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.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Draft Beer Quality on TV

Yesterday, while on my day job, I had the chance to cover a Draft Beer Quality conference held for the continually expanding number of local craft brewers here in Nashville.
I had the chance to meet and interview Linus Hall of Yazoo who explained how seriously he and his team are concerned about the way their product is handled between the time it leaves the brewery and when it is presented in the glass to a consumer.
Topics included CO2 pressure, how serving lines are cleaned and the size and length of the pressurized beer line from the cooler to the bar.
The event was put on at the Mercy Lounge by a couple of industry experts including New Glarus' Jeff Schaefer.  New Glarus isn't even distributed in Nashville but Jeff says he wanted to come here and offer his expertise to this emerging market.
You'll see him at the tail end of this news package I shot for WSMV.  It was supposed to be a smaller story but I'm interested in this topic so I stayed a little longer and asked if our afternoon shows could use it.
The story also includes the perspective of Christian Spears of the newly opened Tennessee Brew Works.  He says the conference could not have come at a better time since his tap room opened only days ago.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Octoberfest, Beer Fest

Once again, to my delight, Fall is here. 
Cool air blowing leaves about always improves my demeanor.
But so does a well made beer.
I know that Marzen is supposed to be made in March and drank in October but I didn't get to it in the Spring and it's difficult to chill the wort to pitching temperature in the Summer.
It looks good.
I was a bit worried about the ferm though.  I made a starter from some saved wort and a vial of German Lager yeast but I didn't get to make the beer for four days after.  I chilled the wort to 52 degrees and pitched the starter, which had been waiting at that temperature.
It appears to be fermenting as vigorously as a lager can at 53 degrees.
I think this will be a great beer.
Much of it will go to my next door neighbor, Eric.  He needs to know that I have not forgotten our friendship and who helped me put brakes on my wife's old car.

Also, a new brewery has opened here in Nashville.
Tennessee Brew Works has been up for about 6 weeks now with their taproom now open at 809 Ewing Avenue.
I was shooting a story at the 2nd annual Tennessee Beer Festival in Donelson a couple of weeks ago and met founder Christian Spears. 
He and his crew had 3 beers there.
Basil Ryeman is a spicy, fruity farmhouse ale that includes Basil.  My wife would probably like it a lot.
There was Extra Easy, an English pale and an IPA called Cutaway.
Since I was working I was unable to try any of them but the steady crowd hanging around their booth assured me that all were good.
I enjoyed talking with Christian, who offered advice and encouragement to my brewery project.
I am grateful for someone who is willing to help me find answers to the questions my business plan has created.
I'm pressing on in spite of the challenges but invigorated by them as well.

Beers on the horizon include my own ESB, a Pale and an American Amber to replenish my empty beer cellar.
Good Beer To You.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Carboys Runneth Over

Late last week I made a Blonde Ale and an American Stout using the yeast from the Pale I made a week earlier.  I racked the beer and saved the trub, pitching it into the wort the same day.  Both beers started well.
The gravity looks good for the Stout.  I think this will be a good beer.  I don't make it often but I'm beginning to like the style more.
All this brewing means just about every fermenting vessel I have is full right now.  I'll package the Pale on Thursday and slow down for a while.
I'm back into the mire of the plan for my brewery project.  The details seem to multiply logarithmically every time I look at the materials.
Right now I'm looking for some counsel on landing a site for it and the determination of build out costs. 
I'm also looking for like minded principals to join me.  I know I can't run this thing alone and I need a couple of co-founders who also believe in the transformative and synergistic power of beer.
In the end it's more about community and connection.  Beer is a great vehicle for this.  My dream is to have a product and a place people will use to meet and collaborate on everything from the monumental to the minimal. 
Of course, I hope to collaborate about new and exciting beer as well.
Good Beer To You

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Browns, Bitters and a double batch of Pale

Things have been busy at my house this Summer.  I bottled an American Brown ale today.  And I packaged up an Ordinary Bitter on Tuesday.  I have been mowing the yard and taking care of the cars and the business plan for my brewery project has been languishing.
But with our daughter back in school and my shift change at work I can get back to it.  I find the more I write, the more there is to write, but answering questions about every aspect of the business makes the process, and the project more interesting.
Last Friday I made a double batch of Pale.  Half for the keg and half to be bottled.  This brew is about as much volume as my mash tun and kettle can handle.
The volume was so close to the lip I thought I was going to have a boil over a couple of times.
I was pleased with the gravity. 
I was one point short of the target but closer than I thought I might get under the circumstances.  I do not usually handle this much wort.
I split the starter I made from a package of California Ale Yeast and some saved wort and pitched it into the beer divided into two carboys.
Fermentation looks good.
Peace.  Family.  Beer.