Monday, May 29, 2006


Starter marathon...

Today I brewed and canned 5 gallons of starter wort. It was quite a feat. I started at 9:30am, was canning around 2:45, and finished canning at about 6:30... Long long day. As a result I've got a little over 5 gallons ready for future brews, and actually have another 2 quarts in the fridge that I'll use to make a starter tomorrow for my Bastogne Belgian Ale yeast. I'm going to brew a regular Belgian Pale, then use the yeast cake to brew a massive Tripel. I'm pretty stoked as this will be my first all-grain tripel and will be using some new techniques I've picked up over the past year.

Last night we bottled the first 5 gallons of Black Honey Ale that's going into the cases I cleaned last weekend. Of course one case is walking out the door with Donna's parents tomorrow, and my guess is that the other will be leaving with my parents in a few weeks, however that's why I brewed 20 gallons of it.

I also need to free up some secondaries... my saison and fruity wheats are both coming due soon. Heating up the saison has totally saved it... it has significantly dried out, and will be very drinkable and tasty. I am not certain how the short "rest" it had at 1.030 will impact it long-term, nor the decreased yeast count during its slow decline thereafter, but at least its not 10 gallons of pond water. If nothing else, I learned a very valuable lesson about the WLP565 yeast, and not to EVER rack it to a secondary before 2 weeks, and to keep it at 75 degrees during the entire length of its fermentation.


HEAVYWEIGHT Open House ... Last Call ???


Hello everyone-

Our next open house is Saturday, June 3rd from 1-5 pm. We'll be pouring a few new beers (which will also be available in 750ml): Doug's Colonial Ale and Black Ocean '06. We may also have some of the Rye beer to sample (no bottles yet). You can purchase (to go) 750ml bottles of the Ste-ve (Belgian-style pale) and Old Salty Bourbon '05. We'll also we collecting can/non-perishable food for our local foodbank. Please bring a few cans or dry goods for the cause. You may also bring any beer that you wish to share with the hoard. Hope you can make it.

Tom and Peggy

No mention of them closing shop, but my guess is this is pretty much the last public date they will have.

So .... who's up for a trip?

Use the Comment section below to voice your interest

Friday, May 26, 2006


Pop quiz

Which of these carboys has the RASPBERRY puree and which has the APRICOT puree in it.

I bet you'll never guess. It's too hard, I know.

Definitely glad that I chose to name this batch "Wheatopia"... judging the clarity, color, and probably overwhelming Frooooooo-tay taste... it probably won't be too far off the commercial fruit beverage offering. You know you may have gone too far when the krauesen has pink / red highlights too it.

**Snicker**... I'm a sick little monkey.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Kicking left and right...

The kegs in my kegerator, that is. Ya'll put a serious hurting on my my beer last Friday night at the May meeting... I had about 1/2 gallon in each keg. After the meeting my friends and I had a few pints and ... pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft... Kicked.

So now I've just put on tap the Native Rage India Red and last 2.5gal of Abbey Dubbel, with something to replace the Oak Aged Vanilla Porter soon - it is also near kicking. Not sure if we'll put the Choking Sun stout or Black Honey on tap... I'm thinking Black Honey since I've got 20 gallons of it ;-)

I honestly am not complaining about them kicking - Quite honestly I take it as an assertion of two very important truths - People really liked my beer, and folks had a rocking good time at the meeting. It was pretty impressive - I can't remember the last time we had that many people in attendence... if ever. I imagine we probably had close to 30-40 people over the course of the night, not including kids.

Did everyone have a good time? Do we want more meetings like that, or was it TOO big? Just curious... I have gotten a couple comments from newcomers that if our monthly meetings are typically like that, they will attend from now on regularly... What about you other folks? I think Ric did a fan-f'ing-tastic job with the presentation, and hope we can entice more professional brewers to come in to talk to us... even if it requires shaming them with the fact that STEWARTS did it and they're not ;-)

Done more ubergeekiness, but I think I'll hold off posting any more pics until I actually get a full layout ready. Its going really well, better than I expected. Its amazing how quick coding Visual Basic 6 comes back to you, even after a year hiatus.

Sucks that Heavyweight is closing... that pretty much puts the kabash on us going there to do a club brew with them. I'll have to brainstorm and find some other **cough cough** suckers **cough** I mean iterested parties...

