July 05, 2009

Well, now I know what he uses to wash down a puppy aperitif

So, the Instamonster brews, or has brewed, beer. Who knew? Excerpt:

Brewing is kind of social, and the two guys I used to brew with puppies I used to sip moved away were all in my belly.

Ah well, he at least links to this article on brewing rigs, some of which I had planned to cover anyway, once I got around to advanced brewing concepts. Which reminds me: keep reading for installment #4 of Brewing Your First Beer. After I -finally- finish that series, I'll move on to intermediate brewing techniques, and eventually to advanced ones. Hopefully my readers (bless you both) will stay on board throughout.

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February 23, 2009

Beer en route

Here is an update to my previous post about the Breckenridge Christmas Ale clone:

1) Alexander does NOT make a 5.25 lb. can of liquid malt extract. Instead, I added a 4-lb. can of LME plus 1 pound of light dried malt extract dissolved in 1 quart of cold water at the 45-minute mark. The reason I didn't add the dry malt extract directly into the boiling wort is due to the fact that the dried malt extract would instantly develop a melted, hardened shell and not conclude melting for about hour or so. Not that this has ever happened to me, of course. It's just something that I've heard about. ::cough-cough::

2) American Ale yeast II doesn't act like most other ale yeasts I've used. Most of the rest quickly ramp up from zero activity to Old Faithful style fermentation locks within 24-48 hours of pitching the yeast. After that peak activity, things quickly subside to a more normal level of ferementation. Contrast this with what I've observed of the American Ale yeast II, which started slowly and then gradually increased it's activity over 6 days, popping my fermentation lock off of the carboy twice in one day; no, it did not rest on the seventh day. The third fermentation lock didn't blow it's top, but the lock did fill with dirty-colored water bubbling up from inside the carboy, which kind of negates the sanitary effect of using such a device.

3) I have to check my last batch of beer to see if any of the bottles are salvageable. If so, great: more to drink. If not, well, not so bad: I'll now have empty bottles to use. However, there's something inherently wrong about pouring bottles of lovingly crafted beer down the drain just because it's trying to win an Oscar for it's performance in the role of horse urine.

In any event, I'll probably rack (transfer via siphon) the beer to a secondary carboy, which will buy me some time before bottling. Since the arrival of child #3 is more or less imminent, I'm in favor of anything which pushes back due dates on activities.

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February 11, 2009

Brew time

Well, the yeast packet has almost swelled enough to be used. Time to brew this beer and see just how close I can get to the real thing. Here's hoping that I can avoid dumping two gallons of chlorinated water in this time.

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January 11, 2007

On to the next batch

Well, since my previous posts on brewing were so widely read, I've decided to post more stuff that will be of interest to one person only. Fortunately, that's the only person whose opinion I care about so, you know, I've got that goin' for me.


I just received the ingredients to make two batches of beer. One will be a clone of Breckenridge Brewery's Christmas Ale which, I expect, many of you have not tried as yet. I highly recommend it. Hopefully, my batch will turn out alright; I have no desire for more Swimming Pool Ale. The other batch will be a Fosters Lager clone, albeit one brewed at ale temperatures because no lagering ability at my house. I think that I'll call it the Fosters Steamer, in reference to brewing lagers at ale temperatures, a method popularized by Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco in the production of its fabulous Anchor Steam Ale.

Which one will I brew first? It's hard to say, but I'm leaning towards the Steamer because it will become drinkable more quickly, giving me plenty of homebrew to drink while the Christmas Ale ages. Regardless, I'll post my recipes and brewing logs as I go along. Feedback and/or questions are welcome.

See y'all soon.

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September 06, 2006

Support from an unexpected source

Michelle Malkin joins the legion of folks like me by advocating that you should Brew Your Own Beer.

Oh wait, it's a political post that mentions Miller and Anheuser Busch's support of illegal immigration. Since I don't drink their beer anyway, my new lack of support will go largely unnoticed by the two brewing giants. But my point still stands: brew your own beer. If you want some info, this archive is as good a place to start as any, in my humble opinion.

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July 27, 2006

A holiday for all of us

At least, for those of us who like alcohol. I give you Mead Day, courtesy of the American Homebrewers Association. Excerpt:

How to Celebrate

Before the event
• Invite non-brewing and brewing/meadmaking friends to help make mead.
• Hold a special pre-event mead dinner for Mead Day friends or family.

During the event
• Brew the Official Mead Day Recipe
• Tell friends and family about other American Homebrewers Association fun events – Big Brew, National Homebrewers Conference, Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day
• Bring out meadmaking literature for your friends to read– Compleat Meadmaker other meadmaking books
• Drink mead, pair your mead with food and HAVE FUN
• Bottle the mead you made together
• Buy an American Homebrewers Association membership as a gift for new homebrewers or meadmakers
• Have new homebrewers or meadmakers check out www.beertown.org for up-to-date brewing informatio

I have some bottles of mead that are about 14 years old now, so they're just rounding into shape. For the record, smoked tea(lapsang) is a poor mead additive. Bleah.

