Tasted: Award Winner

June 4th, 2015 by scot

home brew award winner

Award Winner IPA was part of a double home brewing day in later March. The beer has been coming into its’ own in the last week. Time to write it up!

Look: Pours ridiculously cloudy giving a dull, dark gold color. Very drab looking, almost ugly. Huge amounts of white, billowing foam fill the glass. Retention is solid while the foam thins as it recedes. Lacing begins as the foam falls back, leaving sticky wisps.

Aroma: Lots of nice fruit. At times it almost makes me think strawberry. Pine mingles, strong arming occasionally. Caramel notes.

Taste: More of the same following the aroma. Fruit with a touch of pine. Bitterness is minimal. Malt is there, definitely not big.

Drinkability: Medium body. Medium carbonation, maybe.

Overall: It’s okay. There isn’t really much going on in the taste. Almost a dull beer. Maybe too many hops confuse the palate. The aroma is the highlight.

Being a home brewer I don’t mind cloudy beers but this one doesn’t ever give light a chance. Similar to Clash of Hops, I think I have over done the amount of hops in this batch. Less varieties of hops, less confusion? Time to go back to a bit more simpler hopping regimes for my next IPAs. New wave late June, early July to hit the brew kettle. Enjoy!

Useless fact: The average raindrop falls at 7 miles per hour.

Craft Beer Pricing By Beer Store?

May 13th, 2015 by scot

American craft beer prices

American craft beer prices is the one constant that Rich and I discuss when getting together. I have also brought up American craft beer prices on the blog before (hard to believe it has been that long).

For some five years or more it seems to me that the local beer store chain charges more for all their beers than any of the other stores. I am not talking a quarter or fifty cents more, but typically couple of bucks more on bombers over $10 and the same for six packs. Their prices are more on par (and sometimes still higher) with the Mom-and-Pop one-off beer stores.

I went to high school and college. I had to take the introductory level macro- and micro-economics classes. I thought I understood the basics of supply, demand, buying power, etc.

Logic suggests that the large chain should buy cheaper, passing along those savings as lower prices to consumers. Why should my bottle/can of beer cost 20, 30% or more at the chain than other stores? Greed and lack of respect for the consumer (and, from talking to employees, lack of respect for them as well).

Recently my wife stopped at a beer store in southern Indiana. She purchased a couple of beers that I could get locally. The bomber was $8.48 for FFF. I pay $10 or $11 at the chain (I don’t anymore as it is too expensive). The other thing: if you buy six or more bombers, you get a 10% discount on purchases. Go figure: buy in bulk, save money.

Unfortunately, said chain is the only decent American craft beer store within 60 minutes. I home brew more than I buy and, when I buy, I buy reluctantly, choosing do it yourself six packs for $10 (still over priced). Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 51% of people think stormy weather affects cloud computing.

Bottled: Pot Licker Milk Stout 5 Ways

May 11th, 2015 by scot

pot licker milk stout

When I home brewed Pot Licker Milk Stout this last time, I made several changes over previous batches. I have been excited to bottle this batch in order to experience how the beer would change.

Bottling day was four days after splitting up the 6.0 gallon batch into six, 1-gallon experiments (used loosely).

Split:

  • 1.0 gallon on 1.20 ounces of cocoa nibs.
  • 1.0 gallon on 1.20 ounces of cocoa nibs and 0.4 ounces of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 1.0 gallon on 0.50 ounces of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 1.0 gallon on 0.75 ounces of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 1.0 gallon on 1.00 ounce of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 0.5 gallons left over with nothing added: the control.

* Coffee had been ground, steeped in cold water for 12 hours. The water was added to the gallon jug by pouring through another coffee filter inside of a funnel, attempting to keep the grounds out of the gallon jug.

I tasted each blend as bottle size left me a good 8 ounces of each beer blend at the end. The straight beer seemed to have too much residual sweetness. Thinking it could be the new yeast and/or the higher mash temperature. Carbonation and time might change my perception. The cocoa infused versions definitely were lacking cocoa. Lastly, the more coffee the version had, the happier the senses.

Three weeks should be a good time to do a side-by-side. Looking forward to the tasting. Enjoy!

2015 Dark Lord Day

April 27th, 2015 by scot

dark lord day store front

2015 Dark Lord Day was by the worst day weather wise since I have been going to the event (2010 Dark Lord Day). Weather reports called for rain starting on Friday evening with up to an inch of total rain before it stopped late on Saturday afternoon. Besides the rain, the temperature never made it out of the mid-40s, making for a nasty mix of early spring Chicago weather.