My saison is way underattenuated. I'm actually pretty pissed... but not willing to claim defeat yet, I've put a heating pad next to them and heated both carboys up to around 76 degrees, and they seem to be fermenting again. I may actually end up repitching some fresher Saison yeast if HDYB has some, but we'll see. I pitched a good sized starter, so there really isn't any friggin' reason why it should be under attenuated... the only thing I can think is I racked it to a secondary too fast (1 week) and maybe didn't keep it warm enough. I **WILL** brew this SOB again if it turns out crappy just to see how it was supposed to be.... and I'll pitch a ridiculous quantity of yeast.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


State Line Liquors Beer Schedule

Here's the latest beer schedule at State Line Liquors!

Thursday, June 1st, 7-9 pm. "Europe: The Ones We Don't Normally Taste" ... Specially selected brews from France, Netherlands, Denmark, Holland, Austria, Poland & Czechoslovakia. This is one you don't want to miss!

Thursday, June 22nd, 7-9 pm. "Summer Beers"... Pilsners, Kolsch & (select)Wheat Beers.

Thursday, July 13th, 7-9 pm. "Wheat Beers"... North American Microbrews & Craft Wheat Beers, plus German & Belgian Wheats.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


A-B Distribution

If you have been following the news, Anheuser-Busch has been acquiring stake many well known brands for distribution purposes (Red Hook, Pyramid; now Goose Island).

They are behemoths with their own distribution networks, and with their new partners in craft brewing, they have the ability to squeeze out the little guy.

Case in point ~ from the Weyerbacher website:

If you're in New Jersey, you may need to push your store to get this brew in [DOUBLE SIMCOE IPA -ed.]. With Anheuser-Bush's push to distribute microbrews in NJ, many stores are not as open to bringing in new products right now. This information is according to our NJ wholesaler, Hunterdon Dist, in Phillipsburg. They suggest you strongly advise your store to bring in this beer or it may get passed on for no good reason. According to some, stores in NJ have been avalanched with new brands lately.

Let you voice be heard on this subject!

!!! Refuse and Resist !!!

Copy & use this clip art at will !!!

Monday, May 22, 2006


Confessions of an uber-geek

I have been spending my lunch hours for the past week or so prototyping a class that will be the first of many for my upcoming computerized home brewery... I figured that while it may be a year or so (or more) before we start constructing it, I could start dabbling with a user interface and figuring out how to display items. My plan is to make the interface layout configurable and customizable such that anyone that wanted to use it in their own home systems could easily do so. I don't think I'll be able to slap that level of generality on the back-end state machine for valve / pump / temperature controls, but we'll see.

The screenshot you see to the left is my test application for clsPipe, a very generic class that allows the user to run pipe based on a collection of points. You can easily turn various properties on and off to render it in a different way... in this case, it looks like we're running Budweiser through the lines... But you can easily specify the color of the pipe & liquid as well.

I also added a couple of routines to quickly and easily render tubing coils, not that homebrewers ever use such things... The routines are flexible enough to even allow shell & tube arrangements (such as a counterflow chiller) to be rendered without much difficulty.

This class would probably be used primarily for hard-piped configurations... I figure the next logical extension of the class (or perhaps a new one) will be to allow users to run "tubing" lines through some points and render them using Bezier curves and maybe some bitmap overlays...

Of course I still need to work on how to render tanks, pumps, valves, etc, but I already have some ideas for that running around in my head... I also want to make the graphics such that they can be "animated"... which shouldn't be too hard.

Again, its just a beginning on the long road to getting a working computerized system, but I have a feeling this dream will come true... I've got the skills to make sure it does ;-)

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Good News / Bad news

John Biggins here, excercising his first post as an FSB blogger. Hopefully all will go smoothly!

Yesterday was the BRANDYWINE CRAFT BEER FEST at Iron Hill-Media. The Good News is that there were some fantastic brews among the 25 invited breweries. Standouts I can recall (alas, no notes were taken) included WEYERBACHER Double Simcoe IPA, IRON HILL Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout, and STEWART'S 2005 Bourbon Barrel Barleywine. Luckily there were plenty of great Pilsners, Hefeweizens, and Belgian Whites to choose from to re-hydrate on a pleasant sunny Satuday afternoon.

The bad news has been confirmed: HEAVYWEIGHT BREWERY is shutting down at the end of June. Tom Baker is closing down the Ocean Twp site, so stock up on all your bottles, as they will be all gone soon. The semi-good news is that he is not giving up totally, but planning on opening a brewpub (in PA, I'm told ~ details not firm on my end) which means we can probably expect a selection of highly quaffable brews plus the few rotating/seasonal high-gravs for which he is famous.


