Archive for February, 2011

golden strong, etc.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

last friday EH, CY, and OA dropped by to dig around in the record collection and try some brews.

on sunday I fired up the brew stand to put a belgian golden strong together.

  • I formulated the basic recipe using jamil z’s recipe as a guideline:
    • 22.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 78.57 %
      6.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (90 min) Hops 30.7 IBU
      6.00 lb Sugar, Table (TJ’s organic) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 21.43 %
      1 Pkgs Belgian Golden Ale (White Labs #WLP570) Yeast-Ale
  • my new bargainfittings dip tube and stainless mesh worked perfectly, and the sparge went off without a hitch.  sometimes simpler is better…
  • the recipe yielded 11 gals of 1.075 OG wort, 10 of which I fermented out with the 570 and 1 of which I dosed with a vial of 655(sour mix I) to get the bugs going.
  • so here’s my dilemma: rack the 11 gallons onto 10-12 lbs of tart cherries, or rack onto 4-5 lbs of honey and some oak cubes?  I’m leaning toward the latter, but not before I crack open a bottle of CB’s old golden strong and try to envision it with some cherry funk…

on another front, after reading an article in beer west discussing the importance of clean beer lines, I realized that a line cleaning for the kegerator was long overdue.

  • cleaning was pretty simple – take a corny keg full of PBW and run it through all your taps.  let the lines sit for however long it takes you to rinse your corny keg (I waited for about 30 minutes for maximum effect) and fill it with a sanitizer solution.   then run the sanitizer through the lines and reconnect.
  • my lines ended up visibly cleaner, and any deposits within the lines had been eliminated.  luckily I never had any off flavors or line contamination to begin with, but cleaning my lines more regularly is always a good idea.

portland, OR

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

last week AP and I headed north to portland to celebrate the old 3-0.

  • we had checked out the city a couple of years earlier with great results, including fantastic breweries, beer bars, coffee roasters, and restaurants.  this time we really hit the books before hopping on the plane, and went to some killer beer spots that blew me away.

in no particular order, we checked out:

  • henry’s 12th st. tavern – like the yard house on steroids.  triple digit taps, great pub food and happy hour.  this was the first place I got to experience tricerahops.
  • belmont station – world-class beer store.  great staff that made insightful recommendations about both bottles and beer spots.  picked up a ton of lambics and other rarities, such as fort and pannepot reserva.
  • horse brass puba bittersweet visit.  staff was very friendly and their fresh-cut fries went perfectly with a draught blue dot.
  • hair of the dog – KILLER gastropub/bar setup.  friendly staff, great food, awesome beers.  tried their experimental small beer lineup and other draft tasters before moving on to bottles of michael and ’07 fred from the wood.
  • higgins – one of my favorite restaurants, and my #1 in portland.  thoughtful tap selection in the adjacent bar, and thorough beer list to accompany some truly gourmet plates.
  • cascade barrel house – words can’t describe this place.  we walked in and got a taster lineup of the eleven sours they had on tap, including wild concoctions like a mulled kriek and a couple goses.  great food, service, and atmosphere.  grabbed a bottle of vlad the imp aler for the road.
  • green dragon – gives toronado a run for the money.  great beer lineup, service, and food (notice a trend here?).
  • kennedy school – a mcmenamins masterpiece.  the beer is OK, but the campus is unreal.  a must-see for everyone when visiting.  also check out bagdad theater.
  • hopworks – solid tap lineup and friendly staff.  only stopped in here for a taster, but it was worth the trip.
  • upright brewing – my favorite of the trip.  recommended by the staff at belmont station based on my beer selections, this unassuming “tasting room” is just a cold room and keezer within the brewery itself, so you just grab a handful of dirt-cheap brews and make yourself comfy next to the mill room, conditioning tanks, barrels, or open fermentation room.  sublime barrel-aged saisons and sours with great complexity.
  • laurelwood – yet another “good food, friendly service, good beers” spot.  their workhorse IPA is great.
  • migration – relaxed spot with a good brew lineup.  just grabbed a taster and threw some darts here.
  • deschutes – a classic bar/restaurant that appeals to everyone.  very family-friendly and the first place I would take a person getting turned on to beer.

after our hundredth taster and charcuterie plate, AP and I were ready to head back and sleep it off, but we were already discussing our next trip up.  with dozens more beer and food spots to discover, portland has turned into our adult playground.

kolsch redux, homebrewer workshop

Friday, February 11th, 2011

last weekend I threw together a variation of my kolsch and had a new homebrewer, BB, over to help out with his first batch.

  • I recommended williams’ kolsch as a first-time brew due to its straightforward recipe and my luck brewing it in the past.
  • as for my all-grain version, I changed up my standard recipe to knock out some of my hop stock:
  • 0.50 lb Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 2.56 %
    14.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 71.79 %
    5.00 lb Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 25.64 %
    ~1.00 oz each
    HG Chinook, Columbus [?.00 %] (60 min) Hops 25.8 IBU
    ~1.00 oz each
    EKG, Saaz [X.00 %] (15 min) Hops 3.6 IBU
    1.00 oz Fuggle[X.00 %] (5 min) Hops 1.4 IBU
  • my brew setup must have been jinxed, because despite adding a healthy dose of rice hulls my mash got stuck again.  I swapped my false bottom (which I think is just too small for my mash tun) for a stainless braid, which I will keep in there for the time being while I ponder a suitable replacement (a jaybird custom false bottom? a reinforced braid setup?).
  • I also found some time to keg the eventful batch of hybrid stout while waiting for my wort to cool.
  • BB’s brew was smooth sailing as well, albeit with a few hiccups (a last-minute hop substitution and tossing the hops in his better bottle).  I got an excited phone message the next night describing the miracle of fermentation and a vigorously bubbling airlock.
  • I wish I could say the same for my batch.  my starter smelled buttery/malty, and after two days no activity was evident.
  • luckily I had a couple of packets of dry yeast (safale US-05 and S-04) that I tossed into each keg, which kicked off fermentation in a matter of hours.  I was more than a little bummed about the forced style change though…

racking the mead, visiting some friends

Friday, February 4th, 2011

so I finally managed to rack my PV wildflower mead to a corny keg for aging over the long haul.

  • I will probably have it sit in stainless for at least a few months, then bottle it and start sampling at the end of the year.
  • I used this link from onebeer to calculate the mead’s vitals.  beersmith has somewhat similar refractometer calculation capabilities, but the onebeer layout is idiot-proof and gives one-step results.
  • the mead started at 24.4 brix (1.104 O.G.) and ended at 10 brix (1.001 F.G.), for an abv of 13.36%.  although it was a little hot when I sampled it, it wasn’t too bad for the alcohol content and had a great complexity.  I am definitely excited to try a glass in a year.

I also headed up to SF this week on business and was lucky enough to check out my buddy AH’s new brew setup.

  • AH is a member of a collaborative brewing project in the upper haight known as the downey street brewery.  they have a sweet 10-gallon all-grain keggle setup and are looking forward to organizing some events in the near future.  definitely keep an eye on them if you’re in the area and are interested in some local homebrew.
  • always the overachiever, AH also whips up five gallon all-grain batches in his apartment.  I got to try his pumpkin stout and blonde, both of which made the trip worthwhile.  thanks again AH!

RIP don younger

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

a craft beer legend whom I had hoped to meet in the near future passed away last weekend. RIP don.