Archive for September, 2007

Dogfish Head Bocce

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Hack by fery

Malt Madness #3

Friday, September 14th, 2007

OK the score sheets and prizes came in the mail today so now everyone can hear how we officially did.


 For prizes for this competition they gave out cool medals with the Malt Madness logo on them instead of ribbons, I liked them alot. The biggest issue is that for the Gnarleywine we had two brewers and received one medal. I have already written to the Malt Madness coordinator requesting if we can have a second one, we’ll see. For the 3rd place Gnarleywine we received two 40z (approx) bags of pellet hops, they are Brewer’s Gold and Ahtanum. I have never heard of the Ahtanum variety, but Hop Union has it listed in the data base. Personally I could use either since I have no preference, so I’ll let Garrett decide which hops he wants and he can have them. And for the 2nd place Hazelnut Brown I received a Wyeast T-shirt (correct size) and a Wyeast coupon for a free Activator pouch of yeast. I have never used Wyeast yeast before so this should be cool. Looks like Garrett received his score sheets back yesterday so you can check out his post here.

Now, onto the summaries of the score sheets:

  • Saturday IPA – 19/20 – “This beer is lacking in hop aroma, flavor, and bitterness; the finish is sweet and cloying.” – “Needs greater attenuation, pitch more yeast.” (I must say, this beer had 22 total ounces of hops and went from 1.074 to 1.016, these comments don’t even make sense.)
  • Saison – 28/25 – “A Saison that may have fermented a little warm.” – “Perhaps lower fermentation temperature to eliminate fusel alcohols.”
  • Gnarleywine – 38/32 – Third Place American Barleywine – “An excellent American Barleywine, well done!” – “This is a malt monster! I love this barleywine . . . Very, very drinkable.”
  • Hazelnut Brown – 37/36 -  Second Place Specialty Beer – “A nice beer that features prominent hazelnut and chocolate flavor.” – I enjoy the hazelnut flavor, it presented itself nicely.”

It’s funny (in a not so good way), I just looked at all the judges ranks and was kind of turned off by how “young” this group appeared to be (I know I am only a BJCP Recognized Judge). Out of the 8 judges their were 2 Apprentices (unqualified), 5 Recognized ( the lowest qualified level) and 1 Grand Master Level III that judged out beers. Our best score came from the GMLIII judge, nice! Anyway, I’ll take what we got. I think the next local competition is Split Rock in November.

Bottling the Peach ABA

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

I bottled the Peach ABA tonight. I honestly wasn’t 100% sure it was ready to be bottled for there were still tiny bubbles every so often near the surface of the beer, but it had been thirty-eight days since it was brewed and the SG was 1.012, so I figured (hoped) I was safe.


I suppose my two biggest concerns with bottling this batch was trying to siphon the beer off the peaches without disturbing them and making sure I got my bottling sugar proportions right since I have been having carbonation issues. I didn’t have as much issue siphoning as I might which was good. The trick is to siphon from above the peaches (obviously) and then to bring the tip of the siphon as close as possible when things become visible. The most cumbersome part of this whole practice is holding the siphon in place while it does its thing. I used to use a “regular” racking cane and I had a clip I could us to actually adjust the height from which it would siphon from thus making the holding part unnecessary. But now I use an “auto-siphon” which is much thicker in diameter and has no accompanying clip to hold it at a level. The auto-siphon is great, it is actually the best instrument I have found to siphon beer; the others being a regular racking cane and a Carboy Tap (garbage). My biggest problem with the auto-siphon is the bend of the racking cane part seems weak. I have (as of tonight) broken three of these. Two in the exact same spot and one in a similar spot. From what I can tell in order to replace the racking cane you need to replace the whole auto-siphon because the cane has a special sealing tip. We’ll see, I think I may contact someone this time.

