Monday, October 25, 2010

A Nice Fermentation

I made my Bitter on Saturday, as scheduled, but had a few problems.
I missed my mash-in target by a couple of degrees and wound up mashing at 153 instead of 151.  That might make this beer just a bit more viscous than planned.
Then I under shot my target volume and overshot my gravity by 7 points.  I could have fixed this with some water but decided that 1.057 wasn't too far out of the range for this beer.
In fact, the same thing happened last time I brewed it and I got 1.054 so I'm OK with it.
I pitched a liter of yeast and, so far, things are going well.
 I'm looking for 67-68 degrees to give this beer the right character.
The fridge is set to 63 degrees so that I can compensate for the heat created by such a vigorous fermentation.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bitter, but not disagreeable

Last night after I got home from the brew club meeting I made a starter of British Ale II yeast.
I want to brew first thing in the morning and I won't have time to make it tonight.
Although I believe a good pitching window for a starter is usually 24 hours, I'll push it to Saturday, about 1PM.
I think it will be OK.
I'm trying to duplicate a Best Bitter I made for last year's competition.
Not all beers that win are delicious and not all delicious beers win, but this one did both, and I want to have some for the Winter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


My daughter had a Fall break this weekend so my wife and I took her to see Chicago.

Everyone had a great time. Hallie got to visit the American Girl store and Jennifer and I got to visit a couple of breweries.
After a couple of beers at the top of the John Hancock Tower we stopped at Rock Bottom on Grand. It's been a while since I visited Rock Bottom in Denver so we decided to give it a try. I had an excellent Oktoberfest and a pretty decent Red Ale. The real story here was the food and service. Bar food is probably the wrong label to give this menu because this food transcends that connotation. I had a pretzel appetizer that was absolutely delicious. Hallie had fish and chips and, although it was an adult size entree, nearly cleaned her plate. I can't remember what Jenny had but she was equally impressed. I know that this location is one of many Rock Bottom Breweries around the country, thus qualifying it as a chain, but I still had a unique experience and good service.
On Saturday we headed to Revolution Brewing on Logan Square. The food and service were good here as well. The menu was a little more eclectic. A bacon fat popcorn appetizer topped with shaved parmesan and a pizza with apples, marinated pulled pork, Gorgonzola and fennel.
The beer menu was fairly wide with at least 3 Pales, a Porter, a Golden Ale, a Stout, a Strong Ale and a Mild.
I enjoyed my Pales but was struck by the wonderfully full bodied Mild that Jennifer was drinking. This was a 1.040 beer that drank like a much heavier brown. I did not meet brewer Jim Cibak but hope to on our next trip.

There were a couple of others we did not have time to visit including a place called Piece Brewing and the Goose Island location in Wrigleyville. I've been there before and really enjoyed it.