Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yummy Bits and a New Saison

I've been a lazy blogger, but I've had an interesting couple of months at the ol' Nanobrewery.

My Mocha Imperial Stout and Scottish 90 Ale are on tap and delicious. (My "Scottish 90" is just slightly stronger than an 80, hence the name). The Stout has a very complex taste profile. Or at least that's what some homebrewing buddies and a few "red wine snobs" have told me. I just know that I like it a lot. The Scottish has exquisite mouthfeel and flavor. Both of these brews are exceptionally tasty. I limit myself to up to one 12-ounce glass per day, to prevent "self-mummification."

The high-gravity Sticke Kölschbier turned-out okay. It's a good beer in its own right, but not one that I'd drink on a regular basis. I guess I'm more a fan of the taste of a normal-gravity Kölsch-style ale, with it's inherent clean/crisp body and taste, and the resultant refreshing quality of that style.

The hoppiness of my Harvest IPA has finally settled-down somewhat. It's not so much of a hoppy punch in the face (when you take your first sip), anymore. It's a beer that I'll have one small glass of, (maybe) once per week, using it mainly as an aperitif. My buddies drink the sh*t out of it, though. I guess I only like real hoppy ales in the Summer.

On November 24th, I brewed what I call a Winter Saison, with a starting gravity of 1.074 / 18 degrees Plato. I used two yeast varieties. One home-slanted variety that I've used before, and an actual wine yeast, namely Wyeast Bordeaux. They are still very active, even though I've transferred to secondary fermentation. At the time of the transfer, the gravity had been reduced to a specific gravity of 1.032 (or 8 degrees Plato).

After the transfer to secondary fermentation, In the Belgian tradition, I rejuevenated the yeast somewhat by raising the temperature of the fermentation vessel over the course of two days, from 20 to 24.5 degrees Celsius. The fermentation has now resumed a more vigorous state of activity. I can honestly say that I'm excited about having a Belgian on tap, once again. I'm still looking at 3 more weeks or so until I can taste it, though. What a good way to usher the New Year in!

The grain profile of the recipe was different from most of the Saisons I've brewed in the past. The grain bill consisted mainly of Maris Otter British pale as the main ingredient. Smaller quantities of the following malts were used: Weyerman Munich, Weyermann Rye Malt, Weyermann Vienna Malt, Simpson Crystal 75, and a "skosh" of Castle Aromatic Malt. The color is close to 16 HCU (~10 SRM). At the end of the boil, I included the zest of 1.5 large Navel oranges, and the zest of 1 small white grapefruit. Black Malabar pepper and Grains of Paradise were also added. IBU was 27, and I used Styrian Goldings and Saaz hops.

The brew day became quite the neighborhood gathering. By the end of the boil, 8 people were still there, talking so loudly that I thought the other neighbors might complain.

Brew Day Photos:

Homebrew Day, Dec 3, 2006
Brew Day Setup, aka "White Trash Theater"

Homebrew Day, Dec 3, 2006...brewery bits.
A closeup of my hodgepodge, homemade & amateur-welded equipment.

Homebrew Day, Dec 2006
Lovely Roxy, the "Perfect Woman" for Brew Day.
She loves cigars and strong drink, (and the occasional tip or IOU).
Trudy Nepstad contributed this to my garage brewery about 5 years ago.
Thanks, Trudy!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nanobrewery Update for Oct '06

I haven't posted for a while, so here's an update for my nanobrewery:

In early September I brewed a "Sticke" version of a Kölsch-style beer. My son and I tried the first samples of the finished brew last night. It is definitely well-balanced and yummy. This keg I will serve as-is, but the other keg I'll probably dry-hop for an extra bit of "umph" & aroma.



This past month, I've also brewed a Scottish Ale and a Mocha Imperial Stout. The Scottish will be going to tertiary conditioning tonight, and the stout will be in the primary until at least tomorrow.

The Mocha Imperial Stout is an experiment, like many of my beers. At the end of the boil, I used 6 oz of Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Cacao Nibs and 5 oz of (ground) Starbucks Café Verona Coffee for this 8-gallon batch of Imperial Stout.


In the past month, I've run out of 2 Belgian styles: my Strong-Dark, and the Saison.
I'm also down to the last of the Oak-aged Whisky Barrel Imperial Stout that I brewed on Dec 26, 2005. It is almost perfect, so I bottled some for posterity. The Hop Harvest IPA is doing fine. It's slightly unbalanced and overly-hopped (to me), but my friends always go for that tap handle. I still have about 3 pints of the May 5th Big Brew Day "Poor Richard's Ale" (18th-century period beer) left. I need to feed it to my neighbors (or drink it myself), to give me some tap room.

What to brew next? I have the heavy styles covered. I think I need a lighter brew on tap. I'm thinking about a lager; specifically a crisp, slightly-hoppy Northern German style Pilsener. More than likely, I'll brew another couple of Saison's, though.
Any other suggestions?

This weekend, I'll take a keg of the "Sticke" Kölsch and the IPA to a race that I will be supporting.
I plan to run in the Heartland 50-mile trail race with a couple of trail-running buddies. Afterward, my friend Raul and I want to set up a "gypsy" aid station about 4 miles from the finish line of the 100-mile trail run event, (which will still be going on for many hours after we finish the 50). We're going to call it the "Mirage Aid Station." There will be hot soup, food, water, loud music, half-crocked aid station volunteers, and 2 styles of ale on tap. What more could an ultrarunner want at mile 96 of a 100-miler?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Homebrewed Kölsch Variant

Well, I'm going to find time to brew again this weekend. I'm going to brew a Kölsch-style beer with more of a hop profile and a higher gravity. I'll still use "noble" European hops, though. It will basically be a "Sticke" version of the style. I'll also use a Scottish Ale yeast, instead of a Kölsch yeast. I've used this yeast before for Kölsch, and ended up with good results.

I always like making up my own recipes and messing with the rules of a style. It makes life interesting, and I've made many a fine beer, this way. Yum, yum...can't wait!

Here's the basic recipe:

Gute Träume Sticke Kölschbier (version #7)
Style: Kölsch variant.
Type: All grain
Size: 11.5 gallons
20 lb. Turbo Pilsner, 1.7-2L
9 lb. Maris Otter, Crisp -3L
3 lb. Wheat Malt
Single Step Mash at 152-155F for 70 min. Actual temp:_________
start recirc. 50 mins into mash.
Batch sparged at 170F
Boil: 80 minutes
2.0 oz. Tettnang Hop Flowers (60 min.)
1.0 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hop Flower, German (45 min.)
1.0 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hop Flower, German (30 min.)
2.0 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hop Flower, German (10 min.)
2.0 oz. Tettnang Hop Flowers (10 min.)
2 ea Wyeast Scottish Ale, 1728 XL (activator pack).
Primary fermentation in glass at 72F for 5-6 days.
Secondary fermentation in glass at 72F for 5-7 days.
Tertiary fermentation/conditioning in glass at 60F for 5 - 14 days.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back To Homebrewing!