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June 20, 2006

Wheat beer mashing

A commenter to this post asked me about mashing wheat grains in with the barley. My initial response was that it shouldn't be more than 50% or of the total grain bill. However, I forgot one or two things in the couple of years since I made an all-grain wheat beer. Here's an update:

Most malted barleys these days are modified to the point where a simple infusion mash will work just fine(except for beers requiring a decoction mash like a dopplebock). However, adding wheat malt to the mix alters things somewhat, owing to wheat malt's extremely high protein content. You should therefore add a protein rest to mashes containing wheat malt. 30 minutes or so at 122F should be sufficient. This rest will break down the largest proteins, while leaving some of the smaller ones, which will contribute to head retention.

What, you want more details? Okay, here's an example mashing schedule for a wheat beer:

1) Add 1 quart plus 1 cup water around 127F to every pound of grain(all types) and stir with a paddle of some type. The temperature should level off around 122F. Keep at that temp for about 20-30 minutes by sticking the whole mess in an over on low, keeping a low flame under your mash kettle, or my tossing the whole mess into an insulated cooler for the required duration. This is called the protein rest.

2) Heat the mash up to between 150-155 degrees and hold there for 60-70 minutes. This is the sacharification rest, where the long branch-chain sugars get converted into smaller, fermentable sugars.

3) Mash out by bringing the temperature of the mash to 170F for about 5 minutes. This stopped the enzymatic conversion of the starches into fermentable sugars.

I'll stop there for now, as I have no desire to go into sparging and lautering.

I'm reminded that I haven't posted anything in my Brewing Your Beer series lately. I promise to get back to it soon.

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April 07, 2006

Big Brew is coming...

What is Big Brew?

Each year on the first Saturday in May, homebrewers unite non-brewing and brewing friends and family to celebrate National Homebrew Day, joining with thousands of homebrewers from around the world in brewing the same recipes and sharing a simultaneous toast at noon Central Time.

Before the event, participants that are planning BIG BREW events register their site on this web site. These registered sites help the American Homebrewers Association track how many participants celebrated the event. Event results will be posted on this page a few weeks after the event.

To participate, you first have to register your Big Brew Site, or see if there's one already registered near where you live. Then decide which of the two selected recipes you'll actually brew. Since I don't actually enjoy Kölsch, I guess that I'll be brewing the Poor Richard's colonial ale. However, brew what you like; after all, the whole point of this exercise is to participate in homebrewing, which is a hobby that I wholeheartedly endorse. Finally, people around the globe will share a simultaneous toast at 12:00 noon, US Central Time.

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November 14, 2005

More beer blogging

Tim F. over at Balloon Juice posted his weekly Friday beer blogging post. Reading someone else who suffers from the same obsession as me is always a hoot, but I especially like his description of the boiling wort smell from a batch of pumpkin beer. Excerpt:

A short story; bear with me. Picture a freshman dorm in Colorado. Two friends have to run out to the homebrew supplier so it’s up to me to watch ten gallons of boiling, stinking pumpkin beer mash. For those of you who aren’t brewers, that’s roughly what it would smell like if Halloween died in a hot, sealed room and stayed there for a week. Rachel, a feared RA who loved nothing more than to bust students doing outlawed things like brewing beer, wanders in holding her nose.

“Whad are you doing?”
“Uh, ”
“Cooking dinner.”
“Seembs like a lod…”
“Whad is dat?”
“...Gazpacho. Ukranian pumpkin stew. It’s a family specialty. Want to try some?”
“Your loss. Sorry about the smell.”

I like to think that some day in the future she grabbed a waiter at a fine restaurant and declared, “I’ve seen gazpacho, and THAT’S NOT GAZPACHO.” Or something to that effect. The beer was worth the wait.

Tum actually reminds me that I still haven't written the Bottling Your Beer post in my Brewing Your First Beer series. I really want to finish that series and move on to intermediate brewing.

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September 14, 2005

Got mead?

A mead competition is upcoming. I've reprinted the ad from here in full:

If you've got mead, prepare to enter the 1st annual Valhalla - The Meading of Life !
Mead-Only Competition to be held Saturday, October 15 at the Mt. Pleasant Café 311 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave in Philadelphia, 19119 . This competition will judge meads in BJCP categories 24--traditional meads, 25--melomel and 26--other mead. One entry per subcategory per entrant, with a $5 per entry fee. The equivalent of at least 3 12-ounce bottles is required for judging, although bottle size and shape are not restricted. No identifying markings however can appear on the bottles. Any standard competition entry from may be used. It is the responsibility of the
entrant to properly identify the category and sub-category based on the
2004 BJCP Style Guidelines.

Meads may be mailed or dropped off at Home Sweet Homebrew, 2008 Sansom
Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 by Friday, October 7th
. Additional drop off
locations include Keystone Homebrew locations and Iron Hill Brewery and
Restaurant in West Chester, PA.

The competition would like to encourage knowledgeable mead judges to
commit to judging this event. Judges will receive breakfast and lunch.

The judging will take place from 9am to 1pm. Awards will be given out beginning at 1:30. There will also be a tasting with numerous commercial meads as well as the remainder of the meads from the competition following the judging. Following the competition there will be 2 seatings for a Medieval dinner at 4 and 7pm, reservations required call 215-242-1500 to make them.

Suzanne McMurphy, Competition Organizer
David Houseman, Judge Coordinator
Vince Galet, Asst. Competition Organize

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