Tuesday, December 21, 2010

American Stout

This past weekend I brewed up an Amerian Stout. I wanted to push the limits of my all grain system to see how big of a beer I could mash in my current 10 gallon cooler system. Well it looks like 27 lbs is about the max. That adds up to around a 6% abv all grain beer. I recently upgraded to a 14 gallon conical fermentor (will post more on that in another blog post) so I'm going to be focused more on doing 10-11 gallon batches. Wishing my mash tun was just a littler larger, guess it might be time to work on perfecting the lower ABV session beers. I made a few changes to my brew stand as well. Basically raised the two horizontal pieces so I can go directly from my mash tun into my boil kettle while it's on the burner (lifting 13-14 gallones of wort from the floor onto a burner didn't sound fun).

11 Gallon Batch
60 Minute Boil

20 lbs of American 2 Row
2 lbs of Roasted Barley
1.5 lbs of Pale Chocolate Malt
1.5 lbs of Crystal 40
2 lbs of Flaked Oats

2 oz of Simcoe for 60 Minutes
2 oz of Centennial for 30 Minutes
2 oz of Amarillo at KO

Wyeast 1056 American Ale – 2 packs with large starter

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.050
OG = 1.061
FG = 1.014
ABV = 6.1%
IBU = 57

8.5 gallons @ 152 for 60 minutes

Fly sparge with 10 gallons of water

I plan to keg 5 gallons of this beer. I may even try out dry hopping it in the keg depending on how the hop aroma is. I like my stouts to have a bit of a citrusy hop aroma to them. The other 5 gallons I plan to transfer into a secondary fermentor no cocoa nibs. I may even try to incorporate some Dogfish Head Peanut Butter Vodka into a few of the chocolate stout bottles. We shall see...

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Barrel Has Arrived

The Jack Daniel bourbon barrel has arrived. Just need to wait out the fermentation of everyones Russian Imperial Stout and then it will be time to head back over to Vince to fill this sucker up!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bourbon Barrel Russian Imperial Stout

My friend and neighbor Vince is on a barrel kick lately. A few months back we got together with a group of brewers and brewed Belgian Blonde that went into a 60 or so gallon wine barrel. This time around Vince acquired a Jack Daniels Bourbon barrel which we brewed up a nice big Russian Imperial Stout to throw in it. Here is the recipe and photos from the brew day.

6 Gallons
90 Minute Boil

17.5 lbs of American 2 Row
3 lbs of Flaked Oats
1 lb of Black Patent
1 lb of Crystal 120
1 lb of Chocolate
1 lb of Roasted Barley

3 oz of Columbus - 60 minutes
1 oz of Williamette - 30 Minutes
1 oz of Williamette - KO

7 gallons of water, mash at 153 for 60 minutes and fly sparge with 5 gallons of water for 60 minutes.

American Ale Yeast (Wyeast 1056 or White Labs 001)

Pre-Boil Gravity - 1.073
OG - 1.100
FG - 1.020
ABV - 10.5%

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Citra IPA

Yesterday I brewed an IPA using all Citra hops. I had about 8 ounces of Citra hops from the 2009 crop and figured I would use them up in an IPA. Here is the recipe.

7 Gallon Batch

60 Minute Boil


11 lbs of American Two Row

2 lbs of Maris Otter

1 lb of Wheat Malt

1 lb of Crystal 20

½ lb of Carapils

1/2 lb of Corn Sugar


1.5 oz of Citra [11%] (60 min)

1 oz of Citra [11%] (30 min)

1 oz of Citra [11%] (10 min)

1 oz of Citra [11%] (5 min)

1 oz of Citra [11%] (0 min)

2 oz Dry Hop for 12 days

1 oz Dry Hop for 5 days


White Labs WLP001 (1 vial with a starter)


Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.045 (takes into account just the grain bill)

OG = 1.063

FG = 1.010

ABV = 7.1 %

IBU = 69


5 gallons @ 152 for 60 minutes


fly sparge with 7 gallons

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sour Belgian Dubbel Project

For the past three years I have been getting together with my friend Jesse to brew some sort of sour beer. We always brew some sort of a 10 gallon batch of Belgian Ale, and then split the batch. One half ferments out with a standard Belgian ale strain, the second half we then transfer to a secondary and send it through some sort of extended fermentation to sour the beer.

