Finally Bottled My State Fair Competition Beers

IMG00168This past Sunday I finally got around to bottling my State Fair Competition Beers, I’m several weeks overdue, and even then, it almost didn’t happen.

I had everything ready, and I couldn’t find my hydrometer. It’s pretty frustrating when you can’t find something you know you have. I looked all over for it and even called a friend to see if he had a hydrometer (he’s new to homebrewing).

Luckily, I was able to locate it, and I wasn’t any later bottling these beers.

I have to submit the entries to the local homebrew shop this week, and I’m a little concerned about them getting carbonated the way I want them to.

The Saison finished with a final gravity of 1.022, which was .004 higher than I had hoped. The ABV ended up at 5.63%. Next time I make this one, I’m going to make sure I have a brew belt so I can get it nice and warm at the end.

The Bavarian Hefeweizen finished with a final gravity of 1.014, which was dead on. The ABV of that beer is 4.84%

I’ll get the labels and entry forms together, then cross my fingers.

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BasicBrewing Radio – Haze Hop Experiment

Show from 2011-07-14

A listener says that clarity-ferm worked for his wife, who is gluten allergic. It turned a normal beer into gluten free.
A homebrew club compares the results of a hop variety experiment.

The show is listed here (look by date):

The Gluten free thing has me really intrigued. I’ve heard it mentioned on the show several times, and I’m going to have to try it out. I know a couple of friends who have Gluten Allergies, and they complain about how bad the Gluten free beer is.

As for the hope variety experiments, good stuff! I heard one brewer who said they had a pale ale that they kept on tap at their brew pub, and every batch they would use a different hop for bittering, flavor and aroma. This way they were able to get the taste of every hop pegged. This sounds like a really good idea, and I would really like to do that.

My friend is growing Magnum and Golding hops for me, and I think when they are ready to be harvested, I’m going to try and do this with the Goldings. I’ve already promised that I would make him a batch of lager with the Magnum, so those are taken.

Not to mention that I don’t think the Magnum would necessarily make a good aroma hop. You never know though, maybe next year.

Posted in BasicBrewing, Gluten-Free, Hops | Leave a comment

State of the Brewing Update 2011-08-03

Well, I’ve had to modify my State fair brewing plans. As it has a habit of doing to me, life has stepped in to assert it’s authority. Here’s the run down:

– Was planning on brewing 4 beers – Now I’m only brewing the two. The Hefeweizen and the Saison.

– I was planning on having everything bottled by now – I don’t. Hey, at least I cleaned the bottles! I’m going to take care of the bottling this weekend. That will give me a week in the bottle before I bring them to the drop off location. Hopefully they will be kept warm for another week (fingers crossed).

On the beer storage front, I emptied the last keg of my Scottish 70 Shilling. Now I’ve got 2 empty kegs. Oh, and that reminds, me, I have nearly finished my keezer build, but I’ve got to take some pictures and make a post about it.

What’s in the future? Well, soon I hope to make Charlie Papazian’s Antipodal Mead, a traditional mead. I’ll do that as soon as I find 15 lbs of honey. The local farmer’s market has a honey guy, and he sells wildflower and alfalfa honey.

I also have a smack pack of Scottish ale yeast, so I’m still going to make the 80 shilling. Sometime this month, maybe early next month, the hops my friend is growing should be ready, and I think I’m going to try and brew a Kristalweizen for him. Not to mention the Green Chili beer I want to make.

Man, this is making me thirsty.

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2011-07-06 Brew Session

DCIM\100SPORTIt was a nice Wednesday, and I had the day off from work. I had been able to pick up all of the off the wall yeasts that I needed earlier, but I still had a bit of a late start.

I like to get going pretty early, like 7am or so, but I didn’t get started here until 10am. I was brewing my brand new Saison Recipe, and a Bavarian Hefeweizen, both of which I want to enter in the Colorado State Fair.

My Saison Recipe needs some tweaking. It has several steps in the mash schedule, and I had decided to add water to make the temperature changes, which in the end gave me something like 12G of wort for the 5.5G batch. I had intended to get more wort that normal, compensating for the 2 hour planned boil, but this was a little ridiculous.

All in all everything went well, although it did take quite a bit longer than I intended. I think the whole day was 10 hours. Normally I go between 6 and 8 hours for a brew day.

