Archive for February, 2008

Keg Rebuilding, Pt1

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

So the other night I figured I’d rebuild my new to me (used) kegs that I recently had gotten. Little did I know what I was getting into.

Keg Rebuilding, Pt1

So I thought I had everything I needed: kegs, a keg rebuild gasket kit, keg lube, deep sockets in both 7/8″ and 3/4″ (two different size keg posts), a ratchet, music, detailed (anal-retentive) keg rebuilding instructions, and motivation. I began by taking the kegs apart. I realized because of the sockets I bought I actually would need three different sockets, one of the posts had a 12 point base while the others all had 6. Luckily I had already borrowed Garret’s socket and his was 12 points, so I was good to go. After I had all the kegs taken apart I began to notice some differences in the pieces, which isn’t a good feeling when you initially thought they were universal. So now I have 3 different posts, in 2 different shapes, with 4 different dip tubes, and 2 different kinds of poppets all kind of jumbled together – great . . .

So I decide at that point that maybe I was being a bit ambitious. I also notice at this point that my keg rebuilding gasket kit is missing 2 gaskets per keg, thus 8 gaskets overall. So at this point I KNOW I am not finishing rebuilding the kegs. The next step in the instructions is pretty straight forward, clean the little pieces you took apart. Well, since I already took them all apart I might as well clean them, right. So I read the instructions, go upstairs, and boil 2 quarts of water. I dissolve 1/4 cup of PBW (Powdered Brewers Wash) into the water and place all the parts into the solution to soak for at least 30 minutes. Then I stop and think (maybe for the first time that night), that sure was a lot of PBW, maybe I should re-read that. OOHHHH! Put 1 TBSP of PBW in about 2 QTS of water, not 1/4 cup – so where did a 1/4 of a cup come from? So I read ahead in the instructions and it lists using 1/4 of a cup PBW in the whole 5 gallon keg. So, 1 TBSP in 2 QTS for the parts and 4 TBSPs (1/4 cup) in 20 QTS for the whole keg – I know, I think that’d how my brain got mixed up too.

 Keg Rebuilding, Pt1

So at this point I’m mentally fried. I essentially let the parts soak for approximately 30 minutes and then take them out and scrub them with a toothbrush and then rinse them in really hot water. I also hunt down a couple adjustable wrenches and take apart the pressure release valves and soak them, brush them, and rinse them too. It was hectic to say the least.

Since then I have ordered the gaskets I did not have originally and have ordered more PBW just in case I get crazy and start changing the amounts to use again. Hopefully by the end of this weekend the kegs will be cleaned, sanitized, and “buffed” on the inside and out respectively. Hopefully putting them back together isn’t as bad as I think it might be.

Horny Devil

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

So today I got to experience something new in my world of beer, the pleaseures of being the recipient of a Lottery-It-Forward.

Horny Devil

What’s that you say, what is a Lottery-It-Forward (LIF)? Well, you do remember me explaining a Beer-It-Forward (BIF), don’t you? NO? OK, here we go one more time: a “BIF”, besides being a sound that Batman makes when he hits you, also stands for “Beer It Forward “. Remember that movie from 2000 Pay It Forward with the kid from the Sixth Sense and also starring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey? Well, the general idea for “Beer It Forward” was taken from the premise of that movie. In the movie, Haley Joel Osment comes up with an idea to do three good deeds for three different people, without their knowledge. Paying a person “forward”, instead of re-paying someone back for something they did for you. Then, in turn, those people must do a good deed to three more people and so on and so forth – eventually creating a world full of generosity, sharing, caring and peace. Got it? OK, so the idea of a BIF is similar in the sense that a group of people send beer to one another one at a time without knowing what they are going to get, who they are going to get it from, and when, thus a rendition of pay it forward but with beer, thus beer it forward.

So, what then is a Lotter-It-Forward – well, it is a similar idea of doing something nice for someone without them having done anything nice to you, but with them doing something nice to someone else instead, yet with the twist that it is a lottery so your chances are even more obscure. On BeerAdvocate a member started a LIF I believe on Valentine’s Day for his love of beer. He put a rare bottle of beer called Sexual Chocolate up for grabs for free to the first person that could pick the number 1 to 100 that he was thinking of. It actually took almost 24 hours for someone to get it, crazy. Anyway, the recipient of that bottle then continued the LIF (as it is suppose to work) and put up a bottle of AleSmith Horny Devil with a similar guessing scenario. I fortunately guessed correctly and received my bottle today. Horny Devil is a Belgian Strong Ale brewed with coriander from AleSmith in San Diego, CA. I was super stoked to be the recipient. So, now it is my turn to lottery a beer in this LIF. I already have my beer picked out, it is a Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus with the uncensored label. It is a blended Lambic beer brewed with Raspberries.

