Archive for June, 2008

Porter & Chocolate

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

So tonight I transfered the Porters to secondaries, one of which is now in line to be Chocolate Porter.

Chocolate Porter 1

Raw Chocolate and vanilla beans in a porter, yum. Well, porter light, but hopefully it’ll still be all good. So, part of the attraction of doing 10 gallon batches for me is that I can split the batches into 5 gallons of traditional been and 5gallons of an experiment. So this time we have 5 gallons of a Robust Brown Porter and 5 gallons of a Chocolate Porter. I racked one of the carboys of beer onto 8oz of Cacao Nibs and 1 split, scraped, and quartered vanilla bean. It should be pretty good. I figure I’ll let the beer sit in secondary for about two weeks on the nibs and beans and then taste to see how it is progressing. Cacao Nibs are raw chocolate, they were sort of the consistency of coffee beans and chocolate chunks mixed together. Honestly they barely even tasted like dark chocolate, but they smelt like heavenly baked brownies, it smelt just like the air in Hershey, PA.

Chocolate Porter 2

Hopefully these little suckers aren’t going to make racking to a third carboy or keg a royal pain in the ass, we’ll see!

Delaware Small Brewers Need Your Help TODAY!

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I received th following email from the Brewer’s Association today and thought I’d pass it on to all my Delaware homies.

Dear Delaware Beer Activists and Homebrewers,

Delaware small brewers need your help! Please read the following information provided by the small, independent breweries of Delaware:

A proposal currently moving in the legislature would raise the state tax on beer almost 50%. The small brewers of Delaware are asking you TO CALL YOUR STATE SENATOR TODAY to ask him/her to oppose this unprecedented increase as an extremely harmful measure to the state’s small craft breweries.

At this point, this proposal has not been formally drafted as legislation, but will be amended into an existing bill and voted on Monday, June 30.


For contact information for your Senator, click here.
You will find links to the Senate roster of members. Simply find your Senator and click on their link for contact information.

Following are several suggested points to make to your elected representatives:

* Delaware has one of the most vibrant and varied craft brewing communities on the east coast.
* Delaware’s small breweries are good for the economy and very good for tourism. Thousands of visitors journey to the state every year to visit these breweries and experience their unique products where they are made.
* Small brewers are facing astronomical costs increases across the board – from malt and hops to energy and packaging materials – nearly 40% over last year. If a further tax burden is placed upon Delaware’s small breweries in this challenging economy it will surely put many of those small businesses at risk.
* A tax increase of this magnitude will deter start-up breweries from considering locating in Delaware, as it will affect existing breweries’ ability to expand, stalling job growth and possibly forcing Delaware breweries to relocate to states that have more competitive tax structures.
* The small, independent breweries of this state need their legislator’s support now more than ever.

Thanks for supporting Delaware’s small breweries!

Charlie Papazian
President Brewers Association

Gary Glass
American Homebrewers Association

So I went online and looked up the local Senator. Of course I was a little bit stupid and tried to call Joe Biden the federal senator first, but eventually I found my man. He wasn’t there when I called, so I wrote the following email

To: ‘’
Subject: Delaware small brewers need your help!

Senator McDowell – I am a member of your district, so I thought I would bring this to your attention. I was just informed by the Brewer’s Association that there is a proposed tax increase of 50% on beer for the state of Delaware. Supposedly at this point this proposal has not been formally drafted as legislation, but will be amended into an existing bill and voted on Monday, June 30. That is this Monday. I tried to call you momentarily ago to make sure you were aware of this increase but was not able to reach you, so I am writing this email instead. Please do not vote to pass this tax increase. The local beer scene really can not afford to be hit with a huge tax increase like this. After one of the largest increases in raw materials , packaging material , and energy costs with an overall 40% increase to make the same product as a year ago, the last thing the local brewers need is to receive a huge 50% tax increase. Do you remember before we had local beer, before Dogfish Head started in 1995? I do, and look how much things have changed now! We have Dogfish Head, Stewart’s, two Iron Hill locations, Fordham and Twin Lakes. The local beer scene is only getting bigger and better, to the point of people choosing their vacation destinations based off our beer scene and others being presented the opportunity of starting new and growing beer businesses in our local community.

The small, independent breweries of this state need their legislator’s support now more than ever. Please do NOT vote for the 50% tax increase on beer. I thank you for your time.

