Thursday, December 06, 2007

Vist to Baird's Malt

Last week our class took a trip to see a malt production facility. Malted barley comes from... well, barley, and the primary dry ingredient in beer. Baird's Malt, about 30 min outside of Edinburgh, processes quite a bit of malt for the distilling industry which is taking off right now (they have other plants elsewhere that make other malts). I took a few photos... here they are:
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Revisionist Marketing - Schlitz Brewing Company

I was just writing a paper and looking up some relevant examples for quality management. I was interested to find in a textbook the story of Schlitz Brewing Company. Turns out that in the 1970s the brilliant management of the company decided they could cut costs and make lots of money. So they added lots of corn syrup instead of malt, warmed up their fermentations, and basically decreased the brewing turn around time by 50%.

Great, right? They could make way higher returns on sales and assets than anybody else in the market. One problem: nobody except the hardcore alcoholics that wanted the cheapest beer possible regardless of flavour would buy the stuff. Sales fell 40% by 1980, the stock crashed from $69 to $5 and the 100 year old brewery was eventually sold off. You can find this and more info at this Wikipedia article.

You can still buy Schlitz beer from Pabst Brewing Company, presumably with a better brewing process. So I went to their site just to see what it said. I found this statement in the marketing-speak:
Schlitz is one of the undiscovered gems of American beer and today, young adult consumers are embracing the brew because it has stayed true to itself and hasn't "sold out".
Hm... if I read my history accurately back there, Schlitz is the ultimate definition of "selling out"; they tried to make money by not respecting their customers enough to think they would buy an inferior product.

Anyway, its not that important, it just reinforces my already strong belief that most marketing we get these days doesn't respect our intelligence. Plus I haven't posted in awhile...


Monday, October 29, 2007

Specialty Malt as a Beer Stabilizer?

I was doing some research last week and I came across one published paper from last year that was quite interesting, and I thought I'd share with you all. ("Influence of malt browing degree on lipoxygenase activity" Sovrano, S. Buiatti, S. Anese, M. 2006. Food Chemistry 99 711-717).

To start, there are a few science-y things I should mention. Lipids that naturally occur in malted barley can be broken down by several conditions during the mash and brewing process to form 2-trans-nonenal, a compound that creates a very cardboardy flavour in beer. One of the major pathways for this lipid breakdown is provided by the enzyme lipoxygenase (also naturally found in malt). Lipoxygenase oxidizes (attacks) the lipids to form the precursors that eventually create the dreaded 2-trans-nonenal.

The paper found, however, that specialty malts (crystal, carapils, roasted/black malt, etc) which are heated/kilned to cook the insides of the barley lack lipoxygenase activity. In addition, they found that mashes created with specialty malts also had a lower lipoxygenase activity than would be expected. Indeed, the specialty malts were actually inhibiting the action of lipoxygenase! Why? Well its rather complicated, so I'll let you nerdy types read the article yourselves and save the rest of you the boredom.

What does this mean to you? Well, possibly not much, as many all-grain homebrewers already use a bit of specialty malt in the grist, so there probably isn't much new for you. But if you're brewing a light-coloured beer (lager), consider the addition of a small amount of carapils or light crystal malt to the grist, it shouldn't alter the colour much and may help your homebrew shelf life.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lokey rocks it again...

Technically this isn't about beer, but senior mixologist lo.key has created another work of fine art... you can download his most recent set (7 parts) at his website, That is all...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Beer Reviews

So I suppose its time to write a bit about some beers I've had here. Now I haven't been that great on keeping notes on this but this is the few I've written:

Edinburgh "3" Scotch Ale (Cask, 4.3%)
Very malty, sweet but balanced with a dry finish. Appropriate "scotch ale" style for sure. Very drinkable, no offensive flavours. Very dark amber-red with moderate head.

Clipper IPA (Cask, 4.2%)
Not much on aroma or flavour from hops. Medium hop bitterness, pleasant finish. Not very malty. Dry finish. Quite nice, but also not "interesting". Very drinkable though.

Stewart 80 (Cask, abv?)
"Exactly what I think of when I think of a Scottish beer". Malty but not too sweet. Slightly fruity start, very nice dry finish, some roast notes. Quite excellent!

Timothy Taylor Landlord (Cask)
Very fruity/estery character, likely from yeast strain used. Again, a dry finish... "proper english pint". Honestly, I found it not that easy to drink, but it was "interesting".

"Moo Coo Brew" (Cask)...
unfortunately I remember little about this beer ;)

Where do I like to drink? So far I've found no place better than "The Blue Blazer" down on Bread st. I've been to the Guildford Arms too... but I found it a little pricey. "The Golden Rule" is also a pretty good place with lots of cask pumps.

Thats all for now..

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A post about beer finally

Dorm Room Stitch - Version 2
First, here is a stiched up wide angle photo of my dorm room. You can see I've started a small bottle collection up top there. So far I've had some bad and some good; really, a lot of the stuff seems to have a bit of an off flavour just from being stored in the bottle warm at the local Asda under fluorescent lights... but I at least can get an idea of the flavor. Some of my 'favorites' (of the bottle stuff) is the Well's John Bull Bitter, Greene King IPA, and Deuchars IPA. Now I know the first two come from big-ass breweries in England, but too bad, they were pretty good.

Now Deuchars IPA is a good story, as its rather local (from the Caledonian Brewery here in Edinburgh) and widely available as a real cask ale. Quite a good standard beer to have, its nice and hoppy but balanced... not over hopped like the American version of the style. I also love that the beer over here is lower in alcohol. Beer over 4.5% or so is considered "strong". Most beers I've had the pleasure of trying are on average 4% abv. Now I know most people are going to throw their hands up and say "well thats stupid, you have to spend more to get drunk!"... but the point of drinking good beer is to be able to enjoy it. Honestly, if I can find a good beer at 3.2-3.8% that has lots of flavour I'll get it, as I can drink lots of good stuff without getting as drunk.

Anyway, Friday was a good day. At around 1:30 in the afternoon we arrived at an excellent cask ale pub called the Blue Blazer where several fine cask beers were tried. Then back to the university for the Scotch Whisky Society's first tasting of the school year, which involved about 30 people drinking 6 bottles of scotch. There was Glenkinchie 12, Glenmorangie 10, as well as my favorite for the night Carol Ila 12. Then back to another good cask ale pub downtown for more of the same...

Luckily in my advancing years I decided at about quarter to midnight to take an escape route home with another fellow rather than going to the next pub. I'm sure by doing so I saved myself quite a bit of hangover... I was also trying to beat having to take the night bus home, which costs £2.50 rather than the regular £1! I've also become cheap now that I don't have a job.

