Category Archives: homebrewing

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.


Filed under brewing, homebrewing

Homebrewers’ Meeting!

     I have been very lax with my camera use these past few days. By lax, I mean I haven’t touched it, so for today’s post I’m going to recycle a few from the past year.
     I had my first homebrewer meeting on Sunday and my beer, Dos Beckis, was kindly received. I informed them that it was bottle-conditioned right as they tipped the entire growler upside-down and let all of the yeast sediment mix together in the pitcher. Oops. I still enjoyed the taste, and I made everyone healthier by giving them an extra dose of Vitamin B thanks to all that mixed-in yeast. 
Goooooo HEALTH!
     We had a tasting of five beers from the San Francisco area, followed by TWENTY tastings of members’ beers. I got through ten of those tastings before I had to cover my glass. I just don’t have the stamina, or the body weight to handle all that! 
     Now I have to head to work, so I’ll leave you with my beautiful recycled pictures of…. BEER!
Wort – not quite beer, but getting there!
Weasel-$#*& beer.
Old Monkeyshine by Nimbus. AKA “Face-punch” beer.
Longmont Milk Stout.
Muchas Cervezas.
Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head. 1554 by New Belgium.
Tasting with the boys. Old Rasputin, Napa Smith’s Amber, Moylan’s Porter, Boont Amber, and Franziskaner.
Good ole Anchor Steam – sponsor of my homebrew club 😀
A simple, and wonderful, kind of life.


Filed under Anchor Steam, beer tasting, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Dos Beckis, Efes, homebrewing, Mikkeller Geek Brunch Weasel, milk stout, New Belgium, Old Monkeyshine, Redemption, Weasel Crap Beer, wort

Introducing… Dos Beckis!!!!

     I MADE BEER! 
GOOD beer! DRINKABLE beer! TASTY beer! 
The name: DOS BECKIS
Roll your eyes, I don’t care. This was based off an amazing suggestion by an old friend/Lonelygirl15 fan, modelmotion.
MM – I owe you! Genius idea 🙂
First pour!
Pops and me sharing the first sip!
Thinking… thinking…
My beer with the recipe I used.
Some changes I made: Hallertau instead of Spaltz hops and 1007 German Ale Wyeast instead of Safale 56.
Translation: It’s GOOD!
I carbonated my beer in 9 growlers instead of bottles. I was a bit worried about having bombs or not getting carbonation, but all that worry flew out the window as soon as I heard that lovely “phssssst” as I twisted off the cap.
Pretty color! A little bit of a chill haze, but I don’t care!
I asked my dad for a description of this beer. His answer: “Delicious. Alcoholic. Makes me burp.”
And that, my friends, is the official vignette of Dos Beckis.


Filed under amber ale, beer is good, Dos Beckis, home brew beer, homebrewing, I MADE BEER, I MADE GOOD BEER, I'M SO HAPPY, Island Brewing Company

Brewing with the Boys!

     My boys from college are INTENSE brewers and invited me up for a brew day on Saturday. I was out the door by 8am and when I arrived, they’d already gotten started! Post-college guys getting up before noon on a Saturday? 
That’s dedication to the craft!
Frank the Tank already had his mash (the grains are submerged in water and raised to a temperature that breaks down the starches into sugars) ready to sparge.
Sparging is when the wort (the liquid that contains the sugar from the mash) is drained from the mash tun (a big pot with a false bottom where you heat the mash) and water is poured over to extract as much of the sugars as possible. 
Grayson demonstrates here:
Grayson the Scholar sparging his mash in a studious manner.
When brewing, it’s important to have a homebrew on hand. This was one of Frank’s latest kegs – de-freakin-licious. If I wasn’t sure about homebrew quality before (which I was), I sure would be now! This had lovely notes of toffee and happiness.
It’s also important to be well-fed. Grayson and I ran out for propane tanks, jugs of water and burritos. I got a grilled veggie burrito (NO CHEESE/DAIRY FOR A WEEK NOW!) that was so succulent (heehee, succulent) it made me giggle. 
I placed it in a cup, which makes it taste better.
It’s also important to have beer glasses on hand. I don’t know why, but I trust Frank and Grayson when it comes to this stuff.
Frank’s Scottish Midget Ale (yes, that’s really its name) boiling away!
Chillin’ the wort with a wort chiller – an apparatus that connects to a hose or other water source that sends cold water in one end and out the other. When you place it (after sanitizing it!) in your wort, it cools it down much faster.
I will repeat – CLEANLINESS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING when it comes to brewing beer! Grayson knows this, as you can see.
Everything was going just great.
Beer pong. Oh, dear Lord.
Time ceased to mean anything.
Growlers, homebrews and six-packs covered the table.
It was a good day.


Filed under beer, beer glasses, beer pong, burritos, college boys, homebrewing, mash tuns, sanitization, Scottish Midget Ale, sparging, UCSB, wort, wort chiller

Bottling Day!