B-day weekend

It has been a fantastic weekend to turn 33.

On Friday night we had one of the biggest meetings the First State Brewers has seen since I joined two years ago. Jerry and Joyce Carney always have alot of folks for St. Pat's, but we must have had 30-40 people here Friday night (more if you count children). Ric Hoffman from Stewart's gave a fantastic speech on recipe formulation, and I think everyone walked away with some words of wisdom. I have to say that Ric went far beyond my expectations, and I can only hope that we can convince him to speak again sometime in the future. There was a crazy amount of beer to be had, and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves. My only regret was not grabbing our digital and taking some pictures... Thank you to everyone who came. I hope future meetings will see a similar level of participation and revelry.

Yesterday was my B-day and I celebrated it in true homebrewer style by brewing 10 gallons of wheat beer. Entitled "Wheatopia", I will be polluting it in the secondaries with raspberry and apricot purees (seperate, not together... blech!). The brew itself was textbook perfect - I nailed my mash-in temperature and mash-out temperatures, minimal grain matter went into the kettle, my gravity was dead on (maybe even a little higher), and it is fermenting like mad downstairs. I also got to use a new toy, my 14 gallon demijohn fermenter.

Today will include an activity that most would probably despise, but I am quite honestly looking forward to it... de-labeling and cleaning 7+ cases worth of bottles so I can fill them with homebrew. 4 cases are already spoken for in the way of black honey ale for my family & friends, and as much as I wish I had a couple cases of 750mL amber champagne bottles to put 5 gallons of saison in, I have a feeling that much of it will end up in 12oz. That'll only leave me with a few spare cases for future batches... I'll be soaking them in my 14 gallon kettle in PBW, which albeit expensive is a very effective way of removing labels and cleaning the crap that may be growing inside the bottles.

Life is grand :-)

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Tweeds Tavern Stout official first serving @ Six Paupers

John Biggins informed me of this.
On Thursday May 18th, Six Paupers Tavern will host the official first serving of Tweeds Tavern Stout as brewed by the Twin Lakes Brewing Company of Greenville, Delaware.

Join us from 4:00 to 8:00 and be one of the first to try the new signature brew from local brewers Twin Lakes. An antique horse drawn cart will deliver the first keg at 4:00 from the historic Tweeds Tavern site (the oldest tavern in Hockessin) to Six Paupers. Enjoy complementary light appetizers and acoustic music from Chip Porter of Montana Wildaxe.


What you get by drinking 24 beers a day for 8 years!

OK, I have witnessed houses cluttered with empty beer conainers, but not on the scale of this!

70,000 Beer Cans Found in Ogden Townhouse

I once helped a club member clear his kitchen of about 70 emply bottles, but this guy kept 70 thousand cans! Amazing!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Saison du Sevier

Today I made use of my new stainless false bottom for my 14 gallon kettle while brewing 10 gallons of saison. I am going to try to move to more and more whole-hops instead of pellets, and the stainless bottom gives me the perfect opportunity. I have to say that I have never had so wort so clear with so little debris in the fermenters as today's brew session, even with 1.5oz of Perle pellets for bittering - the whole Strisselspalt hops (6.5oz for 10 gallons) I used formed a natural filter bed.

After today my "whole leaf" hops inventory is limited to just 10oz of Strisselspalt 1.6% and some Northern Brewer, but I intend on slowly replacing my pellet hop inventory with whole hops. Yeah, they absorb wort and all that jazz, but with a false bottom - I don't ever have to worry about them plugging the valve again.

I tapped the Maibock tonight, and the McBride's several nights ago - I sure hope you guys love these as much as I do at the meeting on Friday. For a first attempt at a lager, I think the Maibock turned out AWESOME. My only quibble at this point is head retention, but it is CRYSTAL clear. I imagine my protein rest might have been a little excessive, and there are no head-forming proteins left anymore :-\. Good to keep in mind for my upcoming Belgian Pale and Tripel combo in a few weeks.

There was a private "Grand Opening" party at Twin Lakes today that was pretty cool. It was my first experience with their "Tweed's Tavern Stout", which was VERY roasty and tasty. I liked it alot, although I felt it needed a little more crystal to balance it out, but I would still buy the hell out of it over most commercial stouts. It had a deep coffee colored head, strong roasted notes, and a very smooth hop character that made it dangerously drinkable. Apparently one of our homebrewing friends from over in NJ assisted on this first batch - very cool.