I just wanted to say that I think this is a really cool idea, very kind and creative, and even simple too.

Bottling the HOS

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Yesterday, 02.24.08, my brother Dave came down to help me bottle the Honey Oatmeal Stout that we brewed together about a month ago.

HOS Bottling

Everything went fine, so there really is no worries for this beer. As long as there are no carbonation problems then this beer will be ready for St. Patrick’s Day without any problems, so look out for the Uncle Tupelo Honey Stout (or whatever Dave winds up naming it). We of course sampled the beer while bottling it, remember this is a warm, young, and uncarbonated version, but I thought it was pretty good already – mostly full bodied, a little sweet, some roast bite in the back, a little honey aroma (mostly just floral) and a wish of a honey flavor in the finish (but it was there). We’ll see if the carbonation and chilling will kill any residual honey contributions, but overall I think we’ll have a solid stout on our hands.

What’s next? You got me. I’m about to re-up on ingredients and have nothing lined up so anyone with suggestions of new beers, repeats, or wanna-be Signature Series fire away!

War of the Worts XIII

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Yesterday, 2.23.08, was the War of the Worts XIII homebrew competition, the largest local competition in the area. It was held once again at the Iron Hill Brewery‘s North Wales location.

War of the Worts XIII

Not only is this the largest local competition, but this was the largest this particular competition has been yet. With 554 entries and over 60 judges, the place was packed to say the least. I entered four beverages and also judged the competition. I entered my ’07 Linvilla Cider, the Vader Imperial Stout, my Tripel, and my Dubbel. I also have now earned enough judging points that I am now officially a BJCP Certified Beer Judge, versus being Recognized previously. Anyway, here are my results, but you can see the rest of the results here:

  • Dubbel – 29/28 – “A good effort that needs some tweaks.” – “A nice light example that almost seams like a big Belgian Pale Ale.”
  • Tripel – 31/28 – Second Place Belgian Tripel “A good effort that lacks a few key components favored in the best examples.” – “Very good base beer and an excellent start.”
  • ’07 Linvilla Cider – 31/29 – “Easy drinking dry cider – could use more body and carbonation to balance.” – “This is a nice, crisp, refreshing cider that would be great on a hot summer day.”
  • Vader Imperial Stout – 38/35/36 – Third Place Imperial Stout – “Great effort – loads of flavors that are in good harmony, complex like it should be.” – “Very good R.I.S., could use more fruity esters or maybe a tad bit of hops, I like this beer!” – “Very good beer. Complex. Aroma and flavor don’t match. Rich. Need a fireplace.”

So there you have it in a nut shell. I judged Scottish & Irish ales in the morning and English IPAs and Imperial IPAs in the afternoon. Somehow things didn’t wrap-up at Iron Hill until late, like 8:30PM or so, and I didn’t get home until after 10PM. So essentially a 14 hour day of concentration and judging/drinking beer, it was a very long day.

BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II Issue 1

Monday, February 18th, 2008

BeerAdvocate Magazine has come up with a new labeling system for the new year, thus this one is Volume II (2008, basically) Issue 1. This basically doesn’t commit them to years and months for deadlines, in my opinion. No big deal.

BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II Issue 1

They have also gone so far as to post “FREE” right on the front cover. Well, the magazine is free if you can find it anywhere (not so far in DE for me), but not so free if you’re a subscriber like I am, $20 that way. I’ll pay for the convenience of getting the magazine sent to my door because I like the magazine and I don’t mind supporting BeerAdvocate, but if I can find a local reliable place to pick it up for free each issue, then I might have second thoughts about remaining a subscriber – but we’ll see when the time comes.

It took all the way to page 16 with the ‘9 Steps to Beerdom’ article for this issue to finally grab my attention. This issues featured beer-guru was none other than Hugh Sisson from Clipper City Brewing in MD. Hugh has been in the beer game and a brewer since the early 80s and he knows what’s up. Clipper City has had a small resurgence in the last couple years with their big beers line called Heavy Seas which they have put out, real nice stuff. The article was like many of the others in the 9 Steps talking about the trials and tribulations that these brewers have gone through just to bring us the sacred nectar we all so love. Keep it up all!

