Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Double Brew Wknd

So on Saturday I got a little ambitious. I brewed two homebrew batches in one afternoon/evening. The first was a rhubarb beer experiment... I had to create a simple beer to make a rhubarb/something blend beer from. This is what I came up with, a simple wheat beer, expressed here in non-volume specific rates:

Mash at 50 C for 20 minutes, raise to 68 C for 50 minutes. 3.0 L/kg grain dough-in water. Mashout high at 79-80 C. Target OG=13.2 Plato.
55.6% 2-row pale malt
41.4% Malted wheat
2.6% Carared malt
0.38% Black malt (to add a red hue)

Hopped with 8.125 AAU/L Cascade hops for bittering, all of boil (60 min)
Plus 4.063 AAU/L Cascade hops for aroma, last 2 minutes of boil.

Yeast: Some clean ale yeast, like London or American ale. Ferment 18-20 C.
The brew when pretty except for a little higher than expected boil-off rate. I had to top up with a little boiled water to bring the pre-ferment gravity down to a reasonable level.

When the fermentation is done the batch will be split and racked into 2 carboys with different rhubarb mixtures. Some ideas that have been tossed around are rhubarb-saskatoon berry, rhubarb-raspberry, and rhubarb-strawberry.

Next was the third installment of my "Super Amber Brown Ale" series. I think this third try should work out quite well, the mash and boil smelt AMAZING. The malt bill is more complex than I would usually do:

Mash at 66 C for 60 minutes. Dough in with 3.0 L/kg grain. Mashout at 77 C. Targer OG 15.6 Plato.
64.8% 2-row pale malt
18.5% Dark munich malt, 10L
9.25% C120 malt (Crystal ~120L)
3.70% Cararoma malt (adds malty aroma, similar to crystal malt)
2.96% UK Chocolate malt
0.37% Roast barley
0.37% Black Patent malt

Boiled for 1.5 hrs. Hopped with:
First Gold @ 9.57 AAU/L boiled for 75 min.
First Gold @ 5.98 AAU/L boiled for 10 min.
Pretty much any British Ale style yeast should do.

This batch was ok, although after my mash I left a valve open by accident and lost about half a L of pure extract. As such, my final gravity was 1 Plato short of what I wanted, although my volume was fine. I guess I could have had higher gravity with less volume but... meh. I'm looking for the flavour in this beer for the most part.


NOTE: AAU/L = Alpha Acid Units of hops per L of final wort volume after boil. To get the weight of hops in g, calculate (AAU/L * L of final wort) / (AA% of hops)

Friday, December 15, 2006

I dream of Lambic

For you non-beer types, lambic is a style of beer fermented by non-beer yeast or bacteria... spoilage bacteria in most beer styles. Its sour, but if done right, it can be quite tasty. In any case, I've never made a lambic before, and I think its the thing to do. Gotta do it sometime.

I figure I'll take a wort at a gravity of 1.040 and throw some crushed grain in at 30 C and keep it warm. Let it sit for...... well until I feel like dealing with it, and see how it comes out. At the least I can use it to spike other beers with sourness (like a fruit beer that is too sweet).

On a side note, for some reason I was watching TV this evening, and I'm watching this show called "Men in Trees".... while its interesting, I'm finding it quite formulaic... seems like 3 of the same love stories that have been told before, nothing new. I'll watch to the end of this show, but its not like I;m going to tune in week to week (like The Office...).


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Blogger's Lament

Yeah, I've been too lazy to update lately. Lazy and a little busy too. Bah. And I'm not going to do a real update now either. I did, however, brew a belgian strong dark on sunday. Although I'm thinking the only thing thats making it a belgian style of beer is the fact that is uses belgian yeast and caramel syrup. It uses "english" style everything -- english hops, english malts... different yeast and it would have been a barley wine.
The brew went ok, except for a few oddities that I will explain... ... eventually.
Although from what I understand, of the people that read my blog only two or three actually know what the hell I'm talking about when I write about brew days.

Meh, for now.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Brewing this weekend

For anybody (in Edmonton) who is interested, I believe I will be brewing a hopefully nice Belgian Strong Dark beer. Here is the basic recipe...

8.0 kg Pale 2-row
1.6 kg German Dark Munich
0.4 kg Crystal Malt 90°L
1 kg Victory® Malt
0.41 kg Homemade Dark Caramel Syrup (boil 20 min)
1.2 kg Corn Sugar (boil 15 min)
1 tsp Wyeast Nutrient - added during boil, boiled 20 min
2 L WYeast 3864 Canadian/Belgian Style Yeast, from starter
30 g Target (8%) - added during boil, boiled 75 min
25 g First Gold (9.5%) - added during boil, boiled 20 min

Boil Duration: 1.25 hrs
Final Volume: 40 L

Original Gravity: 1.078
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 16.3 SRM
Alcohol: 8.5%
Bitterness: ~20 IBU

Friday, December 01, 2006

10.1% SKOB

Oh, and I forgot to update the 1 of you who cares that the belgian we brewed actually finished with a final gravity of 2 P (~1.010), which is an awesome rate of attenuation down from 20.3 P (go yeast!), making it a 10.1% beer (a little high since I was aiming for 9!)

