Archive for July, 2009


Monday, July 27th, 2009

So the other night was a night of transfers, nothing too exciting, but I figure I’d give you something different to read.


So from left to the right the following things are either happening or about to happen in this picture: Carboy number one has an actively fermenting R3 in it, carboy number two is the Cluster Wheat about to be transferred to a keg, and carboys three and four are both Sum Bra Pale Ale about to be transferred to secondaries and dry hopped. So this was … last Tuesday I think, so like a week ago.

Currently the R3 is done visual active fermentation and is ready to be transfered to secondary and dry hopped. The Cluster Wheat is currently on tap, and the Sum Bra Pale Ales are both hanging out on their dry hops and I am trying to decide if I want to transfer to keg on Wednesday or wait until over a week more, so essentially 8 days on dry hops or about 21 days – both would be fine.

Things I have noticed in the in between; the R3 has a weird clumpy yeast/protein clumps weirdness going on. I have heard whispers of such activity because of use of rye, but I have never seen such a thing, it is odd to say the least. If you squint at the first carboy you can see two big-ass chunkies toward the top by the bubbles (I know, yeah right). The Cluster Wheat has turned out well, I actually am looking forward to getting into it a few pints to get a real feel for it, which I think is going to happen tomorrow. And the Sum Bra Pale Ales are doing nice, fermented down in the range I wanted, and tasted pretty good at transfer. The funny thing is, either the Summit or Bravo hop has a distinct Simcoe hop flavor to it, which totally through me off – cats in my beer? If you know what I mean you know what I mean, you know.

Bailed on the brew day for Sunday, it was the Amber Kitchen Sink, I woke up a little crusty and then the day slipped away and I found myself at the movies watching the newest Harry Potter movie. I thought it was freakin’ good. Also, this week I have a big multi-step trip coming up: Return to Cooperstown, NY and Brewery Ommegang for the Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (BCTC) event Friday, Saturday, Sunday then off to Ft. Kent, ME (last exit on Rt. 1, WAY up there) to meet the Desjardin family for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday then rush back home to DE to go to the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach to see Keller Williams and hang-out for a couple days at the beach Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So if things go quiet for a bit that’s what’s up, but I will definitely post about BCTC.


Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

On Sunday 07.19.09 Robert brewed his first beer, pretty much unassisted = Awesome!


So we brewed Roby’s Red Rye (R3) on Sunday, and for lack of anything else, it went perfectly. So Robert has sat in on at least 10 brews between brewing with me and brewing with Garrett. He has talked about getting into brewing, though he leans toward wine and mead for some reason, but has never brewed. He has assisted me, but really assisting often details trouble-shooting or work of lesser importance. So the last time he sat in I basically told him it was his turn to brew a batch of beer. So we started from square one and came up with a concept of what he thought would be good, then we developed a recipe, ordered in ingredients, and picked a date. He decided on a Red Rye, which isn’t really a style as much as a concept, but I liked it. He essentially was looking for a red beer with Jewish rye bread characteristics (read: caraway), and a nice hop profile. So I started the base for the recipe; Marris Otter and malted rye about 50/50 with some different crystals and some roasted barley to help round out the beer and to aim for the red color. The Jewish rye bread style was met through those ingredients plus a 1/2 ounce of toasted ground fine caraway seed, which actually lent a neat licorice flavor. And the hops are actually 100% whole leaf home grown Nugget hops a la Garrett.

The brew day went fine; my mill motor which wasn’t cooperating last batch worked, we hit our mash in numbers, we didn’t get a stuck mash with a 50% malted rye bill (though it was quite compacted), we didn’t run out of gas (very low and the back up was empty), and we almost hit out OG (low by .003 points), but wound up with an extra 1/2 gallon – so I assume the OG was off from lack of boil-off for some reason. Oh yeah, and the whole hops didn’t totally clog up the kettle too.

After we cooler for an hour and fifteen minutes we called it quits at 78’F. I then did the bath/towel/fan method and it was down to 66’F the next morning. By the time I got home from work it was spooging out the top of the airlock and I had a mess to clean up – lovely. So I cleaned things up and took it out of the bath. It’ll probably raise up to 70 or 72 but I’m cool with that. We’ll keep you posted on how the R3 develops.

So I asked him if he thought he could do it again on his own (he had written directions too), and he said, yeah, probably, until the very end. Not bad.

I Am A Home Brewer

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I just saw this today, and I think it is an excellent “response” the I Am A Craft Brewer video.

I Am A Home Brewer

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

See this post for the original video.

I am a home brewer!

Sum Bra Pale Ale

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Last Sunday 07.12.09 my buddy Garrett and I brewed a 20 gallon batch of a Summit/Bravo Pale Ale – thus the Sum Bra Pale Ale!