In the ‘Beer Wares’ article they featured a horrible looking gimmicky product called the Official Beer Glove for drinking in cold weather with beer grippers on it, whatever. Also they was a small review of the book “Beer & Food: Pairing & Cooking with Craft Beer” by Lucy Saunders. I got this book for Christmas, I have not looked through it much, but it appears to be top notch which is about the same as what these guys have to say. And finally was another product going by the name of The Cure. This is a powder that when mixed with water turns into a sparkling fruit flavored vitamin drink that when drank after drinking eliminated hangovers. I don’t believe the hype, but I would still try it anyway. Also in the ‘Innovation’ section was a neat looking little hop sniffer/sampler. Basically it looks like about 12 different hops in little once ounce jars. The idea is as you are drinking beer you can sniff each hop until you find a similar or matching hop and then read about that hop to gain a greater knowledge about your beer. They have it labeled as, “Explore the depths of beer – Beer tasting and hop appreciation kit“. Looks neat, but not worth $50 neat.

The feature article was labeled ‘Project Koelschip’ and was about Allagash Brewing Company and how they are going to be the Americans to create a true Lambic style beer, way interesting. Lambic beer is a very involved, time consuming, space consuming, and odd beer to make. A lot of the “rules” of brewing are thrown out the window. A koelschip, or coolship, is “a large shallow open fermenter in which fresh wort is exposed to wild yeast and microfauna.” Allagash had a separate building built to store their koelschip in to try to keep “funk” away from the rest of their sanitary brewing equipment. The wort is mashed longer, boiled longer, and hopped less with over one year old hops. Then the wort is pumped hot to the koelschip where goes to cool in the open, cooling and “collecting” the wild yeast. After 24 hours when it has cooled it is recirculated for another 24 hours to make sure everything is thoroughly blended, and then placed into “de-oaked” French oak barrels. The beer won’t be ready to drink for another three years, minimum! Ofter older and younger Lambics are blended to find an appropriate flavor that the brewer is going for. So far they have brewed two batches and plan on brewing a new batch ever six months. So they will have six batches brewed over three years before the first beer is even ready for public consumption, that’s one heck of an investment, I really hope it pans out for them.


And to wrap up this issue was Tomme Arthur‘s (owner and brewer of Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey) article titled ‘Fuck eBay’. Well, that just about sums it up. It’s a very straight-forward, serious, yet tongue-in-cheek article where he expresses his disgust with eBay policies for re-selling alcohol and the people that do it. I think that he made a lot of good points and there was a large discussion on the BA boards about the article and the policies.

Saturn Vue

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

So as of February 5th Karen has been cruising around in a new set of wheels.

Saturn Vue 1

It is a 2005 Saturn Vue with plenty of bells-and-whistles that was gently used that we purchased from our friends Aimee & Jace who just moved to the Bahamas (lucky bastards!). So far Karen has really enjoyed cruising around in her new wheels though she does reminisce about her blue Volkswagen Golf which she has had for the last 10 years and has served her well. Enjoy the pictures!

 Saturn Vue 2

Oh, and if anyone knows if anyone is interested in buying a 1998 Volkswagen Golf K2 edition with approximately 130,000 miles and manual transmission let us know. This would be a great car for a new driver, college student, someone who wants to learn how to drive stick on a car they “won’t hurt”, or really anyone who just wants to bebop around town. This car is still in nice condition

Teresa’s Next Door

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

So today was the first time I stopped at the Beer Yard and Teresa’s Next Door, all I have to say is if you are near Exit 13 on the Blue Route and you’re feeling beery, this is your stop.

