Friday, March 27, 2009

Fermentation Friday: Spring Fever

I'm joining the ranks of the Fermentation Friday crew and posting on the topic. Bryon, at is this months host and will post is roundup here. This months topic is "Spring Fever".
"How will you grow or change as a homebrewer this Spring? How will you
embrace your Spring fever and channel it toward your homebrewing

This spring is going to be a crazy one for me. I have a lot going on and to be able to fit in some brewing sessions here and there will be key. As I've posted before, Ive been asked to brew some beer for my friends Kate and Shaun's wedding. So, naturally I'll need them to taste it before I brew the official batch. Almost all of my brewing this spring will be focused on this. I'm hoping to be able to get two good batches that they both like so I can have them for the wedding, in June!

On top of that, I've signed up to race in a Half-Ironman triathlon in July and I need to start getting a lot of training in and weekends are a great time for long runs and rides.....which eats into my brewing time. But, the good thing is that in the pat few months I've brewed a few batches so I'll have some tasty homebrew when I'm done my training sessions.

IF I had the time I want to dedicate to brewing, I think my main focus would be on consistancy. I have two recipes which have come out great in the past that I want to perfect. My APA and my Brown Session Ale. These beers are my best beers and If I can perfect them to a point where brewing them is like riding a bike, then I can kill two birds with one stone. First, I'll have two great recipes to base starting my brewing (whenever that may be) with, and second is, naturally, I'll have two awesome beers on tap at all times! WIN WIN for me!!

The other area I'd like to focus on, and I imagine a lot of others will too, is being more economically sound with my brewing. With the consistancy of the two brews mentioned above, I'd like to be able to make them for less. Hey, money doesn't grow on trees (someone should tell Obama that) so being frugal and trying to brew for less will be a big plus for me!!

Fermentation Friday was started by Adam over at Beer Bits 2, and it’s a chance for all homebrew bloggers to sound off on a singular theme at a set date - the last Friday of each month (check out Adam’s post explaining the origins).



Friday, March 6, 2009

Beer's Economic Impact

I came accross a great site today called Beer Serves America. The site goes into great detail about the impact beer has our nations (and states) economy. There is a tool on the site that allows you to view by state, and by district within your state, the economic impact the beer industry has. It was pretty amazing stuff. In 2006, Massachusettes employed just under 25,000 people in the industry earning wages over $255 million.

Now, I'm not an economist, but I read a great post (actually a few) on Lew Bryson's blog about taxes on beer/liquor/cigarettes etc. and how they don't work. With Govenor Deval's push for the new "Wellness Tax" I thought I'd point out this site. As Lew's post points out, NJ Tried this with smokes in order to help curb a budget crisis, and it backfired. People either stopped smoking or drove over the border to get their smokes and the State actually lost revenue.

Let's pray that the Wellness Tax doesn't go into effect. Because not only will your beer be more expensive, but that bag of skittles from the vending machine will be $2 soon!!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two Brew Weekend

This weekend was one of the first weekends I've had this year where my wife and I didn't have to travel anywhere, or have any plans to do anything, so I took full advantage of it and was able to brew two batches of beer. The first batch was an attempt at making a clone of Sixpoint Craft Ale's Sweet Action. I used a lot of crystal malt to try and pull out the sweetness, and decent amount of high alpha hops to try and balance it out. The second batch was brewed at my neighbors house with another neighbor and fellow homebrewer. It was our goal to recruit one more person into the homebrewing club, and I think we were successful (Matt??).

The reason for the Sixpoint clone is two-fold. First, It's an awesome beer with a great balance of big sweet malt flavor and big hop aroma and flavor. So naturally, when a homebrewer likes a beer, they try and clone it! Second, my good friend Shaun, who lives in Brooklyn, is getting married to my other good friend Kate. As I've mentioned before, they've asked me to brew some beer for the wedding. We've collectively been trying to come up with a beer that would be enjoyed at the wedding, and one I'm able to brew successfully. A few beers are on the list, but this one was next so I gave it a shot. I posted a few comments on the TastyBrew forum about the original recipe that I created and was told I had WAY too much crystal malt in the recipe and that it would be ridiculously sweet. So I took some out, and added some other malts to try and balance it out and added some more hops for balance as well. I still think I'm on the sweet side with about 23% crystal malt, but we'll have to wait and see.


OG - 1.050
Batch Size - 6 g
Pre-boil Volume - 8 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)

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

On Sunday, Rob, Matt and Myself brewed at Matt's house. Matt has been asking Rob and myself to teach him to brew for a while now, and we finally were able to make it happen. We took a walk (through the snow) to Barleycorns and picked up a kit for Matt to make. He chose an English Ale called Burton's Best Bitter. "Best Bitter - Mid level gravity and more malt flavor than the ordinary, also with a touch more hop character" It was reasonably priced at $44 so we picked it up and went back to brew. The day went off without any issues and we were able to show Matt how easy homebrewing can be. With an extract/grain recipe, our brewing time was about 90 minutes and we let the wort cool in the snow which took another 1.5 hours or so, during which we drank beer and stared at a fire. Two of my favorite and fire!! I don't have the exact recipe, but my attempt from memory is below. I was surprised how much hops were used, 5 total oz for a 5 g batch, but they were mostly low alpha hops.

Burton's Best Bitter

4 lbs amber malt extract
3 lbs light malt extract
1 Victory Malt
1 Carastan Malt
.5 lbs Two-Row

2 oz Goldings (5% AA, 60 min)
1 oz Fuggles (5% AA, 30 min)
1 oz Goldings (5% AA, 1 min)
1 oz Fuggles (5% AA, DH)

Safale S-04 dried yeast

I'm looking forward to finding out how these both come out. Next up, I'm brewing my American Pale Ale for my fantasy baseball draft. I don't have much time so I'm going to have to brew it one night this week. More brewing...WOOO HOO!!!!!