Archive for the ‘Homebrew’ Category

Dubbel – Revisited

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

So I’ve messed around with the Belgian Dubbel style ale a little bit, so I figured it’s time to keep the “world” updated.

So last Saturday I transferred the two carboys of Dubbel to secondaries. Everything went as well as possible, except for one exception, I dosed one of the secondaries. Yup, dosed it with Chinese 5-Spice Infused Vodka, and that shit was potent! Seriously, I used 375ml of Three Olives vodka to 1oz by weight of ground Chinese 5-Spice. I then let this sit for 48 hours, swirling the jar whenever I happen to walk by. After 48 hours I double filtered it through a coffee filter, once and then again. If I was feeling really ambitious I would have put it through a Brita filter or another charcoal filter, charcoal is a distillers best friend as it’s said, but I didn’t want to “ruin” a filter with eternal 5-Spice flavor. Regardless, the stuff was like mace just smelling it, and like an 1/8th of a shot was pretty intense – so I was pleased :). Basically I was looking for a solution to extract the 5-Spice flavor and to be able to add the least amount of solution to the brew.

I pulled 32oz during the transfer to experiment on intensity. I added 1/4 tsp to a pint at a time until I thought I reached a flavor threshold that was somewhere between “yeah I can tell it is there, and what’s different about this beer…?” So subtle, but not non-existent. This turned out to be approximately 1 tsp per pint. Quick math told me I had 40 pints in this batch, thus 40 tsps, which turns out to be roughly 6.5oz of solution – so that’s what I added. It’s been in secondary for a week now and looks very similar to the un-flavored batch, cool.

Originally I was going to keg both of these batched next Saturday (02.06), but I’d like to enter it in a competition where entreis are due by this Sunday which means I’d need to keg it closer to Monday or Tuesday to leave time for carbonation, refridgeration, bottling, and shipping … poop. We’ll see what happens, maybe I’ll skip the deadline.


Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Yesterday was the first brew day of 2010, and so far so good!

I brewed a 10 gallon batch of a Belgian-style Dubbel. Originally I was suppose to do this last week, but one key ingredient I was waiting on, Belgian Candi Syrup, had not arrived yet, so it was postponed until yesterday. It really is a shame that the local homebrew supply store does not carry this product for I feel as if there is no comparison, rock candy or the newer soft candy sugar. The reasoning was supposedly because it was too expensive, though I was willing to pay a premium price plus shipping to try and have it in time and still was not able to, disappointing.

Regardless, the brew day went relatively well after it got started. My typical starting time is 10AM which has me wrapping up by 5PM typically. Yesterday I just could not get going in the morning so the day didn’t start until 12PM and I didn’t wrap until 7PM. I have noticed that 10 gallon batches do take slightly longer than a 5 gallon batch, and the problem seems to be that I can’t heat my water fast enough, I suppose the quantity is just that much greater. For example, after I mashed in I began heating the water right away for the mash out water and sparge water, about 14 gallons total. It took 1 hour and 50 minutes to bring 10 gallons up to 170’F and the other 4 gallons up to 212’F, that’s 50 minutes longer than I would have preferred my mash rest to be. And lets not forget the heating of the foundation water, bringing the wort back to a boil, and my favorite cooling the wort to pitching temperature – which for once was a non-issue (thank you January freezing cold ground water!). One option is a more powerful burner for the burner stand, I believe mine is currently 75,000BTU and they really just go up from there, but so will propane consumption, which is already up with the larger batch sizes. Additionally, I think when the weather begins to warm it will be time for a wort chiller upgrade. I am currently leaning towards a counter-flow or plate chiller to help with time consumption, but the “new” immersion/whirlpool options seem pretty interesting too, we’ll have to see what time and money allows.

I was able to use the newly converted mash tun for the first time this batch, it went well. No leaks, and I only smacked the thermometer a few times. It was also more likely a better temperature ready too, the new thermometer is much closer to being in the middle of the tun which is most likely a better average of the overall temperature, versus before I used a digital thermometer on the surface (first 6 inches or so) of the tun, which always worked, but I always questioned it’s overall performance.

