Archive for January, 2012

pacific gravity, lost abbey swag

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

one of my new year’s resolutions was to be more socially active in the homebrew community.

  • even though I frequently peruse (and occasionally post at) homebrewtalk and BBB, most of my homebrewing posse is up north, so the vast majority of my wort boiling is now conducted solo.
  • furthermore, with 12+ gallon batches being the norm these days, even with four beers on tap in the basement, some kegs of “non-standard” (hoppy, sour, strong, etc.) brews take many months to kick.  getting significant feedback on my brews is also difficult, with many tasters providing a binary “like/dislike” response when asked for their opinion.
  • after getting a taste of competition at the OC fair, and reading positive reactions from fellow blogger club members like BT, I decided to join pacific gravity, a well-established local club with a strong membership.  in fact, PG just won homebrew club of the year for the fourth time in nine years.
  • I attended their first monthly meeting of the year, and was thoroughly impressed with its organization and execution.  over the course of a few hours kegs were tapped, bottles were circulated, minutes were read, and a club competition was conducted, with a raffle topping off the night.  everyone was friendly and approachable, and my keg of rye saison was warmly received.  I’m definitely looking forward to many more club meetings, as well as festivals and competitions.

in other news, my spoils from the lost abbey comp arrived, and included a set of stemware and a lost abbey hoody.  thanks guys!


bottle reuse, lost abbey comp

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

first off, I’m sure most, if not all, overcarbed visitors know about the SOPA/PIPA issue – if not, please read up a little and formulate your own opinion.

I always cringe a little when I cruise past the thousands of empty bottles packaged and stacked for sale at my local homebrew store – not only are they expensive, but I feel they go against the DIY lifestyle that homebrewing embodies.

  • don’t get me wrong, clean, ready-to-go bottles can be a huge time saver when bottling a large amount of brew, and I occasionally purchase a box or two of bombers for purposes of uniformity when I forgo kegging to bottle a portion of my specialty beers, but with used bottles available in great supply and at low cost (read: free), it seems a shame not to engage in eco-friendly bottle reuse.
  • when saving bottles, I like to rinse the bottle immediately after it has been emptied, and maybe shake some hot water in the bottle to release any caked-on dregs.  no beer bottle in my household touches human lips, but I do get bottle donations from neighbors and friends (CB and others have also had good luck talking to bottle shop owners for cases of empties).  in that scenario, after rinsing I hold the base of the bottles up to a light and peer through the mouth to look for any mold/bacteria growth.  if any is present, I toss the bottle into the recycle bin, as in my experience it’s not worth the time and effort to clean an infected bottle.
  • after the bottles have been rinsed and inspected, they are sent to the basement soaking station, where one by one they are soaked in a plastic pitcher overnight.  individual soaking avoids the monotony of a group soak/clean as well as the use of a large soaking bucket.  some people add cleaners like PBW and oxyclean to their soaking water, but I have found that plain water works fine and is cheaper in the long run.
  • after the overnight soak, I peel the label off with my fingernails and rub any leftover residue off with a scrubber sponge.  in the case of hard to remove, multi-layered plastic-type labels (such as those from lost abbey and russian river), I stick a single bottle in the microwave for sixty seconds and peel the label off with my fingers or a razor blade while holding the neck with an oven mitt.  any annoying leftover residue can be removed with a little olive oil and a paper towel.
  • after a quick final internal and external rinse, the bottle is ready to be toweled off and stored.  I store my bottles on their side on a rack, but if you store yours upright I recommend placing a piece of paper, foil, or saran wrap over the tops of the bottles to avoid dust settling inside over the long term.
  • with traditional bombers running over a buck each and belgian bottles trading hands for over three dollars a piece, and with bottle shipping being prohibitively expensive, reusing bottles can save you significant cash while offering a solution much greener than even recycling.

on a completely different note, in a fortuitous turn of events, yours truly won a contest over at port/lost abbey.  go figure.  well, technically I got second place, but my idea is going to be turned into a commercial and there is a high likelihood that I will be able to participate in/be part of the filming some time in february, so I’ll be sure to post updates as they come.  stoked!


cuvee de cabrillo II, mohawk bend

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

after impatiently waiting and slowly building my sour pipeline, the time had finally come to bottle the first of my four annual house sours: cuvee de cabrillo.

  • after a year in the fermenter (and close to ten months on cherries and oak), the beer had dropped to a FG of 1.0038, for a final abv of 11%.  I am also happy to report a great cherry aroma and a significant complex sourness, which I’m guessing is attributable to the robust cascade lacto and/or the cuvee de tomme “superbug” dregs I pitched around nine months back.  despite the growing trend of “quick” sours, I feel that the only way to get a satisfying multi-dimensional sourness is to wait out a long-term fermentation.
  • after cleaning, corking, and caging a mess of reused belgian bottles (which turned out to be a monster pain in the ass and something I’m not planning on repeating anytime soon), I tweaked a couple of variables in the cabrillo recipe for the replacement batch by subbing in low-alpha hops and a little more chocolate and special B malts (11 gals, 80% efficiency):
    • 22 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 64.7 %
      2 lbs Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 2 5.9 %
      2 lbs Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 3 5.9 %
      2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 4 5.9 %
      2 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 5 5.9 %
      1 lbs Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6 2.9 %
      1 lbs Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 7 2.9 %
      2 lbs Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 8 5.9 %
      3.00 oz Saaz [1.00 %] – Boil 120.0 min Hop 9 3.8 IBUs
  • after close to a two-hour boil, I ended up with an SG of 1.091, which was right on target for the recipe.  after cooling the wort overnight to 66F, I racked it directly onto the oak, cherries, and yeast/bug slurry of the previous batch.  I’m planning on letting the bottles carb up for a month or so before I pour one out to see the final product.
  • note that to ensure adequate carbonation, rehydrated wine yeast was added to both the keg and bottling bucket at the rate of 1gram/100mL warm water/5gals beer, and 5.8oz of dissolved and cooled cane sugar was added to the bottling bucket, while 4oz. dry cane sugar was added to the keg.
  • AP and I also celebrated the weekend by heading over to mohawk bend, an echo park gastropub from the guy who thought up tony’s darts away.  beers and spirits are CA-only, and most of the (vegan-centric) food is sourced within the state as well.  AP and I washed down some mussels, quinoa salad, and vegan burgers with some tasty brews like craftsman’s IPA and el segundo’s double summit dry hopped blue house pale.  although the location results in a hipster-dense atmosphere, the food, beers, and service were fantastic, and mohawk bend is definitely on my short list of key players in the LA beer scene.



happy new year!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

happy new year from overcarbed HQ!  2012 promises to be an exciting year full of sours coming of age, beer trips across the nation, and a plethora of homebrew activities.  for now, here are some outtakes from the 2011 season, featuring individuals who personify the overcarbed spirit.  enjoy!