Thursday, March 04, 2010

All Grain Breweing

So I have now fully transitioned to all grain brewing after finishing my 4th all grain batch. It has really become quite a bit of fun and I would definitely suggest to anyone who has made the move to full boil to also make the move to all grain. Upcoming enhancements include a build and automation of a heat stick so that I can heat my strike water while I sleep and wake up to start brewing immediately. I would also like to look at moving to a larger kettle through the conversion of a keg and hooking up a march pump to move my wort out of the boil kettle with the possibility of an eventual single tier build.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Raffle Pale Ale Tasting

So I took some initial tastes of the Pale Ale I brewed and discovered it to be quite flat. Not CO2 wise just lacking in flavor. It wasn't quite a bitter as I expected and there was really no hop aroma. So even though I knew all along that I would need to, I rediscovered the fact that I had to dry hop. I grabbed 1 oz of Summit hops from the LHBS and started the dry hop of my 3 gallon keg on Friday. I tasted it on Saturday night and it was developing, and tried it again of Sunday and found it to be darn near perfect. I like the taste of Summit dry hopped. It is the hop used in Widmier's Drifter Pale Ale as a dry hop and I love that beer and this makes it quite similar. The only issues I have now are that it could have used more bittering. This is probably due to the use of some old, poorly stored hops. Additionally the color was a bit off. I split this between my fear from the last pale ale I brewed coming in too dark and the brewing software that calculated the SRM much higher than it came out as. I am pretty sure that the software was wrong as the recipes I based this on all called for more crystal than I used and I now see why.

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All Grain Kolsch Brew Day

So I decided to finally take the plunge and try my hand at all grain brewing. I had been slowly acquiring the parts and pieces for it. I moved to full boils last summer, and I built all the parts to convert a cooler into a mash tun over the winter. I broke down and bought a 5 gallon round cooler at Walmart for $20 and ran to the homebrew store on Friday to pick up the ingredients. For my first brew I decided to start with a Kolsch. I really enjoyed the one I brewed last spring and wanted to try it again. I made a yeast starter on Friday, got up at 6 on Sunday and started my brew day.

My recipe called for 11 pounds of grain and I was mashing with 3.5 gallons of water. My strike temp was 161, with my mash at 150 and once I doughed in and checked my temp I found that I was at around 160. I think that the problem came from my poor temperature taking procedure that really didn't get my thermometer deep enough into the water of the HLT. I dumped in some air temp water that I had sitting around and that brought the temp right down to 150. I mashed for an hour, recirculated the run off 3 times (although I didn't note a lot of clearing occurring in my run off, it was pretty clear to begin with) and move on to sparging. I sparged with another 3.25 of water and after it all ending up in my kettle, I found that I was a bit short of my expected boil amount (maybe 2 gallons). I quickly heated up some more sparge water, but decided to start my 90 minute boil with the 5.5 gallons I already had in my kettle. It took almost a full 30 minutes to finish with that extra sparge (next time I will make sure I have some extra water heated and waiting for sparging, along with another pot to catch my first runnings). I added my hops just before adding the 2nd sparge run off, brought it up to a boil again. At the end of my boil I had a bit less wort than I expected, some of that was due to the longer boil. I pitched the yeast at around 68, and will ferment at 64.

I am reserving the right to judge this brew until after I have a chance to taste it, but I can say I was not displeased at the process itself. I need a second pot (around 3 gallon) and it would be cool to have a larger boil kettle so I can end up with a touch more wort and less boilover risk, but these are the things I learn.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

APA Brew Day

So this was a week of many brewing firsts for me. It started with my joining the Arizona Society of Homebrewers, a local homebrew club. We did a tour of a local distributor's warehouse and sampled some beers. I also won part of their monthly raffle and chose some hops as my prize: 1 oz whole leaf Warrior and 1 oz whole leaf Pallisades. I decided that I should brew something up using these hops for next month's meeting, and picked an APA. It was the last of the styles that I wanted to rebrew from my early failures. In order to brew, I needed to move my American Wheat out of the fermentor and into a keg. I also was interested in finishing my stir plate to make a starter for this beer. I worked through this in before the weekend and got around to brewing on Memorial Day. I was sick and tired of the continual threat of boil overs, so I grabbed a fan and used it to majorly reduce the risk. Batch turned out OK, but I can say I am not a huge fan of using whole hops in the boil as it made racking a bit difficult.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have finally reached a point where I am ready to go back and rebrew some stuff. There are still some things that I want to try, but I want to start eliminating things that I didn't enjoy and think about having something like a regular rotation. Before I am willing to commit, there are 3 beers that I brewed in the past that I would consider failures, and feel that I should try and get them right before I decide that I don't want them in the rotation. The 3 are my DIPA, American Wheat and an APA (actually it was an EPA, but that is almost splitting hairs). I am going to start with the American Wheat. I consider this the closest thing to a drain pour I have ever brewed and I am sure that I could be a real crowd pleaser. So I am planning on brewing on Sunday, even though my fermentor is still full as of today. I will rack my brown to a keg tonight, and I will clean out my other carboy on Saturday so that I will be ready to go on Sunday. I am also thinking about bottling up the remainder of my mild. I still don't have my 5th tap, so I have little problems moving ahead with staying one keg down. I am also thinking about bottling off the rest of this keg of cider and move on to my Halloween batch. Plus I am ready to start another cider and will need the keg space for aging.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Nut Brown Brew Day

I wanted to brew yesterday and Sharon wanted to take Mary to try out a church, so I got up at 6 am to brew. I actually started the night before with setup and steeping my specialty grains, along with filling the kettle. This way I rolled out of bed, started the burner and I was moving. Got the water to a boil before 6:45 and was cooling the batch by 7:40. Cooling was a bit more problematic. The ground water temp has risen and I only had a single gallon jug of ice form my recirculating ice water system. In the end I got the wort down to around 75 and then tossed it in the fridge. I was done with cleanup and everything by 9. As of 7 PM there was still no activity in the fermenter.

I had hoped to be writing about a finished kegerator, but I have 2 outstanding issues. One of the taps I got was bad and I will be sending it to Northern Brewer for a new one. The second issue was that I was ordering tailpiece assemblies from, but they haven't even shipped it after placing the order a week ago. I will go back to checking the local homebrew shops to see if I can't pick the parts up and cancel my order, with a hope that I will have a kegerator missing one tap by the weekend.

Tasted the Lefse Blonde last night and it has really come around with some cold conditioning. I really enjoyed it and it will be quite tasty for this late spring, early summer.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Kegerator is Finished...sort of

I am going ahead and posting a picture of the finished kegerator even though A it is not really finished and B I don't like the picture much and note that I have already cleaned it up quite a bit since the picture was taken. Since previous to the taps being installed my entire interaction came from the top down, I didn't notice how ugly the sides looked. The truth is you can't see it real well unless you are looking at it from a distance, but I have gone and cleaned the front and painted over some scratched and nicks. Additionally I am missing tap handles, but this tough as the ones I want run $35 a piece and I was not real happy about dropping another $175 on this project right now. I am also missing the pieces to connect the taps to the liquid, but I have had a tough time finding someone with all of the parts in stock and other than More Beer most places sell it in 3 separate parts. The single tap that is hanging out on the right is the one closest to the door and will be my root beer tap. The one on the farthest left will be cider and the 3 in the middle will be an assortment of beer. I put a bead of caulk in between the collar and the fridge to help seal some gaps and to help secure collar down. With the weight of the collar and the lid it is pretty stable, but the caulk should keep it from being jostled. I am pretty pleased with the results. I now have more storage room in the kegerator, although it is harder for me to reach the bombers I keep on the floor next to the kegs. I will make up for this by storing more in the floating basket on top. You can see that I also use this as a place to store my tailgate supplies. During football season this means all sorts of condiments, but right now it is just 2 bottles of mustard. I also have my yeast, hops and grain for my next brew, which should be a Nut Brown on Sunday.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kegerator Update

I have finished building my collar and have removed the lid from the freezer. It looks good, I just need to drill holes for the taps and to run the hoses in plus attach the lid to the collar. Today the rest of my shanks and taps come in from Northern Brewer, so this weekend I should finish my install for at least one or two of the taps and may even be pouring 3 beers, 1 cider and a root beer from taps by Sunday. I have decided that once this is done I am chucking the rest of the 12 oz bottles I have sitting around in my garage and free up a little space. I am also extra motivated to clean out the garage to make it a little nicer to show off the finished kegerator.

