Friday, October 23, 2009

well, it's about time...

I've been included in the "contributors" list since the summer, and am now finally getting around to posting. So here goes:

Earlier this year, an idea came up that in order to best celebrate the birth of Nate and Marissa's son we would brew up some beer and give it to them. Joel took it upon himself to go the Parti-Gyle route, for those of you who don't know what that means you should look it up. I mean, you're already on the internet, it'll take just a few seconds.
Just kidding. Here it is. Once you've absorbed that info, I'll let you know that I got the second pull, and with that decided to make a 90 minute IPA in the style of Dogfish Head(which, by the way, is worth every penny that you'll spend on it. In my experience most of their beer is right on target.)
Now, it's also important to note that I was starting with a smaller amount of beer than I usually do: 2.5 gallons rather than the full 5. I didn't really think through this process, and proceeded to make my beer as if it was a full 5...Actually, now that I think about it, I did add some water, but not nearly enough. I think that I started with 4 gallons, and by the time it was all over I boiled off enough to end up with 3.
Anyways, throughout the brewing I found myself saying "fuck it" quite often. I said it when I added the hops (every few minutes for 90 minutes. I used a mix of Magnum, Amarillo, and Fuggle. These aren't the hops that the origonal recipe calls for (Simcoe, Amarillo, Warrior) adding much more hops than what was required for the amount of wort I had going. I also said it when I put in the entire packet of yeast (Wyeast 1099).
In the end, after dry hopping for a couple of weeks, I gave it to Nate. He drank it, said it was fine.
I held back a couple of bottles for myself and just cracked them a few weeks ago. With the amount of sugar in the beer compared to the amount of yeast I found that the end product was too sweet, and although I had added so much more hops than called for it got lost in the yeast.
I've added a photo, courtesy of Nate.

My next post will be in 11 months.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

5 Breweries, 3 Days

Regan and I decided to pack up the car and head out on a little road trip recently. We did a little loop, heading straight down I-5 for the Bay area, then looped up and around toward the California 1 and up the coast route back into Oregon. Pictured above is a view south from Port Orford (could this be heaven??) toward Humbug Mountain, where we made a nice camp.

The drive and time alone with my busy wife was amazing. The scenery was spectacular. And the beer...yes, beer...was truly incredible. On the trip, I was able to hit 5 of my very favorite breweries, all situated (conveniently) along our route.

First, there was Lagunitas, in Petaluma, CA.
Pints consumed = 2

* Hop Stoopid (imperial IPA) - mouth puckering hopiness; crisp, clean and dry. amazing
* Benny and the Jets (bourbon barrel aged imperial stout) - 11% alcohol. rich malt. sweet. good.

Then there was Russian River, in Santa Rosa, CA.
Pints consumed = I don't remember

* Sample Tray - all of the breweries current offerings in 1 convenient place.
* Blind Pig IPA - A tasty, clean and hoppy IPA. Aged in oak for a little while before serving
* Pliny the Elder - my favorite imperial IPA on earth. Nobody does this style better than Vinnie.
* Others??? Hmmmm. Don't remember, and I blame it on Vinnie.

Bear Republic Brewing came next. In Healdsburg, CA.
Pints consumed = 2

* Racer X (imperial IPA) -big citrusy hop flavor. Dry and crisp. California brewers really know how to brew double IPAs, and I'm not sure why. Portland brewers should take a workshop from any 1 of them.
* Hop Rod Rye (brown or rye IPA) - this is one of my favorite ipa-style beers. A good chunk of the malt bill is made with rye malt. Gives the beer a warm, rich spiciness. Goes well with loads of hops.

Followed by Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville, CA.
Pints consumed = 1

* AV IPA - a good, not great IPA. Very malty, a little too fruity, and with a slightly higher finishing gravity. This gives the beer (in my opinion) a heaviness that makes me want to only have 1 pint. But a spectacular IPA. This is similar to most IPAs you get in Portland.

