Archive for September, 2010

maui brewing co.

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

last weekend AP and I headed out to maui to visit PB, NB, and MB for a few days of relaxation.

  • on saturday we headed out to maui brewing co.’s brewery in lahaina to check out their setup.
  • although tours were on hold when we got there due to construction/expansion, the taps were still flowing, so we pulled up a couple chairs and sampled some brews.
  • one of AP’s favorites is maui’s coconut porter, which was great fresh from the source.  another killer brew was their big swell IPA, which is good in cans but fantastic on draft.  my pour couldn’t have been kegged for more than a week – the aroma was seriously pungent.
  • my favorite brew of the day was their barefoot brew, contracted out for a local restaurant.  it was a honey pale (or was it honey blonde?) that was crisp with a great dry finish that was a perfect solution for the hot weather.  I don’t often order up more than one pint of a particular brew in one sitting, but this was the exception.
  • the service was great, and I even noticed that homebrew supplies (including 2-row straight from the brewery) were sold at the bar as well as the usual shirts and gear.  what a great resource!

the great fermenter debate

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

so after some research and deliberation, I have been unable to confirm the “food-grade” nature of my current fermentation barrels.

  • the seller claims they are “food grade,” but told me they were used to ship guava juice, with the juice in (presumably) a food grade liner.
  • the kicker is that the cap of the barrel has that signature strong plasticky smell, which honestly freaks me out.  luckily my last 2 beers I fermented in these barrels didn’t pick up any off-flavors or smells, but my experience had me looking for alternatives.
  • some background here – in the near future, I plan on not only turning over some quick batches (homegrown hop pale, etc.) but also whipping up some more long term 10-gallon+ projects (3-year lambics for a geuze, maybe a solera setup, another barleywine or quad) that need a stable (oxygen-resistant) environment.
  • I initially looked at truly food-grade barrels as an option.  they are inexpensive and look promising for short-term fermentations (around a month or less).
  • however, for long-term aging, plastic doesn’t seem to be the way to go.  specifically, on pps. 218-220 of wildBREWS, Jeff Sparrow makes a convincing argument against using plastic due to its permeability, stating that “plastic fermenters exhibit a high permeability to oxygen – actually too permeable for wild fermentation.”
  • I then researched glass – specifically, 15 gallon glass demijohns, which included light-shielding plastic baskets and seemed to be a good option.  that is, until I envisioned one of those suckers breaking…
  • I also considered conical options such as the fermenator, which would definitely be in the cards were it not for the price (I would probably need at least 3 in the long term for a geuze).
  • my current plan is to go with with slightly modified sankey kegs – I’m thinking of using a rubber carboy cap and racking cane (which can be pressurized to rack from) or large stopper in conjunction with an airlock up top, and maybe trying to finagle a dip tube/spigot at the bottom for racking.
  • another option is to modify a sankey coupler, which would get me into pressurized closed-system fermentation.
  • since a sankey won’t fit into my fermentation fridge, I would just split 10 gallon batches into 5-gallon corny kegs when I wanted a controlled fermentation temp.  I don’t like the idea of splitting a starter up, but I can’t think of another option.
  • anybody have anything to add? personal preferences?

north county SD trip/hop harvest round 2

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

last weekend AP and I headed down to north county san diego (carlsbad, oceanside, san marcos, etc.) for a quick visit that included quite a few brew-oriented visits.

  • when we first arrived, a trip to pizza port carlsbad was a no brainer.  we phoned in a pizza order and walked over, and by the time we got there the pizza was ready and there was only a small wait at the bar.
  • AP sampled the warm weather wheat and the carlsbad chronic, while I tried out atTENuation, poor man’s double IPA, and 547 haight.  my hands down favorite was poor man’s double – it must have been fresh out of the fermenter and had an overwhelming hop aroma that never stopped coming, and was also quite balanced for a double IPA.  this might be my favorite IPA at the moment…
  • the next day we headed over to port’s adjacent bottle shop to pick up some rarities, including some goodies from fantome, drie fonteinen, port, avery, dogfish head…
  • I even picked up a bottle of baird brewing’s rising sun pale, brewed by brewboard’s just-cj out in japan.
  • I hesitate to disseminate this information for fear of losing future selection to competition, but port’s bottle shop has some of the hardest to find bottles available for great prices.  if I remember correctly, bottles of fantome (all styles) go here for $12 or so, and individual 12ozs can be had for a pittance.  it’s hard to walk out of here without a box of choice brews under your arm…
  • later that day we cruised over to stone’s brewery/restaurant for more great beer selection and some good food.  stone’s layout is amazing – they have a killer indoor bar with their stainless brewery as the backdrop, and also have an outdoor bar overlooking their trail/ urban garden in the back.
  • AP and I grabbed some seats on the patio and enjoyed 4 oz. samplers of a large variety of brews, including terrapin/de proef’s monstre rouge (tasted like a malty/worty imperial red, no sourness detected), bockor’s cuvee des jacobins rouge (a classic, great sourness with good balance), and van honsebrouck’s bacchus, which was my favorite of the day with its smooth sourness and outstanding drinkability.
  • on the way back from stone, we dropped by texas wine and spirits, which claims to have the best beer and wine selection in the area.  well, port  bottle shop is right down the street, so I was a little skeptical, but when I was definitely impressed when I walked in and saw walls of craft bottles from all over.
  • they also had the largest selection of rogue beers I have ever seen, including ones I couldn’t find up in portland.  their selection complements port’s, and is now on my list of must-stops while in town.

