Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Years' Homebrew List

I brought up all 4 of the Experimentales, the Antigoon and Brabo, and the Costco Clover Mead. My brother-in-law, Ed, brought up a cider, cizon, oatmeal stout, and 3 other ales. A total of 13 homebrews will be served on 6 taps for about 30 or so friends and family over the next week. Happy New Year!

Deep Fry!

Andrew adding oil to the deep fryer for a week's full of healthy meals. Sent from my mobile phone.

Cuttin' Spuds

We're up in Big Bear for our annual New Years' Bash. Our new toys this year are a deep fryer and a restaurant quality french fry cutter. Sent from my mobile phone.

Friday, December 5, 2008

12th Annual Strong Ale Festival

Only half of the beer list at this years's Strong Ale Festival at Pizza Port in Carlsbad. We had some amazing brews! The minimum requirement is 8% ABV. Sent from my mobile phone.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Experimentale Brew 4, November 29 2008

Today's earlier batch had a minor issue of over yield. Due to an over water addition, I ended up with more than 5 gallons. Though I boiled harder and longer (get your mind out of the gutter), I still ended up with too much wort. Of course, this reduced expected gravity as well. Since I do not want to bottle any thing out, I ended up pouring the overflow on the yeast bed of Experimentale 2 then corrected this recipe. The goal for this batch is to go short for yield. I'm hoping to yield about 4.5 gallons for a net of 5 gallons in primary.

Brilliant use of evolution in a Guiness Commercial:
(dig the KT event followed by the little eoraptors)

Experimentale Brew 4

5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

4lbs. Wheat Malt
4lbs. Pilsener
2lbs. Domestic Two-Row
2lbs. Vienna
1lb. Munich

0.9oz. Homegrown Centennial 60min.
1 Whirlfloc Tab 20min.
1/2oz. Hallertauer 20min.
1/4oz. Styrian Goldings 1min.

OG: 1.060
FG: 1.008
ABV: 6.9%

White Labs, California Ale Yeast- Racked on Experimentale Brew 2

Experimentale Brew 3, November 29 2008

Time to utilize the time saver when brewing multiple batches for an upcoming event: racking on a yeast bed. This is certainly a debatable technique but very practical for the homebrewer. Basically, you rack off a previous batch to its secondary tank and instead of cleaning the primary, simply pour in new wort. This saves time otherwise spent cleaning the primary and making another yeast starter (no need to buy more yeast too).

I'm not a fan of the American Light Lager but this commercial is hilarious:

Experimentale Brew 3

5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 100 Minute Boil

5lbs. Wheat Malt
3lbs. Pilsener
2lbs. Domestic Two-Row
2lbs. Vienna

0.9oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
1 Whirlfloc Tab 20min.
1/2oz. Hallertauer 20min.

OG: 1.050 (Not expected, see Experimentale 4)
FG: 1.006
ABV: 5.9%

White Labs, California Ale Yeast- Racked on Experimentale Brew 1

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brabo, November 28 2008

To continue my Antwerp legend from last weekend, the giant Antigoon continues to chop off hands of all those that do not pay a toll to cross the river Scheldt. After chopping off each hand, Antigoon tosses it in the river. Nice guy, huh!?
Along comes Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier, who gives Antigoon a taste of his own. Brabo chops off a hand from the giant and tosses it in the river. The name Antwerp translates to "hand-throwing". To the left is the statue of Brabo's victory throw and is located in front of Antwerp's city hall.
This brew will be racked on top of the Antigoon using the Antwerp yeast.

Brabo, November 28 2008

5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

5lbs. Pilsener Malt
5lbs. Wheat Malt
2lbs. Domestic 2-Row
2lbs. Vienna
1lb. Munich

2oz. Homegrown Magnum 60min.
1/2oz. Styrian Golding* 20min.
1/4oz. Styrian Golding* 10min.
1/4oz. Styrian Golding* 5min.

White Labs, Antwerp Ale WLP515 Platinum Strain

OG: 1.074
FG: 1.016
ABV: 7.7%

*A huge thanks to Dean of San Diego Brewing Company for gifting all members of QUAFF with Styrian Golding hops for the holidays.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Experimentale Brew 2, November 23 2008

Who does number two work for!? So here's the second one of the day. There are several similarities to Experimentale Brew 1. With a number of tasters during the New Year's Bash, I can have a tasting of the four variations of recipes. Hopefully I'll be sober enough (and tasters too) to administer a blind tasting for overall impressions.