Brian Moore

I suggest that anyone that reads this before Monday June 30th who is a Delaware resident do something similar. For all I care you can just cut and paste sections of this entry. This tax would be outrageous and ridiculous. Thanks for listening.

Robust Brown Porter

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Or something. Last night I brewed what was to be a 10 gallon batch of Robust Porter, I think I missed my mark.

Robust Brown Porter 2

I’ve been trying to get into the habit of brewing on weekday nights to help free up valuable weekend time. I still don’t have my routine down, but the concept is sound. So last nights goal was to be a high gravity (1.120 range) Robust Porter split into two carboys and diluted down to achieve two normal strength (1.060) five gallon batches of Robust Porter. I should have known from the beginning that it was going to be ‘one of those days’ when I was feeling a little out of place from the get-go.

I had never done a split batch like this before, and I have now decided that experiments like this should still be attempted but should be left for when you have extra time and feel fresh, not when your crunching your time and feel spent. Anyway, lots of little things added up to a rough night. Measuring and grinding my grains took way too long and is one of those steps that I want to start doing the night before if I am going to continue brewing on weekday nights. So, since the measuring took so long, which is while I heat my mash-in water, I overheated my water, so I had to let that cool. While that was cooling I knew the rain was getting ready to break and I brew outside. So I ran out with my new tarp and bungees I had bought to try and build a rain-fly for the brew area. The tarp was way too big and the bungees were a little too small. Fortunately I rigged it up so it kept most of the water off of me, actually it worked pretty well, it just made the area really muggy for the rest of the night.

Then it was time to mash-in, but I forgot to put my Bazooka manifold in my mash tun. Just as I was beginning to pour the grains in I realized it. Fortunately my mash tun and hot liquor tank (HLT) are built the same, so I grabbed and manifold and inserted it in the HLT, then dumped the water from the mash-tun to the HLT then mashed-in. Between the water and the grains the tun was very full, 13+ gallons in a 15 gallon tun. But between all the over-heating, cooling, switching between containers and adding the grains I totally undershot my target temperature and had no room left to adjust. I was aiming for 155-156 and I hit 149-150, yikes! Oh well, nothing I could comfortably do at this point but ride it out. So I began to heat my sparge water and mash-out water. I couldn’t even use the full amount of mash-out water that was called for. According to Pro-mash everything was going to line up, according to what happened Pro-mash lied or something else went a rye. Anyway, I mashed-out with what I could fit.

Robust Brown Porter 1

So as I was sparging I realized I wasn’t going to be able to collect as much wort as there was sugar in the bed, I could just feel it. I ran it slow and hoped for the best. After the sparge was over I ran out what was left in the tun into a bucket, almost four gallons at 1.038 at about 120F, ugh. Plus, while I was moving my kettle from the floor to the burner (no handles) I spilt hot wort down my arm and into the gloves I was wearing just I was having my dinner brought down to me. So not only did I mildly burn myself, I was embarrassed. Fortunately I wasn’t really hurt (except my pride) so I turned on the burner and ate some food which helped. In preparation for this batch to be split I planned on using a bunch of hops, six ounces of pellet hops, I’m not a big fan of using that much pellet hops especially in this high gravity of a brew. I also didn’t realize I had any Whirlfloc left and used Irish Moss instead, no big deal, but the Irish Moss is my back-up, I prefer the Whirlfloc. I need to organize my stuff.

So the boil went fine I suppose, cleaned a couple carboys and the mashing equipment while it was going on. I began to chill the wort and remembered that it was summer time; it was going to be a while. After an hour I was tired of waiting, the thermometer read 78F and I was tired and pissy and didn’t care, so I was done cooling. I began to transfer the wort to a carboy. My idea was I would transfer to one carboy, see what volume I collected, and check the gravity. If it was in the “proper range” I would then split the batch half-and-half and dilute with bottled water up to five gallons, retake a reading and go from there. The goal was 1.120, I hit 1.098 at 78F, so I knew it was really at least 1.100 if I adjust for the temperature. Of course the valve on the kettle clogged twice before completely clogging (did I mention I love using large quantities of pellet hops) and I had to do my favorite, the ol’ dump technique. So since I gathered six gallons via that technique, I figured with all the trouble I went through, I might as well split the batch and hope since I was putting a little bit more than 2.5 gallons in each carboy to start with that the new OG might be higher than 1.050. Lets just say this turned out to be messier than expected and I was starting to crack a little.

