Archive for the ‘Homebrew’ Category

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!

Oatmeal Cookie Stout

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Yes, you read that correctly, and yes the Oatmeal Cookie Stout has been brewed.


Above: Mash tun full of broken cookie bits, oh Jebus!

So on Friday 06.19.09 I brewed a batch of Oatmeal Cookie Stout. The idea being this would be a beer that would cross the flavor profile of an Oatmeal Stout with that of an oatmeal cookie – seems like it would have potential to be tasty. So first I had to figure out how I wanted to go about getting that cookie profile into my beer. Originally I had thought about adding the cookie type spices during the brewing process at some point. Then I thought that I really wanted that baked type flavor a cookie has so maybe it would be better if I toasted my oatmeal in an oven. Finally I decided that actually baking cookies and putting them in the mash would be the best idea. So I had to create a cookie recipe that I was comfortable with putting in my beer, so no oil, butter, eggs, milk – none of that stuff. So I kind of created a recipe (see post below for the recipe) that came out consistency-wise very similar to granola but in the shape of a cookie. The first trial batch of cookies turned out pretty well and were eaten right up, a good sign.

So when it was brew day I went to bake the batch of cookies for the beer which was twice the size of the original trial batch. I then realized we only own one cookie sheet and I didn’t want to have to wait. So essentially I packed the entire sheet with the cookie batter in sort of the style you would bake cookie bars. Then after it was finished baking I kind of just broke the pieces up into cookie type sizes to help cool, and then after they cooled broke those pieces up into smaller chunks to help them break down in the mash tun. It was kind of a funny little process, but I hoped it was all worth it in the long run and the profile comes through in the beer.

Oatmeal-Cookie-Stout-Web-2 Oatmeal-Cookie-Stout-Web-1

So to try and help compensate for the additional ingredients into the mash tun and not to trow off all of my numbers for strike water and estimated original gravity and such I weighed all of the ingredients going into the cookies to be put into the mash tun to enter into Pro-Mash to see what the differences were. The cookies had the strike water volume adjust a couple quarts up and the estimated OG went up a few points too. I have added the weights to the original recipe below also. Once I actually mashed in and threw a batch of cookies in the tun I was kind of weirded out. I just felt like I sealed my fate to a very long stuck mash and was preparing for an epic battle against oatmeal. Ironically enough the entire sparge went off with out a hitch. I am concerned there was some minor channeling just because the remaining liquid from the mash tun still tasted sweet, but the numbers in the long run didn’t disappoint, so I’m sure it was fine.

After the brew day is finished I always taste the wort to try and understand what this beer could develop into. Almost all wort tastes similar, especially for specific styles. It tasted as expected, stout-y, a lot of sweetness and roasted barley, but in the finish was a really cool baked cookie flavor with a little bit of cinnamon too. I really am not sure if this will translate to the finished product, and I am really tempted to not add any additional flavor to the seconday just to see what the results will be. Anyway, I think this will be ready to go by the end of July, so we’ll see if it goes on line then, or if I hold onto it for four months of more for the cooler weather to arrive.

On a side note, this was the last recipe I had ingredients prepared for, so that means I’ll be thinking recipes and ordering ingredients soon, so if you have any suggestions of things you’d like to see speak now or, well you know.

“C” is for Beer

Monday, June 15th, 2009

That’s good enough for me!


Tonight I baked an experimental / trial batch of cookies for an upcoming beer. Yup, a batch of cookies for a batch of beer. For a while now I have had the idea of an Oatmeal Cookie Stout stuck in my head. All the creamy love of an Oatmeal Stout but with some of the characteristics of an oatmeal cookie: toasty, chewy, raisiny, cinnamony, a touch of vanilla – you know. So originally I was just going to add the flavorings to the boil or fermenter or something, but I wanted that baked cookie flavor. So I thought for a while about toasting the oatmeal before the mash, and just recently I thought why not mash with cookies! So that’s what I am going to do, mash oatmeal cookies – I know I am begging for a stuck mash!

Anyway, I’m going to keep my base Oatmeal Stout recipe the same and then mash in additionally about 30 oatmeal raisin pecan cookies. The reason I did the trial run tonight was because I had to modify the cookie recipe to take out all the milk and oils/fats – I only wanted to use things that I was OK putting into my beer. The funny thing is I am not really sure how to compensate for the extra sugars and oatmeal stickiness in the mash, maybe just some extra hot water – I’ll figure all that out later, right?


Anyway, here’s the cookie recipe, I made a half batch tonight and it made 15 cookies:

Fool Circle’s Oatmeal Cookie Stout Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

1 cup raisins soaked in 2 oz of Cognac for 24 hours

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1 cup dark brown sugar (5oz by weight)

1 cup light dried malt extract (DME) (3.5oz by weight)

1 cup Marris Otter flour* (4oz by weight)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups oatmeal (9oz by weight)

3/4 cup chopped pecans (3oz by weight)

1 cup water

Mix all ingredients together. Let stand for 5 minutes so oatmeal can help mixture set-up. Spoon globs of goo onto an ungreased baking sheet, about golf ball size, around 15 per sheet, should yield 30 cookies. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375’F or until desired doneness is a achieved. Remove promptly from sheet and cool. I think that’s it. (*Marris Otter two-row barley ground to flour consistency, hint: use a coffee grinder.)

I thought the cookies turned out pretty well, will definitely try them warmed up in the microwave for breakfast this week. We’ll see how they hold up. I’ll let you know how the stout turns out, whenever that is!

Irish Red & Coffee

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

So tonight I did a little maintenance and transferred the Irish Red.


So, this was the beer I pitched “expired” yeast into, though it fermented out in like 48 hours. So I transferred it to secondary tonight to help clarify it a bit. Theoretically I will be brewing on Sunday and whistling in the dark. On Sunday there is the potential to keg the Irish Red and to brew an Oatmeal Cookie Stout, we’ll see what happens between now and then, be like yourself.

I also earlier this week made more ice cream, this time coffee flavor ice cream and it is sick! I kind of went from past experience, the Ben & Jerry’s coffee ice cream recipe, and gut. Here is what I cam up with if anyone cares:


2 Large Eggs

3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP Sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup half & half

8 TBSP fresh ground Kenya AA coffee


– Heat cream and half & half to 180′ F

– Add coffee and heated cream mixture to a french press, mix, and let sit 10 minutes, then press

– Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute.

– SLOWLY add hot cream/coffee to egg/sugar mixture to temper eggs and avoid lumps

– Heat entire mixture back to 170′ F

– Chill overnight and then follow ice cream maker instructions

For me both ice creams I have made so far have been very flavorful, the Vanilla was very vanillay and the Coffee was very coffeey – but the coffee, the second ice cream, had a much better consistency. The difference? I’m guessing eggs versus pectin, the eggs were a much better emulsifier.

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.