10th Anniversary Brew Day

WOW, it had seriously been 10 years since I brewed my first batch of beer … seriously, WOW!


Happy Anniversary, Cheers!

Fool Circle circa 1999So, November 28th is the anniversary date which happened to be the Saturday after Thanksgiving this year. Most of you have probably heard the story before on how all of this got started, but I will re-cap anyway. My sister, Nancy, bought me a Mr. Beer kit in 1999 for my birthday, I was to turn 22 that year. She didn’t think anything of it, she wasn’t old enough to drink, and she didn’t like beer, but thought that it was something I might like. Five days after my birthday I was brewing my first beer, a Mr. Beer kit West Coast Pale Ale, and I was proud. Sure it may seem silly thinking of some of those early batches now and the things that did and didn’t go into the brews, but I’ll tell you what, I loved every aspect of it and couldn’t wait for the next batch. And I shared that stuff with everybody, and most of it was drinkable, but some of it was just … interesting. Some of my early creations that may have been a little ahead of their time included: Mandarin Orange Spice Beer (freakin’ 3rd batch! haha), Green Tea with Honey Beer, and the Opaque Espresso Stout that seriously blew me away. A lot of people at the time didn’t have the same interest in boundary pushing beer that I did, but I think because of some of those early experiences with my homebrews I believe it helped open other peoples eyes later to the craft brew revolution and some of the beers they enjoy today.

DIPA HopsRegardless, that’s not what this post is about, this post is about the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Sticky-Icky DIPA brew day. This day had a lot of things that could go wrong: a new recipe, with new ingredients, on new equipment, and I had to be finished by a certain time. These are all elements that make it more exciting of course, but also a little nerve racking, but I know RDWHAHB. So this was going to be the first batch to pop the cherry of the new 15 gallon kettle which I talked about in the last post, and also I was going to use all whole flower hops – 2 pounds of whole flower hops, and I was stoked! The recipe is very roughly (read: not suppose to be a clone) based on a beer made by Russian River called Pliny the Elder, in my opinion probably the best Double IPA (DIPA). I actually did clone Pliny once before and it turned out excellent, hopefully this beer will be even better. So in the recipe there are hops everywhere: mash hops, FWH hops, 75, 60, 45, 30 minute, and flame out hops let alone the ridiculous amount of hops going in for dry hops, 6oz per carboy, haha. The hops are pretty much all C-hop goodies with some Magnum thrown in for some extra bittering pop, though I don’t think the beer is going to be too bitter considering there is so much hops added as late additions. Yet it is a relatively simple grain bill, 85% brewers two-row, two small additions of specialty malts, and some corn sugar to help hopefully keep the beer from being too sweet. It had a finishing gravity of 1.082, though I was aiming for 1.070, um can we say over-shoot, oh well, I’m OK with that.

Pliny the Elder and ElliosSo the brew day went relatively well, no major mishaps. I did discover the maximum capacity of my mash tun, 30 pounds. Even with lowered the grain to water ratio as low as I was comfortable after adding the mash-out water the lid was literally floating on top of the mash which was brimming the tun. I also realized, with the weight of the kettle (approx 40 pounds) and the weight of a full kettle full of wort (approx 110 pounds (14 gallons x 8 pounds each)) there was no way I was going to be able to move that thing around by myself. So instead of running the tun off directly into the kettle I kept the kettle on the burner and ran off into a 5 gallon bucket and transferred that to the kettle, much easier loads to handle. The sparge went slightly smoother than normal by me spending 5 minutes soldering some copper to make a pick-up tube. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I bought the HLT and finally did it, and it worked great, less than a cup of water in the bottom when all was said and done. The rest of the brew day seemed to go fine, though everything felt like it ran a little longer. I suppose I should have expected it considering I was heating a lot more water, and a lot more wort and also cooling a lot more wort. And no, I didn’t buy a bigger/better wort chiller yet, patience. The boil was a little funny with all of the hops in there, I was actually a little concerned about the absorption rate of the hops and how much wort I would lose, but I was able to pull 10 gallons so I guess I was fine. For lunch during the brew day I had a special treat, a bottle of Pliny the Elder that my buddy Guy was able to give me in trade for a few bottles of my beer when it is really, good trade. I felt this would be the most appropriate beer to drink to celebrate the batch and the day, plus I found the perfect pairing to go with it – Ellios Pizza. Yup, Pliny and Ellios, and it was great. The brew day was starting to come to an end after a very long cooling of the wort for November, I was suppose to go to my mom’s for Thanksgiving round two and I was starting to feel the time crunch. What I hadn’t thought about was cleaning up still, and there was a ton of spent wet hops, enough to fill an entire grocery bag. Plus I had to clean the new beastly kettle, and you know what, it wouldn’t even fit in my utility sink, so that’s going to be fun to figure out an easier way to clean it.