I have kegged my Lefse Blonde, and took a few tastes although no full glasses. It has a nice Belgian character to it. It is not going to be a super easy drinking beer, but I already have the Mild on tap and am going to be brewing a nut brown next and planning an all grain cream ale after that. A complex beer on tap wouldn't hurt.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Fermenting Update

After what was easily the longest lag I have ever experienced or expect to experience, my Lefse Blond was bubbling away on Friday with a very fresh krausen. It was still going strong on Sunday, and I would guess the lag was from last Sunday until Friday or a full 5 days. I plan on slowly ramping up the temp a degree a day for the next few days to ensure that the fermentation finishes off strong. I will probably not rack it next weekend, with the time that I will be spending on the other side of town visiting Lee and Kyle while they are in town. Family comes before beer, at least when it means that I won't be around to work on it.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Lefse Blond Brew Day

Haven't brewed in a long time, and I was running out in the fridge, so I sat down on Sunday to brew. The Lefse Blond is an incredibly easy brew process with no specialty grains just 2 kinds of sugar. Boiled up 5 gallons of water, dumped in 6 lbs of malt extract and a bag of candi sugar. Once I felt that was mixed, I dumped in 1.5 oz of Spalt hops and started my 60 minute boil. No boil overs and a pretty easy process, other than keeping Rachel from getting to close to the rig. Dumped in my flavor hops along with a Whirfloc tablet and then flame out and cooling time. This was the second time I used my sump pump freezing water cooling process. I brought the temp down to under 120 using tap water then switch over to the pump. I was able to get the wort down into the 60's before racking it to my carboy. This was the best cooling I had ever done and could have pitched the yeast immediately, but the smack pack was a bit old and hadn't swelled yet. I waited 10 hours, then just pitched the yeast anyway. It was lagging, but I expected this and will give it 72 hours before even thinking about it again.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Widmer Pale Ale is Back

I don't remember if I blogged about this beer back when they first released it in 2007, but I vividly remember drinking several six packs of this in the summer of 2007. It has to be the most balanced, drinkable pale ale I have ever had. I spent quite a bit of time when I first started homebrewing looking for a clone of this beer as it was a limited edition and I was in danger of never having it again. I never did find a recipe, but now it doesn't matter. I really love the unique taste of the Summit hops and the beer was really supremely balanced. As soon as I find this in the store I will be picking up a six pack and may have to think about trying to grab a keg for the old kegerator.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

2009 Mesa Strong Beer Fest

Hit the fest this weekend and wanted to let folks know about some of the beers. Best beer I had went to the 2007 Stone Old Guardian Bourbon Barrel aged. I have had Old Guardian before, but after being aged in the bourbon barrel it was extra yummy. Slight oak flavor and just a hint of the bourbon. Most interesting beers was a tie between the Chipotle Stout I had and the Coconut Coffee Stout that Matt had. I enjoyed mine and Matt hated his. Other notables were the Serpent Stout from Lost Abby and the Winter Wobbler from Four Peaks. I waited in line for over a half an hour for a chance at a taste of DFH's World Wide Stout. Missed it by about 20 people, so I had to settle for a 90 Minute instead. Pretty good fest, overall I have no doubt that when compared to next weekend I will see this as the more personal and low key of the two. Next up GABF in Tempe with a whole crew of people. Crowds and long lines. The oddest part of the fest next weekend is that the lines will be longest for really bad beer.


Monday, February 09, 2009

No Brewing & Killing a Keg

So I had originally planned to brew on Sunday, but I forgot to pick up water so no go. I did finish off my keg of Milk Stout on Sunday. It was a pretty good beer, with the only problem being some scorching that occurred during the boil which left some kind of break material in the finished beer that never dropped out. This leaves me with the mild and the red. My CO2 tank appears to be empty and I am going to blame this on the red being hardly drinkable at all. I am really considering dry hopping this beer to make it a bit more to my liking. I can't commit to brewing next weekend as it is Valentine's Day, but I am going to give it a shot on Sunday.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lagunitas Cruising with Ruben and The Jets

I picked up a bottle of Lagunitas Cruising with Ruben and The Jets ale last week and decided to crack it open today. I see most websites listing it as a Imperial Stout. The bottle makes reference to an ale but that is it. It is dark, roasty with a brown head so IS it is. This is much more complex that most Imperial Stouts I run into. Very spicy taste with a good bit of sweet raisins in the nose. Very little of the roasted nose that I would expect. There is a roast to the taste but this is almost secondary to the spicy sweetness. It does have what I would call a Lagunitas quality to it, probably from the use of a proprietary yeast strain. It is interesting enough to keep my attention, but not something I would seek out.

Just wanted to note that I purchased my tickets to the Mark Haugan Birthday Beer Bash 2009 aka Mesa Strong Beer Fest. They are holding it at the end of Feb (day before my B-Day) this year. Lagunitas should be there with tastes of Maximus if I so desire. Some great breweries are announced and I can't wait to post about them. Check back in a month. Next up for homebrewing is the Belgian blonde. Look for me to brew this next weekend or the weekend after.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Mild Tasting

I went ahead and grabbed a taster of the mild I kegged this past weekend. It wasn't quite fully carbed, but the style should be a bit light of CO2 versus things like a pale ale or IPA. The nose on this beer is incredible. It has notes of chocolate and great maltiness. The flavor is somewhere around a light nut brown. I taste a nutty flavor with a pleasant maltiness to it. This is going to be a very easy drinking beer. Sharon liked it, but is looking for more CO2, so I will up the PSI a bit. I followed this taste with another taste of the milk stout I have on tap, so I can compare the 2. The mild is definitely easier to drink. Without the stout roast flavor it goes down easy. I could see having the mild on tap year round, where I think it might be tough for me to drink the stout in the warm months. This has led me to think that I should concentrate on the milk stout keg for a while. I am also still thinking about experimenting with bottling from the keg, as I have a nut brown and beligan blonde kit waiting to be brewed and I don't want them to sit around too long. I will have to wait at least another 2 weeks (no earlier than January 25) to brew the blonde next as I am too busy the next couple of Sunday's, but I will need to have fridge space by February 15 or so to move the blonde.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

What Happened in December

Let's start with what I brewed. On Sunday December 21 I ran outside and brewed my NB Mild kit. It was easily the coldest brew day I have done. I thought that being able to sit by the burner to keep warm would not be bad, but I was mistaken. I ended up breaking out gloves to keep from freezing. I had a boil over, but this was due to being distracted and inside taking care of the kids for a bit. I racked this beer to a keg on January 3rd but due to a bad arm, I did not brew on the 4th like I had planned. I finished off the Wit keg this past weekend as well. I have the fermentor and keg sitting outside soaking in Oxyclean. I also have a plastic bucket out there that I need to rinse out and start another cider soon while the temps are still low and easy to control. I should try and get 2 cider batches done while the temps are down, but right now I need to finish off the keg I have on tap so I have some place to put all of this cider. The mild will be ready to tap in time for my 1/2 marathon completion party, where I can start having a beer or two more frequently during the week. I ran over a bottle of my red to the neighbor while I was off and he seemed to enjoy it as a easy drinking beer. I still find it a bit sweet and would love to dry hop it, but I am thinking about bottling an bunch of it up then hitting about half a keg with the hops. I was able to hit the Lost Abbey party at Papago on 12/18 after doing some Christmas shopping. I got Old Viscosity and Gift of the Magi on tap and it was a great party.

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Monday, November 17, 2008


Moved my Red and 5 gallons of cider into kegs yesterday. Expect to see an update on the taste of the beer next week. The cider will sit for a while. I still have close to 2.5 gallons on tap and 5 gallons sitting upstairs. I plan to start another 5 gallons of cider this weekend and hopefully brew a Belgian Blonde (Lefse Blonde from Northern Brewer).

