Saturday, December 19, 2009

Third Thursday Drink About

On Thursday night, we joined the inaugural Third Thursday Drink About hosted by local bars. Our friend Kara flagged this opportunity at the last minute and Michelle and I knew it would be good times. Two buses from Brewery Tours of San Diego traveled in opposite directions making stops at 8 local craft beer bars. The bus was FREE and was in operation from 8pm-midnight. Bars would simply ring a bell to let you know the bus is outside. Typically, the buses were about 20 minutes apart.
We started at Small Bar, then took the bus to Hamilton's, and finally to Toronado. We were a bit worried that the bus would simply abandon the route at midnight, leaving us stranded. If that happened, we knew we'd only have to walk home which would have been less than a mile, albeit unchillindamos. The buses did one more loop beyond midnight to make sure everyone got where they needed to be at the end of the event, nice touch!
The buses were mostly busy and full. With word of mouth, this may be an epic event every month around here. Towards the end of the evening the bus crowd was a little rowdy but all in good fun. There were probably more drinkers than beer fanatics on the bus; quite evident with one person opening a grocery bag and distributing cans of Tecate and numerous others vulgarly expressing their inebriated mission for the evening. As with any other tasting event, I ran into a few QUAFFers and recognized a handful of the local beer fanatics.
I did have another beer from Hollister Brewing Company in Goleta (just north of Santa Barbara). A person on the bus told me that the brewer of Hollister was hosting a tasting at Toronado and some of the beers were still on tap. I had their aged bourbon barrel (porter, I think) served from nitrogen and a creamer faucet and it was quite tasty. Michelle also had another of their beers. Its a bit foggy, but I remember it tasting like an imperial wheat ale. They had several other on tap but I tried to visit their website to recall what we had and there's nothing beyond their home page. Shout @ Hollister Brewing - You guys need to get your website going so we can see your beer list!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

45 Gallons Enqueued

Yesterday, I finished racking all of the recent brews. I will post current gravities in the original brew recipe entries. Temp of beer during racking was 66° F. Gotta love that carboy lineup! (9 5-gallon carboys)

Update 12/22: Massive kegging operation ensued. Final gravities and calculated ABVs are located in the original recipe post, One Weekend, 8 Batches - 40 Gallons of Homebrew. Doing tasks like this in bulk is time consuming yet very efficient. 6 of these beers go up to Big Bear for our New Year's Bash and 2 go to Ed to resupply his kegerator in Pacific Beach.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

13th Annual Strong Ale Festival at Pizza Port

Pizza Port Brewing Company has a number of festivals throughout the year but this one is typically my favorite. I was in chillindamos mode so no detailed tasting notes to be found here. I did see one person taking detailed notes. In fact, this guy is a beer fest regular. After spending a number of years going to beer festivals in San Diego, you start recognizing the crowd! I don't think I had any San Diego beers this time since I've been well versed in local brews and had mostly local brews at the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival a few weeks ago.
I sampled a number of brews and as you can imagine, my mental notes increasingly became foggy as the night went on. From the above list, I had:
  • Baltic Porter from Alaskan Brewing (anything I've had from Alaskan Brewing has been great so this was an easy selection)
  • Very Noddy, an Imperial Schwarzbier from Buckbean in Reno (Schwarzbier is a rare find and a type of beer I've been wanting to brew)
  • Hopsquatch, a Barleywine from Four Peaks in Tempe (insane beer, 'nouf said)
Above is the backside of the list for a total of 67 beers. There was also a VIP list but we never got around to asking for any of those brews. On this list, I had:
  • Hip Hop IPA from Holister Brew Co (near where I went to college [UCSB] so I had to sample their beer)
  • Moylander, a Double IPA from Moylan's (gotta love Moylan's, good brew from what I remember)
  • Salvation, a Strong Dark Ale from Russian River (I've had this before, awesome brew)
  • The Empire Strikes Black from Sierra Nevada (this is a collaboration beer from one of my all-time favs, very awesome beer)
  • 10th Anniversary Double Alt from Tenaya Creek in Las Vegas (Tenaya Who!? I was surprised that in ten years of operation, I had never heard of Tenaya Creek Brewing. Being an Alt at a strong ale festival, I had to try it. This beer is my best of show! Their Double Alt was surprisingly well balanced and exemplified the altbier style [doubled, of course].
  • Yakima Twilight, an American Strong from Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA (after our trip to Philly last summer, I felt inclined to try have a Pennsylvanian beer, good brew)
As usual, the fest was packed but I did spot a number of great pro brewers, homebrewers, and general beer fanatics. Wrangling the operation was Tomme Arthur and Tom Nickel/Jeff Bagby (saw either Tom or Jeff - couldn't remember who's who) of the Lost Abbey and Port Brewing. I also saw Patrick Rue of The Bruery and Dean of San Diego Brew Co. Members of White Labs were there as well as a handful of fellow QUAFFers. Said hi to Doug, who's friends with Seanywonton, and has been working in the Pizza Port bottle shop. Doug had great news. He just started working at The Bruery and just did his first mash. Congrats and good luck, Doug!
Cheers and Chillindamos!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Small Bar on Black Friday