I picked up a “instant read” digital thermometer (which can be seen on the table) which I’m actually in love with. I have a floating thermometer, but you have to keep pulling it out in order to see what the temperature is. With the new thermometer, I can stick the probe in with the water I’m heating, or in my mash tun, and I have the temperature right there.

It came in especially handy heating the water for my mash steps. It even has an alarm that you can set to go off when the water hits a particular temperature.

The Hefeweizen went without a hitch, it’s a pretty straight forward recipe. I’m really glad that I have 2 propane burners, I found that I can do 2 batches of beer in only a little more than it takes me to do 1 batch.

The beers took off fermenting the next day, and are still going, albeit not terribly vigorously, as I’m writing this. I received my Ranco Digital Temperature and Carboy thermowell that I wrote about earlier, it arrived the day before yesterday.

Hopefully today I’ll pick up the chest freezer, and I’m planning on figuring a way to heat it so I can make sure my Saison finishes out. Now I just have to figure out when I’m brewing my Scottish 80 and Irish Red.

Posted in Hefeweizen, MyBrewing, Saison | Leave a comment

Bee Cave Brewery Bavarian Hefeweizen Recipe

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Est Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.009 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.67 %
Bitterness: 12.2 IBU
Est Color: 3.9 SRM
Yeast Weihenstephan Weizen (Wyeast Labs #3068)

7.00 lb Wheat Malt, Ger
4.00 lb Pilsner
0.75 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (45 min)
0.25 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (15 min)
Mash for 90 minutes at 153 Degrees.
Ferment 10 Days at 68 Degrees

I ran across this recipe over at Homebrew Talk, it’s one of Ed Wort’s (link to HomebrewTalk Post). I’ve made a few of his recipes, and they have always been great.

This beer was a real eye opener for me. Up until I brewed this beer, all of the hefeweizens that I had tried , although delicious, didn’t have a whole lot of flavor from the yeast. This is one of those beers that bumped heads with my expectations of what beer tastes like. The esters and phenolics were a new experience, and were very strange to me.

I won’t lie, it took several glasses on different occasions before I could really appreciate the flavor. I can say the same for my first Saison, and now I’m hooked.

I’ve brewed this on two different occasions, and the first time I wasn’t able to let it ferment at 68 degrees. This time however, I was able to get it into the mid seventies, and it made the room smell like a banana factory.

The yeast strain is really interesting too, Wyeast says you can manipulate the ester production by changing fermentation temperature, wort density, and decreasing the pitch rate. If you overpitch, you’ll lose all of the banana character. More esters = more banana. Less ester = more clove character.

Posted in Hefeweizen, Recipe | 3 Comments

Mike’s Classic Saison Recipe

I concocted this recipe from the guidelines in “Farmhouse Ales” by Phil Markowski. It’s a pretty complicated mash regimen, and I ended up collecting 12.5G of wort for a 5 gallon batch. The next time I make it, I’m planning on drawing off wort and heating that, rather than adding so much water for the step mash.

The author suggested a 2 hour boil, and since Saisons are traditionally boiled for a crazy long time, I decided that 2 hours wasn’t too much to ask.

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison
Yeast Starter: No
Batch Size: 5.5G
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.069
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.014
Estimated IBU: 26.1
Estimated Color: 6.1 SRM
Estimated ABV%: 7.12
Boiling Time: 2 Hours
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%

Primary Fermentation: 7 Days at 80 Degrees Fahrenheit
Secondary Fermentation: 7 Days at 80 Degrees Fahrenheit


  • 11lbs Belgium Pilsner
  • 1.25lbs Wheat Malt
  • .5 LBS Unmalted Wheat
  • .3 LBS Crystal 60L
  • 1.5oz East Kent Goldings 5%ABV (60 Minutes)
  • .4oz East Kent Goldings 5%ABV (20 Minutes)
  • 1.1oz East Kent Goldings 5%ABV (2 Minutes)
  • .5 LB Corn Sugar (at Flameout)

Mash Schedule:

113 Degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes

131 Degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes

144 Degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes

154 Degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes

165 Degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes (Mash Out)


As I mentioned, I added boiling water to hit the temperatures in the mash, except for the last step, when I drew off wort and heated it in order to get the mash up to 165. The next time I make it, I’m going to draw more wort off for the other steps, and go for a thinner mash in the beginning.

One way or the other, if you’re going to go for the 2 hour boil, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough liquid to compensate for boil off.

