Archive for the ‘Homebrew’ Category

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.

Gnome Root Beer

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I’ve been way behind again for brewing, making more excuses than I should, but at least I have my first batch of root beer to share!


So, I’ve been slacking hard on brewing, and being a guy with three taps in his living room it always feels a little “boring” to not have something pouring from all three. I knew my most recent batch, the Brown Simcoe, was going to be at least two more weeks so I wanted to do something. That’s when I remembered I had an old root beer kit down in the basement.

After being inspired by Garrett brewing his Big Daddy’s Root Beer with his kids and how good it turned out I figured this could be an easy solution to have three beverages available. I went to grab the kit, let’s see here, yeast expired in 2002, no problem I won’t be using that, and what’s this, the honey is solid (!), hum, we’ll have to make that work. I did some brief poking around on line and came across information that essentially said honey (as itself) can not go bad. So basically I tried to heat the honey from the outside to see if I could get it gooey again – not so much, around the outside a little bit (see picture above).

So basically I followed the recipe I had: 2 gallons 160+ degrees water, 3 gallons of cold water, 2 oz of Gnome Root Beer Extract, 3 pounds of honey, 2 pounds of cane sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. I boiled 1 gallon of water and used our hottest tap water (maybe 140ish) for the second gallon, then slowly dissolved the hard honey into the hot water. After the honey dissolved, it took some “chopping” to break it up, I added the rest and kegged the root beer. Originally I was just going to mix everything in the keg, but with the way the honey was I wanted to make sure it was all dissolved.

I now have a designated keg for root beer so hopefully I do this a few times a year. Basically (I am told) that the root beer flavor is so strong it essentially leeches into the rubber gaskets of the keg and is quite difficult to completely get rid of. I did taste the extract straight (2 oz of extract to 5 gallons of water, it is strong!) and boy was it bitter, it really didn’t even taste like root beer though it definitely smelled of it. I wasn’t ready to designate a tower line to root beer so I essentially have a picnic tap inside the kegerator for the root beer, I think this is a good alternative.

So, I’ve got 5 gallons of homemade root beer on tap, anyone who has kids who likes root beer this would be a great time to visit – how exciting would it be to “finally” (for some) get to try one of my “beers”.

Scottish Heavy – MacRae

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I think it may be, the unexpected, the unplanned, the unannounced (until now) return of the MacRae!


This isn’t the same MacRae we all grew up and loved so much – this is a different beer. It is more like what a Scottish Heavy Ale is truly supposed to be like. The previous MacRae’s were always too big, too sweet (still delicious, but out of style) – this is very much true to style.

I am slightly hesitant to call it MacRae, only because I think I may build up a Wee Heavy recipe instead and call the MacRae – but for now we have MacRae’s Wee Lil Bastard – yes, yes, that’s what we have!

Anyway, the beer is totally easy drinking, I think it’s like 3.2% alcohol which is like water compared to the stuff I normally brew, but it’s SUPPOSE to be light. This would be a great beer to have on nitro, or a hand pump, or a firkin – but alas it is only on tap – only on tap at my house (well, at least until Garrett puts a keg on tap at his house.) Regardless, it’s got nice flavor, finishes dry, and makes me want to keep drinking more, it’s our friendly neighborhood session ale! Swing by and try some so when the next two kegs of doctored Scottish go on tap you can compare.

Hop Scottish and Kegs

Monday, March 30th, 2009

So last weekend I kegged the Hop Scottish and the un-doctored Scottish Heavy Ale.


Again, hops and Scottish beers are like opposites, so to me to see a nice load of whole hops chillin’ in the fermenter with Scottish beer just cracks me up, I know I’m slightly touched. Both the transfers went fine, no big deal, the whole hops are a little bit of a pain to get out of the carboy, but no big deal. The traditional Scottish tasted fine, flavorful, but light and refreshing and the hop Scottish tasted a little wacked – like someone put mint in iced-tea. Not that it doesn’t work, but when you’re not ready for it it like a bonk on the noodle. The traditional is actually on tap now, more on that to follow.


Monday, March 16th, 2009

So tonight I doctored my 15 gallons of Scottish Ale, I changed its Scottishness.