Upon arriving at the business park that Three Floyds is situated at the back-end, I was directed to park by festival workers. At five miles per hour, I avoided the sporadic, stammering, non-coherent strides of patrons that were five or more drinks past their limit, I finally arrived at the parking lot, the only one that seemed to be open to the public. $25 lighter, I found a parking sport amazingly close to where Rich and Chuck had been hanging all day.

Dirty and drunk isn't my idea of a fun day at Dark Lord Day.

Dirty and drunk isn’t my idea of a fun day at Dark Lord Day.

Shortly after meeting with the boys, Chuck opened a 2014 Dark Lord to share and I was greeted by a man walking (if that had any chance of being walking, I am world class sprinter) a woman to a car. She was covered in mud to her waste, nice and wet; filthy. No way she would be getting my car but the dude through her in the front seat. Dirty and drunk isn’t my my ideal way of spending Dark Lord Day. Fast forward an hour or so: the woman wakes up, opens the car door and the alarm goes off. The guy must of locked the doors as he left. Stupidity. One of the guys in our decided to help out and disconnect the car battery. Silence is bliss.

dark lord day muddy mess

The mud. Did I mention that an inch of rain, mixed with 6,000+ people trampling over grassy areas makes for a perfect cocktail of mud. I didn’t arrive until the late afternoon, when it stopped raining, plenty of time for the dragging of drunken shoe soles to mutilate the grass and wood chipped areas. Many people were wet up to their knees as the jeans they were wearing soaked up the rain. Many were donning mud up to their knees as well, while a few had fallen completely in the mud, similar to my first aforementioned woman above. I believe a few “adults” were looking at being dirty as a badge of coolness. Needless to say I am glad I am not cool.

dark lord day tents

Dark Lord Day is know for having Dark Lord, some Dark Lord variants, and great guest craft beers on tap. Walking around the tap tents didn’t impress me as much as it has in the past. Prices are up. Way up! More on that shortly. The guest tap list wasn’t as strong as in the past. Zombie Dust was no where to be found. Rich did have a couple pints of a Brew Kettle IPA that was on tap. I don’t remember the name but the aroma and flavor of the hops smacked tropical fruits all over the senses. Damn solid.

As the day wound down towards the E group (6:30 – 8:30pm), Chuck became more inebriated, Rich and I decided to wait out the line, and we all listened to death metal while laughing at the over served. During this time, a guy fell (drunken stumble) while carrying 12 bottles. One of the four packs hit the ground, breaking the bottles. $80 of dark, devilish liquid mixed with the rain soaked asphalt. What a waste.

If you look close enough there is probably a bottle that still has beer in it. I am surprised that Chuck didn't try to drink it!

If you look close enough there is probably a bottle that still has beer in it. I am surprised that Chuck didn’t try to drink it!

Chuck’s pickled liver forced his brain to short circuit. He started going up and down the isles of picnic tables that were stuffed with empties and some not-so-empty bottles of craft beer. Chuck took this an opportunity for free beer. Luckily he tried to pour the first into glass. The chunks that rushed out made me think cigarette butts, not yeast. A bit of coaxing allowed me to pour both out. Trying to be a responsible “advocate” (Chuck’s words), I kindly reminded him that he had to drive home from Rich’s house after the event. He promised to stop drinking as we headed for the bottle line.

Three Floyds is not your friend. They want your money: quickly and efficiently as possible. The cost continues to rise. In six years of going I never had to pay for parking. The price made me think I was in Chicago, not Munster. The cost of each ticket, with fees, is up to $45+. The bottles went up $5 to $20 per bottle. If you factor in the cost of the ticket, the bottles are over $30 each. If you want to throw in the parking costs and the intangible of your time, gas, wear and tear on your car the cost sky rockets. All this for an okay beer at best. Good thing friends are there to talk me off the ledge.

Some lessons learned:

  • A drunk Chuck is a lier and speaks Chuckese while in that state.
  • Chuck passing out in my car is better than him throwing up in said car.
  • FFF only cares about your cash.
  • Rolling around in the mud as an adult on a 40*F day is not cool. Drunk or not.
  • Dark Lord Day is easier to enjoy when it is sunny and at least 60*F.
  • Rich thinks he owns my car radio.
  • This was probably my last Dark Lord Day.