After all the transfers I took a little bit of a break from the wort and cleaned everything up. After clean-up I took a second reading of the new diluted wort, 1.048 – wha, wha, what!? I tasted the original sample next to the diluted sample, I shouldn’t have diluted it. I hate this beer. So I’ve been having problems with my O2 stone, it just hasn’t been bubbling properly. So even though I thought my tank was pretty full I bought a new tank to test because the tanks are cheaper than the stones. No difference. After sort-of oxygenating my wort I pitched the yeast, a third generation WLP001 yeast cake split between the two batches. By this point I had basically been “brewing” this batch of beer for almost seven hours and it was nearing midnight. I was wooped and wanted to go to bed and just forget about this beer. Hopefully it turns out drinkable since I have ten gallons of it. Originally it was supposed to be a Robust Porter. Now it looks more like a Brown Porter, but with Robust Porter attributes. So maybe a Robust Brown Porter, I dunno.

Oh, and I was sober the whole night, brewing without drinking beer is almost unheard of in the homebrew community 😉 .

Buzz Off Results

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Two weeks ago was the annual BUZZ Off competition in West Chester, PA and I just received my results the other day.

Vader / Golden Rod

This year there were 401 entries for this competition, one of ten (I think) qualifying events for the MCAB. Because it is a qualifying event they actually get more entries (in my opinion) they they typically would, plus they are entries from all over the country instead of just the same local guys. Fortunately there are still a lot of local (PA, NJ, MD) guys that place during this competition.

Here are some descriptors from my results on the two beers I entered:

  • Vader – 13F Imperial Stout – 35/33 = 34 – “Very nice drinking beer – this is good now, but with some age to mingle the flavors this will be a fantastic beer!” – “Nice big stout, flavors are slightly unbalanced toward bitterness, will benefit from more aging.”
  • Tripel – 18C Belgian Tripel – 36/35 = 35.5 – Third Place – “Well made beer, a drier finish would bring this even closer to style.” – “A good beer, but a little on the sweet side for style with a low hop bitterness.”

I did not judge this year. I was going to, but I wasn’t “feeling it.” I did go out the night before which was part of it, and I did get home late that night, and I did have other things to do that day if I wasn’t judging, but in all honesty, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was told they had 40 other judges, which meant a long crowded day of judging. Wake up at 7:00 (on a Saturday 8-O), leave by 8:00, start judging around 9:00, break for an hourish lunch around 12:00, finish judging around 4:00, sit around the bar drinking beer waiting after drinking beer all day (honestly, this is the longest part) just to hear the results later between 5-6:00, then drive an hourish home after drinking all day, just to get home and almost collapse. I know ‘poor me I have to drink beer all day and talk about it’, trust me it is more like studying for a big test then fun. Whatever, until next time.

BeerAdvocate & Zymurgy

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Two shitty magazine “reviews” for the price of one, can this site get any better?

BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II Issue V

First BA. I probably received this magazine about a month ago, oh well. I’m going to jump right to the 9 Steps to Beerdom (typically my favorite part of this whole magazine), this time on Joe Short founder and brewmaster of Short’s Brewing Company. I have never heard of Short’s Brewing Company, but a little poking around on BA showed them to be quite popular and adventurous, sounds right up my alley. Joe is young, I’d guess mid-twenties. He started homebrewing at 19 while in college, finished school, and went the route of opening his own brewpub and now in the works of opening a full production brewery. One of the beers they describe that he makes is basically a Bloody Mary built on a beer base, sounds almost disgusting yet still more interesting. There was an article in their Innovations section talking about a system I have seen before called the Table Tender. Basically what this is is a multi-tap beer tower that is at each table at a restaurant. No more need for the waitress to bring you a beer, no more waiting, just more drinking. It’s similar to when you go to one of those chain “Italian” restaurants and they give you the jug of wine and it’s your job to keep track of how many glasses you’ve had. Except with the Table Tender it is electronically counted per ounce, so if you spill a lot you get charged extra, but also if you only want a half glass more, that’s all you need to pay for. Hopefully you don’t get stuck at a table with only BudMillerCoors taps . . . And just now, as I flipped through this magazine, I realized I didn’t read a whole section :oops:, it looks really good, it’s titled Out of the Bottle and into the Pan and it is interviews with about six of the top beer chefs around, I’ll have to make sure I go back and finish that one, sorry.