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Red Ale

So by request I am brewing a red ale. I ran to the homebrew shop on Saturday to pick up a kit. I went with a Brewer's Best kit for expedience as the shop was kind of busy. The kit came with a small can of extract, 2 lbs of light DME, 2 oz of Willamette hops and a sealed back of specialty grains, black patent and some crystal. I steeped the grains in a gallon and a half on the stove while I heated up 4 and a half gallons in the fryer. Once the steep was complete, I dumped the run off into the kettle. In no time I was boiling and added the malts. A few minutes later came the first 1 oz hop addition for 55 minutes. The last 5 minutes saw another hop addition along with a wirfloc tab. This was the first time I was using my new chilling system. I ran the IC with tap water until the temp was under 150 then I hooked the IC to a sump pump in a bucket of ice water. I ran the pump and returned the runnings back into the ice water. The result was 85 degree wort in about 15 minutes. Next time I'll use 4 gallons of ice and I should be able to get the wort down to below 80. I pitched 2 packs of hydrated Mutton's dry yeast. This worked real well on my sweet stout and I think that the higher cell count will help attenuate my beer better. I pitched at around 83 degrees. A bit warm but frankly cooler than I have ever done it and 8 hours earlier.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tailgate for First Game

So here is my post for the first tailgate.

It isn't happening. No one can come so I canceled the tailgate. I am thinking of going to Four Peaks before the game so look for a review of their new Endless Summer beer.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Milk Stout

This past Sunday I decided to finish off the 3rd of three kits I bought from Northern Brewer back at the end of Spring. The last kit was for the APA and the extract was a bit old which I believe led to some off flavors and the beer coming out too dark. A good stout isn't as likely to be impacted by either of these problems as much so I still had some high hopes for this beer. The biggest problem I had was old yeast. This was the first smack pack I had that didn't blow up like a balloon. I decided to pitch some of my Muton's dry ale yeast, and opened up the smack pack to check the quality of the liquid yeas. It smelled fine if a little boozy, which leads me to believe it smacked a while back and created a small beer in the pack. I pitched that yeast anyway, because it didn't smell or look bad. I tried the overnight specialty grain mash and it looked, smelled and tasted great come morning. I choose to do something less than a full boil, holding back maybe a gallon and a half of the water to allow me to dump in some ice cold water to help in the cooling. At this time of year the immersion chiller with Valley tap water just can't get the temp down enough. This appeared to work fine. This may be one of the last extract brews I do for a while, as I am planning to move towards all-grain. I did get some really great sounding extract with partial mash recipes in the latest BYO magazine, that are made to be low hop requirements. They had a Rye recipe that I am thinking I need to try sometime soon.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Dead Soldiers

So this weekend I decided to do a little cleaning. I actually only emptied one of these this weekend. Last weekend friends cleaned out 2 of these that I had transferred a 1/4 barrel of Coors Light into and I had emptied out my original keg of cider about 2 months ago. The keg I did kill was the EPA that I had brewed this summer. It wasn't my best effort, so I wanted to plow through this beer and get on to better things. Next up is a milk stout next weekend. Not a standard summer fare, but one I have been looking forward to nonetheless.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

SanTan Brewery

I finally visited SanTan this past Sunday. I had tried some of their beer back at the Strong Beer Fest in February and wasn't super impressed, but it is hard to turn down the fact that this is the closest microbrewery to my house. I don't count the Gordon Biersch that is much closer as it is a macro microbrewery with a chain of restaurants and cost to cost distribution. I wasn't in an IPA mood, so I started with their Big Red. It was a nice American red with a clean hoppy finish. I can't say that American reds are my favorite style, but it was good representative of the style. I followed this up with their Gordo Stout to have with my meal, pork adovada. They were out of rice so they doubled up on the beans, but that was fine. The stout was on nitro, but it could afford to be bigger if they are going to go with that serving style as the nitro held back the flavor too much for my taste. I would go with more roasted malt profile. I finished the night with their Oscuro. Despite the name this is an amber more than a brown and not that dark. This also came on nitro and I don't think this helps. The flavor was very reserved. I think that on CO2 this could be a really good beer, but I also have a feeling that they have altered the recipe a bit with the hop shortage. One of the brewers was there and he mentioned that they are having a real problem securing aroma hops, not that this is news to a homebrewer. I want to go back and try the Sunspot Gold which they are calling a blonde ale and give their "sesonal" IPA a shot. I think that my wife will really like the place and she is likely to enjoy several of the beers.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Made in the Very Wet Shade

So last Saturday I went tot he 2008 Made in the Shade beer fest. After last year being quite warm we were looking forward to the forecasted highs in the 70's, but didn't realize it would come with a cost, lots and lost of rain. We arrived at a little before 2 for the 2:30 VIP start and it looked like rain. By 2:00 it was raining and by 2:20 when they moved us out from under an awning and into a staging area for ticket checks it was coming down in buckets and hailing. Once my tickets were checked, my wife ran to the barn for tastings and I went out to enjoy a very wet fest all by my self. Stopped by the Sierra Nevada tent and grabbed a Bigfoot to help start the day out with the big stuff. Moved on to the Sonoran Inebriator and then went to see what folks had and find something new. I stopped by Stone to check for their 12th Anniversary, but they told me they couldn't score a keg. I settled for an Oaked Arrogant Bastard and kept looking for new things. I found a new old thing that floored me, Prescott Brewing's amber in a can. They were actually debuting it at the fest and we should see it in stores by the end of summer. Other highlights included my first taste of Dogfish Head's Midas Touch. Nice change from the standard offerings most breweries had. The other highlight came from the longest line we waited in of the day, Lost Abby. Serving from their signature champagne bottles, I had 2 tasters of Devotion Ale which was great and reaffirmed my love of a good Belgian.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bandersnatch in the Shade

I am trying not to get my hopes up too much, but I checked the list of breweries one last time before the fest this Saturday (particularly as I will be heading North on Thursday and have no internet access) and found that a few new breweries had been added including Bandersnatch!!!!

The aren't officially open yet, but they have announced a new location out in Buckeye so I won't be making many trips out to the new pub, but if they bring their milk stout to the festival then I just might set up camp in front of their booth for the afternoon.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Extra Pale Ale Tasting

On Saturday I racked my Extra Pale Ale into a keg and took my first shot at force carbing a keg. I hooked it up to my 40 PSI Root Beer gas line and shook the keg every few minutes for about 20 minutes. I then left it hooked up for another 30 minutes while I took a shower. Flash forward to last night and I decided that I would give the beer a try. I hooked it up to gas and a picnic tap and drew a pint. The appearance was good. Not as pale as I was hoping for but pretty much dead on to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. There is a bit of a haze to the beer, and this would be proper for the style. It has a nice hop aroma and a great hop flavor. I can also taste a bit of the Pilsner malts that I mini mashed for the recipe. It gives it a nice bit of a malt taste to go along with the hop flavor. I am quite pleased with this beer and I can't wait to share it.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Extra Pale Ale Brew Day

I purchased a couple of kits from Northern Brewer about a month and a half ago and still hadn't gotten around to brewing them, so I remedied that this Sunday. I had a Milk Stout kit and an Extra Pale Ale kit and decided to go with the much more summery EPA. I have fond memories of the Summit EPA from my trips to Minneapolis and I had heard that this is a pretty close clone. I smacked my yeast on Saturday night and did a mini mash with the steeping grains. The mini mash was unnecessary, but I am practicing for mashing more of my own grains to cut down costs. I was also able to leave the mash on the burner over night and add this extra wort to my boil as evaporation occurred. This was a simple recipe with 2 hop additions and a carton of LME, and with some great preparation the night before I was able to wrap up with everything including clean up by just before 10 am. I altered the recipe a bit by cutting back on the bittering hop charge from 2 oz to 1.25 oz and used .75oz as a flavoring hops rather than 1 oz. This leaves me an extra 1 oz of hops that I can use to brew something else or that I can use to dry hop once I have tasted the beer. I am trying to mellow out my beers a bit and make them more approachable so that a wider group of people will drink them. Not that I mind having to drink 5 gallons of my beer all by myself, but I really enjoy sharing my beer as well. I ether need to alter what I brew or get different friends.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

2008 Made in the Shade Beer Fest

I mentioned, but didn't directly post my experiences from the Great Arizona Beer Fest this year I alluded to the fact that I had some issues with it. Through my post on BeerAdvocate's website in a threat about the fest, I met Sam Wymer. He mentioned that he was the coordinator for the Tucson version of this fest, and was aware of improvements they were making to ensure a good fest in Flag. You can read about some of these improvements here on his blog. I talked it over with the wife, and we are going to give the Flag fest another try and go VIP. I found the VIP experience up there to be quite pleasant and it does address some of the issues I had in Tempe, but I do believe that VIP and GA limits (or lower limits) need to be put in place to improve the overall experience. Check back in a month for my review and some pictures.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Homebrew Tastings

So Sunday was the big day where I would have a party and use my homebrews for the majority of the drinks. I had 4 things on tap: Kolsch, Wit, Cider and Root Beer.