About a 15 minute walk from our house in University Heights (just another awesome community in San Diego), is a new addition to our famed beer neighborhood, The Small Bar. Small on seating but big on beer, The Small Bar hosted our homebrew club, QUAFF, this Black Friday. They also gave us a much appreciated discount. I much rather drink away the Friday rather than shop the ridiculous discounts. A little tipsy upon the return home, chillindamos!

video

Look at that beer list! Its easy to waste a day or two here. The video pans the bar and finishes with my brother and sister (in-laws) enjoying the afternoon. I think the bar is more medium-small than "small" in my opinion. I've experienced smaller but this place packs lots of beer goodness in a medium-small footprint.

I had a Houblon Chouffe IPA to start which I'm really taking a liking to. I then had an Anchor Steam Humming Ale, which was awesome. I'm partial to Anchor Steam as it was a desired beer when I was discovering (then-named) microbrews. Last, I had Rogue Brewing's Maierfest. I must have any German-style lager on tap and this was in my sights. It would have been first if not the Chouffe and Anchor Steam distractions! It was a nice brew with honey-like aroma and flavor. Makes me wonder if they tried a decoction mash to pull out rich melanoidins (or maybe they included a melanoidin malt or Gambinus honey malt).

Agave Smoked Porter

After having my Agave Vienna Lager, Larry at our favorite tequileria, Cantina Mayahuel, hooked me up with some high quality agave nectar for my next batch. He was excited the beer featured agave but nearly was appalled that I used a grocery store branded agave source. Michelle and I did a taste test comparing Trader Joe's Organic Agave Nectar with the Cantina's secret source. Larry's agave nectar was sweeter, richer, more aromatic, and much darker than Trader Joe's.


Left: The cantina packages their agave nectar in used Los Abuelos Tequila bottles.
Right: Agave nectar pours like syrup in viscosity and color.

I will maintain the same amount of agave nectar used in the Agave Vienna (8 fluid ounces) since that volume seemed to do very well (my first attempt brewing with agave nectar was a tad over ambitious). I'm considering when to add the nectar. Knowing that heat destroys aroma and flavor when working with honey in mead, I'm considering adding the nectar at the end of the boil (just enough time to sanitize) or take the risk and add it in the primary fermenter (post chilling - not the same as chillindamos).
On another note, this will be my first attempt in brewing a smoked beer. I'm not sure why I haven't tried to do this yet. I've done some "research" on the style. Stone Brewing's Smoked Porter and Alaskan Brewing's Smoked Porter set the bar very high. I have several beer buddies that rank these beers high on their list and for good reason! Outside of drinking the research is listening to the Jamil Show's podcast on Smoked Beer (downloads mp3 of podcast) available from The Brewing Network. Jamil shares a number of insights and his award winning Smoked Robust Porter recipe using either extract or all grain.

2009 Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter
(notice the fine etching on that pint glass!)

There are a number of considerations when using and/or smoking your own malt. I decided to go moderately on the smoked malt using 2lbs. of German Rauch malt. Jamil Zainasheff's recipe calls for 2.25lbs. of rauch malt and though I don't want to hinder the subtle flavors and aromas that the agave may also contribute, I hear the smoke flavors and aromas will mellow over time. He also suggests going easy on the smoked malt the first time, then adjusting the amount in future brews. Since his recipe calls for 2.25 pounds of rauch malt, I figure that 2 pounds is a good amount to start with.

Roasting agave piñas to develop sugars (source below).
I would love to be able to find out what the above image of roasting agave piñas would smell like. Someday, I'll make a chillindamos trip down to Tequila to find out.

Agave Smoked Porter, Brewed November 29 2009
5 Gallons, Grain/Adjunct, Single Infusion, 90 Minute Boil

7lbs. Domestic 2-Row
2lbs. German Rauch Malt
1lb. Chocolate Malt
0.25lb. Crystal Malt 60°L
0.125lb. Black Roasted Barley

Mash:
152-154°F for 60min.
Raised to 165°F for Mashout

Added at the end of boil:
8 fl. ounces Secret Sourced Premium Agave Nectar

1oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
Whirlfloc tab 20min.
0.25oz. Hallertauer 5min.
0.25oz. Saaz 5min.
Racked on yeast bed of Winter Warmer (White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast)

Fermentation will take place below the lower end of WLP001's optimal range. The current house temperature ranges from 58-65°F.

Update 12/12: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.012 at 66°F.

OG: 1.067 at 76°F
FG: 1.012 at 60°F
ABV: 7.5%

Image Source:
Hesse, Tobias. PICT1311.JPG. Digital image. Tequila - Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 28 Jan. 2006. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. .