Getting into the Belgians

Last Saturday I had a chance to sit down with 7 certified beer judges to taste and analyze several styles of Belgian beer, which are known to be the hardest to judge. Needless to say, it was a very informative learning session (ie, we ended up drunk).

Long story short, we compared tripels with golden strong ales as the main course, since many judges have trouble distinguishing between the styles. We seemed to find that the golden strong ales were generally lighter in colour, plus seemed to have a slightly sweeter champagne character in the beers we tried (Duvel & Chimay White Cap) compared to the tripels (Trappist Rocefort 8, Tripel Karmeliet, and... uh... crap, something else).

I'd intended to write more about this this week, however something else has popped up that has taken a bunch of my time lately... its beer related, but I'll have to post it later.

And to add more beer to the list, later in the week a friend and I compared the Rochfort 8 & 10 to the St. Bernardus Abt 12. It was quite a flight of heavy beers, indeed, but yet quite interesting to taste them all side by side. Compared to the 10 and the Abt 12, the 8 tasted almost light and even wattery... when its certainly not! My favorite was the Abt 12, while my friend stuck with the Rochfort 10

Anyway, going to brew a tripel this saturday morning methinks. Not tooo sure of the recipe yet, but I am trying to get rid of some specialty malts (cara wheat and victory malt might make an interesting tripel!), and I made a starter for Wyeast's Belgian/Canadian yeast today... it should be an acceptable yeast choice (... as it is my only choice).

K, I'll blog better soon... maybe even post something interesting... wouldn't that be a hoot.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Quite Funny

Its rare that I just cheaply post a link to somewhere else, but this is rather quite hilarious, and just my kind of funny. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Some Kind of Belgian Update

Just an update on the SKOB brewed this past weekend (for the very very few of you that actually care)...
The OG was 20.3 P (1.084). After ~32 hrs of fermenting it had dropped to 10.9 (1.044)!! Thats crazy! It was fermenting at ~26 C, which would explain that. I wanted it to ferment quite warm, to get some crazy yeast character out of it.
After 66 hrs of fermenting (today) the gravity had dropped to 5.5 P (1.022), with a temp at a more respectable ~20 C. It seems to still be fermenting, so thats a good sign. I figure with such a fermentable wort it should ferment right down to 3.6 P or so (1.014), which would yeild a 9.3% beer. I'll be happy though if it ferments to 4 P, really.

This week I'll rack it off into a couple of carboys and let it sit at ~15 C for 1.5-2 months before giving it a test.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Belgian Brew Night!

Last night my friend Graeme and I brewed our "Some Kind of Belgian" (SKOB). My last post had the planned recipe, but this is the actual recipe for what ended up being a 35 L batch (instead of 40 as planned... bah):

9.0 kg 2-row pale malt
1.5 kg dextrose
290 g Belgian amber candi sugar rocks
70 ml homemade Belgian amberish caramel syrup
64 g EK Goldings (75 min boil, 5.5% AA)
23 g Czech Saaz (25 min boil, 3.6% AA)
21 g German Spalt Select (25 min boil, 4.8% AA)
(IBU should be ~30)
~1 tbsp yeast nutrient
Wyeast 3864 (Belgian/Canadian) yeast 1L starter generated from XL smack pack.

Process: Mashed in at 3.0 L/kg with a mash temp of 65 C for one hour. No mashout (see notes in pictures below). Boiled for 75 minutes, added candi sugar and syrup at 30 minutes left in the boil. Added dextrose in last 15 min of boil (which actually stopped the boil for a few minutes). Added yeast nutrient at 15 min boil too (was worried that I had too much sugar for fermentables)
OG = 20.3, expecting the beer to be ~9% alc/vol.
Anyway, on to some photos:

I made the Belgian caramel syrup at home before hand. Its actually quite easy, the directions can be found at the bottom of this page. The first batch I made was too burnt and I'm sure it would have ruined the beer. My second try resulted in a perfect golden caramel syrup, I just didn't make enough... I only got 70 ml instead of 100 ml. I didn't want much since at most I wanted the caramel to be a very subtle flavour in the finished beer.

We started around 19:45 at night... perhaps an odd way to spend a Saturday night. Here I am heating up the strikewater to 71 C.

Graeme adding the milled 2-row to the strikewater. I love it when calculations work out perfectly, we hit exactly 65 C for our mash temp.

Too keep the mash from cooling off over the course of the hour, we covered the tun in sweaters and labcoats.

Ingredients waiting for their moment to shine... the Belgian candi sugar, my yeast starter, and the caramel syrup. I made the starter two days previous with a 1.060 wort made from DME and some dextrose, which was kept in a room at about 23 C after pitching the XL smack pack.

At the end of the mash we started running the wort into the boil kettle. We didn't do a mashout, as I figured that with the enzymes active for a longer time we might get maximum conversion. However, it seemed that the mash got a little stuck because of this (too cold) and in the end our extract wasn't very good (ending up with a 9.5% smaller batch that predicted). So I think next time I do such a beer I just let the mash rest for another 15-20 min and then mashout to a solid 78-79 C.

