Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saison, ESB, Belgian "Amber" and other News

Once again, I've been too damn busy to blog on this beer blog. I've been working, running, volunteering, and etcetera. I HAVE BREWED, THOUGH. So bugger off! (He said politely while sipping an Mocha Imperial Stout).

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'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 K├Âlschbier 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.


Travis said...

Nice stuff.

what are you guys doing for the kegerator? I have had a few successful ones and more that were not. I might be able share some of my woes if there is anything I tried that got messed up on me.


Ben, aka BadBen said...


He just wants a small (two-corny keg) kegerator, and he wants to buy almost everything new. He's going to buy a new (small) fridge that I spec, and I've already pointed him to a couple of web sites for the other hardware. For temperature control, we may go the low-tech "Johnson Controls" route, or I can set him up with a free, (and used) UT-15 digital temp controller, which I'm very adept at programming. It'll be his choice.

He just needs me to put it all together successfully, (since he doesn't know about freon-filled cooling coils, and other show-stoppers.

I'd still like to see what you've done...I like the way you put stuff together.

I can tell that you're a fellow scrounger / fabricator. I really enjoy turning "junkyard scrap" (bought at scrap prices) into working Nanobrewery pieces. "Free or next to nothing" is what I'm usually willing to pay for my equipment. The real fun is making it all work well, and "tweaking" it along the way.

Happy brewing,
Bad Ben

Travis said...


I am a huge fan of the DIY- it's what growing up on a farm gets ya! I am screwing around with my domain, but on my site there are a few shots of my dorm fridge setup.

It's just a cold plate in a dorm fridge, but I was having problems with the larger dorm fridges freezing my kegs so I thought this might work. It's been great.

I am a fan of the running. I used to run the Boilermaker, a 15k race in Utica that ends at the Saranac Brewery, tons of fun!

I have been planning a few posts on my ad hok homebrew tools so look for them in the future.


Ben aka "Good Ben" said...

Unless you plagiarize some truly obscure stuff, you're much smarter than you look!
BadBenomyces cerevisiae...
Where do you come up with this stuff? I may have to put off quitting drinking for just a little longer!

Travis said...

Thanks! I appreciate the compament.

The mash tun I made from a site I found here and I thought it looked so simple I would be crazy not too!

Most of the other stuff is just my little versions of what I see while I am looking at other people's operations.

I am going to do an entry on how I made my own Bazooka filter with somewindow screen and copper fittings (and a shit load of wire jabbs in the fingers).

Thanks for the complaments and as far as quiting drinking, I tried that once and it didn't last so my advice is keep on keep'en on.

Ben, aka BadBen said...


Keep in mind that I'm "Bad Ben"...There is a "Good Ben" also, but he's a different person. He happens to live in the same area as me and we do a lot of running (and beer drinking) and bullshitting together.

Bad Ben

Bryon said...


Thanks for stopping by my little blog. Your site is pretty good, I'm sure I could learn a lot from you about brewing. If it's OK with you, I might hit you up for a little advice once I get rolling...


Bryon (

Travis said...

Good Ben,

I just noticed that. Good shit.

Must be a lot of running and drinking going on out there in the mid-west.


Ben, aka BadBen said...


Yeah, we have nothing better to do here, other than "tipping" cows, shucking corn, and dodging tornados; so we added drinking, homebrewing and running, to the "short list."

I'm kidding, of course. We don't shuck corn...well, not too often...okay, we do; but it's damn fun!

I just got back from a run, and I think I'll have another Saison. (I just covered two).

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