Saturday, December 20, 2008

Portage and Future Brown-out

I'm transferring my latest Porter from secondary fermentation to kegs, today. I'll force-carbonate one of them when it's chilled enough. I may have a glass of Porter to drink by tomorrow evening!

The Belgian Brown is still in primary fermentation, and will probably stay there until Thursday or so.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Different Shade of Brown

On a suggestion by my son, I brewed a Belgian version of my American Brown Ale.

All went as planned, and we'll see what comes of it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Pisces Scales Up

Eight days ago I brewed a Robust Porter. It's the latest version of my Sherpa Porter. Not to brag too much, but my Porter seems to be enjoyed by a lot of folks that know their beer. And it doesn't just rest on it's gets consumed.

I'll be transferring it to secondary carbonation this afternoon. I should have performed this yesterday, but was a little tired from working (on a Sunday), damnit!

In other news on the homebrewing front: I'm going to be collaborating with a local/regional "commercial enterprise" to scale up one or more of my homebrew recipes at a craft brewery for submission into the 2009 GABF Pro-Am competition. Hey, entering the competition will be Beeriffic enough, but having a commercial beer made from my recipe(s) will be the true honor. The acclaimed veteran head brewer of this establishment likes my stuff! (That's the real honor).

Other news: My experimental I.B.I.P.A. (Imperial Brett India Pale Ale) has a very pleasing flavor profile. It turned-out better than I thought it would; it's quite refreshing. I had it with some Maytag Blue Cheese last night, and they paired well together. This project took a while, though...waiting for 2 years worth of fermentation and conditioning was a test of my discipline, all right. And so was stopping at just one glass of IBIPA, even though I was really stoked about it.

I've got a couple more vessels of experimental stuff much more on the fringe than this latest beer, though. But I've got to wait. Discipline, discipline!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

100 Miles for a Beer!!!

Some of you know that my passion for good beer compliments my passion for running long distances in the woods.

The recent article in the Pitch described me thusly:
"Ben isn't the kind of guy most athletes would peg for the cover of Runner's World. Far from the sinewy Kenyans who dominate distance running, Holmes has boyishly cut blond hair and a smile that makes his round face scrunch. He's an accomplished athlete, but he moves with the casual swagger of a bar buddy. A slight bulge around his middle betrays a love of beer almost as deep as his affection for running. "

Some of the runs that I do might sound a little crazy. The 100-milers are a case in point. Running 100 miles within 20 to 30 hours might seem like a delusional dirge-like death march of a run...but actually it's more of a spiritual journey for me. It is my church. It's how I stay centered in this nutty existence.


I have decided to dedicate my next Rocky Raccoon 100-mile trail race (in February 2009) to the American Cancer Society. I've finished RR100 six out of the past six years' worth of attempts. I'm dedicating Lucky Number Seven as a fundraiser for cancer.

Just days prior to running my first Rocky Raccoon 100, I found out that my dad had inoperable systemic cancer throughout his entire body. They gave him 3 months to live, and he lasted 10 months, and had a horrible, "lingering death" that my family and I witnessed.

So, I always have him on my mind when I run this race, and I also think of all of the friends, family, and coworkers who have battled this horrible disease; many of whom are no longer with us. If you can find it in your heart to donate something...anything, it would be appreciated. I don't think there are any of us who haven't been touched by this killer, either physically or emotionally.

You can read about my last Rocky Raccoon 100 here.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Taste Rant

I've noticed over the years something about taste and the people who have "discerning" taste.

For instance, the person that orders and enjoys the varying flavors of differently roasted coffees (without sweetener, milk, or cream), can taste and appreciate a subtle beer or wine flavor. Or how a red wine person can easily appreciate a Belgian-style beer. Taste over effect. These folks tend not to drink to excess, and tend not to be smokers. They savor their food and beverages.

On the flip side of that coin, there are the people who don't seem to have discerning taste at all. They order their coffee as "fluffy-sweet" drinks, only. They order Rum and Coke and other sickenly-sweet drinks. Effect over taste. Folks that think "Turning Leaf" makes a great wine. And drink green-bottle Heineken and think the skunky flavor is something that they should enjoy or "get used to." Or think that Beck's or Corona are "premium beers" because of their premium price. And follow-up a bar session by slamming-down Jaegers.