Today we got together and bottled last years version. See the summary here. In addition we brewed this years batch. A more traditional style Belgian Dubbel. For the "sour" half we plan to transfer into secondary in about 7-10 days and sour using Wyeast 3763 Roselare Blend yeast. In addition we plan to incorporate some sort of oak into the process, potentially Cabernet soaked french oak...but we are still working out those details. Well here is the recipe.

10 Gallon Batch
90 Minute Boil

21 lbs of Belgian Pilsner Malt
2 lbs of Munich Malt
2 lbs of Weyerman Pale Wheat Malt
1 lb Aromatic Malt
1 lb Caravienne Malt
1 lb Special B Malt

Hop/Sugar Additions:
2.5 oz Styrian Goldings [4.6% ] (60 min)
0.5 oz Sytrian Goldings [4.6% ] (30 min)
1 oz Saaz, Czech [3.2 %] (15 min)
1 oz Saaz, Czech [3.2 %] (0 min) Hops
2.00 lb Candi Sugar (Dark Candi Inc Liquid) - end of boil

Wyeast 1762 (2 packs with starter)


Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.050 (takes into account just the grain bill)
OG = 1.082
FG = 1.015
ABV = 9%
IBU = 22

We had a little better efficiency than I was expecting and our OG was a little higher then expected. Might put the ABV just outside of the style guidelines, although a 9% Belgian Dubbel should be fine especially since we will be controlling the initial fermentation temp below 70.

8 gallons @ 152 for 90 minutes. As you can see from the picture above...we were pushing the limit on my all grain cooler system with 28 lbs of grain. If I brewed this again I would probably cut back the Pilsner malt to 18 lbs.

10 gallons @ 200 for 60 minutes

Below is a photo of our Belgian Single Project (...which we were saying today is more like a Belgian Sour Blonde project). Will have to see what some carbonation does to the final soured version of the beer. My initial thought is the brett is certainly there, the beer is as dry as a bone, it just didn't turn out super sour/funky. I still think it's going to be one nice tasting beer though.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Christmas Ale 2010

I forgot to post about the annual Christmas Ale I have brewed with my good friend Tommy G for the past 5 years. This years version has been brewed, fermented and is currently bottle conditioning. The brew day went pretty well, with one kind of somewhat major mistake. Hopefully that mistake doesn't have too much impact on the final beer. So, what was the mistake you ask? Well the recipe we designed calls for 2 lbs of brown sugar. I typically I buy 1 lb bags of brown sugar. This time around I didn't realize the bags I picked up were actually 2 lb bags. So we go ahead and empty the two bags into the last 10 minutes of the boil and then sit back to relax while the boil finishes. I'm sitting there a glance over at the bags we just put in the trash...2 lb value pack! Ughhh, oh well. So this years version has 4 lbs of brown sugar (in a 10 gallon batch). Initial taste shows that the beer dried out some more and may be a little thinner then we typically like. Our efficiency was a little off though so somehow the OG ended up around the same, with the FG dropping a little lower then expected. So who knows, could make for a fun Christmas.

22 lb of American Two Row
1 lb of Wheat Malt
1 lb of Crystal 20
1 lb of Crystal 80
1 lb of Victory
1/2 lb of Chocolate Malt
2 lb of Brown Sugar (Beet Sugar) (made a mistake and 4 lbs ended up in the kettle). Added the last 10 minutes of the boil.

3 lbs of Extra Light DME

1.5 oz of Tomahawk @ 60 minutes
1 oz of Amarillo @ 30 minutes
2 oz of Simcoe @ 15 minutes
2 oz of Simcoe @ KO

6 sticks of Cinnamon
2 Vanilla Bean Split
3 tsp of Nutmeg (Whole ground on brew day)
3 tsp of All Spice (Ground)
1 tsp of Madagascar Clove (Ground)
Zest of 6 Navel Oranges
All added at 1 minute left in boil.

