Saturday, April 30, 2005


Share the wealth

Well, it is done. I've ordered my 14 gallon modified brew kettle - Unfortunately it is backordered, so I probably won't see it until sometime in June. When I get it, it will be very nice - Threaded fitting for my kettle thermometer, 1/2" full-port all-stainless valve, etc - Had to get spot-welded handles, but hey - I don't intend on dragging around 12 gallons of hot liquid anyways. I also got a 50 foot 1/2" copper immersion cooler to go with it - I know Oliver will be yelling at me for not getting a counter flow chiller, but quite honestly - I like keeping my break material in the kettle and the immersion chiller is so less worry for me. Maybe I'll pony up and get a Therminator one of these days.

I've got over 200 pounds of grain in my basement. I wish I were kidding. I don't forsee having to buy much grain for the next year or so. I've got it all in rubbermaid bins in sealed ziploc bags (or something comparable) so I shouldn't have to worry about it going stale. If anyone feels like brewing on a Sunday thru Wednesday and realizes their local supply store is closed ... give me a call.

I've got 20 gallons in fermenters at the moment - a batch of strong dark belgian, a Rogue Dead Guy Ale clone, the black honey ale for my dad, and now a scottish 80/-. Next weekend I'll be brewing either a Pig Iron Porter clone or a Scotch ale (using the yeast cake from this batch). I've also got a few others on the drawing board, a English stout and what I'm calling "Native Rage IPA"... Warrior, Chinook, Amarillo, and a yet to be determined dry hop all rolled up into one enamel stripping double IPA. Since I'm a malt head, I figured I'd branch out and try to brew something that would make Scott Bieber weep like a little girl (kidding!)

My hops out in the back yard are going nuts. One of my cascades is already at the top of the fence. The recent arrivals are all doing pretty well with the exception of that one damned Liberty rhizome. It looked funky when we put it in the ground, and it sure is taking its time to push some shoots up. Hopefully it will :-
My keg of OAVIP kicked it (Recipe posted on I found out last night while diagnosing why my Kegerator lost its mojo in a matter of a month (CO2 was all gone). I had a leak at the cylinder regulator, I think. At any rate, that means that my Limey Vale Nut Brown Ale is on tap and it is goooooood. Crystal clear, drier than most nut browns and slightly hoppier - but strong and nice.

Speaking of which, guess I'll go pull a pint. Cheers!

Friday, April 29, 2005


If its not scottish....

Yay! Another brew day. I've got a culture of WLP028 Edinburg Ale on the stir plate ready for a batch of scottish ale. Tonight will be my second all-grain night. I can't wait - I'm using "Golden Promise" as the base malt - it is supposed to be great in Scottish-style ales. Next weekend I'll brew a big Scotch ale and use the yeast cake from this batch for that one.

I got a really awesome all-stainless ball valve for my 10 gallon kettle. The thing is built to last. In that shipment I also got a XL smack-pack of Ringwood Ale yeast (WY1187). Alot of people hate ringwood, but it can't be all bad since a certain local brewpub uses it extensively... And I intend on trying to duplicate one of their beers here pretty soon.

I got a $500 award at work for some pretty cool stuff I did for our sourcing organization last year. Its an automated entry routine that eliminated a ton of really tedious data loading for them when we went live on SAP. That money is going straight into buying a 14 gallon kettle & new immersion chiller. I can't wait to place the order.


State Line Liquors Beer Update

I just received an email from State Line Liquors, so I though I would pass along the beer section.

Beer... Beer... Beer

We've got a preliminary beer tasting schedule forthe next few months & a few additional notes we'd like to pass it along!