So currently there is 10 gallons of Dubbel popping away in my upstairs where it is warmer. I plan on leaving 5 gallons of this beer traditional and the other 5 gallons I plan on doing something. Currently I am leaning towards dry-spicing the beer of making a spice-neutral spirit (vodka) infusion and infusing the beer in secondary. I think I want to do a Chinese 5 Spice Dubbel. If I’m luck the spice and yeast profile and malt aspect of the beer will go together brilliantly, if I’m not so lucky I may have a lot of spicy cooking solution. Though I am a week off from my original brew date, I am aiming to have these beers wrap up quickly if all goes well. There are two homebrew competitions that are coming up in February that I’d like to enter these, and it’s been a while since I entered a competition. First is the War of the Worts XV which is February 20th but entries have to be received by the 7th, but if I judge (which I plan to) I may be able to bring them the day of the competition as long as they are already registered, which will buy my an extra 2 weeks. The second is a homebrew competition through McKenzie’s Brew House, which is a Belgian competition only, which need to be in by February 15th. This one is interesting for the winner gets have their recipe brewed on the McKenzie’s system and served at the pub, nice!

Oh, and just to keep you posted, the Fool Circle 10th Anniversary Stick-Icky DIPA was kegged yesterday, so theoretically it’ll be on tap by next weekend, very good news. It tasted delicious and smelt fantastic while kegging. Though I learned a lesson, removing 12oz of spent dry hops (read: wet hops) from a carboy sucks! I have not found an easy way yet to get all that hoppy goodness out of that little hole in an easy manner, oh well, it’s worth it! Though I was thinking, I wonder if there is a way to create a device or system that will keep the dry hops constantly moving in the fermenter? The reason I wonder is that I’ve always noticed that the dry hops float on top of the wort, after they are wetted they are immersed in the wort, but still at the top. It makes me wonder if the hops were constantly moving throughout the wort, thus creating an ever changing contact point between hop (lupilin) and wort would there be an increased efficiency. Maybe some way to bubble CO2 through the solution to create an environment that would force movement, or a very big and strong stir plate that would constantly swirl the solution … dunno, just thinking aloud.

You got salad in my beer!

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

You got beer in my salad! … Or something like that, either you get it or you don’t 😉

salad in my beer

So 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 gallons of beer is totally and completely unnecessary and absolutely overboard. OK, now someone has said it, and I agree. BUT I did it anyway and it makes me smile.

When I was getting ready to add the dry hops I realized this is going to be a huge amount of hops, it filled about a gallon of space in the carboy, so my typical 5 gallon secondary carboys were not going to work, so I had to use my 6.5 primary carboys for this experiment. As of right now I would say only about a 1/4 of the hops are actually wetted, but I plan on leaving them in for three weeks, so I ‘ll give them a week on there own to absorb. But if it appears as if it it just too much, well then I guess I’ll flush the head space with CO2 and then give the beer an nice swirl or shake or something to get them as wetted as possible. No need to be wasteful in an already lushy environment.

The bad news was when I transfer the beer I always take a second gravity reading, the beer was still in the mid-1.020’s, not really what I was looking for. It wasn’t excessively sweet, but it had a lot more “chew” to it then I was looking for which for me lowers it drinkability (is this Bud Light?). I was thinking more West Coast style IPA, now we’re looking at more of an East Coast style, a la 90 Minute IPA from DFH. And I’m talking about body and fullness, not flavor as of now. I suppose that’s the flip side to Summer brewing is Winter brewing. In Summer it’s a constant battle to try and keep fermentation temperatures low, in the Winter trying to keep them high enough. It did ferment around 67/68F for the first week, but was probably closer to 63/64F for the second, and then fell close to 60F for the third. Oh well. I guess it’s time to try and find the time and money to work on the fermentation cabinet that I have, which should be able to create a year round stable environment.

Also of brief note, the Harvest Ale is now on tap. This is the beer that Garrett and I brewed using only fresh hops. Literally from the vine to the kettle. I totally appreciated the opportunity to brew that beer since I would not have been able to do it on my own since I have not re-planted my hops in years. I know, bad hop daddy. The beer turned out great, very different flavor than most “hoppy” beers and a great silky/creamy texture I wasn’t expecting. The hops are more floral, spicy, earthy, mellow but still retain a fresh flavor. It’s been dubbed the Freshy-Fresh around here. So soon there will be the Freshy-Fresh and the Sticky-Icky on tap, too funny.

10th Anniversary Brew Day

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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?

Hey! Where have you guys been?

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Think it’s been long enough since my last post? Sorry about that. The good thing is, you haven’t missed much, the bad thing is, you haven’t missed much because I haven’t done much homebrewing.

