Archive for April, 2008


Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

So I went to go check on my Wheat beers today, and everything is looking good.

Wheat 1

Both of these carboys are just chugging away right now, which is always a happy sight. It’s that time of the year too where it is very easy to keep a nice low constant fermentation temperature. I think these guys were at 64F and looking just fine. I’ve actually been thinking about what to brew after these beers, theoretically with this yeast. Since I should have two healthy yeast cakes that screams two healthy batches to me. I’m thinking one Porter definitely (I know Summer’s coming, not typically Porter time) and one something else, maybe a dark hoppy thing. Why two dark beers? Well, I have a bunch of darker specialty grains I’m trying to run through before I order any more. You know how it is, use up the old stock before you re-stock.

Wheat 2

Here’s another fun picture. This is what my basement looks like right now. Two beers being carbonated in kegs, one beer in extended secondary, two beers just recently in secondary, and two beers freshly in primary – makes me happy. I am a simple man.

Wheat – 20 Gallons!

Monday, April 28th, 2008

So yesterday Garrett and I got together to brew 20 gallons of an American Wheat Ale, watch out Cornhole here we come!

 20 Gallon System

We had been tossing around the idea of doing another 20 gallon batch for a while now, and Garrett suggested a Wheat beer since Summer was on its way. I think Wheat beers have there time and place (Summer being that), but I know a bunch of girls that hang-out at my house that just love Wheat beers, so I couldn’t say no. The last time we brewed together hadn’t been since the ABA in the beginning of August, since then a few things have changed with Garrett’s set-up. Now he has three 26 gallon brew-kettles and a 15 gallon brew-kettle we get to play with plus two propane burners. His wife Donna also fashioned a super-custom super-pimp mash-tun koozie to help retain temperature in the all stainless set-up. It was an easier learning curve than last time to try out the new set-up, but still a first run all the same.

The day went relatively well all-in-all. We started later than Garrett probably would have liked, but my weekend was all mess-ed up with the Trail Dawg’s Half-Marathon thrown in there. Plus, on top of that, I was late getting to his house and I was half out of it all day. Our recipe called for over 50% wheat which is just begging for a stuck mash, which it did, solid as a rock. But we kind of pre-stopped the mash-out when we started to notice the symptoms and remixed the mash and recirculated, really only loosing maybe 15 minutes at the time and probably saving ourselves a bigger headache later on. The rest of the day really seemed like smooth sailing. I brought over a bottle of The Lost Abbey’s 10 Commandments which was a phenomenal Belgian-style beer, Robert and Karen stopped by, and Donna whipped up some serious sausage sandwiches. By the end of the brewday though, my long weekend had really caught up with me and I was spent.

With the yeast for this brew we used a 2nd generation yeast cake of WLP001 that I reserved from the Pacific Gem Pale Ale. This was a nice clean thick cake and it was just harvested the morning of the brew day.  Honestly I was expecting explosive fermentation by the morning. Instead, I was greeted to the sights of early fermentation signs; positive pressure in the airlock, hazy, light bubbles on top, but by after work time the fermenters were rockin’ and rollin’! It really was a good brew day and hopefully we can pull together another one some time soon.

Kegging the RYPA & Abbey

Friday, April 25th, 2008

So I FINALLY kegged the Abbey Ale and RYPA tonight, good thing I haven’t been putting that off 🙄 . (Yes those beers were really brewed back in December, and yes they really have been sitting in secondary since then, and yes you can make fun of me.)

Kegging the RYPA & Red

So I started to mentally prepare for Sunday’s 20 gallon batch with Garrett, you know started thinking: OK, what ingredients do I need to bring, what equipment do I need to bring, what beer am I bringing – that kind of thing. Then I realized, I didn’t have two primary carboys ready to go – damn! So in order to free up two primaries I would have to transfer the two beers I have in primary now into two secondaries. Wait, I only have one secondary available right now -damn damn!! OK, well I have two beers in secondary that I can transfer to kegs, then transfer these out of primary into secondaries. SO, I had to clean and sanitize two kegs, transfer two beers into kegs, and clean two secondary carboys in preparation. Then tomorrow I’ll finish up and transfer two beers from primary to secondary, carefully transfer and reserve the yeast cake from both (two different projects), and clean and sanitize two primary fermenters. I think that covers it. Oh, yeah, except for the fact that I’ll probably run out of CO2 tonight while the two kegs are carbonating and won’t be able to get anymore until Monday – damn damn damn!!! Yeah, now that sounds about right.

Pacific Gem Pale Ale

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

So last Wednesday (04.16.08) I brewed another batch on a weekday night, it went about as well as the first one did on Monday.