So, originally I had 15 gallons of Scottish Heavy 70/- Ale. That’s cool, but 15 gallons of any beer is a lot of the same thing (think over 6 cases). So I decided to tweak some the beer and hope for the best. First, we have the original plain-ol-plain-ol Scottish Heavy 70/- Ale. This is essentially a malty session-strength ale that is the same style as the original Hunting MacRae, could have beeen an unplanned rebirth? Second is the Scotch Scottish. This is 1oz. of American oak chips, steamed and steeped on 2oz. of Johnnie Walker Black Label then added to the carboy, this will be sampled in a few days time to see how it developed. The base beer is quite light and want to try and contribute not overwhelm. And third is the Hop Scott. This is 2oz. of homegrown Zeus (a la Garrett) hops added to the carboy. The irony of this addition is that Scottish beers are know for their lack of hops, thus being completely opposite of traditional. Other ideas that were bypassed were some sort of dark fruit (think cherry, raisin, fig, plum), a herbal addition (thinking rosemary and sage while making chicken on Sunday), and spice (possibly Chinese 5-spice or caraway).

So, what’s done is done at this point, we will see what developes. I could see a possible blend and have a Hop Scotch 70/- Ale perhaps. Perhaps…

American Brown Simcoe

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

So yesterday, after all the bitch work, what do I do? I try to kill you! No, no, no, sorry about that – I brewed a batch of beer – an American Brown Ale with all Simcoe hops.


Last night was a smooth brew night with only a few bumps to get started, but I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t fully prepare. So after all the bitch work I took a break and determined I was going to brew. I flipped through the few ingredients/recipes for something I thought would be relatively easy with few things that could go wrong. I came across an American Brown Ale recipe that I had recently ordered ingredients for before and that Garrett and I had brewed before. I felt pretty confident that this one would be straight forward.

I planned on starting at 4:00PM, but ran into an issue right off the bat – no propane. So before anything could get started I had to scoop up the two propane tanks and get them exchanged at the store. I’m sure the clerk was just being nice, but I disliked the tone of ‘so, what are you going to use those for?’ I told her I like to cook outside which kind of just got a shrug, but there was a part of me that wanted to say something about running a meth lab out of my basement, but decided that could have been more trouble than it was worth. After that I went home and literally fired things up. The ingredients were already weighed out minus the base malt, I had done this when putting together the Scottish Ale ingredients, this was a nice touch and something I will do again.

I also had wanted to adjust my mill to try and get a finer crush thus improve my efficiency (currently floating between 70-72%, would like to see it closer to 75-80%).  I thought the mill was going to be easy to adjust, but I couldn’t figure it out on the fly, so I just tightened things up assuming they were “reset” to where they were. Well, I think I must have moved something differently because the mill was vibrating pretty bad which isn’t normal, I’ll have to give myself extra time before the next brew day to review this. Fortunately the crush looked fine so I just walked away while I could. I returned to find that I had over-heated my mash-in water (a common problem for me) and had to wait for it to cool 30 degrees or so. I was hoping to avoid this problem by having my ingredients pre-measured out, but I suppose messing with the mill took an equivalent amount of time.

The rest of the brewnight whet relatively well with only one other real hiccup. About half way through the mash Robert showed up and he hung for the brewing which was a nice change of pace since I was pretty whooped-up from all the bitch work earlier in the day. We wound up playing a few games of 9 Ball too which was a nice break from just hovering over kettles and coolers and trying to will the process to go faster. When it was time for the first hop addition I went upstairs to collect the hops for the recipe and realized I didn’t have them…? I don’t know what I was thinking, but when I ordered ingredients for everything else, I didn’t order hops – this should be interesting. I dug through what hops I had trying to find a substitution that would work that I knew wasn’t slated for another batch. I came across a 2oz. bag of Simcoe and thought – this will do. So the original recipe called for three half ounce hop additions of Columbus (60), Chinook (10), and Centennial (2) – I punted and added three two-third ounce hop additions of Simcoe in the same time-frames. Yes, I know it will be different, but I also think it will still be DE-licious!

Post hops dilemma and re-commitment the brewnight was fine. We actually ordered some Mexican food from El Tapatio and Robert ran out and picked it up, so that was a nice break, but made me drag even more. Towards the end of the night, like after the flame was off and the chilling was on the tail end, I could tell Robert was getting twitchy from hanging in the basement with “nothing to do” for the last few hours, but at this point it’s really a waiting game. So we chilled, transferred, oxygenated, pitched, and relocated the carboy. I quickly did janitorial duties, mostly just the wort chiller and kettle at this point. By the end of the brewnight it was 10:00PM and I was ready to be done. We had talked about going to Mitchell’s for some St. Patty’s hang-out-ness, but I was out and I think Robert was too. Instead we decided to watch Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the newest Kevin Smith film with Seth Rogan as one of the two leads – both people I think are incredibly funny. I thought the story was OK, but the movie had lots of laugh out loud parts for me. Overall I’d say it was good and if you enjoy KS or SR at all it would be worth watching. For me, the actor that stole his scenes was the actor that plays the “human MAC” on the MAC and PC commercials, he was hilarious.