Experimentale Brew 2

5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

4lbs. Pilsener
3lbs. Wiener Malz Vienna
2lbs. Domestic Two-Row
2lbs. Franco-Belges Munich
2lbs. Wheat Malt

1oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
1 Whirlfloc Tab 20min.
1/2oz. Spalt 10min.
1/2oz. Spalt 5min.

OG: 1.070
FG: 1.017
ABV: 7.2%

White Labs, California Ale Yeast

Experimentale Brew 1, November 23 2008

This is an off style recipe for an ale but how can I go wrong!? This brew is one of many for mass consumption at our New Year's Bash up in Big Bear. I will be making 4 beers with variations of like grains and hops.

Experimentale Brew 1

5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

4lbs. Pilsener
3lbs. Domestic Two-Row
3lbs. Franco-Belges Munich
2lbs. Wheat Malt

1.3oz. Homegrown Centennial 60min.
1 Whirlfloc Tab 15min.
1/2oz. Spalt 10min.
1/2oz. Spalt 5min.

OG: 1.062
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.1%

White Labs, California Ale Yeast

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Antigoon, November 22 2008

I just picked up a platinum yeast strain and had to read up on the origin. White Labs releases seasonal yeast strains and I was itching to try something new. Antwerp Ale WLP515 is a Belgian yeast strain. Antwerp is in the western region of Belgium and the name comes from a legend translating to "hand-throwing". A giant by the name of Antigoon, shown as the towering statue to the right, would chop off hands and throw them in the Scheldt River for travelers who didn't pay his toll.

Antigoon, November 22 2008

5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

5lbs. Pilsener Malt
4lbs. Wheat Malt
2lbs. Domestic 2-Row
2lbs. Vienna

0.75oz. Homegrown Vojvodina 60min.
1oz. Saaz 5min.

White Labs, Antwerp Ale WLP515 Platinum Strain

OG: 1.071
FG: 1.016
ABV: 7.3%

Friday, October 31, 2008

Goat Hill Tavern on Halloween

Happy Halloween! Our good friends Sarah and Dave. Sent from my mobile phone.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wine Barrels

After rinsing, Andrew is filling the barrels with filtered water. This is temporary until new juice is racked in. Sent from my mobile phone.

Wine Bottling

We're bottling out Dave's 2006 Zinfandel, Cabarenet, and a Port. The totals are around 50 gallons of wine. Nice! Sent from my mobile phone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hops Storage

After a great weekend of wine tasting in Santa Barbara county and back from a summer of adventure, its time to get all the hops off the vines and in storage.
This year, we could always pick more than we could handle. Since the dehydrator can only hold about 4 square feet of hops, I spread the rest on a table on top of a paper towel.Spacing between the cones is key. Too close and the moisture gets trapped and turns your hops brown. Another thing I've found useful is to have a fan lightly blowing on the hops. An overhead fan would probably work the best but I just use a stand up fan. Above is about 7 ounces (dry weight) of centennial hops.
Here's some of the bigger centennial cones. Large but not as big as the chinook cones. Magnum cones get this big as well and the vojvodina hops are significantly smaller.
I dehydrate all of my hops until they are papery dry. After, I cut a foodsaver bag at three notch lengths (marked on the side of the bag roll). This size allows me to seal hops in 1-1.5 ounce incraments, perfect for sizing hop additions.
I fill the hops to the top of the bag then gently squish them down so there's enough head space to close the vacuum sealer mechanism and to ensure a clean seal.
Before sucking and sealing, I like to distribute the hops evenly in the bag. This will allow the bag to seal flat for easier storage.
While the foodsaver is vacuuming out the air, I press lightly to make sure the bag will seal as flat as possible. This is important since freezer room is really limited. Several flat bags take up very little space compared to clumpy bags.
Mission accomplished, hops are now vacuum sealed for seasonal storage in the freezer.
I adjust my scale to the weight of a three-notch length foodsaver bag and easily weigh the contents after sealing.
Label, date, and weight. Hopefully, you can see how flat the hops have been pressed after vacuum sealing.
In my hand is over 1/2 pound of great hops!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Foxen Winery Wine Tasting