Pacific Gem Pale Ale 1

So, the Wednesday brew was unique in a few ways. First, I used whole hops, which I normally use pellet, to test out how the Bazooka screen does with whole hops. Second, I used a single variety hop, which I have done in the past, but not as a standard. And third, I used no bittering hops, just weird. I must say, the Bazooka screen worked like a charm with whole hops, much, much better than it did with pellet hops. I’m assuming the whole hops set-up there own filter bed based around the screen similar to grains in a mash tun, but whatever, it worked. Also, I used only Pacific Gem hops, which is a new variety to me, which I received from Garrett after he bought a pound I think. I don’t remember what he used it in, but I’m sure it was good regardless. And, these hops were like 16% alpha acid, which is huge, so I was curious if I added the hops at non-traditional times if the estimated IBUs would still make up for a non-traditional bittering hop addition. I added first wort hops(FWH), 30 minute hops, and zero minute hops – that’s it.

Pacific Gem Pale Ale 2

This batch just so happens to also be a “starter batch” for a 20 gallon batch of American Wheat beer Garrett and I are planning together for this Sunday the 27th. That too is part of the reason I wanted to use whole hops and the Bazooka screen – if it worked I would get very clear wort so most if not all of my trub would be healthy yeast to use in the Wheat batch, but if that all back-fired I’d probably have more “chunky” trub than usual, so you gotta gamble some. In the second picture above you can see how much material was filtered out of the carboy between the Bazooka and the whole hops, sweet! So technically I should go home with 10 gallons of American Wheat wort on Sunday. I am planning on doing 5 gallons traditional and 5 gallons fruited, anyone have any suggestions for a fruited wheat they’d like to drink this summer? Watermelon? Pomegranate? Cranberry? Let me know.

Bad Hop Daddy (Again!)

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I said it before and I’m saying it again, I am a bad hop daddy!

Bad Hop Daddy (Again!)

This picture was taken about a week ago and they are already way more crazy than this. These are 5 year old Cascade hop plants jammed into a smallish flower pot. When I moved in November of ’06 I dug up my hops and brought them with me planning on replanting them in March/April of ’07. Well, I never found a good spot to plant them so they lived in the flower pot until now. Well, actually they’re still in there, but I’m working on it, I swear. Right now I have some raised beds that I’ve thrown together (probably already too small) and have the hardware for the trellis (20ft!). Now the trick is to choose the proper location for the bed, figure out how to securely anchor the trellis, and to get these puppies in the ground. If it isn’t one thing it’s another.

Amber Ale

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

So I brewed an Amber Ale on Monday (04.14.08). This was my first full weekday night brew and I think it went OK.

Amber Ale

For this beer I used the same WLP060 yeast as I did from the Fool’s Gold beer, then after this beer I am going to flip it into a Porter. It was a little weird brewing at night, especially a night I knew I couldn’t sleep in the next day. Everything went relatively smoothly, so that’s good, but I did hit a wall around 10:30PM or so that I was really ready to be done, and I still had an hour and a half left of work. If I continue to do night brews I’m going to want to invest in two things; a light for the outside area I brew in (right now I am using the interior light and a flashlight) and a screen door flap to help keep the critters out but to allow me easy access to outside. I think for me the biggest benefit was using time that normally wouldn’t have been used for anything special and doing something special with it and at the same time freeing up valuable weekend hours that would have been spent brewing. I actually would consider brewing on a more regular basis during weekday nights, but I think Wednesday may work better with my “normal” weekly activities. Maybe this will be a way that I can brew more than I have been. Well, I do have five full carboys right now with at least 20 more gallons lined up. And that’s a good thing considering all the homebrew I have left right now is Imperial Stout (Vader) and Cider basically.

Fool’s Gold Transfer

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

So I’ve been a little behind on keeping the site up to date the past week, so hopefully this week will have several new posts. Nothing too exciting, just new news.

 Fool’s Gold Transfer

So I transfered the Fool’s Gold on Sunday. It is a little more amber than I was anticipating, but really I’m not too worried about it. It was mostly a play on words because of the hops that were used (Brewer’s Gold) and my beers name (Fool Circle). The FG was a little higher than expected also, but again not that big of a deal, it was still in the totally exceptable range. This beer was the first time I brewed with this particular yeast, WLP060, and it seemed to be a slow yeast to finish and threw a lot of sulfur out with the CO2. Right now I am using the same yeast to ferment an Amber Ale.

Two Ciders

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

So the other night Robert and I tried the 2005 and the 2007 Linvilla Hard Cider side-by-side.

 Two Ciders

This was kind of a treat to me. Not only did I get two try to similar beverages side-by-side, but it was the last two 2005 Ciders. In the picture the one on the left is the 2007 and the one on the right the 2005. Some similarity and differences in these Ciders. Both were made with fresh cider from the same orchard (Linvilla). Both Ciders finished below 1.000FG. Both Ciders never fully carbonated. The 2005 was fermented/aged for over 1 year before it was originally bottles, and the 2007 was fermented/aged about three months before it was bottled. The 2005 used a Dry Cider specific liquid yeast, and the 2007 used a Belgian-style (S-33) dry yeast. The 2005 Cider was very mild almost wine like when “fresh” and developed a more Granny Smith apple bite as it developed, and the 2007 Cider was more farm-housey in over-all flavor with a definitive apple nip.