on tuesday I managed to find some time to harvest the rest of my hops.

  • the vojvodinas were looking a little sun burnt, so I knew the clock was ticking to get them down and dried.  between the vojvodinas, zeus, and chinooks I harvested, I am guessing another 4-5ozs of dried hops went into my lineup.
  • the zeus were amazingly fragrant – I couldn’t stop taking whiffs of the bowl as I was picking them.  hopefully they will all get to meet some hot wort in the near future – I am thinking a homegrown pale…

DIY stirplate, hop drying, american amber ale brew

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

last week was chock full of brewing endeavors.

  • based on some threads over at homebrewtalk and a little elbow grease, I threw together a homemade stirplate using a computer fan, hard drive magnet, potentiometer, and power supply I had lying around.  I used a plastic dish as the housing and hard wired everything up with a soldering iron, and it works like a charm.
  • according to the latest northern brewer catalog (p. 36 to be exact), the constant oxygenation stir plates provide enables 4 times normal yeast growth in starters.  after using it last week on an american ale yeast starter, I was impressed – the starter took off fast and was chugging along much sooner than my old starters.
  • I also dried out my cascade harvest, and packed up 4.5oz of cones in the freezer.  I will probably use these as finishing hops in an IPA, or may wait until all my other hops are ready for a homegrown pale.
  • I also managed to squeeze in a brew day last weekend, and whipped up an american-style amber ale based on my house IPA hop schedule and a recipe for lagunitas’ kronik/censored ale:
    • 24.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 74.67 %
      3.00 lb Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 9.33 %
      3.00 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 9.33 %
      2.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 6.22 %
      0.14 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 0.44 %
      2.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 34.0 IBU
      2.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (30 min) Hops 26.1 IBU
      2.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (10 min) Hops 7.5 IBU
      3.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (0 min) Hops –
  • after doing some reading about heat sticks, I picked one up on amazon and stuck it in my HLT for mashing/sparging and hitting a boil in my boil kettle.  it worked amazingly, and cut my brew time down by at least an hour.
  • however, with both the heat stick and the jet burner going at it, much more water ended up evaporating from my wort (2 gals/hr), leaving me with a 10 gallon batch (instead of an 11 gallon batch) and an OG of 1.08!  I think my higher mash temps and somewhat aggressive hopping will balance out the alcohol in this beer nicely.

beginning the 2010 hop harvest

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

aside from sampling a few draft homebrews (and discovering that the local elks lodge has quite a few beers on tap, including SN pale ale), the weekend went by without incident. on monday, however, the hop harvest began.

  • after doing some research regarding optimal hop picking indicators, I determined the following: wait until the cones are light and papery, and you can smell significant hop aroma, then wait a week or more for the cones to fully develop before picking.
  • last year, I picked my cones when they felt papery (and when I saw significant lupulin in the cones), but I didn’t really get any significant aroma from them, so I think I picked too early.
  • this time around, my cascade cones were light, papery, and smelled great, and my I ended up with tacky fingers after handling the cones.  I cut down the cascade vine and picked approximately a little less than a pound of wet hops, which will likely result in 4oz. of dried cones.  not bad for first year growth!
  • I spread the hops out in the basement on some mesh and put a fan on them to dry them out.  I plan on stuffing them in a ziploc in a day or two, when they fully dry out.
  • in the future, I plan on planting my rhizomes in the ground to increase output, as the time and effort put in for a 4oz. harvest could get a little frustrating over time.  I will definitely plant the cascade, which showed the best growth potential by far, but other varieties are still up in the air (columbus? amarillo?)