Wyeast 1028 London Ale Yeast – large starter. 2 packs

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.051 (takes into account just the grain bill)
OG = 1.081
FG = 1.010-1-020
ABV = 8.2-9.5%
IBU = 34

All Grain Steps

Mash with 8 Gallons of Water @ 152 degrees. Hold as close to 152 as possible for one hour. Keep 1 gallon of cold water around to adjust temp.

Sparge with 10 Gallons of Water @ 200 degrees.

Final Numbers
OG = 1.079
FG = 1.015
ABV = 8.3%

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Death Metal Malt Bill

Just the malt alone for this one looks great. Excited to brew it and even more excited to try it. Off to Wegmans for some Orange Blossom honey.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Death Metal Russian Imperial Stout

I'm brewing one of my favorite beers this weekend. One I haven't brewed in probably close to two years. A beer I have been calling "Death Metal"…a big bold Russian Imperial Stout. A beer that incorporates a bunch of American hops, honey, molasses, vanilla beans and coffee. I plan to brew on Sunday, starting early in the AM so if anyone is around and wants to stop by, feel free to.

6 Gallon batch

14 lbs of (2 Row) American
3 lbs of Maris Otter Pale Malt
1.5 lbs of Roasted Barley
0.5 lb of Black Patent
1 lb of Chocolate Malt
1 lb of Crystal 120
1 lb of Wheat Malt
1 lb of Flaked Oats

Adjuncts (added to boil kettle, last 5 minutes)
1 lb of Orange Blossom Honey
0.5 lb of Blackstrap Molasses

90 Minute Boil
4 oz of Columbus @ 60 minutes
2 oz of Citra @ 15 minutes (might use Centennial instead)
2 oz of Simcoe @ 5 minutes
2 oz of Amarillo @ 1 minute

1 Vanilla Bean 7 days in Fermenter
5 cups of ground coffee beans – cold pressed (see notes below)

WLP001 – Large Starter using 2 vials

90 Minutes at 152 Degrees F

Mash with 7.5 gallons of water
Fly Sparge with 5 gallons of water

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.070
OG = 1.105
FG = 1.021
ABV = 11 %
IBU = 121

Fermentation Plan
Allow to ferment for two weeks as close to 68 degrees as possible. After 2 weeks add vanilla beans for an additional week. Should be ready to keg after 3 weeks. Check gravity and if in 1.020 range keg.

Transfer out of primary into keg and add coffee. Force carb and bottle.

Coffee Plan
Take 4-5 cups of Coffee Roasters Ethiopian Yrgacheffe coffee and do a course grind. Take a sanitized pot and added 3 quarts of water. Using a sanitized spoon mixed in coffee grinds. Covered pot and let sit in fridge for 24 hours. Using a sanitized French press to remove the grinds and poured the cold pressed coffee into the keg.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sour Blonde Barrel Brew

Well this weekend was a brewing first for me (actually quite a number of firsts). Around 7am on Sunday I loaded up most of my brewing equipment onto a cart and pushed it up the street to my friend Vinces place. For a few months he had been talking about and working on obtaining a 55 gallon wine barrel. I have to admit when I first heard of the plan I was a bit skeptical but told him I would be in for helping fill it if he tracked down a useable barrel and was able to find the people to help fill it. Vince indeed tracked down a used red wine barrel from Manatawny Creek Winery in Douglassville, PA and organized for a group brew day.

Between a mix of 4 various all-grain brew systems we set out to brew 60+ gallons of a Belgian Blonde. Considering we brewed 60+ gallons of beer using a mix of the 4 systems the brew day went off without much of a hitch. A few moments of trouble shooting but considering the task at hand things went about a smoothly as we could have asked for. All said and done we had 45 gallons in a 55 gallon food grade plastic drum and 10+ gallons in two 14 gallon stainless steel conical fermentors in about 12 hours (also had most of the equipment cleaned up as well).

As for the recipe, each 10 gallon batch called for the following.

