Category Archives: brewing

Brewing at Verboten

Did anyone celebrate “Learn to Homebrew” day on Saturday?
am8 The Verboten Sisterhood celebrated with a Saison brew at Verboten Brewing in Loveland. Mash in time: 8:30am.
AM6 I broke the boots out of their retirement.
am7 And the pumpkin chocolate chip donuts! The best thing about brewing with ladies, or culinary-inclined men – the spread. We had my baked donuts, sausage and cheese croissant rolls, fresh cinnamon rolls, pumpkin walnut bread, chocolate chip stout bread, porter gingerbread, apple cider and coffee that had been freshly roasted at one of the sister’s houses. Edible bliss.
AM2 All set up to mash in!
AM1 Shiny 6bbl fermentor, ready to be filled.
AM4 AM3 We mashed in with a heavy grain bill.
am9 I’ve had plenty of experience shoveling out wet mash, so I decided to let the other ladies handle this one. Let’s pretend it was me being selfless and not lazy…
AM10 In between transfers, boils, hop additions and spice additions we sat around chatting, walked around outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, consumed massive amounts of previously mentioned baked goods and paired pizza with one of the new brews on tap.
mountain Mountain Man – Imperial Dark Cream Ale coming in at 10.5%ABV. I didn’t actually plan any pairings. This was the beer that had been tapped the night before that I had to try.
sistas Thanks to Josh, Angie and Verboten Brewing for hosting and letting us spend the day! Now to make some spent grain bread with the remains of our brew!

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Snow Day Brew Day

It’s been a busy week followed by a lazy weekend – my favorite kind!
AM We’ve had quite a range of weather as the temperature slowly begins to drop.
AM12 I spent the first part of the week walking around downtown Denver with a hot cup of Bhakti chai and snowflakes slowly drifting down around me, melting right before they hit the ground.
AM13 I’ve found the best way to recover from long cold walks outside (which I’ve been doing almost every single day in this beautiful state) is with hot apple cider, hot pumpkin chai, hot coffee… basically anything hot to help defrost my numb fingers.
AM11 That includes a fresh slice of vegan pumpkin banana chocolate chip bread. Oooooh, yes.
AM14 You guys remember that “Guys Night Out” ticket pack I got? We cashed in on it Thursday night.
AM15 I totally blended in with my ‘stache. No one was the wiser.
AM16 We suffered a painful end to that game. Bexter was a sad panda to see the Avs lose to the awful, terrible Red Wings – the one team with whom we have the biggest rivalry. Le sigh.
AM17 Even with the loss, the Coors Original and the nosebleed seats, it was awesome to be able to go watch in person! And I’ve got a few more games on the schedule to go see! WOOOOOT!
AM18 My brother and I had plans to homebrew the next day. I woke up to a good inch of snow blanketing the ground.
AM1 Absolutely beautiful – until you realize that the brew system is located in his garage and not in a steamy brewery. I scraped snow off of my windshield (for the first time in my life!) and headed over to his house.
AM2 We put together the official recipe and headed out for the important things: grain. And burritos from Matador. Very important to start a brew day with a solid base.
AM6 I happen to have some amazing tea that I first tried in Ojai that inspired me to make a warm, holiday brew with. We started with an experimental brown ale base recipe and will be adding the tea extract into secondary.
AM19 Of course you must “relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew” when you’re homebrewing. Lucky for me, my brother has Citra Smash Lager that he made last month. This is absolutely my favorite Citra beer of all time. Clean and crisp with flavors of honey, lemon and a candy-like fruitiness.
AM7 My bro’s control panel. Intense.
AM10 His entire system is awesomely intense, and surprisingly easy to use thanks to his SOP he’s been working on. I didn’t break anything following the instructions! Hooray!
AM20 Mashing in.
AM8 Mash paddle from the homebrew store – Hops and Berries. This is also where I got my first recipe ever for Dos Beckis!
AM5 Recirculating the mash.
AM21 SCIENCE! My bro and sis-in-law got a new pH meter they wanted to calibrate and try out.

