Friday, December 30, 2005


New Years Eve Brew

Yeah, I'm getting in my 200 gallons under the wire. Its silly and unnecessary (and I'm going to be seriously screwed for secondary fermenters in a week or so) but hey - I can say that I did it once. I'm brewing 10 gallons of my delicious Amarillo Pale Ale. 21 pounds of grain measured, a huge starter of White Labs California V is in the refrigerator, I've got all my stuff drug upstairs so I can just wake up and start brewing tomorrow morning early. Oh crap! Need to go set the coffee maker.

I hope to be done by noon - then I can spend the rest of the day entertaining the children and wife, and deciding how I want to spend my evening - I've got many good beers in the basement, and I'm not sure which ones I should crack into. Maybe tomorrow evening would be the perfect time to drain my bottles of Ommegang to culture the yeast...

I hope to get together with Marty sometime over the next week or so and talk about what we want to do this year. I know that the First State Brewers is about fun, socializing, and sharing our homebrews and is most decidedly not about structure, and I don't really want to change that - but if there are activities and subjects that people want us to do, then I'm all for it. For example:

So hopefully Marty and I can come up with a couple ways to make 2006 an even greater year for the club... I certainly want to do right by you all.

Monday, December 26, 2005


The best Christmas present ever

Wooo hooo! My wife bought me an assorted case of Ommegang Ale for Christmas! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Brewing Sake in 2006

Anyone out there have the Sept/Oct 2004 edition of Zymurgy? Apparently Fred Eckhart had an article in there on how to homebrew Sake, and that was well before I joined the AHA. Also, any other advice on where to get info on brewing Sake? I've seen some on the web, but I'm still looking for printed material.

Have a great holiday, everyone!

Sunday, December 18, 2005


200 gallons in 2005

I will hit it this year. Today was 190 gallons, and I've already got the beginnings of a big starter of California V Ale for 10 more gallons of Amarillo Pale Ale... so once we get back from Atlanta, I'll fire up the kettle for one last time this year and hit my legal limit for the year. Fortunately I've also got the records to prove it if ATF comes snooping.

Good meeting at Marty's - Lots of good beer to be had. A couple people definitely found the Native Rage IRA to be a little extreme in the hops department (I will never forget Marty's face), but Cindy Cook certified herself as a major hophead - she loved it. Rock on... I will be brewing another batch of it early in 2005.

Christmas will outfit me with new brewing toys this year - I'm getting a pressure/canner for starter wort (and if I ever get as nuts as Marty, I could steam-power my mash tun... As well as a small shopping spree at MoreBeer. I went to How Do You Brew on Saturday and picked up a bunch of stuff, including another 50lb bag of American Pale Ale malt. I really like Joe and his wife - as club president I definitely hope that we can establish a good relationship with them that will be mutually beneficial and help both of us grow. Joe is also really working on expanding and improving his offerings. He wants to have another meeting there sometime in the first half of 2005, and is still looking for volunteers to do brewing demonstrations. I will definitely pack up my stuff and get over there some Saturday to give a demonstration in January or February.

Well, I am off to oxygenate and pitch yeast into my Homegrown Pale Ale... Later all, and have a great holiday.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Meeting tomorrow night

Same time, Marty's place, right down the road from How Do You Brew?... I need to stop in and pick up some stuff too... although it'll have to be well in advance of the meeting. I am running low on 2-row, although I've got about 30 lbs each of Golden Promise and Maris Otter... I'd prefer to keep the Golden Promise for Scottish Ales and the Maris Otter for English... So for any american pale ales I need to pick up more Briess or Great Western or whatever it is that Joe carries. I also need some white six-pack carriers for christmas gifts.

I'll be bringing tomorrow:

The Native Rage apparently made an impression with those that tried it at Fordham - Jerry Carney said "that's a keeper", Gene Diemer asked for the recipe, and apparently left an impression with Mike. I think Scott also said it was tasty. We'll have to see what our club members think of it tomorrow night - its been ages since I've even tried it.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Counterpressure Marathon

Well, tonight my wife and I counterpressure filled 30 12oz bottles of my Strong Dark Ale, in effect kicking it and making way for the Queen's Darkness Imperial Stout. I like both, but the Queen's Darkness is definitely more of a "tap" beer than the other. I won't be bringing a growler of it to the next meeting - At 7.9% ABV, we wouldn't get through it. I'd also have to sneak it by my wife, who has decreed that anyone who wishes to sample it must beg her first. Maybe I'll fill up a flip-top and bring it to the meeting.

I am also wondering what else to bring to the meeting. I had a growler of both my English Bitter and the Peated Scottish when I went down to the Fordham outing with our southern DE brethren, however most of our club members seemed put off by the Scottish. I distinctly remember Scott saying about my peated Scottish (and I quote): "What the heck did you do to this?". Perhaps I didn't understand the spirit in which the feedback was given, but I didn't take it as a compliment. I was suprised since many people were very praiseful, but hey - different strokes.

