Archive for March, 2011

congregation ale house; homebrew adventure

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

last friday I got around to kegging both the belgian and wild version of my patersbier.

  • I took a sample of the wild version, which had a  FG of 1.007, resulting in an abv of 5.7%.
  • I also tasted the sample, which had some positive (non-phenolic) esters, but no funk/sourness.  since this beer is so dry, I am planning on letting it age out for a few months before serving.  if the results are promising, I might toss my saved slurry in a saison in the future…

on saturday, AP and I headed out to congregation ale house in long beach.

  • our latest goal has been to investigate LA beer spots, and this one was the closest unexplored location.
  • at first glance, I feared congregation would be trendy with a limited selection, as it was brand new and was best known for having staff dressed in catholic schoolgirl outfits.  however, when I checked out the tap and bottle list, I was happy to find more than a few great beers.
  • AP grabbed a marzen to start off, while I nabbed a bottle of alpine’s duet, which had a fantastic hop aroma without any astringent bitterness. I finished off with a pour of harviestoun ola dubh 30 yr, which must have been sitting in the keg for quite some time since I missed much of the fantastic aroma and flavor people rave about online.  I should have grabbed a pour of angel’s share
  • overall, the great beer selection and tasty/inexpensive food at congregation definitely merit return visits, especially on a weekend afternoon.

on sunday my two kegs of kolsch went on a swiss family robinson-style adventure.

  • AP and I headed out north on PCH to go visit our new orleans krewe for a mardi gras picture swap/potluck.
  • after passing dozens of tempting sets up the coast from surfrider, to point dume, to zuma(!), we finally arrived at our host’s estate(!).
  • the potluck was being held at our host’s beachfront cottage, which necessitated an agile climb down a steep cliff side staircase (not something you want to do while balancing ten gallons of brew).  fortunately, a zipline had been constructed as a sort of abstract dumbwaiter, and after a minute of securing, the beers were off down the cliff.
  • a few minutes later party-goers were enjoying some cloudy kolsch with pulled pork and slaw on a private beach.  doesn’t get much better than that!

hop crown transplant, naja’s, beer delivery

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

on friday AP and I spearheaded a thirsty mission to naja’s in redondo.

during the weekend I managed to transplant some of my hop crowns from their pots to the side yard.

  • I chose my cascade and zeus plants to transplant since I use derivations of those varieties (columbus and amarillo) most often in my hoppier beers.  they were also the best performers given my growing conditions.
  • the cascade crown was huge after only a year’s growth, and had a root ball the size of a basketball, which should help with any transplant shock.
  • the zeus crown was two years old and was even bigger.  I found a good separation point in the crown and split it into two pieces, each of which I planted individually.
  • I got all three in the ground right before a heavy downpour hit for days, so hopefully the crowns are set and ready to take off.

I also got a surprise in the mail from EW and JW out of florida, who enjoyed many a brew with AP, myself, and the rest of the crew in new orleans.

  • the package was basically a cigar city gift basket, including a snifter, their IPA, and a bunch of their funky, sour saisons.  I can’t wait to pop some of these bottles and add their dregs to my own saison.  thanks again you two!

patersbier, wild yeast, cuvee update

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

on saturday I decided to brew a fairly neutral, yeast-forward beer to test out my newly harvested wild strain.

  • I came across a simple recipe from northern brewer online (pdf link) for a patersbier and figured it was just the ticket.
  • I doubled up the recipe as follows:
    • 18.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 100.00 %
      2.00 oz Tradition [6.00 %] (60 min) Hops 22.0 IBU
      1.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (10 min) Hops 2.7 IBU
  • I mashed low (148) and added 2 oz. of 8% AA tradition hops, which was for the best since 1.5 gals of wort disappeared during the boil and I ended up with an OG of 1.051 (target was 1.047).
  • I pitched a starter of WLP500 trappist into 5.5 gals of the wort, and pitched a significant amount of my stepped-up wild yeast slurry into a little over 4 gallons.  both were chugging away by sunday morning.

I also managed to rack my cuvee de cabrillo onto some oak and cherries during the brew day.