Anyway, I feel bad for not writing down any reviews of the beers... next time. I know I enjoyed the "Three Sisters" which was a nice Scottish style beer, perhaps a 70 or 80 shilling beer but with more hop character than one would expect. Quite sweet, well balanced, and interesting enough to make a mark in my mind.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

So, Hows Scotland You Ask?

So now that I've been here at Heriot-Watt University on the outskirts of Edinburgh for a little over half a week, I bet the few readers I have to this blog want to know how its going. To sum it up...

Pretty good.
Of course I don't really know anybody yet, but I've met several nice people. I've moved into my residence room and have pasted it with photos and am slowly making it my own (ie, making it messy). I took some photos around the university yesterday.
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Its a very nice campus, lots of green space. If you click here you can see more photos from the parks around the campus. The walk from my dorm to the place I'll be taking classes is about 10 min. Theres a little convenience store on campus, but for any real food selection I'll have to head out into town for a Tesco or ASDA. Not to worry though, the bus system is pretty awesome. When there isn't too much traffic its a 15-20 min ride to the city center.

I registered for my courses the other day too, its a pretty decent schedule. 9:15 start every day. Some days busy with classes, other days only one lecture. I'll just have to keep on top of my reading, as this is expensive and I haven't been in school for almost 5 years. But its brewing/distilling, and I've had a passion for that for awhile... plus my biochemistry background should help.
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Apparently the university was built near a graveyard too.

There are several pubs on campus, but the ones run by the university seem closed on the weekend. I liked the Lecern Bar which seems like more of an "old man" bar. Better beer selection than at the student union pubs. Its too bad that due to marketing the most popular beers (and thus the ones sold on tap) are pretty much foreign lagers... not really my thing, I'm looking for a fine english bitter or scottish ale. They exist luckily, but not much variation available.

Today I took a hike around central Edinburgh today, its a very nice city. And easier to get around than you'd think. You can't really get lost since you can almost always see the castle or other landmarks.
Blue Sky... in Edinburgh... it happens
The Castle
Oddly, I remembered my way around the city from the last time I was here in 2003. Which led me back to Bobby's Bar where I had a couple of pints of CASK ale (finally!) - first Caledonian 80 (4.?%), a Scottish style of beer thats supposed to be quite malty, but I think the cask was a bit off. Then a pint of Deuchar's IPA (I probably misspelt that), which was rather tasty and only 3.8%. I'd have another pint or three of that.
Taken whilst crossing North bridge.

I wandered around quite a bit and snapped lots of photos, the best of which can be found by clicking here. Of course I had to try for a good sunset shot, this was the best I could muster:

Sunset & Castle

Theres something about the way the light reflects in the air in Scotland that I love... in the evening when the sun is getting low there is a ... colour... its hard to describe and I can't seem to capture its essence in a photo (always overexposed or the colour just doesn't come through)... but its peaceful and feels "old".
Its a beautiful country, I must make sure I leave time to see it.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Packed and ready...leaving on a jet plane

Well, today I did the final pack and such... I fit everything I can think of into two bags with room and weight to spare:

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All of my crap...

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Cool vacuum bag that shrinks when you suck the air out...

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Compressed bag... much smaller! As long as the airport guys don't want to search it...

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Yep, everything in 2 bags. The duffel is 18 kg and the backpack is 16.

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It really doesn't look like much does it?

Anyway, my flight is tomorrow at 18:40. I should be settled in my dorm room any everything hopefully by Tuesday evening, perhaps I can get internet again. Although by that point I may want to sleep... or socialize with what are hopefully some cool flatmates...
Hm, I just realized that I don't have a travel alarm clock... I should do something about that.

Anyway... cheerio!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP, I'm leaving for Scotland in 9 days

When you know you have a big life change coming its sometimes hard to actually think its going to happen when its far away. Then one day as the day of the change approaches you reach a sudden realization: "Holy fuck, its actually happening".

For me, that day was today.

As I've mentioned before, I am a brewer, and I've been accepted to do my MSc in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt university in Edinburgh, Scotland. It will be awesome. I am looking forward to the life change. But at the same time, it seemed like something in my head that was happening to someone else, like a movie. Today it really clicked that I only have 9 more days here.
9 days to get my finances in order.
9 days to figure out how to pay my tuition without a UK bank account.
9 days to get the lease of my condo in Edmonton in order.
9 days to pack my life in 2 checked bags under 23 kg and one carry on.
9 days to buy my luggage and perhaps a few new clothing items.
9 days to say a temporary goodbye to my friends here.
9 days process almost 300 photos from my travels in the last few weeks as I won't do them after I leave (its a serious hobby).
9 days to pre-read brewing manuals and biochemistry texts to refresh myself on the process and the biology.
9 days to short-list the brewing books I want to take with me, as they are heavy.
3 days to spend with my lovely girlfriend (she moves back to Manitoba on the 17th...).
6 days after that to be sad that I won't see her for about 3 months.
9 days to keep it together and not freak out too much.
9 days to post the beer reviews that I haven't posted yet.

Ok, well I'm going to get on some of these... cheers!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More travels

Well, my travels and slackage continues, since my last post I've been to Canmore, Edmonton, Rural Alberta, Canmore again, and now I'm in sunny Kelowna, BC remembering that I like wine in addition to beer. So perhaps I'll just take some time in the next few days to catch up with beer reviews and travel stories.

One story I didn't tell is that when I was in NYC I bought a nice new lens for my camera. I picked up a Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens, which I've been using almost exclusively since I bought it. Its fast focusing, and the image stabilizer is an awesome feature. And of course buying it in the states saved me about $200 CAN. My newest flickr photos which I may publish in the next couple of days should include a lot of photos with this lens, I've taken about 300!
It should be updated in the next few days.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back from Travels

Ok, so I did one blog post while I was gone for two weeks. Not so good. I drank lots of new beers and had a great time visiting friends & family along the way through Ontario and then down into New York.

Now that I'm back, I do intend to post my photos and update the blog with the beers I've tried. But I may have to wait a bit since I'm actually freaking out a bit on how much I need to get done in the next few days. See, I need to move out of my place in Edmonton, and get all my shit together for moving to Scotland at the end of September. Oh, and of course I need to spend lots of time with the girlfriend.
Oh and I need to do some upgrades to the condo before I rent it out.

In any case, I'll get around to it in a couple of days when things die down a little. You can probably check out some photos of my trip on Facebook or at my flickr site (I haven't added them yet, but thats a project for the the next hour...)


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Stratford, Ontario

The first stop on my little trip here is in Stratford, Ontario, which for you not in the know is right about here. I have family here, so I've mostly been relaxing, eating good food, and doing some sailing. Quite a nice start really. Tomorrow I'm off to Toronto.