Remember all that snow on the ground? The garage was getting pretty freaking cold. Dave came by and brought my new best friend.
AM9 Glorious heat! This heater doesn’t emit carbon monoxide, but it definitely eats up the oxygen pretty quick. We kept the back window open so we didn’t suffocate. More people started filtering in once that heater arrived.
AM22 Hop additions!
AM23 Pre-pitched wort! Looks like this will be coming in around 5%-ish ABV. Since it was so cold out we didn’t hit many (or any) of our temperatures, but I still have high hopes! The rest of the day was spent drinking more homebrew, making more vegan pumpkin banana chocolate chip bread, eating said bread, drinking more homebrew and listening to “Thrift Shop” and Weird Al. Cuz we’re cool like that.

Have you ever homebrewed before? Any success or horror stories?

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Brewing and Shining

It’s been a whirlwind few days! After the obligatory first brewery visits, we headed over to my brother’s house to brew as a family.
am It was my dad’s first time brewing. His request – something dark and intense. We went with a Great Divide Yeti clone.
Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 3.24.08 PM We were a little low on the homebrews to relax with, so my mumsie and I went to the amazingness that is Wilbur’s and picked up a few things.
am1 Wynkoop B3K black lager – 5.5%ABV to start slow on what was to be a surprisingly quick brew day.
am2 American ale yeast and British ale yeast starters!
am3 We knocked out, pitched the two different yeasts and put the carboys into the fermentation room that’s already brimming at the edges.
Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 3.23.57 PM My pops got a new motorcycle. I took the obligatory spin around town on it and exhaled as all the stress in the world melted away as we raced by lakes and Horsetooth Reservoir.
am4 Yesterday I met up with my best friend from elementary school for a girls’ day out.
am5 Pourhouse was the only restaurant open in town for Memorial Day, so we made a pit stop for foods before hitting the breweries.
am6 California pizza with shrimp, smoked gouda and avocado!
am9 After inhaling our food we walked down the street to Loveland Aleworks to split a flight and play Battleship.
am8 am7 I lost at the game, won at the beer. American sour with raspberries? Yes, please!
am15 Today for my last full day here, my mumsie took me up to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park for lunch.
am10 Cascades is the restaurant nestled in the depths of Stephen King’s inspiration.
am11 It’s a short menu which is a blessing for me, and anyone eating with me, since it takes me hours to decide on a dish.
am12 We started with flash fried shishoto peppers sprinkled with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper flakes and served with aioli. Absolutely delicious, which I never thought I would say about a pepper. I suppose anything that’s fried has potential.
am13 My mumsie is being ridiculously good, healthy and vegan and got the arugula salad topped with blanched almonds, olives and red peppers.
am14 I wasn’t quite as healthy and went for the elk and buffalo meatloaf wrapped in bacon and smothered in a wild mushroom gravy. I don’t regret it.
am16 Afterwards we perused the grounds and enjoyed the slightly chilly weather before heading back home to recuperate after the long weekend.
am17 Back to reality tomorrow. Le sigh.

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Typical Insanity

It’s been an insane week. Even more than usual. I was up bright and early Saturday morning to do my shift brew for Enegren Brewing with Brew Chief Joe.
In between pH testing and hop additions, we found the time to do a little photo shoot for Captain’s Summer Session blonde ale. Joe was the designated “fluffer” of the beer…
I think it turned out pretty well. We had to drink the beer(s) at 7:30am after we’d poured it, but since it’s only 4.9% we fared well for the rest of the day.
Saturday night after brew day was spent grilling, drinking delicious beer and eating candy malt samples from the CBC.
I’ll eat malt plain, but when it’s covered in sugar, I’ll eat even MORE of it.
Yes, please!
Sunday ended with this deliciousness. That would be “The Mack” (mac and cheese in a grilled cheese sammich) from Custom Melt in Moorpark – a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant that recently opened. I have eaten there every weekend. I will continue to do so every weekend I am in town.
The Green-Go – roasted turkey, bacon, avocado and pesto wrapped up in a cheesy embrace. There will definitely be a blog about this place coming in the near future.
Sunday night puppies were played with, the movie Kick Ass was watched and I was prepared to face the oncoming week. Monday was spent cleaning kegs and Tuesday was a surprise day off. I got an oil change. I was told that my tires didn’t look so good. I went to the tire place. I replaced All. Four. Tires.
My wallet is weeping silent tears as I type.
I do have a PLANNED day off on Friday, though! I’ll be camping up in Kern Valley through the weekend: a much needed extended weekend spent mountain biking, hiking, exploring and drinking mass quantities of instant coffee from my Jetboil.
I think I’m all prepared. Only thing left to do is pick up some brews from Kern River Brewing before we head out into the wilderness!
That and somehow bid farewell to those beautiful eyes for three days. Once I do THAT I’ll be fully prepared.

