Brew Session – 2014-04-27


Today has been a very productive day for brewing! I cleaned out some kegs, then brewed a California style Pale Ale.

A couple of weeks ago I had brewed a Vienna Lager, and I racked that into one of the clean kegs today. The second keg is just waiting for that California Pale Ale to be finished. I’m trying to get the Vienna Lager and the Pale Ale ready quick so that I can server it when I have some people over soon.

Recipes – From here on out I decided that any recipe I have won’t be posted until I’ve actually tasted the finished product. I’m not in any big hurry, so why not wait.

My brewing has really been off for quite awhile. If you look back at my post history, you’ll see that it’s getting pretty close to two years since I posted anything.

Life has just been getting in the way of things, and I wasn’t keeping track of the little brewing that I did. I need to go back through my notes and try to get my history up to date. At least the “What’s in my closet” section is up to date, since I’m pretty much tapped out right now Smile

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Sweet Mutt Honey Nut Brown

Cartoon Fantus_smallerFirst, let me give you the story on this one (if you don’t want to read it, just scroll down). This recipe started out as an all grain kit from Northern Brewer. Right after I ordered it, our trusty Black Lab, Fantus, started having some real troubles getting up.

We took him to the vet several times, and there were different medicines and treatments that we tried, but the problem kept getting worse. I actually needed to lift his rear up off the floor so he could get up to go outside or eat, and I would have to lift him up again in order for him to come back in. The poor boy was in a lot of pain, and he was miserable. Near the end, he actually started snapping at me when I would try and lift him up.

With all this going on, I wasn’t able to brew the beer for awhile. I was actually getting a little worried that the milled grain was going to go bad, or for some other reason it wouldn’t be worth brewing if I waited any longer. So I set the date to brew it, and shortly before the date came, Fantus stopped eating or drinking.

The night before the brew day, a Saturday, we absolutely couldn’t get him to get up any more. He had given up, and I couldn’t bear to put him through any more pain. We called the vet to arrange a time to put him down, but the earliest was going to be that Monday. Saturday night, he started going to the bathroom on himself, and I could tell that it embarrassed him to no end.

It was Sunday, and I moved Fantus out into the garage where it would be a little easier to clean up after him, and I commenced to brewing. I felt kind of bad because my faithful companion was miserable, and here I was brewing beer.

However, it turned out to be the best decision ever. I spent the whole day with him, every time I would talk to him or pet him, his tail would weakly whack against the ground. He was such a good boy!

Sometime after he was put down, I decided to name the beer Sweet mutt, and I used the picture above for the labels. I swore that it would be a recipe I brew regularly, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Style: American Brown Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.50 gal     
Boil Size: 6.30 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
Esitmated FG: 1.012
Estimated Color: 15.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 24.3 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


Amount Item Type % or IBU
8 lbs US 2 Row Grain 80%
.25 lb Biscuit Malt Grain 2.5%
.25 lb Chocolate Malt Grain 2.5%
.25 lb Special B Malt Grain 2.5%
.25 lb Special Roast Grain 2.5%
1 oz Cluster Hops (7%) Hops 24.3 IBU
1 lb Honey Sugar 10%
1 Pkgs Wyeast 1056 American Ale    

– Mash at 153 degrees F for 60 minutes.

– Boil 1oz of cluster Hops for 60 minutes

– Add 1lb of honey at flame out.

– Ferment at 68 degrees for 2 weeks. Bottle with 3/4 cup of corn sugar, and let condition for 4 weeks.

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GoodHomebrew links for 2012-08-17

Just some neat stuff I ran across today.

Want to make your own Immersion chiller?

Dave Bishop shows you how on Broadford Brewer

I think I mentioned somewhere that I used to have a garbage can that I would fill up with water and put my kettle in, but most of the time now I brew in a Sanke Keg that I cut the top off of, and there’s no way I could get that in the garbage can, it’s way too heavy.

I love my immersion chiller now. When I start chilling, the initial runoff is really hot, then cools down after a few minutes. At that point I run it through a sprinkler and put it on my lawn 🙂

Ever want some really sweet labels for your homebrew?

Grog Tag- Design or submit you’re beer or wine label, then you can order them. A little pricey for my tastes, but they are awesome. When I took a look at it, they were $35 for 48 labels. If labels aren’t your thing, they also have coasters.

Check out this label and tell me that isn’t awesome!

Another way to learn how to Homebrew

My personal history is learning through pain, blood, sweat and tears, but hey, maybe you want someone to teach you how to homebrew. Besides my developing site that is 🙂

Home Brew Academy is a sharp looking site! I don’t see a free plan, although they do have a 90 trial. There is a blog with tips on it.

