Monday, April 27, 2009

Wedding Brew Weekend

As I've mentioned in previous posts (see Witbier and Two Brew Weekend) I was asked to brew some beer for my friends wedding. With the final beer being chosen in early April, I set out this weekend to brew it up for the big day......twice. Early in the week I decided to make two batches. I thought that for an entire wedding reception, 2.5 cases just wasn't going to cut it (now that I said that, I bet there will be a ton left over).

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 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

Beer Wars - The review......

Last night I spent the evening with my wife in Framingham MA attending the well talked about Beer Wars Movie. And to be honest...I'm still not sure how I feel about it. To answer the questions I posted about yesterday, Yes...I was entertained and No, I didn't learn anything new. So, if you're still planning on going to see the movie and would hate to know all about the movie before you saw it (Leah and Luke are brother and sister....wait, wrong wars) then don't read on.

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. 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!!



I'm not sure about you, but when I see that come across my email, my heart skips a beat. I think back to 2001 when I received the same email about the twin towers, or in 2005 when 16 Navy Seals were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan that was hit by an RPG, and one went MIA for 2 weeks. So, naturally when I saw today's CNN BREAKING NEWS email, I said to myself "oh no"......quickly followed by "ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME?".

"-- Ashton Kutcher is first to reach 1 million followers in Twitter contest with
Is this what the news world has been reduced to??? The fact that anyone should give a shit that Ashton Kutcher reached 1 million followers on Twitter is, to say the least, RIDICULOUS!!!!

Our country is in the middle of one of, if not the, worst recessions EVER. We're still fighting two wars overseas (agree with them or not, they are still going on), Pirates are attacking ships delivering relieve supplies to 3rd world country's and CNN has the balls to send a breaking news alert about Ashton f-ing Kutcher reaching 1 million followers???? WOW!!!!

Sorry for the non-beer rant, but that just pushed my buttons!!!

Cheers to real news,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Email posting & Beer wars

This post is brought to you via email for the first time!!! I'm not sure if this is a good thing, but maybe it will help with my lack of posting! WOO HOO TECHNOLOGY!!!

Tonight, I'm heading out to see "Beer Wars" with my wife. I have mixed feelings about this movie. One on hand, I'm wondering how they can pull off a documentary about beer to a bunch of craft beer drinkers who already despise the macros....I mean, are we going to learn anything that the converted craft beer drinkers of America don't already know?? On the other hand.....I'm pretty sure I'll be entertained which is the point of going to the movies. Plus, I get to spend a night of beer watching, and most likely drinking, with my wife which is always good!! I'll post another day on what I thought about the movie!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pike Brewing Releases Monk's Uncle Tripel Ale as a Year 'round Offering & Pike Tandem Double Ale is Reformulated with Belgian Ale Yeast

Seattle, Washington, March 26, 2009
There once was a little boy. He didn't want to be a racecar driver, a cowboy or a fireman.When he grew up he wanted to be a monk. Not just any monk, but one who brewed beer. He expressed his ambition to his parents. "But son, we're Jewish!" they told him. He became an artist instead.

Being Jewish didn't stop Charles Finkel from introducing Orval Trappist Ale into the USA years later. When the Abbot of this famous monastery brewery, established in 1028, was told that the best importer had been identified to distribute their beer, he was also told that the principal was Jewish. "So was our lord," the Abbot was reported to say, and Finkel got the exclusive U.S. agency. Among beer connoisseurs Orval, like the five other Trappist beers in Belgium, is regarded to this day as "holy beer." Miracle of miracles, the cultivation of barley and the beer brewed from it was imported from the Middle East to the West by the crusaders who introduced the new concept to the Roman Catholic Church. While it is the monks who get the credit, it was the nuns who did the brewing. Hildegard Von Bingen, the Abbess of the Convent of Bingen in Northern Germany, is credited with introducing humulus lupulus (hops) to beer around 1067AD. Europe's first big businesses were three breweries owned by the Monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland during the dark ages. At a time when most people were illiterate, the monasteries communicated the gravity or strength of their beers with crucifixes. One cross was for a single, a brew to be drunk on a daily basis; two crosses, a double, for special occasions; and three, a triple, reserved for religious holidays. As people learned to read and write, the cross became Xs. Multiple Xs on a bottle, still to this day, indicates a strong drink. Secular brewing got its start in the Middle Ages when people began to move to cities; many of today's breweries trace their origin to the church. Seven monastic breweries continue to operate in Belgium and Holland.

Beers of the double and tripel style are made by monasteries today including Westmalle and Rochefort. They are the benchmarks for these distinctive styles, though many more doubles and triples are brewed in Belgium by secular breweries who, prevented by law from calling these old fashioned beers "Trappist," call them Abbey Ales.

In 1989, Charles and Rose Ann founded the Pike Place Brewery in Seattle's famous public market. In 1996, the company, now called The Pike Brewing Company, expanded to its current space - a gravity flow steam brewery and pub, one-half block uphill from its original location. Michael Jackson described the new Pike as, "a shrine to beer." The Finkels sold Pike, along with Merchant Du Vin, their beer importing company in 1997. After an eight-year "sabbatical," they re-acquired Pike in 2006 and since that time, have worked to realize their dream to own a world class brewery. Pike's original line of beers was already well established and all were brewed with yeast originally imported from England. Remembering his childhood dream to be a monk, Charles wanted to add completely different tastes for Pike customers: a double and tripel in the monastic style. Since Charles and Rose Ann were tandem bicycle enthusiasts, they named their new Double, "Pike Tandem." In the Abbey style, Head Brewer Drew Cluley added organic sugar and coriander to a gold medal winning brown ale.

Monk's Uncle Triple, brewed as a spring seasonal, became the first Pike beer to use Belgium yeast. Introduced at Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle, it became a cult classic, selling out at each release. Monk's Uncle won the readers choice award for "Best Belgian Ale" 2008.

With the addition of more fermentation tanks to expand the brewery's capacity, the decision was made to add Pike Monk's Uncle Triple to the Pike lineup of beers brewed year round. Since the yeast, a strain from Westmalle Monastery, could now be propagated from one batch to the next as the brewery has done with its English style yeast since 1989, it was decided to brew Pike Tandem with the same Belgian ale yeast as well.

Pike Monk's Uncle Triple 9% alcohol by volume is brewed with organic malt and organic sugar. It is golden, full-bodied and complex with a yeasty nose, fruity esters and malty dryness. There are hints of honey, spice and exotic fruit that play with the senses.

Pike Tandem Double is cocoa colored, smooth, round, nutty and complex with flavors of freshly baked bread. It is stylish and sensual without bitterness. In addition to hops, coriander is used as a seasoning.

According to Finkel, drinking these beers is a, "religious experience!"