Tomorrey is brew day, then getting in the car immediately after to head out for camping! Follow my brew day updates on my Facebook or my Twitter, OR on Wolf Creek Brewery’s Facebook and Twitter (I run all of the above)! Have a wonderful extended weekend!

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Submersed in Beer

If you’d asked me three years ago if I would ever imagine myself completely submersed in the world of beer, I would’ve laughed my ass off as I popped the top off of a Fat Tire or Blue Moon and drank it straight from the bottle.
My goodness how things change. This entire week has been nothing but brewing, beer, cleaning and more brewing. And beer.
Scrubbed out faucets and cleaned tap lines in the beginning of the week. My hands have healed from the scrub brushes just in time to scrub out some more tomorrey!
Keg delivery is tomorrey as well! Gotta replenish those taps with fresh brews! And hopefully replenish myself with a new experiment by head chef, Chuy? Hint hint, Chuy, if you’re reading this, hehe. We’ll also be dropping off kegs at The LAB Brewing for a local tap takeover for Father’s Day! If you’re in town, head over there on Saturday and sample some of the amazing brews the Agoura Hills/Moorpark/Ventura County has!
The brew days have only contained slight injuries. Tuesday’s consisted of 175 degree spent grain falling into my boot. Today, I somehow have bruised lines across the tops of my knees as well as a blister on my finger from a hot water burn. Not bad for a double brew week!
Today, the grain mill jammed on our last 20lbs of malted wheat. Luckily it was an easy fix – scoop everything out, find the small stone that had gotten lodged between the gears, then reassemble and finish milling.
Once in a while we get spoiled during these early mornings and are surprised with bacon from the kitchen. These mornings are my favorite.
This morning, unfortunately, was not one of those mornings. Three cups of coffee and crunching on the grain before we mashed in made do.
We also had some quality control to do – Surfin’ Monks was transferred yesterday and carbonated today. It passed the test.
Luckily, I won’t be doing what I was last weekend – an overnight brew at Enegren. We mashed in at 7:30pm and worked until 6am. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
…Unless your 3am meal consists of flamin’ hot Cheetos, M&Ms and Gatorade from a late run to 7-11. Sometimes you just get desperate.
Luckily, coffee heals all. Apparently it works faster when you snort it.

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Working for the Weekend

Side note – I thought for 25 years that “working for the weekend” meant working ON the weekend. I was enlightened a month ago. This blog title is based on my previous assumption.

My weekend:
Commander Matt and I brewed at Enegren Brewing from 7:30pm on Friday night until we were relieved by Joe and Chris at 6am on Saturday morning. Then I was able to sleep for three hours before heading back to work the tasting room. Zombie Saturday.
Plenty of caffeine was consumed. Beer may also have been consumed…
During the short breaks in between customers, I played with settings on my camera.
Oh, I fancy, huh?
More photography as I tried not to fall asleep whilst holding my camera.
The EBC crew kegged their Golden Spur Saison that’s been aging in a Syrah barrel for three months.
We sampled it, just to make sure it was up to par. Heavenly with hints of vanilla, Syrah and a bold touch of oak.
Kegging for the tasting room!
Christoph takes his job of blanketing the keg with CO2 seriously.
Very seriously, as you can see.

After the long weekend, Commander Matt helped me move to a new place that’s within biking distance of Wolf Creek Brewery. After returning, we picked up the most amazing, delicious dinner known to wo/man. At least for this week.
That would be chili over mac ‘n cheese. I could tell you where we got this from… but then I would actually have to kill you.

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WCU: Brew Day

Day three of Wolf Creek Unplugged!

