Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

Worst Day of Home Brewing

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

home brewing sour beers

I have been home brewing up tasty (or not) beers for the past eight years. During a period from 2011 through early 2014, I spent a big part of my time researching, formulating, and brewing wild ales. I had the sour itch and I had it bad.

After buying duplicate plastic home brewing items to keep them form contamination, I decided it was time to take a chance on a Brett beer.

Throughout those early attempts, I used the usual suspects that could be obtained from Wyeast and/or White Labs: bruxellensis, claussenii, lambicus (my least favorite), trois (when it was considered Brett and not Sacch). As well as the different flemish blends.

Most of the Brett beers were takes on Belgian saison and pale ales and mashed in the high 140s. I tried using Sacch first, then adding Brett in secondary. I tried building up a Brett starter, pitching 100% Brett in primary. I even did a straight pitch of Brett without a starter, trying to stress the yeast in order to get more character out of the yeast. Most of my experiences were positive.

I was the first one in the home brew club that was even looking at Brett. I was the only customer at the home brew shop asking about the wild stuff. I was radical. I was cool. I didn’t know shit!

What was beyond Brett?

Shortly thereafter, I wanted more. I wanted more microbes. I wanted more sour. I needed more complexity. How to get it. After reading his blog, among other sources, and emailing many times with The Mad Fermentationist, I sought out some East Coast Yeast.

After many attempts to get the Bug Farm, one fine day I landed a vial. I was ready for my first lambic. It was actually the start of multiple purchases of East Coast Yeast, allowing me to try different styles and different techniques. Being on their mailing list had some advantages; for a while. I had now graduated to craft yeast and turbid mashes.

On Top of American Wild Ales?

I was proud of the fact that I had 10 or so carboys in one state or another of aging wild beer. I would go down and look at those carboys. I would boast to people that I had all these carboys making magic elixirs in the basement.

I imagined what these beers would taste like. They would be perfectly balanced. Blended well. Almost perfect.

I had added blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to a blend of two years of lambic. I had two different Flanders browns, one Flanders red, plus other Brett combinations. It was a small piece of Belgium in my basement.

What Went Wrong with my Home Brewed Sours?

Life. My kids are growing up and all active in one level or another with basketball. We are a basketball family. My wife and I love the sport. We have tried to pass our passion down to our kids while relating basketball (and any sport) to real life. Connecting sport to life is important to me. Having the kids understand hard work, motivation, determination, and pushing through when the chips are down are lessons they will carry throughout life, giving them the tools to succeed.

The basketball affliction has taken it’s toll on the amount of time I have to devote to home brewing. Long weekends at AAU basketball tournaments only allow me to try new craft beers but not brew and not maintain, like I should, the beers faded away.

Via neglect, the sanitized water evaporated, allowing oxygen to permeate into the beers. I knew it was happening. I had lost interest. My focus was on family. The disillusion of Belgium in the basement eroded to the hope that maybe one beer would be okay, maybe.

Pouring out 3+ years of work in the form of 30+ gallons of colored vinegar wasn’t what I set out to do. Unfortunately, it is what I accomplished.

There are so many mixed emotions about the experience. I could ramble on but I will pull back here. Time to move on.

What’s Next?

I have been a fan of hops since I started home brewing. I have stocked up some eight pounds of hops (that is a lot of five gallon batches, even when using 12 – 16 ounces at a time). I will stay the course, for now, with my hoppy beers. The last few have been successful: Baller IPA and The Train Man. The success of these recent home brews is welcomed in order to keep my imagination from roaming to a new past time.

I never cultured yeast from store bought examples of sour beers. I really don’t know why. Probably because thoughts of sanitation never crossed my mind while drinking a Russian River 375. If and when I go back into home brewing sour beers, I would like to try doing some culturing.

Now there are many new, small yeast companies producing yeast and bacteria blends (The Yeast Bay, Imperial Yeast, and Omega to name a few). Setting sail in the direction of sour beers shouldn’t be as difficult as it once was. Staying the course might be. Enjoy!

Useless Fact In eighteenth-century English gambling dens, there was an employee whose only job was to swallow the dice if there was a police raid.

