Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rumcake and the brown ale

I bottled the Rumcake Ale last weekend. Yes, "Bottle". What a pain in the ass. I started about 6:30 and finished at about 9. I'd forgotten what a lot of work bottling is. Wash bottles, sanitize bottles, drain bottles, clean bottling bucket, sanitize bottling bucket, sanitize caps, sanitize siphon. Arg! If I did the math right (I've got a masters degree in math, but I can still screw up simple arithmetic, so I may have made a mistake here (5 gallons = 5 x 128 oz = 500 + 5 x 28 = 500 + 100 + 40 = 640 / 22 = 2 x 10 + 200 / 22 = 20 + 9 point something = 29, I did that in my head)), I should have got 29 22oz bottles out of 5 gallons. I got 23. I lost 6 x 22 = 132 ounces (I did that in my head too -- 6 x 20 = 120 + 6 x 2 = 132) which is over a gallon lost somewhere. Well, I can account for about a pint, since I'm drinking that. On the other hand, that is a quite joyous pint! When I racked this from primary to secondary, I thought the hydrometer sample tasted odd. I'm looking at boxes, and that 23rd bottle is in jeopardy, 22 bottles fit nicely in available boxes. On the other hand, the first pint has toasted me quite nicely, another 22 oz might be dangerous. I think I'll go for it.

The Rumcake is tasty now, so I expect it'll be tastier later. I put the brown ale on tap 2 days ago. It's brown. It's cloudy. It's beer. It's strange. I'll drink it anyway. It's definitely a session beer, but it really needs to sit a little longer than 2 days to be good. I expect that in a week or so, it'll clear up and be a nice, quaffable, after work drink 3 or 4 sort of beer.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My wife is the best

Money has been a little tight lately, I'll just blame it on the economy for now. My wife was feeling pretty good today, it's been just over a week since her last chemo, so we went out to do some Christmas shopping. We don't keep a lot of secrets from each other, so her idea was to drive out to Deb's and buy some homebrew supplies for me for Christmas. I'm just about out of everything, but I showed some restraint and didn't spend too much. A bag of Great Western 2-row, 5 lbs of Crystal 60, a couple of pound of chocolate malt, and a new packet of yeast. (duh, 1272, what else?) I haven't brewed yet, but am planning to this next weekend. I've actually got everything to make Panama Red, including the right hops. I'd traded Steve P some homegrown Cascade for some Nugget, and he brought the Nugget to the club Christmas party. So I've got all the right grain, the right hops, and the right yeast. Should be good!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bad news, good news

So I had a keg go empty yesterday. I had the second keg of The Pounder on stand by, but since it was cloudy in the first keg, I thought I'd transfer the second keg to another keg for serving. It seems to have carbonated nicely in the keg, so when I hooked on the jumper hose, it started transferring with no effort. Nice! Well, it got to about half way and I tried to bleed off pressure to keep the transfer going and I got a lot of foam out, spraying everywhere. So now I have 2 half kegs of this. I took one and put it on my empty garage tap. When I plugged in the gas hose, there was still so much pressure in the keg that it blew beer backwards into the gas tube, and sprayed beer out of the regulator. What a mess. That was the bad news.

The good news: I was cleaning out the fridge after the beer sprayed all over, and I opened the vegetable drawers at the bottom. I never use those, but it looked like beer had leaked in there. I found a bomber bottle of Winterfest from Sockeye! Score! It must have been given to me last Christmas, and I put it in the veggie drawer and forgot about it.

I popped it open a few minutes ago, and it is quite nice. It has a good, strong malt flavor, slightly smoky, and not very hoppy. Winterfest when fresh is a fairly hoppy beer, but since it has aged, the hops have mellowed significantly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Club meeting at TableRock

Some pics from the club meeting at the Table Rock brew pub. Bob, the brewmaster, gave us a tour through the brewery and answered lots of questions. This was an excellent educational meeting!

Steve checks out the mash tun.

Plumbing and grain auger above the 485 gallon mash tun.

In the brew house.

Bob the brewmaster and Bob the Bronco. Mash tun to the left, boil kettle behind.

Fermenters. The serving/bright tanks for dispensing to the bar area are behind the white door. Table Rock does keg beer, and will fill Corny kegs.

Fermenters, looking the other way. Notice the hose in the bucket, that is the blowoff tube for the fermenter. The people are gathered around a table with some grain and hops samples.

Close up of a fermenter full of Copperhead Red.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Batch 82, Rumcake

10 gallons of beer, but 2 different kinds. "Rumcake" is a high gravity beer, so it takes 23.5 lbs of grain for 5 gallons. I made a second "small" beer from a second sparge.

Rumcake Ale
Batch: 5.50 gal
All Grain

Recipe Gravity: 1.119 OG (actual 1.102)
Recipe Bitterness: 27 IBU
Recipe Color: 33° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.030  (actual 1.022)
Alcohol by Volume: 11.5% (calculated from grain and sugar only, does not include the rum)
ABV actual: 10.3% (calculated from OG and FG, does not include the rum)
Alcohol by Weight: 9.0% (actual 8.1%)

American two-row              17.00 lb, Grain, Mashed
American chocolate malt       1.50 lb, Grain, Mashed
American wheat                1.00 lb, Grain, Mashed
Crystal 60L                   1.00 lb, Grain, Mashed
Flaked oats, toasted          2.00 lb, Adjunct, Mashed
Mash at 156°F for 60 minutes

60 minute boil
Northern Brewer               1.00 oz, Whole, 60 minutes
Willamette                    1.00 oz, Whole, 30 minutes

At flame out, add:
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1 lb. dark brown sugar

Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale yeast, 1 pack
Wyeast 1272 American Ale II yeast, 1 quart slurry

Toast oats in 350F oven on cookie sheet for 10 - 15 minutes.
Add 1 cup dark rum at bottling/kegging.

I missed the OG, I actually got 1.102.

Nov 29, transferred to secondary, took gravity measurements, added rum. The hydrometer sample tasted ... odd.

