Sunday, December 25, 2011

Beer Room Almost Finished

This week I started putting up shelves in my new beer room.

I have three of the four shelves up.  I'll do the fourth later this week after I bottle the American Stout I made on the 17th.  The beer is already piling up. 

I hope to have the room filled by March.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lagers and Stuff

It's time to bottle my Oktoberfest. 
I'll put it in the house tonight to make sure it finishes up and package it in the morning before I go to work.
This beer tasted good when I racked it so I'm eager to get it ready for consumption.
For most brewers it's a bit late in the season to make this style but I'll enjoy this beer through March.
Besides, I'm saving at least half of it for next Fall.

The Winter Bock I made on Thanksgiving day seems to be getting  along fine.
The last two times I made this beer the spices were almost undetectable so I more than doubled them this time.
The beer will definitely be more than a Bock this time.  We'll see later if I should have messed with it.
Jenny and I went to Memphis this weekend for the St. Jude half marathon.

She did well in spite of having limited opportunities to train for it and I'm proud of her.
We found Ghost River Golden in the grocery store there.  They've been working to get bottles into the Memphis market for a while now and I'm sure Chuck Skyepeck is glad to finally have his bottling line up and running properly.
Bluff City Brewing is cheering you on Ghost River.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bottling, Racking and Planning

I bottled the American Pale this morning and cleared out the bucket for the IPA.  I have so many beers in production right now that I need to use every vessel I own.
I don't really like to use the old school bucket to ferment beer but it works OK.  Normally I would not do a secondary frementation for this IPA but I need to harvest the yeast to make an American Brown tomorrow.  I need the carboy as well to ferment the brown.
My other carboy is being used to lager an Oktoberfest I made on October 22nd.

I packaged 60 bottles of Pale and racked a similar amount of IPA.
I intend to perform the same operation next week with the brown.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's Happening at BCB

First, thank you, veterans, for your courage and commitment to our nation on this and every day.
There's some stuff happening here at BCB right now.
Since my last post I started drinking the Blonde Ale I was so worried about.  Apparently the odd bubbles I saw on the surface of the wort were perfectly normal.  The beer tastes good and I have no worries about sanitation.
The Bitter I made after that is pretty nice too.
I made my first Nashville lager, an Oktoberfest a couple of weeks ago.  I did a decoction as always with this beer.  

It's going to be in the fermenter for a while longer before I start racking and bottling.
I'll harvest some of the yeast to make a Winter Bock in a month or two. 

I recently learned that while I was making an American pale last week an earlier version was earning a 3rd place in the American Ales category at the 2011 Music City Brew Off.
As I've said before, I'm thrilled to place with a Pale.  Since this category usually gets more entries than most, even getting an honorable mention means you're probably making pretty good beer.  What I'm really interested in, though, are the score sheets.  That's where you really find out how your beer was perceived by people who know and appreciate beer.
Anyway, I racked the Pale into my plastic fermenter yesterday (because there was no other place to put it) so I could harvest California Ale yeast to make a Veteran's Day IPA.
I hit just about every measurement during the process and have strong expectations that this will be a competition beer.  The color might be a bit light for some but I think it'll be within the style guidelines.
I put everything in my new beer room for the moment.
The room will look much nicer when I get shelves built and gently used carpet squares installed.
 I'll bottle the Pale next week, rack the IPA into the bucket and harvest the yeast again so I can make my wife an American Brown next Friday.
Tonight after work I think I'll enjoy some of my labor's fruit.
Good Beer To You.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yeast and Bubbles

Last week's yeast problem turned out to be not much of a problem at all.  I made a new starter of British Ale II intending to decide at brew time if I should pitch both samples.  I discovered, as I let the new batch of yeast start, that the first batch had begun to take off and that I probably could have used the starter I was complaining about.  Not wanting to over-pitch I threw the first starter away and went with the second sample, which was accelerating normally.
The beer seems to be fermenting well during the four days since I pitched.  But I have noticed an odd sort of bubble in the foam of this batch.

They seem a bit large, as if maybe there is a film of some sort on the surface of the wort.
I experienced the same phenomena with the Blonde Ale I just made a few weeks ago.  The Blonde tastes as it should so I guess I'm fretting too much over what is probably nothing.
However, I do expect cleaner looking Krausen on the beer I make.
Good Beer To You.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Slow Yeast

I wanted to make an English Pale today but was stopped by a very slow starting yeast.   I popped the inside packet of a pouch of Wyeast 1335 yesterday about 9AM thinking I was going to boil up a quart of dry malt about noon and make a healthy starter for today's brew.
About 4:30, despite the dismal growth of the pouch, and the manufacture date stamp of May 11, I made the wort and put it all in the growler I use for such things.
Late last night, nothing.
This morning, nothing.

