Archive for February, 2007

Oatmeal Stout Experiment

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Sometimes I get impatient. Sometimes I get bored. Other times I feel creative. Yet other times I am torn. I brewed an Oatmeal Stout about 2 weeks ago. It was a fine brew day, nothing to brag about, and I had thought about splitting the batch of beer later to try a couple different flavors from one batch.

Oatmeal Stout Experiment

Well, when the time came around to split the batch, I couldn’t make up my mind – so I split the batch 5 ways – 5 one gallon secondaries. I think it is going to be a cool idea in the long run, sure there is a higher chance of infection and oxydation by messing around with the beer so much, and bottling day is going to be a royal pain in the ass, but it is a neat idea to be able to squeeze 5 different yet similar beers from one batch. Honestly, the only thing I’d do differently is acquire one gallon glass jugs versus using plastic again.

Originally I was thinking of splitting the batch and making half of it a Vanilla Bourbon Oaked Oatmeal Stout. Sounds pretty tasty to me. But, then I started reading about a specialty category in the More Beer competition coming up in May. Basically they are going to have a seperate category for beers made with pre-sweetened cereals. Well, I thought this sounded like fun, but didn’t want to blow a whole batch if it came out tasting like ass – so I thought, ‘what if I pull off one gallon from this batch and just mess with that?’ Well, that thought then lead me to the thought of splitting it five ways and playing around quite a bit.

These are the flavors I decided to go with: -1- an “Ordinary” Oatmeal Stout, this one is kind of my control to compare and contrast the others to, nothing extra was added to this beer in secondary. -2- A Vanilla Oatmeal Stout, for this one I used one half of a fresh vanilla bean, split, scraped and cut and added to the secondary. -3- A Bourbon Oaked Oatmeal Stout, for this one I soaked medium roast French oak chips on Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon for a week, I then added approximately three table spoons of soaked chips and one table spoon of oaked liquid bourbon to the secondary. -4- A Cocoa Pebble Oatmeal Stout, for this one I soaked one gallon of beer on one box (13oz.) of Cocoa Pebbles for approximately ten minutes and the liquid reserve was added to the secondary. A third to a quarter of a gallon was absorbed by the Pebbles. and finally -5- A Coffee Oatmeal Stout, sounds like breakfast to me, for this one I added four table spoons of fresh ground French roast coffee to the secondary, some people have called this “dry beaning”. Most of these additions are pure guesses for the volume needed to add to reach the desired results – we’ll see!

Vanilla Bourbon Cocoa Coffee Stout

I have hope for all of the different flavors, I’m thinking some blending could even happen on bottling day – well hope for them all besides the Cocoa Pebble one, that one is more or less a shot in the dark. I figured I’d let everything hang out in the secondary for at least a week maybe two, it really all depends on how much time I have – I’d also like to brew either this coming weekend or the next. Next batch will be an English Pale Ale – maybe I’ll pull a gallon of that and throw it on some Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms – or maybe not!

NHC’07 Judging Invitation

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Pretty cool, I received an email yesterday stating that I have be selected as a judge for the Mid-Atlantic Region for the 2007 National Homebrew Competition.


I’m sure every BJCP certified judge in this region was sent the same email, but it was still cool to feel chosen. I almost judged for it last year, but I was out of town. Nationally they received 4,548 entried last year, split over 10 regions (that’s if they were even) would roughly be 455 entries we’ll be judging, not too bad.

Here’s part of the original email if you are interested:

Congratulations.  You have been selected as a judge for the Mid-Atlantic
Regional 1st Round of the National Homebrew Competition. We will be
sending out more details as we get closer to the event but we want you to
reserve the weekend of April 20th-21st to come to Philadelphia to judge in
this first round at the Independence Brewpub right in downtown Philly.
This is just upstairs from the Galleria stop of the regional trains and
subways. It’s across the street from the Marriott. It’s a brief walk to
Monks and numerous other pubs. And of course it’s right in the Independence
Brewpub! We plan on judging on Friday evening, starting about 7:00pm, and
on Saturday, starting about 9:00am.