The small beer:

OG 1.042 (actual)
FG 1.012 (actual)
ABV: 3.9%

1 oz Galena 60 minutes

Wyeast 1272, 1 quart

No spices, no brown sugar. I missed the volume on this, I only got 4 gallons. I was using my HLT as the second boil kettle, so I really didn't have a way to heat up more water to sparge again.

Tasting Score Sheet





Beer Name



Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer


| Draft


1 2 3


| small | average | large | huge

| creamy | frothy | fizzy |

| off-white | light brown | dark

| diminishing


| good | fair | spare


| sparkling | flat | cloudy | hazy | murky | muddy


| lightly cloudy | cloudy | heavily particulate | chunky


| dark | yellow | amber | orange | red | brown | ruby | black
| tawny


opaque, black beer.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12


| average | heavy | harsh | bread | cookie | molasses |
caramel | grain | hay | straw | cereal | chocolate | coffee |
toffee | toasted | roasted | burnt | nutty | meal


| average | heavy | harsh

| perfume | herbs | celery | grass

| spruce | resin

| grapefruit | orange | lemon | lime


| average | heavy | harsh

| sweat | horse blanket | barnyard | leather

| cheese | meat | broth | earth | musty | leaves


light | average | heavy

| bubble gum | clove | grape | raisin | plum | prune | date
| apple | pear | peach | pineapple | cherry raspberry | cassis |
wine | port | cask wood | toffee | butter | butterscotch | smoke |
tar | charcoal

sauce | licorice | cola | honey | brown sugar | maple syrup |
vanilla | pepper | allspice | nutmeg
cinnamon | coriander | ginger | tobacco | dust | chalk |
vegetable | cooked cabbage/corn | cardboard paper | medicine |
solvent | bandage | skunk | sour milk | vinegar | rotten eggs




1 2 3 4 5


| medium | full


| oily | creamy | sticky | slick | alcoholic | thick | minerals |


| lively | average | soft | flat


| chalky | astringent | bitter



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20


| average | long


| moderate | heavy | harsh


| moderate | heavy | harsh


| moderate | heavy | harsh


| sour milk | salty | minerals


flavor with a strong alcohol backing. Young for the style,
re-evaluate next Christmas.


1 2 3 4 5 6  8 9 10


first attempt at a Christmas style beer. This beer was 3 1/2
months old for this tasting. I think it really needs to age some
more for the spice flavors to blend and mellow. There is a fairly
strong alcohol flavor, probably from the rum.




Saturday, October 3, 2009

Batch 81, Panama Red

Second batch today. Mashed in while finishing the boil and racking batch 80.

10 gallon batch

20.25 lbs 2-row
1.5 lbs Crystal 60
.25 lbs (4 oz) Chocolate malt

Mash 60 minutes at 153F

2 oz Mt Hood (whole, HG), FWH
2 oz Nugget (pellet), 60 min
2 oz Cascade (whole, HG), 30 min
2 oz Cascade (whole, HG), 5 min
2 oz Cascade (whole, HG), 5 min

90 minute boil

Wyeast 1272

Batch 80, Porter

I'm behind on brewing and low on reserves, so I brewed two batches today, this Porter and a batch of Panama Red.

10 gallon batch

16.0 lbs 2-row
1.5 lbs wheat
2.25 lbs Chocolate malt
1.25 lbs Crystal 60

Mash 60 minutes at 155F.

1 oz Galena (pellet), 75 min
1 oz Cascade (whole, HG), 30 min
2 oz Willamette (whole, HG), 5 min

90 minute boil

Wyeast 1272

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hops update

All my second year hops are picked, dried, packaged, and in the freezer. I ended up with 12 1/2 pounds:
  • 8 1/2 pounds Cascade
  • 2 pounds Willamette
  • 2 pounds Chinook

The first year hops will probably only yield a few more ounces. Those are Nugget, Mt Hood, and some more Chinook.

Update: I got the Mt Hood picked, just under 9 oz dried and in the freezer. I also picked another pound of Chinook and about 5 ounces of Nugget. Total for the year is just over 14 lbs.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hops update

I finally finished picking all my Cascades. I ended up with 133 oz total. Those are all dried and packed in freezer bags and in the freezer now. I picked all the Willamettes this morning. The Willamettes are a lot more vine and less hops than the Cascades, so I only expect to get about a pound and a half out of them. Chinooks are next, I might get those done this evening.

A wheelbarrow full of Cascade:

About 10 gallons:

My oast is just a screen door and a fan:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Batch 79, The Pounder

This recipe was designed to finish off my Cascades from last year. The grain bill is lame, that's because it's what I had on hand and I didn't feel like taking a trip to the homebrew store.

"The Pounder"

10 gallon batch

23 lbs 2-row
1 lb wheat
2 oz chocolate for color

3 oz Cascade, whole leaf, FWH
1 oz Cascade at 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5 minutes
3 oz Cascade at flameout

That's a pound of hops, hence "The Pounder".

Wyeast 1272

OG: 1.067, actual 1.066
FG: 1.017
SRM: 10
IBU: 92
ABV: 6.5%

Oct 20: This has been on tap for a couple of weeks, and is just now becoming an excellent beer. The hops are strong, but smooth. This is perhaps the hoppiest beer I've ever made, definitely hoppier than Arrogant Bastard.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Hops are Outstanding

I've been picking like crazy. So far, I've only picked Cascades. I've picked 106 ounces so far. That's 6 1/2 pounds! I've got 3 more bines of Cascades, then I think 8 Willamette and 8 Chinook. I'll probably end up with somewhere around 12 pounds total, which will likely be enough that I won't have to buy any this year. Although, I will probably buy a pound or so of Mt Hood and a pound of Centennial.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


The 2009 crop of hops is just about ready. I picked 11oz of Cascade today, and it doesn't look like I picked anything. Here are a few pictures.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Batch 78, Amber Ale

Batch 78, Amber Ale

I used the grain I toasted earlier in the week for this batch. Originally, I was going for a brown ale, but the toasted grain really didn't have much color change from the original 2-row color, so this recipe fits the Amber Ale (10B) style. The toasted grain is definitely darker than 2-row, and definitely lighter than the Crystal 60 I used in this recipe. I plugged it in qbrew as Biscuit, which put the extract at 1.035 and color at 24, which seems about right.

