Friday, July 22, 2005


HDYB - New ownership?

I was in HDYB yesterday and Jan mentioned that they have someone seriously interested in taking over the business. Not sure if and when it will happen, but she said she & Pete intend on maintaining some low level of inventory until it happens... So our LHBS may not disappear yet.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Paradiso e Inferno

Well, after a one year hiatus, I decided to get back on the homebrewing saddle. I wanted a quick and simple recipe mostly for time convienence, but also something that would be ready to drink for a hot summer day. I chose this no nonsense Honey Wheat recipe.

OG for the recipe says 1.040, mine ended up being something like 1.062! Primary fermentation was normal. FG read at 1.010, not too far off the mark. No secondary fermentation, primed with 3/4 cup corn sugar.

About 10 days into bottling, took a sneek peak at how it was doing. Chilled one in the fridge for a bit, popped the top and bang! WAY too much head. Over carbonation to say the least. It was a nice pillowy white head, but it was clearly taking up half the glass. I also noticed the outside of the bottle was slightly sticky, and smelled of homebrew even before I opened it.

Went back to the basement, checked the box. One of the bottles had already shattered and soaked the cardboard box. How did I miss that?

For safety's sake, purged and dumped the rest of the batch. Several bottles are even more explosive then the one I sampled. No idea how this happened. I checked BeerTools recipe calculator, the recipe was written correctly. Maybe it was the summer heat? I don't know. I'm disappointed of course. Hate to dump beer down the sink. Looks like it's back to the drawing board.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Bulk Grain Order - Redux

OK everyone. We talked some at this past meeting, and I think we've got enough interest to actually place a bulk grain order with North Country Malt Supply. We'll probably do it in a few weeks (maybe after the next meeting so we can collect $$) to give folks enough time to look through the list and determine how much they need.

The list of grains and pellets can be found here here in Microsoft Excel format - You will notice they have several different maltsters available and many different malts to choose from. If you are looking for something in particular, North Country Malt Supply also has a comparison chart that will help you figure out what product you are looking for.

If you want to participate in the bulk order, please let Oliver Weatherbee or Garrett Sever know. We already have enough quantity to order to warrant a pallet shipment, so anything you want will only make everyone's shipping costs lower. You can order a couple pounds of individual grains or a couple ounces of various hops as well - you don't have to order big quantities!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Brewclub Brewery?

I received this email from Harald Ackermann today.
Hi Scott,

look what I found in the internet. (Speidel's Master Brewer) This looks pretty cool. They may have an 80L soon. That would be cool for a "Brewclub Brewery"


Wednesday, July 13, 2005


The power of beer

I had a bunch of my work colleagues for dinner and beer tonight - It was a ton of fun. We tasted my three brews on tap, I cracked open a few of the remaining OAVIPs, and eveng grabbed a few samples from the belgian kegs in the basement. Folks really loved it - and I think it actually convinced one of the non-homebrewers that he wanted to start looking into the hobby. My wife made some fantastic food as well - chicken shish kabobs, salad, and dips - it was wonderful. I really think everyone had a great time.

I must say that it is really rewarding to have people over and drink your beer when they honestly want more - I felt very happy and fulfilled. I think that is the beauty of homebrewing as a hobby - that others can really appreciate the fruits of your labor and enjoy themselves.

My ghetto brewery tour was very amusing for them - I think they enjoyed that alot too.

So now I go to sleep contented and happy the evening went so well - and looking forward to the next time my wife and I do this.

Homebrewing rules.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Bulk Grain Order

Spoke with Oliver tonight. I was planning on placing a decently large grain & hops order with North Country Malt supply sometime soon, and he suggested that perhaps we could do a bulk order and save some money. Base 2-row and crystal are pretty much staples, particularly for us all-grainers, so we'll poll folks at the meeting on Friday and see what they might want. In the meantime, go to North Country Malt Supply's website and look thru their catalog.

Typical 55 lb bags are ~$30, and 1 lb of hop pellets are between $8 and $9. These prices do not include shipping.

I'll also be bringing the price and malt analysis sheets to the meeting so we can see who is interested. I'll have to call them and find out what the deal is for pallet shipments and at what price it REALLY becomes more economical than just standard FedEx ground. God knows with gas being $2.30/gallon these days...

OK, I found out the deal. Sounds like we may have some difficulties doing a bulk order, but here it is. Cost for a pallet is $94 + a 8% fuel surcharge, which comes to $101.52 per pallet. Since their standard shipping method of Fedex Ground costs around $17/bag, that means the break-even point is basically 101.52/17 = ~6 55lb bags of grain, or 330lbs. I don't see us having folks that interested, but I could be wrong. In addition the pallet must be delivered to a business address - there is apparently a non-trivial surcharge for residential delivery.

