Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm a real brewer!

Well, on Monday of this week I did something that is key in every brewer's development... I brewed a large batch (for us) of beer, pretty mutch all by myself. I did the mash on my own. I did the sparge on my own. I did the boil on my own. And I hit the exact initial gravity on the wort that I was supposed to hit, with approximately the same wort volume that I was supposed to hit. The best thing was this wasn't just one of regular beers, this was our special summer ale... a saison style of beer with orange and pepper in it. It tastes pretty good to me, and its very unique for what we've produced as a brewery before.

In any case, I'm honoured to have this as my first brew.

But I'm also quite burnt out from all the work I've been doing in the last week. I'm pretty used to hard jobs that take a long time, and thus I'm not phased by what I'm working these days. We really need a new staff member to help take care of our production. I've worked almost 8 hrs of overtime this week, which is almost a day... for our brewery, apparently an hour a day may be a little much.
I even feel that I should come in on the weekends to catch up... with such a small staff (5) only so much can be done in regular work hours efficiently (as in not fucking shit up by not having enough time to do it).

Anyway... if you love beer and brewing and live in / will move to Edmonton we probably have a job for you...


Sunday, April 23, 2006


My friend and ex-roommate, Leif (aka lo.key) has started producing some very awesome musical mixes. Genre? I have no fucking idea. His genre is awesome, as far as I am concerned.

I remember the days in our apartment when he would poorly mix 4-5 tunes together in a managerie of ... Something.

But he has evolved, gained skills, and has become quite the artist. In fact, I listen to his mixes more than anything else in my iTunes collection. The complexity is unique, the mixing flawless.
Its good.
Check it out, at (free mix downloads of his radio sets for the university radio station in Ottawa).
In addition, if you really like his work I'm sure he wouldn't mind me sending you the file for his album "Reconstructing Decompositions". Its very awesome in-and-of-itself.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Ass Sprain

More on that title later.

Well, the last two brew days at the brewery have been more for training me to do it. Slowly I'm getting to do the entire brewing process. Soon enough... I will be a real brewer :). Today we did one of our beers (Aprikat) which has a high wheat content. Beers high in wheat (which is high in protein) are harder to mash with since the wheat "gums up" the mash bed, causing water not to flow through it and thus ... well, bad. Today, my mash stuck. Almost twice. But I learned the lesson the first time and know what to do in the future. A stuck mash will happen to every brewer eventually, I got mine out of the way early. So... horray! I'm almost a real brewer!

As for ass sprains...
Now, I do a lot of work in the brewery that involves lifting, bending, and other actions bad for the back. I pulled a muscle that seems to be at the top part of my left ass cheek. What was I doing when I did this today? I was bending down to pick up a dish from the dishwasher. Guh.
It hurt all day, but its not like I can do much about it. I'll just load up in ibuprophen before bed (now) and hope it feels better tomorrow....


Thursday, April 20, 2006

CBR X-treme show

he, I just finished listening to Craft Beer Radio's (April Fools) "X-treme Beer Show" show. Its hilarious. I suggest you listen to it. Although you'll appreciate it more if you listen to their show normally, since they are essentially "beer nerds" like myself that talk about beer.

Anyway, check it out.

Scottish 80 Update

I checked out the Scottish 80/ I brewed with a friend a week or so ago. We left it to ferment in the brewery where it stays around 14-16 C normally, although ambient temperatures jump to like 22 C for a few hours some days when we are brewing there. Not a big concern though. The gravity settled out so far at 1.013, I don't expect it to go down much more. That gives an attenuation for the yeast (how much of the sugar the yeast fermented) at 73%, which is on the high end for the scottish yeast.

Taste... meh. The malt wasn't really all that exciting at this point. But not unplesant. Just nothing special. Unfortunately its a little too bitter to really be a scottish ale, but I really liked the bitter/hop aftertaste that I got from it. I think it will end up being a pretty good english bitter (ESB). But of course, I could be wrong.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Kelowna Weekend

So no updates for a few days, as I've been out of town in Kelowna, BC. It was "ok". Not really a lot to do, it seemed. Had some nice wines, learned how to make lasagna and lamb roast. Relaxed. Thats about it.

I didn't bring any luggage with me though. I left from work to make it to the airport on Thursday a little late, with the intention of going home then off to the airport. However, traffic was so bad I gave that up and drove straight to the airport and made it 10 minutes before boarding. Geez.

Naturally, I had nothing more than the clothing on my back. So I went shopping at Mark's Work Wearhouse when I got there, and there were having some sale where you can get between 5-25% off. I won the 25% off... so I bought 2 pairs of pants, two nice collared short sleeve shirts, two comfy t-shirts, boxers, swim suit, and socks for a very good price indeed.
I needed a new wardrobe anyway.

But Brian, what of beer?
Well, lets see... hm. I tried the St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout. MAN is that EVER a good beer. So smooth, and an excellent balance of malty sweetness and the bite from roasted malts. I think I shall have to attempt a beer like this some day.

Speaking of beer, last week I kegged off the "Scottish 80" I started many weeks ago. It ended up being 4.2%, so not too bad for alcohol, but its flavour was ... not so good. So I threw in about 25 g of fuggle hops for dry hopping right into the keg to maybe cover it up or at least make the flavour interesting. I'll have to find some way to remove the hop trub before serving though.
I figure I'll just bring the keg by the frat house some friday night and have them dispose of it.