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It’s Time for the State Fair Competition again already?!?!

Really? I just can’t believe that a whole year has gone by already. I still haven’t posted my score sheets from last year yet, and unbelievably, it’s time again. Where do the days go?

This year, I did start brewing earlier, which was probably my biggest problem last year. Still, I wish I had started even sooner. Looking at my tasting notes for the “Mike’s Saison“, I had said that it was super delicious after 5 months, yet I started brewing early July. Doh!

This year, I entered “Mike’s Saison“, my “Centennial Blonde”, “WeizenHeimer’s Heffeweizen”, and “Sweet Mutt” Honey Nut Brown Ale.

I’ll have to get the recipes up here pretty quick. The WeizenHeimer’s Heffeweizen is actually the same recipe as the Bee Cave Brewery Hefeweizen, except that it was fermented with a Belgian Wit yeast at 62 Degrees F. Let me tell you, that’s going to be one tasty beer.

Yes, I did say “going to be”, because as of the time of this writing, which so happens to be a full 2 days after I submitted my entries, the beer technically still needs about another week before it’s ready.

If you think that’s bad, the Saison still needs 9 days. It won’t be ready until 2 days before judging. Either way, I’m willing to bet they don’t do too well. I should have made the Saison 5 months ago. Yes, if you haven’t guessed, my problem here is planning and procrastination.

The Blonde should be pretty good, and I’ve been drinking the Honey Nut Brown, and I really am happy with it. I’ll be sure to get those recipes up here pretty soon. Pinky swear 🙂

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The Cursed Recipe

I found this Irish red recipe that looked really good, but for one reason or another, I just can’t seem to brew it right.

The first time I brewed it, I didn’t realize it was a 10.5G batch. So I put it in BeerSmith, and noticed that it was going to be black (I had it set up as a 5G recipe). So, not being quite sharp enough to figure out there must be something wrong, I adjusted the grain bill to make it red.

Then I brewed it, and quickly realized something was wrong when I started calculating my sparge and mash water the morning I was brewing it.

Of course, by that time, I had all the grain milled, and it was all mixed up in the bag. I brewed it anyway.

The beer ended up around 3% and really pale and yellow. Chalk it up to a learning experience.

I decided to try it again not too long ago, and now that I’ve tasted it, I realize I did something wrong again. It’s really dark, black really, and has a bit of a roasted malt taste to it. It’s not bad, but it’s not an Irish Red.

I save all of my BeerSmith recipes, and just copy them when I want to brew them again. I think I grabbed the botched recipe, and just scaled it down.

So, it looks like I’ll have to try and make it again. Live and Learn.

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Mike’s Classic Saison Tasting Notes #1

Just a couple of notes here about this Saison.

When I tried it directly after the state fair competition, about 2 months after brewing, I wasn’t real impressed. It was tasty enough, but it just didn’t have all the freaky flavors that I tend to associate with a Saison.

Then we went on vacation in October, and while on vacation, I ended up buying a pile of craft brew that I can’t get here. Of course, it took me a while to get through all of that beer. I know, it’s hard work, but someone’s got to do it.

In late December, about 5 months after brewing it, I had another one of these saisons. I hadn’t tried one in a couple of months.

I literally had to do a double take, and make sure that this was the same beer. It was absolutely amazing! Nice flavors, good carbonation, absolutely a terrific Saison.

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud. I enjoyed it for several weeks, and brought some over to a friend’s house for new years eve. When I opened it, the most beautiful white head just came pouring out of the bottle, and it kept coming. I think about half of the bottle was foam.

It’s even worse now, and you get about a quarter of a glass of beer for each bottle. I’m really surprised that none of the bottles exploded in the beer closet.

Although the foam is excessive, the beer is unbelievably good, so I’m not too broken hearted. This was my first original recipe, and I’m just so glad that it came out well.

My plan for next time is to really work to ferment it out, maybe leave it in the carboy for a good long while. I’ve even thought about kegging the next batch so I can vent some of the CO2, and then bottle from the keg if I want to enter it in a competition.

Posted in Saison, TastingNotes | 1 Comment

Catching up on the Pipeline


I’ve often heard of a homebrewer’s beer supply as “the pipeline”. On one side of the pipeline, you’re making beer, on the other side of the pipeline, you’re drinking it.

Of course, in the middle there’s a whole series of stages. Fermenting, dry hopping, ageing, bottle conditioning, carbonating, etc. The key to a good pipeline is having a steady supply of beer that’s ready to be consumed.

Myself, I usually try to brew quick stuff when I’m running low, like pale ales or wheat beers, and when I have plenty of beer, I try to brew recipes that can stand a little age, like Irish Reds.

