Archive for December, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I better be careful of this homebrew website is going to start to look more like a blog (I don’t know why, but I don’t like that word). Anyway, I figured New Year’s Eve and Day is a typical time of reflection, so come reminisce with me.

Common New Year’s Resolutions

I figured I’d help everyone think about the things you may avoid thinking about on a daily basis. I assume anyone who reads this, anyone for that matter, could probably relate to or improve some measure of their life related to the resolutions listed above. For me personally, at some point in my life at least, I have struggled with the idea of all of the above. For me, I like to continuously set new goals, may they be small or large. I think goals are important to help people continue to grow as an individual. Fortunately for most of us New Year’s is a time when we can reevaluate our goals in life and try to remember just what we hold important and prioritize our values. I know I like to celebrate the end of the year and reflect on all the wonderful people and good times that have touched my life, but also to self-evaluate where I could have done more, been stronger, and maybe have been more useful to others. I also like to celebrate the beginning of the new year and anticipate the possibilities of the unknown through excitement, nervousness, and preparation.

Here are a few of my favorite moments from this year wrapped up in a nut-shell.  Hopefully you’ve enjoyed at least a few of these moments with me this year. Thank you all.

 January 2007 February 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September A 2007 September B 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007

I hope all of you have had a wonderful 2007 and have lived your lives to the fullest with no regret. I can’t say I have squeezed ever moment out of every day this year, but I’m going to keep on trying to be the best me I can be. I hope 2008 finds all of you in good health, high spirits, with family and friends often, and out of trouble and burden-free.

New Toy

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

This is kind of a silly post for me, but I got to play with a new Christmas toy, and I think it’s going to be quite useful.

 Breakfast Panini Griddle

My sister and her family gave Karen and I a cool multi-function Panini Grill for Christmas.  It’s kind of like an uber-George Foreman Grill. It is a panini press (essentially what a GF grill is), a flat top grill, a flat top griddle, and a waffle press all in one. It has interchangeable non-stick plates, closes like a press, or lays flat to use both sides as cooking surfaces. So far we have only used it once for breakfast (see above) and it worked great. Typically for the same meal we would have had to cook it in two shifts, now we can do it all at once. I can’t wait to try the press and the waffle maker too. Thanks Nancy & Chip!


Friday, December 28th, 2007

Looks like I just brewed the last beer for 2007, a Rye IPA or RYPA. It’s been a good year beer-wise, actually just based on number of batches (19 brewed, 25 total variations) it has been the best year yet!


Today was a pretty good brew day, five hours and fifteen minutes and 87 songs on the iPod. It was the first time I have used rye, it was the first time I tried a new “filtering” technique, I didn’t run into any problems, I transfered the Abbey Ale, I got to re-sample this years Cider (still needs to come up on carbonation), and I was off from work today – not bad. With the ground water being as cold as it is now my chilling time has really been reduced and as long as I stay on top of the janitorial through out the day I have become pretty close to hitting five hour days recently, shweet.

I’ve been meaning to try a recipe with rye now for a while. I have judged a couple recently, all of them IPAs, and I thought that would be fun to try. I’ve heard horror stories about people using rye and having awful stuck mashes or that the grain is so oily (I saw no indication of this) that it destroys head retention. We’ll see. I thought the spent grains smelt of pancakes and the boiling wort smelt of maple syrup so who knows what flavors are going to emerge.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to filter my wort from the kettle before it reaches the carboy. The biggest issue I have is with my pellet hops, especially in a hoppy beer like an IPA. With whole leaf hops when used in conjunction with a false bottom they form their own filter bed and the wort runs very clear. With pellet hops they are broken up into iddy-biddy pieces and are very difficult to restrain. I used to use nylon bags to put the hops in but this lowers their effective rate – clearer wort but less efficient hop usage, more expensive plus it was never that clear. People have talked about using a stainless steel scrubby as a filter, but I have never been able to figure out a way to attach the scrubby to the back of the spigot. I use a Bazooka screen in my mash tun to filter the grain matter from the liquid, so recently I have been toying with the idea of buying one for the kettle and seeing how that works, but this hasn’t happened yet. So today I figured I give the scrubby method a shot. What I did to keep it in place instead of attaching it was to lower it down on the inside of the spigot post chilling the wort with my long stainless steel spoon and actually hold it in place with the spoon. I figured out a way to jam the spoon in between the lid, kettle wall, and wort chiller and it actually held itself. Surprisingly it seemed to work pretty well. Except for maybe the first and last quart or so it ran almost crystal clear and never seemed to slow or clog. I did lose some wort by using this method, about a half gallon, but I guess that would have been a pretty trubby half gallon anyway that would have basically fallen out of suspension. So it seems like a pretty neat idea that I will have to try again, though I still think I may order another Bazooka screen.