Local Take on the New Craze

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

So the big thing these days in beer seems to be the Northeast Style IPA. Make it so hoppy your head implodes, make it so hazy you couldn’t see through it with a klieg light, and make it so juicy you won’t have to eat citrus for a month. And the trend has hit Chicago area breweries since the summer. There are too many to name, and although I wish I could try all of them (and I have tried some), this entry will just focus on two I recently brought to a Thursday Night Beer Club.

hailstrom brewing nimbus

BEER ONE: NIMBUS by Hailstorm Brewing out of Tinley Park, canned 9/28/16.

Color was a very cloudy dirty straw/gold. It reminded me of a glass of dark orange juice. The smell was mildly hoppy with slight floral notes. Taste was a slight tang of mildly bitter hops with a slight citrusy backing. Feel was dry, not a big mouth filling beer.
Appearance 4.25
Smell 4
Taste 4.5
Feel 4.25
Overall 4.25
TOTAL 4.29

NOTE ONE: I had this again on tap last week at Sovereign in downtown Plainfield, and I wouldn’t change any of the above notes or ratings.
NOTE TWO: Hailstorm did three of these New England styles (last I checked). I don’t think I have had STRATUS, but I have had CUMULUS and I would highly recommend that one more than Nimbus.

Ram Restaurant and Brewery Juicy

BEER TWO: JUICY by Ram Restaurant and Brewery out of Schaumburg, bought on release date 10/1/16, so canned earlier that week.

It was a much lighter color but also cloudier than the Nimbus. I remember when I had this the first time-it was from a bottle shared with me, and my comment was that it might have been the coolest looking double IPA from the Midwest that I had ever seen (even over every Pipeworks “Fish Series” that I’ve tried). The thing that struck me the most about the appearance was how it had a mass of the smallest bubbles I think I had ever seen in a beer (the canned batch, this wasn’t as present). This had a very healthy thick lacing as well. As for smell and taste, this one has a much stronger hop presence than Nimbus, and the citrus (mostly lemon notes) comes through a lot more, with practically no bitterness. It’s also a thicker, heavier, and creamier beer, but also amazingly smooth. They ran through this quickly at the last release (like most of the special beers they do), so I imagine it’s only going to be just as hard if not harder to get the next time they brew it.

Appearance 5
Smell 4.5
Taste 4.5
Feel 4.75
Overall 4.75
TOTAL 4.61

NOTE: The above numbers were from the first time I had this from a bottle. However, most of the notes were from the recent tasting from can, and I would not change the rating at all. On tap, can, or bottle – TRY THIS BEER!!!

Brewed: The Train Man IPA

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

home brew the train man ipa

Ever since I have had my first memories, my Dad has been a O-gauger. In simple speak: he has had an infatuation with trains, specifically O-gague, which defines a size of model trains (1:48 or 7mm:1ft) and is on the rather large size for model railroading. He worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad that was bought out by the Union Pacific. If memory serves me, it was the C&EI before it was the Missouri Pacific. If you want to know more, Dad will fill you in any time, any place. He will talk trains as much as I will talk home brew. The two hobbies don’t mesh well together.

Our basement was full of his trains and a layout, always in one form or another of completeness. I tagged along to monthly train meets: early Sunday morning drives that seemed to last for eternity. Once there, I worked odd jobs, walked through all the tables and wondered how cool it would be to have a layout with one of everything. A kid dreams.

Dad is 80 now. In great shape and spry (I only hope to be as nimble when and if my turn comes at 80). His love for trains has never waned. His layout is more complete than ever. It is realistic. It is beautiful. It is a labor of love. This beer is in honor of the best Dad: a man who never looked the other way when it came to hard work or trying to make a better future for his family. The Train Man.

Home Brewing The Train Man IPA

I have found that I enjoy rye in a beer much more than I enjoy eating rye bread. A mix of rye spice works well with fruity and citrus hops. Azacca, a new hop for me, seemed to be a great place to start. I decide to add Columbus to get an extra spice kick while kicking up the citrus profile. The added IBUs would also assist with balance. The last time I brewed a rye ipa I only used two pounds of rye. I upped it to three here with the idea of pronouncing the rye in the finish even more (writing this also reminds me that I need to brew that rye ipa again).