This is my favorite of the beers and is probably the best beer I ever brewed. The color is dead on. The beer is very clean with a nice hop flavor and light bitterness. that being said, I was really the only one who drank much of it. To make up for his I drank a ton of them. The alcohol must have come in light, because I can drink a ton with basically no effects. I think the clean finish to this beer helps as well.

Wit- This beer has a perfect aroma and good taste but a touch watery on the mouthfeel. This left the beer a very easy refreshing drink and quickly became my wife's favorite. She polished off 2 of them in about 20 minutes which is remarkable for her. Most folks tried this one and several seemed to enjoy it.

Cider- No one had this over the weekend and I need to finish it off and move on to one of my new kegs. I also need to pick up 10 gallons of juice to start my next batch.

Root Beer-
I think this tastes exactly like root beer barrel candy with a touch of creaminess. Everyone enjoyed this and my Dad drank 2. Spilled a bit in the kegerator and will need to clean it out. I have heard mops recommended.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wit Again

I decided to check the Wit to see if it was done or not. I really hoped to have it on tap for the big weekend. The refractometer read 6 Brix which is a whopping SG of 1.023. This is much higher than I was looking for. I couldn't believe how high it was, so I broke out the old hydrometer. From that I got a reading of 1.015. Much more like what I was expecting. Plus I failed to wait until the tiny CO2 bubbles came out of suspension, so the reading may have been high. So finally I settled on the only test the really should count, I tasted it. I noted the smell on Sunday and it was really intriguing. The taste was perfect. Not too sweet, definitely not 6 Brix, with a perfect spiced flavor and a very slight orange flavor. Even the wife thought it tasted good. So I moved it to a keg and then realized that while I have room on the distributor for another keg, I don't have room in the kegerator. So I dumped 3 bottles of the Raspberry Wheat abomination, drank down 2 glasses and then gave up on it and moved the keg out. If all goes well, I should have both a Kolsch and a Wit on tap for the weekend. Now I only need to empty and clean my 2.5 gallon keg so I can use the portable kegerator by the pool.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wit Beer and No Brew Day

I was going to brew today, but I ran into a first. My krausen had not fallen after 2 weeks in primary. A quick search returned the fact that Wit yeast can take a bit longer to ferment out. The suggestion is to either give it time or check the gravity to see if it is done. Having already scrapped my brewing for the weekend, I opted to give it more time. I will check the gravity later in the week to see if it is finished. I am looking for a final gravity of 1.008 - 1.012. Next up is a Milk Stout that I plan to brew way out of season, to give it some time. I am thinking about bottling a goos portion of this from the keg once it is carbonated. I will need to look into bottling techniques as I real don't want to buy a beergun.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kolsch Tasting Notes

I finally floated my first keg. It was my Double IPA that I brewed last year that never bottle carbonated. It was a unbalanced little beer, but it was the second beer I ever brewed and I will miss her. I had been lagering my Kolsch for about 5 weeks so I decided to hook it up and take a taste. My first impression was that I finally brewed a light colored beer. Late extract addition works like a charm. The second thing I note is that I am still working on dialing in the pressure. Too much CO2. The fragrance was dead on. A clean nose, just like you want out of a Kolsch. The taste is perfect, but it still has some mellowing to do on the after-taste. That's OK as I really didn't expect to break into this keg until Memorial Day, giving me another 3 weeks of lagering for a total of 8 weeks. I expect that this will be a hit at the pool party. I also transfered 10 gallons of cider to kegs this weekend. A warm uncarbed taste test with my wife proved that the brown sugar with ale yeast was more successful. She didn't even ask for back sweetening. We both felt that the apfelwein with corn sugar and wine yeast tasted like a dry version of Hornsby's and that wasn't what we were looking for. Both came out clear as a bell and with more apple taste than my first attempt. So I will start another 5 gallons of cider with 2lbs of brown sugar and Muton's dry ale yeast as soon as I can get the juice from Costco. In the meantime I have around 2 gallons of cider left and I need to clean my keg out and move the American Wheat into it. I have high hopes for the Wit after tasting the Kolsch and I am really excited to try my hand at an Extra Pale Ale and Sweet Stout. Soon I need to zero on a few house beers that I will brew on a regular basis. Kolsch and Dry Stout are in the lead so far.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Belgin Wit Brew Day

Started a new brewing process this week and felt the pains of doing it as well. After making 5 batches in my small pot I had become proficient, so I decided to throw it all out and complicate things. Last summer I bought a turkey fryer on deep sale from Sears. it turns out that those are a highly seasonal product with most of their sales coming a round T-Day. I got a 60-qt pot and burner for $20. The pot had a spout on it, but more on that later. This was all fine and good, but I needed a wort chiller if I was going to move to a full boil. I got a 25' copper chiller off eBay for $40, and I was on my way. I started off by brewing my first Wit, and my first self assembled recipe. I used 3lbs of Pilsner DME, and 3lbs of wheat DME along with 1 oz of Hallertau hops. The recipe also called for .75 oz of coriander and 1 oz of orange zest. I also got my first vile of White Labs liquid yeast (WLP400 Belgian Wit) for this recipe.

I got up Sunday morning and it was windy, very windy. The burner had a nice big wind shield so I wasn't too worried and went out to fire it up. It lit and I started heating up my 6 gallons of water. 45 minutes and 5 flameouts later I decided that it wasn't going to work in the backyard and moved to the garage. Once moved to the front yard, I also noticed that there was more of a control on the gas gage rather than just on/off and found that I was only about half power. Once I cranked it up the water was to a boil quick. I dumped in the DME and hops and 3 minutes later I had a boilover. The burner sure does burn hot. I cooled it down, boiled for 45 minutes threw in my wort chiller and gave it another 15. At flame out I tossed in the spices and turned on the chiller. The chiller worked great, although it didn't cool evenly and the top was much hotter than the bottom of the pot. I thought the balance got to a good point and tossed it into my carboy and found that the temp was 95. I tossed it into the fridge and waited to pitch. 5 hours later the wort had cooled and I pitched. I am thinking of giving it a 3 week primary and kegging it for a week and be drinking it for Memorial Day. This makes my next brew day May 18th and on deck is the Northern Brewer APA.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekend Brewing Notes

I moved my Kolsch into a keg for a cold secondary. This was my first attempt at fermenting in a real controlled chamber (converted dorm fridge) and my first lagering. No trip to the LHBS meant skipping my planned attempt at a Wit, but I have hopes for getting it done next weekend. Toped off an Apfelwein I am working on with a bit more juice as it looks like there was extra headroom in the carboy and I found that there is basically no krausen in this. That makes one week in for my traditional apfelwein, 2 weeks in for my really strong cider with 5 lbs brown sugar and a dry ale yeast, and the completion of a 2 week primary on my Kolsch. I am hoping to give the 2 week cider another 2 before racking to a keg and then starting another batch. I am hoping to get a bit ahead on my cider production so that I have a steady supply and an opportunity to age some properly, with back sweetening with a couple of cans of frozen concentrate in the keg until then. For now, I still have my great cider on keg and a pretty good beer to drink. I had a glass of each on Friday night, and continue to be happy with my progress so far and am looking forward to tasting some of my more recent work soon.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Northern Brewer Kolsch

I got back into brewing this weekend. I ordered up a kolsch kit from Northern Brewer and since I solved my fermentation temperature and lagering problems I (built a keggerator and converted my dorm fridge into a fermentation chamber) I was ready to go again. This was a very easy kit to work with, and I used their instructions for a late extract addition that should help lighten up my brews (which have been real dark) and remove the homebrew tang. I have the wort fermenting at 60 degrees F in my fridge, and I plan to leave it there for 2 weeks then move it into a keg for secondary lager conditioning for 4 more weeks. Kolsch for May sounds good. I am thinking about following this up with a Wit recipe. Which could be ready for May as well. I am trying to get a supply going for a party on Memorial Day.