11 Gallon Batch
90 Minute Boil

22 lbs of Pilsner Malt
5 lbs of Wheat Malt
1 lb of Crystal 20
(yes that’s 160+ lbs of grain when you add up all the batches)

2 oz of Nelson Sauvin for 60 minutes (12% aa)

Nate scored a huge pitch of what I believe is the Chimay yeast strain from Jean at Iron Hill Brewery in West Chester (they used it for a Belgian Quad).

OG = 1.065
FG = 1.005 (or lower)
IBUs = 33
ABV = ~ 8%

As for the barrel, we plan to check the gravity in a week or two and see where we are at. The barrel will be filled when the beer gets in the 1.015-1.020 range since we want to make sure there is still a considerable amount of sugar around for the wild yeast to do it's job. The wild yeast…basically a slurry that was grown up from some Russian River barrel chips.

I brewed another DIPA about three weeks ago. Forgot to post a blog about it, will get some info up on it if it turns out. Up next I plan to brew my Death Metal Russian Imperial Stout and Christmas Ale 2010 in September.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saison Recipe

It's been over a month…close to two months since I have been able to get a brew day in, I hope to change that this Saturday. This time around I plan to brew a Saison using some Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops in the finish. I'm going to brew a 10 gallon batch. Keg half of it and then bottle the other half. With the bottled version I plan to either bottle with Brettanomyces bruxellensis or I might add peaches and use the White Labs Belgian Sour Mix 1 although I'm not sure I'm willing to sit on this one for a year or two to let the magic happen.

Here is the recipe so far. If you have any feedback let me know. Also if you are around on Saturday and want to swing by just drop me an email.

20 lbs of Pilsner Malt (77.7%)
1.75 lbs of Wheat Malt (6.8%)
1.25 lbs of Munich Malt (4.9%)
0.25 lbs of Caramunich (1%)

2.5 lbs of Corn Sugar (9.7%)

4 oz of Styrian Goldings (5.2% AA) for 60 Minutes
1 oz of Citra at KO
1 oz of Nelson Sauvin at KO

WLP568 Belgian Style Saison Ale Yeast Blend (2 vials and large starter)

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.042
OG = 1.063
FG = 1.018
ABV = 5.9%
IBU = 29

147 F for 90 minutes

90 Minute Boil

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beer Travels May 2010

Sorry for the lack of updates, been a busy few months and I haven't been doing a whole lot of brewing. I did bring home a few medals at the local homebrew competition BUZZ OFF held at the Iron Hill in West Chester PA. I plan to eventually get a quick summary of that event up shortly. Also plan to get back to some brewing in August and well into the Fall.

However I did want to share is a bunch of photo albums from a few breweries I was able to visit recent. A family vacation brought me to Southern California and a work conference brought me to Denver Colorado. So of course I worked in a number of brewery tours while traveling and here are the photo albums. Enjoy!

Stone Brewery - Escondido, CA

Ballast Point Brewery - San Diego, CA

The Lost Abbey - San Marcos, CA

The Bruery - Placentia, CA

New Belgium Brewery - Fort Collins, CO

Odell Brewing - Fort Collins, CO

Left Hand Brewery - Longmont, CO

Oskar Blues - Lyons, CO - The original Oskar Blues location

Oskar Blues - Longmont, CO - New restaurant and Production Brewery

Avery Brewery - Boulder, CO

Great Divide - Denver, CO

Brooklyn Brewery - Brooklyn, NY - Yes I somehow even managed a trip to Brooklyn in.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

21A Bitter American

As a fan of craft beer in a can I was excited to see that the 21st Amendment Brewery out of San Francisco has plans to brew and can their Bitter American. A nice hoppy session beer just in time for the summer!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rye Pale Ale Recipe

I'm a big fan of Terrapin Beer Company out of Athens Georgia and have always wanted to try to brew their popular Rye Pale Ale. The Brewing Network recently interviewed the folks at Terrapin as part of their "Can you Brew It" program and I decided to give the beer a try. As I usually do I put my own twist on the recipe so here it is (main difference is my use of Citra hops in this recipe). I plan to brew the beer this Saturday so if you are around feel free to swing by after all it is National Homebrew Day (and yes it is an officially recognized holiday).