I’ve seen recommendations here and there that the Saison yeast strains like much warmer temperatures than most brewers are used to, and the yeast tends to putter out at the end of fermentation. I don’t have any temperature control set up at this time, so the 80 degree recommendation that I placed in there is based on the temperature of the room that the carboys will be sitting in at this time of year.

Posted in Recipe, Saison | 3 Comments

The wheels are in motion!

I swung by my friendly neighborhood homebrew store and picked up my yeast. The only yeast I wasn’t able to get was the American Ale II (Wyeast 1272), but I’m not too worried about it, I’m sure I’ll be able to find it before I brew the Irish Red. I can also use US-05 if I run into an issue finding the American Ale II.

Then, on the equipment front, I ordered the Ranco Digital Temperature Controller, and the Carboy stopper thermowell. All I have to do now is pick up the freezer from my friend, and I’ll be in business.

The Ranco Digital controller is pretty sweet, you can set it to run something for cooling, or something for warming, just not at the same time. More beer sells a Ranco two stage controller that can control a heating and cooling device at the same time, but I didn’t want to spend the extra money on it. Although it would be pretty sweet to be able to do that, I don’t think I have enough of a need to justify the extra $55.

While I was shopping around, I did notice that Rebel Brewer has their own Dual Function Thermostat, which will run two devices at the same time. It was pretty reasonably priced as well, and the only drawback I saw was that it only reads in Celsius, which isn’t a big deal. I probably should have given it a try, but I decided to go with the Ranco Controller instead.

Sometime before winter starts, I plan on picking up the FermWrap Heater or something similar. This is actually the first order that I’ve placed with, usually I order from Northern Brewer, but Northern Brewer didn’t have the controller / thermowell combination. I also looked on Austin Homebrew Supply, and they didn’t have it either.

So, when do you brew?

I’m planning on brewing the Saison and maybe also the Hefeweizen on Wednesday, and the Irish Red and Scottish 80 sometime in the very near future. I want the Saison and Hefeweizen to ferment pretty warm, so my house is the perfect temperature for it.

I have to come up with a Saison recipe this weekend, luckily my wife bought “Farmhouse Ales” as a Christmas gift from my kids for me, so there’s some recipe formulation guidelines. Strangely enough, I’ve never concocted a recipe before, so that’s going to be another first.

Of course, when I do have the recipe, I’ll post it on the site.

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Colorado State Fair Homebrew Competition


Isn’t it funny how things just appear sometimes? In my previous post, I talked about my indecision on what I should brew next. Then, coincidently, I happened to see that the Colorado State Fair is coming up. Of course, being a homebrewer, I was immediately reminded that they have a competition.

If you’re interested, the special contests page is here, which has a link to the Homebrew competition PDF. The contest is open to all BJCP categories, and there’s a drop off location right in my town!

This works out really well, because the drop off locations are accepting entries from August 8th through August 13th, the judging takes place on August 26th, and awards are during the Foam Fest (PDF) on August 27th.

Usually when I find out about competitions, it’s far too late for me to brew and enter anything, this time however, I have almost the perfect amount of time. If all goes well, then this will be the first competition that I’ve entered. Although it would be great to win, I would really just like to get the score sheets on the brews.

I’ve been looking at doing something better about fermentation temperature control, I mentioned getting a second freezer for fermentations, and I think this gives me the excuse to move forward with my evil plans.

Right now, I’m still a bit up in the air about what to brew. I’m thinking:

  • Irish Red (Category 9D)
  • Scottish 80 (Category 9C)
  • Bavarian Hefeweizen (Category 15A)
  • Saison (Category 16C)

I’ve brewed the Irish Red before, and the recipe I used was awesome, and I’ve also brewed the Bavarian Hefeweizen, and it was great too. The Scottish 80 and Saison would be new to me though.

I’m also solving another problem that I was going to have. We’ve got a vacation coming up, and I wanted to make sure to have some homebrew to bring with me, and this will take care of that. The Scottish 80 and the Irish Red should be crowd pleasers, but I don’t know how many people would appreciate the Bavarian Hefeweizen and Saison. I know I would.

If I’m going to do the Saison, then I’m going to have to get a move on. If I can’t get the yeast for it, then I’m not sure if I’ll make it or not, there just won’t be the recommended time for bottle conditioning.