I'm back to homebrewing again, after a 3-month hiatus. I haven't brewed since early June! I brew outside, and we've had a very hot & humid Summer which was more conducive to passing-out from heat exhaustion, rather than brewing. The weather yesterday (on the Labor Day holiday) was perfect...80F was the hottest temp observed. I would have brewed on Sunday, also, but my back and left hamstring were injured severely on my last big running event. A few days ago, I couldn't even tie my own shoes, let alone do any of the tasks involved with homebrewing. (I'm much better, now).

Homebrewing Technical Talk:
I decided to brew a "Harvest India Pale Ale," using my crop of this year's hops from my back yard. Last year, I had enough hops for three 10-gallon batches of hoppy brew. This year, my hop crop sucked, because of the extreme heat and humidity, (but with little rain). Oh well, I still had enough hop flowers for a "brutal" addition to this IPA, which is a borderline Imperial IPA with a 1.072 starting gravity. (Imperials start at 1.075). I could have had a higher starting gravity, but I sparged more wort out of the mash tun's grain bed to try to get a higher pre-boil volume close to 14 (or so) gallons. All of the hop flowers suck-up a lot of water, and also the long boil time will evaporate-off a lot of H2O. I succeeded; the total wort volume was about 11-1/2 gallons post-boil, which will come out to be about 10 gallons final volume for the kegs, after time spent in primary fermentation, secondary fermentation, and conditioning.

My hop vines in the back yard are all intertwined, so I have no idea of hop variety or alpha-value specifics for this particular brewing session. All that I know is, there were these varieties in varying amounts that I added to the brew: Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Willamette, Saaz...a regular "smorgasbord / potpourri" of hops. I love the element of surprise, when I'm brewing my annual harvest ale(s). Last year's version was magnificent!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Well, the Oregon Brewer's Fest (OBF) was fun. My only regret was: I couldn't meet up with the Beer Bloggers, for "family" reasons. I spent all of Friday with my Portland-area family members, and got caught up. It was probably for the best, as I was running a 50-Mile trail run near Mt Hood on Saturday morning.

My son, my nephew and me hit the Brew Fest hard all day on Thursday. There were a few standouts, and a few crappy beers, but most of them were enjoyable. The weather was perfect, that's for sure. I'll post some more about the experience later.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nanobrewery News and BURP Update

Well, my BURP party (last Saturday night) turned-out to be a blast. I wanted to reduce my homebrew stock somewhat, but we only drank about 10 gallons of it. I'm left with about 45 gallons of homebrew, which really isn't too bad of a problem.

On tap that night were the following brews:

  1. Bad Ben's Brow-beater Brown Ale - An American Brown Ale (and a good session beer)
  2. Poor Richard's Ale - An experimental ale that I brewed for Big Brew Day
  3. Spring Fling IPA - A very-hoppy IPA with an ABV of 6.7%
  4. "Saison in the Sun" - A citrusy Belgian-style farmhouse ale...(my personal favorite)
  5. And last, but not least by any measure, my Belgian Stong, Dark Ale (which has an ABV higher than 9%, right now).
  6. I also had some of my Oak-aged Imperial Stout on hand to sample, at the end of the evening.

Tasting Notes from the BURP: The craft beer "newbies" preferred the Poor Richard's Ale and the Brown Ale. Both are fairly mild in flavor, so that's no surprise. The beer "experts" preferred the IPA and the two Belgian-style ales. The red wine "experts" fell in love with both Belgians, also. It was fun to see discriminating wine-only folks enjoy the complexities of a good Belgian-style ale. They also enjoyed the oak-aged Imperial Stout.

Food: The entree consisted of marinated and grilled chicken wings, and also some grilled turkey. A big salad was available and others brought potluck items.

All in all, it was a very fun and successful party, and I ended up getting about 4 hours of sleep prior to my run the next morning.

One more party? Last night, I had about 25 folks over for a "Wednesday Night Run." It's a scheduled run that people show-up at to run and then eat a potluck dinner at the host's house. It's also a 25-year old Kansas City tradition in the running community, and is sponsored by my running club. I had 4 of the above beers on tap in my beer garden, and the weather turned-out to be just perfect. I'm through with hosting parties for at least a couple of months. I'll be in the mood again though, by September, I'll bet.

Nanobrewery update: As soon as we get a cooler-weather weekend, I will finally brew my Imperial IPA. This next weekend isn't looking too good for that. Maybe the next will be a little better. One can only hope.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Annual BURP (Beer Utilization & Reduction Party)

As some of you might know, I do a little bit of homebrewing. Every now and then, I end up with too-much beer for personal consumption, and I occasionally have to ask my friends to help me with my problem. That's why we're once again hosting...

Bad Ben's 2-1/2 Annual "Beer Utilization and Reduction Party" (BURP).
Date: This Saturday night, June 31st...(also known as July 1st)
Time: 6:37 PM until 11 PM
Where: My house. I can e-mail directions.

The theme of this year's party will be "Fashion-Challenged." If you want to participate in the fun, please wear a psychotic clothes combination. (To all I.T. folks and software engineers: well, just come as you normally would dress for work). If you don't want to participate in the fashion extravaganza, please try to wear some beer-related or W.C. Soccer clothing.

We'll provide some "hearty munchables" and will have several homebrewed beers on tap, along with a few bottles of decent wine.
Please bring your choice of ONE (or more) of the following:

1) Snack food, or a potluck item.

2) *Beer, mead, or an interesting wine; (ESPECIALLY if it's homemade).

3) A semi-good looking Significant Other, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, mistress, gigolo or reasonable facsimile, thereof. Or you can bring a friend or just yourself.

NOTE: If you plan on imbibing like a frat-boy or whorority-chick, please BRING A DESIGNATED DRIVER; (or you can stay-over and sleep on one of our nice air beds and have our big, slobbery dog lick your face all night).

*Homebrewers: For mini-kegs I have an extra CO2 bottle and hoses, if you have the proper fittings.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Father's Day Brewing

Well, it's Father's Day weekend. I plan to homebrew on Sunday, after a nice, long run with some buddies. (Yes, my injury is healed, and I'm back to running trails, once again).