Just last month, my pipeline was dry as a bone. It was sad, I was actually, *gasp*, buying commercial beers. Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I like to brew enough so that I don’t have to buy much beer, or at least when I do buy beer, it’s so I can try something new, not out of necessity.

My “Cheeks to the Wind Mild” is in bottles now, although I’ve tried a few, and they were delicious, they still needed some time to carbonate. I think it’s the cold weather that’s slowing it down.

Then a few weekends ago, I bottled my “Crimson Corps Bulldog Ale”, and “Maple’s ESB”. The ESB is great, and I’m expecting the “Crimson Corps Bulldog Ale”, and Irish Red, to have really developed some flavor in the next couple of months.

I’m a big fan of Irish Reds, they taste pretty darn good about a month after brewing, and then they get better and better over the next 8 – 12 months if stored correctly. The 12 month upper limit is really just a guess on my part, I’ve always ended up running out before then. They make a nice staple in the brew closet.

When I have plenty of beer available, then it’s time to make some Stouts, Lambics, etc. Anything that need some time before they get really good. I’ve got an idea for a coffee stout that I need to work on, and I would like to make a couple of batches of Saison, one for drinking, and one for souring.

Of course, I need to get another Lambic going too. The one I have now is going to celebrate it’s 2nd birthday in May, and I really should already have had one going by now.

Now, to keep the ball going …

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2012-01-14 Brew Session

imageA friend of mine who has a green thumb was kind enough to grow some hops for me. Of course I’m going to have to repay his generosity with some beer. The only issue with home grown and wild hops is that you can only guess what the alpha acid levels are on them.

For these particular hops, it’s their second year, so they should be pretty established. It’s nice to have a friend with a green thumb.

Anyway, the original intent that I had for this brew session was to make a small 3G test batch, an ESB, and use the Goldings that he grew. Then of course, when I tasted the ESB, I would have a good idea if they were low, high, or right on the mark. I figure worse case is that I end up with either a bitter or a mild if the hops are low, maybe an IPA if they are high.

Then I invited another friend over to brew, and he got it in his head that he wanted to make the ESB too, so I went from a 3G batch to a 10G batch. It was an extract batch, so it was pretty quick, and so far as I can tell, it came out really well.

Did I mention that we put some maple syrup in it too? I think I’ll save that story for when I post the recipe though.

Being an early riser, I decided that I would have time to brew up one of my favorites, an Irish Red that I’m calling “Crimson Corps Bulldog Ale”. I’ll go more into detail about that when I post that recipe as well. It also happens to be one of my hop growing friend’s favorites, and you know I have to repay his kindness.

Everything went swimmingly, I hit my marks, no disasters, really, I couldn’t ask for a better brew day. It was nice to have some friends over, and of course enjoy some homebrew.

Of course the lack of disasters in itself is pretty notable. I usually have something go wrong. 🙂

Posted in ESB, IrishRed, MyBrewing | 1 Comment

Back to Homebrewing

imageBoy is my face red. In my last post, which was about a month ago, I mentioned that I was going to brew a bock “this weekend”, well, that didn’t happen.

After giving it a little more thought, and realizing that I am nearly completely out of beer, I decided to go with a nice quick ale instead.

So this weekend I brewed “Cheeks to the Wind Mild”, a recipe from the good old “Complete Joy of Homebrewing” by Charlie Papazian.

It’s an extract batch, and luckily the boil volume is only 2G, because I don’t think my poor electric stove could handle much more than that.

The picture above is my 7.5~ish Gallon Turkey fryer pot. My wife is kind enough to let me brew in the house, she doesn’t mind the smell (which I think is wonderful). The main reason I’ve been brewing in the garage is so I could use my outdoor cookers to heat the wort, but this was pretty nice. I know some homebrewers get kicked out of the kitchen pretty quick by their significant others.

Of course, I thought it would be handy to have a heat stick to help the poor electric stove top get things up to temp a little quicker. I think once I was trying to boil 4G, and it would come pretty close to boiling temperatures, but never actually get there.

I have plans next weekend to brew a small batch of an ESB so I can test out the hops my friend grew for me. I want to see if it is as bitter as I would expect, so I can kind of guess at the alpha acid content.

Keep checking back for more. Cheers!

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I’m not Dead Yet

I know, it’s been a while. Brewing has had to be put on hold for awhile, due to those pesky life obligations. I do plan on getting through the backlog of posts here pretty soon though.

I’m planning on brewing a traditional Bock this weekend, so I should have another recipe and some pics to post soon. I’ll also have to post an update on my State Fair Entries.

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