Time spent with friends is much better than Dark Lord will ever be. If I do go in the future it will only be to point and laugh at Chuck! Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.

Tasted: Clash of Hops

April 23rd, 2015 by scot

glass of clash of hops

Clash of Hops has been bottled for three weeks, it is finally coming into its’ own. For some reason it was slow carbonating. Flat beer just doesn’t do it for me.

Continuing with my last few beers, this beer is quite cloudy. I have a couple of theories but I have to look further into each. The first is the ridiculous amount of hops used throughout the process. The second, is the water. I recently purchased a ph meter to start testing mash ph, but this goes further.

I believe my local water has changed. Even the sanitary water comes up cloudy. I have asked the city for a water report. The 2014 report should be out shortly, while the 2013 is available online. Research on water comes next.

Look: Pours quite cloudy giving a dull orange, golden color. A solid inch of pure white, thick foam. Retention is solid with the foam frothing as it recedes, slowly. Lacing is outstanding, leaving thick remnants immediately.

Aroma: Juicy fruit. Light grain with a touch of sweetness. Fruity hops abound.

Taste: Light grain and sweetness carry the back. The sweetness doesn’t come from caramel, just a pleasant, balancing sweetness. There is touch of bitterness and heat in the finish. The hops linger longer than the alcohol.

Drinkability: Medium body: when the foam and beer hit the lips at the same time, there is a nice creaminess. Medium carbonation at best. Carbonation lends quite a bit to the body for this beer.

Overall: Bitterness and alcohol make this a tough beer in quantities. The hops are the grace of this beer.

Not my best offering. The hops carry this beer. The sugar adds to much straight up alcohol to the final beer. Enjoy By, the beer this originally started off as, has more alcohol aroma/flavor than I remember. I am looking more for balance and drinkability in beers anymore. Enjoy!

Useless fact: For every ‘normal’ webpage, there are five porn pages.

Brewed: Award Winner and Pot Licker (C)

March 28th, 2015 by scot

omega yeast 052, wyeast 1968

It has been a while since I have brewed two batches of home brew in one day. It has been in even longer since I brewed two different beers in the same day. In both cases, Chuck brought over brewing gear (brew kettle, burner, chiller, etc). This extra gear allowed for the brew day to be smooth without interruption once the second beer was mashed. This time around I wasn’t as fortunate. No matter, the brew day must proceed for Award Winner DIPA and Pot Licker Milk Stout.

Award winner is inspired by the IPA article in the March/April issue of BYO magazine. One recipe was using Header Topper yeast. It has been a while since I worked with the yeast. Fortunately this yeast is now available by multiple yeast companies. I used Omega Yeast 052, named DIPA Ale. Pot Licker is on its’ third version (thus the ‘c’ in the name). The first time I used too little lactose sugar, the second, I used a pound of lactose but the recipe was “American” centric: 2-row and yaest. I decided to use Maris Otter and English yeast: WYeast 1968 – London ESB Ale.

award winner hops

Both yeasts were over a month old, therefore I made a four liter starter for both yeasts. The four liter starter would allow me to have enough to keep for future brew days.

I figured the day would take close to eight hours (it did) if I had the grain ground, ready to go in the morning. A Friday night of grain grinding proved to be more exciting than expected. I brought the gap in the mill down to 0.30mm, which proved to be too tight for the drill that I use to run the mill. A third of the way through the first grind, the roller came to a halt. Dumped the grain, cleaned the mill and tried again with a gap of 0.32mm. Again, the mill bound up. Frustrated, I repeated the clean up of the mill, leaving the gap. I revved the drill up, ripping through the grain and made it; both grain bills.

The drill is heavy duty, therefore I still don’t understand why it stalled out. Also, the 0.32mm gap was only 0.01mm less than I used on my last batch, seems that that little change shouldn’t have caused a problem.

The resulting crush was powder. Too much crush. Quickly I remembered that Pat purchased 50# of rice hulls about two years ago that are sitting in my basement, I added 1.5# of rice hulls to each of the grain buckets. To add insult to injury, I realized that I only had one carboy ready for a double brew day. Time to dry hop Clash of Hops allowing for a second carboy. After three hours, I was ready for Saturday’s brew day.

The rice hulls saved my day. The most tumultuous part of the day was the transition from second batch finishing mashing while chilling the first batch. Getting two batches done at once was a challenge but a nice feeling of accomplishment while freeing up a few weekends before I have to brew again. Enjoy!