Leading up to this brew day, I worked on my grain mill to get it better dialed in for higher efficiency. Based on the brew day numbers, I was spot on for the first time in a long time with my gravity. This should help the balance since the bitterness will be a bit more in check.

I am looking forward to this beer. Reusing many of the techniques from Baller IPA, I expect the mix of rye and Azacca to wow me. Enjoy!

Recipe for The Train Man IPA

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.071
IBU: 49.7
Color: 5.7 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 8.4%
Primary Fermentation: 10 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
11.00 pounds 2-Row
3.00 pounds Rye
1.00 pound Carapils
4.00 ounces Caramel 40L

Mash:
Saccharification @149.7*F

Hop Bill:
2.50 ounces 2015 Columbus @1st wort
2.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @1st wort
1.00 ounces 2015 Columbus @45 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Columbus @10 minutes
4.00 ounces 2015 Azacca @dry hop 4 days
1.50 ounces 2015 Columbus @dry hop 4 days

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
8.0 ounces table sugar @ 15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls

Updates

  • 2016-11-13: moderate fermentation at 65.8*F.
  • 2016-11-14: morning – moderate fermentation @67.1*F.
  • 2016-11-14: evening – strong fermentation @67.1*F.
  • 2016-11-15: morning – hard fermentation @70.1*F.
  • 2016-11-16: evening – slowing fermentation @67.1*F. Added dry hops: 4.0 ounces 2015 Azacca and 1.5 ounces 2015 Columbus. Placed on heat @70*F to help finish.
  • 2016-11-20: bottled with 3.5 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 23, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: TM.

Useless Fact: Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

Tasted: Smiles IPA

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

home brew smiles ipa

I continue to stand by my claim that my sense of taste and aroma evolve as more potent version of India Pale Ales (IPAs) hit the craft beer market. This causes my perception of beers gone by to no longer have the same quality of impact. My home brewing is affected by these changed perceptions: I need to increase the hop profile, keeping my senses appetite satiated.

Smiles IPA was my second attempt at a Northeastern style IPA. I used a bit more varied malt profile and multiple type of hops as compared to Used. The hope was to push the hops to 11, allowing my lack of location to the Norther east, to not inhibit my ability to enjoy juicy, ripe IPAs.

The result…

Look: Pours cloudy with a half finger of white, loosely packed bubbled foam. Retention is meager for an IPA. Mildly effervescent.

Aroma: Big, juicy tropical hops abound.

Taste: Taste isn’t as big as the aroma. Tropical fruit is there, less instense. A little of the base malt comes through. Citrus.

Body:
A little on the thin side, only carried by the carbonation. Not oily in spite of the amount of oats. Dry finish.

Overall:
The aroma outshines the taste and, be far, is the best part of this beer. If I was to brew again, I would add more late kettle hops and probably some type of speciality grain to give it more malt character. Too neutral for me.

A better attempt at a Northeastern style IPA than Used. Getting closer but still missing something. Yeast? Hop process? Water profile? Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 93% of the Great Barrier Reef is now damaged by coral bleaching.

New Glarus Brewing Company Visit

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

A visit to New Glarus Brewing Company is always a welcome event. Before the kids got active, we made multiple 2+ hour trips to the brewery each year. Typically our weekends are abuzz with trips to the gym, soccer field and/or basketball tournament.

This past Sunday was special: it was my birthday.

The wife asked me multiple times what I wanted to do for my birthday. I gave little input. Finally she mentioned New Glarus but only because she really wanted to go and has been talking about it for a month ago. She is a Spotted Cow super fan.

In the four or more since we have visited New Glarus, the drive hasn’t changed but the brewery has. It is bigger, with multiple additions: one on the west side, one on the south-west and possibly more. One of which is near the bottling/kegging area that includes the ability to can their beers. Probably the biggest change: the common area on the north-east side of the brewery. Now there is more and nicer seating, there are trails in the woods, there are a bunch of partially built structures surrounding the area that look more like bombed out Germany during World War II. Tons of new and interesting sites and places for the kids to play. There was live entertainment, see video above. Sausage on wheels was served from a food chuck. The man serving food had a mustache worthy of 20th century Germany.

They still only have four beers on tap for tasting. The price for the tasting has increased while the serving size has not. My only complaint of the day.

