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