It was also the first time I had tried their Greenville Pale Ale, which I must admit is equally quaffable and tasty. I do forsee a quarter keg of that taking up residency in my kegerator sometime in the future. I caught up with our Hockessin friends, the Zimms, who were there too.... Hopefully we'll see them at May's meeting.

While Mark Fesche was very busy during most of the day giving tours, I did get an opportunity to chat with him briefly. We'll cover some details at the May meeting... Any of you guys want to spend a day being his biotch and brewing a REALLY big batch of beer? I'd gladly scrub a mashtun and haul grain for the sheer experience of living a professional brewer's life for a day....

Friday, May 12, 2006


Big Meeting Next Friday (5/19)!!!

Just a quick reminder to all - our May meeting on the 19th will be at my house next Friday. We will have a guest speaker (perhaps 2) as both Ric Hoffman and his assistant brewer (and their wives) from Stewart's will be in attendance.

I also intend on doing a demonstration of some sort. At this point it is a toss-up between a yeast starter, pressure-canning wort for FAST yeast starters, or counter-pressure bottle filling. I thought it might be cool if we pressure-filled kegs people brought and sent them home with some six-packs (for those that don't typically do that).

I will have on tap:

I also have a number of different beers in bottles I will probably break out during the meeting, including:

And others.... if there are sufficient people in attendence to support the volume.

We'll have a whole bunch of pork BBQ sandwiches, cole slaw, munchies, and other food stuffs, as well as non-ethanol beverages for those DDs that are coming. I know of several wives that are also coming, and several folks are also bringing their kids (we have a playroom w/ TV downstairs), so if that is your excuse for staying home, consider bringing them!

We should all have a rockin' good time.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Upcoming madness

I believe I have secured both brewers from Stewart's as guest speakers for our May 19th meeting. Even if they do not prepare a formal topic on brewing / homebrewing, they will be attending and available to answer questions. In addition the May 19th meeting will feature the debut of my first-ever lager (a Maibock) and a clone of Stewart's McBride's Strong Ale (how convenient Ric will be there). More than likely my Oak-Aged Vanilla Porter will be on tap as well (I don't think we've really even dented the keg at this point).

We're planning on having plenty of food (not just munchies). I believe we're getting a couple of pork shoulders and we'll have pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches, lots of sides, and plenty of snacks as well. I hope to have a demonstration as well - perhaps on yeast propogation, or perhaps some other topic - not sure yet.

I've been doing alot of research into what it would take to build a computerized home brewery. It really isn't too bad, amazingly enough, provided you've got some aptitude with electronics and programming (of which I can claim credit for at least one of those disciplines, and I'm trying like mad to recall my skill in the other). Wicked Stone Brewery (aka Joe Stone) put together a pretty extensive website detailing the tools and components he used back in 1998 to computerize his brewery (Pre-Windows 95... *SHUDDER*) and while some things are outdated, there is lots of really good info there. I've also traded a small handfull of e-mails with him to fill holes in my understanding, and he's been very helpful.

Donna (Mrs. GDSever) is on the wait list for welding classes... She's planning on taking the entire gamut of courses offered (Arc, TIG, MIG, pipe welding, etc) and should be quite a force to reckon with by the end of the year. I can't wait for her to start getting into it and have to rearrange my garage to accomodate all the new gear ;-) My wife is pretty bad@$$, ya'll.

My brewing agenda, as it stands now, is as follows:

* Wheatopia (10 gallons of fruit-flavored wheat beer)
* Saison du Sevier (10 gal)
* Horizon Bitter (10 gal)
* Hell's Bells Belgian Pale Ale (5 gal)
* For Whom the Bell Tolls Tripel (5 gal)

As you can see, plenty of pale beers being brewed in the next 2-3 months - perfect for a summer brewing season. I also need to squeeze in another batch of starter wort pronto (I've only got 2 qt left) and 5 gallons of Oak-Aged Vanilla for my sister (maybe I'll make it 10 for expediency).

I've ordered a stainless false bottom for both my HLT cooler and my 14 gallon kettle. Thought was I could use the HLT as a secondary mash-tun for either 20 gallon batches or high-gravity 10 gal batches once I've got some other projects handled. The screen for my kettle was so I could start using whole-hops in my 10 gallon boils... Should be good. My "other" projects include building a low-cost float-switch circuit into my pump skid for automated sparging... more details to come later.