Waiting for the boil to start. I don't think the propane burners have enough BTU power to get the boil going as much as I want it to for 40 L of boiling wort. When I do smaller batches (20 L or so) the boil is great, though.

The night before I completed the first phase of my super-fermenter conversion of a 58.8 L keg. I used a grinder to cut the large hole you see in the top, creating an open fermenter. Here you see the product, filled with and iodine acid sanitizer.

After the boil, cooling, and a short whirlpool, we started running off the wort into the fermenter. We let it dribble through the air, which will aerate it pretty well on the way down (but also has a higher chance of picking up some contamination, however I was confident that with my strong yeast starter the yeast would instantly take over the wort). The other tube you see going into the fermenter has an aeration stone pumping in filtered air, just to make sure the wort is well aerated.

Pitching the yeast.

The fermenter being almost full at this point here, you can see how much foam is being formed which suggests that it is well aerated.

And finally, the fermenter full, covered, and put away in a nice warm furnace/hot water tank room. The room seems to hover between 20-23 C. I figure once the yeast get going and create their own heat they should be able to give themselves a nice high fermentation temp of 25, maybe even higher.

Most of the flavour in this beer should come from the yeast character. The Belgian/Canadian strain is (apparently) used by Unibroue. Its character is described by Wyeast as "Mild phenolics, which increase with elevated fermentation temperatures. Low ester profile with a dry, slightly tart finish. Complex and well-balanced, alcohol tolerant". At higher fermentation temps (24-29C), the yeast should produce banana, clove, light phenolic, and fruity flavour profiles (S. Hieronymus, "Brew Like a Monk", 2005, pg 178).

I'm a bit worried that the beer will be much darker than "golden". It seemed that the wort was quite amberish without any sugar additions. I think its darker than I'm used to as it is a high gravity beer... the final runnings of the sparge were still at 7 plato, where with a normal batch of beer might be 1.5 plato... much more dilute. I was going for a nice golden-light-amber colour, but I don't really care I suppose (it is "Some Kind of Belgian" afterall...).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Belgian Golden Strong Ale

So it looks like I'm brewing up some Belgian beer this Saturday. The recipe is very simple, designed to be highly fermentable.

For 40 L batch after kettle boil:
9 kg Pale 2-row, mashed at 65 C for 1 hour.
No mashout (should increase fermentables even more still), sparge with 75 C water.

The gravity at knockout will be 20.0 Plato (1.069). The wort from the grain will be boiled for 60 minutes, at which point 300 g of Belgian amber candi sugar crystals will be added, as well as much dextrose to bump the gravity to 20 P. On my system, I'll need about 44.9 L of preboil wort at a gravity of 14.9 P.

350 AAU of EK Goldings at 75 min boil (70 g for my Goldings)
180 AAU of Saaz at 25 min boil (50 g for my Saaz)

All I have access to is Wyeast's 3864 Canadian/Belgian yeast, which is apparently the Unibroue yeast. I plan to make a starter on Thursday or Friday from the smack pack to get a nice healthy pitching of yeast.

Should ferment pretty warm, hopefully 24-26 C.

The predicted colour is slightly darker than the limits for the style, but not by much, and I don't care either.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Super Fermenter!

Back when I was in Fort St. John, I picked up a 58.8 L keg to use for homebrewing. I've decided to turn this keg into a super fermenter, not unlike this product featured here. Here are the features I plan to build into such a device:

- First, I want an internal thermometer, either digital reading to one decimal place in celcius, or a dial that is fairly tight in range, say from 0 to 30 C (thats probably hard to find though).
- Sightglass
- Spigot with angled inlet spear that rotates, so that I can rack off above the sediment.
- Cut off the lid, this will make it easier to clean and harvest yeast if needed. Of course, I'll need a replacement lid-type-thing to keep out shit. Doing this would make it an open type fermenter, so I wouldn't need an airlock.
-Eventually, tubing wrapped around the fermenter that can pump water (or glycol) inside to maintain temperature. It would be nice to be able to be able to hook it up to a temperature control that would kick in the motor if the temp gets too hot (or too cold).

I just need to figure out how to attach everything in a leak-free and removable (for cleaning) way. And how to attach the thermometer as well. I'm sure this info will be easy to find though.

Any other suggestions?


Sunday, November 05, 2006

No Service

Right across the street from my condo here in Edmonton is a nice cozy coffee shop called The Sugarbowl, which I like to sit in for hours at at time drinking coffee or a beer whilst reading a book. Its quite a cozy place, that plays good music and has the kind of people in it that I seem to agree with. Its also rather laid back, and you can't expect fast service... not a place to go unless you have an hour or so to kill.