I did ask if we could get quantities less than a 55lb bag included in the order, such as 5 lbs of this malt or 2lbs of hops, etc. They said that wasn't an issue and they'd just box it up and stick it on the pallet.

So, basically - If we've got 3 or 4 folks that want 2 55lb bags a piece, we should/could do it, provided we get the business address issue resolved. Otherwise we probably just want to order independently and have them FedEx Ground it to our respective houses.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Delamarva Brewing Craft

Here's an email I received from Doug Griffith of Delmarva Brewing Craft in Millsboro.
From:Delmarva Brewing []
Subject: Millsboro Home Brew Shop

Hi Scott,

I am Doug Griffith and with my wife Patti, we operate Delmarva Brewing Craft in Millsboro.

I am sorry to hear that HDYB is closing in September. I know I get some of my customers because they like to have someone to talk with in person about their latest brew or need some advise about their next and talking with someone over the phone just isn’t the same. I am sure your local homebrew shop will be missed by many in your club.

If there is any way I may help you with supplies for you and the First State Brewers club just let me know. I have a brochure of most of my supplies for both beer and wine making that I would be glad to mail some copies for you and the club.
My primary day of business is Saturdays from 9 to 5 but other hours are available by appointment. I have a toll free number for ordering which is 877-556-9433. I do mailorder and have found that most deliveries within the state are received in two days, many the next day after shipping. Although most of my customers are below Dover, I believe all packages go to Wilmington before being forwarded to their final destination, so the same delivery times would apply.

Again, if there is anyway I can help you with supplies, do no hesitate to call or email.

Doug Griffith
Delamarva Brewing Craft


The big(ger) brew...

Well, I brewed 10 gallons today with my new 14 gallon kettle. It was great. Did take longer than a 5 gallon session, purely because of the extra time to heat up more water. I probably could have cranked the burner and fixed that little issue. I also mashed for 90 minute instead of 60 because the water/grain ratio was 0.95 - Was necessary for my extra mash-out infusion. Some comical highlights of the day (all of which were learning experiences).

At any rate, the yeast is pitched and I've got them sitting on my concrete basement floor to act like a heat sink... I hope. At last count the temperature was down to 77 in the fermenters, so it is working... I just hope it continues to before the fermentation heat kicks in and knocks it back up.

I'm pooped. Time to go sit on the couch and wait for the ice cream festival tonight.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Greetings from Ralf Liese from Marburg, Germany

first let me say I regretted much that we had no chance to have a little more intense conversation than just hello and goodbye (more or less). I was so curious to get to know all of you, since Harald had told so much about his homebrewing friends. But time was much to short and we had to laugh a lot that evening, so there was no chance to find out half as much as I wanted to . . . Maybe we get a better chance next time.

Could you please do me two little favours? First I would like to ask you to forward my thanks to everybody for this wonderful evening at iron hill, I rarely had so much fun after a strenous flight. Special greetings to Dave, Jerry, Scott and his family!

And second: I found your homepage (First State Homebrewers) and spent a lot of time with fossicking here and there and everywhere. Then I wanted to show to my lab-colleague, to whom we met that evening, but browsing all galleries, I could `nt find a picture of you . . .

Best regards from sunny Marburg (with almost same temperature, but fortunately just half humidity in the air)



Bad news - HDYB closing

Dear Friends and Patrons:

Due to our personal circumstances, we are going out of business. We have enjoyed sharing our hobbies with you and hope that you continue to enjoy these hobbies for years to come. Barring someone purchasing our business, we will be closing no later than mid-September or when we deplete our stock. We invite you to come and purchase our remaining stock. We will be offering discounts, starting at 10% off all remaining items. All sales will be final. Please redeem any gift certificates you have at your earliest convenience.

Our store hours will continue to be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday - 11AM to 6PM - but please call to verify we are open if you are traveling a long distance as we occasionally close early for personal business.

Best Regards,
Pete and Jan

Monday, July 04, 2005



So updated the previous post with pics of the pump skid. Wort pump is the one with stainless fittings, cooling recirc pump is the one with brass.