I'm finally going to brew the Imperial IPA that I purchased the ingredients for, (weeks ago).
The cartoon is courtesy of a fellow runner & blogger, Dice.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Beer Review & Nanobrewery Update

I bought a six-pack of Great Divide Brewing Company's "Denver Pale Ale" the other day. I've tried many of their other beers, but finally got around to trying their English style pale ale. I would describe it as crisp and non-affronting. It's a decent pale ale, but I'd rate it (style-wise) as 1/2 way between an American Pale Ale and and English Pale Ale. (Not that that's bad). It's not a bad choice for a Summer session beer, (otherwise known as a "lawnmower" beer).

Nanobrewery update:
The Poor Richard's Ale that I brewed recently was a success at a runners gathering, the other night. It's a good session beer, and I'm growing more fond of it every time I have a glass. At first, I didn't want to brew a beer with corn in it, but it turned out to be very OK.

My Spring Fling IPA will be on tap by Saturday night. I can't wait to give it a try. Sometime next week, I'll keg & carbonate the Belgian-style Saison. The "pre-tastings" of this brew (when I checked the specific gravity) really got me (and my son) excited.
It's going to be a good Summer for beer drinking at the Ol' Homestead!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

OBF, Nanobrewery Update, & Beer Quotes

Some of us Beer Bloggers are going to meet in Portland, Oregon at the Oregon Brewing Festival (OBF). We haven't decided upon the date or time, but we are narrowing-down the place; possibly the Rogue Public House in the Perle District. You can keep up with the discussion on Sudspundit.

Bad Ben NanoBrewery Update:
I transferred the Saison to secondary fermentation last Saturday; it's gravity is at 1.016.
Yesterday, I transferred the "Spring Fling" IPA to the secondary. It's gravity is at 1.010, with a starting gravity of 1.068. I'm dry-hopping it in the secondary, then I will transfer it to tertiary conditioning to get it crystal clear, although it is already pretty clear.
Tonight, I'll transfer the Poor Richard's Ale to the secondary. (I should have done this 5 days ago, but what the heck, I've been busy).
On tap, I have my American Brown Ale, the Oak-aged Imperial Stout, and the Belgian Strong Dark Ale. All of them are quite tasty! I had 3 mugs of Brown Ale last night after a hard & fast 10-mile trail run. Note to self: Don't do this again on a weeknight.

Some fun Homer Simpson Beer Quotes:

Son, a woman is like a beer. They smell good, they look good, you'd step over your own mother just to get one! But you can't stop at one. You wanna drink another woman! -Homer Simpson

Homer: Got any of that beer that has candy floating in it? You know, Skittlebrau?
Apu: Such a beer does not exist, sir. I think you must have dreamed it.
Homer: Oh. Well, then just give me a six-pack and a couple of bags of Skittles.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Oregon Brewer's Festival: Participating Breweries

The OBF (Oregon Brewer's Festival) has finally published the breweries that are coming to the fest.

Here they are:

21st Amendment Brewery
Alameda Brewhouse
Alaskan Brewing Co
Amnesia Brewing
Anacortes Brewery
Anderson Valley Brewing Co
Ballast Point Brewing Co
Bayern Brewing
Bear Republic Brewing Co
Bell's Brewery
Big Horn Brewing Co
Big Sky Brewing Co
Big Time Brewing Co
BJ's Restaurant & Brewery
Bottoms Up Brewing Co
Boulder Beer Co
Boulevard Brewing Co
Boundary Bay Brewery
BridgePort Brewing Co
Butte Creek Brewing Co
Deschutes Brewery
Dick's Brewing Co
Elysian Brewing Co
Eugene City Brewery
Fearless Brewing Co
Fish Brewing Co
Flying Fish Brewing Co
Full Sail Brewing Co
Golden Valley Brewery
Great Divide Brewing Co
Green Flash Brewing Co
Hale's Ales Brewery
Hazel Dell Brewpub
Iron Springs Pub & Brewery
Jack Russell Brewing Co
Kona Brewing Co
Lagunitas Brewing Co
Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
Lost Coast Brewery
Lucky Labrador Brew Pub
Magnolia Pub & Brewery
Moylan's Brewing Co
New Belgium Brewing Co
New Old Lompco Pub & Grill
North Coast Brewing Co
Old Market Pub & Brewery
Pelican Pub & Brewery
Pike Brewing Co
Pyramid Breweries
Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub
Red Hook Ale Brewery
Rock Bottom Brewery
Rogue Ales
Roosters 25th St Brewing Co
Roots Organic Brewing
Russian River Brewing Co
Scuttlebutt Brewing Co
Siletz Brewing
Silver City Brewing Co
Skagit River Brewing Co
Snipes Mountain Brewery
Sprecher Brewing Co
Standing Stone Brewing Co
Steelhead Brewing Co
Stone Brewing Co
Tenaya Creek
Terminal Gravity Brewing
Walking Man Brewing
Water Street Brewing and Ale House
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co

It should be a good time in PDX this July.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Big Brew Day Plans

Next Saturday, May 8th, is the American Homebrewers Association's "Big Brew Day." I'm a registered Big Brew site. With my own equipment, I intend to brew two 10-gallon all-grain batches at the same time. I haven't done that before. We'll see how much I time I can put into preparation for it, or I may just do my usual (one) 10-gallon batch.

I still haven't decided what to brew, although their all-grain recipe for "Poor Richard's Ale" looks interesting. If I brew a Kölsch, I won't be using their recipe; it will be another version of my own Kölsch recipe. The second brew will be something special. I have to decide by tonight, so I can get my yeast starter propogated in time.

Either way, I'll start brewing at 12 noon. First though, I'll have a nice, long trail run with some buddies. On tap for Brew Day, I'll have a few of my homebrews to sample, which will include: the last dribbles of my IPA, an American Brown Ale, an oak-aged Imperial Stout, and a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. We can also finish-off some bottled versions of Belgian-style ales that I brewed last year.
If you're in town, drop me a line for directions, and come on by.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Homebrewing Notes from the Weekend

Last Saturday my wife was called into work. I decided at that point to spend some time homebrewing, since I'd planned to spend the day with her, originally. I brewed an IPA, because I'm running out of the IPA that I have on tap. The basic recipe is below.

