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Archive for July, 2010

American Brown Update

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Not to much new going on, but I figured I’d drop as much of a load on you as I could.

So this is a follow up to the American Brown Ale I brewed over Fourth of July weekend. I finally got a chance to transfer tonight. This was originally a 10 gallon batch, for the transfer I left 5 gallons traditional and 5 gallons I added chocolate to it. This is the third time I  have used chocolate. The first was way back in March of 2000 when I brewed a Chocolate Stout with Hershey’s syrup, didn’t turn out so hot. Second was June of 2008 with the Chocolate Porter where I used Cacao Nibs (raw chocolate), turned out great but I actually desired more of a chocolate punch. And this time July of 2010 with the American Brown Chocolate using powdered cocoa from Ghirardelli’s. Hopefully I just didn’t brew five gallons of a hot mess of a drain pour, but we’ll see, that’s what it’s all about sometimes.

Other than that I’ve got three beers on tap for the first time in a long time, the American Wheat (good but with a lot of diacetyl), the Grilled Pineapple Wheat (good but with less specialty characteristics than desired), and the California Red (yummy!). I’ll try to put a proper review of those three beers up soon, it’s been a while.

I’ve got ingredients and recipes lined up for two pale ales, an IPA, and a Saison. Almost brewed on Sunday but forgot to make a starter, next tentative brew date is the first Monday in August – too long of a wait sometimes. Oh well, until then …

8th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Yesterday, 07.09.10, was the 8th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting, and it was an amazing time!

You can view all of the pictures here, just CLICK.

Tradition stands strong. For the 8th year in a row I was able to host and participate in the annual Fool Circle beer tasting. This is a rare occasion when great friends get an opportunity to come together and sample a small eclectic variety of homebrewed beer. In attendance this year was Todd, Richard, Dave, Robert, Erik, and myself. This was Erik’s first year so he was the rookie. I had decided this year that I was still going to participate in the guessing, but was pulling myself out of the competition aspect, as in I couldn’t win regardless of the outcome.

The tasting itself was streamlined in comparison to last year. Last year we had 24 beers to sample which we determined was too many. So this year we had 12 beers which was just the beer since the last tasting. Well, actually there were 14 beers since the last tasting, but I forgot to bottle 2 of them, oh well. In the tasting this year were the following beers: Cluster Wheat, Sum Bra Pale Ale, Roby’s Red Rye, Kitchen Sink Amber, Kitchen Sink Dark, FCX Sticky-Icky IIPA 10th Anniversary Ale, Dubbel, Dubbel Dragon – Chinese 5 Spice, Anxious Amber, Perle Wheat, Grilled Pineapple Wheat, and the California Red. The two that missed the cut were the Harvest Ale – Freshy Fresh and the Twenty Pound Pale Ale. The highest number of beer guessed correctly out of the 12 was 8 and the lowest was 1. The 8 was guessed by myself so it didn’t count towards the competition and the winning of the the status of Grand Poo-Bah for the next year, and to be fair the 1 was guessed by Random Robert, which was just us filling in Roberts guesses at random since he was going to be late, but he still got 1 right!

In the end it turns out that Dave and Erik both guessed 5 correctly so we had to go into a tie breaker round. I had previously put 24 different vintage Fool Circle beers in the fridge, so for the tie breaker I was going to pick a beer and pour them off a sample, and who ever guessed correctly first would win. I chose the Scottish 70/- beer because it was distinctive, yet could be slightly confusing because of the two varietal Scottish beers also included in the vintage list. They BOTH guessed it correctly on the first guess, I was amazed. So now we had to go into double over time tie breaker style. I had to decide was I going to try and go obvious, or difficult, I think I went slightly down the middle maybe towards the more difficult side and chose the Simcoe Brown. After some deliberation the guys turned in their guesses and one of them guessed it right on the first try, again I was impressed. It turns out the rookie rocked the vets and walked away with the title of Grand Poo-Bah for the next year, that being one Mr. Erik. Congratulations, good job.

