Archive for May, 2009

Irish Red – Red Card Ale 4?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

So tonight was a brew night, and things went smashing.


I planned to brew an Irish Red Ale tonight, which I did, but about half way through I questioned myself, is this the Red Card Ale 4? Maybe. It is a different recipe, though still a very traditional Irish Red, AND I did “give” the recipe of the Red Card to Mikey, so . . .

Anyway, I got out of work today at 3PM and rushed home anticipating a brew night, the yeast starter was ready and looking good, the grains were all measured out, and I think I had things trimmed and ready to go. By 4PM there was flame to kettle (always my official starting point) heating up the strike water and I was on my way. Things went fairly easy, I didn’t over heat my strike water (for once), I hit my mash in and almost my mash out temperatures, the estimated original gravity was exactly as I expected, not too bad. Oh, except for that one thing, cooling the wort in the “summer time”, which it isn’t even yet. The ground water gets so warm that cooler the wort with an immersion chiller is almost pointless. This was only a five gallon batch and in one hour I could only get it down to 70 degrees, ugh. I know there are solutions, whirlpool immersion chillers, plate chillers, counter-flow chillers, and pre-chiller – BUT those are all investments and I have about ten other things (per usual) that I’d like to buy brewing equipment wise. I’ve discover the longer I brew the less I need things but the more I want things and the more expensive they become. Oh, and things rapped up by 9PM, so a nice tight 5 hour brew day/night.

So hopefully by the end of June we’ll be sipping on a nice crispy Irish Red, until then!

Bitch Work – Part Deux

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Since I haven’t cried in over two months about dumb stuff, I figured I might as well give it a try.


Yup, bitch work time again. Why on this fine Memorial Day weekend did I find time to hide in my basement and clean a bunch of crap, you got me!? So for a couple of hours I blasted my iPod and cleaned and sanitized. First I did the 6 carboys, which really weren’t that bad, but playing with glass and chemicals and moving heavy stuff gets shady after a while. Three were secondaries, one was a transfer vessel for lack of a better term, and two were primaries that had been soaking for at least two weeks. After that came the kegs, which again weren’t horrible. When I released the pressure valve on the Imperial Amber keg it still smelt so hoppy good, yum.

One of the kegs was the keg from the Gnome Root Beer. I have heard horror stories about how everything will smell like root beer forever and how it is the hardest smell in the world to make completely go away. And sure, the keg smelt overwhelmingly like root beer at first, but after everything was busted down and cleaned up the root beer smell was pretty hard to detect. Well, actually the seal on the lid still smelt of root beer. But it makes me wonder, if just that one seal, or maybe all the seals were replaced, could the keg be used as a normal beer keg and then swap in the root beer seals when a root beer was wanted – I think so.


After everything was cleaned and I took a break for dinner I had the lovely chore of making a yeast starter. Garrett has the equipment to use a pressure cooker to properly can starter wort and has offered me the opportunity to use it, but some how time is not on my side . . . until I make a yeast starter and then I have little visions of canned starter wort dancing in my head. Honestly, it’s just time consuming and boring, not hard. I used the starter on a vial of WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast. It was unfortunately 3+ months past its best before date. It really should be fine since it was stored properly and I am building it up with a starter, but I will have some dry yeast on hand as an insurance policy. I am planning on brewing an Irish Red tomorrow. The good news is, I really want to brew and am looking forward to it, the other news is it is an after work in the evening/night brew session with a 30% chance of showers. Of course I’ll try to make the best of it. If all goes well I’ll have flame to kettle before 5PM and be tiding up janitorial duties before 11PM.

APA with Wheat

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

So I just kegged the APA with Wheat ale and ir sure tasted good so far.


Things went basically fine with the kegging of the beer, but I still have issues kegging after dry hopping with pellet hops. Twice I have transferred over enough debris to clog a keg, so I am uber paranoid about doing that every time. To the point that this time I transferred from secondary to a tetrary for only about 30 minutes and then to a keg. Hopefully there wasn’t any additional oxidation. I think about 5% of the original dry hops carried over to the tetrary and about 5% of that to the keg, so about what like 1/4 of a percent from the original dry hops . . . ? Better than nothing.

I also learned an important lesson for my kegging set-up. I already can barely squeeze in three corny kegs into my kegerator, but I realized tonight that if on the modified keg (see picture above), if the lid is facing the incorrect direction, it doesn’t matter any longer if it’s modified, it won’t all fit. So I had to do some fancy floppin’ if you catch my drift. Lesson learned.