I've finally had a chance to try Creemore Springs Lager. Now, I'm aware that Creemore was bought by Molson a few years back, and that people were worried that it would suddenly drop in quality because they'd be forced to change or something. I don't know what it tasted like before, but I quite enjoyed the several I had. It has a nice hop-malt balance and some hop flavour, certainly more than the average lager. Its a good beer.

What else in beer... hm. I tried "Stratford Pilsner". I hadn't heard much good about it before I tried it, but I gave it a chance. Unfortunately I had to agree... it had a harsh grainy malt character. I also tried a blonde ale from a craft brewery in Windsor.. I can't remember the name though. Whitmore? Perhaps. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't really special... nothing stood out as interesting to me. But that may just be because I've tried a lot of beer.

Anyway... cheers!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Going on Tour

I'm just packing to leave for a 2 week stint around Eastern Canada and the States visiting friends and family. Stops at:
Stratford (Ontario)
Toronto (theres a beer festival here too!)
Montreal (maybe, if I feel like it)
New York City (Amon Tobin concert on a boat!)

I'll actually attempt to write about beers and breweries I find along the way, which should make my blog interesting again ;)


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Best Lightning Ever

Last night was one of the best lightning storms I've seen in awhile. Lightning was going off at least every 7-10 seconds. The power went out and my friend was stuck in the elevator. It was a good night! I took lots of photos, my favorites can be seen on my flickr profile at

In other news, Friday was my very last day working for Alley Kat Brewing. As mentioned in previous postings, I'm heading off to Edinburgh Scotland for my MSc in brewing & distilling at Heriot-Watt University in October. I'm taking the next two months off to do some traveling to Ontario & New York, then moving out of my place in Edmonton, then maybe going up to Northern Manitoba again to see the girlfriend.

I will probably be visiting the Toronto Beer Festival on August 9th, but more on that later...


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Canadian Bacon

Oddly, in my 28+ years on earth I had yet to see the film Canadian Bacon... its funny, and quite prophetic really.

That is all.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Great Canadian Beer Festival?

Anybody out there want to do a road trip to the Great Canadian Beer Festival with me in Victoria? Its being heald Sept 7-8 this year. I won't be working for Alley Kat any more at that time, so I'm free to do pretty much whatever I want (although hmm... I wonder if they would be in for paying me to be a rep? Free trips are fun :)

Anyway, this festival is apparently the best of all Canadian beer festivals as far as I've heard.

Let me know if you want to go!

In other news, I'm heading off to Northern Manitoba (Cranberry Portage, to be exact) for the next week with the girlfriend, and I'm quite excited for it.

Cheers, and happy Canada Day (tomorrow)!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Camera

Well, this last week I finally gave into this new 'ebay' craze and actually bought something I wanted off of it. I bought a Canon EOS 350D / Rebel XT Digital SLR. As you may know, SLRs have replaceable lenses and are generally 'better' that compact cameras. My brother had a bunch of lenses and other photography equipment so I figured it was about time I got a nice digital camera to use them with. This is my first digital SLR.

I used to be pretty into photography, but I fell out of it for awhile I guess. Mostly because I only had film equipment and it was way easier to just use my 3.2 mp digital point and shoot than to deal with rolls of film and the costs associated with them.

Of course, this purchase is just on the heels of my purchase of a Canon Powershot G7, and awesome camera in its own right. But yet, not SLR (its not even really that compact, but it has manual abilities, loads of good features, and can take a speedlite flash unit). Thus, my spending has been rather INSANE of late. The dSLR is great but bluky, so the G7 is still good when I don't want to haul all that SLR stuff around (camera plus 2 extra lenses, maybe an extra flash).

I've been biking a lot more lately, and I also just purched a Lowepro Slingshot 100 sling bag (over one shoulder) and its perfect. It doesn't slip around my back, is uber-comfortable, and holds everything I need it to.

Anyway... thats it. Oh beer? Hm, nothing new of late.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Silver Medal!

Oh, and I forgot to mention in my last post that the rhubarb/berry beer a friend of mine and I made won a silver medal in the fruit beer category!

The recipe/method is outlined in this old post.

Monday, June 18, 2007

London Porter Showdown

Yeah yeah, I know, I suck at posting these days. I have lots to post about, I just lack the time/energy.

Anyway, I tried Paddock Wood's London Porter side-by-side with Fuller's London Porter (which is considered the standard for the style). While Fuller's London Porter is a nice easy drinking good beer, I found the Paddock Wood version to have just a bit more of what I like - a moderate but not overpowering roast and slight coffee flavour. Quite tasty.

What else is new in beer? We (the Edmonton Homebrewer's Guild) had our annual homebrew competition last weekend, with much success. I judged beer for the first time, judging the Oktoberfest and Stout categories. The stouts were very competitive. There were 5 excellent samples of which I would have paid money to drink any of them. Unfortunately, only 3 can get medals. One person will be receiving a couple of score sheets with a 41 score (of 50, a VERY high score for a beer) but get no medal... sucks to be that guy/girl. The winners were decided amongst me and three other judges, so no it wasn't just me picking beers.

I have a lot of pictures from the competition, you can see them at my (new) flickr address:


Monday, June 04, 2007

I dare say, and excellent day

So I had this Monday off, and what a day for it. Edmonton weather had a high temp of 30 C, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky until about 3 pm. I had to get my passport application into the passport office, so I took the morning to do that. I walked through the river valley and in about 40 min and a relaxing walk I was at the government building. I had heard the wait was insane these days for passports now that the paranoid American administration require every damn person to have a passport to enter their country. I was smart and did my passport application on-line before arriving at the office, which they reward by letting you skip line. I had to wait in the "pre-screen" line for about 50 minutes... after I was pre-screened I was given my number... I had barely sat down for 2 minutes when my number came up, way before people who had been waiting since before I even got there as far as I could tell. So, I was there for about an hour and 5 minutes.

I strolled back through downtown snapping a couple of photos that wern't very good and purched some ice cream, which made me quite happy. I was just thinking how great this day was going so far when I looked down and to my surprise... there was a five dollar bill sitting on the ground in the grass! This day just keeps getting better!

I decided to put my newly found five bucks to good use, and since I've been slacking on a scholarship application that I need to do for school starting in october, I went to my favorite local coffee shop and hacked out some ideas over coffees and beer. Quite a productive day for me, really.

The great day continues as I sit here on my balcony in the blazing sun tanning my ridiculously white skin (or, more likely, burning it) with my laptop typing this and sipping on some fine raspberry mead from our brewery.

All in all, I could do this every day, and I intend to for the most part in August-Sept before I leave for Scotland (which, btw, is only about 112 days away!)

Speaking of time off, I really want to learn how to sail. Anybody out there have time to teach me some weekend? I love watercraft. It must be the newfie in me.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Birthday & Imperial Stout

Well, here in Alberta its slowly fighting its way toward summer with periods of crappy rainy-snowy coldness followed quickly by days like today. This photo is what I see in front of me right now, at my parents place. Nice eh?

