Thursday, June 30, 2005


Winding down

Originally I was going to make this post about how I figure I'm probably done brewing for the summer - but that is most likely not true. I just posted my "stepping up" post, and it would be somewhat ridiculous to get all this great equipment and not use it - Right now the real reason I might stop brewing for a while is lack of keg space. After I keg the three beers I have in glass carboys (2 of which will happen this weekend), I will be down to 2 2.5 gallon kegs available, and they are really spoken for with this last batch of the OAVIP. Knowing me, I'll probably plead my case to my over-indulgent wife, and get permission to buy 4 more kegs.

Instead, I'll make the "winding down" aspect reference my OAVIP - who's secondary days are just ahead (this weekend, I expect). It had a really fast fermentation, mostly due to the Servomyces and whole yeast cake from the previous batch - couple those with the fact that WLP007 is a fast fermenter anyways - and it had finished in under 48 hours. I haven't checked gravity yet, but I'm sure its near finishing. So, this weekend I'll be steaming oak and slicing vanilla beans... and then the wait begins. Fortunately I've got 5 left to hold me over until October, which is the earliest this stuff should be drunk (I think). The extended aging time helps mellow the flavors, and in the case of this batch - will hopefully assuage effects of the 78 deg temperature it was at for a few hours (like 5 or 6) between the time I went to bed and the time I woke up and corrected the problem. It got really hot, really fast...

Next up, I forsee some 10 gallon batches - most likely my Amarillo Pale Ale and maybe a nice malty brown ale... keg space allowing.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Two more brews...

This past wednesday I brewed an oatmeal stout using a pound of kilncoffee malt... used it as the starter batch for the higher gravity batch I brewed tonight, which will hopefully come out somewhat similar to my last oak aged vanilla imperial porter. I already know it will be somewhat different - I used slightly more willamette finishing aroma hops and the gravity came out lower than anticipated, I expect as a result of rushing the sparge. My kids were about, the wife had things for me to do - I just really didn't have enough leisure to give the mash and sparge. So the bad news is that this next batch won't be as strong, however - It'll still be something above 7%, hopefully. I'm pitching an entire yeast cake of WLP007 (Dry English Ale), so it should finish completely and low (so long as I didn't mash too high also).

I wrote a little spreadsheet on my PDA to help me convert hydrometer Brix to specific gravity - I got tired of running in to the PC whenever I needed to do a gravity check. It works great - Pocket Excel format. Anyone interested let me know.

I also used one of the pumps Marty sold me to dramatically cut my cooling time and reduce my water usage. Since I am an immersion chiller guy (I actually prefer them), I use my standard ground water and some periodic agitation to get the temp down to around 110 deg F. Then I switch to the pump setup that pulls ice water from the cooler, thru the immersion chiller, and back into the cooler. My cooling time went from 50 minutes to hit 80 deg to 20 minutes to hit 75... Hell yes!

coolingpump1 coolingpump2
(click thumbnails for bigger pic)

I've got 4 beers in kegs at the moment (2 belgians and 2 IPAs) - soon to be joined by a few more. Hopefully Marty will finish off the keg he borrowed from me which will give me just enough space to brew a 10 gallon batch of the Amarillo Pale Ale. If not... I need to have my best friend up from Dover some more and hit my kegs hard.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Stepping up

Well, my 14 gallon kettle is shipped and on its way to its new owner - ME. I'll arrive next friday, just in time for the weekend... I am very excited - I'll be able to brew 10 gallons of Amarillo Pale Ale and Scottish Ale at a time. I've got most of the hardware for my pump skid ready - I am just in the process of working some of the oxidation / rust off the housings and baseplates so I can reprime / paint them before mounting. I haven't picked up copper tubing for the HERMS coil yet - still trying to decide if I need 50 feet of 1/2" coil - That seems like a whole lot of liquid to lose... maybe I'll figure out a way to drain it so I won't. All my stainless pump fittings will be here tomorrow along with a 10" cartridge water filler. Not sure if/how/when I'll use that, but the idea was I wouldn't have to lug 10-14 gallons of water from the kitchen out onto the deck - I could fill in place.

My hefeweizen is kegged and on tap - and very delish, even for an extract batch. The Little Brave Red IPA is also kegged and carbonating at the moment - It'll probably have a month or so to wait before it makes a debut just because most of the kegs in my kegerator are 80-90% full. My oak-aged scotch ale isn't very oakey. I think I'm going to have to steam another 2 oz of chips and add them to the secondary. I'll probably also put another 2 oz of oak cubes in the kegs with the beer... or maybe just an ounce.

The Native Rage IPA is ready to move to a secondary for dry hopping - Probably will tomorrow night. That beer was done fermenting in 2 days - no kidding. All airlock activity ceased on Tuesday, and it is at 1.018 for the gravity. I couldn't believe it - Just goes to show you the power of pitching a whole active yeast cake - It went from 1.072 to 1.018 in 48 hours. You hopheads are gonna like this one, methinks.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Meeting tomorrow night

Just a quick reminder that our next meeting is.... tomorrow night! It'll be at Hank's new home up in northern Newark. His wife Anjou always makes some fantastic Indian food, so if you miss it you're crazy.