6 Gallon Batch

Brew Day = 5/1/10

11 lbs of American Pale 2 Row
1.5 lbs of Rye Malt
1 lb of Munich
.5 lbs of Victory Malt
.5 lbs of Honey Malt

1 ounce of Magnum for 60 minutes (10.4% AA)
1 ounce of Fuggles for 30 minutes (4% AA)
.5 ounce of EK Golding for 20 minutes (5% AA)
.5 ounce of EK Golding for 10 minutes (5% AA)
.5 ounce of Citra for 3 minutes
1 ounce of Citra @ KO

Dry Hops
1.5 ounce of Amarillo for 5 days

Wyeast 1272 1 pack with a starter

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.044
OG = 1.060
FG = 1.014
ABV = 6%
IBUs = 43

4.5 gallons of water @ 154 degrees for 1 hour

7 gallons of water for 1 hour

Friday, April 16, 2010

Belgian Honey Pale Ale Recipe

I'm a member of the local homebrew club Bruclear that meets every first Tuesday at the Craft Ale House in Limerick PA. Every quarter the club does a "club only" competition. The 2nd Quarter 2010 comp is being referred to as the "Iron Chef" Competition. Basically there is a set list of ingredients that we have to choose from and one specialty ingredient that everyone has to use. In this case that ingredient is honey. I decided to brew up a Belgian Honey Pale Ale for the competition. If you live in the area and feel like stopping by I plan to brew on Saturday afternoon. Here is the recipe.

6 Gallon Batch

Brew Day = 4/17/10

10 lbs of 2-Row
1 lb of Crystal 40
½ lb of CaraPils

.75 lb of Wildflower Honey

0.75 oz of Chinook for 60 Minutes
1 oz of Saaz for 15 Minutes
1 oz of Cascade @ KO
.25 oz of Chinook @ KO

Wyeast 1214 and 3522 (this is the Chimay and AChouffe strains, heard they go well together so going to give the whole pitching two yeast strains idea a go)

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.038
OG = 1.054
FG = 1.013
ABV = 5.5%
IBU = 33

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Double IPA Recipe V2.0

Planning to brew a new version of my Double IPA this weekend. This time around I'm going to go with all Columbus for bittering, using Citra instead of Centennial and plan to introduce some Carapils malt into the mix. I broke my collar bone this past weekend (bike accident) so hopefully that won't impact things too much, could be interesting.

6 Gallon Batch

16.5 lbs of American 2 Row
1 lb of Wheat Malt
½ lb of Crystal 40
½ lb of Carapils
1.25 lbs of Corn Sugar

1 oz of Columbus (14.2 % AA) – FWH
3 oz of Columbus (14.2 % AA) – 90 Minutes
1 oz of Simcoe (12.3% AA) – 45 Minutes
1 oz of Columbus (14.2% AA) – 30 Minutes
2 oz of Citra (9.1% AA) – KO
1 oz of Simcoe (12.3% AA) – KO

Dry Hops
2 oz of Amarillo for 12 days
1 oz of Citra for 12 days
1.5 oz of Simcoe for 12 days
0.25 oz of Citra for 5 days
0.75 oz of Amarillo for 5 days
0.5 oz of Simcoe for 5 days

WLP 001 – American Ale Yeast (2 vials with starter)

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.064
OG = 1.088
FG = 1.018
ABV = 9.3%
IBU = 156

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amercian Style Tripel Recipe (Golden Xtra)

This Saturday (Feb 27, 2010) I plan to brew an American Style Tripel. The recipe is based on Captain Lawrence Brewing Company's Xtra Gold American Style Tripel. Recently the owner/head brewer from Captain Lawrence, Scott Vaccaro appeared on The Brewing Networks online radio show The Jamil Show Can You Brew It. The show archive can be found here. While this recipe is close to the one discussed on the show, I did make a few minor adjustments. Does anyone have an extra bottle of Xtra Gold? I would love to try some side by side with this clone once the beer is done. Also wouldn't mind having some on Saturday during brewing, so if anyone does feel free to stop by on Saturday!