So my calendar told me that tomorrow is my 28th birthday. Last year I did absolutely nothing for my 27th, so this year I decided to put a mild effort and have a small BBQ tonight. I'm serving up some rather nice homebrewed wit beer on tap, as well as some leftover Amber Brown Ale that our brewery makes. People like free beer, so hopefully that attracts a few people.

Speaking of homebrew, I've decided to brew what I hope is an interesting "imperial stout". I put the quotation marks around the style as I'm not realy too concerned with style in this case. Here is the planned recipe, with some discussion afterwards:
28th Birthday Imperial Stout

Size: 25 L
Efficiency: 86.0%
Attenuation: 73%

Original Gravity: 1.085
Terminal Gravity: 1.023
Color: 40.5
Alcohol: 8.19%
Bitterness: 47.2 (BU:GU = 0.56)

3.4 kg Standard 2-Row (40%)
3 kg Maris Otter Pale (35%)
510 g Oats Flaked (6%)
650 g Roast Barley (7.7%)
595 g Black Malt (7%)
340 g Crystal Malt 120°L (4%)
37 g Centennial (9.5%) - added first wort, boiled 90 min
30 g East Kent Goldings (6.2%) - added during boil, boiled 15 min

Mash at 67 C for 1 hr, mashout 78 C.
Now some style purists might exclaim "but Brian, an Imperial Stout is supposed to have at least 50 IBU in it, preferably much much more!" but I care not. In fact, I was thinking of having even less hop bitterness. You see, 14.7% of the malt bill is very dark malts. My hope is that the bitterness from the 'burnt' roast barley and black malt actually balance the other malt sweetness in this beer. It will be nice to see if its over the top. I plan on aging it over a year while I'm gone in scotland too.
I might actually take out the EKG hop addition and make it all FWH centennial hopping, not sure yet.

Anyway... let me know your thoughts on the recipe/etc.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

New Books

So I ordered some brewing books from a month or so ago, and the just arrived today. It was only because I ordered 4 books, and one of them (a book on cask ales) wasn't available yet, so they eventually just shipped what they could (at no extra cost I'll get the 4th later... not a bad deal).
Anyway, I ordered:

"Principles of Brewing Science, 2nd Ed" by George Fix
"Extreme Brewing" by Sam Calagione
and "Brewed in Canada" by Allen Winn Sneath

Principles of Brewing Science will be a great way for me to pre-study for my MSc program coming up in September. It really gets me back to my biochemistry knowledge and has the science behind brewing I really like (and need) to know.
Extreme Brewing is a little bit of a disappointment so far, but it does seem to have some good info about using weird spices/sugars/etc that is hard to find elsewhere. But it also as a lot of introductory info about the basics of homebrewing... I'd figure that anybody who is going to buy a book on extreme brewing should have started with brewing basics, but whatever.
Brewed in Canada is a history of the 350 year old Canadian brewing industry. I've only barely started to read it, but it shall be interesting for sure.


Friday, May 18, 2007


Ok, so I haven't been the best blogger. In fact, I've been one of the worst in the last few months. If you want to blame something, I'd blame my super-awesome girlfriend. Those female creatures have a way of diverting you from important things like writing seldom-read articles about small-time brewing that a normally lonely and bored guy like me would write daily.

In any case, I'm sitting on my 10th floor balcony tonight drinking the 2007 barley wine that I had the extreme pleasure of brewing & filtering for Alley Kat (my most prized accomplishment, as far as I'm concerned), and damn that beer is good. I'm not one to toot my own horn... but BEEP BEEP. It wasn't my recipe, but I figure if the brewer sucked (who is me) it would have certainly not been as good. In any case, I'm quite proud of it and you should go get some.

In other beer news, the Edmonton Homebrewers' Guild participated in the 2007 Big Brew! It was a fun day that was hosted by our brewery. We (the other brewer, Sean, and I) produced what seems to be a lovely wheat beer (60% wheat malt, 35% barley maly, 5% munich). We produced 23 hL, which I think will be a contender for the top amount produced in North America by any club. Last year we were 3rd with 15 hL. Personally, made 5 batches using different yeasts:
(OG 1.050)
-Belgian Wit (has fermented down to 1.012, tastes ... tasty)
-Belgian Saison (has only fermented to 1.036!! I will give it more time)
-LALEGER (a mix of Alley Kat Ale & Lager yeasts fermented at 19C for 1 week then dropped to 3C and aged... has fermented to 1.012 and has a assy sulfur taste to it :(
-Rosselare Lambic strain... (so far fermented to 1.026, but seems to still be going and has a mild sour character to it... I'll let this one age for a couple of months)

I've also been having good luck with my other homebrew/test batches these days. I get excellent feedback from the homebrewer's guild (full of BJCP judges and people who will give an honest opinion). Recently, my blueberry-rhubarb wheat beer was presented to them and it was actually pretty nice. I couldn't drink a pint of it because of the sourness, but its really good for about 5 oz.

The EHG is having its yearly brewing competition soon, I advise anybody out there who homebrews to enter some beers to it, and even come by for the events. We're very welcoming and there are some awesome parties (with lots of beer... naturally :)


Saturday, May 05, 2007

A new post...

Ok, well I'm far too tired to create a real new post now, but I have lots of beer news. First, I brewed another English bitter... but then I lost my brewday logsheet and I did a lot of things different than my planned recipe. That sucks.

Next, our brewery is releasing a raspberry mead which is quite awesome if I don't say so myself, it should be out in a few weeks, even though we have it in bottles now, we just need labels. If you ask nicely I might let you have some early... ;)
In addition, I just filtered out kristalweizen today, and its rather tasty. It won't be available for a few weeks. Oh, and don't buy any Kiltlifter (our last seasonal) as I want to take it all home...

I'm currently listening to Amon Tobin's Live aux Docks de Lausanne set, and its pretty awesome. But then again, what of his isn't awesome? He is by a wide margin my favorite artist ever. If you haven't heard his stuff, get it and listen... because seriously he is brilliant.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

200th Post Extravaganza

Ok, well since this post is my 200th post I have been avoiding actually writing it as I feel I should write something big and important...

But alas, faithful readers (all 6 of you), I have nothing exciting to report. My beers that I entered to Regina didn't win any medals, perhaps because I definitely over-sanitized the bottles with a too-strong sanitizer solution. The bottles I tried that were left here tasted sharp and 'bitey'. Either that or all my beers sucked. But at least the stuff I served on tap to my friends and to the Homebrewers' Guild were very well received, so thats all I really care about. In fact, in the last two weekends people have drank about 30 L of my homebrew... I need to make more homebrew now!

