Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Waiting, Waiting...

Waiting for the next meeting and rationing my oak-aged vanilla imperial porter... must... not... drink it all... before meeting... And trust me. Its hard. My family put a hurting on it over Easter weekend, and with good reason - the stuff is really nice.

Waiting for my hops to grow - All 5 new rhizomes are now in the ground in some of the richest soil this side of Newark. I'd be floored if they didn't thrive. Hopefully this season I'll have a good crop of Cascade, a good crop of Nugget and Liberty, and a small crop of Magnum - The magnum rhizomes were your typical tiny cuttings, so it'll take a year or two for them to get big and strong. Can't wait until the first few shoots push their way up out of the ground.

Waiting for my Belgian Strong Dark Ale to finish fermenting. The BBBOT is still glug-glug-glugging away. I am starting to wish I had intentionally fermented this thing high (like 76-80). Its been around 70-72 for a couple days and now I've stuck a heating pad on the carboy to get it up a couple degrees. This beer would probably actually benefit from a really nice yeasty fruity profile.

Waiting for my latest batch of IPA to condition. I need to move it to a secondary in a few days or maybe even I'll just keg it. I'm hoping it is tasty. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Waiting for my MoreBeer.com order to finally ship. The 10 gallon GOTT coolers have been backordered for a couple weeks now, and they finally got them in over the weekend. I should see my order moved to "Shipped" status any day now. Then I wait a week for delivery.

Waiting for the weekend so I can brew again. It's a sickness, and I've got it bad. This weekend will be either a Nut Brown Ale or another batch of Black Honey Ale. I'm thinking Nut Brown.

Waiting... waiting... waiting...

Friday, March 25, 2005


Out with the old...

My first 3 gallon keg of Scotch ale just kicked. I have put on the second... And when moving stuff around there, the Porter is probably a half pint away from kicking as well... which means OAK AGED VANILLA IMPERIAL PORTER will be on tap very soon.

I have a problem with one of the 3 gallon cornies of OAVIP... I checked this morning and one of the poppets on gas-in side isn't holding pressure, so the keg is essentially flat. I scrambled to pull a post & poppet off the scrap keg I bought from HDYB, get it cleaned and sanitized, and installed... It seems to be holding pressure just fine. I'll hold my breath on contamination until we crack into the keg, but I think I'm fine.

I have the servomyces in my hands. WOOOOOT! It cost me nearly $14 for 6 capsules... OUCH!!! If anyone out there wants to try this stuff, order it from MoreBeer. They have it for < $8 for 6 capsules. I will be kicking myself for not just getting it online for a few weeks, I imagine.

The Alucard Strong Dark Ale will be brewed tomorrow - I'm stoked. This is a beer I've had on my drawing board for over 2 months now, and I've been dying to brew it. Imagine a belgian - light in body, big in flavor, black as midnight, with hop spiciness, roasted notes, and a touch of licorice in the nose and leave... It should be near >8% ABV, finish somewhere around 1.016... The mix of WLP500 and 550 will probably be a very interesting mix of fruit and spicy phenols...

I also have everything I'll need for my next 3 batches after that...
. That should keep me plenty busy until May when the inaugural brew on my AG system happens - Another batch of Amarillo Pale Ale.

Yeah, I'm obsessed. Its a sickness. And I just don't care. :-p

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Yee haw.

Yesterday the wife and I built and prepared our hop beds out in back for planting the new rhizomes (this weekend). We've got 2 4'x2' beds and one 2'x2' bed. They are upraised 7" beds with about 6" of tilled soil down from the upraised section. Donna mixed up a nice blend of manure, peat moss, miracle grow, and mulch to combine with the (essentially clay) soil back there. Soon our 2 Magnum, 2 Liberty, and 1 Nugget rhizomes will be ready for action. YES!!! I'll have to take some pics and post them here once its not so damn muddy and nasty outside.

My belgian blend of WLP500 and WLP550 is currently on the stir plate in a yeast starter. I'll let it work thru the 800mL of starter its currently in and step it up to 2000mL in a couple days... hopefully that'll give it a chance to propogate again with more O2 and fresh sugars.

Of course all this is in preparation for a weekend brewing of my Alucard Strong Dark Ale, a belgian ale designed to be close to 1.080 OG. Its got 8 lb of German Pils Extract, 2 lb Dark Candi sugar, 3 lbs of Belgian Pale 2-row, and a healthy dose of Special B, Chocolate, and Carafa malts. For a little extra character I'm going to toss in some whole star anise I picked up for hints of licorice.

It's also assuming that HDYB is going to make good on their now month-old promise to get my servomyces in. If it doesn't "come in" Tomorrow or Friday I believe I am going to have a meltdown. I've only been waiting since February 20th... and I could have ordered and reorderd it a couple times over from somewhere online, but I'm trying to be a good boy and work thru my LHBS. This may be my last time if this weekend is the third in a row without results.