Finishing with Eel River Brewing, Fortuna, CA.
Pints consumed = 2

* ER IPA - another good, not great india pale.
* ER Triple Exhaultation (old ale) - probably one of my favorite american strong ales (after Hair of the Dog Fred, of course). This one has an intensely rich malt flavor, characterized by a sugary sweetness (maybe from brown sugar or teacle?) and just enough hops to keep it from getting cloying.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Ale

Brewed a pumpkin Spice Ale (partial Mash) using Vienna, Crytal specialty malts and pumpkin. The trick to this brew is the pumpkin. I followed a receipe off of the internet. There are several out there. This one called for 6-10 lbs of pumpkin. The pumpkin(s) I used were the small pumpkins, not the big ones; I read this somewhere. I cleaned and cut the pumpkins. I then cut the pumkins up into 'manageable pieces'. I did 2" by 2" chunks. Baked the pumpkin, skin and all, at 325 for 1 hour. This is followed by a 1 hour rest at 160F of the pumpkin and grains in about 7 gallons of water. The picutre above is of the cooked pumpkin. I won't go into the receipe, as you can google a dozen. I did use cinammon, nutmeg, vanilla, molasses and brown sugar. I sampled the wort.......just like pumpkin pie. yum.

On a side note, Gear talk: I fired up my pump for the first time and its fantastic. I really like it. I was frustrated at how my counter flow chiller, under gravity, took along time. With the pump, it is much faster. i'll time it some time and we can quantitatively compare the immersion to the CFC. I was able to dial in the wort temp to 74 degrees right into the carboy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hop Harvest

I've harvested all but a second crop of Zeus that are still trying to flower before the cold of fall comes on. Here's what I've got so far:

Cascade - 10.0 oz
Cenntennial - 1.2 oz
Nugget - 2.5 oz
Zeus - 1.0 oz
Chinook - .9 oz
Magnum - .6 oz

Not bad for first-year plants. Next year I'll be pouring all my beers through a french-press randall just to deal with the surplus! Ok, maybe not. But a guy can dream.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pretty cool.

Pictured above is my new recirculation chiller. Just did my second brew with it today, and I'm blown away by how fast it cools. It took my wort from 212 F to 112 F in 1 minute! Thereafter, the marginal cooling is about 2-3 degrees per minute. So, took 7.5 gallons of boiling wort down to pitching temperature in about 15 minutes. This thing is amazing.

It works by drawing boiling wort out of the ball valve (pictured left) and recirculating it back up to the top of the boil kettle with the aid of my pump. You can see the silicon tubing and copper return piece in the center of all those lines. The copper return is curved so that returning wort enters beneath the surface of the wort and forms a whirlpool that swirls around the coils of my immersion chiller. This is what enables the 100 degree drop so fast. It's basically super-efficient heat exchange. The other lines are your basic input/output lines for an immersion chiller.

The beauty of adding recirculation to an immersion chiller is that the entire volume of wort can be cooled relatively fast. Other chillers like counterflow and plate chillers also cool very fast, but cool only small amounts of wort at a time. The faster that the entire volume of wort cools, the better will be the cold break, and the more hop flavors and aromas will be preserved by late hop additions during the boil. And at $8 for the silicon and copper tubing, a guilt-free equipment addition I must say.

Pretty cool.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Counter Pressure Bottle Filler

Many of us keg our brews. I enjoy kegging cuz its fairly simple and you can enjoy the brew sooner. But there are times that come along when you want to share the beer with others. Times like these call for the ability to bottle from the keg. Two main methods on the market, the counter pressure bottle filler and the Blichmann's Beer Gun. Which way to go?

Well the Beer Gun claims to be better. Its claims to be eaiser to use and to sanitize. Thats probably true. I didn't go with the beer gun for two reasons. 1- i want to be able to bottle under pressure and a blanket of Co2. The beer gun can give you a blanket of co2 but it doesn't bottle under presser. This is its strength (easier to use) and its weakness. And Secondly, which may come to no surprise, i wanted to build my own.

The Counter Pressure Bottle Filler

We all want stainless.....but its expensive and not readily available. Morebeer has a great CPfiller but they are always out of stock. So build my own. I am cost conscious in these tough times so i knew that an entire stainless setup would not be possible. There are numerous designs for every budget out there. I went with a brass valves and compression fittings with stainless tubes. The brass compression fittings are holding the stainless tubes. I have one compression fitting using teflon will the others are using brass. In fact, in use i got a small leak on one of the compression fittings. By no means was it a show stopper but i may change the inner workings to Teflon.

I sanitized the bottles, froze them, sanitized the CP filler and was ready to go. I won't get into the details of how a CP filler works other than to give an over view. You start by purging your bottle with CO2. You then shut off the exhaust valve and pressurize the bottle with CO2. Then you shut off the CO2 and open the beer line. The beer does not flow because the bottle is under pressure. Then you slowly open the exhaust valve and the beer flows in slowly under pressure. The dissolved CO2 stays in solution. You then immediately cap the bottle and you are done.

My first run went well. I bottled 6 - 22 oz bottles. I turned a valve the wrong way at the wrong time a couple times and got a spray of beer but no major problems. I am very pleased. Here is the device. Under $60 in total.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Run on IPAs...