Today was brew day! Typically we have up to two brew days per week, seeing that our fermentor and bright tank space is limited. This week’s single brew was Surfin’ Monks. I was up at 5:45am, inhaled a mug of coffee and headed over to the brewery.
We mashed in with 850lbs of grain.
Milling away!
Delicious malted barley!
It was so windy this morning that we had to wedge the used bags underneath the truck tires, and they still tried to fly away on us.
Breakfast was next. Meghan, the pastry chef at Wolf Creek, has to trim the edges off of her brownies and lemon bars so they are pretty when served, and we get to reap the benefits! I make multiple trips per day to the kitchen to chow down on these. I should probably stop doing that…
We do a step mash where we slowly “step” up the temperature at different intervals then allow it to rest so the starches can convert to sugars.
After the final temperature step is hit, we begin sparging and transferring the beer over to the boil kettle.
Water is sprayed over the grain bed in order to drain all of the sugary wort from the mash tun.
While we wait for the boil kettle to finish filling with said wort, we consume more foods. Chipotle tenders with a side of asparagus! If I add asparagus, then my meal is healthy. That’s just how it works.
We came back from lunch to find a wonderfully drained mash tun and a full kettle, rapidly approaching a rolling boil.
(Relatively) dry grain bed.
Boiling kettle!
At this point, Rick and I open up the mash tun and start scraping out all of the drained mash into big garbage cans so I can hop in there and scrub it out.
It’s around 92 degrees when I get in there, and I’m kneeling on 174 degree steel plates. I lose about ten pounds of sweat every brew day. It’s a very glamorous job as you can see…
After the boil is complete, we whirlpool the wort so all of the hop residue and other junk piles into a cone in the center of the kettle so we can rack off all the good stuff.
Trub! That’s the real name for “hop residue and other junk”. After I drain this, I jump in and scrub it out. Luckily, this one is a nice cool 85 degrees and I’m not kneeling on top of a hot liquor tank, so I don’t have the overwhelming urge to pass out.
Brewing is an incredibly hot job. Seriously, overheating all the time. There’s steam everywhere, all the time! The beer is then run through the heat exchanger to cool it down and oxygenated on the way into the freshly cleaned fermentor. Yeast is pitched, the lid is closed for a few weeks, then suddenly…
BEER!

It was a lovely 10 hour day and now I’m relaxing with a Stone Ruination IPA and a full mug of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream. Decompressing commence.

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Vanilla Porter Brew Day

It’s been far too long, but I finally got to brew my own beer again! With the help of my genius brewer friends, of course. I went to the homebrew store, picked up 26lbs of grain, yeast and hops and lugged it all up to Santa Barbara for a day of brewing in the gorgeous weather.
Beckster’s Vanilla Porter! The spelling mistake was intentional, right Frank? Witty and all that? Let’s just go with witty…

This is how brew day began:
That’s a pretty accurate description for the entire day.
Laughing until I cry. Brewing is really, really difficult.
We mashed in around 4pm, only two hours later than planned!
Since I was busy taking pictures, Frank decided to portray me for a couple of shots.
The resemblance is uncanny.
We ended up sparging around 9pm.
Frank made burgers and Grayson manned the grill. It was a terrifying hour.
We made ten gallons, divided it into two boils, added separate additions to have a base and an experimental and then split it into two carboys.
My carboy, sitting next to about ten others in Frank’s closet. I SO ‘CITED!
Once the carboys were airlocked and resting comfortably, we had a tasting of ESBs (Extra Special Bitters) – a part of studying for the Cicerone test.
We tasted between Anderson Valley Boont ESB, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale, Fuller’s ESB, and Shipyard Brewing’s Old Thumper ESA. I’m fairly certain we got a faulty Old Thumper – we were all disgusted by it, but it’s gotten relatively good ratings on Beer Advocate. I have so much homework to do to be able to pull out the different aromas and flavors and faults. Sigh, time to taste even MORE beer.
You better BELIZE it! Frank and Gray whipped out the beer pong table for a game (or many, many games) of death pong. I was challenged. I lost a few times. I retreated to the couch to cower as the games continued.
Brewing is really, really difficult.

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Brewing at Enegren!