David Houseman
Judge Coordinator

Tupelo Mead Waxing

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Double meaning I suppose. But anyway, basically when I bottled my first mead, the Tupelo Mead – named both after the honey used and the road I lived on at the time, I bottled it in 24 12oz bottles and 11 750ml bottles. I figured the 24 smaller bottles would be for drinking, distribution amoung friends and competitions. The bigger bottles I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the, but I wanted them to be special.

Tupelo Mead 1

After thinking about it I decided I would wax dip the bottles. For me I knew the look I wanted, the heavy wax dip look like Makers Mark or Dark Lord, not the shitty, thin, chippy wax some places use like New Glarus. So I went to the LHBS to pick up wax hoping they weren’t suckas and got the real-deal. The wax took longer than I expected to melt and I needed more than I realized. I bought a pound and used about half of it. So as not to ruin anything, I used an empty soup can with the wax in it in a pot of boiling water, like a double boiler. This way the can was disposable if need be and the pot could still be used for cooking.

Tupelo Mead 2

I wound up giving the bottles a double dip. I held them in upside-down for about 10 seconds, then raised them and let the excess wax drip off, then fully dipped again and inverted hoping for some nice drip affects. This seemed to work OK but I thought the wax could still be thicker. So, after double dipping all the bottles, I melted more wax and re-double dipped all the bottles. They looked much better after the second round.

Tupelo Mead 3

I also wanted to make the labels a little different then usual, so I made a more simplistic more wine-like label, at least that’s what it reminded me of. I started by using parchment paper and printing the design on them. Basically the label states information, “Tupelo Mead – Brewed October 22, 2005 – Bottled October 15, 2006 – Batch 80 – Bottle 1 of 11 – Honey Wine – Fool Circle Brewery”. After the design was printed I cut the labels out and moistened the edges. I then took a lighter and lit all the edges of the label, giving it more of an antiquated or pirate-map type look. The labels were then sprayed with spray adhesive and applied. Then I took sealing wax and a wax seal we have with an “M” on it and placed a wax seal-mark on each label. I think they turned out pretty nice.

Tupelo Mead 4

Since there is only 11 bottles and there is a lot of aging and work that went into this batch I am going to pick and choose where these bottles go. Also, mead should age like wine so it shouldn’t be a problem if the bottles are around 1, 5, 10+ years. Basically if you want to have a bottle, your going to have to be my close friend and then do something dramatic, like have a child or get married or hit the lottery. Otherwise, ask me for a sample from a 12ozer. So far, my brother and his wife have been the only ones to acquire a bottle, bottle 1 of 11, with the birth of their son Colin.

Linvilla Hard Apple Cider – Revisited

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

So, the other day I had mentioned that I was going to review my own brews in some sort of up coming time-frame. So I figured I go ahead and review pretty much everything I had on hand one at a time and then continue to review my brews as they come into existance. Because I had the most of these in the fridge, I decided to start with the Linvilla Hard Apple Cider.

The LHAC was created in October of 2005 and bulk aged until October of 2006. This was my first cider and I really had no idea what I was doing. I have never tried another homebrewed example of a hard cider, but I did know that naturally it was not going to taste like the cider-pop that is out there now (Woodchuck, Hornsby’s). The cider took a VERY long time to clear, but when it did finally clear, it cleared crystal.

Linvilla Hard Apple Cider 1

Wanted something different than a pint glass, so I went for the contoured juice glass for the pour. The cider pours a brilliant delicate linen light gold color with mild petillant tight bubbles running the glass but without any head. It temps out of the fridge at 44F. The bubbles slowly rise inviting me to take a sip.

The aroma is super light but plenty available. Tart apples like Granny Smith skin, light floral aroma maybe honey-suckle, white cranberry also comes to mind. Some wine-like characteristics seem to come through reminding me of a dry tart white wine. Definetly no sweetness like in a local commercial example, and no artificial candy apple aroma.