The Oak-aged Imperial Stout is finally kegged and carbonated. My son and I enjoyed having a few glasses over the weekend. What a wonderful elixer! It is a very complex and tasty brew that has been 5 months in the making. I just hope we don't drink it all before I have a chance to see how it will age further.
Now for the IPA recipe:

Spring Fling IPA
Beer: Spring Fling IPA
Style: American style India Pale Ale
Type: All grain Size: 11 gallons
Color: 10 HCU (~7 SRM)
Bitterness: 71 IBU
OG: Est:1.067 Observed: 1.068
FG: Est:1.015 Observed:
Alcohol: 6.7% v/v (5.2% w/w)
6 lb. Klagas 2 Row Pale, Great Western
17 lb. British pale (Maris Otter)
1 lb. Weyermann Munich Malt
1 lb. Briess Crystal 40L
1 lb. Cara Pils
2 lb. Rahr White Wheat malt
70% efficiency
156° for 80 minutes.
80 minutes
Irish moss and yeast nutrient last 15 minutes.
2 oz. Magnum (10.8% AA, 60 min.) Flowers
1 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 45 min.) Flowers
1 oz. Willamette (5% AA, 45 min.) Flowers
2 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 30 min.) Flowers
1 oz. Willamette (5% AA, 30 min.) Flowers
1 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 15 min.) Flowers
1 oz. Willamette (5% AA, 15 min.) Flowers
Yeast: Use large starter of Wyeast 1056
Brewing notes:
Chilled to 75° in 10 minutes with counter flow chiller.
1) Primary fermentation in glass at 72F for 5-6 days.
2) Secondary fermentation in glass at 72F for 10 days. Dry hop with 2 oz. Cascade pellets.
3) Tertiary conditioning for 3 - 4 days, add gelatin at this point for fining.
Carbonation: 2.2 volumes Keg: 9.0 psi @ 40°F

Friday, April 28, 2006

My Own Private Beer Garden

My hops this year have really taken off. I have some planted on one side of my house, and I also have these planted on my deck in pots. They've already grown 9 or 10 feet, since April 1st. It makes for a nice little beer garden to complement my Nanobrewery. My son and I like to sit out here with the dog and have a couple of beers while we bullshit. (The dog abstains from drinking; he's more interested in chasing squirrels). My son and I built this pergola/arbor last Spring. We work well together; it only took us 6 hours to build it (while drinking some tasty Scottish Ale). We call it our "White Trash Tornado Shelter."

Nanobrewery update:
The Belgian Saison that I brewed last Sunday is still chugging-away in it's primary fermenter. It will need at least another 4 - 6 days there, before being transferred to the secondary. The American Brown that I brewed a month ago is delicious. It turned out to be a wonderful "session" beer. The Belgian Strong Dark Ale needs to be transferred to kegs and carbonated. I'll do that this weekend. The Oak-Aged Imperial Stout also needs to be transferred and carbonated. With the IPA and Imperial IPA, that will make for 5 decent beers on tap, (six, if I include my barleywine downstairs).

It's supposed to rain all of this weekend. If it does, I'm tempted to brew again. If I do, I will brew another Session Beer, since I'm top-heavy with heavy, heady beers. Next Saturday, May 8th, is the American Homebrewers Association's "Big Brew Day." I'm a registered Big Brew site. With my own equipment, I intend to brew two 10-gallon all-grain batches at the same time. I haven't done that before.

This week, I made reservations for our trip to Portland, Oregon in July. My wife and son will go with me, and our foster son will drive over from Spokane to meet us. We'll spend some time at the Oregon Brewer's Festival, which I haven't been to since year 2000. While I'm there, I'll also run in the the PCT50 trail race, on the Pacific Coast Trail. It includes the beautiful Mount Hood as part of it's 50-mile course. Check out some of the photos from the race web site.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Homebrewing (yesterday)

Well, I finally had a chance to homebrew yesderday. I've been really busy in all corners of my life, so I've been aching to homebrew a new batch of beer. I brew outside, (in my driveway and garage). It was fairly hot and humid on Sunday, but bearable.

This time, I brewed a Belgian Saison. I like this style of ale, because I can really go nuts with it. For the primary base malt, I used a German malt that I've never used before...Turbo Pils (from Durst). It's highly-modified and perfect for single-infusion mashing. It worked well with the other ingredients, and my final gravity came out just right, at 1.070. I ended up using a home-spun Belgian yeast starter from my "resident yeast collection." I also tried a dash of a new (to me) spice, Galanga (from Thailand). I adjusted the amounts of my other spice additions: Grains of Paridise, Indian Black Malabar pepper, fine Indian coriander, and a skosh of Indian fennel. I'm not a huge spiced beer fan, but in incremental amounts, spices can really complement many Belgian-style ales.

My son stayed for most of the brew and helped out. While brewing, I also did a lot of other stuff during the "down times" of mashing and brewing. So much for just relaxing! I racked 10-gallons of my brown ale (finally) from the tertiary fermenter to kegs. It will be fully carbonated and ready to try, by this evening. I also installed some new outdoor lighting, did 3 loads of laundry, and some other yard chores. So when my wife came out to nag me and to try to make me feel guilty for "loafing around" all afternoon, I had the moral high ground. I didn't argue, or even let her know what I had completed; (I let her figure that out later). Instead, I casually dispensed an IPA from a keg in my garage fridge, sat down, smiled, and lit a big Fonseca cigar. She disappeared in disgust. My son and I clinked glasses. Mission accomplished!

Hops update: My hop plants on the back deck have climbed to the top of my pergola, and are advancing over the top of it. In two weeks, they have grown over 9 feet!!! Last year, I ended up using them in 3 batches of beer, culminating with a really nice harvest Imperial IPA.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nanobrewery Update

The photos are of a Saison that I brewed in March of 2005, (that we polished-off on last Sunday's brewday), and there's one of Good Ben enjoying the same Saison, and a closeup photo of the hat he's wearing. My son, ever the artist, painted the hat while I brewed that day.
Brewery Update:
The Brown Ale that I brewed on the "tornado day" is almost ready to transfer to secondary fermentation. Either Saturday or Sunday will be the day. I transferred the IPA that I brewed for James to kegs and carbonated. I had a taste of the IPA last night, and it's a winner! It's fairly aromatic and hoppy, and has a very crisp and clean finish. The Strong Dark Belgian Ale will be ready to transfer to tertiary conditioning by next week, I think.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Homebrewing During Tornado(s)

On Sunday, I homebrewed my all-grain brown ale during several tornado-warning siren sessions. We had quite the session of "White Trash Theater." Earlier, I had been out in the woods when the first tornado hit the area. You can read more about it on my other blog.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Missouri Man Makes Gluten-Free Beer; available nationally (in U.S.) May 1st

Read or watch the video regarding this man's quest to help millions enjoy beer who can't now, because of a medical condition called celiac disease.
Here's the web site for his beer, called Bard's Tale Beer.

I have a friend who has the same medical condition. I'm going to make him a batch of gluten-free sorghum malt beer, sometime within the next two months. I think it will be an interesting homebrewing project. From the tasting notes at the 2004 GABF, Bard's Tale did ok, with a couple of caveats:
Date: 2-Oct-2004 (44-5471)
Package: draught
Place: Great American Beer Festival, Denver CO
Score: 15 points
Appearance (3)Pale golden. Nice thick head.
Aroma (3)
Smoky, grainy.
Mouthfeel (7)
Medium body. Really sweet and herbal and smoky, with an unfortunate diacetyl note.
Overall Impression (2)
Real interesting beer.

