Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
I cranked up two space heaters, and the garage reached a balmy 60 degrees F, at one point. It was a decently sunny day, and my dog (Fester) enjoyed laying in the sun and watching for any scraps of food to drop.
I hit my mark for my "session" IPA, with a starting gravity of 1.050. It will be hoppy, but not too overt. A good brew day, all in all.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
By the way: Anyone that likes good brew is invited (if you're in the Kansas City area). Show up around noon. I'll be well underway, by then. You can bring some munchies or food, if you're so inclined. And dress warmly. On tap, I'll have a fresh Robust Porter, a 4-y.o. Barleywine, a fairly new Barleywine, a Belgian Farmhouse Ale, and a Oak-aged Imperial Stout; maybe more!
You can get my e-mail address from my profile. If you can't find it, you deserve to wallow in self-pity and stale Budweiser.
Cheers and happy trails,
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Right now, this is what I have on tap at home:
My Uber-Saison, which I call "Beaucoup Belgian Farmhouse Ale." - Yum...Tasty!
A barleywine that I brewed in November 2003, "Tenacious Curmudgeon." - Wonderfully complex!
A recent, 3-month old American Style Barleywine, which I call "Event Horizon." - Yowza!
That's right, no low-gravity stuff at the ol' homestead.
It's soon to be rectified, though. My latest batch of "Sherpa Porter" should be pouring by this weekend. Not that it's very light...it'll finish at about 6.5%ABV. I did pick up the grain for a simple American Pale Ale, the other day. I'll see if I can find the time to brew it on Sunday afternoon. I haven't brewed an APA in a while. I need a good "session ale" at home, so I don't have to buy a commercial version.
By the way, I've tried all of the new "Smokestack Series" of ales from Boulevard Brewing here in Kansas City. The beers are packaged in 750 ml champagne bottles with cork-and-cage closures. The first four in this series to be released are "Boulevard Saison," a farmhouse ale, "Long Strange Tripel," a Trappist-style abbey beer, "Double-Wide I.P.A.," and "The Sixth Glass," a Belgian-style quadrupel ale. My favorite of the Series is the Double-Wide IPA. It tastes like a well-made homebrewed ale (like an IPA that I might make). The Saison is just "okay" for a Saison, and I think the Tripel is a little too one-dimensional. The Quad is a nice one, though. So two really nice brews (out of four) ain't bad. I can't wait to see what else they'll be offering, in the near future.
Things are looking up (here), beer-wise.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
There's a new, fun web site out there for all of us "beercentric" folk: Beer Geek T.V.
It's part of Beer Geek dot com.
My son and I were interviewed for Beergeek.TV at the Oregon Brewer's Festival, this past Summer. You can check it out here. We're about 3/4 through the video. The rest of the video is great to watch, because it gives you an idea of how fun the OBF is, and why I always try to make it to Portland for it, every year on the last full weekend of July. You can read more about my last fun OBF trip (with photos) here.
On the nanobrewery side of things:
I'm dry-hopping my Barleywine with Fuggles and EKG. I had also pitched some additional champagne yeast, but I don't know how much more attenuation I'll get out of it; apparent attenuation is at 82%. Two days ago, the specific gravity was at 1.020; down from a whopping 1.120! That's an ABV of 13.4%.
My Belgian Double is already in two "corny" kegs, and one of them should be fully conditioned and carbonated, by now. I'm going to taste it tonight.
I've purchased the ingredients for my annual "Sherpa Porter," a Robust Porter that I keep tweaking the recipe on, every year. This year, I've tweaked it a lot, and I'm interested in the result. I'm going to shoot for brewing it this Sunday; it's the only chance I'll have for 3 weeks.
Monday, October 15, 2007
This recent batch had a starting wort gravity of 1.120 on brew day, so it'll be a monster. I included the following grains in it: Maris Otter, Klagas 2-row, Castle Caramel Munich, Cara-Vienne, and small amounts of two new available grains: Crystal Rye Malt and Simpsons Golden Naked Oats.
There's over a pound (total) of hop flowers in this 10-gallon batch. I started with 2-ounces of Nugget hops for bittering, and have a lot of Fuggles and Kent Goldings for the rest of the hop bill. I'll also dry-hop with Fuggles and Kent Goldings.
Shane, Cody, and Keith showed up to keep me company, for the last half of the brew day. Cody had just finished 2nd in a 50-Kilometer run, so he only had half a beer and went and sacked-out in Shane's car...he was pretty darn tired. It was a fun day.
It is finally ready to transfer to secondary fermentation tonight (Oct 15). The little yeasties have been going nuts for two straight weeks! I'll check the gravity during transfer, and see if there's a need to add any champagne yeast.
Here are some photos of the brew day operation:
The bottom (inside) of my mash tun.
Hitting a mash temperature of 152 degrees perfectly.
Recirculation through the mash. Here's my cheap-ass flow control system, (a set of needle-nose vise grips with silicone tubing on its jaws).