Award Winner DIPA

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: OYL-052
Yeast Starter: 4 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 6.00
Original Gravity: 1.071
IBU: 77.6
Color: 8.8 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.9%
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
15.0# 2 Row
1.00# Wheat
10.0 oz Caramel 20L
6.0 oz Caramel 120L

Mash:
Saccharification @154.0*F

Hop Bill:
0.50 ounce Magnum @60 minutes
0.50 ounce Galaxy @20 minutes
0.50 ounce Galaxy @10 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @whirlpool
1.00 ounce Simcoe @whirlpool
2.00 ounces El Dorado @whirlpool
1.00 ounce Galaxy @4 days dry hop
2.00 ounces Kohatu @4 days dry hop
2.00 ounce El Dorado @4 days dry hop

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes

Update(s):

  • 2015-04-19: Dry hopped: 2.0 ounces Kohatu, 2.0 ounces El Dorado, 1.0 ounce Galaxy.
  • 2015-04-18: Bottled with 4.2 ounces priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. Gravity at 1.012.
  • 2015-05-01: Initial, non-carbonated tasting. Heaping helping of hops!

Pot Licker Mlik Stout (C)

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: WYeast 1968
Yeast Starter: 4 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.065
IBU: 26.4
Color: 36.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.7%
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
7.00# Maris Otter
2.00# Munich
1.00# Chocolate
12.0 oz Caramel 60L
0.50# Roasted Barley
0.25# Black Patent

Mash:
Saccharification @155.0*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce Amarillo @60 minutes
1.00 ounce Centennial @60 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.00# Lactose

Update(s):

  • 2015-05-06: Split the batch into six 1-gallon carboys.
  • 2015-05-10: Bottled each of the individual gallon carboys. A lot of work!

Useless Fact (one for each home brew):

  • Cuba is the only island in the Caribbean to have a railroad.
  • In the U.S, Frisbees outsell footballs, baseballs and basketballs combined.

Brewed: Honey Pot Pale Ale

March 23rd, 2015 by scot

crushed grain

It has been almost two years since I last brewed up a batch of Honey Pot Pale Ale. This is one of those beers that is for my wife. She purchased the honey over the holidays and has been asking me to brew up a batch since that time (and probably before). I couldn’t keep telling her no any longer. I picked up a packet of S-05, honey malt, and crystal 40. Of course I tweaked the recipe a bit more to my liking: dropping the 0.5 ounce of Fuggles, while upping the Amarillo addition to an ounce from a half-ounce. My wife is coming around on hops, so this should be an acceptable change.

Last week I brewed an IPA named Clash of Hops. The efficiency of that batch was a bit lower than I would have expected. The setting on my mill was right were I had set it: 0.35 mm (or is that 0.035 mm). While reading a post on homebrewtalk.com for some other reason than efficiency, I noticed a reponse that said their mill was set at 0.2 mm, with immediate increase in efficiency. The writing was on the wall: tighten up the gap to 0.31 mm.

wort from first inital sparge

The change increased efficiency greatly over that last Honey Pot Pale Ale brew day. I didn’t have any issues with a stuck sparge either (why I only cranked it to 0.31 mm). There is a chance I will crank it down a bit more but I am worried about some of the home brews in which I use a heavier dose of wheat in. I might continuously tighten the mill by 0.01 mm until I get to the point of ease of sparging diminishing.

This beer should be ready, in the bottle, by mid-April, just in time for that hopeful first stretch of warm weather. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, March 22, 2015
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.062
IBU: 31.5
Color: 6.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.7%
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
6.50# 2 Row
0.50# Caramel 40L
0.50# Honey Malt
2.50# Local Honey

Mash:
Saccharification @153.6*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce Amarillo @60 minutes
1.00 ounce Centennial @60 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes

Update(s):

  • 2015-03-22: Fermentation beginning to slow, upped temperature to 70.0*F.
  • 2015-03-28: Took of heat. Left at ambient basement temperature.
  • 2015-04-19: Bottled with 4.0 ounces priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. Gravity at 1.002.

Useless Fact: A cow gives nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.

Brewed: Clash of Hops

March 16th, 2015 by scot

clash of hops

I have been on a big hop kick lately. Instead of hitting of the local beer store for goodies, I have been able to keep myself in the black by brewing an IPA every 6 – 8 weeks. I have been using larger and larger amounts of hops but late in the boil, whirlpool and/or first wort hops. Heck, one of my recent brews, that isn’t’ on SIPS, had a pleasant and balancing bitterness in spite of the absence of hops in the boil.