I think I can brew a less sweet version with no diacetyl notes. Bard's has an IBU rating of 20. I think 30-35 would be more appropriate, and I'll use noble hops to do it. I don't know if I'll brew an ale or the lager, at this point.

Randy Mosher writes about brewing with sorghum in his book Radical Brewing. I'm going to re-read what he has to say about it. I'll come up with my own recipe and post it in the near future.

Have any other of you bloggers brewed a sorghum malt beer? I'd be interested in some feedback.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

American Brown Ale Recipe

I'm going to brew an American-style Brown Ale, sometime this weekend. I want to have a different offering for a "session beer" available in my beer fridge.
Here's the basic recipe that I came up with:

Bad Ben's Brown Ale
Type: All grain
Size: 11 gallons
Color: 51 HCU (~22 SRM)
Bitterness: 50 IBU
Alcohol: Approx 5% by volume

10 lb. American 2-row pale malt
7 lb Maris Otter British pale malt
1.5 lb. Belgian CaraMunich
13 oz. Belgian chocolate malt
6 oz. Flaked barley
1 lb. White Wheat Malt

70% efficiency
Single-infusion @ 152°F for 60 minutes.
Recirculate through mash bed for 20 additional minutes.
Mash-out at 170°F
Sparge with 170°F water.
80 minutes
Irish moss last 15 minutes.

2 oz. Centennial (10.5% AA, 60 min.)
1 oz. Mt. Hood (4.5% AA, 30 min.)
1 oz. Cascade (6% AA, 15 min.)
1 oz. Mt. Hood (4.5% AA, 15 min.)
1 oz. Cascade (dry hop in secondary)
1 oz. Mt. Hood (dry hop in secondary)

Yeast: Wyeast 1056, large starter.
Ferment at room temp for 5-9 days in primary.
Secondary fermentation for 7-10 days.
Tertiary conditioning for 4-7 days.
Carbonation: Force-carbonate and serve from cornelius kegs.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Party...Fermentation Updates

The bachelor party was a resounding success!
The toll:
60 loud and obnoxious attendees.
1 each shitload of food (eaten).
11-gallons of homebrew drank.
1 bottle of Stoli.
1 bottle of Belvedere (Polish vodka).
A large dent in the large bottle of "Most Wanted" single-batch vodka.
1-1/2 bottles of Basil Hayden's.
1 large bottle of Maker's Mark.
59 wounded livers.
1 happy Russian bachelor, who fell asleep on the floor and had his face painted by *Total Dickheads.
(Some photos may follow).

Brewing note:
The Belgian is down to 1.025 specific gravity (from a starting gravity of 1.092). It's slowly fermenting with a Trappist yeast, now. I may raise the fermentation temp to 80F for a while (to finish the job).
The IPA that I brewed for James 2-weeks ago is down to 1.012. It will probably finish at 1.009 or so. The yeast is still somewhat in suspension. I'll transfer it again to tertiary conditioning (within the next two weeks), to clarify it some more.

*Total Dickheads = Good Ben, my son, and me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Getting Ready to Transfer Some Brew, Tonight.

Preparing for a brew transfer tonight: I cleaned 2 corny kegs and a glass 15-gal Demi-John this morning (before going to work). They are all soaking with PBW and water in them. I'll perform the rest of my sanitization protocol when I get home.

I have to transfer the Imperial Stout to kegs this evening (after I run 12 miles with the Trail Nerds). I want to have at least 1 corny keg of Imperial Stout force-carbonated before Alex's bachelor party on Saturday night. I will age the other keg with some French Oak chips (that have been soaking in Maker's Mark Whisky).

The glass demi will house my most-recent Belgian for the duration of it's final fermentation. I was going to leave it in the stainless steel "Sputnik" fermenter, but I couldn't off-load the latest round of dead yeast from the bottom sanitary valve...(it's clogged). So, I'll transfer it to glass. No big deal.

I'll have to check my stock of beer in the horizontal chiller downstairs. I'll need some more for Alex's party. I should have a few oddball kegs in there. I need to finish-off some of those soon, before they get too long in the tooth.

You may have seen the photo before. It's of my Nanobrewery Ale Fermentation Area (NAFA). This time of year it's at room temperature, which is 68F (20C). I have an electronically-controlled heat wrap for the SS fermenter, that I'll use at the end of it's final fermentation.

Monday, February 27, 2006

How Now, Brown Ale?

I just figured out that I've NEVER brewed a brown ale. Charlie Papazian's article and recipe for an American Brown Ale in the Mar/Apr edition of Zymurgy has inspired me. I think I'll brew my own version of this for my next "session beer" to have on tap. Session beer is defined by:
"Any beer that contains no higher than 5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish - a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. (Yes, you can drink and enjoy beer without getting drunk.)"

I've never felt a need to have a brown ale on tap. I absolutely hate the sweeter versions of the style that lots of clone-happy extract brewers love, (like Newcastle). Mine will be crisp and clean, with a twist, (no doubt). I've tasted some very nice versions of this style over the years, but nothing comes to mind as "outstanding" or especially memorable. I would like to at least try to brew a "very decent" tasting beer that some would say is at least memorable.

For the last 2 years or so, my session beer of choice to have on tap has been a Kölsch. Non-beer-snobs who are scared to venture "out of the box" usually like my versions of a Kölsch, so it's a nice beer to have on hand. It's also a nice palate-cleanser between high-gravity beer tastings. It's just always been a decent beer to have around. (I used to have American Pale Ale on tap for the same reasons).

I'll try a brown, for a while, instead. I'll let you all know what I come up with for a recipe. I won't be able to brew it for a couple of weeks, though, due to time constraints. Darn!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Party for a Friend

I'm going to have the ol' homebrew flowing for a bachelor party next week. I'll have a Kölsch, an Imperial Stout and a Belgian on tap. The party will be for my buddy Alexander. I'm going to be best man at his wedding in April.

My big Russian friend Alex and I have been through a lot together. We've done 100-mile trail runs together, had way too many drinks together (more than a few times), and have gotten up at 5 AM to train on long cold runs (with hangovers), always talking about life and its intricacies.

He has a great sense of humor, is very soulful, and is strong as a fucking ox. He also has a penchant for drinking my beer and falling asleep with his arm around my big, furry dog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Picture of one of My Kids

Last night's entertainment:
Here's a (semi-blurry) photo of my latest Imperial IPA, which turned out darn wonderful. I made it with my own homegrown hops, so it's a true "harvest" ale. I was watching the Winter Olympics at the time of the photo, and had a glass of my Kölsch to warm up for this powerful brew.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Back To Brewing!

