Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beginning Brewery upgrades and why they are important:

At my local brew store yesterday, I was asked about upgrading to all grain brewing. The home brewer in question is relatively new to home brewing and thought all grain was the key to cheaper and better beer. While all grain is less expensive in the long run it does not necessarily make better beer. Malt extract has come a long way since the early 80s. The two things all grain brewing does are open up the choice of ingredients and give you more control. While I couldn't make brewing any cheaper for him, I outlined how to achieve better beer without the expense of moving to all grain.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Lager Brewing

Winter Lager Brewing:
Where did the summer go? It sure got cold out pretty quickly (and this is great for home brewers). If you have read much of my previous posts you know I stress the importance of fermentation temp control.  In the heat of the summer months it is often difficult to keep the wort cool enough, but in the winter it’s much easier to keep it warm. The other reason I love the cooler months? Garage lagers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What to brew?

I have a poll running over at HomeBrewStuff that is all about what weird experiment should I brew next. Hit the link and go vote before I decide to close the poll!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Saison Season

Belgian Farmhouse Ale:  Saison Season
Over the weekend I brewed one of my most favorite styles, Belgian Saison. This is a style that is extremely difficult both in brewing and in quantifying. Why is this a difficult style? The saison was traditionally brewed after harvest time, stored over the winter months, and then served to farm hands during the spring and summer months. The sasion was brewed with whatever grains the farm grew. Barley, rye, wheat, it was all fair game. Plus, many farms did not have temperature control during fermentation and the yeast evolved to work in warmer temps.  The beer had to be big enough to last for months but also light enough to be thirst quenching in the heat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Spice Must Flow!

Pumpkin Spice Beers:

For the past few months I’ve been reading the original Dune series, by Frank Herbert. In the Dune universe everything is centered around the “spice”. It extends life, allows interstellar space travel, and is described as having a strong cinnamon flavor and aroma. Throughout the books, characters are constantly drinking spice coffee, spice beer, or eating spice laced food. I’m a huge geek so it was no surprise to anyone who knows me that I changed up my usual coffee, a light roasted breakfast blend, for a cinnamon flavored blend.

Over the weekend, I wanted to brew but couldn’t decide what. When my roommate Ted told me to brew a spice beer I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that! In addition to Dune, my brew club is hosting a club “brewers challenge” on spice beers at the end of October, and fall is almost here which means Halloween parties and Thanksgiving dinner. How did I not think of this sooner? Pumpkin spice beer here I come!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting a little Buzzzzzzz

Coffee Porter Recipe:

It may still be hot; we are forecasted to hit almost 100 degrees tomorrow, but its time to start getting fall and winter beers ready. It is going to be cold out before you know it and you’ll want nice rich malty beers to warm up with. Porters and Stouts are great styles to experiment with adding strong flavored ingredients to, like coffee, vanilla beans, and licorice, of chocolate. This post will cover brewing with coffee.

A Barrel Full of Fun

My American Stout has finished primary fermentation and I’m getting ready to add it to the barrel that I just got. In preparation for this let’s discuss how to use and maintain a barrel.

One note before I start, if you are looking to get wood aged flavors from barrel aging, you need a new barrel or a refurbished barrel. Many local distilleries and wineries will sell their used barrels for cheap. I called around my local area and found several wineries that would part with red wine barrels for 50$ to 75$. These barrels were all refurbished, and ready to go. Refurbished means cleaned, possibly shaved staves, and charred. Refurbished barrels have some wood flavor to impart due to the charring, but can have thinner staves, will be more oxygen permeable and won’t impart as much wood flavor as a new barrel; they may also still have flavors of the previous liquid they held, like red wine. Used barrels are a great option for sour beer. Once I extract all the oak flavor out of my barrel I will be turning it into a sour barrel.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oak Aging Beer

I just finished up a new post for all about getting your wort cold and keeping fermenters cool. I thought up this topic while preparing to move my Russian River Consecration clone from primary to secondary. Why did I think this a great topic to write on? Because we hit near record temps, 108F. Man that was a hot day!

Back on the Consecration Clone, the kits come with oak chunks from the actual barrels that Vinny, from Russian River, uses. I've used wood in my beers many times and thought I'd share a little of research, knowledge, and experience I've gained.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oak, Barrels, and Recipes

I’m just a guy writing about beer. The reason this is important is that whatever is happening in my home brew life is what I blog about here. What’s happening is that I am getting a barrel from HomebrewStuff. 10% off an already low price is pretty darn good. This barrel is going to be the focus of the next few posts here. First I’m going to cover building a recipe from scratch, in my case it is an American Stout to show case the oak. Then we will cover oak and oak aging. Third, we’ll cover Barrels, from how to prepare a new barrel, aging in a barrel, and maintaining it and getting it ready for the next beer. Lastly, we’ll have a follow up on the Oak Stout tasting notes, possible recommendations on changes you can make to make it better.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Getting and Keeping it cool

Getting it cool:
Extract brewers or All Grain brewers, beginning or advanced, everyone has to get their wort cooled after the boil and keep it cool during fermentation.  What are the different methods? Is one way better than another? In this blog post, we’ll cover all this and more.
There are several ways to cool your wort down at the end of the boil. Some ways require almost no extra equipment but take a lot longer to achieve pitching temperature. The most basic of way is the good old Ice Bath.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Time Drinking: Sour Ale part 2

Its summer time in case you hadn’t noticed. I sure have. Hot days and slightly less hot nights, summer brings a time for light, easy, refreshing beers. One of my favorites is an apricot pale ale. 5 or 6 pounds Light malt extract (or 8-ish pounds pale malt), half a pound Crystal 20L. Use low mash temps if you brew all grain for a light dry finish. Hop with Cascade, I prefer about an ounce at 60 min. Ferment with a clean ale yeast like Whitelabs WLP001 or Wyeast 1056. Then secondary with a can of Oregon’s Best Apricot puree for about a week or one bottle of Apricot fruit extract at bottling time. The apricot is slightly tart and blends nicely with the citrus of Cascade hops.

While this apricot beer is great and in my beer fridge every summer, the real summer time treat is Berliner Weisse, a tart, sour German wheat ale.

This post is an introduction to sour beer. "What is it" and “how do I start doing this” will be the topic.
The first thing folks often ask me when I offer them a sour ale is "Why would I want to drink that?" My answer is that sour ale is a truly unique type of beer offering a flavor complexity unlike any other beer out there.

And I'm back! has asked that I start blogging for them as well on their corporate blog. I'll be sending in new posts once a week or so.  I'm super excited to be blogging for them! Owner of HBS is a good friend of mine, Marcus. I highly recommend checking them out. The staff (Marcus) is well educated in home brewing, very knowledgeable and willing to take the time to explain or answer any questions you may have.

My first post for them covers Berliner Weisse. It was one that I had wanted to work on for here so I'll cross post. It won't exactly be Sour Beer part 2, but it will cover where the first part left off.