Bitch Work

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Bitch work – no one wants to do it, but it still has to get done. Guess who’s turn it was again, and again, and again, and again…


So between last night and today I got the pleasure of cleaning six kegs and four carboys. I also was lucky enough to transfer three beers to secondaries and clean all three beer lines in the kegerator. Man, am I ever having fun!

I had already waited a while to clean kegs, I had four piled-up waiting for me and then two kegs kicked last night making it six. For me kegs are easier to clean in succession flipping the cleaner or sanitizer or whatever from one keg to the next. So of course I had the original four kegs done and cleaned-up before the next two were ready – awesome.

Then to transfer the three beers I needed three clean carboys, well I only had two, so I had to clean one, then transfer the three, and then clean those three – so much fun it hurts, I know your jealous.

And if all that wasn’t enough, since two kegs kicked last night, and the third spot was empty it was time to clean the beer lines, hooray! So since I was already doing bitch work I cleaned the lines extra well including taking apart the faucets and the quick disconnects, just to add to my pleasure.


So what did you do with your Friday night and Saturday afternoon? I bet I had more fun than you!

Scottish Heavy 70/-

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

So yesterday was only the second brew day of the year, but man was it a doozy!


So for like the past month (maybe more) Garrett and I have been talking about getting together and brewing another batch of beer. This time we had decided on doing a Scottish Heavy 70/-. We realized that after putting the recipe together that though there were a lot of grains since it was a 20 gallon batch, there were not a lot of grains for a 20 gallon batch. We talked a bit and came to the conclusion that we could probably get away with doing a 30 gallon batch on his 20 gallon system. The theory being we would brew a bigger beer (higher true OG) and then dilute down to a smaller beer (our estimated finished OG). So we brewed a beer that was about 1.056 and diluted it down to 1.039. What that meant was each carboy would receive a 3.5 gallons of wort to 1.5 gallons of water ratio. It worked out almost perfect, we walked with about 28 (+/- 0.5) gallons.

The brew day itself had it’s own snags, but nothing too major – I forgot to bring the hops and had to drive home to get them, and we stopped the wort collection from the mash-tun and “re-mashed-in” with more water to prevent a stuck mash about half way through. Really other than that, I think the day went really well and fluidly. Garrett drug stuff up from his basement and started the foundation/mash-in water by 9:30, I showed up around 10, I bet we had grains in the mash tun by 11, and we were oxygenating wort by 4 o’clock, all rapped up and clean before 5. So theoretically a 7.5 hour day, but realistically 5 hours of work. We also were outside all day, which wasn’t horrible, but it was pretty crisp and a little windy, and it was starting to wear on me a little by the end of the day. We also got to try Garrett’s root beer that he has on draft with our lunch. The root beer was really good, I think he said he made it from the Gnome kit, though he said it wasn’t as strong as the first batch, I still thought it was great. Also, Donna whipped up yet another great meal – pulled pork with BBQ sandwiches accompanied by home-made German potato salad (bangin’!) and coleslaw. Come to think of it, we didn’t have a single beer the whole brew day – go figure.


Later that evening I wound up staying at Garrett’s to hang out with a bunch of people coming over. I finally got to try his British-ish Ale and his latest batch of Choking Sun Stout. I thought both were really good, with the British-ish Ale being a really sessionable easy drinking beer, and I tried plenty of it. There was all sorts of action going on; tons of peeps, mad food, crazy games, and crazier movies – Zombie-School-Girl-Musicals, Team America (fuck yeah!), and World Wide Clout (whatever that shit is…). All in all it was a very full fun day – can’t wait until next time.

Bottling Kegs

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

So the other day I pulled off a couple bottles from the current kegs on tap.


Again, right now I have an American Stout, California Red, and a Pale Ale on tap. So far it has by far been he easiest to bottle multiple beers at the same time, and since I had three go on about the same time that meant I could bottle three. I pulled 8 bottles from each reserving two each for the yearly Fool Circle Beer Tasting. So that left me with six each. Theoretically I could use them for competition, but I doubt I will – maybe with the American Stout. The Pale Ale is out of category and the CA Red is “uncategorizable” if you know what I mean. What evs!

Hey check out that bottle, a 1 Liter swing-top, pretty sweet, like a half a growler.