Finally, I'm going to homebrew again! I'll actually be brewing an IPA for a friend's relative's wedding. He will purchase the ingredients and help me brew this Sunday. It's going to be cold in the Bad Ben Nanobrewery this weekend. I'll be cold enough to freeze my snot.

I've had a busy two weeks. You can read about it on my other blog.

I had some buddies and volunteers over last weekend after "the big race." The Hyperdrive Imperial IPA and the Gute Träume Kölschbier were well received. Oh yeah: we also had a free keg of Miller Lite from a race sponsor.
The photos show some of the festivities.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Well, Maybe One More Post

Q: How can you tell if a man likes Moosehead?
A: By the antler marks on his thighs.

Monday, January 30, 2006

No More Posts 'til After Race Day

I probably won't post for the next 7 or 8 days.

I'm really busy at work and getting ready for my trip to do my next 100-miler. Lou Joline (73) will be my traveling companion. We've traveled together many times before to 50 and 100-mile races, most notably when I paced and crewed for him at the Leadville Trail 100 in 2004. He'll be doing the 50-miler this weekend, and take it easy waiting for me to finish the 100.

I've also been busy entering registration data, and doing last-minute stuff for my own race, which will take place 1-week after the 100. Today, it passed 140 entrants; almost 100 more than the last (inaugural) year. Why do I have to make January & February so stressful each year???

I'll bottle some beer to take with me on the trip. I'll also be smug with the fact that I have three 10-gallon batches of beer fermenting away and waiting for me when I come home.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Furious Fermentation

Holy crap! The new Belgian is still percolating away in primary fermentation at a crazy rate. I had 1 day of "lag time" after brewing on Sunday, when nothing really happened. By Tuesday morning though, it was fermenting so furiously that I had to add a second blow-off tube! I figure 10 days for primary fermentation on this baby. The "special yeast" is doing its job well.
Tonight, I think I'll transfer the Kölsch into a tertiary fermenter, and move it into "cold conditioning."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bad Ben's Nanobrewery Ale Fermentation Area (NAFA)

Here's an up-to-date photo of my Nanobrewery's Ale Fermentation Area. (Yes, I use NAFA to launch my Sputnik).

The Belgian Dark Strong Ale is in the Stainless Steel "Sputnik" Fermenter, the Kölschbier is in the (middle) glass 15-gal Demi-John, and the Imperial Stout is in the glass 15-gal Demi-John on the left. My wife has her knitting and I've got this. One Knitwit and one Beer Nerd, a happy couple make.


Normisms (from Cheers):

Sam: Hey, what's happening, Norm?
Norm: Well, it's a dog-eat-dog world, Sammy, and I'm wearing Milk-Bone underwear.

Woody: Would you like a beer, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: No, I'd like a dead cat in a glass.

Woody: What's going on, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: Another layer for the winter, Wood.

Coach: How's a beer sound, Norm?
Norm: I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word in.

Woody: How's life, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: Oh, I'm waiting for the movie.

Coach: What would you say to a nice beer, Normie?
Norm: Going down?

Sam: What'd you like, Normie?
Norm: A reason to live. Gimme another beer.

Coach: What's doing, Norm?
Norm: Well, science is seeking a cure for thirst. I happen to be the guinea pig.

Coach: What's shaking, Norm?
Norm: All four cheeks and a couple of chins, Coach.

Coach: What'll it be, Normie?
Norm: Just the usual, Coach. I'll have a froth of beer and a snorkel.

Woody: What can I do for you, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: Elope with my wife.

Woody: Hey, Mr. Peterson, there's a cold one waiting for you.
Norm: I know, and if she calls, I'm not here.

Sam: What's up, Norm?
Norm: My nipples. It's freezing out there.

Sam: How's life Norm?
Norm: Ask a man whose got one.

Sam: What are you up to Norm?
Norm: My ideal weight if I were eleven feet tall.

Woody: What's your pleasure, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: Boxer shorts and loose shoes. But I'll settle for a beer.

Woody: How are you today, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: Never been better, Woody. ... Just once I'd like to be better.

Woody: Hey, Mr. Peterson, you got room for a beer?
Norm: Nope, but I am willing to add on.

Sam: Beer, Norm?
Norm: Have I gotten that predictable? Good.

Sam: Well, look at you. You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.
Norm: And I need a beer to wash him down.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Belgian is in the Fermenter

I had a decent brewing session, yesterday. I finally made the time to brew my new all-grain batch of Belgian Dark Strong Ale. A couple of neighbors dropped by, and my son Matt, Kevin, and brewing-newby-Doug rounded-out the visitors.

I changed a couple of things regarding the recipe (at the last minute), but most of it was true to form. It ended up with a starting gravity of 1.092. That's right at 22.00 Plato scale! This will indeed be a big beer. It now resides in my homemade stainless steel fermentation vessel for the duration of fermentation. I'm doing something different, this time. I started with an initial wort temperature of 60F. I will let it rise slowly to room temp of 68F and leave it alone for 10 days or so. Then I'll heat it slowly to 85F, to kick the rest of my "special yeast combo" into high gear. Then I will condition at a lower temp for quite a while. The goal is to "sneak up on the yeast" and not get such a violent eruption of activity, like I did last time. Of course, I will have the requisite yeast dumpings and additions along the way.

On tap for the session was my latest Imperial Rye IPA. It has a whopping 9.2% ABV, and will bludgeon your noggin and make your liver write bad checks, if you don't treat it with the respect it deserves. My son found that out the hard way. Normally, he has a fairly high tolerance. He came home after working a shift and drinking coffee all day. He hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, and it was now 5:30 pm. He had three 13-oz glasses over the course of an hour, and it hit him like a ton of bricks. Thank goodness, there were no other casualties for the session.

By the way, the Imperial Rye IPA was the first beer that I've produced that I transferred into a total of FOUR fermenters during the fermentation/conditioning process. If you want to know how I do it without infecting or oxygenating along the way, I can give you fairly detailed instructions.

During the brewing session on Sunday, I also had a Kölsch-style beer and my crowd-pleasing Black IPA on tap. I still have a couple of items that I need to soak and clean up, namely the brew kettle and its fittings, but everything else is squared-away.

Friday, January 20, 2006

This Weekend's Homebrewing Activities

Well, this weekend I think I'll finally brew my Belgian Dark Strong Ale. I have all of the ingredients ready to go. Should I brew on Saturday or Sunday? Hmm, I haven't figured that out, yet. I'll have to juggle my running and home-chores schedule to make room for the 6-hour time segment.