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Weekend, 8 Batches - 40 Gallons of Homebrew

Epic Brewing Weekend! A number of buddies came over to help brew the beer for this year's Big Bear Bash party over New Year's. It was a tad chaotic at times but it was fun to include everyone in the process.
My friend Andrew (of imakecheese.com fame) picked up on the process quickly and with Kara's help, was autonomously a brewer by the end of the weekend. Kara works with White Labs and was finally able to experience the process (she brought the yeast, of course). Others learned the difference between extract and grain brewing while some really learned how to clean kegs:

Other tasks were completed over the weekend such as dusting all lagers on tap (no one complained about this task) as well as washing dishes and doing some keg maintenance (gotta lube up those poppet valves every once in a while). Our friend Nick seemed to have an exceptionally great time with the kegs!

We were able to brew 4 5-gallon batches in the 48 hour period. My brother-in-law, Ed, came over with a crew and his extract equipment to brew up 3 5-gallon batches on Saturday. We finished up 1 more extract batch on Sunday. Its been about 8 years since I brewed an extract batch!

Here's the recipe lineup:

Grain Batches:

The Infamous Blueberry Wheat - All Grain, 5 Gallons, Single Infusion, 70min.
7lbs. White Wheat
4lbs. Dom. 2-Row
1oz. Hallertauer 60min.
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
(blueberry added at kegging)
OG: 1.058
Update 12/12: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.010 at 66°F.
FG: 1.008
ABV: 6.8%

Front End Hopped Ale - Grain, 5 Gallons, Single Infusion, 90min.
10lbs. Dom. 2-Row
1lb. Victory
8oz. Crystal 60
2oz. Crystal 80
1oz. Homegrown Centennial 20min.
Whirlfloc 15min.
1oz. Homegrown Centennial 10min.
0.25oz. Cascade 1min.
0.25oz. Perle KO
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.059
Update 12/12: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.012 at 66°F.
FG: 1.013 at 60°F
ABV: 6.3%

Winter Warmer - Grain, 5 Gallons, Single Infusion, 90min.
12lbs. Dom. 2-Row
1lb. Victory
1lb. Crystal 60
4oz. Crystal 80
2oz. Chocolate Malt
1oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
Whirlfloc 15min.
0.5oz. Santium 10min.
0.25oz. Santium 5min.
0.25oz. Santium 1min.
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.069
Update 12/5: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.017 at 64°F.
FG: 1.013 at 60°F
ABV: 7.6%

Amber Pale - Grain, 5 Gallons, Single Infusion, 90min.
10lbs. Dom. 2-Row
4oz. Crystal 80
2oz. Black Roasted Barley
0.5oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
Whirlfloc 15min.
0.5oz. UK East Kent Goldings 5 min.
0.25oz. UK East Kent Goldings KO
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.060
Update 12/12: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.012 at 66°F.
FG: 1.011 at 60°F
ABV: 6.7%

Extract Batches:

Blueberry Wheat - Extract, 5 Gallons, 70min.
5lbs. Liquid Malt Extract
4lbs. Bavarian Wheat Dried Malt Extract
1oz. Hallertauer 60min.
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.060
Update 12/12: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.013 at 66°F.
FG: 1.015 at 60°F
ABV: 6.1%

Front End Hopped IPA - Extract, 5 Gallons, 90min.
9lbs. Liquid Malt Extract
1lb. Crystal 80
4oz. Crystal 60
1oz. Homegrown Chinook 30min.
1oz. Homegrown Centennial 20min.
Whirlfloc 15min.
1oz. Cascade 10min.
1oz. Cascade 5min.
1/2oz. Perle KO
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.077
Update 12/5: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.022 at 64°F.
FG: 1.017 at 60°F
ABV: 8.1%

Big Gay ALe - Extract, 5 Gallons, 90min.
8lbs. Liquid Malt Extract
8oz. Victory
8oz. Crystal 80
4oz. Crystal 60
2oz. Black Roasted Barley
1oz. Homegrown Centennial 60min.
Whirlfloc 15min.
0.5oz. UK East Kent Goldings 10min.
0.5oz. UK East Kent Goldings 5min.
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.060
Update 12/5: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.016 at 64°F.
FG: 1.017 at 60°F
ABV: 5.9%

ALe Pacino - Extract, 5 Gallons, 90min.
8lbs. Liquid Malt Extract
1lb. Chocolate Malt
4oz. Crystal 60
1oz. Homegrown Chinook 60min.
Whirlfloc 15min.
0.5oz. Cascade 10min.
0.5oz. Cascade KO
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.060
Update 12/12: Racked to secondary. Current gravity is 1.015 at 66°F.
FG: 1.016 at 60°F
ABV: 6%

I should have just put some anti-foam in every batch since the day after the above picture was taken, 5 blew through the airlock. Luckily, I was home to catch it before big messes ensued.

