Archive for the ‘brewing’ Category

catching up

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

sorry for the lack up updates recently!  here’s a summary of some beer-related happenings that are in the works on my end:

 

I watched the phantom carriage brew area go from this:

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to this:

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I watched my first new crop of cascades go from this:

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to this:

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I made another pilgrimage to the stuffed sandwich to check out some ancient bottles:

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and I kept busy prototyping a bunch of beers for the brewery (rest assured, many are pretty experimental/wild):

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I also managed to sweep the sour category at the pacific brewer’s cup, which had a record number of entries this year:

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we are on the final push with the brewery build-out and should be brewing/serving beer in the near future.  I will post our opening date once it has been determined.  hope to see some of you there!  in the meantime, you can feed your need for content by following my instagram page, which gets updated more frequently with on-the-spot beer (and surf) shots.

 

brett pale ale variations

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

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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!

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happy new year!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

happy new year!

2013 was full of memorable events:

2014 should be even more exciting – for starters, the phantom carriage brewery/blendery/cafe will be opening in carson, hopefully sooner than later (and with plenty of goodies in store).  hopefully all you blog readers can come check out the facility!

have a great new year!

 

phantom carriage muis, vizcaino bottling, beer paper LA

Monday, May 20th, 2013

     vizcaino II

time for some overdue professional, homebrew, and beer scene updates!

  • a couple of weekends ago the phantom carriage’s first release, muis, made an appearance at the tour of long beach’s craft beer garden.  inspired by my all-brett blonde experiment, muis is an all-brett belgian blonde with terrific mouthfeel, a smooth backing bitterness, and a great earthy tropical fruit aroma.  this batch was keg conditioned instead of being force carbonated, which results in a fine effervescence and great fluffy head.  stay tuned for mainstream release information – this beer will be on LA south bay taps soon!
  • last weekend I kegged and bottled vizcaino II, the latest iteration of my golden strong wild ale.  while my other pipeline wild beers were inspired by commercial brews, vizcaino’s recipe was formulated from scratch, and my first stab at it left me a little disappointed.  however, after reworking the recipe and mash schedule based on my pipeline experience and racking the batch onto a mess of raspberry puree, I ended up with what I can only describe as an “imperial framboise” – a 10.23% (finished at 1.005) brilliant red brew with an intense yet smooth acidity that transitions seamlessly into some serious raspberry flavors.  I can’t wait until this carbs up.
  • on a final note, I want to congratulate beer paper LA on the release of their first physical publication.  I stopped by their release party at beachwood BBQ long beach and was filled with pride for the ever-evolving LA beer scene (kip at bierkast has a great writeup that I completely resonate with).  it’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker in LA!  

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custom tap handles, kegging

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

shaping on the lathe

with a phantom carriage draft release on the horizon, the need for tap handles to go with the beer was imminent.

  • although my previous experiences with tap handles were both successful, plain branch segments weren’t going to cut it for TPC’s purposes.  we needed something easily recognizable and slick, but also easily repeatable in quantity  and low in cost.
  • after mulling it over a bit I decided to pick up a mini lathe and try my hand at shaping some inexpensive 2″ diameter dowels into mini-barrels.  luckily, the design and process in my head translated seamlessly to reality, and after a few hours of shaping, sanding, and staining I ended up with around twenty tap handles ready to serve up phantom carriage creations.  I’m planning on further customizing the barrels with one or more of a branded logo, splatter paint design, and wax dipping in the near future.  be sure to keep an eye out for one of these in the tap lineup soon!

another challenge posed by the draft release was getting the beer carbonated and in kegs.

  • TPC purchased a mess of stainless sixtels, but a brite tank wasn’t available to force carbonate and fill them.  as a result, each keg was individually primed with sugar after cleaning and filled directly from the fermentor using an awesome manual keg filler (after dropping the trub/yeast).  this way, the beer will undergo a secondary fermentation in the keg and will carbonate itself, creating a keg-conditioned beer with a fine, soft carbonation.  the wait is almost over!

detail work

before staining

finished product

kegging               kegs ready to go

 

lambic brewday, teaser video

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

TPC

as you might have guessed, the majority of my available brew time over the last few months has been spent working on the phantom carriage project.

