Archive for January, 2009

Belgium Comes To West Chester ’09

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Yesterday was at Iron Hill’s event Belgium Comes to West Chester at their West Chester, PA location “hosted” by Chris LaPierre, the head brewer there.


Erik, Sharon, Robert, and myself arrived at West Chester at about 1:30PM. There was about a 20 minute wait for tables, so we put our name in and grabbed a beer. I knew I would be drinking Belgian-style beers all day, so I decided to start with something else. I got IH’s seasonal beer an American Brown, it was really good, but I think the one that Garrett and I brewed packed in more flavor.

After we got a table we all ordered the 10 beer Belgian sampler. At $20 a piece it was a good way to try a lot of different beers. I felt slightly bad for our waitress because she was going to have to bring out 40 little cups, but at the same time she already hada $80 tab running and we’d only been there 2 minutes, I guess it’s fair. Anyway, we got to try a pretty good selection of the beers, here are the ones I can remember:

  • Eddy – Iron Hill, West Chester
  • Abbey 6 – Victory
  • Mad Elf – Troegs
  • Cherry Dubbel – Iron Hill, North Wales
  • Abbey Extra – Sly Fox
  • Chocolate Indulgence – Ommegang
  • Lil Pylon – Earth Bread + Brewery
  • Honey Saison – Iron Hill, Phoenixville
  • Otay – Nodding Head
  • White Gold – Ithaca Beer Company
  • Permanent Midnight – Iron Hill, Lancaster
  • Stumblin’ Monk – Stewart’s
  • Belgian Mild – Flying Fish
  • Tripel Lindy – Manayunk Brewery
  • Wild Hibernian – Harpoon
  • Belgian IPA – Yard’s
  • Heywood – Iron Hill, West Chester
  • Oak-aged Quad-father – Iron Hill, West Chester

And, those were only the ones I tasted, there were others that kicked before we got to taste them and others that hadn’t gone on tap by the time we left around 7:30PM. Basically they had 10 designated taps in the back with a A, B, and sometimes C beer that would come on. So depending on when you ordered your sampler or what time it was when you arrived it would depend on what was available. I think we got to try a pretty large array. I think my two favorites were the Cherry Dubbel from Iron Hill’s North Wales location that the guy who worked there kept referencing as Larry’s Cherry which sounded all sorts of weird/wrong to me. Also the Permanent Midnight from Iron Hill’s Lancaster location was really good too. One weird thing about that beer, Robert pulled two plastic “pubic hairs” out of his sample, it was pretty bizarre. Fortunately he didn’t choke on them or anything. He really could have made a fuss with the management, but he played it cool instead and just wanted to warn them that it happened so hopefully to avoid any situations with other patrons.

Overall it was a real good time and am looking forward to going up again next year. My one piece of advice, if it is at all doable, to Iron Hill would be to have all of the beers on tap at once. That way, say there are 20 beers available, they could have four 5 beer samplers available. The samplers wouldn’t be so overwhelming for the waitstaff, there would be more beer options for the patrons, and you could choose more carefully what it was you are trying to drink if there were specific beers that you really wanted to try. Just a thought.

Gas Leak

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

I just got done boasting how gassy I am, and now I have to admit that I leaked . . .


As I have already said I went and got gas on 12.30.08, filled up my 50# and my 5# tanks. Haven’t touched the 50 yet, but the 5 went right on the kegerator and all was good. Well, last weekend 01.11.09 I went to take a pull of beer and got – nothin’. At first I was pissy, then I was concerned and went into detective mode. I realized rather quickly it was the fact that I had no gas, so I figured I must have a leak since it was filled so recently (should last for 4-6 kegs or so).

I had to wait for an opportunity to get gas, which was today, and then the real investigation could begin. I hooked up the full tank and pulled the whole system out of the kegerator. I then filled the sink with water and dropped the three connectors in and turned on the gas to see what happened. The connector for the center faucet started bubbling away, which is where I thought the problem would lie. I was going to drop basically the whole system in the water, but I am not sure what that would do to some of the metals.

Anyway, I took apart the connector and the internal gasket was deformed (supposed to be round), great. Does anyone know where I can buy just the internal gasket to a gas ball lock connector? I haven’t looked yet, but I’m sure they are out there. Fortunately I had an extra connector and just swapped them out. Did the water test again and it seemed all good.