On the homebrewing side, I'm always amazed by the would-be brewers that want to "clone-brew" a version of Corona or even the insanely-overrated Fat Tire Ale. WTF? I just don't get it. Why get into homebrewing in the first place, if you're just going to try to copy the Shit Beers of the World? Find another, maybe. You could attempt to "clone-cook" the perfect copy of a McDonalds Quarter-Pounder, or clone-bake the perfect version of a f*cking Twinkie. And then wash it all down with a Rum and Coke.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gute Träume Kölschbier

Well, I had a good little brew day last Sunday. I decided to brew at the last second, after running with some buddies on trails in WyCo Park.

I decided to brew a simple version of my Kölsch recipe, since I had the materials on hand. I think a homebrewer should always have a Kölsch or Pilsener on tap, along with a Porter or Stout. Simple session beers for variety's sake.


Here's the guts of the recipe:

Gute Träume Kölschbier v3.2
Style: Kölsch
Type: All grain Size: 10.5 gallons

OG: __1.046 FG: __1.010_(est.)
Alcohol: 4.0% v/v (3.2% w/w)
Color: 3 HCU (~3 SRM)

9 lb. Weyermann Pilsner, 1.7-2L
9 lb. Maris Otter, Crisp -3L
2 lb. Wheat Malt

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 (20 min.)
1.0 oz. Hallertau Mittelfruh Hop Flower, German (10 min.)

Wyeast Scottish Ale, 1728 XL (activator pack).

As I said, it's a simple recipe (and I used a single-infusion mash, too). The Scottish Ale yeast attenuates well, and brings out some malty notes with few estery issues.

The yeast really took off. I'm going to have to transfer to secondary fermentation tonight...just three days after brewing.

Other Bad Ben Nanobrewery News:
Currently on tap: Porter, Maibock, Double IPA, and a 2-year-old Belgian Brett.
I took the Barleywine off-tap to save it for later.
The Uber-Saison that I brewed 3 weeks ago is almost ready for tertiary conditioning.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hotter Than Hell Brew Day

I brewed last Saturday, and holy-crap it was hot! I brew in a west-facing garage, and I couldn't get started until 1 p.m., because I helped put-on a little race that morning.

On this particular brew-day, it was 100 degrees F, with 68% humidity. For those of you from drier climates, this type of weather can kick your butt (or even kill you), if you're not prepared. I just treated it as "heat-training," and drank a few pints of water for every beer that I drank. I had some salty snacks available to keep the ol' electrolyte balance up. I also used an old window-shaker air-conditioner; I sat in front of it while doing some tasks, and as much as I could.
Brew Day Aug 2, 2008MillingGrain
Milling Grain

I had invited Christy and her boyfriend Greg over. Christy is an extract brewer (from Colorado originally), and she wants to learn the all-grain brewing process. (Both of them went up to Oregon for the Oregon Brewer's Festival, also). My son, Matt came over for a little while, and Jim (another brewer) came over, too. It's crazy how I always get a crowd on the hottest or coldest brewing days of the year! Christy's dog was the only sane creature in attendance; she begged to go into the air-conditioned house, so we relented and let her stay and play in the house.
Brew Day Aug 2, 2008BrewCrew2
Brew Crew

I've been on a brewing roll, lately, and I'm not going to let some nasty hot weather get in the way! I'm trying to re-stock my normally well-rounded offerings. I usually like to have at least 5 different homebrews on tap, but currently only have three: a 1-year old Barleywine, a Maibock, and a Porter. I also have a 5 year old Barleywine, but I rarely give out samples of that.
Brew Day Aug 2, 2008Fridge
Garage Fridge Offerings
Brew Day Aug 2, 2008Failure
Failure is not an option!