I'm also sanitizing & readying two corny kegs for receiving my Imperial Rye IPA out of it's tertiary fermenter. I'll force-carbonate the kegs after they cool, and maybe get to drink some of it by Sunday. I ended up dry-hopping the batch with 6.5 ounces of leftover Zatek-Bor (Bohemian) hop pellets. Zatek-Bor hops are really hard to find outside of Eastern Europe. It will be interesting to see what kind of aromas and tastes prevail with this fun brewing experiment.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Granite City's Beer Still Sucks

Well, my beer snob son and I went to Granite City at Zona Rosa in North KC this past weekend, to try to give them another fair shot. Short story: Their beer still sucks! The food and service are great, but the beer is just awful.
I think it's actually gotten worse!

We also had to sit next to a guy at the bar who thought he was some kind of all-knowing-beer-official. He kept droning on and on to his girlfriend about how good the beer was at Granite City, while she was trying to swallow the swill without actually puking. He and the bartender, (who apparently knew nothing about beer, either), kept spewing out beer facts. One of the notable "facts" was, "stout has absolutely no carbs in it, and it has 10-times the alcohol content of India Pale Ale!" Holy shit, it was hard to keep from popping this All-knowing Yuppie Shithead in the mouth. I figure he was being punished enough though, by having to drink the beer, (albeit unknowingly).

By the way, the bartender poured our first samples as "double pulls", once again, (mixed with light lager). I told him to pour them down the f*cking drain. We left with our beer glasses 3/4 full.

To end on a "nice" note, 75th Street Brewery has a nice seasonal offering. They produced a very tasty example of an Imperial Stout. I had an early sample 2 weeks ago, and it was very good then, but it has improved more, since. Try it, if you are in town...before it disappears.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Granite City is Planet Mediocrity

I'm going to try out Granite City Food & Brewery, again, and give it another shot. Granite City is a chain restaurant/brewpub that (from its web site), appears to be more interested in opening new locations and the price of their stock, rather than brewing decent beer. Here's what I found the last time I visited:
On the way back from the airport in November 2005, we decided to try the new Granite City Brewpub in North Kansas City at Zona Rosa Shopping Center. The food and service were decent, and the food portions were huge. The place had a sterile, suburban atmosphere, though. If you love Applebees' atmosphere, then you will think Granite City is "just divine."

I tried the IPA, and it had some problems, but it was drinkable. It was more of an American Pale Ale style, than an IPA, though. The stout had a thin mouthfeel, and was more of a porter style.

The staff that I talked to appeared to know nothing about the beer. I asked our waiter and another waitress what the "specialty brew" tap handle was, and the only answer I could get was, "all of our beers are special." So I went to the bartender and got the SAME ANSWER! I pointed at the "Specialty Beer" taphandle and asked, "WHAT IS THE BEER IN THIS PARTICULAR TAP?" She said that she finally understood, and said they had no specialty beer on tap, at present. Finally, an answer!

Then I asked for a sample of the Maibock. She poured half of a shot glass of Maibock, and the other half with light lager. I said, "what the heck are you doing?" She said, "I'm giving you a double-pull." She explained that they give double pulls on many of their beers that are "more powerful or complex" because the general American public can't take the extreme nature of the tastes involved. (You can actually order all of their beers that way)!

Cross this operation off of my list of SERIOUS brewpubs. I will be back, though, (to each of the 3 KC locations), to check out the beers from time to time. I want to give it a fair shot, anyway. Maybe they were just having training issues, but I'm real skeptical. I won't even list them in my list of Kansas City brewpubs, unless they get their shit together. (I don't list Rivermarket Brewing and a few others for the same reason...their beers suck, and I can't in good conscience, recommend them).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My Recipe for Belgian Dark Strong Ale

"Good Ben" asked if I would post my recipe for Belgian Dark Strong Ale that he enjoyed at my brew-ha-ha, last Sunday. Actually, here's the latest version of a "Dark Strong" that I'll be brewing next, which will be very similar to the last:

Belgian Dark Strong Ale II
Style: Belgian Dark Strong Ale, 18E
Type: All grain
Size: 7.5 gallons
Water: Charcoal-filtered tap water, with approx. 3 gallons distilled H2O, (to reduce alkalinity).
Grains and adjucts:
8 lb. British pale malt (Maris Otter)
18 lb. (Highly-modified Belgian) Pilsener Malt
2 lb. Cara Munich malt, Dingeman
1 lb. Biscuit Malt - 23L, DWC
2 lb. Cara Vienne (Crystal) 19-27L, Dingeman
1 lb. 8 oz. Aromatic Malt - 26L – DWC
3 lb. Rye Malt - Weyermann, 1.4L
1 lb. Carafa (de-bittered Black Patent Malt)
8 oz. Chocolate Rye Malt
1 lb Dark Jaggery (palm sugar from India)
3 lb Rice Hulls (for mash filtration and preventing a "stuck mash")
73% efficiency, single infusion.
Mashed at 154-158 for 100 min
Start recirc. through mash bed to clarify, last 20 min of mash
Batch sparged at 170F, 5.5 gal volume (approx).
120 minutes
Add 2 tbsp Irish moss at 90 min into boil.
Last 15 minutes of boil:
Add 0.10 oz Black Malabar pepper (ground)
Add (secret ingredient #1)
Add (secret ingredient #2)
Add 0.25 oz of fine Indian Coriander (ground)
Add 0.15 oz of grains of Paradise (ground)
Add...oz of (secret spice)
2 oz. Amarillo Plugs (9% AA, 60 min from end of boil)
2 oz. Saaz (3.75% AA, 45 min.) Specially Aged Bohemian Hop Pellets
1 oz. Saaz (3.75% AA, 30 min.) Specially Aged Pellets
2 oz Bad Ben's Homegrown Green Hop Flowers (my special mixture, 30 min.)
1 oz. Saaz (3.75% AA, 15 min.) Specially Aged Pellets
2 oz Bad Ben's Homegrown Green Hop Flowers (my special mixture, 15 min.)
2 oz. Saaz (Dry Hop in secondary fermentation)
Yeast and Fermentation:
For initiating primary fermentation:
One pack of Wyeast Abbey Yeast II, 1762 XL, smacked 3 hrs in advance.
1 starter of unspecified yeast, started 36-48 hrs in advance (from my own preferred yeast culture...from 3 different sources). Add yeast energizer and aerate vigorously for a long time.
Primary Fermentation in SS or glass for 5 to 9 days.
Secondary fermentation in SS or glass for 14 days, add 1 pack of Wyeast Trappist High Gravity-3787 yeast
Also add 1 tbsp "special homemade yeast energizer", and add 2 oz Saaz hops at this time, for dry hopping.
Tertiary Fermentation for 30-60 days in SS or Glass, add 1.5 oz of medium-toasted French oak chips at this time.
Carbonation: Force-carbonate or bottle condition to between 2.4 and 3.0 volumes of carbonation.