I have one more batch to brew next weekend that will feature agave nectar provided to me by my favorite tequileria, Cantina Mayahuel.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tasting The Glenrothes

Trying a single speyside malt scotch whiskey. Yumm, thus far! We started with their 1991 but we'll have to save the others for another night. Before this, I have a Highland Park 15 which is a hard act to follow. I'll have to give the Glenrothes another try since I think my palette is a bit exhausted and I'm a bit tipsy! I like scotch, yum yum yum. Scotch in my belly, yum yum yum.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vinturi Aerator

video
Michelle and I did a side-by-side comparison a couple of nights ago using the Vinturi and the difference was significant! The aeration provided an immediate cut on the perception of tannins, enabling flavors to come through that you usually need to wait for by either decanting, leaving the glass of wine on the table for awhile, or aging the bottle for months or years in the cellar.
On a side note, my new Droid's phone has been taking some time to get used to. The still image was taken at 3mp (out of 5) at a macro setting. And the video was taken at mms quality settings. I was able to send both simultaneously through Gmail rather than dealing with the limitations of mms. I was thinking that Google might have a blogger app for android but with Gmail settings, I may never need something like that!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SDBW, BLAH

Enjoying San Diego Beer Week at Blind Lady Ale House this evening. This is my first update from my Droid and while the image looks like it could be better, its not all that bad considering the low light and still being a cell phone camera.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beer Wars, The Movie

Anyone seen Beer Wars? Gotta put this on my wish list. Here's the trailer:

Another good recommendation for anyone interested is Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer by Maureen Ogle. While history was never my favorite subject (probably because teachers/professors never talked about beer), this book is an awesome read. It gave me a good understanding of how immigration, rivalry, and prohibition not only defined the brewing industry, but also helped shape American culture. Good reading when chillindamos ;-)

Friday, November 6, 2009

SD Brewers Guild Festival

The night is winding down (was packed an hour before this) and the opening night of San Diego Beer Week is officially off to a great start. This is the inside of the World Beat Center in Balboa Park. There are about 10 or so booths inside here and the outside there are about 20 more booths serving beer and food. Several bands and groups performed inside and there was a band that played on an outside stage as well. The Ballast Point Bagpipe group also played inside and out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat

This morning I picked our 2 pepper plants: red pepper (cayenne) and habanero. The habanero plant is getting its third wind this growing season with numerous new flowers. A number of peppers were weighing down the branches, and with more on the way, it was time to make some room. The red pepper, on the other hand, fruited and is now dying. What to do with all this spicy goodness!? I could easily slip a few into some trick or treaters' pumpkins tonight.
...muahahahaHA!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

QUAFF Raffle

Sampled some good homebrews at the QUAFF Oktoberfest picnic and also won a gift card to Blind Lady Ale House in the raffle.

QUAFF Oktoberfest

A very chillindamos picnic weekend. QUAFF knows how to do it right. They reserved a large area at a local park and invited other clubs to join us. They also had a band and held a great raffle with lots of goodies from local breweries and pubs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting Thirsty

Patience is the current state of the kegerator. 30 Gallons await kegging sometime this month. After that, I will be bottling out from each of the batches for competition (something I've never done since I started brewing nearly 10 years ago). Bottling typically sucks but I'm hoping for a smoother experience with the Blichmann BeerGun. The upcoming competitions are for category 3 (European Amber Lagers) and category 18 (Belgian Strong Ales). I think I can only enter one beer per subcategory so the two Viennas and the two Belgians will have to fight for it. Though the pilsner is not eligible for these competition events, I will bottle out some of everything for the QUAFF meeting and to give to a few locals.
The upcoming brew list:
Pilsner - brewed July 2nd
Vienna Lager - brewed July 3rd
Vienna Agave Lager - brewed July 13th
Oktoberfest - brewed July 14th
Belgian Ale - brewed July 31st
Belgian Ale - brewed August 8th

This month will be low key with kegging, bottling, and sampling but next month will be all about the drinking!

Update 9/27: Mass kegging of all 6 brews today. Check out this line-up!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Philly Phun!