15 Gallon Kettle

BUT, the really cool thing is I’m ready to brew more in 2010 then ever before! Look at that beauty! That’s my brand-spankin’-new 15 gallon kettle which will allow me to double my capacity by doing 10 gallon batches instead of 5 gallon batches. This kettle has actually been on the “wish list” for quite some time, and I received a little bit of funding for it LAST Christmas and just finally pulled the trigger. This bad boy is approximately 40 pounds, all stainless steel, with welded fittings for a 1/2″ ball valve and 2″ length / 3″ face thermometer. I also opted for the optional false bottom so I can use whole flower hops in my brews if I so chose. And, the novelty of handles, go figure. Yeah, this isn’t a cheap piece of equipment, but with proper care it will realistically last a life time.

So in preparation of getting my brew on for 2010, or at least for the next little bit, and to hopefully abuse (in the best way possible) the new kettle and all of it’s features I also placed a nice sized hop order from Hops Direct.

Hops, 5 pounds

It’s kind of a shitty picture, but that’s 5+ pounds of whole flower hops. Each bag was suppose to be 16oz, instead the bags ranged from 20 to 22oz a piece, over a pound of free hops total. Also, I was trying to hit a dead-line for my delivery and Hops Direct upgraded my shipping from 3-day to 2-day for free. This is my first time using them and I must say I was happily impressed and would easily recommend them to anyone interested. So what did I order? I ordered a bunch of C’s: Cascade, Chinook, Columbus, Centennial, and Magnum. So everybody better get ready for some hoppy American brews, but what else is new from Fool Circle.

So hopefully more news later this week, at least one more post about a very special brew from the weekend after Thanksgiving, stay tuned!

Harvest Ale 2009

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

So yesterday my buddy Garrett and I brewed a beer that’s been dubbed the Harvest Ale, a Pale Ale brewed with all fresh hops!

Harvest Ale 02

We decided on doing a 10 gallon batch as this was TOTALLY an experiment, and 10 gallons would give us each 5 gallons at the end of the day. This was a total experiment because neither one of us had ever used fresh hops, there was no way of telling what the estimated alpha acids or IBUs from the hops would be, and hell, we didn’t even know if we were going to have enough hops for the experiment in the first place. In all honesty we could have basically made a “lawn clipping” beer by accident.

And let me just tell you, these hops were F-R-E-S-H-! Literally Garrett cut down the bines an hour before I arrived and filled a utility wagon and we began picking right away. Of course it had been raining all morning and we were a little unprepared for the excess water on the cones so Garrett came up with the idea of laying all of the hops on a screen with a fan on them to help surface dry the hops, nice. Our recipe called for a total of 20 ounces of fresh hops which we think translated to about 4 to 5 ounces of dry hops, which for a 10 gallon batch seems about right for a non-super hoppy beer.

Harvest Ale 01 Harvest Ale 03

So, why all the fuss with the fresh hops? Well, fresh hops are literally only available (in the northern hemisphere) once a year, so this could only happen when it happen, that alone makes it special. Also, the longer hops are handled and aged the less potent they and you lose the sensitive volatile oils that can’t hold up to it. So, there hops were literally like three hours old when they hit the kettle, they were picked by hand (versus machine) and were used in every aspect of the recipe. By using them throughout we know we destroyed any delicate compounds with a 90 minute boil trying to achieve our estimated bitterness level, but we mostly late hopped which will help preserve the sensitive material.

One funny thing that happened during the brew day was we WAY over shot our OG some how. We were aiming for 1.055 and hit 1.066, huge difference. Not that I’m concerned, though the hop profile may appear diminished, it just is big, it’s like 85%+ efficiency, and that’s pretty much even if I accidentally over weighed the grain by a pound or so. Anyway, this should be a pretty exciting beer to keep your eyes on to try and grab a taste when it is on the kegerator. Even compared to commercial versions, there is nothing else like this available, this is the freshy-fresh!

Everything but the …

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Yup … Kitchen Sink :). So today I brewed a beer dubbed the Fool Circle Kitchen Sink Dark, I know, super descriptive and right to BJCP style guidelines.

Kitchen Sink

So in the last post I talked about brewing the Kitchen Sink Amber, well today I brewed the Kitchen Sink Dark. Both of these batches were intended to use up all of my ingredients and still make drinkable beer, though not stylistically accurate. They did their job, the only ingredients I have left right now are about 90 pounds of base malt, 2 pounds of malted rye (which was ordered in “extra” for the R3 and never used), and 1 ounce of Cascade hops for dry hopping the KS Amber. So now it is time to re-up for some freshy-fresh batches, maybe say, … 6 batches worth, so again if you have suggestions let me know, I’ll be ordering soon.