Teresa’s Next Door

Since I just posted a review at BeerAdvocate, I’ll just use that, but here it is

  • Review by FoolCircle: A+ / 4.55 (out of 5)
  • vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 – $$$
  • I just returned from my first visit to both the Beer Yard and Teresa’s Next Door. They are located about a mile and a half from one another, if you have the money there is no reason not to stop at both.
  • The atmosphere is really cool. Controlled dim lighting, a long bar with a great stone top, stone on the back splash and floor, wood everywhere, parchment walls, a great overall smell from the kitchen . . . nirvana (oh yeah, check out the cool sinks in the bathroom too).
  • The quality was really great too. We sat at the bar and the bartender was very attentive without being up in our junk. He let us try anything we wanted on tap even though we later found out that he was way weeded with 10+ beers kicking in a two hour time frame. But we tried five different beers and they were all crispy yum yums and the food was pretty banging too.
  • Again the service was good. The bartenders did switch shifts in the middle and the second bartender wasn’t quite on his game, in the sense of I was out of beer in my glass before I had to ask him for another one. But over all it was good, they were nice, and they knew their stuff.
  • The selection was great. They had twenty-four taps, two beers on cask, and approximately 150 beers in bottles with the majority being American micros and Belgian beers. The beers ranged in price from $3 (Yuengling Lager) to $46 (Chimay Blue Magnum) with the average being in the $5-$10 range depending on what you were drinking. But, the selection was good and well organized.
  • The food was pretty good too. We tried one of their cheese plates and one order of the pom frites (Belgian style french fries). the cheese plate we had was some sort of cheese with Guinness infused in to it served with bread, toast, grapes, and candied cherries – it was banging and reasonably sized for like six dollars. The pom frites were not bad and cheap like four bucks, but the sauce they were served with was like crack! We went through two crocks of the stuff and still had fries left over, crazy.
  • The place felt a little pricey, pretty much all the entrees were over $20 and a lot of the beers I were interested in were in the $10+ range, which gets old quick. We got fortunate and our bill was lower than I thought it should be, so I don’t have a really fair idea how much it would cost.
  • Overall, I would say this place would easily be worth a half an hour to forty-five minute drive to have once a month and multiple times a week if you lived within walking distance. Definitely raised the bar to my local expectation. Good job!

Hoptimus Prime

Also, I picked up a case of Hoptimus Prime from Legacy at the Beer Yard. What a great freakin’ name! I got to sample this last night, it was good, but not amazing. Nice and hoppy, pretty easy drinker, and the alcohol was well hidden. I could easily drink a few of these. A good example of an East Coast varietal Double IPA, but the West Coast boys still got this style nailed.

Four New Beers

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

So tonight I sampled four new beers that were brought back from GA for me from my bud Garrett.


First up was the Josephs Brau Double Bock Lager Winterfest – this was a big malty slightly sweet beer that I was expecting to be just OK but turned out to be a pretty good drinker. This isn’t an Oh Wow beer, but if it were local to me I would buy it at least seasonally.

Next was the Sweet Water Festive Ale – this was my least favorite out of the four tonight. Closest to an un-spiced (or lightly spiced) winter warmer style beer. Nothing was really wrong with this beer, it was just boring, and sometimes that’s all it takes.

After that was the Red Brick Winter Brew – this was a double chocolate porter is how I think they describer it. This was the beer that inspired the beers being brought back when I saw an empty 6-pack holder at Garrett’s and mentioned that looked good. And it was good. I drank it out of a snifter and slowly let it warm. As it warmed the flavors totally developed and came to the front, nice.

Finally was a beer I’ve wanted to try for a while, Terrapin’s Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout – (mmmmm, in a Homer Simpson voice). This beer smelt like what I remember the Opaque Espresso Stout smelling like, and it was quite good too. I wish they would have focused more on the base beer and a little less on the coffee, but I won’t complain. There wasn’t too much coffee, but a more developed stout could have helped carry this beer.

 Thanks so much Garrett for bringing me back beers. What can I say besides, you da man!

Simcoe Nugget

Monday, February 11th, 2008

I got to try two of my favorite seasonal beers tonight, Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA and Troeg’s Nugget Nectar.

Simcoe Nugget

Both of these beers are huge hoppy beers, both very similar overall, yet completely different mainly in their hop profile. Weyerbacher labels their’s as a Double IPA while Troegs labels their’s an Imperial Amber. The Double Simcoe was way catty, even litter-boxy, with a definitive urine aftertaste and bite to it. The Nugget Nectar was similar in aroma at first, but the flavor was much more “traditional” citrus in its profile. The Simcoe grew to be way less catty and came across more piney. The Nugget developed quickly into an easy drinker. I bought a 4-pack of the Simcoe and a 6-pack of the Nugget, and I am already looking forward to my next 6-pack of Nugget Nectar. The next thing for me to find is a 6-pack (or case) of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2008!

Transfer the HOS

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Yesterday I transfered the Honey Oatmeal Stout (HOS) to secondary.


I used my new (and fourth, I think) auto-siphon which worked like a charm to transfer the beer. Not very exciting, but one step closer to consumption. Here is the extra lovely description I sent my brother about it: “I also transfered it to secondary and of course sampled some. The sample came in at 1.020 SG which basically means it still has some nice body to it, good. So far, two weeks old, warm and uncarbonated I smell and taste: bubble-gum, honey, tire, roast, toast, bitter, crust, leather, prunes, cotton-swab, band-aid, chocolate cake, sneaker, flowers, and grapefruit. Take that for what it is.” Man, does that sound oh so tasty. Hopefully this beer will be good to go in time for St. Patrick’s day and maybe we can even make some nice Carbombs out of it 😉 .