The Porter (at 4.8% alcohol) was the only "session-like" beer on tap for brew day. It was hot enough that some folks had a "hoppy beer" on their minds, instead of a dark Porter. I came up with a special strategy for the hop-minded: I poured a small amount of hoppy Barleywine into a glass, and then topped it off with a Boulevard Pale Ale, keeping the alcohol percentage in the neighborhood of 6 - 7 %, instead of kick-in-the-head range. We grilled some chicken, had some fresh veggies, and also chips and hummus to top it all off. A nice day, despite the heat.
Brew Day Aug 2, 2008Mashing_in
Brew Day Aug 2, 2008Brewing
Hot work!

The homebrewing part went very smoothly. I brewed yet another version of my Über Saison, which always has an interesting grain profile, but this time I used some off-the-shelf Wyeast, instead of my own privately cultivated "BadBenomyces cerevisiae." The cooled wort's original gravity ended up hitting 1.072. It's now bubbling-away in the primary. The Double IPA that I brewed 2 weeks ago is in secondary fermentation, and I'll transfer it to tetiary conditioning soon enough. Hopefully, I'll have it on tap within a week or so.

Happy trails and cheers!

Bad Ben

Friday, August 01, 2008

Oregon Brewer's Festival & PCT 50M

For the third year in a row, I flew up to Portland Oregon, to attend in the Oregon Brewer's Festival, and participate in the PCT 50-mile trail run on and near Mount Hood.


This year, my son Matt and I went. We flew up on Wednesday, after work. It was our intent to meet up with my nephew Andy, but we were surprised when Andy's dad (my bro) Jim drove down from Spokane on Thursday.

2008 OBF & PCT 095
The Holmes' Bro's. Matt and me in front, Jim and Andy in back.
2008 OBF & PCT 096
Don't run over that Emo kid! You've already hit your scoring limit!

Our fist stop after our plane ride was Lucky Labrador Brewing, off of Hawthorne.
Good beer, good food, and lots of friendly doggies!

First Beer while in Portland. Cheers!
Watching it happen doggy-style, at the Labrador.
They don't call it the "Lucky" Labrador for no reason.

Wednesday night was filled with a night of Glorious wondrous Stumptown Style.

On Thursday morning, we hooked-up with Greg and Christy, and hit the Bijou for breakfast, Whole Foods, and then Powell's books, before heading to Rogue Brewing for a breakfast beer.

Greg & Christy, (AKA "Lecompton G" and "Mountain MudBabe")
My breakfast at my favorite breakfast place in the entire universe.
I've been going here since 1990 or so. (One of the wait staff that always recognizes me thought that I lived in Portland, until I told her otherwise, a few years ago).
Keith Moon, back from the dead, serving us breakfast beers with 'tude at Rogue, in Beervana, Oregon.
2008 OBF & PCT 041
"Roguesque Beerscape," by Matt Holmes.

From Rogue, we wandered about Downtown Portland, and showed-off some of the sights. (Yes, there were a few Trail Nerd stickers still up from last year's all-city pasting). We showed-up at the Oregon Brewer's Festival (OBF), right after 1 p.m., or so.
2008 OBF & PCT 092
Good times!
2008 OBF & PCT 084
Serving station at OBF.
This girl is serious about her hops. I guessed right...she used Willamette Hops for the tattoo model. (I know my hop varieties).

Friday was reserved for rest and recovery, and letting my brother Jim get to know Matt a little better. We went to our favorite resort in Welches, Oregon, while Greg and Christy went to Cannon Beach (and then met us later at our digs, to sleep for the night).

Saturday...RACE DAY! Five Trail Nerds were there to run the race: Greg Burger, Gary Henry, Danny Miller, and Bobbi Ashwandi-Thomas. The rest were there to cheer us on, pace us, (and maybe ignore us and head to Hood River for a brewery tour to arrive back at the finish line 20 minutes late).

I hadn't really trained for this race, and I was out of shape. I've only been averaging 25 miles per week of running for the past 2 to 3 months, due to being busy and other issues. But I figured, what the hell, it's only a fifty-miler...right?

Upon arrival at the race, I gave the two female race directors (Olga and Monika) Mud Babe shirts. They proceeded to wow the race audience by stripping-off their tops and donning the stylish gaments forthwith.