After that things went smoothly and I think we all had a blast. Some awesome dinner was had: great homemade guacamole with some snacky food, grilled chicken, tomato and cucumber salad, cheesy orzo, and black bean and corn salad. Then we jumped on some new beers to try, the Perle Wheat, Pineapple Wheat, and CA Red were all on tap, and Richard had brought some of Garrett’s ESB with him to share, Erik brought some old school Roxy Rolles he found, plus there were all the vintage Fool Circle’s to share. Todd wound up leaving first because he had work the next day and had to get up early, but everyone else hung until about 12:30AM or so and either rolled with a driver or crashed, most responsible year yet.

Overall it was once again a great time. If you’re interested in previous years activities you can check them all out here, all but the first year: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. Also, per usual, here’s some more than flavorful quotes from the night to keep you smiling, or cringing:

  • I heard they put a needle in your nut.
  • I think one of’em’s three of’em.
  • I don’t want you guys to think I’m weird or anything, but I got an AK-47 this year.
  • You will shit your spleen!
  • They make it in the radiators.
  • You’re like the Blackadder bitch.
  • They’ve gone plaid.
  • Were you smelling his fingers? – I was measuring his head.
  • Apparently my right ball is called “Columbo”.
  • I wanna see what my balls are called.
  • Give me a camera, I gotta snake coming out of my crotch.
  • Hey look, Erik and Dave had a sword fight in Robert’s mouth.
  • Rape him in the face holes.
  • Deuce Poose Grand Poo-Boose.
  • Simmer down Rookie!
  • If you took a 70’s porn star chick and her homeless Vietnam vet husband and mixed them together, that was your face.

American Brown Ale

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Yesterday, 07.02.10, was the perfect day to brew some beer!

American Brown Ale

Yesterday I was able to take the day off from work extending the already long three day July 4th weekend into a four day weekend. My plans had changed twice already, but in the end I was able to revert back to the original plans, which were to brew a batch of beer. This time around it was an American Brown Ale. I have brewed this recipe twice before, once with Garrett and once alone. Each time there were slight tweaks to the recipe based on available inventory, but this third batch was almost identical to the original with Garrett.

The brew day got started between 10:30 and 11 and wrapped around 6-ish or so. My friend Heather was able to join me for most of the day, in particularly during the more interesting first couple hours, and my other friend Robert was able to sit in for an hour or so in the middle, so it was nice to have company on a beautiful July afternoon – 83′, sunny, and low humidity – that’s my kind of day! There were no major cliches during the brew day, so that was good. I suppose I had a minor brain fart in the beginning because I swore I had ordered a particular base malt (Marris Otter) for this batch, yet couldn’t find it anywhere, only to realize that I had ordered it, yet used it on the last batch with the California Red, doh! Really not a big deal, I did have other English two-row base malt (Crisp) so I just made a substitution on the fly. Other than that I hit my mash in and mash out temps on the nose, there was no major waiting for water to heat, and no major mishaps with the boil. Though my original gravity was much higher than anticipated, actually my last couple batched have been … it may be time for a new hydrometer, this one may no longer be accurate.

But then there was the cooling … Oh summer-time cooling, oh how I hate thee. An hour and a half later and the beer is only down to 80′. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s because the ground water is so warm, but there are things I could do to help this be more efficient. For example, I am still using the same immersion wort chiller that I used for five gallon batches as I do now for ten gallon batches, I believe it is a 25ft 3/8″ unit, I should really be using something closer to a 50ft 1/2″ unit if I choose to continue to use an immersion chiller. Additionally I could add a pump to the system and pump ice-water from a cooler through the unit which would totally increase the efficiency OR I could upgrade to a counter-flow chiller or even better a plate chiller and really cut down the time. The current desired end chiller would probably be a Blichmann Engineering Therminator plus a March Pump plus a cooler of ice water. The thought would be to run the wort through the plate chiller while ice water passed in the opposite direction essentially cooling the wort as quickly as possible. And to avoid acquiring the cold break material in the fermenter, I think if the cooled wort was pumped back into the brew kettle again before being put into the carboy the false bottom/whole hops would help filter that material out, thus chilling ultra quick and still retaining clear wort. I bet I could easily shave an hour off my brew day. When the money tree blooms, you know what I’ll be buying.