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Good Game, Packers!

February 7, 2011

Good game, Packers.  I appreciate you preventing the Steelers from winning a Superbowl on the Cowboys home field.  Cheers!

Image borrowed and modified from Octane Creative who had the original brilliant idea.



February 4, 2011

I’ve had a busy week of brewing.  This past Friday, I brewed an Oatmeal Stout but went high on my mash temperature coupled with a slow start on the fermentation.  This bothered me a great deal… to the extent I lost sleep over it.  On one hand, it revealed that I still have much to learn with respect to brewing.  I also learned that yeast is a little more robust than we are often led to believe.  I even found this handy little chart relating mash temperature and pH with enzyme activity:

The beer did finally start fermenting, but I seems as though it will be higher in the unfermentable sugars than what I had originally aimed for.  I targeted a mash temp of 156º F, but hit 16o – 162º F.  Not awful, but I knew I could do better.  So, after fretting and losing sleep and such, I decided upon attempting the recipe again.  This time, I would target lower on the scale (150º F) with the intent to blend the two beers.

I set out this past Wednesday evening, less than a week later to brew it again.  Below are some selected pictures from the event.

These are my helpers… Joseph and Katie.


Joseph stirring the mash a little.


Magnum Hops giving me that bitterness we all seek.


The fermentation station.  The two in the middle are the most recent brews.


Now I have 20 gallons of brew fermenting along steadily.  Hopefully, I’ll have some of the balance in the blend that I was originally shooting for.  If not, I imagine it will still be darn tasty beer.  Many thanks to Nate and Mike over at Thank Heaven for Beer for the advice!


January 30, 2011

Homebrewing.  It’s a hobby that I’ve enjoyed for over seven years now.  In that time, I’ve never made a bad batch of beer.  Each was tasty.  Some were good.  Some were great.  And some were not bad.  For about two years now, I’ve been going the all grain way.  And to this day, I’m still working at honing in and controlling my mash temperature.  Usually, I hit it low and get a thinner beer than what I desired.  It’s not a bad thing really, because I still have fermentable sugars in my wort.

Well, that didn’t happen with this latest batch.  Friday night, it was my intention to brew an oatmeal stout.  The recipe (10 gallons) is as follows:

  • 15.75 lbs. Pale Malt
  • 2.00 lbs. Flaked Oats
  • 2.00 lbs. Wheat Malt
  • 1.50 lbs. Crystal Malt – 20L
  • 1.00 lbs. Chocolate Malt
  • 1.00 lbs. Roasted Barley
  • 0.75 lbs. Crystal Malt – 60L
  • 1.50 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min)
  • Nottingham (Danstar) Yeast (2 packages)

I was shooting for a mash temperature of 156° F.  Well, after mixing the grains and mash water together, I took a reading.  160° F!  Ok, I need to cool her down.  I added cold water.  Took another reading, and 156° F.  Sweet.  Checked back later and back to 160° F!  More cold water and back down again.

So here’s what’s bugging me.  It’s more than 36 hours later, and there’s nary a bubble coming out of my airlocks.  It seems as though I extracted a bunch of the unfermentable sugars.  I did taste the wort prior to the boil, and it was indeed rather sweet.  I’ll give it until tomorrow, and the I’ll be fairly sure.

Assuming my fermentation doesn’t take off, I’ll have 10 gallons of sweet, hopped wort just sitting there.  What I’d like to know is how I might be able to save it and get it into a  beer.  Also, I’d love to hear some tips and advice on better hitting the target mash temperature short of an automated PID controller type setup.  (I’ll get one of those someday, but my need is a little more immediate here!)

I’ll Drink to That Too

January 6, 2011

Hat tip: DarwinCatholic

A Niche Unfulfilled

December 31, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I apologize for sporadic posting, but I figure that I should post when I have something to say rather than fill this space with meaningless drivel.  🙂

At any rate, my family and I just returned from a brief trip across the Cascade Mountains to take in the snow and Bavarian culture of Leavenworth, WA.  It was a nice trip, however the town’s hotels were booked solid, so we elected to stay a bit farther down the road in Wenatchee.  Lovely places, both.