Spent the day wine tasting in Santa Barbara. We mostly visited wineries that we've never been to before. We visited Curtis, Zaca Mesa, Foxen, Rancho Sisquoc, and Kenneth Volk. This is the tasting room for Foxen, we learned that it was once used as a blacksmith's shop. Not exactly sure where their winery is at. Ken Volk was a found gem, great wines all around. Sent from my mobile phone.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cheese Off The Press

The colby is now out of the press and will air dry for 2 days. Weird that it just sits out in the open. Last night, the cheese went through a series of increasing pressure, removing, and flipping. Overnight, the colby was under 50 pounds of pressure in the press. After 2 days of drying, Andrew will wax the cheese and age it at 50'F for about 2 months. Sent from my mobile phone.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Making Colby Cheese

Making CHEESE! Its a slow process but as a brewer, I wouldn't know anything about that! Here are the curds after being cooled and separated from the whey. This will be ready in about 2 months. Sent from my mobile phone.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Allagash fluxus

On the 9th tasting and this is a clear winner thus far. The fluxus, by Allagash Brewing in Portland Maine, is an "Ale Brewed with Spices". Sent from my mobile phone.

Hi-Times Beer Tasting

Another picture of Hi-Times tasting area! Sent from my mobile phone.

End The Summer Light

We're at Hi-Times Wine Cellar for a beer tasting. The theme is "End The Summer Light". The focus seems to be off-beat wheat. Wits, hefes, saisons, and more are on the 13 beer tasting session menu. Sent from my mobile phone.

Pizza Port Carlsbad

We stopped at Pizza Port on our way north. The food is great and the beer is always outstanding. Its nice to be here during the day for a change. The weekend mission is camping and wine tasting in central coast, California. We're stopping in Orange County tonight for a tasting event at Hi-Times Wine Cellar. Tomorrow, we're planning on making cheese with
Sent from my mobile phone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vojvodina and Centennial Harvest

Here's me picking the vojvodina hops. The ladder is 6 feet to give you an idea where the top of the trellis is. Vojvodina has a very low yield, small cones, and are delicate to pick. The bitterness is on the lower end and quite smooth. The aromatics remind me of hallertauer but its more subtle. We filled a half brown grocery bag with all of the vojvodina cones that were ready, some new cone growth was apparent. We also filled an entire bag with centennial. We barely put a dent in the hop picking today. The vines that made it this year are just loaded! Sent from my mobile phone.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Centennial and Magnum Harvest

My wife, Michelle, and brother-in-law, Jim, picking as many centennial hops as we can manage dehydrating at the time. I also picked all of the ready hops from the magnum vines. Though we picked quite a bit, we didn't even make a dent in the quantity of ready-to-pick hops.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kona Cocktail

Our great friends, Sarah and Dave! Of course, Dave had to order the fruitiest cocktail! Sent from my mobile phone.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Kona Brewing Co.

Arrived on the Big Island of Hawaii last night. Had to stop at Kona Brewing Co. for lunch and beers. of course! Aloha! Sent from my mobile phone.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hop Farm, July 28 2008

Harvest Time!
We were at the hop farm this weekend for my wife's PhD party when I noticed that several vines are ready for harvesting. Actually, there were more hops ready than I can possibly handle to process. Next year, I simply have to make a large dehydrator. Today we picked about a pound or so of chinook and centennial hops (that's what it will amount to after dehydration).
Here's the current view of the farm. All but one mound has grown (the bottom row chinook that was torn up by rabbits). Magnum, as usual has just started cone production. Though the top row centennial had trouble getting started this year, its counter part on the bottom row is nearly ready for harvest. I picked all I could from the top row which was completely ready.
Of course, its always nice to have help. My wife, Dr. Michelle, and Dr. Courtney (I don't think I could have found smarter assistants!) helped pick the chinook. There were so many to pick that I had to tell them to stop. Our dehydrator can only hold so much and while I can lay out hops on tables in the house to start drying, we're leaving for Hawaii on Friday. I want to make sure everything is dehydrated and vacuum sealed by then.
Above is a view of the top wire chinook. A few weeks ago, these were just getting started. The density is likely attributed to a good watering schedule and a good manure base at the season start.
I'm always impressed with the size of the chinook hops we grow. They are large, healthy, and very abundant. Also, their stability for storage is amazing. In the background are the hops that didn't fit in the dehydrator. They'll need to wait for about 48 hours before being moved to dehydrator.
Here's one of the bigger of the chinook cones. In my last blog, people wanted to know if I had small hands. Very good question since it seems unlikely to have a hop cone the length of any finger. I wouldn't call my hands small by they aren't large either. My glove size is typically small to medium.
If my hand doesn't give you a sense of how big these cones are, then perhaps this will better scale the chinook hops.
Here's the dehydrator we use. The capacity is great for its compact size. Considering that we only use it for hops, it readily fits in a cabinet for storage during the rest of the year. Though building a larger dehydrator will be very necessary next year, this works for smaller batches.
A nicer dehydrator can be a bit expensive, even for a used one on eBay. To dehydrate hops, it is very important that no heat is applied. I keep our dehydrator at 85 where it produces no heat. The only heat comes from the electrical fan in operation. I feel like I've posted all these details in my last blog, dejavu! This dehydrator has settings for other applications but we only used it for hops.
Above you can see the four racks in the dehydrator. Next harvest, I'll show how much surface area this particular model has. I think the racks are 1 foot by 1 foot but they might be a bit bigger. Straight off the vine, hops typically need about 48 hours. The hops on the table will only need about 24 hours.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Irish Oatmeal Stout, July 24 2008