Stop by on Friday, April 29th from 4:00-7:00 pm when a representative from Tröegs Brewing Company will be offering samples of some of their many fine beers (no fee). Chris & John Trogner of Tröeg Brothers Brewing in Central Pennsylvania say, "We aren’t concerned with making beer to a particular style, as much as we want to create a quality beer that we like to drink—that’s what is really important." State Line carries a great selection & on April 29th (only), you can enjoy discounted prices on these Troeg brews: Hopback Amber Ale, Amber Pale Ale, Rugged Trail Nut Brown, Sunshine Pils & the ever-popular, Troegenator Double Bock. Visit the Troegs feature page (go to "Beer Home") on our website for additional info on these great brews.

GOOD NEWS... The sold out Baltimore/Clipper City bus trip (from January) has been rescheduled for Saturday, May 7th! BAD NEWS... Of the customers who'd signed up for the original trip, we had no cancellations. The trip is still completely full with an extensive waiting list.
We'll be sure to let you know if we add another trip anytime in the near future!

NEXT our upcoming beer tastings schedule:
Thursday, May 19th, 2005, 7:00-9:00 pm, "Blind IPA's"
Thursday, June 16th, 2005, 7:00-9:00 pm, "The Beers of Summer"
Thursday, July 21st, 2005, 7:00-9:00 pm, "Wheat Beers"
Of course we'll have details as we get closer to each event but in the meantime, please mark the dates on your calendar! We may be adding a date or two so keep an eye on the Beer Tasting page of our website. Also, for those who attended our recent Belgian tasting, please check out "Spring '05 Belgian Tasting" (click) page for some fun photos taken that evening.

Also, a reminder, thru April 30th Club Card members may take advantage of a special 15% discount on all Belgian singles & 10% discount on all Belgian 4-packs & 6-packs. This is the last week!

Monday, April 25, 2005


North Country Malt Supply

OK guys - I knew this company was around, but I am just amazed that I haven't used them until now. They've got fantastic prices on malt and they ship really really fast. And they're open more than just Thursday thru Saturday. They have a pretty big selection of malts to choose from including several our local source doesn't carry like Kiln Coffee and Pale Chocolate (used pretty extensively by Iron Hill).

I actually have 75+ lbs of grain coming from them at the moment... although you have to pay shipping, its pretty reasonable. A 55 lb bag of Maris Otter Pale malt with shipping is $45 ($27 without)... and since its in Upstate New York, it should take only a matter of 1 or 2 days to get here.

So while some folks may be displeased that it doesn't support our LHBS, check out:

Of course... if you need malt you could probably just call me and I'll sell you some of mine at cost... At the end of this week I will have over 200lbs of grain in my basement... And I've got a mill that does a fantastic job as well.

o.O Yeah... I went off the deep end, but I won't need to buy grain for a long, long, LONG time.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Another in the bag

Or the fermenter, rather. My inaugural brew on the all-grain system went really well. Definitely found some things I intend on doing different next time, but I ended up hitting my OG and then some - I undersparged and ended up concentrating my wort down to 1.069... if I had actually had an extra half gallon it would have been closer to the intended target of 1.062. I also intend on managing my sparge temps a little better next time - I think I pretty much hate this whirly-gig sparger... I think it cools the water too much before it hits the grain bed.

What is it that causes those irrational fears in the back of one's head? People have been successfully brewing for thousands of years using the method I did today and have managed to make something fermentable (and most times it could pass for beer)... And yet somehow I had this little voice back there telling me that it wouldn't work for me. WHAT IS THAT?!?!? I didn't believe it would until I had finished my 60 minute boil, cooled it, and tasted the gravity sample. Amazingly enough... it tasted like sweet wort! And once again the laws of physics, chemistry, and nature apply to me as well. How reassuring. :-p

It was a 6 hour process, but quite honestly - worth every minute. I think I'm going to love brewing even more now.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Meeting wrap-up

Again we had a good meeting tonight. Some new faces all the way from Dover! They were really nice and I hope they come back for the next meeting - at my place! Woot! We also had Scott come up from Elkton MD... I'm not sure if he's come before - I could have sworn he came to the last meeting, but my memory is failing me... or maybe my beer is helping. Not sure which. At any rate, next meeting we'll take some member mugshots and create a new section on the FSB website that has the pics and short little bios for folks that participate. Maybe it'll help me (and other members) remember names and whatnot.