I’m thinking that today I’ll check the homebrew stores to see what yeast I can get, and we’ll see where I’m at.

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The Conundrum: What to Brew Next?


I’ve run into a bit of a problem. I’m just not entirely sure what I should brew next.

I was really getting busy near the end of the school year, and missed more brew days than I care to admit to. So I now found myself it a truly dire situation, I was out of beer.

Wait, don’t panic. I have a very fine liquor store near me with a great selection, so I was able to survive. But my wallet sure took a beating.

Right now, I’m sitting on 10 Gallons of Scottish 70, which just needs to finish carbonating. I’m drinking it anyway, you know, for quality assurance. I also have 5 Gallons of a honey brown ale that just needs to be kegged and it’ll be in the pipe line.

There’s just so many options. I want to brew something that holds up to age fairly well, just in case I don’t get to it in a hurry. I’ve given thought to brewing a Scottish 80, since I’ve never made one before, or even a Saison.

I could go in another direction and brew a 2nd round of lambic, since I’ve contaminated my storage room anyway, or even a Stout to replenish my long term supply.

On another front, I’ve almost nearly secured a second chest freezer, this one much smaller than my keezer. It’s about big enough to hold a 6.5G fermenter. All I’ll need is a good controller, and a carboy probe, and I’ll be able to crank out some good lagers. Can you say Octoberfest and Vienna Lager?

I have to figure out something quick, since I’m off work next week, and I would hate to waste the opportunity.

Posted in MyBrewing | 1 Comment

Basic Brewing Radio


Although I’ve been a fan of podcasts for quite awhile, and tend to listen to those related to whatever my current obsession is, I don’t really listen to many about homebrewing. One that I absolutely must listen to is Basic Brewing.

James Spencer is the host, and is joined by a whole slew of guests, including the always funny Steve Wilkes, Andy Sparks, a local homebrew store owner, and Chris Colby, Editor of Brew Your Own Magazine. I couldn’t possibly list all of the guests that have appeared, or even just those who have been on more than once, that would take several articles in itself.

Lots of guest and great interviews didn’t pique your interest? Well, there’s always the vast amount of information.

I don’t think I’ve listened to a single episode that didn’t have something worth while. They run the gambit on brewing topics. Really, any question that you may have, I’m sure they have covered it in depth on one of their episodes. Want to know about water chemistry? How about how hops are cultivated? Ever thing about trying Brew in a Bag? I could go on and on. I’m sure whatever it is that you want to learn about, they have at least one of their many episodes dedicated to that topic.

Trust me, there are a lot of episodes.

The podcast has been going on since at least July of 2005, with episodes being released weekly. I’m not ashamed to say that I listen to the current episodes as they come out, but I also have been listening to the back log of episodes, and only have about 50 episodes left before I’ve heard them all.

Of course, I didn’t include Basic Brewing Video. That show has been going on since December of 2005.

Let’s see, I’ve covered lots of guests, lots of interviews, a metric ton of information, and how truly prolific the podcast is. What else can I say?

Aha! Production quality, and the opinion of the average Joe Homebrew.

Even before I knew anything about James’ work with NPR, I knew he had to have some experience in radio, his voice gives it away. The production quality only ever wavers when there’s a bad skype connection, which is rare, or when it’s a recording of a conference.

One of my other favorite aspects of the show is how many homebrewers have come on to talk about a topic. Usually the way it works is someone emails James, they have a bit of a discussion, and next thing you know, there’s a show about it. I’ve heard people that did wild yeast experiments, barrel aging, beers brewed with only bret, a colonial brewing expert, you name it. These off the wall topics that interest people just like you and me lend an absolutely unlimited amount of value to the show.

In addition to listener experiments, and the experiments of the hosts, James teams up with Chris Colby (editor of Brew Your Own Magazine), and runs collaborative experiments that listeners can not only participate in, but also submit their data to be included in the experiment’s results. The most recent one was an experiment to see if any of those fancy beer glasses changed the way beer tastes, and I was really surprised at the result.

One way or another, if you’re into homebrewing, or you want a good example of how a podcast should be produced and formatted, you have to give Basic Brewing a listen / watch. They are available on iTunes, and via their web site,

James and/or Steve, thank you for the hundreds of hours of enjoyment that you’ve given me. Keep up the good work!

Posted in BasicBrewing, Podcasts, Review | 2 Comments