I will be bringing:

Even though I'll probably have my Hefeweizen and Little Brave Red Ale kegged, it won't be cold and ready for tomorrow's meeting - We'll have to wait for July for those ones to make an appearance.

Looks like Hank wants to revive the homebrew competition for the Sept/Oct timeframe. That's perfect - I have a few big beers that will be peaking right about that time, and will most definitely have more to submit this year than last.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Beer Logo Game

Try to guess the American Beer Labels game. I've gotten 12 of the 26 so far.

Friday, June 10, 2005


"Brewing up a business"

Hi Delaware Dogfish supporters -

We have 3 Delaware book signing events this weekend that you might want to know about....

Saturday, June 11th
Borders Books, Newark
noon - 2pm

Saturday, June 11th
Borders Books, North Wilmington
2:30pm - 4:40pm

Sunday, June 12th
Books and Coffee, Rudddertown, Dewey Beach

Dogfish Head founder/President and author Sam Calagione will be at all three events signing his book "Brewing Up A Business." Sam will also have gold-rimmed beer goblets for those who purchase books!

Remember - Fathers Day is 6/19 and a signed book and beer goblet would be a great present!

Mariah Calagione

HECK YEAH! Now I'm glad I didn't get one from Amazon... I'll be heading to Borders to meet the man and get a book signed on Saturday. Maybe I can convince him to cough up his Indian Brown Ale recipe (yeah right...)

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Pumps, Porter, and Progress

Last week Marty dropped off my two March TE-5C-MD pumps I bought from him. The man is genuinely lucky and generous - I can't believe he found 5 of these things, all in good condition (some rust on the motor housing, but nothing major), and cheap! They cost more than $400 new, and have a max throughput of 18GPM - Obviously I am going to have to dead-head that back significantly, but still - they are going to work great. I picked up a couple of (unfortunately) brass fittings today, and will get some hose barbs from Home Depot this weekend. If my tests go well, I will probably upgrade the brass components to stainless (Only spent $6 for a brass ball valve and 1" x 1/2" bushing so far). Then I'll be all set for when my 14 gallon kettle arrives... won't have to worry about lifting ridiculous quantities of 176 deg water.

My Iron Hill porter clone is really really good. I'm so pleased with it. Its stronger and a little more roasty, but I have a feeling I'll nail it on the next batch. I'm sitting here sipping on a pint as I type.

My all-grain scotch ale batch is in the secondary, already polluted with 2oz of medium toast french oak chips. Another 3 or 4 weeks of the secondary and I'll keg and condition it. My Little Brave Red Ale is done fermenting, which means I'll be brewing its big, mean brother this weekend - the Native Rage IPA. In addition I brewed (and I use that term loosely) my hefeweizen kit last night after sitting in my basement for over 6 months.

Goodbye extract brewing! After all-grain, extract brewing really feels like cheating to me. I'm not knocking any extract brewers out there! Don't take me wrong! It is just so much more rewarding >>to me<< to go through a full mash and sparge cycle rather than scoop stuff out of a can. I think the whole extract process was invaluable for me to get my techniques down, and probably a most necessary building block for me to go all-grain. If I jumped into all-grain directly, I would have had too much to obsess and worry about. Since I know my boil-to-keg techniques were sound, I could focus more closely on the mash and sparge.

Let's see... what else can I ramble on about that no one but me cares about... OH! We ordered 3 change-your-label tap handles last night. I'm going to have to start getting creative with Photoshop and devise some labels for my kegerator. Should be fun... and its time for my little black plastic knobs to go.

Sunday, June 05, 2005



OK, both the scottish ale (entitled "Fergus, King of Scotts" by Donna) and the Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter clone both turned out incredible. I'm very very pleased, and can't wait to bring some to the next meeting.

Brewed my Hoppy Red Ale this morning (not really a "Pale") to step up the yeast for the Native Rage IPA. It is hoppy with a capital H... once it ferments I'm going to have to see if I need to maybe rethink the hop schedule for its bigger, meaner brother. I definitely like starting my brew day at 4am too... I was done by 10:30am and had the rest of the day to do what I wanted.

Off to watch a movie with the wifey.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Burial at sea

OK.... so this morning I think I dumped a perfectly good yeast cake of WLP001 California Ale that I captured about a month ago. It filled probably the bottom 1/8 of a half gallon growler, and I was worried brewing my Native Rage IPA with it.... so it went down the sink. After I poured off the liquid and smelled the yeast, it smelled... like yeast. Not sour, not bad, nothing - so I probably could have used it just fine. I was more worried about how viable the remaining yeast were after 4 weeks.

So instead, I revised my brewing plan for this weekend and am brewing the Little Brave Pale Ale, a lower gravity, less hoppy version of Native Rage. I'll use it to step the yeast up to a pitchable size for something that should be close to 1.090 OG in the next week or two. Probably a good idea also since all three hops I'm using - Chinook, Warrior, and Tomahawk - have never made an appearance in one of my brews. This way I'll be able to taste a batch (at least from the primary before dry hopping) before going for the big gun.

I have 3 Vent-matic faucets on my kegerator now. It rules - My parents got them for me for my b-day. Now I've got the same faucets that Iron Hill and Stewart's use.

Off to finish my WLP001 starter for tomorrow's 4am brewing session...