 Zymurgy May/June 2008

Also, I just finished (I think) the most recent issue of Zymurgy. It’s funny, with these two covers next to each other it’s nice that BA has a larger version of the cover available, the quality looks much nicer next to the Zymurgy cover, oh well. Hey, page 24 we hit something worth mentioning, an article called Oak’s Balancing Act (didn’t one of these rags just do an article on oak?). This was written pretty well with some tips and recipes thrown in, but really without too much new information. Also there was a second article Roll Out the Barrel which included a pretty good description on how to care for and maintain a barrel if you should ever get your hands on one. Actually, I have been offered a double-used bourbon barrel twice (meaning will not impart too much oak or bourbon flavor anymore) for free, but they are 55 gallons plus extra beer to top it up with, so let’s say 60 gallons. That’s 12 batches for me. So that would be 12 straight days of brewing or 6 days of double-sessions (like 10-12 hour days). Doesn’t sound like fun anymore. Next there was an article on Saisons called A Seaison for Every Season which was interesting but a little beer-geekie in references. The cool thing is the guy that wrote it posts a lot of his recipes, so there are a lot of tried Saison recipes available to start with. And finally they closed their Last Drop section with an article called Philly Pours it On which is a very short recount of Philly Beer Week written by a Colorado writer, makes sense to you? Me neither. Basically he wastes a quarter of the article bashing Philly and their claim to be the Best Beer-Drinking City in America, and tries to humorously (though it wasn’t funny) wrap things up again by bringing the topic back up. I think he missed the mark on this one. Oh well, it was nice to see Philly mentioned.

Ring of Fire

Monday, June 9th, 2008

I got to try a new beer AND a new beer-style for me tonight, awesome!

Ring of Fire

This is the Ring of Fire Porter from Iron Hill Brewery. I bought three bottles yesterday, one for myself soon, one for myself later, and one for a trade. I also happened to be at Iron Hill again today and bought another bottle to split with the people I was with, Todd, Carrie, and Karen. The bottle is 13oz and 9 dollars, so to split between four you don’t get much to sample but at a good price.

This is what the bottle has to say: Ring of Fire Porter  – Aged and Finished in a Tabasco Pepper Mash Oak Barrel – Ring of Fire Porter: Brewed naturally with the finest malted barley, hops, and yeast. Our house porter, aged and finished in a Tabasco pepper mash oak barrel, imparting a hot pepper character which marries with the roasty and subtle chocolate notes of the porter. – OG: 1.057, Color: 23L, IBU: 37, ALC: 5.4%.

Rumor has it that this was originally a lighter beer, Iron Hill’s Light Lager perhaps, aged in the Tabasco barrel. Problem was there wasn’t enough to the Light Lager and basically they made a Tabasco beer, for real. Again I believe this to be the West Chester location, supposedly Chris figured that they needed a bigger beer with more body and flavor to help cut and carry the Tabasco. They chose their house porter, the Pig Iron Porter, which was a great choice. They really built a great “hot chocolate” one off.

I thought the beer had a great Tabasco burn characteristic commingled with the roast and chocolate of the porter, but with neither being overbearing. Both the Tabasco-type heat/flavor and the porter-like body/chocolateliness built a strong beer. The heat of the Tabasco did build a little in the back of the throat and made sure its presence was known, but I never felt like i needed to cool it down or rinse it out. Very excellent attempt at an ambitious idea. If it wasn’t so expensive, I would love to marinate some London Broil in this to make an excellent BBQ/grilling addition.

Two Wheats In One

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

So I kegged the Naked Wheat and transfered the Frootid the Wheat the other day.

Two Wheats In One

Since this both happened in the same time-frame I was able to pull samples of each and compare and contrast, and run them by the wheat beer guru, Karen. As I said before the Naked Wheat was mild and clean, nothing wrong there, actually can’t wait to try it carbonated and cold. The Frootid the Wheat was way cloudy and a little shady looking. It still smelt of fruit so I was hoping the fermentation was complete. The flavor was actually great, nice and fruity, a little sharp, the blueberries still shone through – nice! Karen really liked the fruited wheat (surprise), so I guess things are on target. I figure I’ll keg the fruited wheat sometime next week at this point. BUT, that would then mean I have no beers in carboys at the moment, I guess it’s time to get behind the brew kettle again.

