or 05 for the yeast. In my book that is kind of boring even though I do it myself. I want to know if and why you break away from the norm. Do you use Maris Otter for your base and Tettenger as the hop. Or have you ever tried using a specialty malt as a base (can this even be done)? Do you like to mix up the yeast or do you always stay the same. So bust out your out of the norm recipes and tell me why you chose what you did."
Monday, August 17, 2009
The Brewers Association released it's mid-year numbers today. The press release is located on their web site, click here to view the full release.
- Dollar growth from craft brewers during the first half of 2009 increased 9%, down from 11% growth during the same period in 2008.
- Volume of craft brewed beer sold grew 5% for the first six months in 2009, compared to 6.5% growth in the first half of 2008.
- The U.S. now boasts 1,525 breweries, the highest number in 100 years when consolidation and the run up to Prohibition reduced the number of breweries to 1,498 in 1910
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
This is not meant to be one of those rants where I say "I thought of it first", BUT I REALLY DID!!!! And I have proof!!! (See picture) I had the idea for the "I am a Homebrewer" too, and I balked at the chance to do it!! DAMN IT!!!! As you can see by my post, I thought of this back in April. Chances are these guys did too, and it just took a while to get it out there. Kudos to them for actually going through with it!!!
Why bring this up now you say? Well, because I'm slightly jealous and I feel like an idiot. I should have gone ahead with the idea then I could be the one everyone is talking about! Ehh, oh well! Anyway, I hope you have seen the clip and enjoyed it. It's pretty good.....BUT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN US! :-)
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
"What beers have you attempted to duplicate in your own homes, or which ones have you always wanted to reproduce, but have been wary of attempting?"
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Last week on the way home from my Triathlon in Geneva, NY my wife and I decided to take a quick detour through the F.X. Matt Brewery. It's kind of funny since Charlie Papazian just wrote about it this week, here. His post made me realize I needed to post this. The tour was great. You start out in a room that has a lot of antique's and old stuff from the Utica Club Days. P.T. Barnums desk is in this room and there is a grandfather clock which is worth over a million dollars......and it doesn't even work!!!
Next came the presidents room. This room/hallway was filled with portraits of all of F.X. Matt's former and current presidents. Basically it's the entire Matt family. Still, very cool. Next a room which basically had all their products on display. The tour guide talked about the Saranac Brands, their Saranac Soda and how they use barley and hops to brew there beer. Boring stuff for the homebrewer. The final room before we got to see the actual brewery was the prohibition room. It was a small room designed in the speakeasy fashion. He talked about how Utica Club survived prohibition and that they were the first brewery to sell beer after the 21st amendment was signed. They had beer on the trucks ready to ship 1 hour after the amendment was penned! Hmmm.....how'd they get that beer made in 1 hour????
Now to thew brewery. The first room housed the two large brew kettles. All 100% copper kettles which were a thing of beauty. The amount of equipment that was in this room was amazing. The picture below is only half the room. The other half to the right was the cereal cooker and the filter, which was about the size of a yellow school bus. Very cool!
After seeing the brewhouse, we took a quick trip through the grain storage tanks.....actually, just the top floor. It wasn't much because of the massive size, they were more than 2 stories high and so wide we could barely walk by them. Next we went to a room which had a view of the fermentation tanks. They would not allow us to go into the fermentation room because there are pipes and hoses all over the floor and they do not want to liability of someone tripping and hurting themselves. I understand....no biggie.
And finally, we finished in their pub! We were given 2 drink tickets each. I was the first to the bar, and I grabbed my favorite Saranac beer ( and probably one of my top 5 beers) Saranac Black Forest!! WOW, what an amazing beer. Great malty bite to it slight hop presence. My wife, since she was the best and offered to drive, had thier Root Beer. IT WAS AWESOME!!! It was so good, we bought a 6 pack. I also bought a 6 pack of the Black Forest and went through it the night I got home! SO GOOD!
As we Left, I snapped the above picture. It's the grain "dump" or whatever you call it. This is where the spent grain is put after brewing and local farmers come by with a truck, has the grain dumped in the back, and they take it away and use the grains for cattle feed. Very cool and easy way to dispose of spent grain!