Now that I've posted and read it, I realize there's a little work involved with producing it.
It's a labor of love, though.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What Shoud I Brew Next?

I'm trying to figure out what to brew next. I think I will brew a smaller (8-gallon) batch of high-gravity beer in "Sputnik", my homemade stainless steel fermenter.

I currently have three 10-gallon batches in various stages of fermentation.

I think I should brew another Belgian Dark Strong Ale. The last one went over well with Belgian lovers. I'll start working on the recipe tonight!

Monday, January 09, 2006

First Brew Day of the New Year

Sunday, January 8th was my first Brew Day of the New Year. I always brew in the area just outside of my garage door, so it's nice if the weather cooperates, which it did. I was still hyper from the morning's activities, and I was definitely ready for a few beers.

Several folks showed up: New homebrewer Doug, "Good Ben" & Allison, Matt, and Kevin.

I brewed my latest version of a Kölschbier. Kölsch is always a popular beer to have around. Both beer connoisseurs and non-beer-experts alike seem to enjoy a good Kölsch-style beer. I put three different beers on tap, including a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. We all had a good time and the stories got crazier as the beer took ahold of our senses. I'll defer the brewing part of the session to the pictures. Any Questions?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Nanobrewery Update

Last weekend I transfered the rest of my Belgian Winter Warmer to bottles; there wasn't much left. I may enter that and my Belgian Farmhouse Ale in a contest, somewhere.

Tonight I'm going to transfer the Imperial Stout into a 14-gallon glass carboy and pitch some champagne yeast. In about 7 to 14 days I will then separate the 10-gallon batch into two 5-gallon carboys. One will have medium-toasted French Oak chips in it (that have been soaked in Maker's Mark Whiskey), and the other will not. It will sit and condition in tertiary containers until I see fit to transfer to 5-gallon corny kegs. Then I'll force-carbonate da bitches. I spoiled myself and
bought an additional carboy carbonating setup, so that I can gang-carbonate 2 carboys at a time. Hmmm. Gang...force...quite the harsh language for a simple homebrew operation.

The Imperial Rye IPA is still sitting and conditioning, but I think I'll transfer it into kegs this weekend.

Last night, I drank a small bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe (a traditional Flemish red ale). It's on my list of my favorite beers of 2005. Then I sliced some Spanish cheese and tried a little of my Bitch-Slap Black Ale, which is a black IPA. That beer is a huge hit with my son and with my friends. It's getting a little long in the tooth, but still tastes great. I finished the evening watching the movie Solaris while sipping a small glass of Jameson's 12-yr. I deserve it...I didn't drink anything Sunday or Tuesday, and had only one beer on Monday night. Even though the critics panned Solaris, I enjoy that movie (and the strange soundtrack). It's a perfect slow-going "sipping movie."

This weekend, I may brew my 6th version (in the last year) of a German Kölsch. This one will be much different than the others. I won't use decoction mashing, I will use a single-step infusion mash and the secondary fermentation will have massive dry-hopping. Here's the basic recipe:

Gute Träume Kölschbier v6
Brewer: BadBen
Type: All grain Size: 10.5 gallons
9 lb. Weyermann Pilsner, 1.7-2L
9 lb. Maris Otter
2 lb. White Wheat Malt
Mash: 73% efficiency.
Single Step Mash at 152F for 80 min.
Charcoal-filtered tap water, with 1/4 of total volume distilled H2O, (to reduce alkalinity).
Batch sparged at 170F, 5.5 gal volume (approx).
Boil: 80 minutes 11.5 gallons
2.0 oz. Tettnang Hop Flowers (60 min.)
1.0 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hop Flower, German (45 min.)
1.0 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hop Flower, German (30 min.)
1.0 oz. Tettnang Hop Flowers (15 min.)
1.0 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hop Flower, German (15 min.)
2.0 oz Hallertau Hop Pellets (Dry Hop in Secondary)
2.0 oz Tettnang Hop Pellets (Dry Hop in Secondary)
2.0 oz Saaz Hop Pellets (Dry Hop in Secondary)
Kölsch 2565 starter with approx. 200 billion cells.
Primary fermentation in glass at 65 – 72F for 5-6 days.
Secondary fermentation in glass at 55-58F for 20 days.

It should be an interesting and aromatic final result.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Brewing Blog...First Post

Greetings! I started this blog to separate my running exploits from my brewing exploits. The intent is to still post about brewing on my other blog, but to go into more depth regarding brewing on this blog. To start out, I'm reposting my last brewing-related blog:

HOMEBREWING News from the Bad Ben Nanobrewery:
Monday, December 26th at noon, I started working on my latest batch of homebrew. I finally had the time to brew my most recent version of an Imperial Stout. The weather was perfect and the brewing session went well. Alex came over to keep me company for a while. He had brought some munchies, and we commenced having a good bullshit session. I was on a time deadline for brewing this batch, because my wife and I were going over to the next door neighbor's for a friendly game of Uno at 6:00 pm. A 10-gallon all-grain batch usually takes me every bit of 6 hours to complete, especially when there is so much grain involved (for an imperial-style stout). I got finished at 6:03 pm, and just had the brew kettle left to clean. Alex helped me haul the heavy stuff back into the house before he left for home.

I changed the recipe of this stout somewhat from my last posting. I didn't add the cocoa, and I jumped-up some of the other ingredients for an even larger grain bill. I'm also going to split the batch after primary fermentation into two 5-gallon batches (for secondary fermentation). One batch will age in whiskey-soaked French oak, and the other I will leave alone to it's own devices. The final wort starting gravity was at 1.084 (20.23 Plato), which was a little lower than I expected, but I had cut my boil time to only 1 hour, instead of a planned 80 minutes, due to the time constraints.

I also finally transferred my Imperial Rye IPA to it's secondary fermenter. I ended up dry-hopping the batch with 6.5 ounces of leftover Zatek-Bor (Bohemian) hop pellets. Zatek-Bor hops are really hard to find outside of Eastern Europe. It will be interesting to see what kind of aromas and tastes prevail with this fun brewing experiment. (Remember that I used the last of my homegrown hops in the original boil). It is already down to 1.014, so it's almost completely finished with fermentation. It might eek down to a final gravity of 1.012, I figure, for an alcohol percentage of 9.3 percent (by volume)!

Happy Trails and Cheers!
Bad Ben