Archive for January, 2008

Bottling the Dubbel

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

So with a little cheer-leading from Karen I bottled the Dubbel tonight.


Everything seemed to go fine. The final gravity looked fine, I got two full cases of bottles, I wasn’t so nervous about adding bottling yeast this time – it was a pretty non-descriptive adventure into the bottling of homebrew. If only everything could be this simple.

Oh, BTW, even right now it tastes pretty good! 😎

Zymurgy Jan. / Feb. ’08

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Zymurgy‘s 2nd Annual Gadgets Issue.

Zymurgy January / February 2008

For whatever reason, I basically was not interested. I realized by flipping through this zine that this years National Homebrew Conference will be in Cincinnati, Ohio June 19-21st. Hummm, maybe we’ll have to see what kind of information they post up, that could be a good time.

One of the first gadgets / tricks in the magazine was a very simple yet smart idea on how to get better efficiency from your kegerator / beer fridge / converted freezer. Basically instead of just letting the temperature probe read the ambient air temperature inside the box, let it read the temperature of liquid like your beer. They suggest submerging the probe in a sealed vial of liquid (ie. – a White Labs tube) and suggest that this will allow the probe to read the temperature of liquids inside the box instead of the air inside the box, which the air will change more easily. Sounds smart to me.

Later was an article on the Great American Beer Festival, damn it I want to go! Honestly, without plans, I think 2009 to return to Colorado after 10 years and happen to catch the GABF sounds like a really good idea to me. They also talk about the Pro-Am competition they run during the festival, 2008 being the third year. Both years I have thought about asking a local brewer about doing something with this, but I don’t know, I just . . . don’t. Maybe this will be the year. Basically the Pro-Am competition is a Brewer’s Association brewery / brew pub brews an award winning American Homebrewer’s Association members homebrew on there full-size system and enters it in the Pro-Am category against all the other Pro-Am beers at the GABF. A local guy in PA with Bethlehem Brew Works actually brewed the gold medal beer in 2007, an English IPA.

Other than that the magazine was basically fluff and didn’t interest me, until next time.

Belgium Comes to West Chester

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Though they seemingly stole the idea of the name directly from Brewery Ommegang’s Begium Comes to Cooperstown, the event was all their own.

Iron Hill West Chester

On Saturday after brewing the Honey Oatmeal Stout our group expanded to include DJ Voodoo, Mitchell, Robert, Dave, and Myself and we all went up to Iron Hill West Chester to check out there Belgian beer event, Belgium Comes to West Chester. This was the first time I had attended and I am not sure if this was the first time they have done it. It was pretty cool, lots of different Iron Hill beers from all of the different locations, plus lots of local featured Belgian style beers. I saw several of the Iron Hill brewers and crews from at least Stewart’s, Sly Fox, and Flying Fish – things were well represented. The restaurant on the whole seemed full but tame, but the back bar where the event was in full swing was rowdy in the best way possible. We all grabbed a table near the back, we could still feel the energy, but weren’t deep in the mix. Here is a list of at least some of the beers, I think there were 22 total, here’s like 17, enjoy:

Stumblin’ Monk – Stewart’s
Otay – Nodding Head
Mad Elf – Troeg’s
Saison Vos – Sly Fox
Tripel Lindy – Manayunk Brewery
Stoudt’s Tripel – Stoudts
Belgian Red Ale – Triumph
Biere de Framboises – General Lafayette Inn
Abbey 6 – Victory
Heywood – Iron Hill, West Chester
The Quadfather – Iron Hill, West Chester
Bourbon-aged Quadfather – Iron Hill, West Chester
The Cannibal – Iron Hill, West Chester
Imperial Wit – Iron Hill, Phoenixville
Fe10 – Iron Hill, Newark
Flemish Red – Iron Hill, North Wales
Rudolph’s Revenge – Iron Hill, Media