The mouth is light and sparkling and tart and biting and smooth all at once. The cider is about as heavy as tap water with a light CO2 charge, like in a true seltzer bottle without allowing it to be sparkling. The sparkle comes from the cider intermingling with my palate and producing a ten-fold of bubbles off of all the new surfaces it comes in contact with. The tartness of the apple sends ripples down the sides of my tongue, interesting – this too I would call the bite of the cider. Yet overall, I would say it is quite smooth. Drinkability would be based on after the first pint, but considering I am half way done the glass at this point of the review I would surmise it could have an ‘all night’ type quality, especially paired with fruit and cheese.

The flavor is similar to the aroma but without all aspects coming through. Definetly tart apple and white cranberry stand out to me. I am actually interested in running to the grocery store and trying to find a natural white cranberry-apple juice (unsweetened) and see if my surmation feels correct. The flavor lingers a little bit becoming a little acidic/tart/astringent but not bad, then a slight apple kick at the end again. I do not detect any obvious off flavors, and with a beverage this light I would think that would be easy, but there could be some acetaldehyde in there – but honestly I probably couldn’t tell considering that is a green apple like aroma and flavor.

Linvilla Hard Apple Cider 2

My overall impression is that I should make at least one cider a year. Really, I was so pleased with the long term results that I would like to revisit it. The biggest draw-back from it is it ties up a carboy for a full year, but I suppose that’s the price we pay. A few thoughts on variations would be to use a less attenuating yeast strain to help it retain some sweetness, to some how pump up all aspects of appleness so it is not so delicate, or possible to kill the yeast then back sweeten the cider and force carbonate to make it more U.S. commercial-like, which is what most people that try it are expecting.

Two sort of non-direct compliments I received on the cider were from (1) Karen when we were at the Finbar (English restaurant) in Rehoboth on New Years Eve and she ordered an English cider on tap and after tasting it said something about how that tastes just like mine. She had also said previously that it reminded her more of the English ciders she had drunk while living in England. Also (2) Ann had just returned from a trip to England and also mentioned that it was much more similar to the English ciders she had drunk there then U.S. commercial ciders. So, I suppose I created a light example of an English cider though according to the BJCP guidlines it falls short in several ways – hey go figure. Drink what you like!

Erik Mitchell – Tin Angel – PPA

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Preface: I’ve had ‘The Tower’ by Ice-T stuck in my head all day, dunno why – plus I am enjoying a lovely DFH 90 Minute IPA.

OK – Here we go, last night I went up to the Tin Angel in Philly to see my friends Erik Mitchell & Robert Desjardin play. They played with Kyle Justin and Adrienne Hamilton – Kyle first, Adrienne second.

Erik Mitchell

I went up last night with Karen. We went to Serrano for dinner before hand which is the restaurant associated with the Tin Angel. To me, the main benefit of eating there prior to a show is that you get reserved seating upstairs at the show. After we ate we went upstairs in the middle of Kyle’s set. Kyle is good, but not as full as the other two bands. After Kyle came Erik Mitchell and Company.

Playing tonight with Mitchell was Jon Mernyk on lead guitar, Corey Bonser on bass, Robert Desjardin on drums, John Conahan on keyboard. I have heard several combos of players, just Mitchell, Mitchell bass and drums, the trio with Mernyk and the trio with Conahan – but I must say, the 5 together was the best combo I have heard yet – they really sounded full, tight and loose all at the same time. So far I am cool with Mitchell and Robert and comfortable with Corey “Golden Monkey-Boy” Bonser, but John and John I have not been able to put my finger on yet. They both seem cool, but I guess I just need to kick it with them.

Here is the setlist from the night:

In The Bayou
Worst Woman
Easy To Love You
Piece Of The Pie
Wharf Rat
The House Of Osiris
Baba Dochia

After Mitchell & Co. was Adrienne Hamilton. She was good, really dug here sound, had a kick-ass guitar player, but he looked like a pompas-ass playing. Visually he ruined the set for me, he played like he was ‘the man’, fortunetly he sounded like he was ‘the man’, so I guess he may have a right.


