Monday, January 26, 2015

New Year, Fresh Beer

The holiday season and a couple of illnesses have kept me from brewing regularly these last months.
But I'm back with a weekday to myself making a Stout to appease my wife.

 She loves this beer so it's good to have plenty available.
This version will be a bit different than the last one.  I'm changing up the finishing hops a bit to use up some Columbus and Chinook.
I'd also like to get a large entry together for the Memphis beer competition.  It's one of the oldest beer clubs in the nation and the competition is always good.
As I've often said, it's the score sheets I'm after. 
Comments from good judges are usually the best way to better beer.  I hope to show up down there to volunteer but my job might make me unable to fully commit.
My brewery project went nowhere in 2014.  It's not dead.  Just on hold.
I, again, apologize for the record time between posts.  I endeavor to be a more regular blogger.
Good beer to you.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ordinary Bitter. The Working Man's Beer.

Today I made and English Pale called Ordinary Bitter.  This is one of my favorite beers because it is so flavorful while delivering a lot less alcohol.
The grist barely filled the hopper on my mill.  Most of my beers use more grain.
 The base grain is the Maris Otter variety.  This grain really makes the difference in the flavor of this pale.  And don't assume this beer is bitter like an IPA.  The IBUs in this beer are lower than my regular American Pale Ale.  I'm really into this beer.  My wife loves it too.
I cleaned more of those 1/2 liter bottles yesterday.
They were really dirty.  But a little OxyClean and new gaskets will revive them.
I also needed to clean the fermentation vault. A dash of bleach and some elbow grease gave it a new look.
I'm not sure if I'm more impressed with the fact that this old fridge still works or that the 10-year-old temperature controller still works.
Good Beer To You.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Blonde and an IPA

I did not win the competition at Tennessee Brew Works last month.
I was happy for the people who did, though. They had all sorts of issues that day. Their burner caught fire in the wrong place and they had to use a camping stove to finish an extract boil. I never did get the chance to find out what the judges liked or disliked about my entry.
I put a new Blonde on tap yesterday. This beer will get our house through a few weeks of evening beers until I can get a Fall beer made.
 Today I bottled an IPA.
I had prepared a case of 22oz bombers and a case of regular 12oz bottles when I realized I only have 20 caps in the house.
So I decided it was time to start using some of these beautiful 1/2 liter flip-tops me neighbor gave me earlier this year.
They came to me in nice wooden cases with a package of new gaskets.
I hope the beer I put in them tastes as good as these Euro-bottles look.
Good Beer To You

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Contests and Shame

First the shame part.
Sorry, dear readers (all 5 of you) that I've not posted in months.  I once again vow to redouble my efforts toward sharing the happenings of my obsession with making great beer.
Like the American Amber I made today.
Please forgive my bragging but I did a good job on this beer.  I'm not as happy with the efficiency I got but the gravity and color are good.
It's starting up in the temperature controlled vault (cleaned yesterday) and should be in good shape for the next 7 days or so.
On to the competition.
My search for information and like minded individuals to help me get my brewery project going has yielded a friendship with one of the proprietors of a local brewery.  I have mentioned Christian Spears of Tennessee Brew Works in this blog before.  If you are in (or are coming to) Nashville, head over to 809 Ewing Ave and try out their beer.  It's the real deal and they're good people.
Anyway, Christian called and asked if I was interested in being part of their first annual beer competition.  Since I make lots of beer I thought that this would be a good deal.  I mean I've always got at least 5 beers around the house that I think might get a medal.
But the catch was that the beer had to be made at the brewery on national home brew day, May 3rd.
Christian was also nice enough to bring their delivery van to Bellevue to get me and my stuff so I would not have to rent a truck to get it there.
Plus, the entry fee was only $10 and included a couple of TBW's beers.  What a deal.
So I set up in the shade, made beer, and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon complete with a Polka band.  They even played the Hogan's Heroes theme.  My brother would be jealous.
The beer is ready but needs to be cold conditioned for a couple of weeks before I send it to be judged.
I hope the finishing hops I used blend into the background a bit more by then.  It's a good Pale right now but needs to smooth out a bit.
On a side note.  Happy anniversary to my wife Jennifer.  I am happy because of her.
Here is a photo from our wedding day.
That's Father Valentine Handwerker on the left.

Good Beer To You.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Sorry it's been a while but Winter is here and I am trying to make beer as often as possible.
I'm fermenting in the downstairs bath so I can fill up my beer room and ultimately keep the fridge well stocked with well made beer.

I've brewed about every week since the beginning of the year.
My fridge is swelling with beer.
But I'm concerned with my Oktoberfest.  I made it twice this Fall. and recently have had a side by side tasting of both versions.

Don't let the different names throw you off.  Eric's was first.  
I turned the yeast around for a second batch the day after I bottled it.
I tasted both a few days ago and can find no significant differences between them.
These beers are decent.  Just not great.
Don't misunderstand.  They're both a pretty good representation of the Oktoberfest style. 
Both have a good drinkability. 
But my standards are pretty high and this beer isn't the greatest. 
I put this beer in a Memphis competition so I guess we'll see what the judges say.

Good Beer To You.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks For Beer

Bellevue Bitter turned out to be a nice beer.  But cold weather is really the best time for me to brew so I moved on to other beers I "need" to make.
I kegged a Pale I made as a house beer last week and made it again for the bottle on Friday.
The gravity looked good and the beer started well.
A bit of trub slipped through the strainer when I put the wort in the carboy but, as always, I expect it'll settle out.  The color was nice too.
I bottled Eric's Oktoberfest on Monday and saved the Bavarian Lager yeast so I could make the beer again yesterday.
Although I'm not sure how much good it does, I did a decoction.  I do this while a low temperature mash step is performed to maximize the starch content of the grain for the main mash.
Some of the wort is drained off and boiled for a few minutes.
Then the hot wort is added back to the 122 degree mash to bring it to 155 so the starch conversion can take place effectively. 
The starting gravity was a little light because I sparged a bit too much but I got an extra quart of beer to drink.
The cold weather helped but I did have to pump ice water through the chiller to get the wort to 53.
I pitched the yeast and set the vault to 52.  As of this morning there appears to be a nice layer of krausen forming on top of the beer. 
This is good given the chilly fermentation temp. 
The yeast will work for 4 weeks before the beer is packaged and conditioned. 
I expect this to be a nice, malty beer with an unmistakably clean lager taste.

Hoppy Thanksgiving.
And, good beer to you.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bellevue Bitter

I bottled my best bitter today.
I made Bellevue Bitter a couple of weeks ago and was really pleased by the color of the wort during the sparge.

It looks like melted caramel.
The fermentation went well and the beer finished out at 1.010.
This will be a nice 5.1% English Pale when it carbonates.
The last time I made this beer (formerly called Big B's Best Bitter) it won 3rd Best of Show only to be outdone by my American Brown, which got Best of Show that year.
I hope this beer is as good.
Peace, Love, Beer.