"Smells like there's cookies in the oven, Sean." "Aye, but that's just steel cut oats toasting for today's brew. "
I really can't remember the last time I made a "dark" beer and also the last time my grain bill was this insane. Here's hoping that the I used enough oatmeal and that it comes through (at least in texture). Also, I hope this isn't too much roast.

Irish Oatmeal Stout

5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion, 70 min. Boil

1lb. McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal toasted at 350'F for 20 minutes
7lbs. Domestic 2-Row
1lb. Munich
1lb. White Wheat
3/4lb. Chocolate
1/2lb. Caravienne
1/2lb. Victory
1/2lb. Black Roasted Barley
1/4lb. Black Patent

1/4oz. Horizon 11.6% 60min.

White Labs Irish Ale Yeast

Original Gravity 1.055
(Wasn't paying close attention to my sparge. I notice a drop in efficiency when my sparge runs too quickly.)

Update: July 30th
Racked to the secondary yesterday. Ferment had difficulty staying in my 6.5 gallon carboy. Current gravity is 1.015. A bit too much on the roasty side but I wanted the beer to stay fresh throughout the fall. It will sit in the secondary while we are in Hawaii until August 10th.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dr. Miche-ale

This is brew 2 for my wife's (Michelle) post-defense happy hour. The name is simply a play on her name for kicks and giggles but no one will ask for the name of either of the brews I will have on tap. This is the lighter of the two, to satisfy the "light is what I drink" crowd. Really, I'm super proud of my girl! She's experienced lots of research frustration and patience and truly deserves recognition. We plan on an entire weekend of celebration! Below is a picture of Michelle during a quick-stop at lab on a weekend a couple of years ago. I know, she's a bit out of safety compliance but, she 's pro!Dr. Miche-Ale
5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

11lbs. Domestic Two-Row
1/2lb. Crystal 60
1/2lb. Victory

1oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
1/2oz. Amarillo 7% 30min.
1 Whirlfloc Tab 15min.
1/2oz. Amarillo 7% 5min.

Safale, US-05
Racked on previous yeast bed from Celebration Ale

Costco Clover Dry Mead

At the end of the year, we were at Costco stocking up for our New Year's party in Big Bear when a 6 pound bottle of clover honey for $7.99 caught my eye. I picked up two bottles with the intention of making a very inexpensive mead. Honey prices have gone up quite a bit and this was certainly a deal! Though I could have made this mead months ago, I wanted to do some more research since my first 2 attempts were relatively in the dark. During last month's QUAFF meeting, Harold gave a presentation with a procedure that I could easily follow.
Costco Clover Dry Mead
5 Gallons, No Heat
12lbs. Busy Bee Pure Clover Honey
4 Gallons Carbon-Filtered Water
1/4 tsp. Diamonium Phosphate
1/8 tsp. Fermaid K
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient

Mixed thoroughly (takes a long time to do this manually)

OG: 1098
pH: 4.55

Oxygen, 4 minutes via aeration stone

Yeast Batting Line-up (rehydrated combined at 105'F):
1 Pack Lalvin Ec 1118 (Champagne)
2 Packs Red Star Premier Cuvee

I will follow up with all of the baby-sitting tasks during the first week (nutrient additions, pH, adjusting pH, etc).