Photo housed from Garrett @

Photo housed from Garrett @

I think we had been talking about getting together to brew a Pale Ale since about May, and finally we both were able to commit to a date. The funny thing is we actually already have another different 20 gallon batch of homebrew already lined up (well, date dependant), I’m sure Donna is lovin’ the beer selection at her house right now!

Anyway, the brew day went well and was harmless, typically the best kind. I showed up around 10AM with almost nothing; some empty carboys, airlocks, yeast, 1lb of CaraPils, and 3 gallons of tasty Oatmeal Cookie Stout for the Severs. Garrett pretty much had everything else locked down, the whole hops and the rest of the grains. Next time it’s my turn to supply the grains (around 45-50 pounds for a normal 20 gallon batch) and he’ll still be on the hops, so I guess we’ll have to figure out the logistics of that. When we started things just seemed to go smoothly. I will give credit to Garrett because he always hauls all his equipment up from the basement and has the foundation water heating before I even arrive, what a guy!

So the day was smooth and hot, first time it felt full blown Summery to me. We tried to hang outside in the shade mostly, but when the shade disappeared and from the heat of the kettles, ugh it was time to hide inside some. When Garrett was putting in the third hop edition it totally looked like he dumped a salad into the brew kettle it was too funny. After all was said and done I think the brew day was about 6 hours, not bad for four times what I normally make!

Afterward we hung out a bit which is nice to decompress and cool down. After I got home the carboys had kicked off with in four hours, nice second generation yeast that was just harvested the day before. Other than that not too much. The Red Rye is this weekend and then two miss-match brews of old ingredients. I’m thinking of doing the “Dark Beer” kind of Stone Soup style, we’ll see!

7th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting

Monday, July 13th, 2009

So last Friday 07.10.09 was the 7th Annual Fool Circle Beer Tasting.


This year was the biggest yet most tame tasting yet, odd combination. For 2009 we had a total of 25 different Fool Circle beers ranging in age from 2004 to 2009, one literally weeks old. We had the most vintage beers ever (7) with the rest ranging since the 2008 tasting. A couple had variations on a theme, for example the Robust Brown Porter and the Chocolate Porter emerged from the same original batch, same as the Scottish 70/-, Hop Scottish, and Scotch Scottish. We also had our first soda make an appearance, the Gnome Root Beer, being the overwhelming easiest to pick out.

We tried to do things on a Friday after work, which for some reason I think is how we originally did the tastings, but it may also be a first. Most everyone showed up between 5:30 and 6:00 with Todd showing up last at almost 7:00. It was, of course, the Fool Circle Inner Circle once again, Dave, Todd, Richard, Robert, Karen, and myself. This is now one of the few times all of us get to get together, sweet. Anyway, we pretty much got started with the tasting right away with both Robert and I pouring beers at the same time, this made things go much faster and we were drinking much sooner. Having 25 little 2oz samples in front of you is a bit overwhelming. Everyone has there own technique on how they like to proceed; some in numerical order, some from lightest to darkest, but me I like to smell them all before I even taste them. I was pretty sure I had 15 correct just by smell. After smell I taste in numerical order. Anything I know what it is I mark it, anything I question what it is I wait for the next beer that’s similar and will taste them side by side trying to pull out there differences. It’s the differences that will distinguish some of the beers versus their similarities. Many of the beers (mostly the pale ales and lighter) did not hold up very well, but really aren’t brewed to be aged more than 3 months or so. Some of the vintage beers had developed and some had deteriorated, time to keep an eye on some of those.

The results are as follows: Todd & Richard both with 5 right, Robert with 9 right, Karen with 10 right, Dave with 11 right, and Brian with 20 right. I know people say that it’s no surprise that I got 20 right because I am the brewer and a Certified BJCP Judge, but it is difficult. I wasn’t sure if I was going to win, I left it up to the others, but they said that  if I scored double the next closest person OR scored over 18 and was at least 5 beers ahead of the next closest person I could win, so … I (Brian) am the new Grand Pooh-Bah for 2009 to 2010 – AND I am drinking out of my Grand Pooh-Bah glass now as we speak. 🙂


I’m pretty sure we determined that 25 beers was too many, though personally I would keep pushing it and just have separate flight, but hey, I’m a little twisted. Next year (maybe) it’ll be less. And, per usual, here are some off-color quotes from the evening:

– Fuck it, I’m just drinking.

– Richard, you just might win.

– Dude, I cannot wait to tear into your guacamole.

– Blah-blah-blah

– Let me guess #22 …

– T-Minus four hours until Robert’s bottle-conditioned ass kicks in.