If you're ever out near Utica, I highly recomend taking this tour. It's very easy to get too and it's a lot fo fun to see one of the oldest working breweries in the country!
Sherwood Forest is a small brewery located in Marlborough, MA. I've never been a huge fan of there beers. I would much rather have a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale over their Archers Pale ale, but then again I think I would have a SNPA over most beers! By the looks of their web site, they re-branded most of their beers and have spent some money upgrading the site. I'll have to grab some and see if their beers have improved as well!
This looks to be an exciting deal for them. Be on the lookout for there beers if you live in these markets!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Allagash Tripel Clone:
12.8 lbs (5.8 kg) Pilsner malt
1.6 lbs (.73 kg) sucrose
2 oz (57 g) German Tettnang hops (4% AA, 60 minutes)
.4 oz (11 g) Hallertau Mittelfruh hops (whirlpool)
Wyeast 1762 (Belgian Abbey Ale II) or Wyeast 3787 (Trappist High Gravity) or White Labs WLP510 (Belgian Bastogne Ale)
Mash at 153 F (67 C). Boil for 90 minutes. Add sugar for final 15 minutes. Add whirlpool hops at end of boil. Ferment at high end of yeast strain's recommended range.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Another reason I'm excited about the race being here is that all that time I spent training......can now be spent brewing!!! I haven't brewed since early May and I am in desperate need of a brew session. But, I'm having a small problem. I don't know what I should brew. Part of me is thinking I should brew the batch I brewed for the wedding, and try to incorporate some of the suggestions I had into the beer and attempt to perfect it. But the creative side of me wants to try something new. These past few months, I've been indulging in some Belgian beers. Mostly from Allagash and Ommegang, but I've made a list of some of the beers I'm going to try and track down from some of the trappist breweries in Belgium and try those. I've given up drinking for the past two weeks (which was not easy) so after Sunday, I'm going to get back on the wagon with an Allagash Curieux and either a Brooklyn Local 1 or Local 2. (The decision between Local 1 and Local 2 will be made by who wins the race....me, or my friend Shaun who is also competing).
Which brings me to the reason for this post. I can't decide what to brew....so I'm leaving it up to you, my readers. I'll post a poll for this and you can vote over on the left side. Brew day is going to be Sunday, July 26th and it can't come soon enough!! If you have a suggestion that isn't in the poll, leave a comment and I'll consider it!!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I have two views on this issue, first as a beer consumer. I think it is ludicrous that I, as a beer drinker, should be taxed strictly because I enjoy beer. This is unfair to me as a consumer and I personally think that if the government needs to raise taxes on something in order to generate additional revenue (to supplement all their spending), shouldn't all American's share this burden? A fair way to raise taxes would be for income tax to be raised which effects everyone and doesn't force beer drinkers to pay for our "sins". Although, it's my opinion that in this economy taxes shouldn't be raised in the first place.
Second, as someone who is working towards owning a brewery, I try to look at this from the brewers perspective. Lets say you were a small independent craft brewer. You have steady sales, but in this economic climate, things just haven't taken off. Then, you get hit with an additional excise tax on the beer you produce. This additional cost can not be absorbed by your business and you are forced to pass that cost on to your consumers. Some consumers see this price hike and go shopping for alternative beers to yours, thus decreasing your sales even further ultimately forcing you out of business. I have a hard time looking at this scenario and saying "it is what it is".
In the comments of Lew's post, he got into a deeper discussion on this issue and put it as plain as it can be!
"Are you telling me that if the government taxed, what, bacon that would be okay as long as people kept eating it and paying the tax? A tax on beer makes no more sense than a tax on bacon. So why tax bacon or beer?"
On another note, there is a great article (pdf format) from the Tax Foundation on the effect of cross border sales of beer due to sales and beer excise tax. I got it from J's blog. It's a long read, but very interesting. Enjoy!