The Organic Brewer's Fest brought some pretty tasty beers, however I was unable to secure a glass of Laurelwood's Organic Green Mammoth.

Pictured here is one of our own bloggers being handed the last pint of IPA (and this was a shitty one) at the festival.

Due to the run on IPAs and apparent popularity of hoppy beers in the Portland metro area, the festival now features 12 tents of nothing but Widmer hefeweizen. Bring some lemons.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

IPA #2 (Four Squre IPA)

Four-Squre IPA

A richer, redder, more malty version of number one. The malt bill combines domestic 2-row and munich malts as base malts, with victory and crystal malts to bring out the color and flavor. Hops are Centennial, Nugget and Amarillo through the boil, plus 2 weeks of dry hopping in the secondary with Centennial. Yeast is Wyeast 1056.

I'm proud of this one, but as always, successive brews will make tweaks one variable at a time.

I love this hobby.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Let's compare...

Yesterday, a few friends helped me taste a few recent concoctions. Specifically, I opened a few bottles I had been saving: QIII Cascade Pale Ale, QVII Rich Hipp's Rise'n'shine, and QIX Accidental IPA. All three are variation of a very basic recipe, with minor adjustments to steeped grains, extract amounts, and hops.

This is the first time I have let anything age at all (QIII a few months, QVII about a month, QIX not really). The QIII tasted great like I remember, pretty easy drinking with a strong hop finish, though not as strong as it once was. I think aging mellowed it out a little.

Rich Hipp's Rise'n'shine was a strange mistake. I tried to imitate the recipe of QIII but with more extract, but I think I racked too early. It ended up malt forward, a little sweet, but still a good hoppy finish. Neither of these is about 40 IBU's. I think the maltiness was from racking a little early, so it was still sweet. Lucky I didn't have a bottle bomb, I suppose, so all's well that ends well.

QIX is a very good IPA, though I can tell a little more complexity in the malt bill (i.e. brewing from grain), would help balance it out. I used more graing and less extract than usual, but might go farther in this direction next time. Still, pretty tasty. These three beers were different enough that they appealed to different people, but none were terrible, and it was a chance to compare some intentional and unintentional differences in the process.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Accidental, now official IPA

The pale ale I was making until recently is named Nate's Unorthodox Ale due to it's inability to conform to parameters of either American Pale Ale or IPA. But a couple tweaks later, and lo and behold, it's an IPA. The Accidental IPA. And it turned out well. So, I'm trying it again, but making it an IPA on purpose. The yeast (Wyeast 1056) went like gangbusters on the last one (QIX), so I brewed a new batch to throw right into the same carboy. Sure enough, bubbles bubbles within hours. This second one, QX Accidental IPA Revisited, uses more extract and less grain. I'm assuming that reusing the yeast will make a dryer than normal beer, so I made sure to get lots of Amarillos in there at the end for aroma. I also made it simpler because I felt lazy after bottling QIX. Nice to bottle again after kegging the last couple. I used an assortment of 6 oz, 12 oz, and 22 oz bottles, which will make for fun gifting.

So, to compare...

QIX, Accidental IPA
6 lbs Briess Golden Light Malt Extract
15 oz crystal 60
12 oz dextrine malt

60 min 1 oz Zeus
40 min 1 oz Zeus
20 min 1 oz Amarillo
5 min 1 oz Amarillo

OG 1.062, final 1.020, calculated 68 IBU and 6.1% ABV

QX, Double T Matrimony Ale
7 lbs Briess Golden Light Malt Extract
8 oz Crystal 60
8 oz Dextrine Malt

40 min 2 oz Zeus
20 min 1 oz Chinook
5 min 1 oz Amarillo
1 min 1 oz Amarillo (added during chilling)

OG 1.068, calculated 67.5 IBU and 6.8% ABV

Might be a good candidate for dry hopping, but I'm probably too lazy for that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've always known that re-pitching yeast from prior batches can produce truly great beers, but I never bothered with it.  Now I'm bothering, and here's what  I'll do.  

1.  After fermentation and when the beer is racked off (to whatever vessel), swirl the yeast cake at the bottom of fermenter and pour into a graduated sterile container and set in cold fridge for next brew day.  I'll use a $5 polypropylene bottle and sterilize by putting a little bit of water in the bottom, lightly capping, and microwaving for a couple minutes while the water inside boils and steam heats the container.