Oh yeah, the yeast seemed to be doing fine. I originally had a sanitized digital probe that I left in the starter to moderate the temperature. When ever it fell to low (60-62) I would soak the beaker in a hot bath to raise the temperature up higher (75ish) to help stimulate the yeast. I had to babysit it a little bit soaking it maybe three times over 36 hours, but appears as if it will be doing just fine. If I don’t see visual fermentation within 24 hours (longer than I am typically patient for) I will take out an insurance policy and dump a pack of neutral dry ale yeast into it too.

Yeast Starter

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Nothing to special going on here, working on a heavily moderated yeast starter.

Yeast Starter

Heavily moderated? Why so you may ask, well the yeast is two months expired. I’m honestly not too worried that there will be some sort of action, I am more concerned just how much and when will it happen. I had bought this yeast and the WLP500 I’ve been using on the last three batches at the same time. I originally thought I was going to use this yeast. Well, things change and now is now. I plan on brewing a rye IPA in the next couple days dubbed the RYPA (stole that one from an idea from Jack Curtain suggested to Dock Street which was never used, so I am going to use it). Two pounds of rye, almost 15% of the grain bill, should definitely add a nice rye spice and maybe some slickness to the beer, plus Magnum and Willamette hops – nice!

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Merry Christmas


What if Christmas didn’t come this year
And no one paid for Christmas cheer?
Who would cry the biggest tear,
The child or the store?

Roy’s Restaurant

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Karen & I were invited out to dinner on Friday (12.21.07) by our friends Aimee & Jace for Aimee’s birthday.

Roy’s Restaurant

Jace had received some gift certificates to a restaurant chain Roy’s Restaurant and there was one nearby in Philadelphia. He invited us to join them, their treat, sounds like a good plan to me. I had never heard of Roy’s before so I did what any modern idiot does and googled it. It turns out Roy’s specializes in Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. I really had no idea what that meant, but it made me think of pineapples, fresh seafood, and the Polynesian from Disney World. After reading all I could on the website, I determined what my initial impressions weren’t off, but it also only appeared to be the tip of the iceberg. It appeared as if we were going to be in for a feast.

Here is what we ordered that I can remember:

  • First Course: Sushi & Cocktails
    • Lakanilau Roll – Kobe beef, snow crab, avocado, and asparagus
    • Another Roll with lobster, caviar, and asparagus
    • And a Hawaii Martini each with pineapple, vanilla vodka, and coconut rum
  • Second Course: Hot Appetizers
    • Crunchy Golden Lobster Potstickers
    • Kobe beef, jalapeno, and cheese dumplings
    • Vegetable spring rolls
  • Third Course: Entries and Wine
    • A bottle of Stump Jump Red (blend: Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre)
    • I had amazing U10 scallops, with fantastic mashed root vegetables, a roasted yellow pepper puree, a small piece of fresh bacon , and a tamarind sauce that I never needed to use.
    • Karen had some sort of fish that actually looked over cooked but tasted OK (the only real negative of the night)
    • Jace had lamb lollipops served rare with an amazing savory bread pudding (this is what I almost ordered)
    • Aimee had a scallop and shrimp combo with rice and micro-greens
  • Fourth Course: Dessert & Coffee
    • Hot Chocolate Souffle, a flourless chocolate cake with a hot molten chocolate center
    • Pineapple Upside-down Cake
    • Jace, Aimee, and I got coffees, Karen had a cappuccino and a hazelnut dessert martini
  • I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a nice place to eat in Philadelphia. I was never able to see the final bill, but I know it wasn’t cheap, maybe $300+ for the four of us. But we were also eating and drinking whatever we wanted knowing that it was mostly covered by gift certificates. Thanks again Aimee & Jace.

Abbey Ale Update

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

This is a short Abbey Ale update. The picture and information are basically a week old. Not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, but long enough.

Abbey Ale

This beer blew a crazy long lasting thick chunky-monkey style kaursen. Partially it is because it is a third generation yeast that was used, partially because this yeast WLP550 blows big and fluffy anyway, and partially (in my opinion) because it is being fermented at slightly lower than optimal temperatures. I think the beer will turn out great, but I’ll suppose we’ll see in its own time. I plan on transferring it to a secondary fermenter sometime this week after Christmas.