So today I go in and sit down at a table somewhere in the middle of the shop, certainly not hidden at all. Since I'm used to the laid back service I just start reading my "Brew Like a Monk" book (as I want to brew a Belgian strong dark ale soon). Eventually I realize that its been about 15 minutes and my server hasn't come to talk to me yet. Ok, maybe she didn't see me come in and it looked like I had been there for awhile or something (even though I was wearing a bright red hoodie, which should have been noticeable). So I wait another 10 or so min and even catch my server's eye a few times. She served two tables right behind me without stopping for me. This is starting to get silly.

So I went and grabbed my own menu and proceeded to read it (which she saw while serving the tables beside me) and put it down indicating I knew what I want. She still never stopped by after passing by me 2 more times. So I laughed to myself and decided to make this an experiment... how much longer would it take for her to acknowledge my existence? Well, after 30 more minutes (a little longer than an hour in total waiting) I decided to give up and go home. She saw me pack up and leave, but I certainly didn't say anything. Why? I donno... I was kindof laughing to myself as I left.

Anyway, I'll still go back there since its very close, very cozy, has good coffee, and some cute waitresses...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One Year of Bloggin'!

Well, I've missed it by a week or so, but it turns out I've been running this blog for a year! My first posts were on October 13th 2005. Click here to see my first post. Its been an interesting year -- I was living in Fort St. John, BC and was horribly lonely, I got a lead on a job in a brewery in Edmonton, and I got that job. I've now moved to Edmonton and been a brewer for almost 8 months! How quickly the time passes...

Now its time to think about what will happen in the next year...

I have two choices... stay on with my awesome craft brewery, or go off to get a masters in brewing in Scotland (or possibly Australia). I love my job at the brewery now... I participate in every part of the process from brewing all the way to packaging. I've started to develop my own recipes, and who knows... maybe one of them will get picked up as a seasonal. Its a great small brewery and I actually feel like I make a difference, and I love the fact I can say I brew the beer and that we're so small. My boss gives me the freedom to just get the job done and make good beer without watching over my shoulder every second. Its really great. And I love living in Edmonton right now too, I own a condo in a lively area, have lots of friends nearby, an excellent roomate/tennant, and a messy room I really don't want to pack up again.
But of course, going to get a MSc in Scotland would certainly be good for my career... but it depends on where I want my career to go. Would getting my MSc make me overqualified to work at the smaller craft breweries? I don't think I would fit well with a large scale brewery. Do I want to do research?? What if I would enjoy running the brewery at a brewpub more??? How much do I want to move around the world????
It seems like almost every day I change what my decision is, or I put it off more. Eventually I will have to decide and that decision will decide the rest of my life! AHHHHHHHH!

Well, for you few but faithful, thanks for reading over the last year. I know I haven't been as posty as I could be, but I like to think that I post "enough". In the last year I have done 166 posts, which is almost half a post per day of the year (0.45479 per day). So a post every 2 days on average ain't too shabby!

Cheers to a new year!

Article on NYC

Here is an article I've written to appear in the Edmonton Homebrewer's Guild Newsletter on my trip to NYC:

New York, City of Awesome

The word "awesome" is certainly by far overused in society as well as my vocabulary these days. However, there isn't a better word to describe how I feel about my recent trip to New York City. The word "awesome" means "something which inspires awe", and New York City certainly does that. The city is about being big -- big skyscrapers, big money, big population, big parks, big traffic headaches, and most importantly: big beer selection.

First off, a little about the city itself. I had the fortune to be able to stay with a friend who lived on the the East side of midtown Manhattan. From that point pretty much anything you would want to do was within 45 minutes walking distance, if not closer. The NYC Metro is... interesting, but functional. Once you figure out the difference between "local" and "express" trains you're set (you figure this out quickly after you see your stop whiz by... and the next two stops too... and find yourself in a sketchy-looking spot of Harlem). Oddly, Manhattan seems to be a very safe place, even at night, which surprised me. I wandered the streets alone for a few hours very late at night and never felt "in danger" -- in fact, I saw several young, attractive females jogging alone in the wee hours of the morning. That certainly defies the stereotype that I had of the city. I could walk around the city for hours, and see something interesting every few minutes. Every couple of streets brings something new.

Of course, one of the reasons I went to New York was to try some great beers. I visited almost 15 bars/pubs on my visit, but I'll only write about the highlights. My first stop was at Heartland Brewpub in Union Square. While they have what looks like a full brewery in the back, they don't actually brew there anymore. Most of the beers I tasted there were not "awesome", and in fact some of them had a very soda-like flavour I disagreed with. Their "Cornhusker" lager is actually advertised as being brewed with corn being an advantage somehow. Not surprisingly, it was a very corny and horrible beer. However, they did have a couple of gems. They make a very good IPA as well as a decent seasonal Saison. They also produce an Imperial IPA (7.75% abv), which was by far one of the best beers I had during my entire stay. It seemed unfiltered, amber-brown, nice flowery hop aroma (but not too strong), and a beautiful balance of sweet malty goodness on the forefront with a great bitter finish that sticks like glue. Every other Imperial IPA I've had seems to put too much effort into the hops and ignores the malt to balance it, I think this brewer got it perfect.

My next stop was to a German pub called Zum Schneider. I had the opportunity to try many German beers I've only heard of on TAP (including Weinsephaner Hefeweizen and Spaten Doppelbock). Definitely book off an afternoon + evening at this place if you're ever in NYC.