Friday, May 29, 2009
"...for something a bit more light and fun, this month's topic revolves around the brewing activity itself. Brewing is an extremely rewarding endeavor, especially after sipping on the end product....a delicious pint of cold carbonated beer. But in the process of making it, it's not always 'a walk in the park'. I'm interested to hear about what areas in the brewday brings joy and stress"
Monday, May 18, 2009
This past weekend, I was in Brooklyn for a bachelor party. Luckily, the party started at the Brooklyn Brewery! We took a tour and sat in the "tasting room" (it was more like a bar) and sampled their awesome line up of beers. I left there a very happy beer lover! I took some pictures, which are the the bottom. Sorry about the quality, but they're from my cell phone.
The tour was short. Not in time, but in distance traveled. You move from the tasting room, over to the brewery room and listen to the tour guide talk about the history of Brooklyn Brewing Co, the building and their current state. All in all, it was about 30 feet. As someone who wants to open my own brewery I thought the tour was very cool, and yes they started as home brewers!!! At the start, they did contract brewing with F.X. Matt (Saranac) up in Utica, NY. To this day, the majority of there beer is still produced at the Matt Brewery. Only a few beers (Local 1, Local 2 and others) are actually brewed in the Brooklyn Brewery.
Next we moved back to the tasting room and sat at some of the tables they had set up and began to sample their brews. I started off with the Brooklyn IPA, which they called E.IP.A. (East India Pale Ale). This was golden in color and had a great head. Huge hop aroma's and it packed a wallop of hop bitterness.
Next up was the Brooklyner Weisse. Their Bavarian yeast strain gave it lots of the traditional Banana esters and some great flavor as well. I've had some Hefe's that were just too overpowering with the banana/clove ester combo, but this was perfect. It didn't get in the way of the backbone of the beer, the wheat!
Beer 3 was just a quick sample, the Intensified Coffee Stout. Had this beer been lower in alcohol (8.5%) I probably would have had a few, but since we had a LONG day of bachelor party drinking to do, I only gave it a taste. WOW!!!! I could smell the coffee aroma before I even stuck my nose in it! The first sip was amazing. Big coffee flavor, with a great rich malty backbone. The maltiness and coffee flavor really mask the alcohol in this, which is part of the reason I shied away from it.
The Brooklyn Brown was next. I'm a huge brown ale fan and this beer did not disappoint. It poured a deep dark brown color and had hints of some roasty malt character. The chocolate malt was evident and very pleasant. The hop character was a little restrained from what I was expecting. Not a lot of bitterness, but subtle flavor and aroma. One of the main reasons I liked this beer so much was it reminded me of my American Brown. When I brewed it, the judges told me it had a roasty character that is not traditional in the style, and it was too dark. Color wise, my brown is the same. It made me smile and I know I will be back to the drawing board to figure this one out!
As we were leaving, I grabbed two bottle to take home.....famed Local 1 and Local 2. I have yet to try these but I've heard and read a lot of great reviews on them, so I'm very excited to get into them. If you're ever in Brooklyn, or NY for that matter, definitely take a trip to the brewery and check it out. You won't be disappointed!!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
The first batch went off without a hitch. The mash settled perfectly at 152 and stayed there for the entire 60 minutes. I had a small boil over at the beginning mostly because I was paying more attention to drinking some of the last batch and watching the Red Sox. Post boil, I ended up with 6 gallons, which is what I planned. Chilled, racked and pitched. Batch one down!
The second batch went off.....but not so much without a hitch. To set the stage, it was close to 90f in Natick on Saturday, I had gone for a 7 mile run about 2 hours prior to starting the first batch, had one bowl of oatmeal to eat all day, and about 6 homebrews by the time I started batch two. Needless to say, it had it's effects on me. I didn't realize my mistake until the boil, but it turns out I used an extra gallon of water in the mash. DOH!!!! (sorry Chappy, the beer will be fine, I promise)
Sunday, after I had sobered up, I went through my notes and realized where I went wrong. In an attempt to be more efficient, I started batch 2 while batch 1 was still chilling prior to pitching the yeast, so I didn't have the availability of my Blichman boilermaker with the volume sight gauge on the side. Instead, I went back in time to my "pre-boilermaker" days and used a wooden spoon I had notched out at the gallon marks. Apparently I mistook the 5g mark for the 4g mark. Other than that slight mix up, the batch come out well. It's a little lighter in color but it's fermenting away.
