Posts Tagged ‘small beer’

may PG meeting, cider, belgian small beer, temptation notes

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

the third thursday of may was last week, which meant that I was headed to culver city for PG’s monthly meeting.

  • the monthly style was IPAs, which drew a ton of kegs (12+) and commercial bottles as well as a great crowd (the raffle was especially entertaining).  after resting my blown-out palate, I pulled the cork from a bottle of my cider, which had just turned the corner after being sick with pedio for several months (a good thing!).  I was pleased with the results and held a more detailed (and lupulin-free) tasting last night.
    • basque cider
    • appearance – pale gold, great clarity, very slight carbonation
    • aroma – earthy funk, sweet cooked apple, spice
    • taste – clean, light funk up front with a lingering apple finish, mellow acidity
    • notes – although not as funky as I would have hoped (aroma was stronger than actual taste), this is a great alternative to a standard cider and a good intro to the wild side for the uninitiated
  • I also had a chance to try out a small beer I had made in the parti-gyle method while sparging vizcaino II.  I collected around six gallons of wort at around 6 brix and pitched a starter of WLP500 that I decided to leave out of my main batch.  after adding about 1/3 gal of leftover sour cherry juice from cabrillo II, the beer finished at 2.8 brix for an abv of around 2.6%.
    • pinky (belgian small beer)
    • appearance – golden apricot color, fine effervescence, fluffy white head
    • aroma – light floral belgian yeast, clove spice, slight belgian phenols
    • taste – light and crisp with a dry, slightly bitter finish, palate scrubbing carbonation
    • notes – good budweiser sessionable alternative, lawnmower beer, could use during a tasting as a palate refresher
  • I also managed to choke down a three-year-old, delightfully bretty bottle of temptation (004X1) and pitch the dregs into vizcaino II.  it had been a while since I had tried that beer and I was somewhat surprised to find very little lacto or pedio sourness in the flavor profile – just a very assertive brett character reminiscent of orval that provided a fluffy, long lasting head and great carbonation.  hopefully some of that brett character comes through in vizcaino!



keg gasket replacement/refurbishing

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

after a successful weekend pouring the marzen as a “movemberfest” at ML’s movember fundraiser party, I was motivated to keg the small beer from my last brew session, which I had dry hopped with a couple ounces of willamette for about a week.  since my only remaining kegs were uncleaned and not rebuilt, a gasket replacement and general cleaning was in order.

  • simply put, buying “reconditioned” kegs with the gaskets replaced is a rip-off.  morebeer sells refurbished kegs for $17 more than their unrefurbished counterparts.  also, stores like northern brewer don’t even carry refurbished kegs, and their new ones run over three times the price of used.  rebuilding a standard cornelius keg only takes a couple bucks and a few minutes of your time:
  • after giving your keg a general external washing (I blast mine with a garden hose jet setting) and quick scrub to remove dirt, syrup, and any other external debris, grab a socket wrench and unscrew the beer OUT post on the keg.  you will need either a 7/8″ or 11/16″ ‘deep’ socket, depending on what style posts you have.  I recommend picking up both sockets at a place like harbor freight, especially if you keg with any frequency.







  • once you remove the post (you might have to wrestle with it a little after unscrewing), pull the dip tube out of the keg and and roll the o-ring at the top of the tube down and off of the tube.  sometimes the o-ring is fused onto the top of the dip tube from years of abuse, in which case a razor blade or thumbnail may come in handy to pry 0-ring loose.  if you see any mineral deposits or other gunk on the dip tube, scrub them off.







  • take your replacement o-ring and slide it back up the tube, then replace the dip tube.  note that the gasket replacement kit contains five items – two dip tube o-rings, two post o-rings, and one lid gasket.  major retailers sell these for $3-4 online, but I have found some for as little as $1.50 a set.


  • do the same with the gas IN post of the keg.  a few things to note here – (1)the gas in dip tube is much smaller than the beer out post, and may be either metal or plastic; (2) the gas in dip tube can be a pain in the ass to pull out of the gas in post.  be sure to clean the dip tube thoroughly, as these things are usually filthy – a q-tip soaked in PBW works well.  while replacing the o-rings on the dip tubes, I also like to punch the poppets out of both posts (using a pen tip or chopstick) and soak the poppets, posts, gas in dip tube, and lid pressure relief valve (the valve that screws into the lid of the keg) in a hot PBW solution for a few minutes and rinse with hot water.  a word of warning, however – the gas IN and beer OUT posts are NOT interchangeable, so make note of which is which (one usually has a different shape or is notched).
  • after the posts, poppets, and dip tubes are clean, reassemble and hand tighten the posts.  next, remove and replace the post o-rings.  a razor blade or knife makes this job a lot easier.  then replace the lid gasket and you’re all set!



  • after replacing the gaskets, I like to shake up a good amount of PBW and hot water in the keg.






  • while the hot PBW sits in the keg, I then clean the beer out dip tube by running hot PBW through the beer out post via my homemade line cleaner.  I then rinse the keg a couple of times with hot water and shake up some star-san in the keg, which I also run through my beer out line.


  • after dumping out the sanitizer, the keg is ready to fill with your beverage of choice.   my small beer finished at 1.004 for an ABV of 4.22%, and a sample tasted promising, as the earthy hops blended nicely with the toned-down roast profile.  I primed the keg with 4.7oz. of wildflower honey and will give it about a month to carb up.
  • despite the rising cost of stainless steel, by buying inexpensive gasket kits and keeping an eye out for the occasional bargain, I can pick up kegs for $20-25, which is about half of what they go for in “refurbished” condition.  good luck!

simplified parti-gyle brewing: imperial american stout, small beer

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

over the past few months, I have noticed a gradual increase in my collection of leftover specialty grains.