In addition I grabbed some pics of my hops "trellis":

Today I also pulled about 4-5 oz out of both my Abbey Tripel and Strong Dark Belgian kegs - You guys are screwed for the October brew competition... these beers are just fantastic. Even the Alucard Strong Dark, which I was worried about, has turned out fantastic - I honestly sat back and had one of those "holy $%!t... I brewed this" moments. My wife concurred - they are awesome. So, hopefully I'll find a way to get a couple of them cold and bottled before the october competition. I also am looking foward to putting my low-octane alpha acid delivery vehicle, the Little Brave Red Ale, on tap - My hefeweizen kicked tonight. I am not suprised... all the warning signs were there. As soon as the kids hit the hay, I'll be dragging it up from the basement and swapping it out. This also means... ANOTHER KEG TO FILL!!! Woot... my brewing continues...

Next up is the 10 gallon Amarillo Pale Ale batch, probably followed by an English Brown Ale. Amazingly enough, I'm burning thru my pale 2-row malts. I think I've half emptied the Maris Otter, and I've got maybe a few pounds in one of my bags of American 2-row. I'll have to make another order to North Country Malt Supply sometime real soon. I need to get some more Golden Promise malt and peated malt for my wife's scottish ales anyways, so I guess the timing is good. I'm a little suprised how fast all-grain batches can chew thru grain.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Busy weekend...

... And I'm not even brewing? I'm emptying carboys like they're going out of style though. As of tomorrow, the only thing left sitting in a carboy to age will be my all-grain Oak-aged Vanilla Porter. I'm dropping the Imperial piece b/c this batch only had a starting gravity of 1.073... so it won't be as strong as the last. Hopefully it'll be good anyways.

I've kegged my Rise & Shine Oatmeal Stout, tomorrow I will be kegging Donna's oak-aged 1850 scotch ale (high ending gravity... 1.030, as she likes it) and I racked the OAVP to its secondary today and polluted it with 4oz of oak chips and 2 vanilla beans. I also nailed another runner onto my deck for the Magnum hops - Which have finally reached the top of my deck's railing. Japanese beetles are eating them alive... but I am doing my best to keep them off. Got a couple traps in the yard which are already decimating the population in our yard. I also assembled my pump skid, although I need to do a test run tomorrow with my wort pump using water. I'll put a pic here when I get a chance.

So now I need to start formulating my plan of attack for this next brew - a 10 gallon batch of Amarillo Pale Ale. I don't really know how I want to handle the yeast - Do I step up the yeast twice in starters, first in my 2000mL flask, then into a 1 gallon jug? Do I actually go out and buy another vial of yeast and do two starters in seperate flasks? The brew is going to be split into 2 fermenters anyways - I don't have anything that could handle fermenting 10 gallons at a time, and even if I did, god save me trying to carry it down the stairs to the basement - I'd probably pull something... So, since I'll have to end up splitting it in the end anyways... the two vials / two flasks thing is probably the only one that really makes sense. Maybe I'll poll the guys over at the MoreBeer forums once they are back up from maintenance.

15 gallons worth in the kegerator, 30 gallons in the basement in kegs, 5 gallons in a carboy aging, and soon I'll be brewing 10 more gallons - Yeah, this is the house of beer. Maybe sometime I'll actually stop brewing long enough to drink some of it.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Must be love...

So as I predicted in my previous entry, I petitioned my indulgent, gorgeous wife (typically known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, or SWMBO) for more kegs so I could have more capacity than I'm currently at. The conversation went something like this:

Garrett: "So honey... Once I keg these next beers, we're going to have 5 high-gravity beers in kegs conditioning..."
SWMBO: "So how many more kegs do you need."
Garrett: "Probably 4. I just got that 14 gallon kettle to do 10 gallon batches, and I can't brew anything because..."
SWMBO: "And how much are they?"
Garrett: "80 dollars, and that..."
SWMBO: "A piece?"
Garrett: "No, total including shipping... but that's really not so bad..."
SWMBO: "So why haven't you ordered more already?"
Garrett: "Well... because I wanted to get your permission first..."
SWMBO: "You're so cute. Go order them."

Honestly took less than a minute, and I was left with my jaw on the floor. So, I immediately popped on over to Homebrew Adventures and picked up 4 more unrebuilt kegs, with replacement O-ring sets for $16/ea. The shipping comes out to ~$4/ea, so $20 total. That's as good a deal as going up to Philly's Carbonator rental and buying them, however they are actually delivered to your door AND come with the O-rings. Great deal.

The promises I made to order were that I'd bring my lunch every day this month (no more expensive salads at the Barley Mill cafeteria) and that I always have a keg of scottish ale to put on tap for her. Seems like a small price to pay.

She's so good to me.