I really like the Stone Enjoy By Imperial IPA. I have seen various clones on homebrewtalk.com for quite some time, each making my mouth water. Typically not being the one for clones, I decided to brew this beer as a clone but use the hop profile I wanted while leaving the simple malt profile intact. This also marked the first time of using a non-American (or Brett) yeast in an IIPA (or IPA). Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, March 15th, 2015
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-04 (1.6 packets)
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 6.0
Original Gravity: 1.081
IBU: 95.2
Color: 5.3 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Mash Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 9.5%
Fermentation: 14 day @68*F

Grain Bill:
8.50# Two-Row
8.50# Maris Otter
1.00# Table Sugar

Mash:
Saccharification @148.2*F

Hop Bill:
3.00 ounces Amarillo @15 minutes
3.00 ounces Simcoe @15 minutes
1.00 ounces Cascade whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Centennial whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Citra whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.50 ounces Galaxy dry hop (6 days)
1.50 ounces Simcoe dry hop (6 days)
1.50 ounces Galaxy dry hop (3 days)
1.50 ounces Simcoe dry hop (3 days)

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss

Update(s):

  • 2015-03-17: Fermentation beginning to slow, upped temperature to 70.0*F.
  • 2015-03-22: Took of heat. Left at ambient basement temperature.
  • 2015-03-27: Dry hopped. 3.0 ounces Galaxy, 3.0 ounces Simcoe.
  • 2015-04-02: Bottled with 4.2 ounces of priming sugar. Yield: 24, 22 ounce bottles. Unfortunately, initial taste had hints of alcohol.
  • 2015-04-23: Tasting.

Useless Fact: An average human loses about 200 head hairs per day.

Long Hiatus and Basement Bar

January 27th, 2015 by scot

basement bar

Home brewing has been an after thought lately. That might be too advantageous of the home brewing situation.

Brief sob story: Life has been busy. Everyone’s is.

Between work, family, and a hectic basketball schedule, my free time has been spent trying to finish the basement. I have done most of the work. Er, um, I have helped my Dad do most of the work. He is 78 and still able to pound a sixteen penny nail in with two hits. Impresses me.

The work started over a year ago was interrupted by an injury to my foot, followed by the summertime’s busy basketball schedule…you get the picture. Late this fall I finally rededicated myself to the basement: electrical, dry wall, painting, flooring, doors, and the bar.

The bar, although small, is the highlight of the basement for me. From frame, to skin, to molding and staining (soon), each step has brought me closer to my own bar, in my own house, serving my own beer. Euphoric!

Tomorrow the trim will go into place with the weekend being marked for staining. A few minor odds and ends are left afterwards. So close.

Once the bar is done and the basketball season is over, I will light up the sky with the burner beneath my kettle. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: A killer whales heart beats 30 times a minute under water, 60 times a minute on the surface.

Purchased: American Sour Beers

August 19th, 2014 by scot
Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

I have been asking Michael Tonsmeire (The Mad Fermentationist) questions for at least three or four years: probably six months before I brewed my first foray into sour/wild home brewing. I wanted to know how I could work with Brett and how this magical yeast would be different from Sacch. Keeping it from contaminating my other beers and gear was a huge concern. I also learned that Brett does truly sour the way that the bacteria lacto does.

Since those early days my home brewery has lived harmoniously in the sour and normal beer realm. I feel like I have graduated to middle school. I have a miniscule amount of knowledge compared to Mike on the topic. Mike has had articles in BYO magazine for years but the first time I can remember him bringing up the idea of a book was via a poll on his blog.

I know that books aren’t easy to write so I had no idea if he would ever pull together his thoughts in one place. I was hopeful. Fortunately for the home brewing community Mike has a much more positive outlook on things than I do. :)

The book has been out a couple of months. Brando, the owner of the local home brewing store, Chicago Brew Werks, asked if I had read the book yet. He raved about the book. I had been intending to purchase but that was the last straw. I had to show my appreciation for all the hard work that Mike has put into helping funky home brewers and the book.

I am looking forward to the read. I am sure I won’t be able to put it down once I start. Friday night into the weekend will find me with book in one hand and a sour saison (review forthcoming) in the other. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital suspended workers for betting on when patients would die.

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