Typically for bottling I add four ounces of corn sugar per five gallons of beer. Typically this hasn’t been an issue and the beer is anywhere from better than lightly carbonated to almost heavily carbonated, but never a real issue. For some reason I have had a slew of poor carbonaters recently. Some make sense like the Gnarleywine, but others have me baffled like the Saison and the IPA. I threw a question up about this on one of my beer web sites I visit and some one mentioned residual carbonation in solution of the beer or lack there of and maybe this was affecting my carbonation. I had never heard of this and the more I looked into it the more it sort of made sense. Basically it states that during fermentation yeast is constantly releasing carbon dioxide thus the fermenting beer is constantly bombarded with CO2 thus absorbing some, but CO2 stays in solution better at colder temperatures, so the cooler the temperatures the more CO2 stayed in solution. The person suggested I check out a chart that showed how much CO2 should still be in solution depending on the fermentation temperature, and how much corn sugar I would need to add to compensate the loss of said CO2 to still achieve the desired amount of CO2 in the finished beer. I actually realized after I was shown these charts that Pro-Mash (the beer program I use) has a computerized/self-calculating version of this. So, this time I decided I would rack the beer to the bottling bucket, measure the total volume (with the peaches this could be a major variable), guesstimate the fermentation temperature (ridiculously high), and apply how much corn sugar I would need. Then I measured out said corn sugar, boiled it with two cups of H2O to form a simple syrup and to sanitize it, then added that to the awaiting beer and bottled like normal. So, I wound up with 4.25 gallons of beer in the bottling bucket, and estimated the height of fermentation to be 78F (I know, ridiculously high, I have the warmest basement in the world), thus drawing the conclusion I would need 3.99 ounces of corn sugar to achieve 2.5 volumes of CO2 (the halfway point for American beers). Go figure, all that thinking and worrying and calculating and it turns out to be basically the same number. But, if I wouldn’t have done that and just guessed that I would need enough corn sugar for 4.25 gallons versus 5 then I would have put in less, like 3.5 ounces or so. So I guess in the long run it was an experiment and we’ll have to see how the results work out.

Oh, by the way, the peach flavor and aroma really came through and complimented the chocolate malty flavor well. I can’t wait to try this and the regular ABA side-by-side.

Amarillo Transfer

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

I transfered the Amarillo to secondary tonight. Maybe a little early because it was still quite unflocculated, but it has been eleven days, so I’m sure it was ready.


This beer got three quarters of an ounce of Amarillo hops for a dry hopping dose. Other than that everything basically seemed fine. No off flavors or aromas, which I was concerned about because of the lovely yeast issues I was having. That’s actually  the same reason the beer is still cloudy, the second yeast I added US-05 is a notorious slow flocculater.

BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #8

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

The ‘Bad Ass’ Beer Advocates issue, or the BA BAs! And no Baracus was not one of them.


This was a fun issue for me. As I have said in the past, one of my favorite parts of the magazine is the ‘9 Steps to Beerdom’, well this issue featured some of the all-stars of the brewing world, which in some ways is like that article on each of these people (more on all of that in a minute).

The homebrewer’s section “BYOB” was pretty interesting this time around too. This time they interviewed a very well know very accomplished homebrewer by the name of Jamil Zainasheff. This dude is sick, he’s been brewing less than 10 years (part time at home of course) and has won the AHA Ninkasi Award twice, brewed to perfection every beer style in the BJCP style guidelines, “re-invented” the immersion chiller, has a spread sheet which is referenced everywhere in the hombrewing community about proper yeast pitching rates, has a weekly homebrew podcast show, and is just about to publish his first book ‘Brewing Classic Styles‘ – no jokes with this dude! I have been a fan of his for a few years now.

Nice little article about Baltic Porters which will compliment the release of Victory’s (Heavyweights?) Baltic Thunder written by local beer writer Don “Joe Six-Pack” Russell.

“9 Steps to Beerdom” was all about Brian “Spike” Buckowski of the Terrapin Beer Company. They actually have a decent story starting out as a contract brewer beer and eventually opening there own place. Don’t get me wrong, as long as the contract brewery is good, and the brewer being contracted has supplied them with a great recipe, a great beer can be born, but I like the aspect that these guys weren’t just in it to have someone else make their great beer they wanted to make their great beer. After this article was a couple short fluffy articles on things that were ‘mah’.