While east of the Cascades, I felt it my duty to find and enjoy some brews from that part of Washington.  It was harder than I imagined.  Several stores were visited, and yet the closest thing I found was Snoqualmie, which is still west of of the Cascades.  What I had my heart set on, was Iron Horse, Roslyn or maybe something out of Spokane.  Most of what I found were the ubiquitous Red Hooks and Pyramids.  Sorry, but I can get that at home with ease.

It was near the end of our trip that I noticed a bottle or two of Iron Horse Quilters Irish Death in the window of a wine tasting boutique in Leavenworth.  Yes, a wine tasting boutique.  It was a quaint little place, and I think it’s called Bavarian Cellars (but I wasn’t paying too close attention since I was out on a beer hunt).  From what I can tell, it’s associated with the Maison de Padgett Winery.  That all well and good, but I was there for beer.

And so beer is what I tasted.  Iron Horse had both the Quilters Irish Death and the Hop Spoke there representing Central and Easter Washington.  Western Washington had one sole entry from Elysian… Jasmine IPA.  California was represented by Stone with the Arrogant Bastard and the Smoked Porter.  Oregon was represented by Ninkasi with the Believer Double Red Ale, Total Domination IPA, and Tricerahops Double IPA.  It was an okay selection.  I was not in the least wowed.  But hey, they had Iron Horse beers.

I recognize we are dealing with a wine boutique, so beer seems to be an afterthought.  I credit them for being the only place in town that recognizes a market for boutique beer.  Hell, it brought me in.  Even though it brought me in, I don’t know that it can hold me.  So, I’d offer some advice:

  • The beers were relatively flat… and warm.  Not ideal tasting conditions.  A refrigerated draught system would enhance both aspects of the beers available.
  • The focus wasn’t apparent, unless it was continental United States on the Pacific Coast.  It seemed that they cast their nets a bit wide.  Washington alone boasts enough breweries to round out the tasting menu.  Moreover, this beer menu could be split for “tours” of Washington’s different regions.
  • Leavenworth is a little town, where just about every business (whether German-inspired or not) decks itself out in old-world Bavarian decor.  The beer menu could also be expanded to include authentic German beers.  Additionally, two Washington breweries (Alpine and Baron) also specialize in traditional German style beers.  Why not add some German flare?
  • The gal pouring me samples was pleasant, but I believe she learned more about the beer from me than I did from her.  Yes, I am a beer geek, and I am always eager to learn more about the beer which I consume.  Yes, this establishment’s core business is wine.  Yet, I felt that this was something else that was lacking: a resident beer expert.

All was not lost!  I did enjoy the beer that was offered in the tasting.  The conversation about/over the beer was pleasant.  I also came away with two bottles of Quilters Irish Death (although I had intended to pick up the hop spoke instead).

What struck me, though, is that this place was the only establishment in town offering beer in the manner it did.  Several wineries had tasting rooms throughout the shopping district.  Yet we are talking about a town with tons of tourists and a German flare.  Something is amiss.  I smell an opportunity for enterprising beer geek… one that I’d take if I weren’t so set on moving back to Texas someday.

Lastly, Andreas Keller has a killer jägerschnitzel.

How evolved are you?

December 6, 2010

Head on over to Beer and Whiskey Brothers and weigh in!

Repeal Day

December 5, 2010

It’s December 5th.  It’s a special day around here.  For one, it’s my birthday.  Secondly, and more relevant to more people, it’s Repeal Day.

The 21st Amendment

Ratified December 5, 1933

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use there in of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Today is an important day.  It is a day in history, in which liberty won out.  Liberty was chosen over the nanny state.  Today, we celebrate Repeal Day, the day in which the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by three quarters of the states.  It repealed Prohibition by repealing the 18th amendment.

During that dark period crime rose and the societal ills for which alcohol was blamed were not solved.  Breweries and distilleries across the nation closed down.  Prior to Prohibition, there were over 1400 breweries in the United States producing a variety of styles.  Prohibition was repealed by degrees.  First, the Volstead Act, defining “intoxicating liquors”, was amended in April 1933 by the Cullen-Harrison Act to provide that beer with a strength of up to 3.2% alcohol was not “intoxicating”, and thus not prohibited.  This paved the way for American light lager to dominate the beer landscape for decades thereafter.  But times change.  People are discovering the tremendous variety of beer available with craft beer.  This is were we are today:

Raise a glass, and toast to our freedom.