Michelle and I just returned from a wedding trip to Pennsylvania. We had Saturday to explore downtown Philadelphia and while Michelle had a worth while mission to experience Dunkin' Donuts and see the Liberty Bell, I needed to find numerous opportunities to chillindamos.
We left our hotel and traveled to the city via the SEPTA (local train) and practically tripped over Dunkin' Donuts, check. With a Dunkaccino and donut in hand, we headed to Monk's Cafe.
Monk's (pictured above) has two bars, one in the front and one in the rear, each with their own dining area. At the table, there's a beer bible that tells the story of Monk's and their famed owner, Tom Peters, who currently is an Ambassadeur to Orval. The bible discusses beer, the brewing process, and most importantly, the bottle list. A supplement card lists their current draughts. One could spend ages here drinking!
I started out with a Chouffe Houblon which was described as a cross between a Belgian triple and an American IPA. This was a good descriptor but being from San Diego, I felt it was more on the pale ale side. The Houblon was an easy drinker. Michelle started with an Allagash White which is always a good choice.
Michelle and I aren't into the cow so a Philly Cheese steak wasn't something we desired while in town. Instead, Monk's had an awesome vegan substitute that was awesome grub. The rest of the menu looked awesome as well.
I then had a La Rulles Estivalle which has a blond ale using Orval yeast and three American hops: Amarillo, Cascade, and Warrior. Another easy drinker with a light body, a lager-like smoothness with citrus notes and slightly sour. Michelle had a Unibroue Ephemere which was similar to a summer wheat ale but green apple infused (not a cider). She really liked this one and it felt like a great summer brew.
After Monk's, we headed over to Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant. Above you can see the outside of the brewery. Nodding Head refers to their collection of bobbleheads, even having their own bobblehead as tap handles. They have seven tanks and thus seven beers on tap. The atmosphere was very casual. Above is the bar at Nodding Head Brewery. I first had their BPA or Bill Payer Ale which was a nice medium bodied malty pale ale. It had a citrusy smooth hop character with caramel flavor in the malt profile, copper in color, and a dense head. Michelle had their Monkey Knife Fight which was a gold lager spiced with ginger and lemongrass, yet another refreshing summer brew. Last, we had a taster of their Berliner Weiss where Nodding Head adds a bit of Woodruff syrup to cut down the sourness.
Later that rainy evening, we returned to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant a couple of doors down from Nodding Head called Su Xing (pronounced SuShing and not Suking!). Good eats! After wandering our way to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (check), we found Triumph Brewing Company. With a focus on German beers, this place reminds me of Gordon Biersch in San Diego. Their tap towers and faucets were awesome and seeing that they had an altbier, I had to have one. I insisted Michelle try the helles. The Sticke Altbier was not exactly what I would expect from an altbier. I then read their description and found out that sticke in German means secret. To me, the secret was something happened that imparted astringency to the beer. Bummer. The helles, on the other hand, was right on. Light and delicate malt flavors with a creamy head, this beer seemed to be the 2nd most popular beer pouring. The most popular was their Kinder Pils, a lighter version of a pilsner. Wait, isn't that a helles then!? I also had the Munich Dunkel which was really good. It was malty sweet with a medium-light body and subtle hop flavor.
While at Triumph, the thunder rolled in and the sky started dumping. This slowed us a down to a near halt and we were soon jumping puddles to dinner.
I think we only scratched the surface on our short trip to Philly and hope we make it back someday, at least to visit Monk's if anything else!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brewers Unite!

If you haven't seen these videos, they are totally chillindamos! As a homebrewer, it makes me just all warm and fuzzy inside. Just watch it.

I Am a Homebrewer



"I Am a Homebrewer" was a video response and adaptation to its inspiration, "I Am a Craft Brewer" created by Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Company. Watch this too.

I Am a Craft Brewer



The only thing I disagree with in these videos is how they drop the use of corn and rice as an insult to the brewing giants. My contention is that corn and rice add to the numerous ingredients used in brewing beer, and when used creatively can be utilized to achieve a brewing goal. In fact, I know some craft brewers who use corn or rice but that doesn't imply they are trying to increase their margin. Heck, Dogfish Head has even made a malt liquor! Now when you substitute corn or rice for malt in all your beers and put it on a pedestal, that's a different story!
In the "I Am a Craft Brewer" video, it was great to see a number of my favorite brewers. In the homebrewer's world, they are celebrities!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer Trappist, August 12 2009

I racked my previous Belgian ale to secondary (current gravity 1.010). This was a bit on the late side for me. I would have liked to rack this as soon as the krausen fell to ensure a healthy yeast bed. I wanted to brew last week and reuse the yeast bed but was delayed when I discovered that I was low on propane. Riding a motorcycle has its downside in this situation (Michelle uses our car to commute). Then came the bachelor party weekend and finally I was able to make a propane trip on Monday evening.
Home Depot Propane Story:
The Home Depot near our new house has this new system for buying and exchanging propane tanks. The idea for this system is that you simply go up to this ATM-like machine near the propane cages and slide in your credit card. It then opens a cage for you to put an empty propane container in (I suppose you could also hold up the flap inside the cage with a stick and it would think it received a propane tank). You close the door and it knows a tank is inside. Then, it opens a new cage with a full tank. Sounds easy enough and you don't have to wait for an employee to do the swap for you (I've waited too long, too many times for that). Potentially, you could do this at any time, even after regular business hours.
First time I did this (in the spring), the machine messed up the cage number and generated an error. I waited about 20 minutes for a Home Depot employee to help. They helped get the exchange I paid for and to make another exchange transaction for my second tank. This time, the transaction didn't go through but I ended up getting the exchange anyway (for free, very nice!).
On Monday, I went back to this machine after paying inside (didn't want to chance it). The machine read the barcode of my receipt and opened a cage to place my empty. Not only did it designate the wrong cage but an empty was already in there. I pulled it out and put it back in, ahem. It then gave me a full tank from another cage. The second tank exchange went just fine but I still had the extra empty tank.
I could have left the empty tank there or I could have waited an insane amount of time for an employee but I opted to just walk away with an extra tank. What's better than having two propane tanks!? Three propane tanks!
Found this on the interwebs and it shares my exact sentiment for the propane exchange machine:
Summer Trappist, Brewed August 8 2009
5 Gallons, Grain/Extract/Adjunct, Lazy Step Infusion, 90 Minute Boil