Beer reviews for the Oak Aged Vanilla Imperial Porter were mostly positive with the exception of Bonnie Bieber who hissed "too strong!!!" and quickly handed it back to Scott - With 8% ABV packed in there, I won't disagree - but I thought it was pretty smooth anyways. It's a very flavorful brew, no doubt... alot of folks talked about bourbon flavors which really floored me... there was more going on in it than expected. I'll be putting the recipe up on the FSB recipes section of the website tomorrow hopefully. Maybe someone out there might want to brew it themselves :D

I also (finally) killed my keg of Honey Pale Ale tonight when pouring the growler for the meeting, so as soon as I got home I dragged the "Rainy Day Pale Ale" upstairs and popped it in the kegerator. I fiddled with my empty honey pale keg a little b/c the liquid out poppet was leaking on me... but got it fixed (I think) and washed out. Tomorrow I'll rack the Limey Vale Nut Brown Ale into a keg in preparation for the OAVIP mini to finally kick.

HDYB called today and left a message that my 50lb sack of Pale 2-row is in. I'll swing by tomorrow and grab it, some Munich malt, and some hops & yeast to brew the inaugural beer of my new all-grain system... "Living Dead Girl Ale", a Rogue Dead Guy Ale clone for my wife in honor of many things, namely our daughter's namesake Lenore, a tribute to Rob Zombie's classic song, and my wife's favorite commercial beer of all time. I'm not going to bother to take the time to reculture the Pacman yeast strain ... I'll just stick with WLP001 California Ale and hope for the best. You know it'll be good.

My hops are out of control. The cascades I got from Jeff Ramberg are climbing my fence like little psychovines.... some are already over 2 feet tall. I gotta get out there tomorrow and trim some of them back so I've got like 3 or 4 per grouping. Both Magnum rhizomes have shoots, the Nugget has about 9 or 10 shoots, and one of my Liberty rhizomes has 2 or 3 shoots. One of the Liberty shoots is not doing so hot, mostly because the rhizome was funky when we got it... but it is shooting - I just don't expect to see anything visible for another few weeks.

Lots of good beers tonight... Scott Bieber brewed a Belgian Saison / Duvel clone during the meeting. I think in 3 or 4 months we should have a "Battle of the Belgians". I'll have 2 belgians ready for consumption (or at least tasting) at that point, Marty is about to keg a Tripel, and I know a few other members have tripels in the wings... could be really cool to have a little (informal) contest.

Oh well. Time to go collapse into a stupor and wait for 7am... when the wee beasties rise and attack.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005



What night does it start? Friday or Saturday at sundown? And do you have to get all the beer out of the house? That would suck.

Jane Hautanen (Jane Doe)


Micro Brew Beer Festival at Delaware Park Racetrack

Micro Brew Beer Festival at Delaware Park Racetrack


WHEN: Friday, May 20, 2005

TIME: Two sessions - 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.

WHERE: Delaware Park Racetrack Free parking!

COST: $25.00 per session - Buy Early & Save! Tickets purchased before May 6 are $20 per session!

Bring your friends!

Make checks payable to: Special Event Fundraising
Ticket price includes souvenir cup!
Must be 21 years old to attend or volunteer
For tickets or information, e-mail

Enjoy over eighty different micro brew beer choices at Delaware
Park, home to the ultimate entertainment experience in New Castle County!
This incredible event, held in a beautiful outdoor setting, is for both the
educated microbrew drinker and the first time participant in a microbrew
beer festival. Beer stewards will offer advice and informational handouts so
you will know more about the available beers.

In addition to beer, networking and fun in the tree lined grove, enjoy
PlaGolf's super realistic 3-D golf simulator!

