World of BeerCraft

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 09.25.09 under Fermentation Friday, Stories

Today is Fermentation Friday. I honestly have no idea who is hosting, but I saw Brew Dudes post on the topic, so I figured I’d follow suit. Today’s topic is something along the lines of “what got you started in craft beer”? So here’s my best guess answer.

Most people drank shitty beer in High School. Not me. I tried it once or twice and didn’t like it. And I gave up for the time being.

Then I got to college, and it was the same deal. I remember a Rolling Rock Freshman year, and still unsure why people would submit themselves to this sort of treatment.

Finally Sophmore year I got a sensible roommate who appreciated imported beers. In particular, Jeff was really into Bass. And thus he got me to try better beers. And I drank them. And I still was not convinced. But I did start to change my opinion.

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Warm Weather Brewing

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 06.26.09 under Brewing, Fermentation Friday

Today is Fermentation Friday! Brew Dudes are hosting!!

Today’s topic is “how do you beat the heat brewing in summer months”

This is a little easy for me. Temperature control! Take any full size fridge with a temperature controller, with a temperature sensing probe taped to the side of the fermenter, and you’ve got instant basement anywhere. Very helpful for basement-free folks like myself.

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Brew Day Joy and Stress

[ 2 Comments ] Posted on 06.01.09 under Brewing, Fermentation Friday

It’s been a few months since I participated in Fermentation Friday. Ted is hosting. I saw the topic come over the wire last week: Brew Day Joy and Stress. What part of your brew day brings you the most JOY? What part particularly brings out a good deal of STRESS? Though it’s a little late, here’s my hat in the ring.

Brewing is a fine hobby. It can be done simply or with great attention to complex detail. And best of all, when you’re done, you get beer! As with any endeavor, there are moments of deep joy while brewing, and there’s opportunity for worry and stress as you work to master your crafty hobby. Read the rest of this entry…

Fermentation Friday: Yeast

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 12.26.08 under Fermentation Friday, Yeast

Tis nearly the end of the night, and here I am yet to post the Fermentation Friday topic. This month it is Yeast.

All I have to say about yeast is that dry yeast is the best. Sure you can get more variety of strains with the liquid option, but dry is so easy. The main reason I use dry yeast all the time is that you never need a starter with it. The number two reason is that it’s so cheap! Saving both time and money…my favorite things to have more of!

Why spend eight bucks on a little vial of yeast, which you’ll have to build up in a starter before you can really use it, when you can spend two bucks on a ready-to-go pack of perfectly good yeast? If your beer is too big for 11 grams of dry yeast to handle, why, just pitch two packets! They’re only $2 each!

It’s probably in my favor that I prefer the IPAs and Stouts, since these both benefit from a neutral yeast. And the most incredible Fermentis Safale US-05 dry yeast is the best out there. In fact, it’s the same as the Wyeast 1056 and the WLP-001, or so they say.

So, in conclusion, forget the starter, use US-05, and let your other ingredients set the flavor for your beer.

Fermentation Friday: Homebrewing Horror

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 10.30.08 under All-Grain, Bottle Conditioning, Brewing, Fermentation Friday, Stories, Troubleshooting, Yeast

It was early in my all-grain career. A beautiful sunny day. Nothing like the cold stormy darkness of Halloween night. Not the sort of scene you’d expect for the tale of terror that will unfold before us.

A Duvel clone. That should have been the first clue. The Devil was at work here. A step mash was called for, but me with my igloo cooler and no real way to do a decent step mash. Eerily, that part went fine. Great, even. I got the best efficiency of my brewing life up to that point on that batch.

The thing was coming along great. After a few weeks, it was time to transfer to secondary. The recipe also called for a bunch of corn sugar to be added at transfer. I was skeptical. My OG was already above the expected value for the recipe, even without this adjunct addition. But I followed the recipe like a zombie seeking delicious brains. I was curious to see how far I could go. I was also curious to see how far I’d come. I bottled one bottle at transfer time with a measured dose of priming sugar. Read the rest of this entry…

Fermentation Friday: Homegrown and Homemade

[ 2 Comments ] Posted on 09.26.08 under Brewing, Fermentation Friday, Herbal Beer, Hops

I took a work buddy of mine to the local homebrew shop the other day at lunch. The dude working at the shop had a long pony tail and a calm, relaxed demeanor that makes you think he probably listens to the Grateful Dead and might have at one time enjoyed some herbal self-medication on occasion. Who among us hasn’t?

On the way back to the office, he remarked, “There seems to be a similarity between home brewers and home growers.” This, of course, incited me to begin a conversation about the hops I grew this summer. I am not sure if he was talking about hops, but I know there are a lot of brewers growing their own hops this year.

I wanted a hedge against a lack of Centennial hops, with a fun dose of Willamette and Saaz for extra insurance. The Willamette came out best, yielding maybe an ounce of whole hops. The Centennial came in second with a few grams of hops. The Saaz never broke ground. That’s OK – it turns out that I don’t really like Saaz that much, anyway. Next year I’ll plant Amarillo and something like Chinook or Columbus or Newport or Summit.

I have harvested all the hops from this first year and dried them out best I can. But I have not used them yet. I’m not sure they came out OK. The smell is a bit grassy, or something. They don’t quite smell like hops. But maybe I’m being paranoid. Still, I am going to wait and use them in one special (if small) brew.

In addition to these homegrown hops, I also seem to have some Yarrow growing at my house. That is supposed to be a classic Gruit herb with some sort of highly inebriating effects when fermented. I think using these in the experimental homegrown hop beer will be the perfect way to have a good time. Either I’ll get high and drunk at the same time without using anything illegal, or I’ll die from using some random poisoned weed growing in my garden. No matter what, it’s all in the name of science and beer love.

I have some bittersweet nightshade growing around my house, too, but I don’t think I’ll use that quite yet. And there’s always local honey. I also have a few books on herbal beers without hops, including one that will send me seeds to make their herbal beer recipes. One day I’ll get myself organized enough to order these seeds and plant them and then make the beer-like substances using their leaves and stuff.

But until then, I’ll settle for homegrown hops on a not-too-crazy homegrown homebrew.

Fermentation Friday – Just Brew It

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 07.25.08 under Brewing, Fermentation Friday

Today is Friday. It isn’t just any Friday. It’s Fermentation Friday! That’s the recently established tradition of a group homebrewing blogging day, set up by Adam at BeerBits2. This month’s topic is hosted by Brew Dudes, and it’s about the best tip you could give to a starting homebrewer.

It’s tough to look back and try to remember what sorts of topics would be of interest to a starting brewer. I spent some time reflecting on my first days of brewing, and the weeks of preparation leading up to that first day. I came up with a simple piece of advice to give to starting brewers.

Just Brew It

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Fermentation Friday – Crazy Brewing

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 06.28.08 under All-Grain, Brewing, Fermentation Friday, Partigyle, Stories

Fermentation Friday is the new homebrewer blogging community blogging day, the last Friday of each month. That’s today. Today’s topic is roughly “what’s the craziest brew day thing you ever did?” It’s hosted by CNYBrew.

For a while I was into making beer without hops and with other herbs instead. Not that I made a lot of beers this way, but I thought a lot about it. It’s a really cool idea that could pan out once I get up the guts to do it more often. It’s hard to risk a batch of beer on an outlandish experiment. Especially when your first foray into the concept goes awry.

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