Yesterday I awoke at 4:30am, made a gigantic mug of coffee and rolled out the door over to Enegren Brewing Company for brew day!
When I got there a few minutes after 5am, Chris and Matt were already set up, prepping for the mash in.
In order to fill one of their 6 barrel fermenters, Enegren has to brew TWICE in one day. It’s a crapload of work and makes for a long day, so I tried my best to help out in any way I could, as well as not get in the way.
And this is just the first batch.
Here’s what’s in one of those buckets that Matt’s lifting. There were five buckets of this size. TWICE, they lifted five of those to the mash tun. Macho men.
Delicious oatmeal breakfast mash! Such a heavenly aroma.
While the mash tun does have a thermometer on the side, it isn’t the most accurate way to read temperature since there can be hot pockets and uneven heating througout. Matt, Chris and Joe use a long harpoon-style thermometer to check for those hot spots and make sure their readings are accurate.
Checking the pH.
While they did the scientific stuff, I stirred in my required brewniform.
Tacky boots were a necessity – of course.
In my attempt to be helpful, and since the brewers were excessively busy with creating delicious beer, I filled these kegs with beer from Joana – the fermenter full of their California Alt beer.
So. Many. Kegs.
They showed me how to fill, and after a getting soaked by a few minor beer showers, I finally got the hang of it.
Lauter tun with a false bottom, extracting the sugary wort from the mash.
Once all the liquid is extracted, they open the door to a wall of caked grains, and try to get the bucket underneath before it spills all over the floor. They succeeded – this time.
I think I need to do more weight lifting if I’m going to be in the brewing business…
11am rolled around, so I changed out of the brewniform and stepped behind the bar with Brie to help serve the masses of craft beer lovers that stopped by.
Wave after wave of groups came in to taste, fill growlers and chat with the brewers. They stayed for a couple of hours, but I don’t think they really enjoyed themselves or liked the beer that much… The couple in the center is actually getting married soon, and Enegren will be serving their beer at the wedding! I guess they do kind of like it after all.
While brewing is a very, very serious business, there’s ALWAYS time to play Whack-a-Mole when Chris is cleaning out the mash tun.
Brie has had serious training when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.
You can never practice too much when it comes to Whack-a-Mole.

I lasted until 11pm before I decided that I wanted to survive the drive home and not fall asleep behind the wheel. The guys were getting close to finishing up the second brew, but still going strong when I left. It was a LONG, exhausting day for me – the fact that the brewers hold 9-5 jobs AND do this on the weekends astounds me. I’ll be back there as much as possible, until they kick me out. And just to end this post on a gratuitous note:
See you guys soon!

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Shop Brew!

On Sunday I ventured to Woodland Hills for a day of beer brewing with the Maltose Falcons. Thanks to daylight savings time, I woke up late and barely had time to shove a piece of toast in my mouth before I had to leave.
Luckily, I arrived on time, we got our recipe and set to work gathering the ingredients. And yes, that DOES indeed say 36LBS of pale malt, 9lbs of Brown Malt and 6lbs of English Caramel. We were brewing 30 gallons of beer that day – serious stuff!
We got to work choosing our malts.
And weighed out the hops.
Then we got to work mashing the grains.
After letting the grains steep at 154 degrees for 60 minutes, we mashed out by running 168 degree water through the grain bed until it drained all the sugars, starches and proteins into another tun.
Once we’d filled the second tun, we brought the wort up to a boil…
And added the bittering hops. Then we had another 45 minutes to wait until the addition of the aroma hops, so we got to work feeding ourselves – the most important part.
Oops, that’s not the food I meant to show you…
There we go! Espresso shortbread cookies…
And of course my Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon. Those disappeared within half an hour!
Along with more beer. It’s the rule of brewing – “Relax, don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” And we sure did!
I also brought along a growler of Dos Beckis, which was quickly consumed!
After the final addition of the aroma hops, we quickly brought the temperature of the wort down with an immersion wort chiller that connects to a regular garden hose. The copper coil carries the cold water through the wort, rapidly bringing the temperature down.
We then filled all of the carboys or fermenters and oxygenated them before pitching in the yeast.
The cold break – the proteins have been chilled so quickly that they coagulate and then drop to the bottom of the carboy, resulting in  clearer beer.

My beer had a very active day yesterday, screaming away through the airlock in my closet, but it’s quieted down a lot already. Possibly TOO much. For now, I’m going to…

“Relax, don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”

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