6lbs. Domestic 2-Row
1.25lbs. White Wheat
3lbs. Vienna
1lb. Munich
0.25lbs. Caramunich

Mash:
144°F for 40min.
152°F for 20min.
Raised to 165°F for Mashout

Added at boil:
1lb. DRE
1lb. Trader Joe's Organic Sugar (Evaporated Cane Juice)

1oz. Styrian Goldings 60min.
0.25oz. Santium 30min.
0.25oz. Spalt 20min.
0.25oz. Hallertauer 20min.
Whirlfloc tab 20min.

Racked on yeast bed of Trappist Monk Ale (White Labs WLP500 Trappist Ale Yeast)

Will ferment warm (hence Summer Trappist) somewhere in the 70's. I will use a water bath for the first few days in an attempt to make the temperature consistent. It should be a bit cooler than the ambient air temp.

OG: 1.065 @ 72°F - Corrected 1.066
FG: 1.013 @ 38°F - Corrected 1.012
ABV: 7.09%

UPDATE 8/25: Racked to secondary though it was long overdue. Current gravity is 1.009 @ 78°F. This one will need a couple of months to age but has great flavor.

Kegged 9/27

Monday, August 10, 2009

Neighborhood

Was out on a pub crawl during a bachelor party and visited Neighborhood. The draught and bottle list was amazing. Also, being just off the crowded Gas Lamp District in downtown San Diego, it was easy to order, drink, and chat with friends. The food looked good too! Sent from my mobile phone.
This place was cool enough to add to my watering holes list! I'll be back, especially whenever I go to a Padres game.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mr. T's 30lb. Necklace Tasting

Seanywonton's Mr. T's 30lb. Necklace
Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Brewed in November of 2008 by Seanywonton, I've had this bottle sitting at cellar temps in my wine fridge for about 3 months then in my fridge for about 1 month. Sean brought us the bottle during his visit here but we never got around to opening it. I've shown the bottle to a number of friends who all thought it was a commercial brew. I suppose the golden waxed top and great label gives it the product feel. Check out the awesome label (sourced from Seanywonton):
After pouring it for Michelle, myself, and two other beer fans not really experienced with Belgian Golden Ales, we shared a number of nice compliments. It was very refreshing on a warm summer afternoon. Although, it did warm up on the inside kickstarting some chillindamos :-)
I knew Sean entered this brew for competition (something I've yet to do with my beers) earlier this year and also that he had some tasting notes: Seanywonton's tasting notes. The day after this tasting, I went back to his notes to compare them with my impressions.
Sean, hopefully these comments will help! The carbonation was med-high as to be expected with a golden strong and the thin head quickly fell. This seemed to be what you experienced. As you can see above, the clarity has really cleared up. The aroma was clove and spice with hints of floral and malt sweetness. Your esters were gone in the aroma and only a hint in the flavor. The lactic acid addition was one of the first things I noticed in the flavor along with a gentle sweetness and the Trappist yeast characteristic clove and spice. The subtle hops complimented these flavors and showed up more in the after taste. Many other qualities mirror Sean's March tasting notes (mouthfeel).
Some thoughts after seeing Sean's notes from March. Clarity takes time to achieve, especially when bottle conditioning. Also, the esters can change with time along with the alcohol/sweetness balance. Lactic acid, on the other hand, seems to stick around leading me to believe that a drinking/competition time frame should be in mind when using it. Will it lend itself in a month or 10 months? The art is really in the yeast with Trappist ales. How much to pitch and your fermentation temperature schedule will express the highly desired bouquet variable. Thanks for sharing, Sean!
This was the first tasting in my self-education of Trappist beers. On Monday I picked up some Trappist ales to start tasting. I've had a number of Belgian beers in the past, I just haven't really paid attention until recently! I decided to first start tasting with the monastery group (coming soon):
  1. Rochefort #6
  2. Rochefort #8
  3. Orval Tripel
  4. Chimay White
  5. Westmalle Dubbel
  6. Westmalle Tripel

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ponies and Beer Fest

I'm at Del Mar Race Track to bet on some ponies and drink some brews. Oh! My trifecta box didn't come through, suppose I'll win drinking. Sent from my mobile phone.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Trappist Monk Ale, July 31 2009

During my trip to the big island of Hawaii, I read most of Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus. Also while there, I was hoping to see a real monk, the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Last year, the Monk Seal was declared as the state's mammal to increase awareness of this critically endangered species.
Though I did brew two Belgian Ales last year, I thought I'd give it another go using a Trappist yeast. What I really like about this style is that almost anything goes. The central theme I took from "Brew Like a Monk" is digestability. The Trappist Monks referenced in the book all described good beer as "digestable".
To make this more Hawaiian, I would consider using Maui organic raw sugar. It was in the shopping cart for a purpose such as this as well as a lilikoi flavoring but for some reason I decided against it, grrr.