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Great AZ Beer Fest

Rather than reposting my comments about this festival, I am linking to my comments here on the Beer Advocate website. I also forgot my camera, so no pictures.

Boo Hoo.

Well maybe just 1.

And another.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My Beer IQ

I found this "quiz" on someone elses blog. Not really a much of a beer quiz as opposed to a brand recognition quiz. Never the less:

Test Your Beer IQ

Your Score: 100%
You're a Beer Genius

You know everything there is to know about beer. All hail the Beer Genius.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Impending Beer Fest

I am quite excited about the upcoming beer festival at Tempe Town Lake. After finishing the Strong Beer Fest 2 weeks ago I really am in the mood for more tastings. The AZ Beer Fest has a list of the vendors that will be in attendance, and while I am disappointed that several local breweries appear to have opted out (I hear it is due to the fact that the festival is requiring the breweries to acquire insurance in addition to donating beer and time). While I understand the pressures the breweries are under with these festivals and I kind of feel that I am taking advantage of them, I can't let that stop me from trying out some new beers from them. I take solace in the fact that I actually do support them outside of the festivals. I buy their beer and I write reviews of their beer on this widely read blog (this is where I need some kind of confirmation, because I am relatively sure that I am the only person reading the stuff).

Anyway, I am quite interested in the Unibroue offerings. They don't bring kegs, rather cases and cases of their bottles and it is all good if you re a fan of Belgian style ales. Locally I am interested in the Prescott Brewing Funkendunkel. I make it a point to stop by Prescott Brewing every time I am in town and was on their newsletter distribution until the killed it to save costs. I am also interested in the Oak creek King Crimson. I heard some good things about this beer form the Strong Beer Fest, but didn't get a chance to try it. Look for pictures and reviews to come. I have also added a Twitter feed to my blog so expect to see some live updates from the fest itself.


Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 Strong Beer Festival

On Saturday, Matt and I went to our first Strong Beer Festival in Mesa. Held at the Mesa amphitheater it was quite fun with a number of brewers on hand. I got to taste some things that I really wanted to try. I started with an oldy but goody, the Four Peaks Hopsquatch Barleywine. I had heard they were only bringing a single keg of this and wanted to make sure I got a taste. From there I had:

Prescott Brewing RIS
Papago Brewing Grand Cru, Double Dry Hopped IPA
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery Cask Milk Stout
Sonoran Brewing Cask Barleywine
Anchor Brewing San Francisco, CA Anchor Steam
Beer Valley Brewing Ontario, OR Black Flag Imperial Stout
Big Dog Brewery Las Vegas, NV Barleywine
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Chico, CA Bigfoot
Stone Brewing Co. Escondido, CA 10th Anniversary Ale, Old Guardian
Widmer Brothers Brewing Portland, OR '08 Special

I did the math and I had 2 more tastings, and can't recall from where. I think one was a Flying Dog ale, but I can't remember the name. As you can see from the picture Matt wore his X-Mormon Drinking Team shirt, but he didn't leave with it. A guy from Sonoran Brewing offered him a shirt for trade and he took it. We eventually got 2 shirts for the trade and he gave me one. Now I owe Matt a shirt. I hope they are at the Tempe festival in 3 weeks so I can buy him one.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Spring Beer Festivals

In the next 5 weeks I have some great beer events to look forward to. First up is the Strong Beer Festival in Mesa. I had thoughts of attending this last year, but the birth of my second born 2 weeks before the fest killed that hope. This year I think I deserve double tastings to make up for the sacrifice. Second, we have the so called Great Arizona Beer Festival that I tend to refer to as the Tempe Beer Fest. The Sun Sounds organization actually hold 3 events each year in the state (well 2 in AZ and one in North Mexico). Last year I went to the Tempe and Flagstaff editions of this festival and I have to say that Flagstaff was better in almost every aspect. I had VIP tickets to both and the Flagstaff version of VIP was much nicer. You can't knock the Flagstaff weather, but it is totally possible for a Tempe early March to be nicer than Flagstaff early July, although last year it was a toss up, with uncomfortably warm for both. I will be attending with my wife for the second and with my buddy Matt for the first. Look for reviews and pictures in the coming weeks.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

BridgePort Ebenezer Ale

I picked up a sixer of the BridgePort winter seasonal Ebenezer Ale at the local grocery store. This past year the BridgePort offerings in the valley of the sun have expanded to cover a deeper selection throughout the year. Poured it into my Full Sail shaker pint (as close as I could come to Portland) and found a deep amber, slightly hazy brew with a nice thick head to it. The aroma was spicy and warm with a slight alcohol to the nose. Taste was bursting with maltiness with just enough bitter and sweet to make this a perfect winter beer. If it wasn't 85 degrees outside I would have been in total bliss, but had to settle for beer enjoyment. This isn't as complex as other winter warmers, but it sure hit the spot and paired well with my dinner. This also increased its drinkability as I finished off 2 of them.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter

I had an opportunity to try the Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter this weekend. I stopped by Uncle Bear's Bar and Grill after getting some work done on Sunday to get some breakfast and finish up my work with their free WiFi. They normally have the Four Peaks Hefe on tap, but instead they had the Pumpkin Porter. After eating my breakfast and almost finishing my work, I ordered the beer. It came to me in a frozen glass, so it was way too cold to enjoy a porter. I used the warm up time to finish my work and once it was closer to room temp I gave it a try. The pumpkin flavor was much less pronounced than the pumpkin ales I have tried in the past. The roasted flavor of the porter pushed much of the pumpkin in to the background. Their oatmeal stout has a rather creamy feel to it, and the pumpkin seemed to go with it perfectly. It is not a session beer, as after the first I was satisfied and wanted something different, but it was still quite enjoyable. I have hear that Four Peaks tries to close out their supply the day before Thanksgiving by offering to fill growlers with the porter. Between traveling to my uncle's and the big ASU/U$C game on T-Day, I am thinking of popping on by.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Does a Beer by Any Other Name Still Suck?