Next came the cool article about the BA BAs, “Profiles in Beer”. They started with an unusual choice in my opinion but was probably a very logical choice for the bros., I’m sure they visit this place a lot since they live near by, that being Cambridge Brewing Company and head brewer Will Meyers. Interesting article in the sense that he gives his homebrewing experience a major nod and says it is all basically an extension of it. On a side note, while we were in Boston a few months back this is one place I really wanted to go to that we just couldn’t find, bummer. After that dude comes five major heavy hitters: Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Michael Jackson the Beer Hunter, Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, Charlie Papazian of homebrewing legend, and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams. I mean seriously, these guys are the voice, and backbone, and face of the craft beer movement in a lot of ways, they are all truly committed to the cause and seem like really great people. Sam is referred to as the ‘Rock Star’ in the brewing industry, which isn’t too far fetched with all of the more off-centered things himself and Dogfish Head are involved with. The others all come through in their own way just as colorful as they could have hoped. Also included in their list of BA BAs were The Shelton Brothers who are major importers of small European (Belgian) beers and Chris White of White Labs yeast, the man who has cultured the culture (get it? I know).

After 10 pages of reviews the magazine jumps to some hamburger action with beers. It’s funny, the first they have listed uses beer from all six of the Trappist abbeys that brew beer, including 4 bottles Westvleteren 12 (one of the rarest/most expensive beers in the world). After I read that I just laughed and couldn’t really read too much more, seriously? And to finish off the rag they had their “Last Call” article about brewpubs and coffee houses (in particularly in Seattle) and how they co-exist and are similar but serve completely different purposes, I liked it.

I don’t know if it is possible, but I kept on wanting like scratch-n-sniff pages with all of these hops and beers everywhere. I mean, come on, how bad ass would scratch-n-sniff hop stickers be!? Outrageous. . .


Monday, September 10th, 2007

Gluttony, pure and simple. And, boy, did I enjoy every moment of it. If only every Monday’s menu was so much fun to prepare, to cook, to eat.

 Gluttony, yum!

A delicious tender Delmonico steak seasoned with only salt & pepper grilled to a perfect medium-rare, paired with Russian Purple Fingerling potatoes and root vegetable medley, accompanied with fresh local Jersey tomatoes and Cooper’s Sharp cheese topped with extra virgin olive oil brought back from Trevi in the Umbria region of Italy and fifteen year old Modena balsamic vinegar, and finally complimented by a cool red wine blend both sweet and tart.

Malt Madness #2

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Looks like the results from the Malt Madness homebrew competition are in and our efforts were well received!


Three out of our six entries placed, and I think that’s pretty damn good! (See original post here.) Garrett’s Abbey Brown ale placed third in the Belgian Dubbel category, our Gnarleywine placed third in the American Barleywine category, and my Hazelnut Brown placed second in the Specialty Beer category. I was actually surprised to not see Garrett’s Travelers & Tourist beer in the Belgian Dubbel category also for that is an awesome beer. Wouldn’t that have been cool to see his name twice for two different beers in the same category? The other two beers I honestly wasn’t too surprised to see them not place. My Saison is a good beer but doesn’t fit the BJCP style guidelines, and our Saturday IPA is a bangin’ fresh IPA but my bottles are having carbonation issues which I am sure more than anything else is holding that beer back. I will post more after I get the results back.

Zymurgy September/October

Friday, September 7th, 2007

I just finished the latest Zymurgy issue and it was their annual double issue covering a lot of action from the National Homebrewers Conference with all the gold winning recipes.


This was actually a pretty good issue, as their double issues typically are. The biggest draw back is by the time I finish reading them I always want to go to the National Homebrewers Conference and the Great American Beer Festival (I really want to go to this some time, actually annually). My favorite article had to be the AHA Winner’s Circle article where they actually publish the winning recipe from each category at the NHC, now that’s cool. Not that I want to go and copy these recipes directly, but say you looked back at the last three years winners for a particular category, I bet you could really get a head start on a recipe and maybe even techniques that the judges are looking for.