Anyway, today’s brew day went pretty good. I was finished in about 5.5 hours without any major set backs but a few minor glitches. For example, I ran out of propane after collecting the wort but prior to achieving a proper boil, no problem that’s what the spare tank is for. I also couldn’t cool the wort below 80 degrees, again not too big of a deal, did the wet towel/fan trick the last two batched and it worked out marvelously. I suppose the biggest problem, which had nothing to do with making beer, is I have determined I am not a plumber. This is the second or third time I have tried to solder copper tubing for different brewing applications and I have never done a good job. It always takes me two or three attempts, it looks sloppy afterward, and typically I am unhappy with the outcome. Well today I was trying to put together some copper for inside the HLT to help siphon the water out without me having to tip it, a pick-up tube essentially. First my soldering sucked and second, I didn’t have enough pieces (realized after the fact) to make it work properly. Guess what that means? Another $5-10 bucks on stupid copper fittings and another hour of me struggling with the torch and solder. Oh well, I suppose that’s how we learn things.

Also, sorry about the lack of pictures for the KS Amber and Dark and the cleaned up brew room etc, I let Robert borrow my camera for a little bit so that we can document his hairy life here: Roby vs. the Razor. I actually had forgotten, but there was a similar bet in the movie Knocked Up where his roommates bet that he couldn’t shave or cut his hair for a year and the loser pays the other roommates rent for a year, now that’s a hefty bet!

R3, on tap NOW

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Sorry about the delay in recent posts, I guess I’ve just gotten caught up in other things. Anyway, Roby’s Red Rye (R3) is now on tap, so if you want to give it a shot, now’s your chance.


On tap with the R3 right now is the Cluster Wheat which is about to kick and the Sum Bra Pale Ale. The Cluster Wheat I actually stopped drinking for a while because I wanted to make sure there was enough left to reserve a couple bottles. Fortunately I got around to bottling on Saturday so everything is OK there. Have I tried to briefly describe the R3 yet, … I don’t think I have … Any way, in brief, the R3 is slightly darker than anticipated, thus skewing the true desired ‘red’ nature, though I have to admit that is a hard color to nail (for me anyway), it is also more hop forward and less malt forward than we had originally planned. Originally we really wanted to showcase the rye (50% of the base malt) but as time went on more and more hops were being added to the recipe. Honestly, it is pretty balanced, it’s just not what we had originally discussed. The rye is more subtle than I had anticipated, there is a slight spice note, a slight bread note, and a slight licorice note, but other than that nothing too dramatic. Some people say rye contributes a slickness on the palate, I did not detect that. It’d be interesting to see what some others say, I may have become a little jaded with it by now. BUT, after what sounds like a bunch of criticism, the beer turned out great and is a full flavored easy drinking brew. Above in the picture is “Aye”, he is the tap handle for the R3, pretty funny.

Today I brewed one of two batches to use up the ends of a bunch of older grains. Today’s was dubbed the Kitchen Sink Amber and the other is the Kitchen Sink Dark. I know they’re both real descriptive, yeah right. Today’s brew day was a little late start, not until almost 1PM, but other than that things went pretty good. It was beautiful weather, nothing tragic happened, and I was able to clean up and organize the brew area for the first time in a while, thanks to Karen for scoring me a nice shelving unit that I was desperately in need of. I did over heat my water for the HLT to so I had to let that cool some, and I couldn’t get my wort below 80’F after an hour and fifteen minutes of cooling. So right now I’m doing the carboy in a tub with some water and a wet towel and fan method to help cool it down via evaporation. Last time it helped almost 10 degrees in like 12 hours, so by tomorrow morning I should see some changes. I honestly don’t know if that’s just the surface area of the carboy that gets cooled that well, but it least it’s doing something. I’m thinking for the KS Dark about adding some Chinese 5 Spice Powder too it, sounds interesting to me. I was eating some stir fry the other day that had some in it and I thought it be good in a beer, first thoughts were a stout, a dubbel, or a saison.

Finally, looks like there is an interesting little web site that could be fun to watch on a weekly basis. Myself and two friends have a year long bet going and we decided to document it with a web site. So if you have any interest in checking it out or following along for the next year, check out this web site and bookmark it: Roby vs. The Razor. Basically it is a dollar a day bet with my friend Robert that he can’t go an entire year with out shaving. Too funny, go check out the website.


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.