One of the best stops I made was to Sixpoint Craft Ales in lower Brooklyn. Located in a somewhat run-down industrial area, this very small brewery produces some excellent beers. I spent the afternoon with Aaron Stumpf, the head brewer. I helped them move their bags of malt around, and was well-rewarded with some of their fine beers (so much so that my ability to find my way back to the metro was hindered). They don't filter any of their beers! They use a combination of highly-floculant yeasts and longer aging of each batch to achieve a semi-clear beer. One of the best beers that I had on my trip was their Brownstone Ale, a very complex malty beer made with 10 specialty malts. I am currently trying to replicate this beer, however I can't get any samples out here to compare to! They sent me home with several bottles of some of their beers, I will bring one to this month's meeting (unless I drink them all...)

Last, by certainly not least, I visited The Ginger Man Beer Bar. This bar boasts ~66 draught beers plus 1-2 cask beers, and >130 bottled beers from around the world. I was in heaven... my only mistakes were to visit this place only once, which was on the second last day of my trip when I was pretty much "over-beered" (yes, it IS possible). Their cask ale was the Sixpoint Ales Bengali Tiger... a MASSIVELY bitter beer that was even too much for me. I also made the mistake of ending my night with two half-pints of barley wines on draught... Victory Old Horizontal 10.5% (the name is quite suiting for my position an hour or so later), and the Rock Art Ridge Runner (7.5%). Both very excellent beers, especially the Victory... it didn't taste like an 10.5% beer, and it went down very easily, which is a very bad combination.

Certainly, New York City isn't known for having a lot of breweries, but because of the large population (8.5 million) the beer selection is great. Even the nearest pub or grocery store will have some Dogfish Head or Stone in bottles. I imagine within the next year I will return to New York City... amongst all the places in the world I think I had more fun there than anywhere else!

Monday, October 23, 2006

A trip to the beer store

I was in Calgary this weekend where I took a trip to my favorite beer store, Willow Park Wines & Spirits. I always limit myself to as much as I can carry in a basket. This trip I picked up:
Chimay White Cap
Fisht Tale Ale Anniversary Reel Ale
Tree Brewing Spy Porter
Tree Brewing Jack in the Bock
Unibroue Chambly Noir (The new one I think)
Duckstein Copper Gold (I've never heard of this, but the beer manager reccomended it)
Midnight Sun Espresso Stout
Gouden Carlous Triple
Belhaven St. Andrews Ale
Fuller's London Porter
Traquair House Ale
Bigrock Espresso Stout Seasonal

Looking forward to trying them all... I'll try to actually review them too :)


Just a quick post to say that I've ordered myself a macbook :)
Intel Core Duo 2.0 GHz, 1 GB ram, 60 gb harddrive (which I will quickly replace with a 120gb drive that is waaaay cheaper than is available on the site).
Hell yeah.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Super Amber Brown Ale - Try #2

After tasting my last try at making a really nice malty beer with not too much hop bitterness, just enough to balance it with maybe a slight hop flavour. I really want to bring out a chocolatey-roast flavour, and I'm trying to figure out how to do that. I figured adding more chocolate and roast malt might do it, but I may be wrong.
Anyway, from the first try at this I removed all the munich malt, replaced ~1/2 of the weight with pale malt, then added a dash of honey & melanoidin malts, plus upped the percentage of chocolate and roast malts. I'm going for a complex maltiness, so maybe the addition of the honey and melanoidin will help.
I may regret taking out the munich though... as you can see now only about 70% of the malt bill comes from fermentable-sugar producing malts! Luckily the blend of 2-row malt we get at the brewery gets excellent extract :).

Anyway the old recipe is here.

The new recipe is here:
2006-10-09 Super Amber II

A ProMash Brewing Session Report

Brewing Date: Monday October 09, 2006
Head Brewer: Brian Westcott
Asst Brewer:
Recipe: Super Amber II

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (L): 26.00 Wort Size (L): 26.00
Total Grain (kg): 5.71

Anticipated OG: 1.062 Plato: 15.30
Anticipated SRM: 28.2

Anticipated IBU: 29.5

Brewhouse Efficiency: 85 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Actual OG: 1.062 Plato: 15.20

% Amount Name SRM
17.5 1.00 kg. Pale 2-row Harrington 2
56.1 3.20 kg. Pale 2 Row (Alley Kat Blend) 2
15.8 0.90 kg. Crystal 75L 75
4.0 0.23 kg. Chocolate Malt 475
2.0 0.11 kg. Honey Malt 25
2.0 0.11 kg. Melanoidin Malt 32
2.0 0.11 kg. C120 120
0.7 0.04 kg. Roasted Barley 575

Potential represented as Degrees Plato per pound per gallon.

Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
40.00 g. Goldings - E.K. Pellet 5.50 22.8 75 min
20.00 g. Goldings - E.K. Pellet 5.50 6.6 20 min

Alley Kat Ale Yeast


Saturday, October 07, 2006

It had to happen eventually

I figured that some time in my brewing career I would perform an error so bad that it would cause an entire batch of beer to be dumped.
Well, this week I performed that error, and had to dump 20 hL of beer down the drain (thats 2000 L for those unknowing of the metric system).
What did I do? Well we had two 500 kg bags of barley malt for making beer with. One was pale 2-row malt (light in colour, lots of enzymes for converting starch, and lots of starch for converting to sugar) and the other was Munchi (which tastes "maltier" or a littly "nutty", has less enzymatic power, and is darker in colour). So when milling the grain for a batch of our Aprikat beer (which is ~50% pale 2-row, its mostly wheat malt) I accidentally grabbed the munich rather than the pale 2-row. Thus, the beer was much darker than usual, and tasted like, well, munich malt.

Cheers, and happy thanksgiving to ya'll you Canadia folk.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Yellow Shirts

I always seem to have a better time in whatever I'm doing when I wear a yellow shirt.

Thats odd.

But I like yellow shirts (unless wasps attack me).


Odd placed comments

Sometimes I get emails from comments posted on my blog and I go to my most recent posts, where I find no new comments. Which means somebody has commented on an old post of mine. But of course there seems to be no way of knowing which blog entry these comments were posted to so I can reply or see the profile of the poster or whatever.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

the lokey massive

A good friend of mine who does some awesome/interesting 'reconstructed decompositions' work as a DJ just launched a new website with a podcast feed for his work. Check it out... and download some mixes.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Homebrew - Super Amber Brown Ale

So I came to a realization... If I'm going to be a brewer, one day I will have to actually produce recipes for new beers. I haven't really done any homebrewing / small batch brewing for several months. And I kinda abandoned those batches anyway. So I have to start doing my own recipe formulation, and yesterday I did! Here is the promash info:

BJCP Style and Style Guidelines
12-B Porter, Robust Porter

Min OG: 1.048 Max OG: 1.065
Min IBU: 25 Max IBU: 60
Min Clr: 22 Max Clr: 42 Color in SRM, Lovibond

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (L): 46.00 Wort Size (L): 46.00
Total Grain (kg): 9.95

Anticipated OG: 1.063 Plato: 15.50
Anticipated SRM: 24.9

Anticipated IBU: 35.2

Brewhouse Efficiency: 85 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Actual OG: 1.063 Plato: 15.50

% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
70.4 7.00 kg. Pale Malt Canada 1.044 2
16.1 1.60 kg. Crystal 75L Great Britian 1.034 75
8.0 0.80 kg. Munich Malt Germany 1.037 8
3.0 0.30 kg. Chocolate Malt Great Britain 1.034 475
2.0 0.20 kg. C120 Great Britain 1.033 120
0.5 0.05 kg. Roasted Barley Great Britain 1.029 575

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.

Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
75.00 g. Goldings - E.K. Pellet 5.50 29.5 75 min
46.00 g. Goldings - E.K. Pellet 5.50 5.7 20 min

So, as you can see, this is should be a fairly malty beer. I miscalculated something as I only wanted about 30 IBUs, but 35 isn't much more and hopefully the beer is malty enough to make it balance well. I pretty much hit all the numbers I expected to. I used our brewery's ale yeast for this. Oh, and I also used a simple single step infusion at 68 C.

The recipe is basically a suped up version of Amber Brown Ale that we produce commercially, hence the weird name given that I've classified it as a robust porter. Note, however, that I've changed a lot from the commercial recipe, or else I probably whould be posting it here on the internet! I expect 6% alcohol when finished, with lots of chocolately malt flavour and a hell of a lot of mouthfeel.

I'm actually trying to replicate an excellent beer I had from Sixpoint Craft Ales in Brookyln called brownstone. It has such a great complex malt character with lots of chocolate malt that I just had to try to make something similar. I may have even gone too easy on the chocolate and roast barley... we'll see.

Anyway, for those of you in the Edmonton area it should be ready for trying in about 3 weeks.


Heartland Brewpub in NYC

On my 2nd day in New York we went down to the Heartland Brewpub in Union Square. Its a pretty nice place, and it wasn't too busy (being a Sunday evening and all). Lots of beer related stuff all over the place... posters, brewing equipment, etc. It looks like they had a full working brewery from what I could tell, but they don't brew there anymore. The service was ok, not too slow, not too fast. I ordered their beer sample tray, and the results were...

Apricot ale - (Seasonal, 4.5%) Not all that pleasant... some kinda soda flavour in it. Not a lot of noticeable apricot flavour. My brewery makes an apricot ale... this beer was certainly more bitter than ours. Overall... I wouldn't order it myself.

Smiling Pumpkin Ale - (Seasonal, 5.5%) Quite nice! Good spicy/cinnamon note. Maybe even some cloves. However, I wasn't a big fan of the finish, which was fairly bitter that didn't really go with the spicy flavour. I'd drink it for the initial taste though.

Cornhusker Lager - They actually advertise and seem proud of the fact this beer is made with corn. And it certainly is, you can taste the cornyness quite strongly. I didn't bother finishing the 4 oz sample, just terrible, for me.

