February 28th, 2014 by admin
a few weeks ago AP and I braved some wild weather to explore hood river.
- after digging our 2WD sedan out of a foot of powder the first morning, we upgraded to a 4WD SUV and hit the icy roads. a freak snowstorm had hit the day we arrived, dumping close to two feet of snow in less than 24 hours.
- despite treacherous conditions, we managed to hit up full sail, pfriem and solera, although our planned tour of logsdon farmhouse was cancelled after their location was completely snowed in. all breweries were very welcoming and had a great variety of top-notch beer – pfriem had perfected many true-to-style expressions, and solera had a killer IPA as well as some tasty lactic offerings, while full sail had a nice flight highlighting components of their barrel aged imperial stout.
- after grabbing some amazing house made donuts and coffee at 10 speed, before heading out of town we stopped by double mountain to pick up a few bottles at their kriek release, which was fortuitously scheduled the day we left. we made it back to portland just in time to peruse some bottles at belmont station before all commerce in the city shut down due to the snow and ice (people were cross-country skiing down hawthorne blvd!).
- despite less-than-ideal weather conditions, our trip was a resounding success. I can’t wait to go back during the summer!
February 1st, 2014 by admin
as you may have guessed from my earlier posts, I have a thing for pale ales that have brettanomyces added in secondary.
- as a result, I was motivated to create something in the same vein as beers like orval, rayon vert, brux, etc.
– beers that are somewhat sessionable yet earthy and spicy, with a rocky head and a funk that grows over time in the bottle/keg.
- I was also intrigued by beers such as the historic ballantine IPA that was supposedly aged for a year in oak and aroma hopped with hop extract, and wanted to incorporate some of those unique characteristics as well to create a unique “wood aged brett pale.”
- I ended up going with a grain bill of maris otter, vienna, crystal 80 and 40, and wheat for a solid malt backbone, with a starting gravity of 1.062. I bittered with columbus and added late aroma additions of chinook and simcoe for layered pine notes and a smooth bitterness (~55 IBU).
- for fermentation purposes, I split the batch between ECY17 burton union and WLP510 bastogne. I had originally planned to go with ECY10 old newark (one of the original ballantine strains) but my starter was so violently active (after less than six hours) the majority of top cropping yeast blew out of my erlenmeyer flask and my leftover pitch didn’t go anywhere. east coast yeast is the only provider whose vials I will directly pitch into wort without stepping up (the ECY17 vial took off in only an hour or two after pitching).
- after two weeks in primary at a controlled 65F, the WLP510 fermentor was at 1.01 and the ECY17 fermentor was at 1.013. I racked both into corny kegs, primed with 2.5oz. sugar, and pitched orval bottle dregs into each. I was planning on adding an american oak cube to each keg as well, but didn’t have any lying around. I am also tossing around the idea of dry hopping them before serving (which might be challenging now that I primed the kegs).
- I’m planning on tapping the kegs after three months and seeing which version works better with brett. the base beers both tasted great during kegging, so hopefully they’ll keep improving!
November 23rd, 2013 by admin
as hinted in my earlier post, I decided to use my new freezer real estate to jack (fractionally freeze) my cider.
- originally intended as a basque-style cider served in sagardotegis, after two years(!) in a keg my cider was dry and satisfying, but not significantly funky or complex, as I had hoped (I believe this has to do with apple selection, wild yeast availability, and the quick initial fermentation brought on by simple apple sugars).
- as a result, with a little under four gallons of cider hogging one of my four house taps, I decided to free up space and simultaneously create some holiday-appropriate hooch by jacking the cider.
- although my previous attempt at jacking/eising was successful, it was slow and involved significant oxygenation of the resulting product. in fact, most online eising references suggest simply freezing your beer/wine/cider in a plastic gallon jug, inverting said jug over a receptacle, and letting the end result trickle out of the bottom over the course of a two hour period until the ice in the jug is clear. although this technique would seem to maximize yield, it would do so at the expense of a higher proof (and oxygenates the hell out of the liquid as it drips out).
- as a result, I decided to try a different technique for jacking my cider. first, I transferred the cider from a 5 gal corny keg into a 2.5 gal corny keg (after purging the latter with CO2), leaving about a third of the keg empty to allow for expansion during freezing. then I tossed the smaller keg into the freezer of my new kegerator for a 24hr period. after removing the keg from the freezer, I knocked the bottom of the keg against the ground a few times to center the ice in the keg.
- I then purged some sanitized bottles with CO2, tapped the keg, and began filling the bottles from the tap (my growler filling insert/tube didn’t fit my portable tap or I would have used that as well to further limit oxygen exposure while bottling). at first, the tap yielded a small trickle of liquid (presumably from ice in the dip tube), but after a little pouring, shaking, and knocking, all the ice was dislodged and my bottles filled up in a matter of minutes.
- after no more liquid could be poured from the keg I popped the lid and saw that at least 2/3 of the keg’s volume had turned to ice. I dumped this ice in my sink, but it would be possible to use the drip method described above to wring out every last drop of cider and increase your yield.