My two favorite of the night were easily the Flemish Red from Iron Hill, North Wales and the Fe10 from Iron Hill, Newark. The Flemish Red was a very tight tart bright red variation of the style. This is a style that very much has my attention right now and I want to learn more about it, and then brew it. Also, the Fe10 has finally really come to stand on its own. It has always been OK and has gotten better, but now it is a stand-out. One of my favorite comments last night was Mitchell after he tasted my Heywood from Iron Hill, West Chester. The Heywood is fermented completely in oak with 100% Brettanomyces, it was tart, complex, and funky, and I really enjoyed it once I settled in with it. But, Mitchell took a sip and had this look on his face like I just made him watch the BME Pain Olympics and tried to describe the aftertaste as a cross between cheese and feet. He then described how he imagined this beer being served with a hill-billy named “Heywood” with his shoes off and his feet in a barrel of spoiled beer. And whenever one was ordered ol’ Heywood would dip a glass into the barrel and pull out the beer to be served. It sounds kind of weird now, but it was very funny then.

Honey Oatmeal Stout

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Let’s take this one back to December of 2004, maybe even before that, that’s how long this beer has been in the making.

Honey Oatmeal Stout

Back in December of 2004 Dave made his first homebrew with his own equipment, an Amber Ale. Since then he has wanted to do a joint brew that he dubbed (originally) the Uncle Tupelo Honey Ale. He wanted it to be a stout with a lot of honey in it if I remember correctly. Richard even bought him ingredients to make the beer as a thanks for trying to set up Richard’s original website. Well, the website was never used nor the ingredients to make the beer. So I bought fresh ingredients to make a Honey Oatmeal Stout. If Dave brewed it with me, it would be his (three years plus after the fact), if not I would have a homebrewed stout ready in time for St. Patrick’s Day – win-win.

OK, enough of busting Dave’s balls, onto the beer. So we started around 9:30ish and wrapped up a little before 4PM, pretty average brew day. This was Dave’s first time helping with an all-grain batch so I tried to let him help as much as possible with everything before the boil. So I had Dave measuring the water, measuring the grains, milling the grains, mashing in, moving several gallons of very hot water around, you know all the fun crappy stuff. I think the only two delays (which weren’t major) were that we over heated our mash-in water and ran the boil about ten minutes longer than it was supposed to go. The over heated water was no big deal, we just took the lid off the kettle and left it outside to cool down while we took a break and had coffee and bagels. Similarly, the ten minute over boil was no big deal, I actually chose to do that because I was waiting for Dave to come back from running out to get lunch and he took a little longer than I anticipated and I wanted to wait for him so he could add the final hop addition and the first addition of honey. We’ll also be adding more honey tomorrow or Tuesday directly to the fermenter to hopefully preserve as much of the honey aromas and maybe some flavors too. Honey is highly fermentable so it is actually quite difficult to get any honey characteristics to carry through to the finished beer. But overall the day went great and I think Dave had a good time, we should try to do this more often then every three years!

 Honey Oatmeal Stout Fermenting

I tried lightly to convince Dave to add a small portion of coffee to the stout to have a full on breakfast stout thing going on, but it didn’t happen. I think between some of the roasted barley and chocolate malts that are a part of the recipe it will have coffee-like characteristics anyway. Can’t wait to try this one!

Bottles (again)

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Like a broken record, I prepared bottles, again.


Had to take care of my least favorite homebrew chore again today; de-label, clean, rinse, and sanitize bottles. The only good side to this is that there will soon be another batch bottled, hopefully this week. This time it will be the Dubbel. This also reinforced why I’ve got to get on top of kegging, one big “bottle” to deal with instead of 50 small ones.

BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #12

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

The Beer In Review edition, one year of BeerAdvocate Magazine.


