Posts Tagged ‘homebrew’

three nights in SF

Friday, October 29th, 2010

“what are your favorite SF beer spots?” a tough question to answer.  however, a week or two ago, I flew up to SF for business.  although the days were all work, the nights were a chance to stop by some of my favorite brew sources in the city.  given a limited time (3 nights) and a central location (the embarcadero), these were the places that made the cut.

  • night 1: giordano bros., la trappe, and rogue. going to giordano bros. for a coppa with egg with AF and CB was a no-brainer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they now have beer on draft (I grabbed a pour of mangolia’s kalifornia kolsch).
  • afterwards, it was a straight shot to la trappe, where a bottle of drie fonteinen’s oude geuze was popped between AF, CB, and JC.  although la trappe has fallen slightly out of favor with me these days due to their high prices, cramped atmosphere, and spotty beer availability, you would be hard pressed to find many of their offerings elsewhere in the city.
  • we left la trappe for an outside table at rogue, where a pour of lagunitas little sumpin’ wild ended the night perfectly.  although I honestly can’t remember the last time I ordered a rogue beer there…
  • night 2: memphis minnie’s, toronado. as mentioned before, memphis minnie’s is my go-to spot now before toronado.  a pitcher of anchor steam complemented the ‘pulled’ chicken and greens nicely before heading over to toronado.
  • after experiencing the worst bar service I have ever known (even for toronado), I grabbed a cornucopia of brews, from moonlight’s homegrown to some russian river favorites.
  • night 3: healthy spirits and some CB homebrew. with checked bags being included on southwest, I knew I had to take some rarities home with me, so off to I went with CB to see dave over at healthy spirits.  after a half hour of pacing the store, I grabbed some goodies from hanssens, lagunitas, russian river, and drie fonteinen.
  • I then rolled over to CB’s, where we sampled over half a dozen of his homebrews, including a funked saison that was definitely top notch.  we spent a few hours pulling samples from carboys with thick pellicles and finished the night with a 750 of cascade’s the vine, which is a beer that was truly fantastic.  I left satisfied and inspired to be more adventurous with my own brewing .  thanks again CB!

alesmith yulesmith winter 2009

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

alesmith yulesmith in the glass

when I was organizing bottles for the strong beer session, I came across a bottle of yulesmith by alesmith down in san diego that PB and NB donated to the cause a while back.

  • I assumed this brew was a strong winter warmer or barleywine based on the packaging, but further research revealed that it was in fact a highly-hopped double red.
  • in fact, the beer comes out twice a year, and is a double IPA in the summer and a double red in the winter.
  • truthfully, when I cracked open the beer and took a sniff, I thought it was a double IPA – the hop aroma was very intense and citrusy.
  • only the dark pour gave any indication that this was something else in addition to a straight up hop bomb.
  • the beer was fantastic – very well balanced, with plenty of malt to counter the hop aggressiveness.
  • I’m a big fan of alesmith – their founders started as accomplished homebrewers and made their dream a reality.  plus, it’s easy to support their cause when they put out kickass beers!

alesmith yulesmith bomber

alesmith yulesmith

homebrewed vojvodina pale ale tasting

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

vojvodina pale pour

at long last, I finally tapped my fresh-hop single-hop vojvodina pale ale (phew!) and AP poured me up a glass.

  • the crystal and cara-pils specialty malts gave the beer some nice color (its actually pretty dark for a pale ale).
  • I was very satisfied with the head on the beer as well – each pour results in a nice 2-finger head which dissipates over a few minutes.
  • the beer has a slightly bready/malty yeast aroma, with no hop aroma to speak of (probably because the beer was a fresh-hop beer, even though the hop’s lineage indicates aroma and dual purpose characteristics).
  • the flavor is pretty mild, with little perceived bitterness.  it’s not malt or hop-forward, but is a good session beer with a clean finish that probably clocks in at over 6% abv.
  • my goals for next year’s fresh-hop harvest ale? lighten up the malt bill, and double the hops (and perhaps pulverize them) and maybe use a yeast with a more transparent finish to see if I can end up with more of a hoppy profile (maybe a fresh hop IPA?).  hopefully I’ll also have enough zeus next year to have a little fresh hop taste-off…

vojvodina pale in the glass

abstract pour

homebrewed belgian quadrupel

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

belgian quad straight from the tap

about a year ago I decided to brew one of my favorite styles – a belgian quadrupel.

