Bottling Off the Keg, Part 2

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 11.15.10 under Bottling, Kegging

Bottling off a keg is easy.

When I had picnic taps, it was easy. I had a length of tube that fit onto the end of the plastic faucet, and went to the bottom of my selected bottle, and all I had to do was let most of the pressure out of the keg, squeeze the tube onto the end of the faucet, stick the tube into the sanitized bottle, and pull the dispense lever. Fill it up, and cap it, and good to go.

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Wine… Apple Wine

[ 3 Comments ] Posted on 11.12.10 under Alcohol, Apple Wine

Photo: Five Islands Orchard

I know, this is a beer blog. Why would there be a post about wine? What do I know about wine?

Admittedly, not much. But I might start to learn one day.

Every journey must start with a single step. For me, that first step of my journey into wine making is an almost trivially simple recipe for apple wine. The recipe’s author actually calls it “Apfelwein” – German apple wine.

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Ask and it is Given

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 10.04.10 under All-Grain, Bock, Brewing, BYO, Extract

So I was looking at my upcoming brew days schedule. I saw that I have a Doppelbock-style beer coming up. Now it’s to be done as an ale, but it’s generally a brown malty low-hop-character clean high-gravity beer. I made one before, but it was meant to be a bock that just came out with incredible efficiency and jumped into the doppel range. So in other words, I don’t know how to build the right recipe. I decided I needed to look up a recipe. I took a quick look on the forums, and found a few arguments about many unrelated topics, and gave up for the time being. I then sent myself an email and forgot all about it.

Then tonight I decided to finish going through the latest Brew Your Own magazine while watching the Patriots struggle through the first half. The main theme of the magazine is brewing with extract. While interesting, it’s not really tuned to where I’m at with my brewing.

First thing I found was an article about adding body to beer. This culminated in a recipe for “Small IPA”. A low alcohol IPA-flavored beer is something I’ve been interested in for a while. But after many attempts, I had pretty much given up on it. I rationalized this, deeming it “pointless” to make a beer under 4% ABV when I could just as easily make one 50% stronger. But thanks to this article, now I have a recipe concept (1/3 Munich, 1/3 Vienna, and 1/3 Victory malts) to work from for the next revision of my “Small IPA”. Cool!

Flipping forward through the magazine some more, I get to one of those stupid ad cards that makes the pages not fold back quite right. The front of the card was a call to subscribe for a discount, but the back of the card is what caught my eye. It was a few recipes. Normally I barely even glance at these recipes, but as I was ripping it out, I just figured I’d see what the nonsense was all about.

Lo and behold, it’s a recipe for a Doppelbock. Now I don’t think I’ll necessarily follow it verbatim, but it at least gives me some sort of clue as to how to proceed. It uses mostly plain old 2-row, with some Munich, Victory Wheat (?), and Crystal 120 to 1.084 and 20L with Hallertau hops to 21 IBU. It’s a starting point that I can work with. Actually nothing too fancy. I have Munich. I can use my  normal wheat malt. I might get some of that C-120, but I can handle that.

It’s amazing sometimes when you just want something and then forget all about it, and all of a sudden you find it!

Free Bud!

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 09.22.10 under Free Beer, News

Not the green stuff, but the bland beer variety.

Time to throw my opinion into the ring. I’ve read others already opine in this manner, but can’t help but add a “+1″ to the sentiment.

It has always baffled me why anyone would buy Bud for a take-home beverage. For a lot less money, you can get Busch, which has always seemed an adequate approximation of Bud to me. I mean, it’s not like we’re doing tasting events with the stuff.

At a bar is one thing. Everything costs the same there. If you don’t like actual beer, then you might as well grab a pint of Bud Light. But if you’re dead set on drinking something best served cold as can be in the comfort of your own home, the only reason to pick Bud is image.

Now I am not immune to this. The can does look somehow incredibly cool, even to my modern styling preferences. And Bud Light does bring to mind the notion of refreshment. But once again, Busch and other discount products approximate the final result, and Bush is pretty cool itself. I mean, they used to have the Busch Series in NASCAR (second tier cars, now Nationwide).

Fortunately, these days, I can make just about any beer I like for less than Busch Light, so it has been some time since Busch graced my fridge.

Nonetheless, I’m thinking, wondering if I can get out to a participating on-premise operation to partake of my free sample of Bud. I mean, it’s free. Why not? Maybe we can get a holiday “Plain Old Beer Day” to be celebrated September 29th every year, where they give away stuff that I wouldn’t buy otherwise.

Yeast Set The Timeline

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 09.08.10 under Brewing, IPA, Kegging, Oktoberfest, Stories, Stout, Yeast

I have been used to US-05 for quite some time now.

But recently I decided I wanted to branch out. Mainly my motivation was looking for a nice “malty” yeast for my faux-toberfest (that’s an Oktoberfest-style beer done as an ale rather than the traditional lagering all summer).

I ended up with Wyeast 1338 “European Ale” because of its supposed low diacetyl (buttered popcorn flavor). There was another (WLP029?) Kolsch yeast that also sounded good but allegedly gave off tons of sulfur aroma throughout fermentation, which I didn’t want to deal with. The only down side of 1338 that I read was it could be slow.