Per usual the BA Mag was a good read. This time they had a bunch of top 25 beer things listed inside along with their typical article format. The 9 Steps to Beerdom article was on Dan Weirback of Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Weyerbacher is one of my favorite local beer companies, I think some of their barrel aged stuff and their Double Simcoe IPA are just excellent beers. Robert and I drove up there one time (about two hours) just to take the tour. The tour was kind of weak in comparisons to some others I’ve been on, but the tasting afterward was excellent. Basically they had like 10 beers on tap and were willing to open anything they had in bottles that they didn’t have on tap. I think we tried like 15 beers that day, very cool.

In their Advocate This article the BA Bros. talk about Westvleteren beers, the monks, and the monastery. Basically they are saying us beer enthusiasts should respect the monk’s wishes and stop buying, selling, and re-selling there beers. Because of us we have created the hype and lore that surrounds this beer. They suggest a few other beers that are equally good and not an issue to get, and if you really want to drink it then to go to Belgium and drink it the appropriate way. For me, I basically agree. We beer geeks act like idiots sometimes and things get out of control with hype, prices, and availability (Westvleteren, Dark Lord, Darkness). A good beer is a good beer, but hype isn’t always worth it. I have never had a Westvleteren and I’m OK with that, but I know I will have one one day in Belgium and I’m even more OK with that.

I’m going through the different top 25 lists in the magazine and immediately I’m struck with a “what is this?” kind of moment. According to the magazine, the number one beer on the planet is a beer named Black Albert from De Struise Brouwers in Belgium. OK, there are only two beers on the top 25 that I have never heard of and one of them is the number one choice? Beats me. Then if you look at the BA website at the top 100 beers on the planet Black Albert is currently number 18 and Westvleteren 12 is number one. Very unusual and kind of odd if you ask me, I would have assumed the magazine and the website should have corresponded. Other than that initial bit of confusion, they had some nice other top 25’s including Top 25 American Brewers, American Beer Bars, and the Alstrom Bros’ Top 25 Beers (no Black Albert here either, odd indeed).

Then there was the ever present Reviews section. I’m still not a big fan of reading the reviews all the way, quite boring to me, but I have learned that if I read the first and last paragraph of each review it actually isn’t too bad, those two paragraphs are more entertaining I suppose. The Cuisine a La Biere article this time was a good one, desserts for the holidays. One of the recipes was for Beeramisu – nice! Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts, and beer is one of my favorite drinks, so you put these two together (they suggest a double chocolate, espresso, or imperial stout) and you could have magic on your hands.

Beer Books

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

I forgot to mention that for Christmas I got a bunch of new beer reading material.

Beer Books

I received:

I have not read any of the books yet, only paged through them. The beer and food pairing book looks really well laid out and looks like it has potential, but it’ll be interesting to see if the pairings really compliment each other. Narragansett is a now out of commission brewery from Rhode Island. Jeff and Kim picked this one up for me when they lived up there. The homebrewer’s garden may be useful for when I (try) to re-plant me hops this spring. Hopefully it’ll help me come up with a dope system. Brewing classic styles is a new book that I’ve wanted since it was released. I think it’ll be a bore to read straight through, it’s very formated, but I could see myself referencing it during formula formulation. And the drink as much as you want book was written by a nutritionist, so really it appears to be a total body health book that allows for drinking in your diet. He also talks about combinations of alcohol, food, other toxins and so forth that make things worse than normal, really pack on the pounds, and lead to hang overs. Could be interesting. So, looks like I’ve got some reading to do.

Last B.O.O.S.

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

No not bOObs, Bourbon Oaked Oatmeal Stout, and I just enjoyed the last one.

Bourbon Oaked Oatmeal Stout

I wanted something different to drink but not too fancy, so I poked around in the cellar to see what I could enjoy but not miss per say.  What I came up with was one of my homebrews from the Oatmeal Stout Experiment from February/March of ’07. It was the Bourbon Oaked Oatmeal Stout and it was creamy and mellow and delicious. I did not pick up on any negative affects in flavor (such as spoilage or oxidation), though I did think that both the bourbon and oak flavors had mellowed. I still have two beers left from this batch, two Coffee Oatmeal Stouts (breakfast stouts) that I plan on sharing with Heather K. sometime soon. I think I should do another five way split this year, any suggestions? Different dry-hops, different yeast strains?