The weather was perfect for racing: 52 degrees at start time, sunnyall day, and it never warmed up past the mid-70s. Compared to KC, the humidity level was "dryer than a popcorn fart." PERFECTCONDITIONS!

2008 OBF & PCT 162
Near the start / finish area.
2008 OBF & PCT 101
Me, getting my gear & shit ready for race.
No drop bags necessary for a short 50!
2008 OBF & PCT 115
We're off!

Danny "Sandbagger" Miller did well. He nearly dropped out at the turnaround point on the mountain, but after sitting and regaining his insanity, proceeded to recover and start blazing down the mountain like a luge on teflon-coated ice. He soon passed Greg and me and ended up finishing in 10:14 or so.

2008 OBF & PCT 165
Me, coming into Timberline Lodge aid station (at mile 25).
2008 OBF & PCT 168
Scoring some tasty watermelon for fuel!

Greg "Lecompton G" Burger and I played leapfrog all day long. Three miles from the finish we decided to pace each other in, and finished together with arms raised shouting "Trail Nerds and Wu Tang Clan forever." We finished in 10 hours, 37 minutes.
Yep, I wore lucky number 69!

Gary "Luddite" Henry and Bobbi (AKA BAT) took the early 5:30 a.m. start. Gary finished in 11:07, and Bobbi a few hours later.

After the race, most of us repaired to a the Ice Axe brewpub (Mt Hood Brewing) on the Mountain, and proceeded to infuse mass quanities of food and "cool amber emulsion fluid" into our calorie-starved bodies. mthoodbrewco_logo
We met a couple of other addled souls (other finishers), and fed the mosquitos out on the patio until they popped in little blood-soaked explosions.

Greg, Gary, Danny, Matt, me, Christy, Jim, Andy.

Well, that's about it. We had a lot of fun, and then flew back on Sunday. My left hip was a little tweaked, but other than that, I'm feeling fine. Nothing that some good ol' homebrew can't fix.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Friday, April 11, 2008

Brew Vote: What To Brew?

What should I brew next? A nice Porter or an IPA?

I want both on tap (soon), but can only brew once this weekend.

The MaiBock is just about ready. I'll check on it's condition this weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Complete Douchebags

The new Cordish Company's Power & Light District is only for complete douchebags, I guess. It's now "headwear non-inclusive."

I was turned away from 2 locations because I was wearing a FlexFit hat, (a KC Trail Nerds running club hat). They wouldn't let me enter, unless I took off my "gangsta-style hat." Yeah, maybe I looked like an idiot with my hat and runner's jacket on. But at the same time, a redneck idiot wearing a "tubed-out" and frayed circa 1990s OldSkool NASCAR hat, sporting a 1995-style goatee, and wearing a tee-shirt with the sleeves ripped-off, was let in without a problem.

The offending "Gansta" hat (left).

A DRESS CODE that caters to Bud-swilling redneck mothertruckers...WTF??? This is just weird. Who do they think will spend more money? (Well, possibly he will, when he gets tanked-up, and buys a round for the bar). But who do you think tips the staff better (or at all)? Rednecks, as a rule, refuse to tip.

FUCK DOWNTOWN. At least that part of downtown. I'll still go to Grinders and the Bulldog and other haunts of mine. I'm voting with my dollars and with my feet.

HAT FASCISTS!!!!!!!!!!


Bad Ben

Monday, March 17, 2008

MaiBock Brew Day

My friend Greg and I split the costs on a batch of MaiBock for our brewing session this past Sunday afternoon. It was a good brewing session, and we hit our temperature targets exactly. The finished Wort's starting gravity was 1.071, so the (eventual) finished product will make you stand-up and sing in German, after a couple of pints.

This MaiBock and a (July) Pilsner are the only two lagers that I plan to brew this year. I may throw in a Dunkel or an Eisbock for good measure, though. I like well-done (and tasty) lagers, but I'm pretty much an Ale Guy in my NanoBrewery. I just find most lager styles to be less-interesting than ales to produce and drink. I also like to experiment and push the limits of the Ale World, especially with my Belgian recipes.