- now for the tasting notes:
- applejack (sampled ice cold immediately after jacking)
- appearance: straw gold, minimal carbonation, hazy (likely due to chill haze)
- aroma: boozy, floral, apple esters
- taste: palate coating and prickly, strong warm apple
- overall: a great, easy drinking holiday alternative to standard cider
- my 3.5-4 gal of 7%abv cider yielded approximately one gallon of applejack. the results of my jacking method were great – compared to other drip methods, “keg jacking” is much faster (10 min vs. 2 hours+), results in a higher proof result (at the cost of a reduced yield), and minimizes oxygen exposure. I’m definitely planning on repeating this process with my next cider.
November 7th, 2013 by admin
after over three years of dutifully servicing hundreds of homebrew pours, my keezer/kegerator gave up the ghost.
- it wasn’t too surprising, as I had purchased the chest freezer used, and cycling the freezer repeatedly to act as a refrigerator using an inline temp controller couldn’t have been good on the compressor. despite the significant effort I had put into my now-dead keezer, I wasn’t too sad to see it go. the lack of air circulation and humidity control resulted in an accumulation of moisture that even a large dessicant couldn’t control, and it was always a pain swapping in full kegs since they had to be awkwardly lifted to fit over the lip of the keezer collar.
- therefore, my replacement was a full-size refrigerator. I scored a used model on craigslist that matched my other basement fridge – many thanks go out to MS for helping me swap fridges though my narrow basement staircase. after getting the fridge into position, I cut one head off a full-sized barrel using a sawzall and mounted it to the fridge using some threaded bolts. four faucet holes and a little internal hacking/improvising later resulted in a kegerator that clearly conveys my preferred aging vessels.
- the fridge fits four corny kegs without modification (with room for bottles in two bottom drawers), and my tiny CO2 tank tucks nicely into the door. as a bonus, the freezer seems sizable enough to start working on some more ice concentration projects. a little thanksgiving applejack, anyone?
October 9th, 2013 by admin
with a little over a month down since the bottling of my solera lambic (and around 19 months since the first fill was brewed), I cracked open a bottle to see how it was doing.
- solera lambic
- appearance: perfect clarity, straw yellow with thorough, fine carbonation. this was the fifth or sixth bottle I opened, and a couple of them were already overcarbed even without the addition of yeast at bottling (maybe due to stratification of the sugar? I have never run into this). I can definitely see how geuzes can be put together with little to no sugar – the yeast/bugs involved are super aggressive!
- aroma: “authentic” complex lambic funk, for lack of better descriptors. citrus and barnyard.
- taste: citrus, hay, stone fruit, with a balanced, smooth lactic acidity and a dry finish.
- overall: I’m very happy with how this beer turned out, even with such a short time in the bottle – it holds its own as a solid example of the style. I’m also pumped that I have close to three cases of this and another six gallons on cherries, all of which should improve with age…
August 26th, 2013 by admin
in celebration of overcarbed’s fourth anniversary, I finally worked some magic with a good-sized pull from my (p)lambic solera barrel.
- it had been seventeen months to the day since I initially filled the barrel (and seven months since my only tasting) and once I started up my autosiphon I knew the results were going to be worth the wait. the beer has a bright acidity with a great funky complexity. the gravity is approximately 1.005 for a current ABV of around 5.45%.
- to mix it up a little, I racked six gallons of beer onto seven pounds of sour cherries in one of my carboys, which I am planning on forgetting about for at least six months. I also primed and painstakingly filled eighty 12oz bottles with another seven and a half gallons, and was reminded why I usually bottle my specialty beers using bombers (it’s half the work).
- to top it all off, I bottled my fermentors of dark house on persimmons and banning on apricots for a total of over 100 bottles (113 to be exact). I then refilled my solera with fifteen gallons of fresh lambic base that I had brewed a couple weeks back using my old recipe. the bottles will be used to support my homebrew club in competitions and will also be a good way to conduct tastings without running through large volumes of beer. I’ll have tasting notes in a few months!
August 15th, 2013 by admin
a couple weeks ago AP and I flew to portland, rented a truck, and road tripped it out to bend.
- bend is a great riverside community that touts mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, and hiking as some of its main offerings. AP and I managed to do none of those activities, opting instead for beach cruising, eating, and beer drinking (although I did get a decent round of disc golf in on mt bachelor).
- the coolest thing about bend is how the city fosters all sorts of fermentation projects. we visited breweries ranging in size from behemoths like deschutes (who had some great food and one-offs on tap), to local heavies like bend brewing (who had a killer IPL), to one of the tiniest tap rooms I’ve ever squeezed into over at boneyard (who had beers ranging from a (suprisingly good) chili beer a tasty sour for on-premises sampling).
- the highlight of our trip was a VIP tour of the nectar of the gods meadery by none other than its founder, wesley. he hooked us in with samples of his bourbon barrel-aged mead at the nearby platypus pub (which is part of an amazing bar, homebrew store, and bottle shop combination) and treated us to a variety of other creations made with various fruits and herbs. it was inspiring to see someone who was not only into mead production but was killing it with unique variations. he also tipped us to some unique (but expensive) wild bottles from ale apothecary. thanks again, wesley!