Enjoying a glass of my Harvest Double-IPA on brew day.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Michael Jackson, the "Beer Hunter," was a legend. He recently left this mortal coil and our worldly existence.
Michael had so much energy for beer, malt beverages, and people, and was a genuinely nice person. He was a true gentleman.
I got to meet him personally in 1994. It was at Big Time Brewery in Seattle, at 7 a.m., and he was leaving for the airport to go back to the U.K., but he still wanted to check out our beers for a possible new book project. This, after a whirlwind weekend tour of Seattle and the Northwest's breweries and brewpubs. He gave us an honest assessment of our beers, had some coffee and chit-chat, and then left. He didn't have to do this for us (at an un-godly time in the morning), but the man had said that he would, and he did. I still cherish the photo of all of us on that day.
In the photo was Mark Irvin from Spokane's Northern Lights Brewing, Dick Cantwell (currently of Elysian Brewing in Seattle), Brian Johnson (formerly of Fort Spokane Brewing, Spokane, Washington), and me.
Michael, whatever dimension you're in, I know that you are enjoying yourself thoroughly!
Happy trails and cheers,
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Well, it's been a couple of weeks since I attended the Oregon Brewer's Festival.
We flew up to Oregon for a family vacation again, which included a lot of walking, beer tasting, fine food eating and a good, long run.
The high points of the trip were:
- Bumping into old friends Dave Buhler and Dick Cantwell (from Elysian Brewing), and attending their little party at Stumptown Coffee...the Avatar Jasmine IPA was exquisite.
- Tasting more than a few really good beers. One of my favorites was this year's version of Pliny the Elder.
- Spending some quality time with my wife, son, nephew, and friends.
- Being a complete lush for a couple of days.
- Breaking my nose and still having fun.
Here are some photos from the trip:
Thurday Afternoon at OBF
You've got to stop at Powells, when in Portland.
Recycling can be a drag!
The Trail Nerd pour at OBF
Bridgeport...(I still miss the old Bridgport).
Afternoon beers at Laurelwood.
Matt, my son.
My trip up the mountain.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I also had about 3 gallons left of my ESB on tap, and the rest of that keg played-out within a couple of hours. I'm glad, too, because it was getting "a little long in the tooth," and I'm not a huge ESB fan. I guess that's why I don't brew that style very often. I'd rather brew a brown or something else interesting, if I want to have a "mild" beer style around.
This past Sunday, June 3rd, I brewed a Kölsch-style beer for the Summer. One of the 5-gallon kegs will go to another buddy to help him win a BBQ competition, and the other will be for personal consumption. I always like to have a Kölsch and/or a Pilsener around for the hot Summer months.
I used a version of an old recipe of mine that I tend to like. For the 10-gallon batch, it included:
9 lb. Weyermann Pilsner, 9 lb. Maris Otter Crisp, and 2 lb. White Wheat Malt on the grain bill. I performed a single-step mash. For hops, I used Tettnang and Hallertau Mittelfruh hop flowers for that "Noble" nose. I used my "secret" Kölsch yeast, and pitched a healthy starter. It's bubbling away in the glass fermenter like crazy, and should be ready in time for my friend's BBQ date.
By the way, during transferring I got a taste of the Brett-inoculated Saison that will be my next Lambic. Woo-hoo! This new Brett Baby is going to be tasty!
Happy brewing, everybody!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
The gravity of the finished wort was 1.072. I wanted a hoppy (non-Midwest style) IPA, so I used Columbus, Amarillo, and some Centennial. With the higher gravity, it'll be well-balanced at about 100 I.B.U. of bittering.
In the malt bill, for the pale malt, I used half Harrington 2-row and half Maris Otter Crisp 2-row. I also added 2 lbs of Vienna, 2 lbs of crystal 40, and 2 lbs of Rye malt, just to make it interesting. I'm always experimenting. This will be a non-traditional and strong hybrid IPA. Maybe it'll get better gas mileage, being a hybrid and all.
Next weekend, if I get time, I'll do my traditional Spring/Summer brewing of a Kolsch-style. I've got to get another "session beer" on tap; my ESB won't last too long.
Friday, April 13, 2007
And so it goes.
Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007
I read a lot of books in my youth. I would stay up past 3 a.m. many times to finish a good book. I stumbled onto my first Kurt Vonnegut novel at the tender age of nine. I couldn't get enough of his material, especially where I lived at the time, (on Air Force bases). So when we went to "town," I would scour all of the libraries and used and new book stores for his books. My mom didn't mind; she always encouraged my reading habits. Little did she know that "Science Fiction" and other genres of books might contain the "F-word" in them, or promote differing / off-kilter views on life, the universe, and everything.
This man had a lot to do with how I turned-out as a "thinking" adult. So you can partially blame Kurt Vonnegut for this pile of conscious meat called "Bad Ben."
Read More on My Other Blog.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Boulevard recently became the 10th largest craft brewer in the nation, despite being distributed in only eleven Midwestern states. They really do a good job, too.