Whole Flower Hops

See all the pictures from this brew day at this LINK

Mash TunThe next day was still full of beer-stuff fun. Since I was in a hurry Saturday I didn’t get to attend to my hop supply and put them away properly. I was going to re-seal the Mylar-type bags they came in with a Food Saver, but I couldn’t get it to work with those bags (though it is suppose to) and it was the first time that I had tried to use it on Saturday, so it waited until Sunday. On Sunday I still couldn’t get it to work with the Mylar-type bags so I had to use the expensive Food Saver bags, it’s like buying n inexpensive nice printer with expensive ink cartridges, ugh. Anyway, it worked great with their bags and everything is all air tight and in the freezer waiting for the next brew day. I also finally got around to another long time project, adding a thermometer to my mash tun. I bought the thermometer when I bought the tun and just never committed to the project. I think the ease and usefulness of the pick-up tube from the day before inspired me to finish this project also. This one wasn’t as easy as I anticipated, though I would have realized the issues if I would have thought it through. Anyway, the thermometer is designed to be used as a “weld-less” conversion for a kettle, or for a metal vessel. So it is designed to go through something very thin. My mash tun is about an inch thick since it is an insulated cooler. So I needed to figure out a way to mount this to that. The solution I came up with was to use a 3.5″ hole saw and carefully drill into the face of the tun to make a space large enough to accommodate the face of the thermometer, but I only wanted to drill through the front and not the back. After drilling through, I was able to scrape out all of the insulation leaving the back wall of the cooler (the inside) exposed. This was approx the same thickness as a metal vessel and I could then add the thermometer to the cooler. This seemed to work fine, and additionally bought me an extra inch of length to the thermometer now being even closer to the center of the tun. I still haven’t brewed with it yet so I don’t know how many times I’ll smack it while stirring, but over all I’d say it was successful.

So if all goes as planned this beer will be ready in January, so make sure you ask me about it then if your interested in trying it, I know I am! Oh, and BTW, you know I embarrass myself for your pleasure with those old pictures, right?

5 Responses to “10th Anniversary Brew Day”

  1. EM Says:

    In this post you used the words/phrases: wet, extra inch of length, thickness, sticky, much easier loads to handle, blew me, pop the cherry, tight, mount, I don’t know how many times I’ll smack it, exposed, it wouldn’t even fit, very long, drill, Magnum, over-shoot, large enough to accomodate, 3.5″ hole, a little longer, I was able to pull 10 gallons, and last but not least…sparge. Happy X-year anniversary, you beer makin’ perv!

  2. Brian Says:

    Well, at least I know you read the whole thing 😉


  3. Fool Circle – Artisanal Ales » Blog Archive » You got salad in my beer! Says:

    […] yesterday I finally had the opportunity to transfer the Anniversary Ale into secondary carboys and to add the dry hops. Let me be the first to say: 6oz of dry hops in 5 […]

  4. Fool Circle – Artisanal Ales » Blog Archive » War of the Worts XV Says:

    […] in this competition, actually, I had the same beer entered twice, shotgun approach. This was the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Beer, the Stick-Icky DIPA, which has recently been dubbed the FCX, got all that. Anyway, I entered it as […]

  5. Fool Circle – Artisanal Ales » Blog Archive » January IPA Says:

    […] available. So, this one was just labeled as FC Hoppy IPA, it was roughly based off of the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Ale Sticky-Icky DIPA. I say roughly because the base malt is slightly different and the hop additions are slightly […]

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