July 16th, 2013 by admin
it’s hard to believe that it has been over eight months since I first pitched bkyeast’s isolates into some neutral blonde wort to experiment with.
- the initial tasting was a little underwhelming, likely due to the fact that I hadn’t given each strain enough time (only about a month) to work its magic. therefore, I stashed some bottles aside and promptly forgot about them until a few weeks back, when I popped them into the fridge to chill. here are the results.
- WY3191 brett isolate
- appearance: fluffy white head that lasts, good clarity
- aroma: citrus, lemon, earth
- taste: dry, lemony, slight mustiness, great prickly carbonation, slight acidity
- overall: very tasty, great end product, good option for a long-term saison
- cantillon iris isolate C2
- appearance: bubbles rush to top of bottle when opened, fluffy, fine head
- aroma: complex dirty funk with slight medicinal edge, unique, almost floral
- taste: creamy, coating mouthfeel, slight perceived sweetness
- overall: interesting aroma, lacks the dry effervescent brettiness that I prefer
- cantillon iris isolate C3
- appearance: vigorous, fluffy, long-lasting head
- aroma: chalky, fruity hard candy, medicinal finish
- taste: creamy, sweet, floral
- overall: another interesting result with good carbonation, just not as exciting or dramatic as WY3191
- in the end, I preferred the carbonation, finish, and acidity of the WY3191 isolate. who knows, maybe it will make another appearance in the future…
June 7th, 2013 by admin
last weekend’s firestone walker invitational was incredible.
- after reviewing my photos of the event, it became clear to me that the focus of the invitational was on relationships – friendships between brewers, media, and industry representatives, valued business and social ties between producers and consumers, and the intertwining of a brewery and its community. the majority of my shots were portraits of those involved with and passionate about beer and its associated culture, local to international in scope. as the day progressed I discussed current events with south bay media, caught up on the latest releases from northern california, the midwest, and the east coast, and swapped beers and stories with brewers from as far away as germany and japan.
- oh, and then there was the beer. the available selection at the festival was over-the-top, and included dozens of world-class beers of all styles and gravities, from the palate-assaulting three floyds barrel aged dark lord and cigar city’s brandy barrel hunahpu to the sessionable birrifico italiano tipopils and refreshing barrelworks/mikkeler lil’ mikkel. those examples were just the tip of the iceberg – the selection was really comprehensive and unique, and was likely the best I’ve ever encountered at an event.
- my unforgettable barrel journey to paso robles was my first exposure to the passion and generosity of firestone walker, and the fw invitational picked up right where the former left off. both satisfying and inspiring, this event is one I can’t wait to revisit for many years to come.
March 9th, 2013 by admin
last weekend I met up with other members of the la beer bloggers to embark on what would turn out to be an unforgettable beer expedition.
- as guests of firestone walker, we were given an all-access pass to the brewery, barrel houses, and environs in an attempt to experience what sets FW apart from other craft breweries. after a quick trip up north on a chartered bus (made quicker by a bottle share and a steady supply of 12 oz firestone staples provided by our gracious host), we arrived not at the brewery but windrose farm, a local family farm that provides produce to FW’s restaurant. bill and barbara, who live on and run the farm, kept everyone educated and entertained with discussions of biodynamic practices and responsible agriculture while we feasted on freshly picked greens and house-raised lamb expertly prepared by FW’s head chef and paired with an intense lineup of FW specialties ranging from bretta weiss to parabola.
- after hitching a tractor ride back to the bus, we headed over to the brewery, where matt brynildson and dustin kral gave us the VIP tour. beers in hand, we went from the brewhouse to the lab to the roof of the facility, finally ending up in the barrel house, where dustin grabbed a thief and proceeded to pour everyone a three-barrel flight of a one-off beer aged in straight oak, bourbon, and tequila barrels. minds already blown, we were then whisked away to herman story wines, where winemaker russell had a full spread and barrel sampling lineup at the ready. after a few more hours of debauchery we ended the night at FW’s taproom restaurant with some great eats and a homebrew share (punctuated by some on-the-spot homebrew/food pairing suggestions by FW’s head chef).
- the next morning, having shook the cobwebs out of our heads and limbered up, we headed down to buellton to check out FW’s new barrelworks facility. ”sour jim,” the resident master blender, gave us a tour of the growing barrel stacks and set us up with a wild beer blending session after a fantastic lunch. after the session, GN sweet-talked jim into supplying us with some sample bags to take home some barrel bugs, and after talking shop for a while (over a full flight of FW one-offs and wild beers) jim snuck us back to the barrel room, where he started pulling nails and let us in on some of his long-term projects. the trip finished off with a drive down the coast and yet another bottle share.
- oh, and the kicker? the whole even was hosted by david walker, the co-founder himself. david was a generous, receptive, and intelligent host who made everyone feel at home in paso robles. the event left me with not only a great admiration for the care, passion, and innovation FW brings to the craft brew game, but also with a profound respect for all parties involved with the beer scene in paso robles and the surrounding areas. that sixer of DBA in my fridge never looked so good.