Special Note: Before I went on a trip to Belgium back in 2000, Boulevard's brewmaster (Steven Pauwels, the Belgian Brewer formerly from Brugge Brewing) gave me his business card to flash around. It got a lot of (brewing) doors opened for me in Belgium! I almost had to purchase an extra ticket for my liver, for the return trip.
At Boulevard Brewing Co., Belgian-born brewmaster Steven Pauwels tests fermentation inside a bourbon barrel. Pauwels and a team of beer makers are planning a Smokestack Series — high-end craft beers with limited production and numbered releases.
Photo by: JIM BARCUS - THE KANSAS CITY STAR
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
The ESB is a little stronger than desired, but really delish. Did I just say delish? Holy shit, I'm either watching way too much "Rachel Rae," or I'm becoming a snobby homebrewing flamer! Well, lets just say that the ESB is "really drinkable and tasty."
The Saison turned out fantastic! Tart, complex, but still subtle. Yummm. It's the kind of brew that you've got to take your time with, let it breathe and warm up somewhat, and just sip and enjoy. One or two full 12-ounce fluted glasses, and you're completely satisfied. See, you don't have to hammer down copious volumes of brew to enjoy yourself. It's all about the flavor, folks.
With this batch of Saison, I portioned-off 5 gallons of the 10-gallon batch into another carboy, and inoculated it with a Lambic Brett (bacterial culture). One to two years in a damp, cool corner of my basement, and we're off to Belgium, (right here in Kansas). Which is funny, because the town that I live in was settled by people from Belgium. Spinach farmers from Belgium, in fact. Hmmm. A spinach farmhouse ale, maybe? No effing way!
I've been putting off kegging the Amber Belgian Ale long enough. I'll get it done by the weekend. Then I'll just have to brew again. I'm thinking of another session beer of some type, but haven't decided, yet. Suggestions are welcome.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
On January 7th, I threw a bunch of leftover grain together, with some leftover noble hops, and a healthy starter of BadBenomyces cerevisiae, a Belgian Abbey-style yeast. What came out was a rich amber-colored potpourri of a Belgian ale that had an original gravity of 1.075.
Exactly one week later, my son and I brewed on a day that was colder than an Eskimo f*ck, even with a couple of burners going and a supplemental kerosene heater. My son (Matt) has brewed professionally before, but is still trying to get the hang of brewing on the "home-concocted pile of metal" that my Nanobrewery is. His goal is to make a few successful batches with his buddy, Kevin this year. Since he and I introduced Kevin to "decent brews" a couple of years ago, he spends way too much of his fledgling family's income on bottled Belgians and such. I'm helping him build a cheap kegerator, and have given him and Matt free reign to brew on the Nanobrewery, if they can hack it.
But, I digress...back to the "Eskimo f*ck" brew day. My son had previously made a request to brew a "session" beer of some type, because all of our stock on hand is now strong, 7 to 9 % beers. I had recently scored some of the new Wyeast "Yorkshire" ale yeast, so it was a natural to do an ESB. The brew day went real well. We had the garage TV going with the playoffs on it, and drank coffee until everything was settled and the brew kettle's flame was struck. Matt was taking careful note of everything I was doing, and was fastidiously cleaning anything that we were finished with. It's nice to have a brewing apprentice!!! Roxy was there also, lending a hand, as usual.
So now, I've got three 10-gallon batches in the fermentors, which includes the "Winter Saison." About the Saison...it's spent an inordinate time in secondary fermentation. I'm going to split it into two 5-gallon sub-batches. One of them I will condition, then force-carbonate. The 2nd 5-gallons will go into a carboy, and I'll throw in some Brett yeast and some additional malt-derived sugar, and let it do it's thing for a while in a dark, forgotton corner.
What else is going on?
The beers I have on tap are tasting great, especially the Scottish and Mocha Imperial Stout. The 2nd 5-gallon cornelius keg of Sticke Kölschbier is cold chillin' and hasn't been touched. The Harvest IPA is almost gone. I've got some oak-aged imperial stout, some (vintage 2003) barleywine and some other homebrew in storage.
In a month, I'm going to be a BJCP tasting judge at a regional contest. I was invited by the organizer (who's the Midwest's premeire BJCP trainer). I feel honored to participate, even though I shun homebrew clubs and contests, as a rule. She wants me to enter my Mocha Imperial Stout and "any beers I have kicking around" also, but we'll see. I don't want to sound smug or anything, but I normally shun contests, because I know that I brew good beers, and I don't need constant validation by my peers. Also, I hate putting beers into BJCP categories; probably because I think it limits true brewing creativity. Don't even get me going on homebrewers who only get their rocks-off brewing cloned recipes! To use an analogy; why drive a stock piece-of-shit Chevy, when (with a little coaxing and creativity) you can drive a 263-MPH Bugatti?
Later, and Happy Brewing!
Matt brewing with 'tude on a warmer day.