UPDATE: July 12th
Tested pH: 3.44
Added 1/8 tsp. DAP, 1/16 tsp. Fermaid K, and 1/2 tsp. Calcium Carbonate (raise pH)
Stirred for two minutes and retested pH: 3.69
Added 1/2 tsp. Calcium Carbonate, stirred, and retested pH: 3.90

UPDATE: July 14th
Tested pH: 3.57
Added 1/8 tsp. DAP, 1/16 tsp. Fermaid K, and 1 tsp. Calcium Carbonate (raise pH)
Stirred for two minutes and retested pH: 4.0

UPDATE: July 16th
Tested pH: 3.79
Added 1/8 tsp. DAP, 1/16 tsp. Fermaid K, and 1/2 tsp. Calcium Carbonate (raise pH)
Stirred for two minutes and retested pH: 3.96
This concludes the nutrient additions though I will revisit pH at the end of the weekend to keep it above 3.8 (though I just saw that Harold wrote that pH should ideally be 4.0-4.2). After the weekend, I'll rack to a 5 gallon carboy. There it will sit until December.

UPDATE: November 23rd
FG: 0994
I will rack this into a keg tomorrow. This is the first time I've had mead come out with a nice flavor and no perceivable fusel alcohol. A big thanks to Harold for the tips! I think I will carbonate this for some holiday sparkling mead.
Original: 1.098
Final: 0.994
Alcohol By Weight: 11.1 %
Alcohol By Volume: 13.9 %

Thursday, July 3, 2008

There's a Doctor in the House, Celebration Ale

My wife has her PhD thesis defense on July 25th. This is the formal conclusion of her PhD research. Basically, she will be giving a public presentation on her research. Though the public is invited to attend, the presentation is mostly attended by her dissertation committee, research associates, and family and friends. After the defense, the lab celebrates with beer and champagne. I'm planning on having two homebrews available.

There's a Doctor in the House, Celebration Ale
5 Gallons, All Grain, Single Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

11lbs. Domestic Two-Row
3/4lb. Crystal 60
1/4lb. Victory
2oz. Special Roast
2oz. Black Patent
2oz. Black Roasted Barely

1oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
1/4oz. Homegrown Chinook 30min.
1/4oz. Homegrown Centennial 30min.
1 Whirlfloc Tab 20min.
1/2oz. Hallertauer 4.2% 5min.

Safale, US-05 with a 24hr yeast starter
I've never used dried yeast before and thought that I'd give it a try. Dried yeast is significantly cheaper and many claim they're great. This strain is similar WLP001, White Labs California Ale. I know the California Ale yeast strain very well so it should be an interesting comparison.

Hop Farm, July 2 2008

Just another update on the farm. The centennial vines on the bottom row have finally taken off. Unfortunately, rabbits continue to beat on the new chinook section. One mound was even dug up completely. There's nothing I can do for that one this season. Next year, the bottom row will receive more attention to protect them from rabbits. Below shows before trimming. I used all of the trimmings to border the new chinook plants for protection.
Chinook is doing well with hops. Below shows the hop density with many more on the way. I picked about one ounce that was ready but most need another week or two. Just have to wait until the cones are lighter and paper-like.
The chinook has just started its second flowering and its really an explosion! I don't think they have flowered with this kind of density before. Below, you can see a cluster area of new cones.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June QUAFF Meeting

At Callahan's for the monthly QUAFF meeting. Shared my German Pilsner. Harold gave a presentation on mead making. Reminded me that I have some honey from Costco that I need to get fermenting! QUAFF meetings are always fun, tasty, and educational!
Sent from my mobile phone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hop Farm, June 22 2008

The back-flow preventer sprung a leak so we made a trip to the hop farm to replace it. I was also curious to see if the trimmings barrier strategy was effective.
Turns out that a number of chinook cones were ready for harvesting. A JUNE HARVEST! After dehydrating the picked cones, it will likely amount to 1.5 ounces or so.
The weather in southern California has been very warm. I bumped up the watering duration to 1 hour twice daily to ensure they are getting plenty.

Above is a good image to see the progress the bottom row has made in just a week. Even the far left of the bottom row is making progress (previously mauled by rabbits and squirrels). Looking to the middle row, there's more vegetation than last week. Again, I trimmed back but not too much. The main vines have got to be protected!

Here's a wider shot showing the growth during the past week. Established vines are all in cone production!