Both batches have a very nice krausen on them and are vigorously fermenting away right now. I'm a little concerned that because of the ambient temp in the room, that I might get some bad esters in the beer, so I might move them to the basement. But then basement is on the cooler side of the temp spectrum. Probably in the high 50's. I did give myself a few extra weeks, so if the fermentation slows, I think I'll be ok. Recipe is below.
So here's my questions.....do you think I should blend the two batches prior to bottling to essentially make them one large batch? If you could let me know your thoughts and experiences with blending, that would be great!
OG - 1.050
Batch Size - 6 g
8 lbs Two-Row
1.5 lbs Crystal 15L
1.5 lbs Crystal 40L
1 lbs Munich .25 lbs Brown Malt
.5 lbs Flaked Barley
.5 oz Columbus (13% AA, 6.5 AAU, FWH)
.5 oz Magnum (14.5% AA, 7.3 AAU, 30 min)
.25 oz Columbus (13% AA, 3.3 AAU, 30 min)
.5 oz Glacier (5.5% AA, 2.8 AAU, 15 min)
.25 Columbus (13% AA, 3.3 AAU, 10 min)
.5 oz Glacier (5.5% AA, 2.8 AAU, DH)
Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale
Friday, April 17, 2009
The start of the movie was, to say the least, rough. I felt like I was watching a track meet and someone tripped when the gun went off. Not good. Anat Baron (Filmmaker) struggled in the opening of the the movie, which was live. Whoever was holding her cue cards probably got fired today.....and we'll leave it at that. I guess that's what you get with live production.
Once the movie actually started rolling, things went a little better. The beginning of the movie went through Anat's background working in the "beer" industry. Ahem....she worked for Mikes Hard lemonade....not quite beer, but a malternative none the less. Oh, and she is allergic to alcohol so she can't drink it. Now, I am in no way saying she's not allergic to alcohol, but to make a movie about beer....hype the crap out of it....then admit you don't drink beer seems a little hypocritical! To quote a good friend....."that's like me making a movie about dresses". It just doesn't work, and my attitude toward the movie quickly shifted to "damn, I just wasted $32 on this movie....should I make my wife stay through it all?"
She then proceeded start us through a journey of beer giving the history of beer in America and transitioned into the big 3 brewers and how they got to be so big. The rest of the movie jumped around from topic to topic, starting with Sam Calagione. She highlighted his/Dogfish Heads rise to Cult status and talked about the expansion to there brewery. The other interview subject was Rhonda Kallman, founder and CEO of New Century Brewing Co. Rhonda also happens to be the co-founder of Boston Beer Co, the makers Sam Adams. New Century is launching a new beer called Moonshot, which is a light beer made with Caffeine in it. This was probably the most interesting part of the movie personally because it highlighted the struggle that start -up craft brewers have to face with the big 3 pushing you off the shelf in stores.
The rest of the movie seemed more like a clip from a Michael Moore film. It showed clips of here trying to track down (stalk) August Busch IV. Then clips of Anat in DC discussing the Beer Lobby and the 3 tier distribution system. I started to get excited that I might learn something about the 3 tier system, but nothing. No more than 15 seconds were spent trying to explain the system, or why the lobbyist are fighting to keep it in place so hard.
Then......it was over! Time for the live panel moderated by Ben Stein. The panel consisted of Charlie Papazian (AHA), Greg Koch (Stone), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Rhonda Kallman (New Century), Maureen Ogle (Author, "Ambitious Brew"), Todd Alstrom (Beer Advocate) and Anat, and man was it awkward. Some of the questions Ben asked made it seem like he didn't watch the movie. I forget the exact wording of the question, but it was the second one he asked and the movie had touched on the same question and Greg Koch answered it in the movie.......STEIN.........STEIN.........STEIN?
All in all, I kind of wish I had waited for it to come out on DVD or better yet....You tube! I know Anat had good intentions of showing how the Big 3 are trying to push the Craft Brewers around, but it fell short of the target. Some segments should have gone deeper, some shouldn't have gone at all, but I can say I was entertained!! I'm looking forward to hearing how others felt about it. I'm sure there will be TON'S of posts on blog around the country!!