Vader/Tripel Bottling

Monday, January 14th, 2008

So yesterday Karen and I bottled the Vader (Imperial Stout) and the Tripel (no name yet 😳 ).

Vader Tripel

Bottling is soooo much better with two people; an extra set of hands, someone to talk with, someone to help, it’s nice. So we bottled the Vader and the Tripel yesterday, two big beers that I’m (so far) quite proud of. I pulled off a tulip of each beer to sample. Both beers, IMHO, are delicious. The Tripel (according to Karen) is “sproink!” and very Belgiany, I liked it. And the Vader is chewy, sweet, chocolately, velvety,  – very lushy. Hopefully these same attributes will carry over to the finished versions.

I not only tried a new technique (well, not new new but new enough to not be 100% comfortable with), but I tried two new techniques. First, since it seems to have been working better than my original style, I have been running the CO2 calculations through the ProMash calculator to calculate the amount of priming sugar I need. Originally I used 4oz of corn sugar in all my beers regardless of style, fermentation temperatur, or desired amount of CO2 level. Now I run it through the program based on like four different variables to get a number. To show you how varied it can be, I believe the Vader was 3.5oz of corn sugar while the Tripel was 6oz, I sure hope those bottles hold up. And for the second new technique I added bottling yeast to both batches! This is the one that really has me crossing my fingers. This is how it theoretically goes to me; these two beers are 9%+ alcohol and have been in secondary fermenters for 3+ months, there isn’t much viable yeast left to do the job of carbonating the beer (ala Gnarleywine style). So, I add the measured amount of corn sugar, and a measured amount of rehydrated dry neutral yeast to the bottling bucket and theoretically we now have lots of viable yeast ready to eat this fresh convenient source of food making my beers have the appropriate level of carbonation. The plus is nicely fermented beer. The minus is possibly hazier beer or worse over-carbonated beers or worse bottle-bombs! Keep your fingers crossed.

Anyone have any suggestions for a name for the Tripel? So far Skywalker and Mackass have been suggested. I am still open to names. Come on, make a suggestion, then you can take credit for it. Whatever . . .

Tin Angel In The Round

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

So last night Mike, Karen, and I went up to the Tin Angel to go see our friends Erik and Robert play a short show at the Tin Angel.

Tin Angel 01.12.08

They played the early show last night in a style they call “in the round” with two other artist Lizanne Knott and John Conahan. They also had another musician from Alaska open for them named Esther Golton. In the round means that each musician takes a turn playing one song, then it is the next musician’s turn until each person has had a turn and then it repeats the order again. I think each person got to play only four songs last night and then one song where they all played together. You could totally tell that the three of them have played in different formats together before because the on-stage playing around and joining in to enhance each other’s songs was pretty cool. I think the four songs Mitchell played were: In the Bayou, Piece of the Pie, “Apart at the Seams” (first time played, I do not know the title), and Morning After a Long Night. I do not know the name of any of the songs John and Lizanne played, but I’ll tell you what, John can rock your balls off, he really does a great job.

After the show things got a little messy for a bit. It appears as if there were about seven of us and two more coming looking for something to do after the show (it was still early, 9PM). Naturally we all turned to the two guys who just performed that we came up to see. They were a little preoccupied at first talking with the crowd, but after half an hour and no one could make up their mind it got a little disappointing. We eventually decided to just go down the street to Eulogy, but that turned into a bust, way to crowded on a Saturday to try and find a spot for like ten people. I got discouraged and decided it was time for us to leave. On the way home we decided to go to Iron Hill in Wilmington for something to do. From there we wound up at Dave & Jody’s for a short spell, and then eventually back at my place. It was a really great time at the Tin Angel with a really bad speed bump afterward that turned into a good night in the long run.