2. Figure out how much yeast I'll need for my next batch of beer (should brew within 2 weeks of your last batch, as yeast viability greatly decreases after this time without making a starter) by going to Jamil Zainasheff's Yeast Pitching Rate Calculator at  Use the "Repitching from Slurry" tab, and enter the fermentation type, original gravity and volume of your next brew, and enter when you harvested your yeast from Step 1 above.  Read the "# of ml of yeast needed" value on Jamil's calculator.  Don't touch the "yeast concentration" and "non-yeast percentage" default values.

3.  When its time to pitch for a new batch of beer, take the bottle out of the fridge, open it up and decant the beer that sits on top of the yeast at the bottom.  Read the volume of what remains in the bottle after decanting.  Divide the value that Jamil says I need (from Step 2 above) by this value to get a percentage.  

4.  Pour some sterile brewing water (I always have this handy, sitting in a growler in the fridge) into the bottle on top of the yeast, cap and shake vigorously to clean the yeast.  Let settle for about 10 minutes, and the trub and dead yeast cells will fall to the bottom.  The healthy yeast remains in suspension in the liquid layer on top.  Read the new volume, and multiply this by the percentage calculated in Step 3 above.  This is the volume I need to remove from the container and pitch to the new batch of beer.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

IPA No. 1

I've decided that I want to make four (4) solid IPAs, and make them often.  Anything else I brew will be rare or seasonal.  

No. 1 - Light and Clean - Maltiness is subdued, color is light, citrusy hop  flavor takes spotlight.

No. 2 - Malty/Fruity - bigger malt presence, fruity/floral hop flavor and aroma.

No. 3 - Spicy - rye and darker caramel malts dominate.  Amber in color.  Big hop profile.

No. 4 - Black - An IPA posing as a stout.  

The following is a batch of No. 1 that I brewed today.  Still probably needing to tweak a few things in future batches, but this may be a winner...

Malt Bill (O.G. = 1.065)
85% 2-row pale
2% crystal 40 lovibond
6% carapils
7% corn sugar (added to boil)

Hop Bill (IBUs = 95)
Zeus (16.4 aa%) and Chinook (13.0 aa%) at start
Chinook 15 minutes in
Zeus 30 minutes in
Amarillo (8.5 aa%) and Chinook at finish
Amarillo dry hop for 2 weeks

1 oz gypsum added to 12.5 gallons of brewing liquor.  Final volume = 7.5 gallons.

California ale

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Sherman Brewhouse

With the brewery finally situated I thought I'd memorialize my new set of brewing procedures at this blog site.  For those bored enough to come along on this journey, here goes:

  1. Pre-Brew Hot Water Rinse (Hot side) and Sanitization (Cold side)

Circulate 5 gallons of 170-180 degree water through the entire brewery for approximately 15 minutes to remove any dirt or dust that has accumulated in the kettles and/or lines since the last brew day.  Sanitize all cold-side equipment, including chillers, racking lines and carboys. 

Brewer Details

·        Fill HLT with 5 gallons of cold water and heat to 180 degrees F

·        Connect hose A to HLT valve (out) and Pump (in), and hose C to pump (out)

·        Prime pump by opening HLT valve (out) and pump valve (out), turn pump on and hose out HLT for 5 minutes.  Turn pump off.

·        Re-direct end of hose C into MT valve (in), connect MT recirculation hose, and turn pump on and hose out MT until HLT is empty.  Turn pump off.

·        Disconnect hose A and hose C from pump and set aside; connect hose B to MT valve (out) and direct opposite end into BK.

·        Open MT valve (out) and hose out BK until MT is empty. 

·        Drain BK into 5 gallon bucket and dispose.

  1. Liquor Preparation

Prepare the full volume and chemistry of brewing liquor in the HLT.  Full brew volumes required are dependent on the final batch size, length of the boil, and the pounds of grain mashed.  All other variables are brewery constants.  Depending on the recipe, liquor chemistry is changed with appropriate salts.

Brewer Details

·        Fill HLT with full brew volume desired from cold water faucet, and add brewing salts per recipe specs.

·        Connect hose A to HLT valve (out) and pump (in), and hose B to pump (out).

·        Prime pump by opening HLT valve (out) and pump valve (out), connect hose B to MT valve (in), and turn on pump to fill MT to just above false bottom.

  1. Mash

Add grains to MT, remainder of mash water, and heat to appropriate temperature, holding 148 – 155 degrees for 1 hour.  Since this brewery is a Recirculation Infusion Mashing System (RIMS), no stirring of the mash is needed.  Wort is recirculated through the mash tun via the pump for the entire duration of the mash.