Speaking of making more homebrew... well, it seems like my time is lacking these days. I'd love to make an English IPA though.

Ok, so thats it for my lame 200th post... cheers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

General Post 199

This is in fact my 199th post, so I guess I'll have to think of something awesome for my 200th post. I must apologize to my very few "regular" readers... it seems that I've met a female human who has managed to divert a large portion of my time :)
... So hopefully I brew some beer soon... otherwise I'll just dance around happy all day and want to pick flowers rather than work.... sigh..............


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Smiles All Round

Hm, things seem to be going my way these days. I like that.

So just an update on some of the beers I brewed back on St. Patty's Day. Kegged off the IPA into two 18.9 L kegs. In one keg I put 18 g of centennial and in the other 18 g of cascade for dry hopping. The centenntial is much more forward than the cascade. I've actually renamed it "some kind of hoppy beer" now as its not quite to style for and IPA. In fact, I've had no less that 5 BJCP judges try it and suggest that its an ESB (although with American hops, but who cares). The brown ale I just kegged off and is on tap at my house now.

I served two of my creations on tap at the most recent Edmonton Homebrewers' Guild meeting, my Special Bitter and my "some kind of hoppy beer". As I said before, I had lots of great comments on my hoppy beer, which apparently is an ESB, and people really loved it. Luckily I have a keg and a half left! I also received some rave reviews for my special bitter (4.4% alc). It was really good to get this feedback from the members there, many of whom are certified BJCP judges and have many many MANY years of experience in brewing and tasting beer. Its great to know I'm on the right track!

Regina ALES Festival
I've shipped off 8 entries to the ALES homebrew competition. I entered my "hoppy beer" as three different styles: ESB, American Pale Ale, and IPA. From what I hear I probably won't do well for IPA, APA is a possibility, but depending on what else shows up for ESB I might do really well there. That is, unless my bottles are infected or the sanitizer I used was too strong (which it may have been... bah). I also entered my special bitter, my brown ale, and my two crappy belgians just for the hell of it... I'll let you know how it goes!


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Double Brew for St. Pattys Day

Rather than be a part of the demand side of beer this St. Pattys day, I contributed to the supply side by brewing two beers on Saturday.

The first, by style, was somewhere between and American IPA and and Imperial IPA. It should be 7% alc/vol and 64 IBUs. Here is the recipe:

Condescension IPA
Size: 46.36 L
Efficiency: 86.98%
Attenuation: 75.0%
Calories: 315.37 per 1 pt

Original Gravity: 1.071 (1.056 - 1.075)
Terminal Gravity: 1.018 (1.010 - 1.018)
Color: 15.0 (6.0 - 15.0)
Alcohol: 6.99% (5.5% - 7.5%)
Bitterness: 66.6 (40.0 - 60.0)

5.9 kg Standard 2-Row
5.5 kg Maris Otter Pale
0.7 kg Toasted Pale Malt
0.5 kg Crystal 75
0.1 kg Chocolate Malt
73.1 g Centennial (9.5%) - added during boil, boiled 90 min
37.2 g Cascade (5.8%) - added during boil, boiled 30 min
36.5 g Centennial (9.5%) - added during boil, boiled 20 min
37.2 g Cascade (5.8%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min
20.7 g Centennial (9.5%) - steeped after boil
26.3 g Cascade (5.8%) - steeped after boil
26.3 g Fuggle (4.8%) - steeped after boil
500.0 mL Alley Kat ale yeast

Mash in at 60 C, raise temp to 68 C and hold for 1 hour.
Mash out at 78 C

Toasted malt: soak malt in water for ~ 1 hr, then put in oven at 350 F for 1 hr

The second beer I made was a smaller batch of a brown ale I've been working on several times before, I just can't seem to get the flavour I want... I'm looking for a complex malty beer with a sweet and chocolatey start with a dry finish. I'm using the WYeast 1928 London ESB yeast for this which does have a distinct dry finish I noted on the last beer I made with it. I had some problems with the extract calculations on this one, so this recipe doesn't make sense on paper...

Brownrock Brown Ale I
Size: 32 L
Efficiency: 103.9% (obviously this is wrong)
Attenuation: 74.0%
Calories: 190.19 per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.057
Terminal Gravity: 1.015
Color: 22.4
Alcohol: 5.54%
Bitterness: 29.26

5.0 kg Mild Ale (Dextrin Malt)
0.5 kg Victory® Malt
0.4 kg German Dark Munich
0.3 kg Crystal Malt 120°L
0.2 kg German CaraAroma
0.2 kg Chocolate Malt
0.07 kg Roasted Barley
30.4 g East Kent Goldings (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 65 min
30.4 g East Kent Goldings (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 30 min
10 g Fuggle (4.8%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min
10 g Cascade (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min
500 mL WYeast 1968 London ESB Ale from starter

Mash for 60 min at 67 C, mashout at 78.

Yep, thats it!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

2007 Old Deuteronomy

Yes, thats right, we've released the 2007 Old Deuteronomy Barley Wine. Its quite a good vintage this year, and I had the pleasure of taking care of pretty much the whole thing from brewing to filtering, the only thing I didn't do was bottle it. So I'm quite proud of this, since we only do this once per year!
This years is 9.9% alc/vol and about 100 IBU in bitterness. I really like the flavour myself, the hoppiness lasts for almost half an hour in your mouth!

The bottle I'm holding in the picture isn't the size we sell it in, we just happened to have that cool bottle and filled it for ourselves :)

Come by the brewery and pick some up.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Heriot-Watt Campus

I was thinking I'd show some of you where I'll be going to school in October for my MSc in brewing in Scotland.
The university is called Heriot-Watt, and its located at the google maps link below:,-3.277702&spn=0.088286,0.279808&om=1&iwloc=A

So the school isn't really in Edinburgh, its actually just outside. Which isn't quite as fun as being in the city. But its not too far of a bike ride or bus to pubs in the city. I was thinking about living in the city, but staying on campus has the advantage of being able to walk to classes without having to bike or bus in. And I'm pretty lazy in the morning. Plus I'll be living with other post-grads, who are in the same situation as me most likely, which makes people easy to meet.

The main website is and the site for my program (with all the courses, etc) is


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ordinary Bitter Review

So as of tonight (Monday) my Ordinary Bitter has been in existence for exactly two weeks. This is a great style to brew quickly, as I cracked the keg open at the monthly meeting for the Edmonton Homebrewer's Guild and it tasted great! Its definately a lighter beer (only 3.3% alcohol) but has a decent but not overpowering bitterness with some hop flavour on the finish. I received many positive comments on the beer, even from experienced beer judge gurus, which makes me quite happy.