Trappist Monk Ale, Brewed July 31 2009
5 Gallons, Grain/Extract, Multi-Step Infusion Mash, 90 Minute Boil

7lbs. Domestic 2-Row
3lbs. White Wheat
1lb. Vienna
0.25lbs. Caravienne
0.125lbs. Special Roast

Mash:
122°F for 30min.
144°F for 30min.
150°F for 15min.
Raised to 165°F for Mashout

Added 1lb. *DRE (instead of a sugar)

0.75oz. Styrian Goldings 60min.
0.25oz. Santium 30min.
0.25oz. Spalt 20min.
Whirlfloc tab 20min.

White Labs WLP500 Trappist Ale Yeast (No Starter)

Chilled to 65°F before oxygen aeration and pitching. Will ferment at 65°F for 3 days then warm to 75°F to finish primary. Will lager with others. The four lagers are being warmed up to 65°F for a diacetyl rest for the 3 days.

Seanywonton, I'm totally using Anti Foam for this ferment. I used 10 drops (2 drops per gallon). Wahoo, no blow-off tube needed!

OG: 1.060 @ 77°F - Corrected 1.062
FG: 1.012 @ 38°F - Corrected 1.011
ABV: 6.69%

August 12 Update: Racked to secondary many days after krausen fell. Current gravity is 1.010. Light body with clove flavor. I will keep this warm for another week then put in the kegerator with the lagers in the upper 30's.

Kegged 9/27

Image Source:
Watt, James. Hawaiian Monk Seal. Digital image. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. NOAA. Web. 31 July 2009.

Current state of the kegerator above. Lagers are getting a diacetyl rest while the Trappist Monk (lower left) gets 3 days of 65°F. If I only have one primary (6.5 gallon carboy), I'm able to squeeze in four secondaries and a keg. Nice! I still need to hard mount a CO2 manifold one of these days.

*Dry Rice Extract

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CO2 Injector for Cornelius Kegs

First of all, I wanted to give HUGE props to Genuine Innovations for providing not only a convenient product for homebrewers but mostly for providing a lifetime warranty and exceptional customer service.

A few years ago I purchased a Cornelius Keg Ball Lock Injector/Charger from William's Brewing for $20. Prior to this item, I schlepped around a 5lb. CO2 tank and regulator to take kegged homebrew on the road. Very unchillindamos. Since then, the injector was very easy to travel with and simple to teach others to use. I would use two to three 12-gram CO2 cartridges to dispense a 5-gallon keg of beer and could buy the cartridges in bulk also from William's Brewing for $0.69 each (16-gram CO2 cartridges also available in bulk for $0.99 each).
Earlier this month, I was dispensing my Independence Day IPA using the CO2 injector when the plastic area that connects to the ball-lock broke. This dissapointed everyone enjoying the brew but I managed to hold the charger inplace to inject enough pressure to dispense a few pitchers (at the cost of an entire cartridge).


At the time, I figured that I got my use out of it and may as well buy another. Instead of buying the entire thing, I decided to check to see if I can just purchase the top portion from the manufacturer. I found on their website that they provide a warranty on all types of their injectors:
Genuine Innovations warrants that all products will function properly and safely for an unlimited time. Should any product fail to perform safely or properly please return it to the place of purchase.
I contacted customer service at William's Brewing to see if they would arrange the warranty. Janis Martinez at William's responded to contact the manufacturer since it was beyond their warranty time and also said that they were very good at sending out replacements.
After submitting a brief explanation to Genuine Innovations via their Contact Us form, I was quickly contacted by DJ Lopez who clarified the item requested for warranty replacement and offered to send it out immediately. BTW, the email response time for each message was nearly immediate! I was headed out of town and let him know that I would be unable to accept receipt of a package and DJ said he'd send it out upon my return.
The replacement arrived today, two days after my return from a chillindamos vacation. Awesome customer service! The gross design is the same but the compromised location has apparently changed.

Anyone else looking to increase your portability of your draft system, I would highly recommend Genuine Innovations CO2 charger. Good products with excellent customer service and lifetime warranties are a rare commodity. Very chillindamos!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chillindamos, You're Doing it Right

Wish you were here but glad you're not. I am Chillindamos. Sent from my mobile phone.

Update: Notice the literature. Surprisingly, Belgian Ales are my final frontier. I think I was turned off by them early on with trying a number of funky beers. In turn, I personally categorized them as such. I've learned so much since those early years but never really explored much of the region and styles. A couple of years ago I took a BJCP course and took the exam. This really opened my eyes and tastes toward Belgian ales. My next door neighbor is a huge fan but explained to me that he hasn't branched out much and needs to learn more about styles outside of Belgians. I replied that I know quite a bit about all other styles besides Belgians. Well, it was about time I started learning more of what everyone raves about.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kona Coconut Brown Ale Float

Dana and Lindsey had to have the float but wanted it with their Coconut Brown Ale rather than the menu Pipeline Porter or Dryside Stout. Sent from my mobile phone.