Stella Artois is planning to change it name because it has picked up bad connotations overseas. Commonly known as "wife beater," it tends to be the beer of choice by hooligans. I remember the first time I try it. Matt and I were having a guys night on the town in a city we didn't live in. It has all the makings of a story that could end up with a visit to a court room and another reason to believe that Stella leads to aggressive behavior except for one thing...the beer isn't all that good. I can't imagine drinking enough to get drunk. On the night in question, Stella hadn't made its way across the country, so I was trying something I couldn't get in AZ that was suggested by the bartender. I have come to realize that you can't take a bartender's suggestion unless you are at a brew pub. So they will change the name of this beer but it will never make my top 10 Euro imported macro lagers.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Made in the Shade Beer Tasting Festival

Sharon and I went to the Made in the Shade Beer Fest this past weekend. This is put on by the same guys that did the one Matt and I went to in Tempe back in the Spring. I sprung for VIP tickets which turned out to be a very good idea. Apparently there was a 40-60 minute delay to get into the festival without the VIP pass and by the time we would have entered it would have been a minimum of a 15 minute wait at nearly any booth for a tasting. By entering early, we got tastes without waiting hardly at all at some of the most popular vendors. Sharon loved the Dogfish Head Festina Pêche which is a great summer seasonal along with the Redstone Raspberry Nectar Mead. It looks like I will have to start the 12 month long process to brew some mead. I enjoyed the Lagunitas Maximus and the Sonoran Inebriator Stout for beers I hadn't tried before. My big score was at the end of the festival, but I will post that tomorrow along with a picture.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

American Wheat Update #2

I actually tried one of these about 10 days ago and it wasn't carbed yet, so I don't count that as my real tasting. So on July 3rd we had a pool party and I chilled a sixer of the American Wheat for the party. I cracked one opened and poured it into a pint class and it was perfectly carbed. The color is a bit darker than it should be, but that is due to the small pot that I was using. I say was because I have purchased, but still haven't picked up, a turkey fryer that I will use for all future brewing. The taste was great. Still a couple of floater things from the carb tabs that I used. I need to get a kegerator and quit that crap. Tasted wonderful. I love the finish of a wheat beer.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

American Wheat Update #1

On Sunday I went ahead and bottled about half of the brew. I sanitized 24 bottles and filled the up, racking the remainder over 2 cans of Oregon raspberries in heavy syrup. I hadn't planned on using the ones in the syrup, but that's what Sharon bought and it should work fine. I also wanted to start a test batch of Apple Raspberry Cider. I had 4 gallons of Tree Top apple juice sitting in the garage for when I was ready to bottle my first batch. That may be soon, but in the meantime I though I would do this test batch. Plus I needed some AJ to baste the pork butt I was smoking so I broke into one of these and used the extra to fill up a glass gallon container I had. I dumped in most of the syrup from one of the cans and some of the fruit along with my yeast and placed it in my fermentation chiller.

More good news. I think I am done collecting bottles for a while. I now have 66 bottles full and sitting on a shelf, 60 empty and cleaned, plus my fridge has at least 24 bottles in it. Many of those in the fridge are from my first batch, but some are not, so I would have some label removing to do, but all in all I am close enough to my 150 bottle goal that I am not worrying about it. Plus, having a batch and a half of empties with only a half batch of raspberry wheat and the cider which will bottled who knows when, lets me feel that I am far enough ahead to stop worrying about emptying bottles. To celebrate I busted into my bomber of Duvel with dinner. A very good beer in a bottle that I have no need for. It was great, and the pulled pork sandwiches I had it with were wonderful.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Yankee Weissbier American Wheat

Grain Bill:
3/4 lb 6-row Malted Barley
3/4 lb Malted Wheat
1/4 lb Victory Malt
1/4 lb Munich Malt
1/4 lb Vienna Malt

Malt Extracts:
2 lb Extra Light DME
4 lb Wheat DME

1 oz Tettnang (45 minutes)
1 oz Czech Saaz (Knockout)

Grain steep at 160 F for 20 minutes in 2 gallons filtered water (with Brew Saltz) 2 cups of hot water for grain rinse. 60 minute boil. Ferment for 7 days at 68 F. Striaght to bottles without secondary. I currently plan to rack half of this over 1.5 lbs of Raspberry puree for an additional 2 weeks. I will use priming sugar at a touch more than 1/4 per half batch.

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American Wheat

My big plans to brew for the family this past Sunday was a bust. There was no time to entertain and brew, even though I had thoughts that the brewing would be the entertainment. Instead I jumped into the pool for 10 minutes before jumping back out to cook. I picked up the Sam Adams Summer mix pack from Costco for the party. I had the mix pack this past late winter and it was quite good, so I was willing to try the summer mix. This has their Hefe, Cherry Wheat, Pale and Summer Ale along with their Lager and Light. I agree with reviews I have read that their Hefe is actually an American Wheat, but other than the misnaming, it is a great drink. Their Pale was quite interesting, and even more so after taking a whiff of hops on my Memorial Brew Day.

So onto the brew. Things went pretty good this time with just a few difficulties. The mini-mash was successful, although I did spill some grains into the pot while trying to fill the muslin bag. I used the small size bag and even though this was not a huge grain bill, it barely fit. The next issue I had was with adding the DME. It clumped up and formed a candy like substance. I was quite worried that it wouldn't incorporate, but after stirring for 10-15 minutes it smoothed out. I added the hops and waited my 45 minutes. Kind of a boring recipe compared to the IIPA. Since this time I had a cooler full of ice water, I used this to cool off my wort before tossing it in the primary with water. I also used a 4 gallon bottle of water from Wal-Mart, rather than exhausting my RO supply. I hadn't noticed any signs of fermentation as of last night some 12 hours after pitching, but I understand that these plastic buckets are something less than perfectly sealed, so this isn't unusual. No pictures or even the video that I had planned as I was watching Mary through a par of this brew and I am a father first, brewer second. I'll post the recipe separately as Brewers Connection didn't have this one on their website.

Next up, a Kolsch for Sharon.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Next Brew

I have been really enjoying the Stout and it just seems to keep getting better. I had one last night that I had cold conditioned for a few weeks and it was great. By the end the brew had warmed a bit and you could really taste the dark stout flavors. My biggest concern is that I am not brewing real crowd pleasers. So this Sunday, I am going for a hefeweizen. Actually I am going to make an American Wheat, with the major difference being the yeast used. This should make a real easy drink, plus I am going to split the batch and make half of it a raspberry wheat by racking it over a can of Oregon raspberry puree. This means I'll only have around 20 beers for 7/4, but this should be plenty. I am going to follow it up immediately with a Kölsch. I bought a sixer of Shiner's Kölsch for Sharon this weekend and she enjoyed it quite a bit, so I think it will be a popular one.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Beer in Pittsburgh

While I was back in Pittsburgh earlier this week , I took the opportunity to try out a number of east cost beers that I have heard a lot about on BeerAdvocate, but hadn't been afforded the opportunity. Here they are:

Brooklyn Brown

Nice hoppy brown, more like Bridgeport than anything

Harpoon IPA

Strong IPA, less hops than the Victory

Magic Hat #9

Weak crap I wouldn't give to my dog.

Stoudts American Pale Ale

OK pale, a bit too bitter, prefer the 07 Widmier style. I guess they were shooting for the American style of pale, but they could have been more subtle.

Victory Hop Devil IPA

Hop levels remind me of Ruination, but without the higher ABV and no pine flavor, not for someone who doesn't love hops.

IC Light

If I lived in Pitt this would replace Coor's Light as my major session beer. Drank about 6 while there making it my session beer for this trip.

Troegs Hop Back Amber

The name is perfect, an amber with a hop backer. Basically reminds me of an amber colored brown. A bit sweeter finish than your average brown. It seems like this could be like a cheap, low ABV DIPA.

Yuengling Lager

I understand why they call this a gateway to micros, but for someone who has made the transition it is too much like MGD fir me, in other words too macro.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #4: Tasting

The moment of truth finally came. I chilled a a bottle of my brew overnight and sat down to try it with dinner. My primary fear was that carbonation might not have taken. I cracked the bottle and heard the expected pop and started to get my hopes up. I grabbed a pint glass and poured it in and immediately ended up with a 3 inch head. I had successfully bottle conditioned my beer, in fact this was a bit excessive. I poured as second on a few day later and, remembering to pour gently, it was fine. The clarity was perfect. There was absolutely no noticeable cloudiness, although it is a rather dark beer, so this is a bit hard to see. As far a color, I feel that it could afford to be even darker, but the head pours a light brown color and it is clearly a darker color than Ruby Guinness. The taste was a touch on the bitter side. I blame this on my not filtering.straining my wort before dumping it into the fermenter. For my next brew, I will actually use the strainer that I bought just for this purpose. Other than that it tasted like a hoppy stout. I liked the greater hop flavor that it had over Guinness. In the end, it was a drinkable beer with a lot of flavor and convinced me to keep on brewing. As I get feedback from folks I'll post them as comments to this post.