I promised a friend that I would mention her name in my blog, so that she would be famous. Assuming I spelt her name right. Kerolina? Kerrolina? I suck at names. I'm pretty sure that last one is the wrongest, though, as I just made it up. There!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I will buy beer again

Well, I've come to a decision. I get two six-packs of beer per week from the brewery. Now, I love the beer we make, but I'm a beer drinker who likes to try new things. And, as a beer professional, I need to be well versed in the flavours of many beer styles and breweries products. I can't really do that if I'm limiting myself to what beer I can get for free.

So, from now on I'm be giving away pretty much most of my two six-packs per week (I usually give away at least one anyway) to whoever I can (mostly friends really).

I will then go back to buying beers I haven't tried before. The closest liquor store to me actually has a pretty good selection of micro brews and foreign beers. I can afford it after all, and hell is part of my professional development anyway!

I just bought Flying Dog's Scottish Porter and St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout. Oddly enough, I've never tried the oatmeal stout before, despite it being a very good beer apparently. I'm drinking the Scottish porter right now. Its odd, really. Indeed a cross between a Scottish beer and a porter. There seem to be two layers... one of a malty sweetness that is in the forefront at first. After several seconds the aftertaste becomes slowly more dry. There is a roast barley or black malt flavour throughout, which gets stronger about a second or two after the sip and then fades. I can feel a mild bitterness on my tongue (which may be mostly from the roasted grains), but can taste or smell very little hop flavour or aroma if any.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Scottish Brew Day & Pics!

Well, finally a friend of mine and I got around to getting into the brewery I work at to brew some homebrew. Today we brewed a Scottish "Export 80", a malty style of beer around 5% abv. See this BJCP Style Guide link for exact details. We were aiming for an initial SG of 1.052, and wound up with an initial gravity of 1.053, so pretty much bang on! However, of efficiency was way high... about 86% compared to the 75% predicted. Sooo... we had about 5 L of extra wort. Luckily, we were making a 40 L batch and fermenting in a 58.8 L keg I had. So I figure we got about 43 L total out of the whole deal after losses, which means that after racking it following primary fermentation we should have 40 L to split between the two of us.
Anyway, on with some pictures:

Here is just a shot of the brewhouse of the brewery I work at. On the right is the mash tun, then hidden to the left of it is the boil kettle, which is hidden by the hot liquor tank. You can see some huge 500 kg bags of pale 2-row malt above.

Of course, since we're brewing at a brewery, there is beer to be sampled :)

This was the mash. We had some weird temperatures going on... we were aiming for a 69 C mash for a dextrinous wort, however we seemed to start at 71 C or so and then at the end it seemed to be down to like 65.

Under the box is the mash, the box is just for insulation.

Heating up ~40 L of water for sparging with. We used phosphoric acid to drop the pH of the water to 6 or there 'bouts.

Starting to recirculate the wort through the grain bed until it runs clear, as the grain acts as a filter for crap in the wort.

We then take the sparge water and sprinkle it over the grain to seep out all the sugar & good stuff from the grains.

The the wort then flows into the boil kettle, which is heating on the propane burner.

After the wort boiled for about 2 hours (quite a long boil!) we cooled it quickly with an immersion chiller. Cold water is pumped through the copper tubing which coils inside the kettle. This robs the heat from the wort and cools it pretty quickly (from boiling to 21 C in about 20 minutes).

Finally, we needed a fermenter, and decided to use a 58.8 L keg I picked up when I was living in Fort St. John. We put it on the brewery keg washer which automatically washes and sanitizes it. We then removed the seal and spear (tube that gets beer from the bottom of the keg), put the beer in, and covered the hole with a sanitized piece of aliminum foil and a cup to keep it on. Its about 18 C in the brewery on regular days, so it should bo ok for the Scottish ale yeast which should be fermented a little colder than normal.

The plan is to let it do primary fermentation for 3 weeks, then just transfer it into two 19 L "corny" kegs which will be stored at 2 C for a few more weeks, carbonated, then served!


Sunday, April 09, 2006

I suck at posting

Every day I sit down at the computer and think "ok, after I do these other things I'll post a blog".
But then I get tired and fail to post.

I'll be better, I swear. I'm just heading out now to brew a scottish 80 at the brewery (small batch, homebrew style) with a friend, I'll grab some pics of the brewery and throw them up when I get back.
(Not throw-up as in vomit, but throw-up as in put them on the internet....)


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Brew Weekend

Well, this weekend I'm doing some "home" brewing with a friend of mine at the brewery. We have the good small batch equipment there, and clean-up is a breeze (wash the crap down the drain with a hose :)

We're going to do a double batch of a scottish ale, around 5% or so abv. It should turn out pretty good, as I found that my last scottish ale did taste pretty good, it just was just horribly weak. I didn't have a hydrometer, and I later discovered that the initial specific gravity was only 1.039. I was aiming for 1.054. Oh well.
There is a compition in June for the Edmonton Homebrewers Guild, I'd like to have a few beers ready for that. I'd like to have a scottish ale or two by then, hopefully a hefeweizen, and maybe a special bitter to enter.

Man Hands
I've also found since working at the brewery, I've developed much thicker hands. I guess that comes from "real" work!