EDIT:I got off the phone just a little bit ago with Jan. Looks like I will have my servomyces this weekend. YEE HAW! I am feeling somewhat sated and mildly relieved.

I'm slowly working thru the remnants of Marty's "Newark Daze" brew he brought over Sunday. Its presence in my kegerator is definitely a refreshing change... Its nice to have someone else's handiwork available for sampling. I wish I had some idea what the recipe was, but even Marty isn't quite sure - It was a kit he augmented with extra hops, malt, and yeast while brewing it. C'est la vie...


Iron Hill - Brewer's Reserve Night: BELGIAN MADNESS

This info comes courtesy of John Biggins.

April 23, 2005 -- Iron Hill - Riverfront, Wilmington

Brewer's Reserve Night: BELGIAN MADNESS

Featured 10 Belgians, inc: Abbey Dubbel, Abbey Tripel, Quad, MERLOT
OAK-AGED QUAD, Saison, Oud Bruin, Belgian Brown, Kriek, & Lambic.

Featured guest: Tom Peters of Monks, Philly. Will be pouring his
exclusive Flemish Red (read: Rodenbach-type Red)

Sunday, March 20, 2005


"Sex in a Glass"

That's what my wife has dubbed my Oak-aged Vanilla Imperial Porter. It works for me. I'm not sure that all you mere mortals out there in blogland are worthy to taste this stuff, but I might be indulgent at the next meeting (April 15th). For those of you that don't plan on attending - woe. Woe and dispair. Otherwise you will have to drop by pub Sever and have a draft pint of it. At 7.5% ABV (not that you'd know it when drinking it), this stuff will definitely get your groove on... Its a lusty brew.

Marty came over to pick up the rebuilt corny and drop off one to be emptied - his "Newark Daze" ale from the Newark Food & Brew fest last year. Its good stuff - SO I'll either have it empty by the time he needs another - or I'll exchange him another rebuilt keg. We sat around and chatted, brewed my Rainy Day IPA (very aptly named for today's climate), and generally relaxed.

The inaugural run of my 3-roll mill from Crankandstein ROCKED. That thing is a grain BEAST. It cracked all the husks leaving them mostly intact and chewed the kernels into the perfect size. I'm very impressed. It was worth the expense.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


And so it begins...

Starter for my next batch is boiling on the stove... I will brew my "Rainy Day IPA" tomorrow evening... It uses some of the Chinook hops I got from Jeff Ramberg back in our December meeting (hop swap) and a partial mash. I must say I am slightly concerned about the hops - they smell slightly cheesy, which might be great if I were brewing a lambic - and so I dub them "The hops of dubious history". I removed them from the "dry hop" bill and reduced the amount going in the recipe to 1oz... (.5 for 60 minutes and .5 for 10)... but I am going forward with the recipe. We'll see what happens. I have to believe that Jeff wouldn't swap 2oz of crappy, bad hops for 2oz of good Amarillo pellets... he doesn't seem like that kind of guy.

EDIT: I just couldn't do it. They smelled too funky. A second opinion from my wife confirmed the cheesy smell. I just can't do that. So I tossed out all the Chinook (as in garbage can) and replaced it with 1oz Magnum pellets @ 60 min.

Next weekend will hopefully be the Alucard Strong Dark Ale (My belgian-style stout) and after that the Limey Vale Nut Brown Ale.

Meeting last night was good. Big turnout - Jerry generally has a big turn out though. Some new faces - was great. I gave away some supplies and I swear Jerry must have unloaded about $40 worth of DME on the new guys - Lucky. I could have used some of that DME for starters ;-) Fun was had by all. And let me tell you - Dave Lawrence makes a mean Imperial Stout and Marty Drinan had a fantastic Black Chocolate Stout clone.

The servomyces saga continues - It should be in NEXT Thursday or Friday.

I'm off to tend to my starter and finish rebuilding a keg for Marty. He indicated last night he needed to borrow one so I broke down one of my recent acquisitions, replaced all the gaskets, soaked it in PBW for a couple hours, and I'm rinsing it for him to pick up tomorrow. Hope he remembers...

Friday, March 18, 2005


Stoudts Road Trip

I found this old picture from a club road trip to Stoudts many years ago.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


More St. Patrick's Day Fun

OK, St. Patrick's day is over, but here is more holiday fun in questionable taste. Staccato, near my condo, serves a drink called an "Irish Car Bomb." You fill a pint glass halfway with Guiness and add Bailey's and Irish Whiskey, mixed just right. I asked a co-worker, whose last name is McKenna, if it makes you throw up. His answer was "the first one doesn't." He refers to it as a "public transportation drink." You can't drive home after drinking it. Fortunately I can crawl home from Staccato. There is a band playing there Friday night called "Potato Famine."As I stated in the last post, I gave up drinking for Lent, so that eliminates more liquid holiday fun. Come Holy Saturday at noon I'll be at Kramer's counting down the seconds.