5.5 Gallon Batch

Brew Day = 2/27/10

16 lbs of Belgian Pilsner Malt
2 lbs of Clear Candi Syrup

¼ oz of Simcoe – during sparge (First Wort Hop addition)
1 oz of Simcoe – 80 minutes
3/4 oz of Simcoe – 15 Minutes
1 oz of Cascade – KO
¼ oz of Simcoe - KO

3 oz of Amarillo for 12 days dry hop

Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity (ordered two packs and will make a starter)

OG = 1.085
FG = 1.010 to 1.012
ABV = 9.8% - 10.1%
IBU = 53

5 gallons of water at 151-152 for 90 minutes.

6 gallons of 192 water for 60 minutes. Add the .25 oz of Simcoe at this time (FWH)

80 Minute Boil

Allow to naturally rise for first day but keep under 74 F. After first day or two bring fermentation temp up to 85 F and let it go at 85F for at least a week if not longer. Dry hop when initial fermentation slows and keep dry hops in for 10 to 14 days.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

War of the Worts Summary and Results

As mentioned in my blog post from Friday I had a few beers entered in this years War of the Worts XV homebrew competition and also helped out at the event as a steward. While it made for a long day, roughly 8am until around 8pm it was certainly as worthwhile experience. The competition had a total of 816 entries which were judged at 35 different tables made up of a total of 85 judges. I was one of probably 20 or so stewards for the day. Basically a stewards job is to make sure the beers get out to the correct tables, the judges have whatever they need and last but not least everything gets cleaned up, paperwork gets filed and organized and basically the event runs smoothly. I was on my feet all day and while it was close to a 12 hour day it certainly didn't feel that long (they certainly kept us busy). I have pictures from the event posted over here.

Here is how my beers faired. The results for the competition are posted here. Homebrew competitions judge beers on a scale of 1 to 50. The scoring guidelines are as follows: 45 to 50 is Outstanding, 38-44 is Excellent, 30-37 is Very Good, 21-29 is Good, 14 - 20 is Fair and a score of 0-13 is Problematic. It's very difficult if not impossible to score a 50 and anything over 35 is certainly a nice score.

Death Metal Imperial Stout – 13F Russian Imperial Stout - This beer took a third place out of 24 entries and finished with a final score of 42.5. I should note that this beer was brewed over a year ago with my friend Tom Giachero. Kind of crazy that a 42.5 took third place but that is how competitions like this go with the mini-best in show voting at the end for each table.

Pop's Winter Wit – 16A Witbier - This beer didn't fair so well. It ended up with a total score of 19 which obviously did not place. I didn't have high hopes for this one though since it finished out as a slightly higher ABV beer for the style and I felt had some fermentation issues. Oh well, good to get some feedback on it. There were 13 entries in this category.

Belgian Chocolate Stout – 16E Belgian Speciality Ale - This beer did not take a top three ribbon but scored a 34. This beer and the Cherry Chocolate Stout were brewed with my friend Jesse Keenan

Belgian Cherry Chocolate Stout – 16E Belgian Speciality Ale - This beer did not take ribbon either but scored a 38. There was a total of 40 entries in the Belgian Specialty Ale category.

Belgian Single – 16E Belgian Speciality and also entered it in 18D Belgian Golden Strong Ale - This beer scored a total of 37 points as a Belgian Golden Strong and took a 2nd place ribbon out of 31 entries. It received a total of 34 points in the Belgian Specialty category. One good thing about being a steward is you have the opportunity to listen in on some of the discussions that the judges have. At the Belgian Specialty table the judges ended up with around 6 beers in the final round where they determine the mini-best in show for that category (that is how the award the ribbons at each table). This beer made it to the final 4 and was thrown out at the very end. I knew they were discussing this beer since it was the only beer in that category which had Nelson Sauvin hops listed as the "specialty ingredient". It didn't sound like any of the judges were familiar with the hop and I think they weren't exactly sure why it was entered in the Belgian Specialty category. Plus it was up against a Flanders Pale Ale, a Saison which I believe had brett in it and Blonde with brett. I'm happy to have witnessed that mini-best in show conversation though.