After the show we went to leave to find out my car had been towed by the F-in’ PPA! Dude! I was pissed to say the least. When we parked there was no notice of a tow-away zone that I could see. It was a Sunday night, I thought we had just gotten lucky – here’s some advie, don’t try and save $20 bucks just to stress-out and pay $140 the next day – M. F-er! I must say though, the people at the PPA (Philadelphia Parking Authority) were as nice as can be, but they sure made you jump through some hoops. Nuff said, park at a garage, enjoy your evening, go see Mitchell & Co. Thanks to Roby-Ro for the ride home, I LOVE your floor tom!

WOTWXII – Aftermath

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

Yesterday was the War of the Worts XII homebrew competition. It is the largest local competition in the area. This year they had a record number of entries with 443 entries, over a hundred more than last year! I decided to go up and judge at this years competition again, and it was a good thing I did for they need every last judge they could get, 41 judges and 20 stewards to be precise.


The day is broken down into two sessions of judging broken-up by lunch and followed up with a Best of Show round and announcements of the winners. My morning session was quite a surprise for me, I judged Melomels and Open Category Meads. Melomels are fruit meads and the Open Category is everything that doesn’t fit into another mead category. I have never judged meads, or have never had any excess instruction on mead – so I quickly reviewed my BJCP guidelines and explained to the other judge at my table, Nate Brese, my situation. He was very comforting in saying any help I needed he was willing to give. We judged 14 different meads between 9AM and noon. That’s a lot of mead to drink that early in the morning, but it was great to really get to taste all these different kinds of meads out there. The winner was a delicious ruby red sweet still red & black currant with gooseberries mead, it was really just a joy to drink.

After lunch my afternoon session was the same thing I had judged last year at the WOTW, American, Foreign and Russian Imperial Stouts. This time I was paired up with David Houseman, again for this category. This time there was only 9 stouts to taste which is better, but unbeknowst to me there was another table judging 9 other stouts, Dry, Sweet and Oatmeal. So, after we finished and they finished we had to have a Mini-Best of Show to determine which was the over-all best stout. It came down to our initial pick of our first Foreign Extra Stout which ironically turned out to be my buddy Garrett’s Choking Sun Stout – awesome! Ithink David gave it a 41 and I gave it a 37 so it scored a final score of 39. We finished up the stouts at about 3:30. Supposedly the announcements were to be around 4:30 so I had an hour to kill.

During this time, Karen showed up and hung and drank with me which was good. Unforunetly, and not surprising, the BOS round took longer than expected and the announcements weren’t until after 6PM! Though I had already collected my score sheets and knew I had not placed, I was committed at this point to hang and watch the results. This year WOTWs pulled off some serious prizes. From what I could see there was a real nice looking counter flow chiller, a Blichmann’s Beer Gun, a hot air balloon ride, a mixed case of vintage beers, and tons of other assorted swag including shirts, ingredients, beer and gift certificates.


As far as my entries went, not so hot – but that is kind of what I expected. Two of the entries I sort of entered for shits-and-giggles because I knew they were out of category, but I wanted to see if they could be just out enough to be better then the others – didn’t happen. And the other two, my mead and cider, I was actually very interested to hear what they had to say because at that point I had never tasted another homebrewed mead or cider so I really had no idea if they sucked or ruled – looks like they were somewhere inbetween, which is what I expected. Anyway, here is a brief review of my score sheets – as always with these things I rarely take them to heart, yes the judges know what they are talking about, but I rarely brew within a style.

  • Peated MacRae ’05 – Score: 32 – Very Good – “Good beer, I like the smokiness. Malt may be a tad too sweet, tone down just a touch.”
  • Homegrown Session Ale – Score: 25 – Good – “A very nice tasting beer but needs more malt character and a lot less hop character for a mild.”
  • Linvilla Hard Cider – Score: 26 – Good – “Very delicate flavor, almost seltzer-like. Beautiful presence.”
  • Tupelo Turn Mead – Score: 32 – Very Good – “Delicate beautiful aroma, beautiful color with sweet initial flavor evolving brings out slightly acidic flavor with lingering bitterness.”