10 gallon batch

12 lbs 2-row
8 lbs toasted 2-row
1 lb crystal 60
1 lb wheat

Mashed at 155F for 60 minutes, collected 13 gallons.

2 oz Perle pellets at 60 minutes, 90 minute boil.

Wyeast 1272 from Batch 76.

OG: 1.060, actual 1.060 (nice! I hit volumes dead on too!)
FG: 1.015
SRM: 14 (estimated, I used 24 for the toasted grain)
IBU: 33
ABV: 5.8%

I used my pump to move water from the HLT to mash tun, which I don't normally do. I liked this as I plugged the output hose from the pump into the valve at the bottom of the MT, which causes the hot water to enter at the bottom and ensure the SS braid doesn't get clogged. I don't have a sight glass, so I just put my measuring stick in the HLT and used that to gauge when to turn off the water. Using the pump made it easy to stir while the water was being added, so I think I got a better mix than usual. Although, things came out as expected in the end, so this didn't help improve efficiency.

Aug 15, kegged. Oddly, one of the fermenters was active enough to cause a blowout.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beer reviews

Just a follow up on both the Arrogant Bastard clone and the Summer recipe --

The Arrogant Bastard clone isn't. There is not much hop flavor at all, not like the mouth puckering you get out of a real Arrogant Bastard. The beer is very good, though, nice and malty and strong. People at the brew club told me that for first year hops, I should have used double to get the same strength as more mature hops. I'll keep that in mind for next time -- maybe. I really like how this came out, and I'm hoping I can reproduce it again. It will need a new name, though. Maybe 'Atomic Bomb' since this one can sneak up on you for a strong buzz before you know it.

The Summer ale has matured very nicely and is a nice looking and good tasting beer. This one falls more into the session category than does the AB clone. The Northern Brewer hops are nice, I'd consider using them in Panama Red as a Nugget substitute. Hops substitution charts always confuse me, Nugget is usually listed as a substitute for Northern Brewer, but not the other way around. I wonder why? There are other cases where the substitutions are not reciprocal.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Toasted some grain

I was reading 'Radical Brewing' and was inspired to try toasting some grain for a brown ale I'm planning to brew next weekend. It was pretty easy, and smells really good. I put 8 lbs of 2-row into two pyrex cake pans, 13 x 9, I think. I put them in the oven at 200F for 30 minutes, then bumped the temp to 350F for 10 more minutes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Massive blowoff!

I'm not sure what happened with that last batch of Panama Red. It ended up a little short on volume, so there is a lot of head space in the fermenters. Still, the yeast managed to work itself up and out of the air lock. Not a huge mess or anything, but still. The only time I've had blowoff like this was with that batch of weiss beer last summer, and that is to be expected with a weiss.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Batch 77, Panama Red

A little different. I still don't have any Nugget, so I used Galena again. But not just any Galena, it's "Super Galena". Rob from my brew club got a big pile of it that he shared at a recent club meeting.

10 gallon batch

20.25 lbs 2-row
1.5 lbs Crystal 60
4 oz Chocolate malt
Mash for 60 minutes at 153F.

2 oz Mt Hood, FWH
1.5 oz Super Galena, 60 min
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 oz Cascade, 5 min
2 oz Mt Hood, 5 min

Wyeast 1272, 2 quarts slurry

OG: 1.056, actual

I found a pic of the New Riders of the Purple Sage record "Panama Red", which is where the name came from for this beer. I saw NRPS play in Portland, OR, in probably 1975 or 76. Those were different days.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Summer is on tap

I put the first keg of Summer on tap today. It seems appropriate since today is the 4th of July, which many herald as the first day of the summer season. The first taste test is just okay. I had just put it in the refrigerator, so it was still at about 65F, not really serving temp for this beer. The hops flavor is good, definite Cascade flavor, plus a nice bittering. The color is darker than I expected, maybe 10 or 11 instead of 7 SRM. This is the first pint and I've got the initial pull of sediment off of the bottom, so it is cloudy and probably the cause of the darker color. I expect this will settle out and clear up to be closer to 7.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Batch 76, Summer

A basic pale ale recipe. I won some Northern Brewer hops at the last club meeting raffle. I've never used them before, so this recipe is pretty plain to let the hops show through. Originally, I had thought to use all Northern Brewer, but after I weighed them out and smelled them, they didn't really feel like a finishing hop. I checked the Brewmasters Bible, it agreed, so I used Cascade for finishing.

10 gallon batch

19 lbs 2-row
1 lb wheat
0.5 lb crystal 60

Mash at 153F for 1 hour, collect 12 gallons.

2 oz Northern Brewer, 10.4% AA, 60 minutes
2 oz Cascade, 5.7% AA, 5 minutes

90 minute boil

Wyeast 1272 from batch 74.

OG: 1.057, actual 1.060
IBU: 47
SRM: 7
ABV: 5.5%

Monday, May 18, 2009

Beer BBQ Sauce

I ran across this recipe on the internet (, maybe?) and made a few modifications to it. This is one of the best BBQ sauces I've ever had. A little sweet, and a lot spicy. The original recipe said to use 1/2 tablespoon of ground chili pepper. I think the 1 1/2 tablespoons is better, but feel free to turn down the heat if you want.

2 1/4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups beer (IPA is a good choice)
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons whiskey
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1 1/2 tablespoon ground red chile pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions in oil for 5 minutes. Stir in beer, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and Worcestershire sauce. Add remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 2 hours, uncovered, or until sauce thickens. Use right away, or store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Edit: I found the original recipe on

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Batch 75, an Arrogant Bastard clone

I bought an Arrogant Bastard yesterday, and damn, that is a good beer. I thought I should try to make some of this myself. I was planning on brewing today anyway, so I looked around for recipes and found about a dozen. They all seemed to differ on the grain, so I just went with my own grain bill, mostly based on what I had on hand and aiming for the proper color and ABV. All the recipes I found did pretty much agree on the hops, nothing but Chinook. The Chinook I used are the ones I grew myself in the garden last summer.