I think I'm going to try to brew one of these per month, as its a great quaff beer... I can get home from work, have a couple of pints, and its only really like having a pint of beer. Plus I get the health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption, the vitamin B + a bazillion other nutrients & minerals in the yeast and beer mixture.

Yep, stop by and try some!

Friday, March 02, 2007

English Premium Bitter Brew Night

Well, since I was off Thursday and Friday this week I decided to do a homebrew batch in the evening. I got a little busy... so I didn't actually end up starting the brew until midnight... which means I didn't get out of there until 6 am! But I'm kind of a night owl.

I've always really liked Fuller's London Pride, so I wanted to make something similar (but not the same). I found a clone on BYO, but I didn't really like the recipe. The recipe I used is below. Unfortunately, when I used the BeerTools recipe generator I left the mash efficiency at 75%, when I usually get 85% or so... thus, I had a hell of a lot more extract than I expected. I had to stop the runnings at 7.6 P and top up with a lot of water. I could have made a barley wine out of this! But thats not what I wanted. So I just got a very full boil kettle :)

I've decided to call this "London Self-Esteem"... ;)


Brian's "London Self-Esteem"
8-B Special/Best/Premium Bitter

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 48 L
223.44 per 500 mL

Original Gravity:
1.048 (1.040 - 1.048)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (1.008 - 1.012)
Color: 13.6 (5.0 - 16.0)
4.56% (3.8% - 4.6%)
Bitterness: 31.27 (25.0 - 40.0)


7.6 kg Maris Otter Pale
0.8 kg Carastan 25
0.4 kg Crystal Malt 120°L
0.2 kg Carawheat®
0.2 kg Honey Malt

70.5 g East Kent Goldings (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
64.5 g East Kent Goldings (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 20 min
22.5 g East Kent Goldings (5.5%) - steeped after boil
45.5 g Fuggle (4.8%) - steeped after boil

600 mL WYeast 1968 London ESB Ale

So as you may be able to see its just barely within the style guidelines, but I don't really care. I've also decided to not use the standard Alley Kat Ale yeast and try the London ESB yeast that is apparently used by Fuller's. Its very highly flocculant, so apparently it needs rousing now and then.

Anyway, the brew went pretty good otherwise. Just a couple of pictures below. Cheers!

Running into the kettle... nice and clear!

English Bitters

I've been more fascinated with the concept of the low alcohol, high flavour style of traditional English bitters of late. A week and a half ago I brewed an ordinary bitter (link to recipe), which ended up being 3.4% alcohol by vol. Its got very little malt flavour (its kind of "aqueous" actually, which is like being watery but a little better), but decent bitterness and hop flavour. Next time I'll probably up the flavour and aroma hop additions.

But why drink a low alcohol beer?? Doesn't that not get you drunk as fast?? It sure doesn't. But thats the point. At 3.4% having 2 pints of beer is like having one pint of strong beer... you get a good amount of flavour, plus the healthy aspects of beer, without getting drunk. I can come home from work, have a pint or two, and not be half drunk like I would be drinking a 8% Belgian.

So the ordinary bitter should be on tap here by the weekend, just waiting for it to carbonate in its "cask" (just a 20L sankey keg).

I'm now developing a recipe for a 4.5% premium bitter... I want to get a lot more body and malt flavour into it so as to get away from the aqueousness possible with a lower alcohol beer, so I'll be putting a bunch of carastan and dextrinous malts into it. I'm also going to try the Wyeast 1968 London ESB yeast. I'll post the recipe later when I finalize it.

Anybody want to try and ordinary bitter?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Beer Launching Fridge!

Below is a link to this crazy beer launching fridge some guy with lots of time came up with. Its very cool, theres a link to a video too. Check it out:

If only the beer was better...


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hop Tasting, Session One

Today with several other brewer and homebrewer types we had a "hop tasting". Basically, each of the following varieties of hops were dry hopped into a bottle of Coors Light for 5 days. Coors Light was used because it basically has very little other flavour (being the "coldest" beer available... and whats with that marketing crap anyway? Coldness isn't a property of the beer... its a property of the fridge its in. Guh). Of course this only gives the dry hopped flavour and aroma of the hops, but its still pretty interesting.
In this session we tried Czech Saaz, German Tettnanger, US Tettnang, German Tradition, German Hersbrucker, German Hallertauer T-45, New Zealand Organic Hallertauer, German Spalt, US Santium, German Northern Brewer, French Strisselspalt, US Ahtanum, US Glacier, US Amarillo, US Galena, US Chinook, and US Warrior.

I found that the traditional noble hop types (basically the first 9 or so in the list) had very tea-like characteristics, with spicy, lemony citrus, and sometimes mint. I want to make a pilsner with Hersbrucker from flavour & aroma hopping. It was a very nice hop. My favorite was probably amarillo, which I have never knowingly had before. It would make an excellent dry hop, its very grapefruity and strong. I was surprised by warrior hops, they are very high alpha acid (16%) but don't have the harshness and bad flavours associated with other high alpha hops. Warrior is slightly citrus with some tea and floral notes. It doesn't have a lot of flavour either... I believe I will be using these for bittering hops for many an ale in the future.

The bad hops... Chinook is horrible, its a high alpha hop, but has a harsh and somewhat metallic flavour. Maybe a lot of that would boil out if boiled for long enough, but I'm not going to take that chance. Galena was pretty bad too... one guy described the aroma as "new plastic garbage can". At best, it would be used for bittering... but not by me.

I was surprised to find that Saaz didn't seem to have as strong of a flavour or aroma as I thought it would have compared to the other noble hops. Although it is a famous hop, you really would have to use loads of it in any application, be it bittering, flavour or aroma.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ordinary Bitter

Planning on brewing a simple English Ordinary Bitter on Monday. The style is interesting because it is low alcohol (this one ~3.5-3.7%) but still has plenty of flavour. Thus, I could have a few pints after work without getting drunk but still get all the benifits of the yeast, hops, proteins, and carbs that beer includes. Really, 4 pints are like 2 and a bit!