Brewer Details

·        Add grains on top of the pre-fill water in the MT and turn pump on to fill MT with remainder of mash water (NOTE:  Mash water volume is equal to the desired water to grist ratio, times the pounds of grain used, divided by 4.  Therefore, the appropriate volumes left in the HLT after the mash volumes are reached will equal the full brew volume minus the mash volume)

·        Stir the mash briefly, and lightly place second false bottom on top of grain bed.

·        Disconnect hose A from HLT valve (out) and pump (in) and set aside, and connect hose C from MT valve (out) to pump (in).

·        Prime pump by opening MT valve (out) and pump valve (out) (Note: Siphon will only be created when hose B is disconnected from MT valve (in) and lowered below MT level).

·        Re-connect hose B to MT valve (in) and turn pump on to start recirculation.  Restrict pump valve (out) to allow slow flow back to MT in order to create a gentle whirlpool through the MT recirculation hose.

·        Fire MT burner and hold mash temp according to recipe specs.  Recirculation is for entire duration of mash.  Start HLT burner 40 minutes into mash and heat sparge water to 160.  When finished, turn pump off.

  1. Sparge

Drain sweet wort from MT into BK and rinse all residual sugars from grains with a continuous “fly” sparge, for approximately 30 minutes, with 160 degree water.  

Brewer Details

·        Disconnect hose C from pump (in) being careful not to spill too much sweet wort out the end of the hose onto the pump, and place end into BK.

·        Connect hose A from HLT valve (out) to pump (in).

·        Prime pump by opening HLT valve (out) and pump valve (out) (Note: Siphon will only be created when hose B is disconnected from MT valve (in) and lowered below MT level).

·        Re-connect hose B to MT valve (in) and turn pump on to start sparge.

·        Close down MT valve (out) and pump valve (out) to reduce out and inflow so that BK takes about 30 minutes to fill.  Make sure liquid remains 1 inch above second false bottom screen for duration.  Start BK burner.

·        Measure the gravity of runnings when boil volumes are attained.  Plan any extract additions and/or boil off volumes at this time, in order to achieve a corrected OG.  Measure batch efficiency.

·        Turn pump off, disconnect hoses and place in laundry sink. 

  1. Boil 

Boil wort and isomerize hops for at least 1 hour, but depending on the recipe specs, and any OG correction coming out of the sparge.  

Brewer Details

·        While BK is heating up, remove MT from stand and dump spent grains.  Clean out both false bottoms of grain, rinse out MT, and replace MT back to stand.  Put 5 oz of powdered brewery wash (oxy clean) into HLT.

·        Tend to hop schedule as prescribed by recipe.

·        15 minutes before end of boil, place immersion wort chiller into BK to sterilize.  Hook water intake up to cold water faucet.  Clamp water output into HLT. 

·        Turn off BK burner, and turn on cold water to begin chilling wort and filling HLT with residual hot water from heat exchange.  Fill HLT with 5 gallons.  Remaining water must be directed into 5 gallon buckets, schlepped to the laundry sink for draining through the entire chill. 

·        Turn on HLT burner to heat wash water the rest of the way to 180 degrees.

  1. System Wash, Rinse and Dry 

A hot water PBW/Oxy Clean wash is circulated through the entire brewery for approximately 30 minute, followed by a cold water rinse circulation for another 30 minutes.  Both the wash and the rinse are 5 gallon volumes each.  All kettles are toweled dry and stored for the next batch. 

Brewer Details

·        Connect hose A to HLT valve (out) and Pump (in), and hose C to pump (out)

·        Prime pump by opening HLT valve (out) and pump valve (out), turn pump on and wash out HLT for 5 minutes, scrubbing any build up with brush.  Turn pump off.

·        Disconnect hose C from pump valve (out) and connect to MT valve (out) and place other end in BK temporarily.  Connect hose B to pump valve (out) and prime pump by creating a siphon by opening HLT valve (out).

·        Connect hose B to MT valve (in), turn pump on and fill MT with hot wash.  When HLT is empty, turn pump off.

·        Disconnect hose A from HLT valve (out) and pump (in) and set aside, and connect hose C to pump (in).

·        Prime pump by opening MT valve (out) and pump valve (out) (Note: Siphon will only be created when hose B is disconnected from MT valve (in) and lowered below MT level).

·        Re-connect hose B to MT valve (in) and turn pump on and wash out MT for 10 minutes.  Scrub above and below MT false bottom.  Turn pump off.