10 gallon batch

27 lbs 2-row
2 lbs Crystal 60
1 lb Wheat
0.5 lbs Chocolate malt

Mash at 153F, collect 12 gallons in boil kettle. 60 minute boil.

2 oz Chinook, FWH
1 oz Chinook, 60 minutes
1 oz Chinook, 30 minutes
2 oz Chinook, 10 minutes

Wyeast 1272 (most recipes say to use 1056, but 1272 is a superior yeast)

OG: 1.082, actual 1.082
FG: 1.020
IBU: 87 (just a guess, it seems Chinook ranges from 11 - 13% AA, and qbrew defaults to 11.5%, so I went with that)
SRM: 15
ABV: 7.9%

I'm not sure what exactly happened, I hit exactly 12 gallons in the BK with two batch sparges. I ended up with exactly 10 gallons in the fermenter, and I nailed the OG. Nice! I hope it comes out good in the end.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kolsch tasting, or why local is better

Last night we tasted 3 different versions of Kolsch at the brew club meeting. Kolsch is not my favorite style, it is really just another pilsner style but made in Cologne, Germany. A true Kolsch must be made in Cologne, but like champagne, it is made all over.

The first sample was Alaskan Brewing's Summer Ale. It was a drinkable beer, but really kind of 'yeah, it's beer, but nothing special'. I realize my tastes are for more flavorful, hoppy beers, and this one would be good on a hot summer day. Lawnmower beer comes to mind.

The second sample was brewed by Rob, a member of the club. This one was best in my mind. The first taste reminded me of apples. It has a nice color and a good flavor, and is a beer I'd like to have had more than just a small sample.

The third beer tasted like it had been in the bottle too long. Kolsch should be fresh, this tasted like it had actually come from Germany and wasn't handled well in transit, and that in fact was the case. I didn't catch the brand name, but I've had this experience with other German beers. When I was stationing in Germany, the beer was excellent. When I got back to the States and tried to find those same beers, the quality was definitely lacking.

So good job, Rob, local is best!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Batch 74, Panama Red

Same as usual. I was just a little short on Crystal 60.

10 gallon batch

20.25 lbs 2-row
1lb, 6 3/4 oz Crystal 60
4 oz Chocolate malt
Mash for 60 minutes at 153F.

2 oz Mt Hood, FWH
1.5 oz Galena, 60 min
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 oz Cascade, 5 min
2 oz Mt Hood, 5 min

Wyeast 1272, 2 quarts slurry

OG: 1.062, actual

I facebooked this as I brewed, and got several confused responses. Fun!

May 12, transferred to secondary.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Brown Hippy

I've decided to name batch 72 "Brown Hippy" -- just because it tastes like grass. Actually, I think I'll throw a vanilla bean in the second keg.

Prickly Pear Mead

I've been drinking the prickly pear mead that I made back in batch 67 . It seems a little on the sweet side to me, but it's pretty good. It has a definite alcohol flavor, but it's not a hot flavor. The prickly pear flavor is pretty mild. I've never had a plain mead (that is, with no fruit flavor at all, just honey), so if I didn't know the prickly pears were in it, I wouldn't have guessed it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The hops I planted last year are looking awesome! We got a little sun for the past few days, and seriously, they went from about 6 inches to 3 feet in about 3 days.

I planted a second row of hops this year. Steve P got some rhizomes from Mike G, so I got a bunch of Cascade and Chinook. Steve also dug some Mt Hood and Nugget. The one Galena that grew to about 4 ft last year is coming back strong this year. So I have Galena, Chinook, Willamette, Cascade, Nugget, and Mt Hood all in the ground. Since these are the hops I use the most, I'm thinking I'm pretty well set.

Last year, I ran twine straight up from each plant, but this year, I went with a V and trained 3 shoots up each side of the V. I'm hoping this will double my output, but I'll have to wait until harvest time to know.


About batch 72, that dark hoppy ale, I don't think it came out that well. It's not that hoppy, and the excess of black patent made it too bitter, grain-wise. I attempted to compensate by dry-hopping with 2 oz of Chinook in 5 gallons. All I can say is "grassy"... I'll drink it, but this won't be repeated!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Batch 73, Spring

This batch was made using what I had on hand, which wasn't much. It was a nice Spring day -- sun, then rain, then wind, then sun again.

10 gallon batch

18 lbs 2-row
1 lb 5 oz Crystal 10
1 lb 2 oz Oatmeal

Mash for 60 minutes at 148F.

3 oz Cascade, 60 min (6.6% AA)
2 oz Cascade, flameout

Wyeast 1272

OG: 1.055, actual 1.054
FG: 1.014, actual 1.016
IBU: 37
SRM: 5
ABV: 4.9%

April 3, transfered to kegs. More Spring weather today, sun, then clouds, now snow.

April 30, I added a vanilla bean to the second keg of this batch. The first keg was certainly drinkable, but sort of bland, at least compared to my usual hoppy brews. I thought the vanilla bean would add some interest, and in fact, it did. Now this beer tastes like cream soda! I'm sure the vanilla flavor will fade with time, but right now, it's fresh and tasty.

May 28, the first keg of this finally blew foam last night. I wish I had more. While it wasn't overly hoppy, it was easy to drink on a hot day. This is a good recipe, worth doing again. Like most of the other beers I've made, this one hit its flavor peak at around 2 months, so I probably should have held off on the vanilla bean. The vanilla has indeed faded in the second keg, and really, while it is an interesting flavor, I think I'd leave it out the next time.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Batch 72, some sort of dark hoppy ale

I was going to do a Moose Drool clone, but realized after I'd started brewing that I didn't have the hops for it. I don't know what this is, but I bet it's drinkable.