This enterprise could not be possible without the volunteers who contribute
their time and talents to the operation of the event. We thank you for your
support! To volunteer as a beertender, beer cup issuer, beer steward, booth
attendant or brewer check-in person, contact

Founding sponsor: Delaware Park

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


BIG BELGIAN Night at Iron Hill Wilmington

Courtesy of our account:

On April 23 at 5 pm, Head Brewer Brian Finn will host the Belgian Beer Bonanza, which will feature: Abbey Dubbel, Abbey Tripel, Quadrupel, Oak Aged Quadrupel, Saison, Oud Bruin, Belgian Brown, Kriek de Hill and Lambic. The special guest for the evening will be Tom Peter’s of Philadelphia’s Monk’s Café who will be serving Flemish Sour Red Ale, a beer that he imports exclusively from Beligum. Iron Hill’s four other Head Brewers will be on hand including Chris LaPierre from West Chester; Bob Barrar from Media, Justin Sproul from Newark and Larry Horowitz from North Wales. The first 50 guests will receive Iron Hill pint glasses.

So, if you didn't attend the State Line tasting this past Friday, or if maybe you just can't get enough of that funky Belgian flavor, head up to the Waterfront location this coming Saturday and hoist a few.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Liquid Gold

Holy crap can I make a good belgian-style tripel.

The tripel I brewed back in mid-Jan (my first attempt at formulating a belgian recipe) has been aging for about three months now, so I decided to pour a little taste of it. I can't friggin believe it. It probably has another few months to go, but right now it is just amazing.

And while I was down there (and sampling the keg right next to it) I got some of what was supposed to be an IPA, but I went waaay to light on the late addition hops. Its about as pale a beer as I've ever brewed, and it does have a nice, smooth hop flavor and bitterness with a nice "signature" cascade aroma. Just for the hopheads in the club I recently ordered some Chinook (4oz), Warrior (2oz) and Nugget (2 oz) hops to mix up a really potent double IPA (to mix in with the rest of my hop arsenal).

Went to HDYB. They barely had any base 2-row at all, no Crystal 40L, and only had one of three hop varieties I was looking for. I asked them to order me a 50lb bag of American Pale 2-row, but since I anticipate this to be another fiasco like last time I also ordered 50 lb from MoreBeer along with 25lb of Golden Promise for some upcoming Scottish / Scotch batches. * grumble grumble *.

The Ramberg Cascade hop shoots are growing like mad - I've got some pushing 6 inches now. In another week or so I'll have to cut the shoots back to 2 or 3 to a patch... and seriously think about running some twine from the fence to the house for them to climb... Our back fence just ain't gonna cut it at 4 feet high. Still no sign of the 5 rhizomes we planted a couple weeks ago... hopefully we'll see those shoots break surface in a couple weeks.

Tomorrow is the Belgian tasting at State Line. I'm sure it'll be a complete zoo. When I called they talked about 100+ people. I know that a bunch of our members will be among the crowd, me and my best friend from Dover included. I think I talked the data manager from work to go as well - Donna and I ran into him at the Kennett Square Brewfest last year, so I know he's a beer guy. Should be fun.

Oh yeah... Meeting next week! I will be bringing some Oak-Aged Vanilla Imperial Porter provided it survives the weekend. I'll do my best... but no promises. If it doesn't, I will be tapping the second keg on for my B-day at the May 20 meeting. I'll also probably bring a growler of the Honey Pale Ale I brewed from MoreBeer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Researchers get $1Mil to see if hops helps menopause

Looks like scientists in Chicago are looking for some bitchy women to sample some cold ones.