Neither of these Ciders turned out how I had pictured the, but I thought both were fair. I’d like to be able to develop the carbonation more, and maybe brew a “bigger” Cider at some point that I can back sweeten with apple concentrate and spices. All-in-all making Ciders is a fun once a year or so project.


Monday, April 7th, 2008

Is Prohibition still alive and well? What’s going on here!?


Well, there is definitely a movement with some to bring back Prohibition, but that’s not what I’m going to be talking about here. What I’d like to talk about is the unofficial 75th Anniversary of the end of Prohibition! That’s right, back on April 7, 1933 there was a change in the Volstead Act which changed the legal intoxicating amount of alcohol in beer from 0.5% to 3.2% alcohol. After the country had been dry for 13 years, this was some MAJOR news. The Eighteenth Amendment was completely repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment on December 5, 1933. So happy 75 years of brewing to our current brewing community!

So, what’s going on in the picture? Well, that is me at my wits-end I suppose. I dumped a case of homebrew. Only the third time in over 100 batches that I’ve ever done something like this, and the most I’ve ever dumped. This time I dumped about 20 bottles of Saturday IPA. Garrett and I had brewed a 20 gallon batch of this back in July. This was an awesome monster of a beer. My bottled beer took a very long time to carbonate. We used two different yeast, with one yeast the bottles did eventually carbonate, with the other they never did. So, I have been slowly opening beers from this batch since July to see how they have developed. It never developed. It was flat and the flavors became both overly sweet and slightly sour. I decided I couldn’t take it anymore, and … drain pour. It hurt, but I new it was the right thing to do, it was better for the beer. (Sorry Garrett)

CFWAY Homebrew Festival

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

So yesterday (04.05.08) was the 1st Annual (?) Cure For What Ales You (CFWAY) Homebrew Fest. Overall I’d say it was a smashing success.


Things were suppose to run from 1-5PM, so I figured I’d get there around noon with plenty of time to set-up and get organized. I showed up around 12:15 and felt late. The back room was already laid-out and filled-up with brewers, great. I then saw that the next adjoining room over they were starting to set-up tables too. So I put my stuff over there, it definitely felt like I was off to the side instead of being in the middle of the action, oh well. I brought along a cooler with 20 of my Belgian Dubbel style beer and a smaller cooler with 4 each of my Belgian Tripel style and my Imperial Stout, Vader. The Dubbel was my featured beer that I was slinging all day long and the one that was entered into the competition they had. The Tripels I leaked out at about 3:30 and the Vaders at about 4:00. I had a little wipe-off board in front of my cooler so I could adjust what it was I was serving. The Dubbels lasted almost until the end and the Tripels and Vaders basically were disappearing as they hit the table.


I got to try some cool beers yesterday, but not as many as I would have liked, mostly I couldn’t get out from behind my area. But some of the beers I got to try were a Belgian Single, an Imperial IPA, a Vanilla Porter, a Licorice Stout, a 14% Imperial Stout, a Smoked Porter, a Coriander Amber, and a couple different Ciders. It appeared as if there were many different levels of experience showcased at the event, some guys I talked to had just started homebrewing in January of this year and others appeared to have been homebrewing their entire lives. One guy had a massive set-up where it looked like he had six different kegs poring, wow.

Again, overall it was a really good time, only one minor flaw that stands out and that was my own fault – no food and water. I had arrived around 12:15 like I said and hadn’t eaten anything at that point nor drank or brought a lot of water. So after several hours of sampling, working, and not drinking any additional water my body needed a break and was in desperate need of some food to keep functioning properly. Basically I ran out of beer at about 4:30 and I was going to clean-up my stuff and then come back in and try to enjoy myself before the fest was over. Well I guess with the lack of water, food, and being weighed down with my coolers and such I had a rough time getting out of the place. Fortunately I had a bunch of friends there who were willing to watch out for me and cover my back, and before I knew it I was taking a break, enjoying a chicken pita sandwich, and a bottle of water. After that I was feeling much better. Next year, they need to provide free water and I need to remember to eat, one of those things I often forget.

But to end on a super positive note, as I was leaving to load up my stuff I was informed that I couldn’t leave (which I wasn’t planning to) because I had just won Best of Show! Wow, that took me off guard, in a good way of course. I don’t know if they made announcements or what, but I sure didn’t hear anything. As a prize for Best of Show I received gift certificates to How Do You Brew, Xtreme Brewing, Iron Hill Brewery, and a pound of hops of my choice – I took 8oz. of Cascade and 8oz. of Centennial – time for some C-Hop Pales Ales! Again, overall it was a really great time and I hope they continue to do it next year and the years following.