– They’re all Porter-Red-Amber-Pale Ales

– #13 & #14 – I’m getting a little Band-Aid

– #17 could be a cup of coffee.

– Like assy-shoe-leather.

– It was a relief to know that it was NOT my girlfriends cooter!

– Cooters are AWESOME!!!

– We have too many with cooters …

Not sure who’s all interested, but I will try and post more pictures later. Also, here’s a link to last years (2008) tastings if anyone is interested, which will then link up to previous years.

Bottling Pre-Tasting

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

So tonight I bottled the last three beers for the Fool Circle beer tasting, ya’ll ready for this!


So tonight I bottled the Simcoe Brown, the Irish Red, and the Oatmeal Cookie Stout. These were the last three beers I had to bottle prior to the Fool Circle beer tasting this Friday. With these three beers it puts the total beer for the tasting at … well, I’m not going to say, but it is the largest one yet.

Also with bottling these beers a few beers in the line up on the Rantlers have changed, we now have the Hop Scottish, Irish Red, and Oatmeal Stout on tap. Just kicked while bottling was the Simcoe Brown and the Scotch Scottish literally had less than a pint in it, so it got dumped (forgive me homebrew gods for I have sinned).


Above are the two new beers, the Irish Red on the left and the Oatmeal Stout on the right, but the Red looks awfully dark in that picture . . . oh well. The Red tastes fine, though I think I would like it better with a cleaner yeast like my fall back WLP001, but I used WLP004, again. The Stout is also good, actually very easy to drink though it is Summer time, but as I have already expressed basically all of the cookie characteristics have disappeared in my opinion, oh well.

Cluster Wheat

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Today I brewed what I’m calling the Cluster Wheat, and no it wasn’t a Cluster-F!


So today was the first brew day in a little bit, but it is also the first in what I think is four planned back-to-back (to-back-to-back) Sunday brew days, so I’m pretty stoked. Anyway, today was a pretty simple recipe that I brewed mostly for Karen and our friends Jody & Heather, though I will enjoy a few myself I am sure. So this is an American Wheat Ale brewed with 50/50 wheat malt and two-row barley and all Cluster hops, thus the name, though I was ready for everything to back-fire with a name like that. When the brew day started, I got my first hint that there might be trouble. I use a manual powered grain mill that I have a designated drill that I use for the power, sure beats a crank. Anyway, about half way through grinding the grains the drill gave up, no more milling. This is actually the second drill I have killed with the grain mill, I guess it is time to invest in something with some more torque, ya think? So the last seven pounds of grain were turned manually with a pair of vice-grips, I was ready for the worst after that.

In all honesty things never got too bad, though they didn’t stay on course either. I missed my OG by quite a few points, horrible efficiency today (maybe because of the manual milling?), I waited over an hour for the wort to cool and still couldn’t get it below 80’F, and had a lot of “extra” work today while brewing, so not as relaxing as I prefer. Honestly, I am not really sure what happened with the gravity. I had worked the numbers and planned on brewing a higher gravity four gallon batch and diluting it with really cold water to help lower the temperature and then achieve my assumed OG. Instead the un-diluted OG was what I expected my diluted OG to be, not good. Two scenarios: I either have a lighter beer than originally anticipated – OK, or, as I had already been thinking, I add some honey to the secondary to raise the gravity and to help lend another flavor aspect – could be cool. And I kind of already mentioned it, but to help fight the summer ground water temperatures I was going to dilute my wort with really cold bottled water. Temperature-wise this worked pretty well, I was able to drop the wort from 80’F to 70’F with one gallon of water, I can live with that. I also had four carboys to clean and sanitize, two kegs to clean and sanitize, and two beers to rack to kegs. That stuff makes the brew day go faster, but it really takes away from the relaxation part, but I do like both styles of brew days, so it’s cool.

Next up is a twenty gallon batch with my buddy Garrett over at his place this Sunday with a recipe he came up with for a high end Pale Ale or low end IPA, but regardless it is going to be hoppy-yum-yums and that’s all that counts! Actually very much looking forward to next Sunday. After that is the Roby’s Red Rye (R3), which is a very heavy-handed rye beer with a decent hop addition and possibly spiced with caraway seeds. Then I have two “kitchen sink” beers to help clean up old inventory. One is an “amber beer” and the other is a “dark beer”. The amber should be pretty straight forward, but the dark should be like a stout with out roasted barley, if that makes sense.

Oh, I kegged the Oatmeal Cookie Stout today. Not a bad stout (uncarbonated and warm) but the oatmeal cookie profile seems to have really faded to vanished. I am inspired to try again but I think this attempt may be a little flat. I was tempted to “spice” the secondary, but I really didn’t want a spiced oatmeal stout, I wanted a freaking Oatmeal Cookie Beer!