Harvest Wheat - Was served with a lemon, which I took out but the damage to the flavour had already been done. Cloudy & light coloured. Very clean flavour, with an odd bitterness, probably damaged by the lemon flavour. Might be nice on a sunny patio though.

IPA: This was my favorite one until I tried their Imperial IPA (see below). Decent hop flavour, mild aroma. Dry finish that sticks for several minutes. Seems like some combination of English and American hops maybe? Somewhat spicy, somewhat floral notes. Reminds me of Tree Brewing's Hophead IPA from Kelowna, BC but with less dry hopping. Medium "plus" body. Head stuck to the side of the glass all the way down. Definitely a great beer.

Red Rooster Ale: Nice malty start, but jumps into a harsh bitterness (as well as a strong bite from the carbonation). Not much hop flavour. Seems to be a lot of munich malt in this one. Not too bad of a beer, overall.

Farmer Jon's Oatmeal Stout - This has won several awards. Medium body. Fisrt note very chocolatey & burnt flavour. Not a whole lot of aftertaste. Some bitterness from the roasted malts. No hop flavour or aroma. I ordered a pint of this after the sample tray, its a decent beer... but I wouldn't say it blew me away with its flavour.

Empire Ale - I only had like 2 sips of this, and it was a pretty good Czech style pilsner/lager. Crisp, clean, nice hop finish.

Imperial IPA - (7.75%) Just AWESOME. I came back the next day with a friend because we had to have another two. Slightly cloudy, Amberish brown. Beautiful balance of sweet malty goodness on the forefront with a great bitter balance on the finish that makes you want to come back for more. I like this because while it was quite bitter, it wasn't a harsh bitter... it was quite a smooth and relatively easy drinking beer for an imperial IPA. A lot of IPAs, especially ones labeled 'imperial' seem to go overboard with the bitteness and don't balance it with enough malt. This beer was still balanced towards the bitterness, but not overdone. A very good beer in my opinion.

Matrimony Saison - (5.0%) Golden yellow, cloudy, "hoegarrdenny" yeast character, lots of citrus flavour/aroma. High burpy carbonation. Not bad, I only had a few sips of someone else's pint though.

All in all, it was a pretty good visit. Evidently I wasn't impressed by a lot of their beers, but their Imperial IPA makes this a place I would definitely go back to over and over again... if I only lived in NYC.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NYC: First Day Reviews

So, this is the first installment blog of my New York trip (which was "awesome", if I haven't said so before).
My first day was technically covered in this earlier blog entry, sans the beer reviews. We picked up 3 six-packs that evening...
Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55
Pretty much a simple ale, mild in flavour all around. A pretty easy drinking beer.... I couldn't find much to comment on. Theres nothing really wrong with it, but its also not very interesting. At least it has some flavour though.

Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA
Fairly yellow in colour (yes, I said coloUr...). I get a fairly mild almost woody hop aroma. Medium carbonation. It has a slightly grassy hop flavour and medium "plus" bitterness... not TOO bitter like many IPAs out there these days, but noticeable. Smooth and not biting bitterness in the aftertaste too. The beer has plenty of malt flavour too, which is very well balanced. I really liked this beer, I have to say their continual hopping over the length of the boil technique does create a distinct hop bitterness/flavour/aroma profile. I wish I was able to try the 90 minute. I grabbed a six pack to take back home.

Sierra Navada Stout:
Unfortunately the six pack of this we got seemed a little old to me. I got the oxidized flavour out of it, but sometimes the good thing about a nice stout is that the roast flavour in it can mask it. I still liked it, but I don't think I'd give it a fair review off an old bottle. It whent VERY well with a chocolate cake a friend had made... :)

On to day 2.... cheers!

Monday, September 25, 2006

New York, city of Awesome

Well, I'm back today from New York city. I had such a great time, which may be evident in the fact that I only added one blog the entire time I was there.

The only thing that I can really say about New York right now that it is just awesome... I'm quite tired and can't articulate any more than that right now. There is just so much to see and do there. I was only there seven days, and I feel as if I was gone a couple of weeks.

I'm sure my opinion of the city was helped by the fact I had a friend living in midtown Manhattan to stay with. In addition, she had lots of excellent friends that I got to know very quickly. By the end of the week, it felt like I already lived there... and living there is tempting. But I think I may just like visiting (and I'm sure my hosts would get tired of a non-rent-paying lump on their couch after awhile).