The brewery was crowded with people and dogs but the improved family feel made us feel welcome for a lazy October afternoon. We will be back again, just hopefully not for so long. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: If you go blind in one eye you only lose about one fifth of your vision but all your sense of depth.

Brewed: Baller IPA

Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Over an 1.5 inches of trub after my first go around with dry hopping while active fermentation.

Over an 1.5 inches of trub after my first go around with dry hopping while active fermentation.

Home brewing beers that are named after family members has created an issue: now all my kids want a beer named after them. When the first kid (that I named a home brew after) brags to the other kids, a battle for Dad’s attention ensues. Since my oldest was the most exuberant, Baller IPA was named after her. As I mentioned before, when naming a beer I don’t typically give it the name of the real person but something that reminds me of that person. Thus, Baller IPA, is named due to my oldest child’s affinity for basketball. She plays hard, tough and with a determination that continues to soar in recent months.

Formulating Baller IPA Recipe

Baller IPA is another attempt at a Northeast style IPA (earlier attempts: Smiles and Used). The beer actually started out with intentions of being a double IPA, using some Northeast style hopping processes, while resuscitating an old, friendly on. Alas, it did not end up that way from the standpoint of gravity.

Cracking grain for me can be an adventure at times. The drill that drives my grinder doesn’t allow me to crack the grain as finely as I would like; the grinder binds as the drill doesn’t have the stones to push through the grain to the powdery mist I prefer. Instead, I back off a bit, cutting down on efficiency. The drill, mill and myself did not see eye-to-eye on brew day, more so than usual. The drill/mill bound up, multiple times, making me dump out the grain and clean out any traces before “working” again. Half-dozen times later, I was a bit miffed. I opened the mill spacing to allow for a more coarse grind, alleviating pressure on the drill. 45 minutes after starting the milling process, I was done and hating the mill, drill and anything within eyesight.

I knew my efficiency was shot but I did not change the process I was going to use in terms of the hops. I felt that the way I was going to use the hops, the drop in efficiency shouldn’t raise the bitterness to an obnoxious level.

The changes to the hopping process was threefold:

  • No whirlpool hops. Happy with the aroma this adds but, perception is, not enough flavor. Also, was to be a DIPA to start.
  • Add a first wort hop. It has been a long time but feel this process adds a nice flavor profile to the beer with a minimal impact on bitterness.
  • Add the dry hops towards the end of active fermentation. I have been wanting to use this technique for a while. After my mediocre success with Smiles and Used, I thought that trying this technique might up the perceived aroma (never enough).

The aroma jetting out of the carboy, while racking to the bottling, was impressive. I hope that my milling blunder allows this beer to shine through once I begin tasting. Enjoy!

Recipe for Baller IPA

General Information:
Brew Date: Thursday, October 06, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.070
IBU: 136.7
Color: 6.3 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 7.6% (due to poor milling)
Primary Fermentation: 10 days @66*F

Grain Bill:
7.00# Maris Otter
7.00# Pilsner
2.00# Munich
8.00 ounces CaraPils
1.00# Table sugar

Mash:
Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
3.00 ounce 2014 Simcoe first wort
1.50 ounce 2014 Citra @20 minutes
1.50 ounce 2014 Simcoe @15 minutes
1.50 ounce 2014 Citra @10 minutes
1.50 ounce 2014 Simcoe @5 minutes
4.00 ounce 2014 Citra dry hops 4 days in primary
2.00 ounce 2014 Simcoe dry hops 4 days in primary

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
30 seconds of pure oxygen after racking to carboy
4 quarts of rice hulls

Updates

  • 2016-10-09: Hard fermentation @67.8*F.
  • 2016-10-10: Slowing fermentation @66.3*F. Added dry hops to primary: 4.00 ounce 2014 Citra, 2.00 ounce 2014 Simcoe.
  • 2016-10-15: Cold condition @39.0*F.
  • 2016-10-16: Bottled with 3.6 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 28, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: LN.

Useless Fact: Spain leads the world in cork production.

Three Floyds Dark Lord Vertical – 7 years

Saturday, October 1st, 2016
Dark Lord lineup for the vertical: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.  Yes, that is my wife in the background with a Dark Lord shirt on.

Dark Lord lineup for the vertical: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Yes, that is my wife in the background with a Dark Lord shirt on.