Also, last night the last keg in the kegerator and the first keg of three of the Scottish 70/- kicked last night. So in addition to kegging the APA I also cleaned and sanitized my lines and put three new kegs on. On tap currently are the Hop Scottish, the Simcoe ABA, and the Scotch Scottish. With both the Hop Scottish and the Scotch Scottish on tap there are blending opportunities for a Hop Scotch – nice! I pulled samples of all three, and they were small and warm, but they seemed OK – the Hop Scottish was more mild than anticipated, the Simcoe ABA was a little catty (go figure), and the Scotch Scottish was more oakey than I realized.


So other than that it was a pretty chill night, though I realized I have mad bitch work to do, six carboys and three kegs waiting to be cleaned, ugh. Hopefully on Monday I’ll brew, but I think a lot of it will depend on what time I get home from the beach on Sunday in order to get my stuff situated. Oh, and BTW, I am enjoying a 16 month old Palo Santo right now, smooth with a capital SMOOTH!

Root Beer Float

Monday, May 18th, 2009

This may not look like your traditional root beer float, but that’s OK, this ISN’T your traditional root beer float!


THIS is a root beer float made with homemade root beer AND homemade vanilla ice cream – sweet! About a month or two ago I finally got around to making a batch of Gnome homemade root beer inspired by the success Garrett had with his root beer. I discovered a few things: I don’t drink enough root beer/soda to make a keg (5 gallons) without having a plan to get rid of a lot of it, I need to over-carbonate my soda to run on my system since I only have one dispensing pressure which is below typical soda carbonation levels, and I need to tweak the recipe to help with head-retention. I am actually looking forward to making it again, I just still have to make it through this first batch. The batch was on tap pretty long, so I decided to bottle it to make room for real beer. Even after being on tap for as long as it was I got almost a case and a half of bottles, which means I only drank just more than a 1/4 of the keg, sheesh.

But, after making root beer I had to make a root beer float! I was going to go out and buy a pint of some premium vanilla, like Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s or something else I like that I never get, but then I remembered that I had an ice cream maker at my mom’s house which I never use. So after getting everything ready with the maker I followed a recipe and went for it. The first time I made ice cream (like 5+ years ago) I remember it tasting like eggs (yuck!), which is kind of what turned me off of homemade ice cream, so I searched for a recipe with no egg (normal ice cream base contains milk, cream, sugar, egg yolk, plus flavoring). I found a recipe on the Food Network website from Alton Brown, who is one of my favorites, that didn’t use egg, so I went for it. Here is the recipe:


* 2 cups half-and-half
* 1 cup whipping cream
* 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons peach preserves (not jelly)
* 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped


Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Attach a frying or candy thermometer to inside of pan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the hull of the vanilla bean, pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.

Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit’s instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Once the volume has increased by 1/2 to 3/4 times, and reached a soft serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

Looks kind of weird, right – peach preserves in vanilla ice cream? I poked around online and it appears as if the preserves substitute the action of the egg yolks through the pectin in the preserves. I’m not sure how it all works, but I do know that the vanilla ice cream did NOT taste like peach or eggs – bonus. Actually, the ice cream was very vanilla flavored and quite good for my “first” attempt at home made ice cream. It was a little bit grainier than I like my ice cream and our freezer kept it a little bit softer than I like mine, but all in all – major success.

So, thus the true homemade root beer float. No I didn’t use all crazy roots and suck to make my root beer, but I also didn’t milk my own cows or make my own preserves. And on that note, the homemade root beer float got me thinking what else I could make “from scratch”. I think I will try to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich all from scratch, I think that would be cool. Make my own peanut butter (have done it), make my own jelly (have done it), and make my own bread (have done it) all together and see how MY sandwich compares to what I would make from the store. I have a sneaky suspicion that this is going to be a lot more work with lack-luster results, we shall see.

I Am A Craft Brewer

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

This has been EVERYWHERE on the interwebs, but I thought I’d share too – and yes, I am a craft brewer too!

I Am A Craft Brewer

“I Am A Craft Brewer” is a collaborative video representing the camaraderie, character and integrity of the American Craft Brewing movement. Created by Greg Koch, CEO of the Stone Brewing Co. and Chris & Jared of Redtail Media…and more than 35 amazing craft brewers from all over the country. The video was shown to a packed audience of 1700 craft brewers and industry members at the 2009 Craft Brewers Conference as an introduction to Greg’s Keynote Speech entitled “Be Remarkable: Collaboration Ethics Camaraderie Passion.” As is tradition for the CBC Keynote, a toast to the audience was offered. This time, the beers offered for the toast were all collaboratively brewed craft beers including Isabella Proximus, Collaboration Not Litigation, AleSmith/Mikkeller/Stone Belgian Style Triple, Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne-Ø/Stone Special Holiday Ale, and 2009 Symposium Ale “Audacity of Hops.”

I am a craft brewer!