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Imperial IPA

First, it's definition time. What is an Imperial IPA? Also known as a Double IPA or 90minute IPA, it is simply an IPA with 2 as much hops and 50% more malt that a standard IPA. It has a much higher ABV and a different finish than an IPA. Often these can be described as finishing sweet, in large part due to the effects of the long boil. I wanted to go with this brew as it is a nice summer beer, a real great thing to drink around the grill, with the flavors opening up as the beer warms, something that will defiantly happen when grilling in the Phoenix summer.

Changes I made for this brew: I made a starter. Big beers like this demand a starter, to ensure that the high sugar content doesn't shock the yeast. Plus you need the yeast to fully attenuate to get the nice high ABV that this comes with. I used a Wyeast smack pack that it technically a small starter in its own right and added it to a quart of water and cup of LME the night before. As you can see from the picture on the right, it was quite active before I pitched it and I was nearly guaranteed a quick start. The other change I made was to move my brewing outside to the burner on the side of my grill. I saw this done on a few YouTube videos and is a cheap alternative to buying a dedicated burner for this. This keeps me from adding the odors of brewing to the house (not a problem for me, but not a very popular move with the wife). This also keeps me from heating up the house, which is very important for summer brewing. The unwanted impact from this was somewhat self correcting. The gas burner is a lot more touchy than my electric on and I ruined my no boil over record, but at least I didn't gunk up the kitchen, only my patio and grill.

I brewed it up and remembered to use cold water to mix with my wort concentrate, helping to cool the mix much quicker. I still think that for my next brew, I'll need to invest in a wort chiller. I was able to pitch 2 hours after brewing and by the time I went to bed, there was a very active fermentation going on. The fan in my fermentation chiller died, so I picked up a new on from WalMart this morning and should have it cooled down by tomorrow. 72 degrees when I left the house this morning.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #3: Bottling

Sunday morning was bottling time. I sanitized my bottles by filling up my plastic fermenter and my bottling bucket with 5 gallons of water each and my no rise sanitizer. I found that I could get 18 bottles in each bucket so it was going to take a third bucket's worth of sanitizing. I set them aside and did some yard work. 2 hours later I was ready to bottle. I dumped my priming sugar into a pot along with a cup of water, and heated it just enough to dissolve the sugar. I took the bottles out of the 2 buckets an topped each bottle with a piece of aluminum foil. I set these aside and emptied out the bottling bucket in the street and put the rest of my bottles in my now empty fermenter. I racked the beer out of my glass fermenter into my bottling bucket and noted first that I now had less than 5 gallons, it was now closer to 4 gallons. There was still a bunch of crap sitting at the bottom of the bucket, which made me glad for the racking to secondary. I hooked my hose into the spigot on my bottling bucket with my bottling cane on the end. About this time Mary came out into the garage, so I taught her to grab me a bottle, remove the foil and hand m the bottle. This worked pretty well, and I had it bottled in no time. It only produced around 44 bottles, so it was a bit short of my expectations, but this means that I have a good jump on bottles for my next batch, assuming I loose much of what I just used.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Beer Myths

I was particularly interested in the following myths:
  • The darker the beer, the more alcohol it contains.
    • This one seems quite odd, as I can think of no reason people would believe this. All of the higher alcohol content beers I have had were lighter beers, but I just don't see what color would have to do with alcohol content.
  • Beer is ruined if warmed and then refrigerated.
    • This one I believed, but it is at least somewhat true so I can't really buy it being a true myth. Some quality reductions happen over time from this practice, but nothing too harmful.
  • The Guinness they sell in Ireland is better.
    • I fully believe that drinking locally accurate beer improves the experience. When I am in Mexico, I want a Mexican beer even if it is not the best beer. I understand that the beer in Ireland is the same as the beer sold here in the States, but locale does have some impact.
  • Beer shouldn't be bitter.
    • It can be harder to learn to love an IPA vs. an Oatmeal Stout, but the journey is well worth it. A good high IBU ale can be very tasty, and I will be brewing one before the end of summer, but bittering is a necessary step in brewing any beer.
  • Corona is Mexican piss, and Singha has formaldehyde in it.
    • WTF? It sounds like drunk talk to me.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #2

It has been 5 days, so I checked the gravity and it read 1.018, which is right in range for this batch. I went ahead and racked it to my new glass 5 gallon carboy secondary. I needed another as my cider is still in the first. The hops appear to have floated to the top and were set aside as part of the krausen, so this didn't appear to be a problem. I should be bottling next Sunday. Too late for Easter consumption, but I should be able to send a bomber back to Oregon with Lee and Kyle.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Notes

Here is the ingredients list for my brew:

1 3.3 lb can of Dark Unhopped Munton's Malt Syrup
2 lbs of Dark Dried Malt Extract
6 oz of Crystal Grain
4 oz Roast Barley Grain
2 oz of Cascade Hop Pellets
Brewers Salts
Irish Moss
1 Package Munton's Ale Yeast

I brought 1.5 gallons of water to 165 degrees, adding my salts just before it peaked, and started my 30 minute steep. I let the temp continue to rise to 170 and tried to maintain that temp. The temp spiked up to around 180 before I was able to stabilize it. I pulled the grains and let them drain for just a bit. Not a whole lot came out of the bag. Dumped in the malt syrup and then the dry DME (Dark Malt Extract) stirring and moving it on and off the heat to keep it from boiling over. I tossed in all 2 oz of hops and started my 40 minute boil (The instructions suggest 20-30 minutes but I saw recipies that go as high as 60), dumping in the Irish Moss in the last 10 minutes. I dumped this hot wort over 3 gallons of RO filtered water and then topped it off to the 5 gallon mark. The temp of this mess was just a bit over 100 degrees. I gave it some time to cool, grew impatient after 15 minuted and placed the whole bucket in an ice bath. Once the temp dropped below 100, I checked the OG and found it to be 1.040 and pitched the yeast (I bloomed the yeast in warm water earlier, I can't just toss dry yeast on anything). This is just below the noted starting gravity that the kit notes. Last night I checked and there was plenty of krausen on top. The odor was perfect, with a slight alcohol note confirming the fermentation. I plan to rack it to secondary this Friday after checking the gravity. The expectation is for a gravity of around 1.010. I took the temp of the brew last night, and found it to be almost exactly 70 so I think I can say that my cooling technique is working.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #1

A quick update on the brew status. I called home yesterday afternoon at 3 and my fridge/cardboard box solution for regulating my primary's temp appears to be working at least somewhat. The temp was 72, up from 66 that morning. The actual high outside was 88 yesterday. This seems like it will work well enough for now, but I am not sure if this will work when the temps peak up over 100 this summer. This morning the temp had dropped to 64. This week looks like it will be OK with the huge drop of over 30 degrees between last Saturday and this Friday.

I think I am going to try to brew a Saison next. The fermentation temp on a Saison can be up around 85 to 90, so I am thinking that my set up might work fine for that style this summer. Plus I really like the style, with its wine-like complexity. If you have had the New Belgium take on this style, I am sorry. What you want is a quality Sasion like Dupont out of Belgium. The only problem I have is that I feel that this style has to be bottled Champagne style with a cork, but I can't see myself buying a corker.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Dry Irish Stout

I started my first beer on Sunday. I ran up to Brewers Connection and settled on a kit for an "Irish Stout." I'll follow up with my notes tomorrow, so today I will just talk about the experience.

I grabbed a 12 quart pot enameled pot from Wal-Mart for about $10. This was a much better deal than the LHBS (Local Home Brew Store) was offering. This will let me do a 2 gallon boil. The process wasn't too difficult. It was a bit of a problem steeping the grains at 170 degrees, at least it was difficult keeping the temp. The boil went well and I had no boil overs, I credit my cooking experience for this.

The first major difficulty came when I needed to cool the wort to 90 degrees. I think I am going to need to invest a wort chiller. It took way too long. Then came the move to the garage for fermenting. I took a mini fridge and made a cooling box for keeping the temps down. It started at around 90 degrees and I figured it would take a while for the temp to get down. After some work I was able to get it down to 83 degrees by the time I went to bed. When I got up it was 66 degrees and I will check it when I get home to see how well it is working.