Here is the recipe that I'm pondering right now:

Ordinary Bitter

8-A Standard/Ordinary Bitter

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic

Size: 40.0 L

Efficiency: 83%

Attenuation: 74.9%

Calories: 169.72 per 500 mL

Original Gravity: 1.036 (1.032 - 1.040)

Terminal Gravity: 1.009 (1.007 - 1.011)

13.2 (4.0 - 14.0)

3.56% (3.2% - 3.8%)

32.74 (25.0 - 35.0)


5.3 kg Canadian Craft Brewers Pale Malt
0.3 kg Extra Dark Crystal
0.25 kg Crystal Malt 120°L
0.15 kg Torrified Wheat

65 g East Kent Goldings (5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
28 g East Kent Goldings (5%) - added during boil, boiled 30 min
28 g East Kent Goldings (5%) - added during boil, boiled 1 min

300 mL Alley Kat Ale Yeast


00:03:00 Mash In - Liquor: 12.0 L; Strike: 76.2 °C
01:03:00 Saccharification Rest - Rest: 60.0 min
01:04:00 Mashout - Water: 8.61 L; Temperature: 98 °C
01:49:00 Sparge - Sparge: 33.44 L sparge @ 78 °C, 48.05 L collected, 45.0 min; Total Runoff: 48.05 L

Yep, thats the plan!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Beerfest Wrap-up

The Edmonton International Beer Festival this weekend worked out pretty well. I had seen most of the beers/vendors at other festivals so most of it was "same old" for me. However, there were a few new things for me:

First was the presence of Paddock Wood Brewing from Saskatoon. I've only just recently seen their products on Edmonton liquor store shelves. Its good to see another craft brewery on the scene! So far they seem to make some really "big beers" with lots of flavour and alcohol. I haven't had as much of a chance to try all of their beers yet, but I did have a few
Bête Noire Oatmeal Stout last night and they were pretty good... although quite a "thick" beer that takes time to drink.

I was also surprised by Molson's "craft" branded beer Rickards' who is now producing "White", which actually wasn't a bad attempt at a Belgian Wit style. Its fairly subdued in flavour, but it does have some of the coriander and orange notes you'd expect in a wit. It also appears unfiltered, or at least not filtered tight enough to remove the haze found in the wit style. I bet this will be a big seller in the summer.

There were several imports represented as well. It looks like product from Brooklyn Brewery is here to stay, which is awesome since they make some pretty good beers. I tried some "He'brew" barley wine which contained some pomegranate juice... quite tasty! Its very subtle, if I hadn't been told there was pomegranate juice in it I would have thought it was a yeast character perhaps.

Noticeably absent was Maverick Brewery from here in Edmonton... they had a booth reserved but didn't show up. Apparently they didn't pay either. If you ask me, it seems like their operation may not last too much longer...

As for us, Alley Kat, we had a pretty good showing. People devoured our Aprikat (a wheat ale with some apricot in it... a "beer cooler"). We had a great booth location which helped for sure.

The event in general was pretty good, although I never have much patience for retartedly drunk people. The first evening wasn't so bad, but the second night seemed a lot rowdier... dumbasses getting kicked out as early as 7. I heard somebody got pushed down some stairs and there were maybe 3 fights. And the end of the night is never fun when you cut people off... they always want more beer. But I guess thats the business... luckily I just spend most of my time making beer and not selling it :).


Friday, February 09, 2007

Edmonton Beerfest!

This weekend I'll be serving up our fine Alley Kat beers at the Edmonton International Beer Festival, which is being held Feb 9 & 10 at the UofA Dinwoodie Lounge. Come down and chat with me about beer for awhile!

You can also check out the booth that the Edmonton Homebrewer's Guild will have set-up. The guild is one of the best in North America and have some of the beer-nerdiest people you can find!

It should be a pretty good event, although I worry that with it being held on campus there will be a lot of "drink to get as drunk as possible" types attending, which gets annoying. But hopefully lots of "beer nerds" show up, I love talking to beer nerds :)

Cheers and see you there!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Perhaps Brewing Sunday

I'm thinking of brewing at least one beer this weekend on Sunday, but I'm not too sure yet. If you're interested in helping out, let me know.
I'll probably brew the fourth in my series of Amber style beers, not sure what to do differently this time.


Monday, February 05, 2007

George Conrad Reifel, 1893-1958

When I was staying in Delta, BC (just outside of Vancouver) this xmas with my parents, we stayed at a hotel not far from the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. My suite was called the Reifel suite, and I was interested to read that Mr. Reifel was, in fact, a brewmaster according to a plaque on the wall. Well, sounds like this was the right room for me to be in!
Here is what the plaque read:

The Reifel Story
Born in Nanaimo May 15th, 1893, George Conrad Rifel was the son of Brewmaster, Henry Reifel Senior.

Together the father and son worked in the Union Brewing Company, Nanaimo, B.C. until 1910. The Reifel's moved to Vancouver and built the brewery, which is still in operation, now owned by Carling O'Keefe.

During prohibition, Henry and George C. traveled to Japan to assist in the establishment of the Anglo Japanese Brewing Co., a joint venture of Japanese, British, and Canadian.

Prior to the Japan trip, George C. married Alma Lucy Barnes and they had three children: Audry, George Henry and Alma Jane.

In 1922 the Reifels refurnished and re-opened the Vancouver brewery and the family business diversified with the establishment of the B.C. Distilleries Company in New Westminster.

During the late 1920's, George C. became interested in an area of southwest Delta, then known as Smoky Tom Island. Close to the mouth of the Fraser River, it was a virtual paradise of birds and wildlife.

As a big game enthusiast, George C. traveled extensively throughout British Columbia and the Yukon on hunting trip, often taking son George along. He recognized the island as an ideal retreat for pleasing his hobby of hunting and preserving game birds. George C. realized that with care and management, the area would remain a haven.

In 1927 George C. purchased a large parcel of land and over the next few years he installed dams and dikes where the Fraser River split into three narrow channels. George C. recovered additional land for his retreat forming three sloughs; Robertsons, Fullers and Ewens, that would attract birdlife.

He then proceeded to build the Reifels family home on the property in 1929. The house still stands and the land is called Reifel Island.

The Reifel story continues to grow. George Henry continues to add to the families accomplishments with unfailing enthusiasm for life.

The original sanctuary site, "George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary" was given to the Crown by George H. Reifel in 1973 as a tribute to his father's memory.

So, anyway that was somewhat interesting to me.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Its been a pretty long time since I've reviewed a beer, so I thought I throw one in. And what a worthy one it is: the seasonal Black Chocolate stout from Brooklyn Brewery in ... well, Brooklyn is a damn fine beer.

I had the chance to visit the brewery when I was visiting NYC, I was even supposed to meet up with the famed brewer Garrett Oliver. However, I was an idiot and got to the brewery too late on the day I was supposed to be there, at which point I had to leave to meet a friend. Fired!

The beer pours BLACK... I can't see through it at all, and my glass is pretty thin at the bottom. Very little head, which is quite brown. No lacing, although seemingly very thick running down the side of the glass.
I get a slight alcohol aroma off the initial nose, as well roasty and dark chocolate notes as well. Possibly a fruity note in there as well... I can't tell if its from hops or the yeast though.
There isn't a whole lot of carbonation in the beer, maybe 2.1-2.2 vol CO2.