  • I first had a taste of each of the individual ferments: (A) sour mix/cascade apricot dregs; (B) roselare blend/drie fonteinen dregs/T-58 slurry; and (C) straight T-58 slurry
    • aroma notes: (A) is clean, fruity, with a clean booziness; (B) has more of a dirty fruitiness, with some bubble gum; (C) is sweet, boozy
    • taste notes: (A) is clean, with a light sourness and a dry finish; (B) is fruity, dry, and clean, with a hint of tartness; (C) is hot, boozy, and oxidized with some fruit
    • gravity: (A) FG: 1.019, ABV: 9.17%; (B) FG: 1.013, ABV: 9.81%; (C) FG: 1.011, ABV: 10.05%
  • I then racked ~120 oz. of sour cherries and 2.5 oz. of toasted white finishing oak into a sanke keg.  I soaked the oak in maker’s mark bourbon overnight.
  • after racking (A) and (B) onto the cherries and oak, I noticed some fermentation kick up by the next day.  I kept the slurry from (A) in a gallon jug and racked a quarter gallon of the patersbier wort onto it to keep it busy.  I’ve got high hopes for this one!


new orleans, LA

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

AP and I just got back from mardi gras festivities in new orleans, and it was nothing short of epic.

  • on friday I managed to sneak out before our first ball and headed over to NOLA brewing to check out their setup.  the little I had heard about them was promising, but I was completely unprepared for the experience I was about have.
  • as soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by some friendly brewhands and a couple of marine biologists who were into craft beer, homebrewing, and safely eating crawfish (don’t suck the heads!).
  • in fact, within a minute or two of entering the brewhouse I had a pint glass in my hand and was watching a ten gallon pot being filled with brown ale to boil up some crustaceans.
  • fifteen minutes later I was on my second pour of NOLA’s excellent hopitoulas and was getting schooled on local beer spots by my new found friends.  minutes turned into hours as the tour turned into a full blown party, with the taps (and cask pump!) flowing freely and everyone chatting me up like I lived just down the street.
  • the excellent hospitality peaked with NOLA brewer melanie recounting some great beer adventures, reserving some of their first-run bottled stout for me at the local bottle shop, and running off to grab some of her boyfriend’s (killer!) distilled spirits for me to try.
  • several “where are you?!?” texts from AP and other ball-goers finally pulled me away and I reluctantly jumped into a cab, leaving behind a steaming pot of crawfish, a spectacular beer lineup, and a ton of fast friends who were some of the most welcoming I had ever met.
  • the next day the APs and I cruised over to the highly recommended avenue pub for a beer or three.  after reading a notice on their beer list apologizing for their limited tap selection due to mardi gras, I proceeded to grab bottles of la roja and fou foune (at great prices), as well as more NOLA pints and other local brews.
  • after sharing some spirits with the great bartender, wolfing down some tasty house fries, and digging through their quality back bar coolers, we ran into a fellow beer geek couple who made the drive out from florida.  we talked beer for the rest of the night at various spots throughout the city and I picked up some great southeast beer tips.  remember to shoot me your address for some beers!
  • the rest of the trip included shucking through hundreds of pounds of oysters at the source on a boat, pouring through abita’s lineup at the orpheus ball, stuffing my face at drago’s with the cvitanoviches, and grabbing/tossing more beads than I care to imagine all over the city.  I really want to thank everyone at NOLA and all the people I ran into over the last few days for making our mardis gras experience something that was really extraordinary.  the hospitality AP and I experienced on our trip was unmatched, and we both can’t wait to get back down to do it all over again.

white whales and wild yeast

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

on thursday the two APs and I headed over to meet up with ML at naja’s for russian river night.

over the weekend I also managed to keg my cider.

  • I blended the half-gallon batch from december (dry and somewhat vinous) with 2 gallons fermented in january (slightly sweet and tangy with great apple aroma).  it should be perfect for the greek easter picnic in about a month.
  • on the topic of cider, I also managed to score some bottles of isastegi sagardo, so expect a tasting update on that soon…

and finally, after reading pages of notes, experiments, and results, I finally decided to try my hand at wild yeast capturing.

  • I made a small starter, lightly hopped it, and let it cool in three small jars on my outside balcony overnight (mid 40F temps).  I covered the jars with paint straining material and took the jars in during the day.
  • after a couple of days with no results, I poured the samples into my erlenmeyer flask and let it sit out during part of a cold morning (mid 50F temps) under my orange tree near some flowers.  I took it back inside and when I checked on it this morning (24 hrs later), I finally spotted some yeast activity.
  • I’m planning on giving it another week in its current solution, then stepping it up and washing it.  with any luck, a truly local brew will be in the works soon!