2010 was my first Dark Lord Day. It was an unbelievable experience. Mayhem ruled the day. Pushing, shoving, and trickery were all on hand to help an individual get beers. In that day gone by, one person could use two tickets and each ticket warranted eight bottles of Dark Lord at $15 each; as long as there was enough beer in the first-come, first-serve process. I remember people showing up without tickets in case there was still Dark Lord left after a certain time as it was opened up to walk ups. I ended up with 16 bottles of green waxed Dark Lord, trading many of those bottles away for beers long forgotten.

Fast forward to 2016. The event is bigger: more bands, more people, short release barrel variants, and more drunks, but, the chaos and my love for the event (I didn’t bitch about 2016, I was too tired) has faded.

Needless to say, I haven’t traded nor drank many of the Dark Lords in the last 2 to 3 years. But, I have wanted to do a vertical with the Thursday Night Beer Club (TNBC) for quite some time. The biggest challenge was getting the guys together, with the beer and designated drivers for everyone. No sleeping at my house.

Participant 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Rich 6 7 2 3 1 5 4
Steve 5 7 6 2 1 3 4
Pat 6 4 3 1 2 5 7
Miles 6 5 3 1 2 4 7
Drew 4 7 6 1 2 3 5
Andy 7 5 2 1 4 3 6
Scot 6 4 2 1 3 5 7
John 7 4 3 1 2 6 5
Totals 47 (7) 43 (5) 27 (3) 11 (1) 17 (2) 34 (4) 45 (6)
Average 5.873 5.375 3.375 1.375 2.125 4.250 5.625

I came up with the idea of a midday get together, on a Saturday, with food shared by everyone, including the wife, mistresses and kids. We also needed to get at least seven guys. Chuck and Matt, TNBC guys, couldn’t make it, that means we needed three other participants besides Rich, Steve, Pat and myself. Ask thy friends and neighbors. We landed Miles, Drew and Andy. John, Rich’s middle son, decided to join us as well. The main course was brawts from the local meat market. The appetizers, side dishes and desserts were supplied by everyone that attended.

three floyd dark lord 2 ounce vertical pours

Pat brought along some two ounce plastic cups that I will dub the brightest idea of the evening. It made the seven pours easy, no over pours. It made clean-up a cinch, throw them out. And, it made tastings for others and other beers flow smoothly, no need to clean glasses.

Each person started with their seven pours, one for each year, deciding on the best way that suited them to taste the vertical. Most either started at ’10 and went up or started at ’16 and went down. I chose the latter.

Tasting in such a manner gave me the ability to see how the beer has developed as it has aged. It also allowed me to see how the sweetness really mellows. Dark fruits develop by the middle years, first raisins then changing over to prunes. Coffee was most prevalent in the 2015 bottle, while disappearing in the 2014 and later.

Based on the ratings, see table above, I would say to not drink Dark Lord young, giving it at least two years. I would also say to not go past five years of aging too: the sweet spot, for the group, was by far, the 2012 – 2014 versions. With 2013 and 2014 way out ahead as the favorites. My word of advice: don’t trade away the cellar or, if you are into purchasing, don’t waste large sums of cash on really old (6+ years) Dark Lord.

By the end of the evening, the process of killing a bottle got applause for whomever bit the bullet, with the lowest rated bottles drawing the biggest praises.

Overall, the company, catching up with old friends, and the typical guy banter was more enjoyable than the Dark Lord. I would do it again, especially if the entire TNBC crew could be there. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: A nepheligenous is someone filling a room with tobacco smoke.

Brewed: LaLa Barleywine

Sunday, September 4th, 2016
Preparing to add 60 seconds of oxygen to LaLa wort, post boil.

Preparing to add 60 seconds of oxygen to LaLa wort, post boil.

Requests for a new home brew don’t happen often. Heck, even my wife only requests for the same two beers over and over: Honey Pot Pale Ale and Grass Cutter. Maybe that should tell me something about how my home brews are perceived and/or my home brewing abilities.