UIC to study if beer ingredient helps menopause
April 12, 2005

Can an ingredient in beer help relieve symptoms of menopause?
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago will get $1 million a year for five years from the National Institutes of Health to try to find out.
UIC is one of five botanical research centers nationwide awarded federal grants for research that will include studying hops -- an ingredient in beer -- for relief of menopause symptoms and chaste berry to relieve premenstrual symptoms.
''We're trying to make some sense of it,'' said Norman Farnsworth, a college of pharmacy research professor.
Scientists already are doing a clinical trial to see if two other plant-based, nutritional supplements -- black cohosh and red clover -- relieve such menopause symptoms as hot flashes.
The research reflects the reality that about 38.2 million American adults use plant-based supplements.
''Given that millions of Americans are using natural products, these research centers are critical to helping us determine whether and by what mechanisms botanicals may serve as effective treatments or preventive approaches,'' said Dr. Stephen E. Straus, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of the NIH. AP

Friday, April 08, 2005


New Toys

My all-grain brewing equipment has finally arrived... along with my counter-pressure bottling stuff. I can't wait to use it - I've got one more batch of extract before I use it though - My dad wanted me to make him a batch of the Black Honey Ale. He loves it and has been rationing his last 6-pack for over a month now. Time to let him relax that a little bit. My first AG batch will be the Amarillo Pale Ale - I can never seem to have enough pale ale around, particularly with my best friend down in Dover - He loves the stuff. If only I had a 14 gallon brewpot, I'd actually brew a 10 gallon batch...

Today I'm kegging my lastest IPA (although it may be closer to just an APA) and racking the strong dark belgian to a secondary. I have a feeling that belgian will take a while to settle and smooth out - It was a really big beer. My brown ale will probably hit a secondary soon too - And from the sample I tasted, it is probably waaaaaay too hoppy to be a "Nut Brown". Its probably closer to an american brown brewed with mostly English ingredients. C'est la vie... it'll be drank anyways.

All of the cascade rhizomes survived. I've got shoots from all of them - one is already over an inch high, although most are just now poking out of the ground. No sign of the Nugget, Magnum, or Liberty yet - but they're working their way up from a depth of 6 inches, so I'm not suprised. Now that I've done a little more reading on the subject, this year we'll actually do what is recommended around trimming all but one or two shoots and stripping leaves below 3' once the vines are big enough. Hopefully we'll get a much bigger harvest than last year.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Big stuff man... big stuff

The gang returns today. I got a note from scott - apparently the crew is coming back from Germany today, loaded with pictures. I'm sure they'll chew thru a couple MB of space on the webpage's gallery.

Tasted my Rainy Day IPA. I apparently went way light on the late hop additions (15 minutes to 1 minute). Its probably just a pale ale with a little extra hop character rather than what people call IPAs these days - but then again I'm not a big fan of IPAs that strip the enamel off your teeth and burn the tastebuds from your tongue. Its a good beer - its just not an IPA. Oh well - next time I'll double my late additions.

My strong dark belgian is done fermenting - It was about 5 or 6 days after pitching which is unheard of for one of my beers starting at 1.080 - That servomyces is magical. I used it in the Nut Brown I brewed yesterday - with in an hour I had some airlock activity, and it was expelling CO2 like mad this morning when I got up (8 hours later). I am a believer. I'm not sure its worth paying $14 at HDYB for it, but you'd be crazy not to get some from MoreBeer at $8. The extra $1.50 per batch is soooooooo worth it...

Speaking of MoreBeer, my b-day stuff is on its way. It comes in Tuesday - BOOYA! I also put in an order yesterday for three new types of stir bars for my yeast starters - One is your standard 2" bar (I currently use a 1" and it is woefully inadequate in a 2000mL flask) and then two that are shaped like a + ... Check them out here. They should give a hell of a vortex, keep O2 disolved in the starter, and grow the hell out of some yeast.

I think one of my Cascade rhizomes from Jeff Ramberg is already sprouting... he he he. Growing your own hops is almost a moral imperative as a homebrewer - Even if they suck and you can't use them in your brews, just the act of trying to grow them deepens your connection to the hobby/passion and makes you feel good. Man... I'm turning into a treehugger... Time to go take a shower and scourge the liberal from me.