·        Disconnect hose C from pump (in) and gravity drain MT hot wash into BK.  Make up any heat loss of wash water by firing BK burner.

·        Connect hose B from BK valve (out) to pump (in), and hose C from pump valve (out).  Prime pump by opening BK valve (out)  and pump valve (out).  Turn pump on and wash out BK for 10 minutes, scrubbing build up with brush.  Turn pump off.

·        Drain wash into 5 gallon bucket and discard.  Add 5 gallons fresh cold water to HLT and repeat above steps to rinse.  Towel all kettles dry. 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Electric Brew Update with photos

(THis blog was written bottom up. Sorry not use to the format.)

This is another overall shot that shows the basement window with a fan. I have a window that opens inwards and up. i have a sheet of alluminum protecting it as a moisture barrier. can't tell you yet how good it works as this is my first real test.

Here is an over all pic of the setup. I didn't say it was nice to look at. The silver case is angled as it is cuz the thermocouple (temp sensor) that came with my PID is only 3 feet. i have a longer one on order. I welded the stainless fittings. Not pretty. I used a MIG setup with shielding gas. The gravity nature of stainless welding with that setup is difficult to do on a round threaded pipe to a keg. It takes some practice but even then my welds are not pretty ...but water tight.

this picture shows the end of the sink and the shower valve. I wanted hot and cold water on site, sort of speak. I didn't want just a faucet. I wanted a long hose with a spray gun on the end. THe showervalve with a washing machine hose (hi temp) and a garden sprayer (with trigger) does the trick. Its also plumbed for a drain.

This photo shows the electric kettle with CFC (40+fooot) below. The silver case is the control panel. I made everything portalble or plug n play. I can take the case off and work on it in the garage. its setup to run a mash and HLT but i am not ready for that yet. Of course i would have to purchase another PID etc. The PID i am using is off of Ebay. Works fine. with SSR. its holding 150 veryy nicely (floats to 152 down to 148 in Auto Tune mode).

I am brewing for the first time with the electric kettle. I am steeping grains as i type this. The water heated from 54 F to 150F in 20minutes on the nose. I am using a 220V 4500W heater.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Electric Brew Update

I have had nightmares about dropping carboys.....what a mess!!! not to mention the work one puts in. my heart goes out to you.

Friday night i was up til 1 am working on the electric brew...and by Sunday night it's fully operational and i did a test (water only) run.

Water: I have installed a shower valve and a flexible hose (instead of a shower head) to have hot and cold water.
Sink: i have a sink installed with drain for rinsing gear and most importantly for draining the counter flow chiller.
Counter Flow Chiller: this is was the first time i was able to use this. I made it well over 6 months ago but have just not gotten to use it. And it work beautrifully. It takes boiling water down to 58 degrees. It worked TOO well. i had to really back down the cold water going in to raise the temp back to 68 or so. I can dial in the out flow temp by throttling back the cold water in. beautiful. The time to chill is just the time gravity takes to drain the wort out of the keg thru the 3/8" tube. I'll time in next time. By the way, this is not a 25foot cfc, i can't remember if this is 40 or 50Foot.
Ventillation: I am using the Sherman Ventilation system which worked well. its a fan in a basement window with a plywood surround. It worked very well.
Pump: ordered.

Thats the update. Pics to follow at some point. my camera is packed away in a moving box.

Next up: Sankey Keg Fermentor. I want to ferment in a sankey keg and not a glass carboy. A few modifications and i should be good to go.

Friday, March 13, 2009

friday the 13th

it's friday the 13th and i just dropped and broke a carboy full of 5 gallons of wort. oh boy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Q6, Nate's Unorthodox Ale review

Still have half a corny keg of this one. It turned out quite bitter. Estimated IBU's around 70. But it is malt forward and has enough finishing hops to balance the bitterness. A success yes, but with the next edition, I will try for less bitterness. In discussing how to mess with the malt flavors, it has become clear that I should become an all grain brewer. As soon as my fellow contributors get their apparati together, maybe they'll let me try an all grain version of this beer so I can fine tune it further.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus

Otherwise known as Pliny the Younger.

Nephew of Pliny the Elder, Officer of the noble order of knights, senator, Prefect of the treasury of Saturn, Superintendent for the banks of the Tiber, and most importantly, a triple IPA brewed by none other than Russian River Brewing Company.

On tap today at Belmont Station.  I'm there.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

HB 2461

The Oregon Brewer's Guild is opposed, and frankly, so am I.

Not only would this be the single largest beer tax increase in the history of the world (increasing the excise tax on a barrel from 3 bucks to over 50 bucks, and the price of a pint by a buck and a half), but it would probably hurt an industry that has already done so much for the State's economy.