I also got high praise for the Oak Aged Vanilla Porter and the Native Rage India Red Ale. A few others enjoyed the Oatmeal Stout and Pumpkin Ale, however everyone seemed to really dislike the witbier - too much coriander or something, I supposed. Oh well, its my wife's beer and she loves (as do I), so it just won't go on more outings with me.

Maybe I'll bring a couple of my remaining Sled Dog Doppelbocks and a couple other bottles of homebrew to the next meeting. I think I'll save the 3 bottles of Ommegang and the bottles of Weyerbacher Decadence, Victory V12, and Iron Hill Old Ale for later.

My third batch of oak-aged vanilla porter is sitting in a secondary on 2oz of oak chips and 2oz of oak cubes and 3 vanilla beans. I've also got a carboy of abbey dubbel chugging away at 65-66 degrees with a sleeping bag wrapped around it. Hopefully the yeast will have enough energy to finish the job... I'd be annoyed if my third try on a dubbel went awry too - 3 strikes and you're out? I'm sure it'll be fine though.

Next on deck is my Homegrown Pale Ale for 2005... I'm going to use all 5 oz of hops (1oz Nugget and 4oz Cascade) in the batch so it'll be 100% homegrown hops. It might end up tasting like grassy butt hell, but hey, I'll drink it anyways. I have to admit that I am still really sketchy about when the optimum time is to harvest them.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Twin Lakes Brewery

We had a wonderful time at the Fordham Brewery last night. We had a great tour and had plenty of beer to sample!

The topic of the Twin Lakes Brewery came up and I was embarrassed to say that I didn't know very much about the place. Therefore, I took the opportunity to dig up some old articles about the brewery as it opened a year ago. Here they are.
Death and birth. In an odd bit of synchronicity, just as Brandywine Brewing Company in tiny Greenville, Del. was shutting its doors on New Year's Eve, the brand new Twin Lakes Brewery in the same locale was getting ready to release its first beer. The Brandywine folks say the shuttering is just a hiatus brought on by losing their lease and that they'll be back in a year or so. No official word, but rumors have that return earmarked for Hockessin, Del. At Twin Lakes, Brewer Mark Fesche, who did a three-year stint at Deschutes Brewery in Oregon, says the first offering is a "traditional ale," scheduled to come out in January, with a seasonal to follow. They're aiming to "have Twin Lakes beer available at every tavern in New Castle County" as soon as possible, he added.
The brewery grew out of founding partner Sam Hobb's desire to save the 220-plus acre Twin Lakes property, where his family has resided for six generations, from development. Twin Lakes is the watershed for both the Brandywine River and White Clay Creek and part of its historic legacy is the legend that the apple tree that sits at the end of the driveway was where George Washington planned the Battle of the Brandywine during the Revolutionary War. I guess we'll find out if nobility of purpose leads to superiority of beer.
A Taste of Delaware: Twin Lakes Brewery
by Michael Pollock
Profit and preservation on tap for local farm brewery

Behind the unassuming foliage that shrouds Greenville’s Kennett Pike, there’s a storm brewing. No, it’s not the seasonal rainfall, an umpteenth hurricane or early cries for an Eagles Super Bowl victory. And it has nothing to do with politics, local or national. It’s just five guys who are passionate about preserving a local farm—by building a brewery on it.

While Wilmington’s city nightlife captures the 21-and-over crowd just a few miles down the road, the team behind Twin Lakes Brewing Co. wants to provide fresh local beer while making a positive difference in the community. To do this, they’ve constructed a micro-distillery on the historic Twin Lakes farmland in Greenville that will produce ale and double as an educational tour center.

“We’re making a deliberate effort to be integrated into the community,” explains Burke Morrison, 35, of Wilmington, a sales supervisor at Standard Distributing Co. who will handle distribution once the brewery is up and running. “We’re blending into what’s already here,” adds owner Sam Hobbs, 39, whose family has resided on Twin Lakes for six generations. “We don’t want to have an ‘open’ sign in the driveway. Our goal is to not have people see us from the road.”

The project will make Twin Lakes the only freestanding brewing company in the state. Others, like Iron Hill and Dogfish Head, brew their own beer but also serve it on-premise. Morrison is quick to explain the difference.

The Twin Lakes Brewery is located at 4208 Kennett Pike, Greenville, DE 19807 - (302) 658-1826.

Maybe our new club president should give them a call! ;-)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Fordham Brewery Tour & SANDALS Meeting

This Thursday, December 8th, the First State Brewers have been invited to join the southern Delaware homebrew club, formerly known as SANDALS, to attend their meeting being held at the Fordham Brewery in Dover. This is a special event for SANDALS, since they usually hold their meetings at the Dogfish Head brewpub in Rehoboth Beach. Homebrew & guests are both welcome! I will be leaving from my house at 6:00. If you'd like to ride down with me, just let me know.

Hopefully to impress our southern homebrewing brethren, I am bringing my newly kegged batch of Dogbolter ale! It tasted super good when I kegged it at midnight last night! I usually don't brew from kits, but this is one that I used to brew about 15 years ago. I didn't know they made it anymore, until I saw it in the How Do You Brew store.