So, there you have it, WOTW XII in a nutshell. Hopefully in the next week I can “re-visit” these entries and try to evaluate (outside of BJCP guidlines) them myself, and post my opinions here for you.

It’s A Boy!

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

My brother Dave and his wife Catherine just had a baby boy, congratulations!

Colin David

He was born at 5:05PM on February 14, 2007 weighing in at 8lbs 1oz and 20 inches long. Both mommy and baby are fine (don’t know about good ‘ol dad though =)). And his name is . . .

Colin David Moore – Congratulations!

“Welcome to this world of fools, of pink champagne and swimming pools – Welcome to this world!” – Les Claypool

Oatmeal Stout

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Yesterday I got to brew a beer I had planned on brewing in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. Any guesses? Yup, it’s a stout, but I’ve decided on making an Oatmeal Stout.

Mash 1

As of now I haven’t committed, but I’m pretty sure I am going to split the batch during secondary. Most likely half as an ordinary Oatmeal Stout and half as at least a Vanilla Oatmeal Stout – maybe with oak too, or bourbon too, or bourboned oak . . . like I said, I haven’t committed to the split.

Boil 2

The brew day went well, very uneventful which is the way I like it. It took about six hours which is the faster side of normal for me so I was pleased. I almost hit the numbers I was looking for too, with my mash 156F, and with my OG 1.046. One was a little high and one was a little low, but both were in the totally exceptable range. I also used Star Chemicals 5.2 Stabilizer for the first time. Don’t know how much it helped, but it felt like buying the extended warranty on a piece of electronic equipment, it couldn’t hurt, right?

Chill 3

Didn’t try any new beers yesterday during the session, didn’t really do much – tried to stay on top of cleaning and being organized in my new space and read most of the second issue of Beer Advocate Magazine, which is really good. The biggest downside to the magazine so far is that the majority of the articles are very short, 1 page-ish, 3 pages is long. I also could live without the beer reviews in the back – isn’t that what the website is for? Oh yeah, with ground water being so cold (37F), I was able to cool my wort in less than 15 minutes – nice!

Big D – Tin Angel

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

Last night I went up to see Big D play up at the Tin Angel in Philly. I went up with Todd & Jody and we had a great time. Ran into Wooly, Becky & Mitchell up there too.

Don McCloskey

Don’t know if it is true or not, but they announced that the show sold out – I have never heard of a Big D show selling out before, so that was cool – but I can say it was packed up there last night. It was Todd’s first Big D show and he was totally stoked, if he goes up more often hopefully he’ll spend more time watching the show and less time outside smoking. Big D played a lot of the groovin’ songs we’ve come to expect him to play plus a lot of the regular show only songs, which sound like they’ll make up the contents of the second album. I believe he said March 22nd as the date the album is going to drop – we’ll see . . . One odd-ball moment last night was when Big D sang ‘Funk University’ to the tune of ‘Open the Door’. I don’t know if he meant to or not, but it must have been challenging to do. Keep it up Donny Mac and I’ll see you at the next show!

War Of The Worts XII

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

Today I entered the first local homebrew competition of the year. It is the War of the Worts XII, which is the largest homebrew competition in the area. It will be held Saturday February 17th at the Iron Hill Brewery in North Wales, PA.


War of the Worts XII is an American Homebrewer’s Association sanctioned competition and provides you an opportunity to have your homemade beer, cider, and mead evaluated by BJCP registered judges. Prizes and awards will be given for beers placing first, second, and third in each category, and for Best of Show. I still have not decided if I am going to judge this years competition, I have a previous obligation I may be involved with.

On to the brews, this is what I mailed in this year to be entered:

Honestly, I don’t have high hopes for these brews, not becasue they aren’t good but because they don’t fit so well into the categories. If I could choose one to do well, I would choose the Homegrown Session Ale because it is made with all homegrown hops. More after the competition.