As I'm writing this, I have no idea what the Oregon demand curve for beer looks like.  But let's assume that it exhibits unit elasticity.  When the cost of a pint of beer increases by $1.50 (about 40%, assuming a typical pint costs about 4 bucks), the demand for pints will correspondingly drop by, you guessed it, 40 percent.  And if 40 percent of the Oregon population are beer drinkers, this is real revenue LOSS, not gain.  

Now imagine a relatively elastic demand curve, and the revenues decline further.  

Without seeing Ben Cannon's (the sponsor of the bill) analysis, I can only speculate, but it seems that they're hoping that consumption will not be curtailed too much, so that tax receipts can come in big.  However, in order for the demand to be inelastic (what Ben's assuming), there need to be no close substitutes for beer.  I'm thinking of wine (which I'm assuming Ben drinks a lot of), spirits, beer in Washington, beer in California, and the most important of all, homebrewing.  

Is prevention for alcohol and substance abuse important (to which the tax receipts will go)?  Hell yes.  But this tax increase (including its timing and magnitude) is really troubling me.  I'd rather have income taxes increase a little bit (the principle here being that everyone benefits from reducing the number of drunk drug addicts), than have responsible beer drinkers, and the craft beer industry, fit the bill.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Electric Brew Vision

The vision:
Boil Keg, Counter Flow Chiller, Pump, Drain Sink, Hot and Cold Water hookups, hose, electronic controller for pump, fan, boil kettle, (MT, HLT). not to scale.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Well, self-aware beerie and foodie that I am, I apparently cannot leave well enough alone, so Q6 is similar to Amarillo in the Morning (which I have never made exactly), but different.

4 lbs Briess Light Malt Extract Golden Light
3 lbs Briess light Malt Extract Pilsen Light

Steep 8 oz Dextrine Malt Cara - Pils and 8 oz American Crystal 60L for 45 minutes (or so)

Start Boil, add Malt Extract and hops as follows
1 oz Amarillo 60 min
1 oz Norther Brewer 40 min
1 oz Amarillos 20 Min
2 oz Amarillo 5 min

Let's see how it goes....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Electric Brewery

I didn't want to start a post without a pic but i can't resist. I 'll add pics later.
I've chosen to go the electric brewery route. It's well documented on the internet but requires some electrical know-how. To this point I have welded a stainless keg with three threaded fittings; 1 for the electric heater, 1 for the thermometer and 1 for a ball valve. The welds are not pretty, as this was my first try at welding stainless but after a few attempts they are water tight. The control box has been a challenge and a fun project. I am about 80% done with it. It will be able to handle a HLT, mash and boil. I thought i had a 220 60Amp circuit available but that was for the hot tub. So i am left with a 30 amp circuit from the sauna. If i need multiple elements for the HLT, mash and boil, I may upgrade it to 60amp or use the dryer circuit which is also 30A.
As always, i couldn't wait for the control box to be finished before i tested the electric element out. So i filled the boil keg with approx 7 gallons of cold water and wired it up. I was nervous but very excited. This is 220V 30Amp circuit that i am working from. I plugged in the unit and stood back. Instantly i could see the water moving as the element heated up the water around it. There was a low sound that emanated from the unit. I was really curious at the temperature / time curve. I plotted a few points: at 15min / 150, at 25 mins 190, at 40 mins rolling boil. I did not take the temp of the water that i started with but it was cold water.
Next steps: Ducting for the exhaust fan for moisture, finish the control box, some plumbing and build a stand. pics to follow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

KLCC Eugene Brew Fest

So, occasionally I take side gigs, as long as they are with good people playing good music. It's fun, keeps me on my toes, and if it's at a brew fest, well, that's a no brainer. So, I played with Ashleigh Flynn at the Eugene Brewfest last Friday. The highlights, of course, were the Pelican and Ninkasi booths. Pelican had and IPA that was the best I tasted, and a stout that was the only one I tasted, but was great. Ninkasi's beer of note was Spring Reign, a hoppy pale ale that starts out malt forward and has a refreshing hop finish. It's on the lighter side (compared to 8 percent double IPA's anyway), so it's also right in line with the beer I would like to perfect but have yet to. (I think I have everything but the malt finish down pretty good) Check back later.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Getting There...

Most recent work completed on RIMS brewery project:

1.  Painted stand glossy black
2.  Built galvanized sheet metal hood over stand, fastened to ceiling.
3.  Pinned in the gas line assembly with valves (still waiting for adaptors.  sigh.)