I plan to brew a couple of session beers next. I think I'll replicate my last Porter recipe, first. I've tweaked my "Sherpa Porter" recipe over the years, and now it's just about perfect. The last batch was loved by one and all who tried it. Following-up with a Kölsch would be nice. Having a Kölsch right at the start of warm weather gets me thinking of Summer.

In the heat of the Summer, I like to have a Pilsner on hand. My favorite version of Pilsner is the Northern German style, with the higher hops content. When brewing, you've got to include German Noble hops and higher-sulphate water (than the other Pilsener or Pilsener styles) to pull-it off right. It should be as crisp-tasting as biting into a Granny Smith apple, with a refreshing lingering bitterness. Yummy and refreshing.

My favorite commercially available (on-tap) example is the Leavenworth Friesian Pilsener by brewer Jenn Gridley at Fish Brewing in Olympia Washington. If you travel to the Pacific Northwest, it's on tap in the SEATAC airport at Anthony's, when it's in season. Give it a try. If you like this style, you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Hope Spring is Around the Corner

This Winter has been a tough one (weather-wise) for a lot of folks in this part of the country. I know that I can't do anything but whine about it though, so I'll just shutup now.

On a lighter note, I went to a Trail Nerds Post-Psycho party last Friday night, and it also happened to be my birthday. I took a keg of my hoppy Sucker Punch IPA to the party at Shane's house. A fitting name, since the party ended with a macho display of who could take the hardest punch in the gut.
I fared pretty well with the macho-drunk-white-guy bullshit. I still do massive amounts of crunches, and I can still deliver a nasty punch. For the record, I pulled my punches, somewhat...these are my friends, after all.

I drank more than usual at the party. As my friend Gary says, "sometimes you've got to push the limits to see where the limits actually are." (I had a Designated Driver, by the way). I didn't make my next morning's run, and had to make up for it (partly) on today's run. I promise not to do that to myself again (for at least a couple of years).

I took the morning off from running, partly from imbibing too much, but also from being generally run-down, overextended and tired. I decided I was on the edge of getting the flu or something, so I had a "sleep-in and be a total slacker" day. I feel much better today.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What a BURP!

My annual Beer Utilization and Reduction Party (BURP) was definitely fun to host, and it appears to have been a lot of fun for the attendees. I had a good line-up of homebrew, and several guests brought homemade beer and wine and some delicious potluck items. We had some darn good food to chomp on, that's for sure!

Depending upon one's tastes, I had a wide range from which to choose. Alberta and Jackie Rager, who are the Midwest's premiere BJCP beer judges (and BJCP trainers), really liked my "Sherpa Porter" and "Event Horizon Barleywine." (Alberta is not a big fan of Belgians, but can appreciate them). It's nice to have a good review of my beers, especially by knowledgeable peers! I also let her and a few others sample my aged, 4-year-old Barleywine down in the NanoBrewery, and it was well-received.

Many wine drinkers enjoyed the Belgian offering and the Barleywine. For hop-heads, my Cascade dry-hopped "Sucker Punch IPA" was fresh and ready for a "teeth-scrapingly" fresh hops experience. (I had just kegged it the night before, and force-carbonated right after my morning run with the Trail Nerds).

For more pedestrian tastes, I had my "Plain Jane American Pale Ale" on hand, for a "maltier" and less excessive experience. Alberta and Jackie brought a homemade Gewurtztraminer wine and a "Cyser," just for fun. Debbie Webster brought some homemade margaritas, for those so inclined. A "Jayhops" homebrewer (Mark) brought some bottles of homebrew, and I got to sample (and spill) a very nice Milk Stout that he had artfully made.

One-half of the KC Beer Blog team made it to the party, and a couple of brewing friends that I haven't seen in a while were there, too. There was a lot going on, so I may have missed something. In fact, there was a whole bunch of folks I didn't talk to that were watching the KU basketball game. Some of them came and left without me seeing them, I'm sure.

After the majority of the guests left, about six of us repaired to the great room to discuss and solve all of the world's problems. The last guest left at about 2 a.m., which (I assume) is the mark of a successful event. Once again, I ended up with more varieties of beer in the house than I started with, so I'll be looking for some "reductional help" yet again, soon.

Cheers and Happy Trails,

Bad Ben