10 gallon batch

15 lbs 2-row
1 lbs crystal 60
1 lbs chocolate malt
3/4 lbs black patent
Mash at 152F for 60 minutes, collect 12.5 gallons

1 oz Galena, 60 minutes
1 oz Cascade, 10 minutes
1/2 oz Chinook, 10 minutes
1 oz Cascade, 0 minutes
90 minute boil.

Wyeast 1272, pitched on yeast cake from batch 71.

The original recipe used Kent Goldings for bittering, then Mt. Hood and Willamette for flavor. I have some Mt. Hood, but I want to save them for more batches of Panama Red. I have a lot of Cascade, and quite a bit of Chinook, so there it is.

OG: recipe says 1.048, actually got 1.046
FG: recipe says 1.012
IBU: 27 (Tinseth method)
SRM: 25
ABV: 4.6%

Other than the finishing hops, this is in style for a Brown Porter. There shouldn't be much hop flavor in a Porter and no fruitiness, but the Chinook and Cascades will definitely say otherwise.

Note: I posted this on the brew club forum, and got general agreement that 3/4 lb of black patent is too much. I think I misread/miscopied my recipe, I think that should have been 3 oz...

I still haven't fixed the outlet on my CFC, but it sure is a nice time saver.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

St. Brigid's Lake IPA

That 90 minute IPA I've been making -- I don't like the name. It's nothing like the DFH beer of the same name. The last batch I made was kegged and tapped almost on St. Brigid's day, so I'm changing the name to "St. Brigid's Lake IPA". The poem below explains the "lake" meaning well enough. Really, St. Brigid's day is the even older Pagan holiday of Imbolc, it's the day half way between the first day of winter and the first day of spring. Most people don't know that Groundhog Day is in fact Imbolc. There is deep history and tradition here, so it seems like a fitting name for a beer to me.

Saint Brigid's Prayer

I'd like to give a lake of beer to God.
I'd love the Heavenly
Host to be tippling there
For all eternity.

I'd love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I'd put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.

White cups of love I'd give them,
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I'd offer
To every man.

I'd make Heaven a cheerful spot,
Because the happy heart is true.
I'd make the men contented for their own sake
I'd like Jesus to love me too.

I'd like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around,
I'd give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.

I'd sit with the men, the women of God
There by the lake of beer
We'd be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.

Now, I can't claim to be a Christian, but I do like the tradition and history of it all (maybe you noticed that monk avatar?). And a "lake of beer"! That's just awesome! I'm not going to limit myself to brewing this once per year, either, but I think I'll make an effort to brew right around Imbolc next year.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Batch 71, Panama Red

Another batch of Panama Red, a 10 gallon batch.

Grain, mash at 153F for 60 min:
20.25 lbs 2-row
1.5 lbs Crystal 60
4 oz Chocolate Malt

Hops, 90 min boil:
2 oz Mt Hood, FWH
1.5 oz Galena, 60 min
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 oz Cascade, 5 min
2 oz Mt Hood, 5 min

Wyeast 1272, new package, 3 qt starter

OG: recipe says 1.061, actual was 1.072.

I usually make this with Nugget as the bittering hop, but the only Nugget I have is from the 2007 harvest. The Galena is from the 2008 harvest, and looks much better than the Nugget. The Nugget were 16.1% AA, the Galena 13.2% AA, so this will be a little less bitter than previous batches.

This is the second batch in a row that I missed my OG. I probably missed my ending volume, either by boiling off too much or not collecting enough run off to account the wort retained by the hops. The last batch also had a lot of hops. I'm actually thinking to bump up the grain bill in future batches of this recipe to get a higher OG on purpose. This is very close in style to an Imperial IPA, so with just a little more grain it would be there. Minimum is 1.075 for IIPA, and the rest of this recipe is right on for color and IBU's.

I resurrected my counter-flow chiller today. The outlet hose fitting broke off when we moved 2 years ago, and I haven't used it since. I hooked it up to my pump and a bucket of home-made PBW, and let it recirculate for about an hour, then switched out the PBW for a bucket of Starsan and let it run for another half-hour. It should be clean and sanitized after that! It sure does help cut some time off of the brew day, I'd guess I saved about 30 minutes. Rather than using the IC, which takes about half an hour, then pumping the wort to the fermenter, I just pump through the CFC directly into the fermenter. The output temp of the wort from the CFC is right at 66F, which is where I like it to be for pitching. I'd forgotten how easy it is to get the output temp just right, simply adjusting the flow of the water hose dials in exactly the temperature I want. I need to get the water outlet fixed, though. Today, I just let the water run out on the ground, which is a waste. If I get the outlet fixed so I can attach a hose, I can use that water for cleaning up.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yeast 103

I got a new package of Wyeast 1272 yesterday. I have a long weekend, 4 days off, so I'm planning to brew. I want to do a 10 gallon batch, and single package of yeast won't be enough. I checked Jamil's 'Mr Malty Pitching Rate Calculator' for the quantity I'd need. This is a great calculator, although experience shows that it's generally okay to go with somewhat less yeast that the calculator says. In fact, the Wyeast package says it contains 100 million cells and is designed for a 5 gallon batch, compared to the calculator saying I should have 225 million cells. For a 10 gallon batch, which is what I want to do, the calculator says I need 450 million cells, as opposed to 2 packages containing a total of 200 million cells. I figure if I can get anywhere above 200 million cells in my starter, I'll be okay. After playing with the calculator for a while, I can get 300 million cells in 3 quarts using 1 packet of yeast. It's probably not optimal, but it'll be good enough, and I only need one packet of yeast.

I thought I had some wort saved from a previous batch in my fridge in the garage. I did, but it wasn't enough, and worse, it was old and starting to mold. I tossed it out. I didn't have any LME or DME on hand, so I ground 3/4 pound of 2-row, put it in a grain bag, and mashed it on the stove in a gallon of 155F water for about half an hour. This should get me right at 3 quarts of wort with a gravity of about 1.028, which is enough for a starter. In fact, that turned out to be just right. After mashing, I boiled the wort for about 15 minutes to make sure it was sterilized. After it had cooled to about 70F, I pitched the yeast, gave it a good stir, then split it out into mason jars. I don't have a stir plate, but just shaking the jars every now and then is good enough. After just a couple of hours, there is plenty of activity in all of the jars. I used 4 jars to hold the 3 quarts, so there is plenty of head room, which minimizes the risk of exploding jars or oozing out the tops.