Hooked everything up, and cleaned everything up. Hooked up all three beers and they all seemed to pour fine. So, at this point it is more of a waiting game to see if I solved the problem or only part of the problem. I think it is gong to be fine.

New Beer Books

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I know it’s a little after the fact, but hey, I’m a little slow – and you can take that to mean whatever you like!


Actually, come to think of it, I received two of these for my birthday, so I’m really slow. But I did have a similar post last year, and it was even later, so there. Anyway, this is the new stash:

I’m actually really stoked to read all of these and these are all books I’ve wanted for a while now. The biggest problem with getting this many new books on “one” subject is there is a certain burn-out factor. It’s not like these are stories, they’re generally more like little volumes of massive amount of information with random stories/background thrown in. Very useful and informative, but not a book you burn through. All the same, they make great reference material when trying to tackle a new beer or better an older recipe.

Bottling & Modifying

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

So this afternoon I got to give a little bit of love to the kegerator; bottled a case of beer, and fed it a new keg.


Basically the objective was to kick the Gnarleywine keg as soon as I could. Not that it was a bad beer, I was just ready to move on from it, and I really needed some hops in my life. So I set up all the bottling equipment and cleaned and sanitized a case of bottles. I first pulled of six Cream Ales into bottles, then six Chocolate Porters, and finally eleven Gnarleywines, it kicked on the twelfth bottle – which I drank. This way I now have a couple bottles of each brew to tuck back fro the annual Fool Circle beer tasting, plus possibly an early competition like the War of the Worts in February.


After I was through bottling I pulled the Gnarleywine keg, which was a half keg, 2.5 gallons. Now I had to try and fit three full sized kegs into the kegerator when I knew they weren’t going to fit. I tried anyway though. I brought up the keg of Keg-Hopped Imperial Amber Ale that Garrett and I brewed a while back, October I believe. So I tried to shove all three kegs in, no bueno. The compressor in the back of the fridge hangs down just low enough that the handle on the third keg just won’t fit, by less than an inch. So I took a note from Frey-Guy and thought, WWGD? I went out to the garage and grabbed the hack-saw and got rid of the handle on the keg. I gave it another go, and I was able to squeeze in all three kegs. The half keg actually would sit back even further giving the illusion that there was more room than I had anticipated. Overall, success.


So, what’s on tap right now? Well we have my Chocolate Porter, the Keg-Hopped Imperial Amber Ale, and a Cream Ale. The Chocolate Porter was brewed with 8oz. of Cocao Nibs and turned out very lushy chocolaty, like baker’s chocolate, dark brownies, and coffee mixed together – I dig it a lot. The Cream Ale has been a crowd favorite, dry yet sweet, smooth yet bubbly – it’s a very easy drinker in my opinion. And the KHIAA I have not “really” tried yet, it still needs to cool down in the kegerator and probably settle a bit. I’ll keep you posted on what I think.

I Have Gas

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Yup, I have gas, and lots of it too!


It’s kind of a weird picture, but hey, it works. Basically I just scored a third gas tank, for “free”. It is a sweet 50# aluminum tank. So now I have a 5# aluminum, a 20# steel, and a 50# aluminum tank. The two aluminium’s I own and the steel is on permanent borrow/exchange with the gas company.

I scored the 50# tank at work, it was empty and they were going to throw it out and I was like “can I have that?” And they said sure! So I took it to G&E Welding to get it filled. They admired my tank which I thought was funny (“man, that’s a really nice aluminum tank, man, where didja get that nice aluminum tank, man, I’d hold on to that aluminum tank if I were you” – it was too funny), and then told me it was going to be $25 to fill. Good deal I thought, my 5# tank is normally $10 to fill, so for another $15 I was going to get 10x the gas. Then he started looking at it and realized that the tank was out of date. Basically every 5 years the tanks have to get tested to make sure they can still hold the pressure from the gas. He said to get it pressure tested and stamped was going to be like $50, fine whatever. Then I get a call after they have had it for like a week, “man, what kind of gas was in here?” I told them I didn’t know. Basically the nozzle was fitted for a different kind of regulator than a CO2 regulator, so they were going to have to change out the nozzle too, another $50. So as of now my “free” tank was going to cost $125 – ouch.