I headed back to the brew shop and told them what happened but without the used pouch, I coud not get a replacement.  I ended up buying a pouch that was made in August and a pound of dry malt and headed back home.
When I got here I shook the old yeast up one more time and got a small release of CO2.
It's still going very slowly.  I think I'll pitch the second pack into the wort today and see what happens

Next time I'll remember to save the old pouch for evidence.  But C'mon. I was in the shop less than 48 hours ago.  I would not burn 4 bucks worth of gas and drive clear accross town just to get a free pouch of British Ale yeast.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The New Brewery Is Open

Today I'm making an American Brown ale in the new Nashville brewery.
The space is larger than the one I had in Memphis and there is a cool bonus. Whoever refurbished this place built me a nice beer room right in the middle of the floor plan.  It's about 6 by 6 and has a can light in the ceiling.
I can't wait to fill it up.  Shelves will need to be erected first.
I've decided to taste a few beers made here before I start messing with the water.  I might not need to do much of anything to it but we'll see.
 The first beer I made in here was an extract pale.  It's not my best work, but considering the old hops I was using and a limited control over some of the ingredients, it tastes pretty good.
The only problem with this house is that the kitchen is all the way upstairs with a sink that does not lend itself to the bottling process.  It looks like I'm going to have to find a way to accomplish that right here with the cold water supply and no sink.

Friday, June 24, 2011

So Long Memphis

On May 28th, my daughter, Hallie and I officially joined  my wife, Jennifer in Nashville.
Jennifer started a new job here in March but Hallie needed to finish the first grade so I stayed with her in Memphis while we readied the house for sale.

We had only been gone for a few days when we received an offer and, while working out details of the sale,  I have been travelling to Memphis meeting repair professionals and movers.  We closed on Wednesday and I shut the door on the Memphis brewery for good.

I guess that leaves BCB a bit up in the air.
It might not be appropriate to write a blog about 'Making and Drinking Beer in Memphis' from Nashville since I will no longer be making it there, although I am excited about the Memphis beer scene and will enjoy Memphis beer when I'm in town.
I don't want to completely re-brand either.  So I'll need to change my slogan to something that reflects what I'm going to do in middle Tennessee.
For now I'll just remove the word Memphis from my header until I figure everything out.
I do want to join the local home brew club here.  The Music City Brewers are a really good bunch of men and women who, besides being skilled brewers, made our Home Brew Extravaganza 2011 a great success with their volunteerism and considerable knowledge.  I want to be a part of such a club.
I want to make great beer here too, but that probably needs to wait until I can get the family and my equipment settled in a new house.  Right now everything is buried in the small garage that came with our apartment.

I've managed to bring a bit of beer along to Nashville but supplies are running low and I'll need to make more soon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bottling an American Brown

Bottling day isn't usually something a homebrewer looks forward to.  My brown ale could have benefited from another day or two in the fermenter, but I needed the yeast for an American Pale I was to make the following day and I decided 7 days (instead of 10) to finish this beer would be just fine.
With our family in the middle of a move to Nashville, Jennifer is not home part of the week and I have to be a single dad. 
Getting the job done and spending time with my daughter meant that I would have to employ a helper.
Hallie did a great job.  After I filled the bottles she carefully placed a clean cap on each so that I could crown them with my capper.

This will be a good beer.  Malty and bready with a strong hop flavor.
Too bad Hallie won't be able to try any of it for about 14 years.
Anyway she says "beer is not for girls."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Logo

The above logo was designed by my pal Andris Linder, whom I work with on my day job.  I asked him to help me produce a logo that I could use as my brand in case I ever developed the stones to actually start my brewery project in earnest.
This was the first, and I think best, of the four he designed. 
It turned out wonderfully and I'm grateful for his talent.
I'll be making a case of American Amber for him as a small thank you for his effort.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beer In a Bucket

It was a rough year, 2010.
Not all of it, of course.
Last February's competition win was about as spectacular as I had ever imagined it could be.
But since then, things have been a struggle.
I broke my hydrometer into a batch of Rye IPA and had to pour it out.
I got careless with sanitation and had to dump a batch of Belgian Tripel.
I broke my two biggest carboys on different occasions.
Got scores in the mid 20s on 3 different entries.
I sent my kettle onto the concrete with a sloppy fill of mash water.
And most recently, I ditched a Steam Beer because it didn't smell or taste right.
I guess that one doesn't count since it happened just the other day, in 2011.
So I hope today's IPA ferments well.
Since I'm using my remaining carboy to try saving an 80 shilling Scottish that seems to have stopped at 1.026, the old school plastic bucket got dusted off and re-employed.
I hit my temperatures, volumes, gravity--all the critical parameters, correctly despite the cold and a frozen outdoor spigot and hose.
I made a fresh starter of California Ale Yeast and it seems to be starting well.
I hope this batch marks the start of a good year.