Nonetheless, a request did come in the shape of my cousin Ron while chatting at this summers’ family reunion. He heard me say “La”. He asked me to say it again, mentioning that it had been a long time since he had heard someone call his Mother “La”. Of course she is my aunt and my Dad’s twin sister. Her real name is Catheline. “La” came about when my Dad was little and did not have the ability to say Catheline. Instead, he could say “La La”. Somehow it stuck. Ever since I am able to remember, we referred to Ron’s mom as Aunt La.

I not going to bore with more family details but let’s just say Aunt La, a damn hip and cool lady, has had a large helping of misfortune in her life. Ronny asked if I could make a beer for the 2nd annual New Year’s day get together, at my house, to honor his Mom. Of course I couldn’t say no, nor did I want to.

Now I had to determine the beer style and recipe that is fitting of Aunt La. A strong beer with the potential for multiple ways (bourbon soaked oak chips, large dry hop and possibly some with a combination of both) of changing the final product seemed to be the best route to go.

In order to brew up a large beer I had to get one more piece of brewing equipment that I have wanted for a long time and has held me back from brewing high gravity beers: pure oxygen. It has been at least a couple of years since I brewed a high gravity beer for the simple reason of my hyper-sensitivity to alcohol flavors in beer. The process of shaking the carboy only has lead me to believe that mine have that off-flavor. I was waiting for a time that I could get the necessary equipment and the wife wouldn’t bat an eye. Paying homage to my Aunt was an easy win.

Researching award winning barleywines and professional clone recipes, I ended up with what is below. The hope is there that everyone will taste and enjoy this beer that is truly created to represent Aunt La in liquid form. Enjoy!

LaLa Barleywine

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, September 04, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05 (2), not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.088
IBU: 31.5
Color: 6.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 180
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.2%
Primary Fermentation: 30 days @68*F, condition at ambient basement temperature for two months

Grain Bill:
10.50# 2 Row
9.50# Pilsner
0.50# Caramel 60L
0.50# Caramel 80L
0.50# Dextrapils

Mash:
Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
3.00 ounce 2014 Magnum @90 minutes
1.00 ounce 2015 Cascade @5 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 minute of pure oxygen after racking to carboy

Update(s):

  • 2016-09-04: @1600 the temperature was @83.8*F, placed on concrete basement floor.
  • 2016-09-05: @0800 the temperature was @68*F, pitched yeast
  • 2016-09-05: @2100, fermentation showing good signs.
  • 2016-09-06: @71.3*F, strong fermentation.
  • 2016-09-06: @67.2*F, added heat @69*F.
  • 2016-09-14: Took of heat. Left at ambient basement temperature.

Useless Fact: The $99 Now watch, made by designer Micah Davis, doesn’t have a clock face that tells time, it literally just says “NOW.”

Brewed: Honey Pot Pale Ale – Cascade Wet Hop

Friday, September 2nd, 2016
2016 Cascade hop harvest.

2016 Cascade hop harvest.

I have brewed with home grown hops in the past. I didn’t really care for the finished product, so much so that I didn’t even make an entry into the blog. I recall heaps of vegetal taste that had been extracted into the beer. Unpleasant at best.

That first, and only attempt, I used the hops as late kettle additions: 20, 10 and 1 minute. I wanted to extract cascade flavor and aroma. Unfortunately, I only remember the greenness. That one brew has scared me away from using my home grown hops since.

In the meantime, I have dug up two of the plants (Mt. Hood and Centennial) leaving me with Cascade and Willamette. The two plants I dug up were do to low yield due to poor yard placement. The remaining two have produced okay crops but I have always come up with a reason or three, to the wife and quietly to myself, on why I didn’t have time and/or couldn’t use the hops in a particular season.

This season I noticed that I was getting a good crop of both Cascade and Willamette. I had to do something with those hops. I needed to gain merit with my wife for not wanting to dig up the last two plants. She would replace them with flowers in a heart beat.

What to brew and how to use the hops were my biggest and only questions. Trying to coordinate an optimal time to pick and have time to brew was up there as well.

Countless of hours of thinking about brewing while on one of my two daily walks yielded:

  1. Brew a beer my wife likes: honey pot pale ale.
  2. Incorporate the hops as a whirlpool addition to the wife beer: whirlpool hops.
  3. Need time: Labor day weekend.

I had come up with the perfect plan. Now I only had to perform. Never an issue.