Chillindakona

Found out some cool info about Kona Brew Co. The Kona location brews for local bottle and keg distribution, for their restaurant here, and for the Oahu (Hawaii Kai) restaurant location but all mainland brewing and distribution goes through Oregon (Widmer). Makes sense considering shipping would be outrageously unchillindamos. They are also working on an East Coast brewing and distribution location.
If you've never had their Wailua Wheat, its quite the summer beer being brewed with passion fruit. ALTHOUGH, the Wailua Wheat here uses lilikoi fruit and the mainland version uses a passion fruit available locally. After having Wailua Wheat enthusiastically on tap on the mainland, I can say that the island recipe is insanely more amazing.
Here, I'm having their Dryside Stout. Kona is on the dryside of the island with the other side, the Hilo side, being one of the wettest in the world. I'm unsure of the attenuation of this stout but I think its the driest beer I've had thus far. Aloha!
Sent from my mobile phone.

Kona Brew Co.

Aloha! I'd blog more if not for marinating in copius amounts of chillindamos here on the big island. We happen to be in town today which painstakingly forces us to stop at Kona Brewing for good food and brews. Oh, time to order pupus! Sent from my mobile phone.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oktoberfest, July 14 2009

Some year I would like to make it out for the world's biggest beer party, Oktoberfest. The image below shows the Lowenbrau biergarten tent sourced from Wikipedia. The image was sourced, not the tent. Oh, and c'mon, that's a friggin' tent! Eat your heart out Mountain Hardware, next time I buy a backpacking tent, I'm calling Lowenbrau to find out where they got this one.
This brew will max out the space in the kegerator. Otherwise, I'd be making more lager! On Thursday, we leave for the big island of Hawaii so this batch will get two weeks before considering racking to a secondary. The previously brewed pilsner and vienna lager are now in secondary fermentation along side this brew and yesterday's vienna agave lager. When all four are nearing the end of fermentation, I may consider a day or three for a diacetyl rest. After the short warming period, I'll begin the process of decreasing the temperature to about 38°F for lagering.

Oktoberfest, Brewed July 14 2009

5 Gallons, All Grain, Multi-Step Infusion Mash, 105 Minute Boil

3lbs. Munich
3lbs. Vienna
2.25lbs. Domestic 2-Row
1.75lbs. Pilsner
0.5lb. Caramunich
0.5lb. Caravienne

Mash:
122°F for 30min.
146°F for 30min.
155°F for 15min.
Raised to 168°F for Mashout

1oz. Hallertauer 60min.
0.25oz. Hallertauer 10min.
Whirlfloc tab 10min.

Pitched on Vienna yeast bed

OG: 1.054 @ 74°F - Corrected 1.056
FG: 1.016 @ 38°F - Corrected 1.015
ABV: 5.38%

UPDATE July 31: Racked to secondary, current gravity is 1.015 @ 65°F, raised to 65°F for 3 days for diacetyl rest

Kegged 9/27

Below is all four lagers crammed in the kegerator. Though a keg can squeeze in, I've never managed to include a fifth carboy in there with having two primaries. A 3 gallon would fit but certainly not another 5 gallon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vienna Agave Lager, July 13 2009

This should be ready by Oktoberfest with the rest of the lagers. I've been wanting to try making another beer with agave nectar. Two summers ago I brewed up a lager featuring agave with some success. The ferment turned out to be very slow and the flavor was certainly off in my book. Others really enjoyed it. Personally, I think I went too far with the agave nectar last time and so, will try a lighter approach today.
Vienna Agave Lager

5 Gallons, Grain/Nectar/Extract, 90 Minute Boil, Outstanding San Diego Weather

4lbs. Vienna
2lbs. Pilsner
2lbs. Domestic 2-Row
1lb. Munich
0.25lb. Caravienne

Mash:
122°F for 30 minutes
146°F for 30 minutes
154°F for 15 minutes
Raised to 166°F for mashout

Bring to a boil and add:
8 ounces (1 Cup) of Organic Blue Agave Nectar
1lb. DRE (Dried Rice Extract)

1oz. Hallertauer 60min.
0.25oz. Hallertauer 10min.
Whirlfloc 10min.

Racked on Pilsner yeast bed

OG: 1.060 @ 76°F - Corrected 1.062
FG: 1.012 @ 38°F - Corrected 1.011
ABV: 6.69%

UPDATE July 31: Racked to secondary, current gravity is 1.010 @ 65°F, raised to 65°F for 3 days for diacetyl rest

Kegged 9/27

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hop Farm July 12 2009 Part 1

First harvest today! Michelle and I picked the Chinook and Centennial. We only picked the ready hops to half-fill two paper grocery bags. There's plenty more on the way. The magnum is doing well though 2 out of 5 mounds were ravaged by prohibition rabbits. Last, the vojvodina is a bit slow this year and just started budding.