As with any brewing activity involving yeast, sanitation is critical, so I make liberal use of Starsan. I keep it mixed in a spray bottle, which is real handy for sanitizing the outside of the yeast packet, the mixing spoon, and the scissors I used to cut open the packet. All the jars, lids, and rings were also liberally covered with Starsan.

I should be all set to brew tomorrow or Sunday.

Update -- I've got real strong activity, and I'm worried about the mason jars. I sanitized a 2 gallon plastic jar (food grade) and dumped all the jars into the big one. Plenty of head room in the 2 gallon jar, so no worries of foaming all over the place.

I pitched this into batch 71, Panama Red.

Friday, February 6, 2009

!@#$% No Beer :(

So I went downstairs to the kegerator last night to get a beer. I put my glass under the tap, pulled the handle, and NOTHING! Arg! I just had that CO2 tank filled about 2 weeks ago, and it was empty already. Must be a leak somewhere, and it must be a slow one since I sprayed everything with soapy water to check after I hooked it up. I got a refill at Norco today, and disassembled both kegs before I put it on. One of the kegs had a slightly shredded o-ring on the long "out" tube. That is a small o-ring, and is cranked down pretty tight, so it's a good candidate for such a slow leak. I replaced the o-ring with a new one, but for now, I'm only turning on the gas while I'm actually pouring. Maybe that will help with preventing the kegs from getting over-carbed towards the bottom?

I was thinking to brew this weekend, I think it's time. I racked the current batch (90 min IPA) from the fementer to kegs last weekend. I tossed out the yeast because it's time had come. I'm not sure if I have any fresh yeast left, it really is about time to buy a new pack. Maybe I'll brew on Sunday, maybe a nice batch of Panama Red. The last batch of PR had an odd flavor, I think from the hops. I had some Cascade from the 2007 crop that I thought were still good, and I just hate to throw them out, but I think they were the cause of the odd flavor. I think it's time for them to go, though. The beer is still drinkable, just not up to the usual "must have another" quality.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Idaho Alcohol and Brewing Laws

I was looking into what the laws are to start a microbrewery in Idaho. The ABC sent me these links:



Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau
Idaho State Police
700 S Stratford Dr.
Meridian, ID 83642
208.884.7060 o
208.884.7096 f

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Monk

I got this plate somewhere around 1967 or 68. I had built a tree fort in the back yard, and a woman from the apartments behind our house asked if we wanted some old plates for our fort. We took a stack of 10 or 12 from her, then my mother took them from us. The monk plate was one of them. I have no idea if it is worth anything, but one of the other plates in the stack has a current value of about $350. The monk plate is currently in my basement with a collection of German beer steins.

Click on the image below for a close up, the detail is really good. I gimped the cheesehead for my avatar.

monk or friar having a beer, picture on a ceramic plate

You know you're a homebrewer if...

There are a ton of these posted all over the internet. This is a pretty extensive list.

You know you're a homebrewer if . . .