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Oktoberfest Already?

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 08.15.10 under Oktoberfest

I couldn’t help but notice that Oktoberfest beers are already hitting the shelves. And I couldn’t help but be somehow offended by this.

Now it might be true that Oktoberfest isn’t technically held in October. Well it ends 10/3, but it starts in mid-September. Look it up.

But that’s no excuse for releasing your Oktoberfest in the middle of August! It’s still a good month early. Mid-August remains hot and humid, and remains a premier time for summer beers.

All I can figure is that it takes some time to work through those last few pallets of summer beer, so you can’t be adding to the backlog right now and expect to clear it all out by the end of summer beer drinking season.

Taken from that perspective it makes sense to stop making summer beer. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re releasing Ofest, does it?

At any rate, I’ve heard Berkshire makes a killer OFest, and I just might try to get some this year. Last year it was all sold out by the time I started looking for it on Labor Day. Go figure.

I Repeat Myself

[ 2 Comments ] Posted on 08.08.10 under Brewing, Events, Stories

In home brewing, much of the fun comes from making whatever you want whenever you want. But sometimes you have to make something a certain way, and that presents its own challenges.

With Oktoberfest coming up it is only right that there be a party, and with a party it is only right that homebrew be served. So here I am, making six batches destined to be served at a huge Oktoberfest event. The first two were made today. That gives me two more sessions, spaced two weeks apart, to make two more batches each session, and still give the last batches a full month from grain to glass prior to the big day.

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MSG

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 08.06.10 under Alcohol

So I just read that MSG is autolyzed yeast.

Seems strange to me that autolysis is a nasty off flavor in beer yet it could be such a guilty pleasure in food from “Chinese” to chips.

Not that I’ve ever had, or necessarily believe in all that much, the migraine. But under the BBQ sauce trigger, they call out that another name for MSG in the ingredient list is “autolyzed yeast”, among some other things I wouldn’t even necessarily call foul against.

In the end, the article is a bunch of rubbish, but my advice is to eat a lot and drink a lot and sleep a lot. And if what you’re drinking contains alcohol, you should also drink a lot of water.

Good Dog

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 07.23.10 under Alcohol, News

So many people are hating on Brew Dog for their latest stunt. Packaging 55% ABV beer in dead rodents.

That’s right, I called it a stunt, but I’m not about to lash out at them.

On the surface this latest move is wrong on several levels:

  1. At 55% ABV, I think it’s a stretch to call it a “beer”
  2. This is clearly just an attempt to gain attention. In a way, Brew Dog is like the middle child in the birth order of today’s breweries.
  3. The beer comes packaged in a dead rodent that’s been preserved and stuffed.
  4. You have to pay 500 pounds (the English currency, not the SI unit for weight) just to get one bottle. And the bottle is only 12 ounces large. Apparently taxidermy is rather expensive.
  5. There were only 12 bottles made of this. Total. Twelve bottles. Talk about a limited production run!

But you know what, I just can’t get enough of the insanity that seems to drive their crazy ideas for huge beers. As if 110 proof isn’t enough (that’s stronger than almost all distilled spirits on the market) it’s packaged in dead animals and costs a fortune and is impossibly rare. I love it!!!

I wonder if they have an equivalent to PETA* over there? And don’t they have a TTB*?

At any rate, this sort of thing still hasn’t gotten old to me. Even if most of the commentators out there are not happy about it. But in the end, for every person spilling their guts on the web about the move contributes a drop in the bucket of Brew Dog’s marketing machine, which is the whole point.

* PETA=People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In other words a bunch of American hippies that refuse to eat animals.

* TTB=Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. I wonder how they decided on TTB. Why not ATTTB? Or even ATB? Anyway they’re the folks that regulate labeling, taxes, permits, etc. in the US for beer.

Pipeline

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 07.11.10 under Uncategorized

Pipeline: the backlog of home made beer supply you have.

A good pipeline is three full kegs sitting there at cellar temp “conditioning” while waiting for space in the keg fridge, while two more batches ferment getting ready to be kegged in a week, perhaps even before kicking one of the active kegs. (The IPA has come to what I call the “bottomless keg” portion of the keg where I expect it to pull nothing but foam any time – for about a week now)

The key to keeping a good pipeline is brewing faster than you can go through the beer. For me the main motivator has been brewing to fill the gap that will be created when I get to making the Oktoberfest party beer. I know that there are six batches (three brew days) that will be dedicated to serving for the enjoyment of others. In order to compensate for that, it’s become important to make more beer more often so that over those 6-8 weeks of lost brew days I will have enough overage to make up for the lack of fresh supply.

It’s amazing the amount of planning and preparation that goes into maintaining the pipeline. I have spreadsheets for brew day scheduling, and spreadsheets for pipeline maintenance. I plan my brew days to make sure I have an appropriate variety on tap at any given time. I’ve found that if I just brew whatever I feel like, I can end up with three oddball experimental beers on tap and only one really good one. Hopefully moving forward I can keep a good strong pipeline going – both plenty of beer and a good variety.

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