Double IPA – 14C Imperial IPA - This beer scored a total of 39 points and placed 2nd out of 25 entries. I was beat out by my friend and co-worker Blake Morris. I also had the opportunity to listen in on the discussions between the judges at this table and spoke with one of the head judges at the table after the competition. It came down to two Imperial IPAs and there was quite a bit of discussion. Mostly around wether the more malty and "imperial" IPA or the more hoppy, citrusy, dryer IIPA should be awarded the blue ribbon. Well on this day maltier and bigger won out over hoppy, aromatic and dry. Congrats Blake, that was certainly an awesome conversation to witness and pretty amazing that it came down to our two beers. Was also fun going up to accept the 1st and 2nd place ribbon in the same category. The challenge is on for next year! Blakes Imperial IPA did score a total of 44.5 points, which I believe was one of the highest scores of the day. I still have a bottle of each in my fridge, might have to have a blind tasting soon before these beers start to lose their edge. Anyone game?

Friday, February 19, 2010

War of the Worts XV

The War of the Worts XV Homebrew Competition is being held this Saturday February 20th, 2010 at the Iron Hill Brewery in North Wales PA. This is one of the biggest if not the biggest homebrew competitions in the Tri-State area. This year the competition has over 800 entries. Like many homebrew competitions this one follows the BJCP Guidelines and all judges are BJCP certified. I'm not a certified judge but I signed up to help steward this event. I'm interested in finding out what goes into running one of these competitions and will try to provide a summary here in case anyone is interested.

Judging starts at 9am and is closed to the public. The public is invited to the awards ceremony which is scheduled to begin at the Iron Hill North Wales location around 5pm. So if you are in the area and feel like hanging out come on over and I'll buy you a beer while we wait for the awards to be presented.

I have a total of 6 beers entered (one was entered in two categories). Here they are:
Death Metal Imperial Stout – 13F Russian Imperial Stout
Pop's Winter Wit – 16A Witbier
Belgian Chocolate Stout – 16E Belgian Speciality Ale
Belgian Cherry Chocolate Stout – 16E Belgian Speciality Ale
Belgian Single – 16E Belgian Speciality and also entered it in 18D Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Double IPA – 14C Imperial IPA

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cigar City Brewery

So our recent trip to Florida was cold, rainy and I was sick for three days with a stomach virus but we still managed to have a great time (and we somehow avoided two PA blizzards). I had to cut a bunch of the beer and food related activities out of our vacation, however I did manage to make it over to Cigar City Brewery. We drove from the Orlando area down to Tampa on a cold and rainy Friday afternoon. There was a rather nice local mall that my wife and son spent some time at while I headed over to Cigar City Brewery to check out one of the most talked about new breweries in the USA.

The brewery is basically a medium size warehouse in an industrial park in Tampa, FL. Think Weyerbacher but on a smaller scale. The tasting room is basically a sectioned off area in the warehouse, but it works. They had about 6 beers on tap when I stopped in to visit at noon on a Friday afternoon. I was the only one there for about an hour and then a few others showed up. I was able to get a quick tour and sample all their beers before it was time for me to move on. I have posted a bunch of pictures here if you want to check them out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Time for a Vacation

Haven't posted anything lately and not a whole lot going on with the homebrewing. The Jolly Pumpkin beer is in bottles and should be ready in a week or two. The final gravity came in at 1.013 and it's tasting good. Looking forward to sharing it.

Will be heading to Florida in a few days and plan to pay a visit to Cigar City Brewery in Tampa as well as Orlando Brewing. Orlando brewing is a certified organic brewery and they offer weekday tours so I'll try to take some pictures and write about both breweries when I return. Until then, cheers!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chocolate Coffee Stout Chili

So I made my first attempt at a chili today. I wanted to make a chili that incorporated beer into the recipe and thanks to my friend Eric I was able to find a recipe which uses beer, chocolate and coffee to make a chili. Can't beat that, probably three of my favorite foods/beverages. I used the recipe he passed on as a backbone for the recipe I have included here.