Another great idea but only an OK article was the article titled the Iron Brewer Showdown. Basically the Iron Brewer Showdown was homebrewing sort-of a la Iron Chef style in that each brewer was given a “secret” (not so secret in this event) ingredient and then the different results were judged. This was a great idea for two reasons, one it took place locally at Iron Hill Brewery in West Chester, PA, and two because of the engagement between professional brewers and homebrewers. For this particular event, IH mashes-in a Blonde Barleywine (100% Pilsner malt) twice to get one batch of beer, basically they just want the strong first runnings from the grain. So this Pilsner malt is still soaked with sugar, so the brewer (Chris LaPierre) invited the local homebrew club (BUZZ) to come and take his second runnings and doctor them up and make a beer out of them. Garrett kind of did this on his own with Stewart’s brewer (Ric Hoffman) after they brewed their barleywine and he brewed his Stewart’s Sloppy Seconds Strong Ale (S^4). Anyway, back to the Iron Brewer, after each homebrewer doctored and brewed the their beer they all brought them back to be judged for creativity, drinkability, and other factors. The winner was invited to an exclusive beer dinner for four each course served with one of the beers from the Iron Brewer competition and paired with a unique menu. Pretty cool.

Another cute article was one titled So I Married a Homebrewer. The title alone is enough to make most of us bag up laughing. The article was more cutesy and tongue-in-cheek then anything else, but I could have read more for it kept me smiling. After that the magazine kind of went into magazine mode and hit on a lot of topics which were boring to me, but I read them still. This was a nice issue over all.

Bottling the ABA

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

After brewing the Amarillo Amber, Karen and I bottled five gallons of the plain American Brown Ale. This beer was crispy clear and was dying to get into the bottles to be consumed.


I almost had a major mess-up right at the on set of bottling. Everything was being set-up and soaking in sanitizer when Karen asked about the bottling sugar, whoops!That would have been real bad to forget that, but at least I would have a good excuse why one of my beers didn’t carbonate. Bottling went smoothly, I think about an hour to do the whole batch. I actually ran out of prepared bottles with a significant amount of beer left. So I either had the options of dumping it (no way), drinking it (the usual), or figuring out another way to package it. Though I don’t know how well it will work, I grabbed a clean growler and stuck it in the sanitizer bucket for a few minutes then filled it on up. It’ll be cool if it works, but I have low expectations, it was a screw-on cap. More information on the ABA when it’s ready to drink and when the Peached ABA is ready to bottle, hopefully soon (minor visible bubbles still).

Amarillo Amber

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

On Monday (Labor Day) I finally got around to brewing a beer that I’ve tried to brew the past three weekends, I was starting to get a little pissy about the whole thing. Anyway, I brewed an Amber Ale with all Amarillo hops, thus the Amarillo Amber.

Cheese! Fool Circle

Two things really spawned the birth of this brew. First was Garrett’s Amarillo Pale Ale and second was the fact that I had 2oz of really old Amarillo hops that needed to badly be used, plus I had enough sorta fresh Amarillos to finish off the hop bill. Originally I was going to actually make this a pale ale, and it may still taste very pale ale like, but the color will probably be closer to amber, plus Amarillo Amber sounds good.

Anyway, after transfering the ABA to secondaries like two weeks ago I decided at the last minute to reserve the yeast slurry from the carboy. So knowing that the residual beer from the ABA was definetely darker than the AA I decided to try and wash the yeast slurry to try and eliminate the possibility of any color transfer. Well, it didn’t go quite as planned. The beer picked up some color, but most likely it didn’t pick up any flavor. The weird thing was this was third generation yeast so I was expecting an explosion of a fermentation with very little lag time. Instead after 12 hours no visible activity, and after 24 hours no visible activity, WTF! So I went to one of the dry packs of US-05 and threw that in and walked away, basically disgusted.

I’m sure the beer will be fine, it appears fine now, but damn-it that pisses me off! I didn’t get to brew for three weeks (planned), and got a late start on brew day but an early finish. I was actually went into the brew day with a bad attitude and finished feeling great, then the freakin’ yeast shit on me. Whatever, RDWHAHB.