  • If you visit old monasteries while on vacation in Europe and badger the tour guides with questions about yeast strains and the exact temperature of the cellar.
  • If you go appliance shopping and take carboys along for sizing.
  • If "coming out of the closet" means that the next batch is getting bottled.
  • If you incorporate a 3 tier system into the design of your new deck.
  • If you can't make tea without thinking about sparging grain.
  • If you find hop leaves in your dryer lint.
  • If you have 3 new coolers in the brewery, but 1 crappy old one for picnics.
  • If you have more types of beer glasses than you have plates and bowls.
  • If you perform a 'mash-out' in the shower to halt enzyme action.
  • If all your tupperware smells like grains and hops.
  • If people ask if what is in your glass is beer or wine.
  • If you watch your primary fermenter with the same intensity that a cat watches an aquarium.
  • If the only time you clean your kitchen is just before brewing a new batch.
  • If your bridal registry is at a home brew supply store.
  • If you've ever taken your dog to the vet to treat a burnt tongue because she lapped up a boil over.
  • If it started out as a hobby then ended up as a habit.
  • If you and your beer buddies dream that your wives are beer nymphs dancing naked around a boiling kettle singing praises to the beer gods.
  • If has a short cut on your desktop.
  • If you've ever made your own beer.
  • If you've ever packed empty beer bottles home from camping.
  • If you wonder what random things would taste like mashed, boiled and fermented.
  • If you know the cheapest place in town to refill propane and CO2 tanks.
  • If you are producing beer faster then you can drink it.
  • If you hear the song "Monster Mash" and think it is about a beer made for Halloween.
  • If you can tell if a bottle on the side of the highway is recappable at 65 MPH and turn around to get it.
  • If you are happier watching your air lock than TV.
  • If you're a guy and you go to the bar to meet guys to talk homebrew with.
  • If your tankless water heater has two settings: mash and sparge.
  • If you have had a serious conversation about whether or not bottles will explode at altitude.
  • If when someone asks who your favorite author is, you say "Papazian".
  • If you rush to your closet if you hear the sound of glass breaking.
  • If you're completely unaware that there's a Michael Jackson other than the beer writer.
  • If you have returned beer to the grocery store because it was a bad batch.
  • If you have plans to turn a large portion of your basement into a refrigerator for long term lagering.
  • If you have all the local homebrew stores on speed dial.
  • If you are the designated driver because you prefer not to drink mass produced beer.
  • If you've added iodine to a sample of your morning oatmeal to test for adequate starch conversion.
  • If you have ever found yourself rinsing out empty beer bottles at someone else's party.
  • If you've installed a quick disconnect on your sink so you can hook up your wort chiller more easily.
  • If you correct the tour guide on brewery tours.
  • If you buy beer according to ease of label removal or the type of bottle it comes in.
  • If you wonder about the absorption rate of your breakfast cereal while you pour the milk.
  • If you have a picture of a carboy on your desk instead of your family.
  • If when you ask for a sample at the local brewery, you mean yeast slurry, not beer.
  • If you know 6 different ways to start a siphon.
  • If you've ever had a party where more beer was brewed than was consumed.
  • If you've planned the landscaping at your new house around the location of your Cascade Hop trellis!
  • If the workers at the hardware store ask how the latest homebrew is coming along.
  • If your 4 year old asks Santa for a refractometer for you.
  • If you find that the "Homebrew" budget is larger than your "Grocery" budget in Quicken.
  • If you do a protein rest when cooking spaghetti.
  • If the local brew supply store knows who you are by voice alone.
  • If the majority of your shirts are brewing or beer related.
  • If you've ever taken a final gravity reading of a commercial beer.
  • If you have ever stared glare-eyed in the bulk spice section of the grocery store dreaming of Belgian beers with Orange peel and coriander or spiced Christmas ales.
  • If you have ever hugged your primary fermenter.
  • If you spend more time thinking about beer than drinking beer.
  • If you have ever had an intense argument about corn.
  • If you sparge your tea bags with 170 degree water to prevent astringency.
  • If you wish you could buy your significant other a perfume with a malty aroma and hints of toffee underneath a nice bouquet of citrus and pine fragrances.
  • If a slinky reminds you of a wort chiller.
  • If you actually look for cruddy sediment in the bottom of a beer, before you buy it.
  • If you've ever received a shipping quote from a malt distributor.
  • If everytime you are in the grocery store you look at the beer selection even thought you have 10 gallons of beer ready to drink at home.
  • If you take a personal day off from work to brew on a Wednesday to have an adequate yeast starter for the 1.100 Specific Gravity Belgian being brewed on Saturday.
  • If you refuse to pay $8.00 for a beer in a restaurant because you can make 5 gallons for that much.
  • If you scan the Belgian Ales at checkout yourself so the clerk won't disturb the yeast sediment.
  • If you live in a small one bedroom apartment, and you have two refridgerators.
  • If you wonder what everything would taste like if mashed, boiled and fermented.
  • If your computer passwords are all related to beer.
  • If you make hummingbird food by boiling the sugar water for 1 hour and then sanitize the feeder with Iodophor.
  • If your house doesn't have air conditioning, but your beer room does.
  • If your pet rabbit will only eat crushed German pilsner malt.
  • If "pick up CO2" is on your shopping list.
  • If you see the acronym R.D.W.H.A.H.B. and know what it means.
  • If you get all your exercise from moving carboys.
  • If you take your wife out to garage sales in hopes of finding brew gear.
  • If you hate to wash the family dishes, but think nothing about standing over a sink for hours cleaning empty bottles.
  • If you have used a bottle opener on a twist-off cap.
  • If your wife starts buying two of every kitchen utensil so she doesn't have to search the brewery when it's time to cook.
  • If you ask the guy at the hardware store if something is "food grade".
  • If you've ever spent the afternoon in a hardware store staring in to space, trying to improve your wort chiller/fluid transfer.
  • If you pre-heat your thermos cup to have a thermal mass of zero.
  • If a "beer run" is now classified as a 3 hour escapade at the local homebrew shop.
  • If you have ever parked your car in the rain to keep your beer out of it.
  • If you have never taken a microbiology course but you know all about Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces carlsbergensis.
  • If you measure purchases with how many batches of homebrew you could have brewed.
  • If your children believe that Santa Claus would rather have a glass of homebrew than milk.
  • If you worry about channeling when you "sparge" your coffee.
  • If your asked your phone company if they have a phone number ending in 1056.
  • If you can estimate hair color in degrees Lovibond.
  • If you have a separate email folder for homebrew.
  • If you can name at least 10 different varieties of hops, but can't name 10 congressmen.
  • If you understand how water chemistry and pH affect the mash, but barely passed high school chemistry.
  • If your wife left you for someone who doesn't brew.
  • If you have your local homebrew supply shop on speed-dial right above 911.
  • If you own a stock-pot big enough to bathe in.
  • If you have more varieties of beer on tap than your local bar does.
  • If you take two fermentors with you shopping for refridgerators.
  • If a smelly, moldy, disgusting college-dorm fridge is a gift from the gods.
  • If you tackle your wife in the kitchen before she sneezes.
  • If you have moved clothes out of your closet to make room for more fermenters.
  • If your child's science project is on fermentation.
  • If you've ever got up to check an airlock in the middle of the night.
  • If you have more refridgerators for beer than you do for food.
  • If going to a brewfest is part of your honeymoon.
  • If you plan your family vacations by which breweries you can visit.
  • If you and the local bottle-grannies have come to an accord over collection zoning.
  • If you have more airlocks than the international space station.
  • If you've tasted the finest commercial beer and said, "I can do better."
  • If you have more kegs than your average fraternity.
  • If staring at a bubbling airlock is more exciting than the superbowl.
  • If you pour your coffee carefully to avoid hot side aeration.
  • If you bring a 3-gallon corny to a cook-out with its own neoprene jacket.
  • If you've kept a log of the temperature in your basement for the past 5 years.
  • If the presence of a basement was a major factor in the selection of your new home.
  • If you have room in your fridge for 7 different types of beer, 6 packages of hops, 4 vials of yeast, and two cans of rice syrup, but no room for milk for the kids.
  • If you schedule your lunch break around trips to the homebrew store.
  • If you start asking questions about other people's worts.
  • If your 5 acre yard is completely mulched with spent grains.
  • If you have multiple propane tanks but only use charcoal grills.
  • If you own more stainless steel than your local hospital.
  • If you get up in the middle of the night to dry hop.
  • If you plan your days off around when the homebrew supply store is open.
  • If you have 45 gallons of bottled beer in the basement and wonder if you should double the batch you are brewing on Saturday.
  • If your basement looks like the set of a 1930's horror movie.
  • If your 5 gallon propane bottle has never been connected to a barbecue.
  • If you don't brew much until your wife leaves town for the weekend, then you brew 30 gallons.
  • If you have more than two refrigerators.
  • If you have bottles of bleach and no white clothes.
  • If you hear someone say "sock hop" and you think they're dyslexic.
  • If your neighbors think you started a bottle recycling center.
  • If you use old, leftover hops as potpourri.
  • If you've got more cooking utensils and gadgets than your spouse does.
  • If you return from New Year's Eve parties with a trunk full of empty champagne bottles.
  • If you always make sure to take the truck, rather than the car, to the brew supply store.
  • If you name your new puppy "Fuggles" or "Growler".
  • If you send a holiday card to the owner of your brew supply store.
  • If your house smells like a brewery.
  • If you buy more pantyhose than your wife (...for hops!)
  • If you kidnap the family thermometer to test the temperature of the wort.
  • If you hear the term 'malted milk' you think they are talking about a stout.
  • If you've ever bought a case of beer saying, "I paid for the bottles, the beer comes with them for free."
  • If you've ever had 6 or more cases of EMPTY beer bottles in your house before you had a party, not after.
  • If you've raided the boy scout bottle collection/recycling for old bottles.
  • If you've ever left your local soda bottling company with your trunk and back seat full of 5 gallon cornelius kegs.
  • If you give clothes to Goodwill just to get more room in your closet for beer and equipment.
  • If someone says they've had a yeast infection and you ask what they were brewing at the time.
  • If you get crown seals and hop bags for christmas presents.
  • If you've ever bought returnable beer bottles with no intention of EVER returning them.
  • If you're surfing the net at 3:40 am looking for homebrew websites or recipies.
  • If you cancel a date because your wort hasn't reached pitching temperature yet.
  • If you can't remember that last time you popped open a flip-top beer can.
  • If you think the term pitch has nothing to do with baseball.
  • If your cupboards have more brewing items and bottles than they do food and plates.
  • If you don't think that 10 gallons of beer is a lot.
  • If you've ever cut a hole in a refridgerator.
  • If walking across the kitchen floor sounds like velcro.
  • If you've ever asked the question, "by weight or volume?"
  • If you've ever used a mop on a ceiling.
  • If you own a sterile trash can.
  • If you've ever tried to improve a Budweiser by stirring in a hop pellet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beer Quotes

"Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today" - Edgar Allan Poe

"That beer looks funny, you'd better give it to me."

"I thirst, therefore I am...."

Work is the curse of the drinking class....Oscar Wilde

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer."
-Abraham Lincoln

Show me a nation whose national beverage is beer, and I'll show you an advanced toilet technology.
Source: Mark Hawkins in the New York Times, 1977

"All right, brain, I don't like you and you don't like me - so let's just do this and I'll get back to killing you with beer"
- Homer Simpson

If God had intended us to drink beer, he would have given us stomachs.

Jane: Would you rather have beer, or complete and utter contentment?
Homer Simpson: What kind of beer?

Eternity: Amount of time between pitching and tasting a new brew.

Life begins at 60....1.060, that is.

6 or 7 homebrews, a big dinner of Mexican food and she stills comes to bed with me. Now that's love.

My favorite:
It comes in pints?!! -- Lord of the Rings

".....because without beer, things do not seem to go as well...." -Diary of Brother Epp, Capuchin monastery, Munjor Kansas 1902

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Batch 70, St. Brigid's Lake IPA (was: 90 minute IPA)

Feb 21, 2009 -- I'm renaming this beer. I've never liked the "90-minute IPA" name since that is the name of the famous Dogfish Head beer, and this one is nothing like the DFH original. The new name is "St. Brigid's Lake IPA".

A repeat of the fabulous 90-minute IPA recipe I did in batch 64. Lots of work, but worth it! I made a minor change in the grain bill, so the gravity will be a bit lower and the color slightly darker than last time.

10 gallon batch.


21 lbs 2-row
4 oz chocolate malt


This is the hard part.
1/4 oz Chinook
1/4 oz Cascade
1/4 oz Centennial
Add all of the above at 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, and 0 minutes. That is 11 additions of 3/4 oz hops.

Wyeast 1272

OG: 1.059 actual: 1.062
FG: 1.015 actual: 1.012
ABV: 5.7%
SRM: 11
IBU: 98

Transfered from primary to kegs, Jan 31, 2009.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Batch 69, Celebration Ale

My brew club does a group brew during the first week of January. This year it was on Jan 3, and we brewed a Celebration Ale clone.

11 gallon batch.

16.7 lbs Great Western 2-row
6.67 lbs Canadian 2-row
1.0 lbs Carapils
2.0 lbs Carastan
1.0 lbs Crystal 80
Mash at 154F for 60 min

Hops, 90 min boil:
1.83 oz Chinook, 60 min
1.67 oz Cascade, 20 & 10 min
0.94 oz Centennial, 20 & 10 min

Dry hop:
1 oz Cascade
1 oz Centennial

recipe said Wyeast 1056, but I used my regular 1272.

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.014
SRM: 11
IBU: 63
ABV: 6.4%

Kegged Jan 23, and what a mess! I use a "jumper" hose for tranfering, that is, a hose that connects 'out' to 'out' on my kegs. Usually there is enough natural carbonation to get the siphon going, and there was for this keg. Once the siphon gets going, I pop the top so it will continue. This is the first time I've ever had beer foam out of the top, and it was thick, like the junk the usually collects on the bottom. I may transfer this one more time to get better clarity, it looked hazy during the transfer. I did not do a dry hop, mostly because I'm out of Centennial (I donated the last I had to the group brew). I may do a dry hop later, if I do one more transfer.

March 17 -- this beer still isn't very good. It's cloudy and flavorless. I added an ounce of Cascade last weekend, but still the flavor is dismal. It's drinkable, but I really can't say it's any better than that.

Snake River Brewers, Group Brew, Jan 3, 2009

Here are some pictures that I took at the Snake River Brewers club group brew on Jan 3, 2009. Rob hosted the event in his heated garage.