2 tsp of olive oil
2 chopped onions
3 gloves of garlic minced
1 lb of lean ground beef
3/4 lb of beef sirloin cubed
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 12 oz can of tomatoe paste
1 can of beef broth
2 15 oz cans of kidney beans
1 bottle of Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout
1 cup of strong coffee (home roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe)
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of salt
1 jalapeno pepper finely diced (seeds removed)
1 habanero pepper finely diced (seeds removed)
1 serranos pepper finely diced (seeds removed)
1 Green & Blacks 70% dark chocolate bar

Prepare onions and garlic and brown in a pan with the oil. Once browned pour into a crock pot.
Cube sirloin, brown and pour into the crock pot.
Brown ground beef and add to crock pot.
Open all cans and pour into crock pot. Hold onto one can of the beans for later. Also add the beer and 1 cup of coffee.
Break chocolate bar into small piece, eat a few of them and throw most of them into the crock pot.
Add all spices and brown sugar to crock pot.
Set crock pot on high and let simmer for an hour and a half.
After an hour and a half add last can of beans and let simmer for another half hour.
Brown ground beef and pour into the crock pot.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Double IPA on Tap

The Double IPA (Pliny the Elder type clone) that I brewed a few weeks back is on tap and tasting great. If you live in the area you will have to stop by for a pint or two.

I also bottled the Belgian Cherry Chocolate Stout this weekend and had a successful brew day with the Jolly Pumpkin yeast experiment batch. I hit all my target numbers and this yeast took off fast. It literally started bubbling within two hours of pitching the yeast and fermentation temperature is currently sitting nicely at 70 degrees so while it's a strong fermentation it's not going out of control too early.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jolly Pumpkin Experimental Batch

For my next batch I decided to venture into the world of culturing up yeast from the bottle of a non-filtered commerical beer. I figured what better yeast to culture then the house strain from Jolly Pumpkin (if they really even have one specific house strain). I have always loved the aroma and flavor their yeast provides the Noel de Calabaza so I decided to use the dregs from two bottles of that beer to get this one going. I started the processing of growing up the yeast about a month ago and I'm at the point where I have a really healthy batch of yeast. I'm sure the character of the yeast and ratio of regular "Belgian yeast" to wild yeast has change over the course of building this starter up but it's still smelling and tasting great. If you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about take a look at this article. I can't wait to get this beer brewed and in bottles. Here is the recipe.

5 Gallon Batch

Brew Day = 09 Jan 2010

6 lbs of German Pilsner Malt
4 lbs of American two row
1.5 lb of raw wheat
.5 lb Barley (Flaked)
.25 Crystal 80

60 Minute – 0.5 oz of Nelson Sauvin (11.5 AA)
30 Minute – 0.5 oz of Simcoe
KO – 1 oz of Centennial and 1 oz of Amarillo
Dry – 1 oz of Centennial and 1 oz of Amarillo

Used the dregs from a 2007 Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza bottle. Did an initial starter on the 2007 bottle and then a second step up and added the dregs from the 2009 bottle. Grew it up 4 times and then will do a starter before using.

Pre-Boil Gravity = 1.041
OG = 1.057
FG = 1.012
ABV = 5.8%
IBU = 32

Mash at 149 degrees F with 3.8 gallons of water

6.7 gallons

90 Minute Boil

I'm still tossing around the idea of adding some fruit to the secondary or maybe even some honey and letting it sit in the secondary fermentor for a month or two. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? I know the Jolly Pumpkin culture has some brett and other wild yeast in it and want to make sure some of that character comes through. Although I'm also dosing this with a nice aroma addition of some American hops. Basically this recipe is roughly based on Jolly Pumpkins Bam Bier. Open to suggestions. Let it take it's course of a regular 3 week fermentation. Or let it sit through a longer secondary process and introduce some fruit and/or honey into the secondary?