The first thing I notice about drinking this beer though is how smooth it is. It goes down VERY easily. I had one of these last week, and I felt a little more buzzed than I expected... then I checked the bottle... this beer is 10.6% alc/vol! It certainly doesn't have the characteristics I associate with a very strong beer. I detect no fusel alcohols (which tend to give me a slight sinus headache), not a lot of alcohol warming in the stomach, and no biting finish that would make me cringe. The beer is so well balanced... very thick body and solid malt character. I detect little hop bitterness or character until the finish, about 5 seconds after a sip I get a slight bitterness bite on the side of my tongue. But it seems the hop character are just there for balance, the flavour of this beer is dominated by the chocolate & malt roasty character.

Overall, this beer is quite interesting... its a very strong beer, but it goes down so easily. You almost have to force yourself to drink it slower. Usually the strong beers make you drink them slower by their intense overpowering flavours. While the black chocolate stout is very flavorful, there is nothing overpowering about it. Its so smooth... so well balanced.

I give it a 9/10 for the style and for beer in general :)


Friday, February 02, 2007


I've decided that I should start climbing. Yes, the rock type. How? Well I plan to take a lesson this Saturday. I think I'll be good at it and I'll like it. I'm already in pretty good shape from brewing (which, by the way is still leaving me sore at the end of the day sometimes), its a physical job in which I'm moving around all day and moving heavy things around all day too... so I'm not too worried about climbing (although I'm sure it will use some muscles I'm not used to using, but in general I should be better than your average office worker :)

Anyway... indeed this post isn't about beer, but too bad.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Barley Wine!!

So on Monday here at Alley Kat Brewery I had the honor or brewing the 2007 edition of the Old Deuteronomy Barley Wine. This is a very VERY big beer, and is only brewed once a year. The recipe is pretty heavy... I can't say what it is, but the initial gravity is supposed to be 24.5 P (but I got 24.8 out of my mash!) and the IBU is supposed to be ~100 (depending on what calculation method you use).

Normally after the boil we are only supposed to have 12 hectolitres, but I finished at 13.5 hL. I think I got so much beer because I spent the extra time to make sure the mash was a solid 78 degC from top to bottom on the mashout (which makes sugars more soluble and protein less soluble, apparently), plus I took a very long time to run off from the mash-tun to the boil kettle (we only took the first runnings from the mash, no sparging... with a longer run-off time the liquid has more of a chance to trickle through the mash bed to the drain).
Anyway, we used a scottish ale yeast to ferment the beer, as the yeast had fermented out most recent seasonal "Kiltlifter Scotch Ale" very well... in previous years the barley wine was done with our house "english" ale yeast, so the switch to scotch ale yeast should be interesting.

Anyway, we're not going to tank-age it for as long this year, look for the 2007 barley wine by mid-March I think :)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Rhubarb Experiment

Before Xmas a friend and I decided to brew up some rhubarb-based beers. The concept was fairly simple: brew a batch of wheat ale, then split it into three beers after primary fermentation. Each of the three would have a rhubarb-something mixture added to it for flavour.

The beer recipe was a simple wheat ale:
Recipe Overview
Pre-Boil Wort Volume: 47.00 l Post-Boil Wort Volume: 40.00 l
Pre-Ferment Batch Volume: 40.00 l
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG Expected OG: 1.054 SG
Expected FG: 1.013 SG
Expected ABV: 5.3 % Expected ABW: 4.2 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 23.6 IBU Expected Color: 6.7 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 85.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 19 degC
Yeast: Alley Kat House Ale Yeast

Ingredient Amount % When
Alley Kat 2-Row Pale 4.30 kg 55.6 % In Mash/Steeped
US White Wheat Malt 3.20 kg 41.4 % In Mash/Steeped
German CaraRed 0.20 kg 2.6 % In Mash/Steeped
UK Black Malt 0.03 kg 0.4 % In Mash/Steeped
The black malt was just to add a slight reddish colour... not that it mattered after adding the rhubarb.

Variety Alpha Amount Form When
US Cascade 6.5 50 g Pelletized Hops All Of Boil
US Cascade 6.5 25 g Pelletized Hops 5 Min From End

So, after fermentation was complete, the following rhubarb solutions were made:
In all cases 2 kg of frozen unsweetened chopped rhubarb was added to a few L of water. (next time only add 1 cup per kg of rhubarb!)

3x28 fl oz of unsweetened apple sauce.
approx 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
approx ½ tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ginger
2 x 341 mL beer cups of dextrose

Brought all to boil then covered and simmered for ~20 min. Put in fridge and cooled to ~55 C. Poured into carboy, racked beer on top, final temp 29 C. Put into fridge for 10 more min. Stirred and added ~125 ml AK yeast slurry.
Gravity of apple solution: 9.3 P
Volue of apple solution: about 8 L
pH of final mixture: 3.4

341 ml Summerland Sweets blueberry syrup
approx 250g frozen wild blueberries
approx 250g frozen saskatoon berries.
Hint of cinnamon
1 x 341 mL beer cup of dextrose

Brought to boil, dumped to carboy, racked beer on top. Final mixture temp 24 C. Added AK ale yeast ~125 ml, stirred.
Gravity of berry solution: 9.2 P
Volume of solution: about 7 L
pH of final mixture: 3.4

28 g dried orange peel
1 tsp ground ginger
About 5 L. No dextrose added. Added to 11 L carboy.

So far, the fermentation completed a long time ago (more than a month, as this was done Dec 22!). We haven't got around to racking the beers off, but they are sitting in a nice temperature controlled room at about 2 degC, so they should be ok.
Lessons learned so far:
-Don't add more that 1 cup of water for the 2 kg of frozen rhubarb, as it contains water as well and makes the beer reallly watery.
-The yeast will ferment the sugars from the rhubarb solutions, and the rhubarb strings will plug up the outlet of your carboy, causing a messy beer explosion...

Anyway, we're going to rack these off tomorrow. Hopefully they taste ok enough. I need to figure out a way to clear up the beer as there is SO much shit in it from the fruits.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scotland Bound

Ok... seriously I've been bad with the blog updates of late. Been pretty busy, and once you start not updating its easy to keep not updating.

Anyway, the latest news is that I will, in fact, be attending Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland starting in October 2007! For what, you ask? MSc in Brewing & Distilling. Yes, it should be a hell of a time and very informative to boot. The course lasts for one year.
Click here for the back story on my Heriot-Watt decision.

So as for blog updates I have a few other things that I need to post, so I really do intend to do that this week.

For now..

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I'm back...

Well, I was gone for aboot two weeks there over xmas and new years, but now I'm back. I visited Vancouver for xmas, then booted it over to Calgary for a couple of days to catch up with friends, then down to Costa Rica for my friends wedding at an all-inclusive resort. Thats seriously the best way to have a wedding!

Anyway, I need to catch up with many things (other than blogging) so I will have to update later this week.