I realize I have been living in a cave the last four years...

Jane Hautanen (Jane Doe)


The First State Brewer’s Beer History Quiz

Here is a quiz I gave at an FSB meeting a few years ago. All of these questions were derived from the book Prost!, by Horst Dornbusch. Do you know any of the answers without looking them up?
  1. What is the name of the Bavarian beer purity law of 1516? (You should all know this, but can you spell it and do you know how to pronounce it?)

  2. In 1553, summer brewing is outlawed in Bavaria. What was the result of brewing only in winter?

  3. What did Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek discover in 1674?

  4. What was the name of the first commercial doppelbock brewed by the Paulaner monks of Munich in 1780?

  5. What chemical process in brewing did Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, discover in 1789?

  6. What was outlawed in Cologne in 1603 to defend the local Kolsch ale?

  7. What occurred in 1810 to celebrate the marriage between the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig I and Princess Theresa von Sachsen-Hildburghausen?

  8. What was invented in 1818 that made the production of pale malts and pale beers possible?

  9. Who invented the hydrometer in 1843?

  10. Who discovered that heating beer to 145 °F (63 °C) for thirty minutes kills bacteria or other organisms it may contain? This resulted in an increased shelf life of beer in hermetically sealed containers.

  11. What did the German engineer, Carl von Linde, invent for the brewing industry in 1873 that contributed to the spread of lager brewing?

  12. In 1881, what did Emil Christian Hansen do as the head of the laboratory of the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen to contribute to the development of beer?

  13. In 1890, the British chemist Cornielius O’Sullivan discovered the last missing link in the understanding of the beer making process. What did he discover?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Philly Homebrew Gathering with Guest Speaker Charlie Papazian

This was sent in from Jerry Carney. He said he just got this from the BUZZ Club e-mail list.

Philly Homebrew Gathering with Guest Speaker Charlie Papazian

When: April 14th 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Iron Hill Brewery1460 Bethlehem PikeNorth Wales, PA
phone: 267-708-2000
website: www.ironhillbrewery.com

What: Enjoy $1.00 off Iron Hill beers by showing your American Homebrewers Association (AHA) membership card. Hangout with homebrewers from the area. Take a tour of the brewery. Then sit back and enjoy Charlie Papazian, homebrewing legend and president of the AHA, as he gives a 30-40 minute talk - sharing some of his great homebrewing stories and answering questions. He'll be on-hand afterwards to sign his books, talk homebrew and share a beer. One-Year Memberships to the American Homebrewers Association will be available for $33. Make plans to renew or join at this special price.

Special Thanks: Mark Edelson at Iron Hill Brewery & Jason Harris atKeystone Homebrew Supply

Saturday, March 12, 2005


The Waiting Game

So, I go to HDYB today to get my grain, yeast, and other supplies for the next few months... Not the least important of which was the Servomyces yeast nutrient I intend on using for my next batch - a strong dark belgian (Think high-gravity belgian porter/stout). No servomyces. Maybe it'll come in next weekend but no guarentees. I also wanted to use WLP530 in the recipe - they didn't have a single vial, let alone 2... so I am substituting with a WLP500/550 mix. Should be interesting.... No Bullion hops for my "Limey Vale Nut Brown Ale" either - but they are getting me 2oz hopefully in the same shipment of my servomyces. So... I guess I'll do my yeast starter on Wednesday with the expectation I'll brew Sunday. If the Servomyces isn't in again, I guess I'll just toss some regular old yeast nutrient in the batch and charge forward. I've brewed something near 1.090 before without the servo, so it wouldn't be the end of the world.

My order with B3 for all my b-day stuff is still processing. They were out of the 10 gallon GOTT coolers... so hopefully that'll ship by next weekend.

My hop rhizomes from Freshops came in - I got 1 jumbo Nugget, 2 jumbo Liberty, and 2 midget Magnum .... The magnum won't have much of a yield this year (probably none), but the jumbos should have a pretty serious yield. Now to figure out where to plant them.

These hops are actually another way for me to get my wife involved in the whole homebrewing thing (aside from the consumption side which she has zero problem with :D)... She loves gardening, and this is right up her alley. She's now mistress of tap handles, head bottle filler, and chief hop cultivator. I can't wait to get that CPBF so she can try it out.

Training in West Virginia was... interesting. Now its over. Glad to be home. They had crappy beer in all the restaurants and hotels. Only micro I could find was Sierra Nevada and all the imports were skunked and nasty (yes, I actually had BAD Sam Smith beer.) Its very nice to be sitting here drinking a pint of my own suds... which I in all honesty find superior to everything I drank this week in WV.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Bloggers on Nightline

Hey, everyone, there is a thing on bloggers on Nightline right now. One of them is in Falls Church. Woo Hoo!