  • last-minute recipe alterations, quarter-pound grain additions, and preliminary miscalculations have results over time in a sealed bucket full of malted odds and ends.  the majority of my leftovers are of the high-roast/variety used sparingly in stouts, quads, black lagers, etc.
  • knowing firsthand that long-gone leftovers just end up in the compost, I decided to clean house and make an imperial american-style stout with all of my dark grains and a liberal application of 2-row:
    • 30.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 88.11 %
      0.75 lb Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 2.20 %
      0.75 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 2.20 %
      0.75 lb Carafa II (412.0 SRM) Grain 2.20 %
      0.50 lb Black Barley (Stout) (500.0 SRM) Grain 1.47 %
      0.40 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 1.17 %
      0.30 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 0.88 %
      0.30 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 0.88 %
      0.30 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 0.88 %
      2.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 42.5 IBU
      2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (60 min) Hops 14.4 IBU
      2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (15 min) Hops 7.1 IBU
  • for the hop additions, I used a large chunk of my homegrown hop stash (specifically, all my chinooks and cascades).  although in an ideal world a totally homegrown saison would have had dibs on those hops, making a homebrew shop run for a couple commercial ounces of varieties that I already had didn’t make sense.  I also whipped up a healthy two-liter starter of venerable WLP001 for fermentation duties.
  • after mashing in 34 lbs of grain, my mash tun was almost at capacity (I’ve heard of people adding as much as 40 lbs, but I wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous).  I hit my mash temp of 151F and ended up with ten gallons with an O.G. of 1.09.
  • with all that grain in the mash tun, it seemed like a shame to waste any leftover sugars, so I decided to make a small beer using a parti-gyle procedure, which sounds complex but is in fact dead simple.  instead of using a first/second runnings “batch sparge” approach, I further simplified the process by adding 6 gallons of sparge water to my HLT and collecting an additional 6 gallons of wort in a separate kettle after my initial sparge was complete.
  • after hopping the small beer with 1.5 oz of willamette pellets at 60 and 15 min, I ended up with 4.5 gallons with an O.G. of 1.037, and will dry-hop with another couple of ounces in an attempt at a hoppy, low abv brew.
  • during the boil I also managed to keg my pseudo marzen, which ended up at 1.016 for a devilish abv of 6.66%.  after about a week at 65 to carb up, I’m planning on cold crashing the kegs in the mid 30s until some space frees up in the kegerator.



anchor small beer

Monday, January 4th, 2010

small beer in the glass

lately I have been picking up as many bottles of anchor brewing’s small beer as I can handle.

  • the beer gets a crappy rating on beeradvocate, which categorizes it as an american pale ale.
  • however, this beer is definitely not an APA – it is a small beer (see bottom of article), a brew made with the second runnings of a stronger beer, following an ages-old practice that is pretty much extinct in modern brewing, craft or otherwise.
  • the beer is crisp, well-carbonated, and bitter, and is perfect for a hot day in the park, clocking in at a modest 3.3% abv.
  • it is also a great beer to drink to reflect on brewing tradition.  in taste and aroma, the graininess of the brew is more pronounced than in standard beers, and is reminiscent of sniffing an open mash tun or taking a sip of some sweet wort.
  • the homebrew geek in me loves what this beer stands for and agrees with anchor that “the idea of reviving an ancient brewing tradition… is something of great importance.”
  • if you see this beer around, give it a shot! it is an inexpensive history lesson and a great way to cool off.

small beer closeup

glass of small beer

small beer bottle

taps petaluma

Monday, November 9th, 2009

the bar at taps

after doing some biking and meeting up with my cousin TF up at sonoma state, AP and I dropped by petaluma on our way back to the city.

  • AP had done some research and told me that taps in petaluma looked like a good place to stop by for a brew.
  • I was a little hesitant at first, since we only had time for one stop, and lagunitas was right around the corner.
  • however, as soon as we sided up the the bar, I knew there weren’t going to be any regrets.
  • with a name like taps, you would expect at least a few good offerings on draft here.  true to its name, taps offered an outstanding tap selection, ranging from numerous local kegs to plenty of belgians.  the even had a cask of bourbon ruben and the jets from lagunitas on hand pump!
  • in fact, I was so torn over what to choose first that Ana, the bartender, took it for confusion and quickly poured me up a couple samples she recommended.
  • I finally settled on (surprise!) moonlight’s 40 to life.  Eric, one of the owners (along with his wife, Wendy), told me that it was a one-off keg that Brian made by blending 20 to life and 60 to life to get an appropriate amount of sourness that he felt was appropriate for the crowd.  the beer was outstanding – very drinkable, tart and sour, but well balanced.
  • AP had an anchor small beer on my recommendation.  although this beer doesn’t get much love, I think it’s because it’s not categorized as a small beer and appreciated for what it is.  personally, I love it’s grainy bite and sessionability.  it’s like a modern-day table beer.
  • to finish off, AP and I shared a black xantus, an imperial stout from nectar ales.  I heard hype about this beer for over a month, and it definitely lived up to it – it was very complex, and had great subtle notes of oak, coffee, and roasted malt that all blended perfectly.  in a world of boozy, high gravity imperial stouts, black xantus was a smooth, drinkable alternative (although it still clocked in at 11%!).
  • on a non-beer note, the sausages and dogs at taps are great as well.  my chicago dog was definitely the best I’ve had outside of illinois, probably because, as Eric mentioned, all the ingredients (down to the buns) are brought over from the windy city.
  • overall, taps turned out to be an impreessive establishment with outstanding beers, friendly staff, and good eats.  it is definitely on my must-visit list every time I come near petaluma from now on.
  • more info on taps can be found on this blog post.

ruben and the jets hand pump

40 to life

the beer list and some empty samplers

anchor small beer

black xantus

one of the tap lineups