  • I love the general complexity, intense flavor, and alcohol bite of a well-made quad.  some of my favorite (accessible) quads are pannepot old fisherman’s ale, st. bernardus abt 12, and rochefort 10.
  • I especially enjoy the “cola” flavors of the 10, so I initially was planning on brewing a clone of that brew, but BYO came out with an extract clone recipe for the abt 12 that looked too good to pass up.  I can’t find that issue for the life of me, but I managed to find the all-grain counterpart online:
    • St. Bernardus 12
    • OG=1.103
    • FG.=1.017

      10#’s Pilsener malt
      3.0 #’s Munich malt
      1.0 #’s aromatic malt
      0.5 #’s Carafa Special III malt
      3.0 #’s Belgian candi syrup (Dark 2) (15 min)
      3.5 AAU Wye Challenger hops
      (60 min) (0.50 oz. 7% alpha acids)
      1.3 AAU Styrian Goldings (20 min)
      (0.25 oz. of 5% alpha acid)
      Wyeast 3787 (Trappist High Gravity) yeast

      Step by Step:
      Mash with a 15 minute rest at 135 deg.F, a 35 minute rest at 145 deg F, and a 25 minute rest at 165 deg F, a 5 minutes at 172 deg F. Boil wort for 60 minutes, adding hops and sugars at times indicated in the ingredient list. Cool wort and aerate. Pitch yeast at 70 deg. F. Let fermentation temperature rise to around 83 deg F. Rack beer to secondary and condition for six to eight weeks at 50 deg. F. Carbonate to 3.0 – 3.5 volumes of CO2.

  • I remember that I may have substituted 1762 for the 3787, but it was a while back.  both yeasts seem great for this brew.
  • A few weeks back I tapped the keg (after close to a year in secondary), and was definitely satisfied with the results.  The beer has a fruity, mildly alcoholic nose, and is smooth and drinkable with good mouthfeel.  The taste has hints of cola and molasses, has fine carbonation, and leaves a sticky sweet finish in the glass.  There is plenty of this beer left, and you can only drink so much at a time, but I am already dreading the eventual kicking of this keg!

quad in the glass

top view of the quad

presidio blackberry kölsch

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009


Although the majority of the recipes I do (at the moment) are partial mash, when it comes to my kölsch recipe I do full extract.

  • to make matters worse, I get the kolsch ingredient kit from williams brewing.  I love william’s, but some people give them crap for not disclosing their ingredient proportions in their kits or labelling their hops.  It doesnt bother me much with the kolsch, i mean with one type of LME and two hop additions, it’s not that hard to reverse engineer.  I’ll figure out a comparable all-grain recipe when I switch over next year.
  • plus, williams has good prices, and best of all, they ship the same day for orders before 3pm pacific.  since they are located in san leandro (a quick shot north of SF), i get my packages from them next day for a flat rate (usually $6 or $7) ground shipping price.  they’re a great option if you’re located in the pacific northwest.
image courtesy of

image courtesy of

I feel i have a special connection with kölsch.

  • Specifically, kölsch can technically only be called such if it is brewed in Cologne, Germany, where my maternal grandfather’s ancestors hail from.
  • It is the perfect session beer and is a very social beverage, being served in small, narrow glasses called  “stanges.”
  • It is also an interesting beer in that while it resembles a pilsener, it uses ale (top-fermenting) yeast and is lagered after a relatively warm primary fermentation.
  • as for the pronunciation – some places say it is “cole-sch,” others (including the bartender at suppenküche) say it is “cool-sch.” whatever.

to mix this batch up a little bit, I wandered around the Presidio picking wild blackberries.

  • according to a pamphlet i read some time back, the Presidio recommends against eating any growth in their park except for wild blackberries.
  • i ended up with a couple pounds of the fruit, enough (hopefully) to add a little color and fruit aroma to the beer.
  • additionally, i was hoping some wild yeasts on the fruit would kick off a secondary fermentation, but so far i don’t see any activity worth mentioning.

the kölsch has been in primary for about a month, with the fruit added after 2 weeks.  i am going to wait a few more weeks (to hopefully get some more color/sugars out of the fruit) and then keg the batch.