Stout Tasting

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

So yesterday (12.15.07) Guy had a stout tasting at his house. Fortunately I was available because the beers were not to disappoint.

Stout Tasting

First I’ll just show and list the beers that were available:

Guy broke out some serious cellar meat, I think all of these had to have been traded for and some of these are very rare and sought after. I also brought along a few of the beers, the two Fat Dogs and the Ommegang and another guy from BeerAdvocate brought along the Older Viscosity, the ’05 Olde School, and the SurlyFest. I think the only beers we didn’t get to last night were the SurlyFest, Jahva, and the Kentucy Breakfast Stout – but please feel free to correct me.

I think my favorite three (they were all good remember) were the Ten FIDY, the Bourbon County Stout, and the Older Viscosity. Some of these beers were just amazing, in particularly being able to try them back-to-back-to-back like we did, it really gave you a perspective on how good some of these beers really were. Ironically it also seemed to point out how much hype there is surrounding some of these beers, especially the Dark Lord. I love this beer, it’s great, I’ve tried the 2005, 06, and 07 versions and they are all amazing, BUT next to some of these other beers . . . you realize there are better Imperial Stouts than the legendary Dark Lord.

Thank you once again Guy, I hope I can return the favor one day.

Sly Fox IPA Day 2007

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

So Friday (12.14.07) was Sly Fox Brewery’s annual IPA Day event. To say it was ridiculous fun would be an understatement.

Sly Fox IPA Day 2007

See the rest of the pictures from this year here,

and the pictures from 2006 here.

This year it was Mike, Robert, Mitchell, and myself that made the journey. We all wound-up with the day off from work so we decided to meet early for breakfast and head on up to Sly Fox in Pheonixville. We met at my house and I decided to kick-it local style and made pork-roll, egg, and cheese on kaiser buns for breakfast, they were banging. We then hit the pike and went we to Sly Fox arriving around 10:30AM. This year Sly Fox had 15 different IPAs available. Last year they sold it as one giant 15 glass sampler, this year they sold it as three 5 glass flights. I liked the impression of the 15 glasser better, but the 5 glass flights really only made sense. We stayed for quite a while have all three flights each, lunch, and a couple additional pints. The day was wacky in the best sense. We got home maybe around 5PM, that’s some serious IPA dedication. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Feel free to click on the links above to check out the pictures to form your own opinions on what kind of day it was.

Abbey Ale

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Yesterday I brewed another Belgian-style beer, this time I am just calling it an “Abbey Ale” for now. Belgian-esque with no true BJCP guide to match it to. Hopefully reddish, spicy, and lower (6%) in alcohol then the other Belgian brews I’ve done.

Abbey Belgian Red Ale

Vader, Tripel, Dubbel, Abbey Ale

I’ve been on a Belgian beer kick recently which is humorous to me for a few reasons. One, I haven’t brewed any Belgian-style beers (not counting 2007) in years, and now three back-to-back. Two, often people choose to brew Belgian-style beers in the late spring and summer because the yeasts that are used are not as temperature sensitive as most yeasts and still work fine (some say better) with a warmer fermentation. Plus it often takes several months to age a Belgian-style beer before it is ready to be drunk, so if you brew in the Summer it would be aged properly by the Fall or Winter when you’d like to drink them. And three, I sort of brewed these “backwards”. I say that in the sense of I used the same yeast in all three batches (WLP550) and flipped the yeast from one batch to the next. Most times you would go from your weakest beer to your strongest beer alcohol wise, instead I did the opposite to help try and preserve the color of the Tripel. Knowing that the yeast will carry over a small amount of color from previous batches, and knowing that I really wanted my Tripel as light and golden as possible (though it looks reddish/amber above), I chose to start with the Tripel. I had debated doing the Abbey Ale next to avoid any color carry over from the Dubbel to the Abbey, but instead did the Dubbel second feeling as though the yeast would be more in shape to handle the Dubbel coming off of the Tripel. Dunno . . .

You figured I brewed the Tripel 10.20.07, the Dubbel 11.22.07, and the Abbey Ale (12.9.07) won’t be ready to transfer to secondary probably close to 12.23.07, so that is about two months that this yeast will have been “on beer” between these three beers. Hopefully that’ll mean that they are nice and strong and not weak and burnt-out. Hey, if the big guys can do it why can’t I?