Jane Hautanen (Jane Doe)

Monday, March 07, 2005


New Toys and Stuff

Wife gave me the green light to order my b-day stuff and a couple other things, so soon I will have on its way:

I opted to get a 6" thermometer probe installed on the mashtun to help monitor temperature. Didn't figure I needed one on the HLT.

My wife and I are also ordering some rhizomes from Freshops this week. I think we're going to get 2 Magnum, 2 Liberty, and one Nugget. I figure that no one else in our brew club is currently cultivating those varieties, so if they do well I can share the wealth in the coming years. Besides - I hear that Kent Golding and Willamette don't necessarily do all that well in this area.

Off to Belle, WV this week to train more people on SAP... Yee haw.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


The Kegerator

I was surfing E-bay this evening, looking for a new flute, when I came across two featured items -- beer coolers and kegerators. Just so you know (You've probably seen them, anyway).

Jane Hautanen (Jane Doe)


DeGroen Beer to be brewed in Delaware

It's been many years since Theo DeGroen visited the First State Brewers at Charlie Garbini's house. The Baltimore Brewing Company had been a frequent pub-crawl destination for this club. It was sad when I learned last year that the brewpub was closing its doors. However, this is really good news! Read the following article in the Baltimore Sun.

Delaware brewery is tapped to keep DeGroen's flowing

Friday, March 04, 2005


Disappointment and elation

Well, turns out that HDYB didn't order last weekend, so it'll be next friday before my servomyces comes in. I'm disappointed. I really wanted to brew this weekend, but that was a big piece of what I was going to use in the batch. I know alot of folks in our club think I'm terrible for ordering my stuff online, but here's a prime example of why I do alot of the time. I'm all for supporting the LHBS, but it'd be nice if once in a while I felt the support went the other way. I'm probably just being whiney and petty, so I'll stop.

On a very happy note, I am getting 4 more cornelius kegs in the mail today. I just checked UPS and they are out for delivery. For $13/piece (and an additional $3 for a complete O-ring replacement set), Adventures in Homebrewing in Michigan will send you some nice ball-lock kegs. With about 30 minutes of TLC per keg to break them down, scrape off stickers, etc - Its very much worth it. The total order was $81.40 with shipping, which works out to just a little over $20/keg.

Apparently you can also get them for $20/ea from Carbonator Rental up in Philly... I haven't bought any from them yet, but I did call and talk to them. They seem very nice. They only had 5 gallon cornies last time I called.

I bought more b/c I have read numerous places that Pepsi and Coke are both moving away from the 5 gallon kegs to boxed syrup concentrate... so in a couple years, its going to be damn hard to find kegs. You'll be able to buy new ones for $90 (OUCH!!!) but that's a little rich for me. So I figured I should invest now and get some more before the Chinese buy them all up for scrap stainless.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Cutting hours and costs

HDYB has scaled back their store hours to just Thursday thru Saturday again. I loved their Wednesday-Sunday schedule, but they must not get enough Wed & Sun business to stay open that much. Oh well... Must wait one more day to find out when my Servomyces is coming in.

My Crankandstein 3D-CGM mill came Monday. The thing is a beast - the mill alone weighs 13 lb, solid steel. I haven't actually milled anything with it yet (waiting on the Servomyces to go to HDYB), but I did a test run with my drill... its gonna be sweet. There are settings that you can "click" the rollers into place with (like 9 settings), or if you want something outside the normal 0.025" - 0.065" gaps, you can even do more than that (without the 0.005" detent stops). I still need to set it up w/ maybe a stand or something... and I'm also wondering if I should motorize.

The mill is my first step towards cutting batch costs - now I can buy whole grains and keep them for many months - which means I can buy bigger. In addition I'll be going all-grain in May, and this mill will allow me to get 50lb bags of base malt and brew whenever I feel like it - SO LONG EXTRACT!! BWAA AHAA HAA HAAA!!!

I did some math and doing an all-grain batch will save about 50% on the fermentables side of things... granted some things, like hops and yeast are just fixed costs per batch... but not paying upwards of $2/lb for extract is going to be nice.

I'm also looking forward to having more control over my fermentables ratio - Making big beers w/ extract sucks b/c you can pretty much guarentee a high finishing gravity unless you start subbing out the malt extract for other sugars... So, you either live with the higher FG and hop the hell out of it to compensate (which doesn't really work well for all styles), sub out for different sugars... or you live with strong, sweet beer. I am not happy with any of these alternatives, so a-mashing I will go... a-mashing I will go...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


U.S. Beer Drinking Team

Bored NASA employee starts up the US Beer Drinking Team. News story here. Official website here.