Happy Beer-Mail

Friday, June 6th, 2008

So on Tuesday I received a package in the mail from a blind trade, shweet!

Happy Beer-Mail

The original trade was suppose to be for an EMPTY DFH 90 Minute IPA Special Edition bottle that Robert and I scored at the DFH Bocce Tournament. We drank the beer, but the bottle was cool enough to keep, but I don’t really collect that many bottles. I posted it on BeerAdvocate kind of as a ‘one-man’s-trash’ kind of trade. About a month later someone asked me about it. Initially it was suppose to be the empty bottle for an AleSmith Old NumbSkull. Then we decided to bump it to a blind three for three trade on top. He sent me The AleSmith Old NumbSkull, a Firestone IPA, a Russian River Supplication, and a Drake’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine. I was stoked. I am actually enjoying the Fire Stone IPA right now, and I am very excited about all of the other three. I sent him the empty DFH 90 Minute Special Edition, Legacy Hoptimus Prime, DFH Santo Palo Marano, DFH ApriHop, Stoudt’s Pale Ale, and Dock Street Illuminator (all from his wants list). Good times.

Time to Keg

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

So tonight I took the plunge and started to keg with my second batch of kegs.

 Time to Keg

I kegged two beers tonight, the Pacific Gem Pale Ale and the Naked Wheat. The Pacific Gen Pale Ale was brewed with all whole leaf Pacific Gem hops and boy did it smell good! I didn’t even use any dry hops and this thing smelt like hoppy-goodness. The taste wasn’t bad either, but the hop punch was lost in the glass. Also, I kegged the Naked Wheat, this was the “plain” American Wheat Ale that Garrett and I brewed a 20 gallon batch of just over a month ago. The beer tasted very mild, which was fine with me, but was actually very much more clear than I would have expected, go figure. I think the kegging of both went off well, nothing that I can remember that was weird. I will say though that I have to get my technique down better when taking a gravity reading, I am very bad about splashing from keg to hydrometer to keg, if you know what I mean.

Hip Hop BIF – Outgoing

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

So I pulled out the beers I’ve put together for the Hip Hop BIF, and there will be a nice outgoing package.

Hip Hop BIF - Outgoing

I’m a little hesitant about posting this just in case someone reads my sight and it “ruins” their surprise, but I guess if I don’t say where it is going it should really only raise the anticipation level. Actually, no one reads this thing anyway, so what the hell. These are the beers I’m sending out, I’ll list them below:

Legacy – Hoptimus Prime – 22oz
Sly Fox – Odyssey (2006) – 22oz
Victory – HopDevil – 12oz
Victory – Hop Wallop – 12oz
Dogfish Head (DFH) – 90 Minute IPA – 12oz
DFH – Burton Baton – 12oz
DFH – Old School Barleywine – 12oz
Weyerbacher – Hops Infusion – 12oz
Weyerbacher – Double Simcoe IPA – 12oz
Weyerbacher – Eleven (2006) – 12oz
Clipper City – Heavy Seas, Loose Cannon, Hop3 Ale – 12oz
Southampton – IPA – 12oz
Troegs – Nugget Nectar – 12oz
Sierra Nevada – Big Foot Barleywine (2008) – 12oz
Sierra Nevada – Big Foot Barleywine (2006) – 12oz
Stoudt’s – Double IPA – 12oz
Lancaster Brewing Company – Hop Hog – 12oz
Harpoon – 100 Barrel Series Encore Barleywine 2006) – 12oz

That’s 18 yummy beers, not all of them difficult to get, but maybe not common for everyone. Basically I have two choices left to ship to but I still won’t say which, California or Michigan. Also, I of course included some hip-hop tunes. I actually sent 8 CDs, I sent both Pain Relievaz discs burnt onto one CD and I also sent the infamous 7 volume set of Puma Sweats. Puma Sweats is one of the greatest rap mixed CDs of all times spun by my buddy Erik. Hopefully whoever receives it likes old school. Click here for a track listing for Puma Sweats.