Need two electrical socket boxes wired in area, plus water and gas line feeds.  

Getting there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Regime Change.

I've been thinking a lot lately about beer and about politics.  But since this is a blog about beer and brewing, I'll spare the reader from my political rants, and begin my inaugural (wink wink) blog entry by talking about a new method of brewing for me: recirculation infusion mashing (RIMS).

RIMS brewing, at its core, involves constantly recirculating wort through the mash tun during mashing.  Recirculation is accomplished by pulling wort from the bottom of the mash tun through a false bottom, out a ball valve, and using a pump to feed it back up to the top of the mash tun.  The process promotes better extraction, more heat control (allowing for, say, stepped temperature mashing), and more wort clarity, as the grain bed in the mash tun acts as a static filter during recirculation.  Plus, it's geekier and more technical than what I've been doing, and the more involved, for me, the better...

Here's my project in a nutshell (and for those interested, I'll post materials and construction details for each phase):

Step 1:  Construct brewing stand with gas line assembly.

This phase is almost complete (see picture).  The only thing left is to finish the gas line assembly that will power the three burners built into the stand, and I'm waiting for some hardware from an industrial supply company that will adapt my burner orifices (flare fittings) to my gas line (pipe fittings).  

Step 2: Purchase the tuns.

Since this is a RIMS system, all 3 tuns are directly fired, which means that my plastic gatorade coolers will be a thing of the past.  What this also means is that I must purchase three new stainless steel tuns, which costs lots of moolah.  And I don't have the skills to do stainless steel welding!  This phase may have to wait a bit.

Step 3: Construct ventilation system.

My plan here is to brew in the basement, directly underneath a large window (egress) with a box fan that can move a lot of air.  I'll construct a heat shield above the brewing stand made of sheet metal to protect the wood joists over head from heat and from moisture.  The fan should move most of the steam from the boil kettle out the window, but the sheild will provide a nice backstop.

That's it.  My dream RIMS brewery in three simple steps.  We'll see how it goes.  And of course, I'll keep you posted.  


Friday, January 23, 2009

Batch #5, the Sherman Query Stout

Doing basically what the recipe from Steinbart's tells me to, I made my fifth batch of beer- a stout- with John Moen as assistant. Only change was adding some extra finishing hops. I can't help it. It was all I could do not to put all my leftover hops in at the end (which would have been 2 oz above the recipe instead of 1/2- not that bold yet). Tastes good, let's cross our fingers.

At the risk of jinxing this batch, this was the first one that felt easy. Heat water, clean stuff, start steeping, clean more stuff, start boil with bittering hops and malt extract, start sanitizing, wait and drink your most recent batch, add finishing hops, cool, aerate, pitch. Piece of cake (knock on wood).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Batch #4, Cascade by Morning

For the fourth time, I used Amarillo By Morning recipe with a couple changes, some on purpose, some by accident

Started with 5.5 gallons of water, put in grains at about 200 degrees (even though they are supposed to steep at 165- hope this doesn't matter).

Steeped for 10-15 minutes, then added 6 lbs malt extract and 1 oz cascade hops, started boil. Beer minus 60 (well, 57 this time)

Took grain bag out 10 minutes into boil or so.

20 minutes into boil (B minus 40), added 1 oz cascade. Recipe says 20 minutes meaning 20 minutes left. I'm an idiot. Oh well. More bitter more better I hope. So, do I add 1 oz at 20 minutes left and then the last ounce at 5 minutes, or put them all at 5 minutes? I've got some time to decide. Hops smell so goooood...

boil boil boil

with 5 minutes left, added one oz and mixed it in, another ounce and didn't mix. Turned off heat at 57 minutes instead of sixty and started cooling it.

I moved the wort chiller around a lot to cool it faster. Tap water is super freezing, so the wort was down to 75 or so in like 10 minutes. Amazing. I might make it to that meditation workshop after all.

Poured it through a strainer into a big bucket and back into pot and back into bucket. Mucho Aire!!!

Poured it into the carboy. Oh boy. Bubbles. Had to pour the last bit a little at a time and spill some on the floor. Ended up with about 5 gallons exactly.

Tastes pretty good. OG about 1.055. It is a more bitter than the last batch, but it's yummy. Fruity. Is it my imagination or can i already tell the difference between the Cascade and the Amarillo hops. This is why bottling is good even though kegging sounds fun. I can compare this to batches #1 and #3 someday.

Waiting for yeast packet to look fat and happy. Cleaning up. Cross your fingers.