When I went to pick up the tank, after quite a while waiting for it, I brought my empty 5# tank with me. They did charge me the $125 for the 50# tank total, but filled the 5# tank for free and threw in some nylon regulator gaskets. I was a little perturbed with the wait, but overall good results. I then realized how heavy a full 50# aluminum tank was, almost a 100 lbs., so I was glad it wasn’t steel.

After I got home I did some research and found out that a new 50# aluminum tank costs around $300 depending on where you go, some less, some more. So my “free” tank was actually a pretty good deal, though I put out a lot more money for it than I had originally anticipated. I was hoping I was going to be able to use the 50# tank to fill my 5# and 20#, and basically use the 50# as like a storage tank. I asked the guy at the shop about that and he basically said it is possible, but that I wasn’t really set-up for it, something about tubes being put inside the tanks and liquid CO2. I figured I might try anyway, they do have pressure relief valves on them. Who knows.

Fermentation Makes it Happen

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Do you ever like going to check on a beer and it looks like this?


Of course not, no one does. There is a total; where’s the airlock? Who’s going to clean-up the wall? Look at the cover!? What happened? Well at least it’s fermenting well – kind of moment.

You know it was a lousy day at work when coming home to see this and it was the best part of your day. Awesome.

American Stout

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

So today I brewed for the first time in about a month, and the first time for 2009!


Normally I am all ‘it was an uneventful brew day, blah, blah, blah’. Well, today was different, it wasn’t quite eventful, but it wasn’t smooth either. Let me try to go through some of my simple mishaps that helped turn the day into a “ooph”.

I do not know what I was thinking when I made this recipe a few months ago before I placed an order for new ingredients, but I turned up short in more than one way. First, while I was measuring my grains I was a 1/2 pound short on roasted barley. I’m sure the beer will be fine, but I was actually planning on making two stouts – um…hello! Next when I went to go grind the grains I was dumping them out of a bag into the mill hopper and the bag split dumping about a 1/4 pound or so of grain everywhere, awesome! After I was done messing with the grains and cleaning up I realized I had overheated my mash-in water by about 20 degrees, great. Then, after I mashed-in I realized that I used the wrong scenario to calculate the water – I used 1.25 qts in stead of 1.0 – oh well, it’ll be fine, I’ve got the room. Then when it was time to add the first addition of hops, I didn’t have enough or the right kind of hops – what was I thinking…? So I made a substitute on the fly, hopefully not messing up any other pre-planned recipes – Chinook for Horizon for bittering and Cascade for Centennial for late addition. Then when I was trying to be a good-little-brewer and clean-up as I go I blew a water line hooked up to the faucet and almost shit my pants! Seriously, I didn’t know what happened and it was loud, hot, and wet all of a sudden. I was actually cleaning out a keg and thought somehow the keg had blown, dunno, but that’s where my mind went. And finally, I ran out of propane, and my back-up was empty. Fortunately it was with only 2 minutes left in the boil, but with maybe 15 minutes left I knew we were heading in that direction, with my rapid rolling boil turning into a just barely boil before the gas blew.

It was kind of a crappy brew day for little shit happening, but overall I am REALLY glad I brewed today, it is one of the few things I wanted to do over my break from work, and it almost didn’t happen. I also hit my OG and my volume and finished up in about 5 and a half hours, so that’s the all-good out look for the long run. I think I may bourbonize this beer in the secondary, but I haven’t committed yet.

Oh, BTW, to any homebrewers who read this, I hit a paranoia moment today while cleaning glass carboys. I typically do a hot water rinse, followed by a PBW hot water rest of at least 24 hours, followed by two hot water rinses, followed by either Iodophor or Star San as a sanitizer – but every once in a while I don’t think it’s enough. So my question is, what do you all do? Do you have some sort of secret chemical you swear by? Lemme know, I’d appreciate it.

New Year’s at DFH

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Recently back from our third year in a row of celebrating New Year’s Eve at Dogfish Head Brewpub.


(This picture just seems to capture the New Year’s vibe)

You can click here to check out the rest of the pictures.