So, for the next couple of days my plan is to write about my experiences of a day or two per post, along with the beer reviews I did that day.
Speaking of beer, here is a list of the beers I got my hands on while in NYC:
(the *** denotes my picks as best beers of the trip)

Bottles / other draught:
Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Sierra Navada Stout
Yuengling Lager
Dogfish Head Raison d'etre (spelling??)
Anchor Liberty Ale
Arrogant Bastart Ale
Leffe Bruin
Spaten Oktoberfest

Heartland Brewpub, Union Square:
  • Apricot Ale (seasonal)
  • Some amber coloured ale, the server forgot which one it was and I couldn't place it (seasonal)
  • Smiling Pumpkin Ale (seasonal)
  • Cornhusker Lager
  • Harvest Wheat
  • IPA
  • Red Rooster
  • Farmer Jon's Oatmeal Stout
  • Empire Ale
  • Imperial IPA***
  • Matrimony Saison
Zum Schneider (East 7th st at Ave C)
An awesome german beer bar...
  • Weihnstephaner Hefeweizen (on tap!!)
  • Schneider Wiesse
  • Spaten Dopplebock
  • Schlenkeria Racuchbier Marzen (bottle)

Peter's Waterfront Alehouse (Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn Heights)
  • Brooklyn Blast
  • Magic Hat Fat Angel
  • Chelsea Hop Angel

Sixpoint Craft Ales (Brooklyn)
I stopped in to visit these guys for about half an afternoon and had a great time, I'll expand more in the blog post later, but they are quite small and make some AWESOME beers. They gave me a few sample bottles to take home too.
  • Sweet Action Cream Ale
  • Brownstone Ale***
  • Got a tast of their first lager that should be out in a few months.

The GingerMan (East 36th St between 5th & Park)
I almost died when I saw the beer selection at this place. Too bad I was getting tired of beer at the end of the week!
  • Sixpoint Bengali Tiger Cask Ale
  • Belhaven Scottish Ale
  • Sixpoint Brownstone*** (again, because it was such a good beer!)
  • Victory Old Horizontal Barleywine***
  • Rock Art Ridge Runner Barley Wine
Holy crap thats a lot of beer. I didn't bring back as much as I thought I would, but I didn't want to lug it around with me anyway.

Unfortunately I left my digital camera on ISO setting 400 while I was taking pictures, and a lot of them have turned out very grainy and crappy. Plus I didn't take a lot of pictures to begin with. So that makes me a little sad.... but I guess I'll just have to go back.

All in all... like I said, it was awesome. I had such a good time and I'm glad I went. Now stay in tune for my stories and reviews this week (as I won't have anything else very interesting to write about, I will stretch this NY thing for all the posts I can get out of it ;)


Sunday, September 17, 2006

NYC Day Zero

Well, this was a long day. My plane left from Edmonton at 00:30 in the morning. I had a middle seat between two people, on the emergency exit row... which means that your seat doesn't recline. Somehow I actually managed to sleep a little bit, but not well.
I changed planes in Toronto, which was actually quite an efficient process as it turns out. In 45 minutes I was driven by bus from one terminal to another, picked up my bag, went through US customs, checked through security again, and made it to my gate 10 minutes before my plane was boarding. All at 6:00 am Toronto time. Better than I expected.

My plane arrived at Newark, NJ on time... I was a little worried about finding my way to my friend's place in Manhattan. But, not for long. There was a big ad for bus service to Grand Central (amongst other places) right by the baggage carosel. $14 US, not too bad. From Grand Central it was an easy hop on the 6 subway to 23rd st, then a short walk to my friend's place at 2nd ave & 24th st. I didn't even have to check a map the entire trip in. Actually, after I bought my metro card, I managed to help another tourist with the subway system map. Its fairly easy once you get it.

I arrived at my friend's place at about 10:30ish. Immediately I was being shoved out the door to go to central park to meet with a group of friends of hers. I was tired... but oh well. Central Park is quite awesome... I played frisbee in the big open grass area on the south side. I felt... like I was in NYC. We walked around the park a bit, then went home... I basically passed out for 3 hours sleeping after that, as I was quite tired.

Following that the evening consisted of a lot of beer drinking until 3:30 am... My reviews of the american craft beer consumed will appear in my next blog entry... for now, I sleep. I also met a friend of my friend's from Brooklyn, and she'll show me around there this week. Thats great, as otherwise I probably wouldn't even know what to do with myself in Brooklyn.


Friday, September 15, 2006

New York City

Well, tomorrow I'm off to NYC for a week. I'll keep notes on beers & breweries and post what I find!
Who knows... maybe this will be a beer blog again after a month or so of laziness :)


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New York Trip!

Yep, so it looks like I'm going to NY for a week, Sept 16-24. I plan to visit some friends, see the sights, but most importantly, try some beers!!
I'm staying right near the Bellevue medical centre, in Manhattan. I plan on visiting the Brooklyn brewery and Sixpoint Ales in Brooklyn, as well as the Heartland Brewery Union Square (just a few blocks away!) and Chelsea Brewing brew pubs. I've emailed all of them, hopefully they are nice enough to want to have me in for a brewing chat & a pint or three. I think I'd like to bring down some samples of beer from my brewery if I can, we'll see. I definately plan on bringing back lots of beer myself (more than the 24 allowed... but I'll pay the excise tax on them no prob).

Theres a few beer pubs I plan on checking out too... The Ginger Man, Gramercy Tavern, and St. Andrew's Pub. They're all somewhat close to where I'm staying and are highly rated on Beeradvocate.

So, that means I'll have brewery/beer reviews to post while I'm there/when I get back. It'll be a beer blog again!

I welcome any New York travel suggestions!