2016 Willamette hop harvest.

2016 Willamette hop harvest.

On brew day, I picked the Cascade and Willamette hops. The amount of Cascade filled a 6 gallon bucket half way. I have no idea how much it weighed but I know it was a shit-ton of hops. The Cascade was full of hop oils and huge on aroma: my hands were green but had the aroma of fresh cascade hops. Better than any crop previously. Knowing that wet hopping with that amount of hops would soak up huge amounts of wort, I decided to not use the Willamette. RIP Willamette. It was discarded. Next year I will plan Labor day weekend as a double brew weekend to use up all the home grown hops. The second beer I would brew: a saison, using the Willamette hops late in the boil and/or as a whirlpool hop.

If the beer tastes half as good as it smelled while brewing, this will be a winner, even with the wife. Enjoy!

Honey Pot Pale Ale

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, September 02, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.050
IBU: 31.5
Color: 6.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.2%
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
6.50# 2 Row
0.50# Caramel 40L
0.50# Honey Malt
2.50# Virginia Orange Blossom Honey

Mash:
Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce 2014 Magnum @60 minutes
1.00 ounce 2015 Cascade @10 minutes

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

Update(s):

  • 2016-09-03: @0700 the temperature was at 68*F, pitched yeast
  • 2016-09-04: @69*F, fermenting well.
  • 2016-09-06: Fermentation slowing, @67*F, add heat @ 68*F.
  • 2016-09-08: Took of heat. Left at ambient basement temperature.
  • 2016-09-17: Bottled with 3.5 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 24, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: HPW.

Useless Fact: Trees “talk” by exchanging chemicals. They communicate through underground fungi, and when they can recognize their relatives, they share nutrients. Basically, tree “families” help each other out.

Brewed: Smiles IPA

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

smiles ipa grain bed

Home brewing brings a smile to my face. It is a great way to relax, taking my mind off my job and other normal life issues. I get consumed by the process. I need to make sure that everything is set before starting, while trying to clean and put away throughout to unsure a neat and clean working space.

Therefore, that should be enough to want to make an India Pale Ale (IPA) named Smiles IPA. I have another and much more important reason. Kaila.

Kaila is my 12 year old daughter that is full of smiles, 24/7. When she greets you, when she tying her shoe or while playing sports, she always has the most friendly and inviting smiles to share with one and all. Her smile is addicting, always helping me through a tough day or even leaving the source of the bad day behind.

She deserved a beer named after her. Smiles IPA was born.

In using Galaxy, Simcoe and Cascade hops, my goal was to capture the essence of how Kaila makes everyone feel; each of these hops has always struck me as a inviting and enjoyable.

I hope I do Kaila justice with this beer. If I do, I will be brewing it again and will have some ready for the day that that 12 turns into a 21. Crap, don’t rush life. Enjoy!

Smiles

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, August 27, 2016
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-04
Yeast Starter: N/A
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.045
Final Gravity: ?
IBU: 43.2
Color: 4.2 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.7%
Primary Fermentation: start @66*F

Grain Bill:
9.00# Maris Otter
1.50# Oats

Mash:
Saccharification @152.6*F

Hop Bill:
0.75 ounce Magnum @60 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Simcoe @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Cascade @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @whirlpool 20 minutes @160*
1.00 ounce Simcoe @whirlpool 20 minutes @160*
1.00 ounce Cascade @whirlpool 20 minutes @160*
2.00 ounce Galaxy @dry hop 4 days
2.00 ounce Simcoe @dry hop 4 days
2.00 ounce Cascade @dry hop 4 days

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
4.0 quarts rice hulls

Updates:

  • 2016-08-28: @62*F, slow start to fermentation.
  • 2016-08-29: @69.1*F, good fermentation.
  • 2016-08-30: @67.8*F, put on heat at 69*F to finish fermentation.
  • 2016-09-03: Took off heat.
  • 2016-09-10: Dry hopped, 3.0 ounces 2014 Galaxy, 2.0 ounces 2014 Simcoe.
  • 2016-09-14: Bottled with 4.0 ounces of priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. 26, 22 ounce bottles. Bottle crown label: K.
  • 2016-10-16: Tasted.

Useless Fact: If Micheal Phelps were a country, he’d rank no. 35 on the all-time Olympic gold medal list, ahead of 97 other nations.

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