  • instead of filling this year’s sour beer pipeline in my basement, I have been starting another, more substantial pipeline by helping develop an ever-growing barrel collection over in torrance based on my own wild lineup.
  • the latest batch destined for the barrel racks was also the first one completed using the phantom carriage’s 3bbl nano system.  although a simple lambic-style recipe (60/40 pils/wheat, low alpha bittering) and a single infusion mash schedule promised a straightforward brew day, snags such as a missing mill, thermometer discrepancies, a wonky burner, and a flawed kettle whirlpool design resulted in long hours and headache for everyone involved.  on the positive side, the mash and sparge went down without a hitch, system efficiency was terrific, and all the other hiccups can easily be addressed during the next brew day.
  • on another note, the phantom carriage facebook page is live – check it out!  MS and I have been working on delivering a steady stream of content for the page, including details on upcoming releases and events.  for example, check out the teaser video I tossed up yesterday, featuring production and a soundtrack by yours truly.  more great developments are on the horizon – stay tuned!

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phantom carriage: barreling batch 4 and brewing batch 5

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013


stacking

over the past week a lot has been happening over at the phantom carriage.

  • first, a full batch of brett saison (french saison yeast with a brett trois/drie kicker in primary) crept below 1.01 in the conicals, so it was time to rack it into barrels.  the brett accentuated the saison yeast nicely and gave it a nice earthy tropical fruit kick.  hopefully three months in barrels will round out the beer even more (I got some baking spice, vanilla, and sweet vinous notes from the barrels as they were being filled).  I can also see some dry-hopping in the cards…
  • next, it was time to fill the void left by the saison with another wild creation.  this time, 14bbls of blonde ale based on my all-brett blonde experiment hit the stainless and was introduced to a sizable pitch of the brett trois strain (which I selected from the three trial strains due to its great aroma and flavor contributions as well as its strong and relatively rapid fermentation).  this batch was special – it will be the phantom carriage’s first release!  more info is imminent, so keep an eye out for updates!

trying out the sparge arm               churning away

the stack keeps growing...

bottling cabrillo II

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

draining the fermentor

last sunday, after delabeling and rinsing a case of bottles, I finally got around to bottling cabrillo II.

  • ten months of exposure to cherries and french oak were very kind to the beer – it has an amazing sour cherry and slightly oaky aroma.  the fruit came through nicely in the beer’s flavor, complementing smooth vanilla notes and an intense overall acidity. 
  • the beer finished at 10 brix (1.009) on the dot, for an ABV of 10.67%.  I mashed a little higher for this second iteration, which resulted in a little more body for an improved overall balance.  I also saved three pints of slurry for a future phantom carriage brew.  I’m really excited for this one to carb up!

in the bottling bucket               slurry

bottles

 

barrel development at phantom carriage

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

down the line

over the last few months MS and I have been working on developing the barrel program for the phantom carriage.

  • since the inception of the project, three batches (two based on banning and one based on white) have been fermented and barreled with great initial results.  the oldest filled barrels are only a month in, but some are already deviating from the pack (for example, a barrel into which an older east coast yeast slurry was pitched is already exhibiting a slightly higher gravity and stronger acidity than its peers).
  • the youngest set of filled barrels is also primed for diversity – varying primary saccharomyces strains were pitched into some barrels and plenty of dregs from some outstanding bottles have been making their way into the lineup.  stay tuned for more developments as the racks grow taller and the bugs work their magic!

taking a peek               running comparisons

moving around

 

barrel racking at phantom carriage

Monday, February 25th, 2013

fill er up

a week or two ago the first phantom carriage batch was transferred to oak for the long haul.

  • 14bbl of wild blonde was racked into seven neutral red oak barrels (a mix of hungarian and french) that had been left to soak overnight.  the barrels appeared to be freshly dumped and had a great vinous aroma during filling.
  • true to form, the wild blend used for the batch acted slow and steady, and along with a high mash temp, resulted in a gravity hovering around 1.03 when the beer hit the wood.  this relatively high amount of residual long-chain sugars should provide plenty of food for all the resident microbes to work their magic.  now the waiting game begins!  

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