Per usual DFH put on one hell of a party! For NYE DFH has two dinners available, an early seating at 6:30 so you can have a good dinner, but plan your own NYE festivities, and a late seating at 9:00 so you can have a good dinner, AND plan your NYE festivities around DFH. The first year we opted for the early dinner and to go back to the beach house and do our own thing, fun, but not as fun as it could be. So last year and this year we chose to do the late seating and get a hotel room within walking distance, smart – very smart. Things were only slightly different this year than last, last year I believe dinner last year was at 8:30 and was $75, this year it was at 9:00 and was $85. The difference? I think it gave DFH more time in between the two dinners to make sure everything was straight, plus the $85 included gratuity as the $75 did not. I liked that it was included, but it makes me wonder how many of the wait-staff got screwed last year?

The menu was bangin’, actually I think my favorite of the three years so far. Typically there is some course that I am not really big on, not really so much this year. Anyway, here’s the menu:

  • Truffled Butternut Squash Soup paired with a pint of Punkin’ Ale
  • Warm Lobster Salad paired with a 10 oz of Midas Touch
  • Seared Foie Gras and Lingonberry Jam on Brioche Toast paired with a 10 oz vintage Black & Blue
  • Prosciutto-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin paired with a 10 oz Palo Santo Marron
  • Brown Honey Rum Tiramisu paired with a 10 oz vintage World Wide Stout

I’ll try to briefly run through the menu, but you know how briefly can go sometimes. I am not a squash kind of guy, I don’t really dislike it anymore, but it is not my friend. Anyway, the soup was ridiculous, I could have eaten enough for a meal. It was paired with the Punkin’ Ale which makes sense, but after about a half pint of Punkin’ – I’m good. The Lobster “Salad” was my king of salad! A big pile of homemade roasted garlic mashed potatoes, with freshly steamed big chunks of lobster, a little arugala spread around with large slivers of parmesan on top – delicious. None of us had had Foie Gras before so we were all excited and apprehensive about trying it. It was OK. This was actually the course I was looking the most forward to and it was the one I was closest to being disappointed about. I would definitely like to try it again, but it wasn’t a big seller for me. When the beef tenderloin came out I almost lost it. For a fourth course plate this baby was full! It was probably an 8 0z cut of beef wrapped in prosciutto (I liked this better than bacon), along with blue cheese mashed potatoes and some random veggies. I barely ate the veggies, and the mashed potatoes were great, but I had already grubbed on the ones with the lobster, but the beef, – the beef was delicious. I really could only eat half by this point, but it didn’t matter. My only complaint was they were not cooked evenly, in the sense that all of ours were medium except for Dave’s and his was medium-rare and tasted that much better. Oh, well. Finally the tiramisu (probably my favorite dessert of all time) was bangin’. Very well made with just enough rum for flavor but to keep it from getting boozy, I could only finish half of this also.

And the beers . . . ah, yes, the beers. We arrived at about quarter of 9:00 so we had time for a pre-game beer. Originally I tried to order a brewpub exclusive porter called Arms Akimbo Porter, but they had taken it off for the night for the special beers, bummer. So I went with a 60 Minute IPA which lasted until the beef tenderloin came out, geez. As I’ve already said the Punkin’ was fine, but not my favorite. Midas Touch was a good change because I hardly ever buy it, mental note – buy Midas Touch more. The vintage Black & Blue was OK too, I’d rather it was Red & White, but I understand the choice for it paired perfectly with the lingonberry jam. Before the Palo Santo Marron came out I was talking it up to Dave as one of my top 3 favorite DFH beers, he was stoked to try it. When it came out he took one sip and pushed his glass over to me saying I could finish it, different strokes I suppose. Then we ended with the WWS which is always an ass-kicker. I always know it, but always forget about it. WWS is one of those beers you should drink alone, not five beers in and drinking more later. Let’s just say this was the beer that made the night shift perspective, not completely in a bad way.

Also, for the second year in a row, Nate Myers and the Aces were playing. They are a blues-rock-harmonica-heavy band that randomly covers some fun hip-hop tracks, I really dig these guys. Also, they have a song called “Jager & Waffles” so you know they’re good in my book! Of course we picked up the CD.

The next morning found everyone in decent shape and we rolled like we meant business. A little greazy diner breakfast followed by out traditional shot and a beer at Irish Eyes. The shot and a beer kept on expanding until half the day was gone and we were all feeling fine. A Nic-O-Boli for lunch and we were ready to call it a day. New Year’s Eve has always been fun times for me, I think I enjoy the safe but ruckus NYE-style. Until next time I suppose!