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Cider Update #2

It has been 3 weeks since I started my cider and I wanted to post a quick update. I pulled out a taste a week ago and this last weekend. Last week it was very tart. This past weekend I took a taste and most of the tartness is gone. I have a bottle carbing away in the closet, so I was thinking of popping that open and testing some sweetening options. I still think I am wanting to wait until this summer before bottling, but I am a bit concerned about the heat. More about that in an upcoming post.

But first, a picture of my newly decorated brewing corner.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

AZ Beer Festival

This past Sunday I went to the AZ beer fest with Matt Perrius. It was a bit hot and a little too sunny, leaving me with a bit of a sunburn. Had a bunch of really good beer. The Rouge Chocolate Stout was amazing. I can't wait to try it with a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Dog Fish Head had a pretty nice selection, and in what is becoming my favorite brewery Unibroue was fantastic. The Unibroue 16 was great, and quite unique at the fest. I was also very impressed with Old Chub from the Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery. A very good Scottish Ale and remarkable for the fact that it comes in a can. I know I have seen it at Sunflower and I will have to pick some up soon.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sam Adams Black Lager

More than a review I wanted to talk about tasting flavors in beer or any drink. I had one of these beers while The Sopranos was on and I noticed a very a very distinctive tobacco finish with this beer. The funny thing is, that after reviewing several hundred reviews of this beer on I didn't find a single reference to this flavor. I would guess that no one else who reviewed this beer was watching a show that prominently features cigar smoking in nearly every scene. I really believe that much of these flavors are highly suggestible.

Other than this, I found the beer to be quite enjoyable, and it has set me to thinking about brewing a lager at some point in the future.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bottles for the Brew

So before I know it, I am going to have 5 gallons of beer and 5 gallons of cider that I need to bottle it all. That means that I am going to need around 96 bottles for this stuff. I have been keeping my empties for a bit, but it isn't easy. I need bottles without twist top, which I have learned is becoming somewhat rare even with the craft brewers. I am focusing on Sam Adams bottles for the bulk of my supply. In part this is because I love their spring seasonal: a White Ale. Plus my wife will drink their White Ale and that means more empties. I was also able to find a Sam Adams 24 mix pack at Costco. This mix pack included their Scotch Ale and Honey Porter (2 upcoming reviews) and that was just what I was looking for. I found the best way to remove the labels while also cleaning them. I took an empty kitty litter bucket and rinsed it out. I filled it full of water and added 2 scoops of OxiClean Free and let my bottles soak for 24 hours. I pulled the bottles out, rinsed them off and was done with it. I also got a hold of some 22 oz swing top bottles from Sunflower market for 2 bucks each. My current empty and cleaned count is 32, so I have a bit of a way to go.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale

I finally got to visit the new Chandler BevMo and found it to be a pretty decent place to pick up beers. They were definitely highlighting their seasonals and I obliged them by picking up the Rouge and Anchor's winter ales. I drank one of each this weekend and I will start with the Rogue.

The night of Thanksgiving Eve, we ordered pizza and I decided to try out this Holiday seasonal to get me in the spirit. Nice dark color with a solid head. The head didn't go away the entire time I was drinking it, in fact one of my last swigs had a bit of the head still in it. The taste was big, perfect for winter. Lots of roasted malts with a great hop finish. Went great with the pizza, and I could have drank 2 or three.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

BJ's Restaurant & Brewery Chandler, AZ

Reviewed after multiple visits.

I like the BJ's chain. Their food is above par and consistent between the many locations I have visited. Their menu is, if anything, too big and I often have a hard time choosing pizza over sandwiches let alone what type. The wait staff has been generally been knowledgeable about beer styles and have even surprised me with their knowledge before. Their regular rotation of beers is good, but I have a problem with their not having enough variety in their seasonals. I don't remember them having a single IPA all summer, but the same stout for months. I wish they had a bigger selection of non-house stuff on tap, but I guess they are pushing their product and I can understand that. Good food great atmosphere and hand crafted beers make it hard not to enjoy the experience.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Deschutes Brewery Twilight Ale

This is the first of my cross posts from one of my BeerAdvocate reviews this summer. I think I had my father-in-law finish the last of this sixer a few weeks back at a tailgate. It was an early one, and we had to start drinking before noon. But as they say, its a tough job, but someones got to do it.

Pours a golden hue pushing towards amber in color. I think they were shooting for the color to match the name and did a good job. Not a big head but some lite lacing. Sweet tastes upfront with a hop backer. Evokes some kind of a citrus hint, maybe lime, maybe lemon. Not much aroma. Very easy to drink. One of my favorites for the summer seasonals this year.


Monday, October 30, 2006

New Belium Saison Harvest Ale

I am very lucky to be able to provide this review today; there was an incident over the weekend that almost made it impossible. Saturday Morning I ran to the store to pick up some home improvement supplies and swung by the local Albertson's where I knew they had the Sasion in stock. I grabbed a sixer and (another teaser) a case of Sam Adam's winter mix pack, including 3 beers I have never had and a fourth that I haven't reviewed and will. I brought the beers home and tossed 2 of the Sasions in the fridge. I planned to have on later that afternoon.

I ended up not getting around to trying it until Sunday, and decided to have one with lunch. I ran out to the garage and grabbed a beer out of the fridge and immediately noticed that the beer was less than perfectly filled. I never noticed before that all beers have a relatively consistent fill point. I examined the bottle and found that there was residue of some sort right around the cap. Apparently the top had popped a bit and some beer had escaped along with pretty much all of the carbonation. I cracked it open and took a very tentative sip and almost spit it out. This was the worst beer incident I have experienced since the great Dab debacle of 1997.

I proceeded to examine the bottles and found that both of the ones I had cooled were skunked. I found a third that was as well. I had to dump 3 beers and almost cried while doing it. I found 2 that looked fine but I was now officially concerned that any of these beers would hold up.

I decided to try one with dinner in my New Belgium Fat Tire globe glass. Cracked and poured it and there was a nice big head. So far so good. The head came down rather quick with very little lacing. For all the head, it seemed almost to be a flat beer. The color was a perfectly clear light gold. The initial taste was a standard farmhouse offering. Nice and crisp with a hoppy flavor. It was somewhat bland, especially compared to some of the quality ales I have had in the past. Basically, this is a more mild version of this style, not a bad way to introduce this to a budding BA. 2 more left in the fridge, and my fingers crossed that they will be good.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Preview of Upcomming Events

Coming Monday, a review of the autumn (or "Harvest") seasonal from New Belgium. I was happy with their summer seasonal, and am excited about trying this one. I am also thinking of tracking down my reviews from BeerAdvocate and posting them as blog entries. This will help me keep all of the reviews in a single place, as I have tended to post things at one site or the other, but would like to be able to share my beer thoughts in a single place.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Oggi's Pizza's Black Magic Stout

This past Sunday I tried out a beer from Oggi's. There is one of these San Diego favorites right near my parent's house in Glendale and we have had pizza there many times for various birthday's. This time when picking up a couple of pies I popped over to the bar to try out one of their brews. I opted for the Black Magic stout, mostly because I hadn't had a stout in a while, and with the weather "cooling off" it feels like it is the season. The first thing I noticed is that appeared to be dispensed though a nitrogen tap, as the tap for this beer was different from the rest. The beer came with a very light head, because of this there wasn't much lacing or lasting head which I blame on the tap more than anything else. Light aroma of roasted malts with a hint of alcohol. Great mouthfeel, due mostly to the nitrogen. It was very drinkable, but with its relatively high alcohol content I would't want to push it too far.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Sierra Nevada Brown Ale

This weekend I picked up a sixer of the new Brown Ale from SN. I have been looking for something new to try out along with the changing weather, and since the only seasonal on the grocery store shelves is the Sam Adams Oktoberfest I turned to this brew. First impressions was it had a very light head with little or no lacing. A decent smell, just a hint of alcohol. Tried a taste and it was nice. It had the nice nutty flavor I was expecting from the color, but there was some hop and alcohol hints to it too. Overall this beer makes a great session beer with great drinkability.