     I spent Friday night bottling my first brew! Without the guidance and help from my brother and his wife, the pro-brewers, I had to give it a go on my own, with massive paranoia.

I had a mental spaz-out when I couldn’t recall how to put together the racking cane…
My brother reminded me over the phone, “Relax, don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” Since I had no homebrew available yet, I settled for Red Nectar, recommended by a guy who works at the local wine and beer store.
With my substitute homebrew in hand, I got down to business.
CLEAN! If you ever brew and want to know the most important aspect of brewing, it is sanitization! Yeast likes to eat sugar, but bacteria likes to kill yeast, so if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with skunk beer.
Skunk beer is not a good thing.
First I soaked my growlers in Star San, then soaked paper towels in Star San and placed them over the tops to keep out any devil bacteria.
Next I got to work on starting the siphon using the racking cane that I finally figured out how to put together. It was embarrassingly easy. I hope my brother isn’t reading this…
I filled the growlers using a bottling tube that has a spring loaded tip that lets the beer flow when you press down on the bottom of the bottle, then dropped in four carbonation pellets – the lazy man/beginner’s primer.
Gravity is kind of necessary for a siphon. My original standing approach failed.
I filled nine growlers as well as a 500mL bottle, screwed the caps on ridiculously tight and covered them with paper bags, just in case they decide that exploding would be fun.
After all that hard work, I whipped up a quick pasta dish using my new cookbook! I sauteed whole cherry tomatoes in olive oil and garlic until they popped open, then tossed them into brown rice pasta with arugula and goat cheese. Simple, delicious and healthy!
Then I promptly passed out from exhaustion.


Filed under bottling, Essentials of Healthy Eating, growlers, homebrewing, racking cane, Red Nectar, skunk beer, Star San

Dreams of a New Year!

     Happy New Year! Now that I have my resolutions securely down and written in stone (or in a really pretty notebook), I’m ready to share! FIRST though, I’d like to share some of the “Morning After” quotes that I heard at work today:
1. “Did anyone else wake up miles from their house and not know how they got there?”
2. “Anyone have a great story about last night?” “I do, but I can’t share it…”
3. (In reference to someone’s bruised cheek and split lip) “What happened to your face?” “I don’t know yet. I’m waiting for someone to text me and tell me.”

Yep. Happy New Year.

     NOW for my resolutions!
1. Only try NEW beers when out – unless from a local brewery, like Ladyface, Island Brewing Company, etc… Gotta support the local breweries!
Bonus points if I try beer that scares the CRAP out of me – haha, get it? Weasel Crap Beer!
2. Spend more time with family and friends.
My GORGEOUS parents!
The lovely Tanya.
Serenading Dan.
Sleepy Malachi – who is being lame and flying off to France for six freaking months.
Sweethearts Jenny and Boa.
Grayson the Thoughtful.
Beautiful Allie.
Plus TONS more. It’s a year to focus on what’s really important – the people in my life.
3. Get back outdoors and HIKE!
4. Eat more vegetables, whole grains and olive oil!
Kitchen Sink Salad contains all of this!
5. Quit my retail job.
Seriously, it’s hazardous to my health!
I know I said I was putting in my two weeks notice last week, but I chickened out when I told my sweet coworker and saw the look on her face. I’m such a people-pleaser.
6. Travel more!
Stormy Arizona deserts.
Bee parts.
Me on the road = Ecastatic!
7. Drink more Monstas!
Cuz they’re DELICIOUS! And good for me. And stuffs…
8. Spend more time in the kitchen.
And spend more time out back, with this amazing view!
I need to get back into my apron and start cooking, STAT!
9. Attend more blogger meetups!
Need I say more? No, no I do not.
10. Join the Homebrewers Association, as well as the local homebrew club, and BREW IT UP!
Beer is good! Beer is good! Beer is good! And stuff!
(Lyrics from an actual song)
11. Start my new website and blog. That’s right, I’ll be heading up an actual website this year, as well as changing the name of my blog! I’m hoping the transition will be easy for you, but there’s still some time to get used to the idea before I officially move. EXCITED!!!

     There you have it – a sampling of my resolutions! I have a few more, but decided that twenty feet of pictures was probably more than people could handle as it is. I hope you had a blessed beginning to your new year, and that you’re as excited for what’s to come as I am!
Happy New Year! Let’s make it worthwhile!


Filed under Arizona, beer, blogger meet-up, friends, green monster, hiking, homebrewing, Island Brewing Company, kitchen sink salad, Ladyface, Morning after, NEW WEBSITE, New Year, retail, Weasel Crap Beer

Santa Barbara Boyz!

     I spelled boys with a Z. I hope you forgive me.

     Grayson, Sitler and Frank were seniors when I was a freshman at UCSB. They took me and my friends Joelle and Christina under their wings (and into The Brew – their awesome, yet slightly disgustingly dirty house) the entire year. Every time we get together is a wonderful overload of happiness and joy!

On Tuesday I drove up to Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria to meet with Grayson for a beer.
A glass of Jubilee and a view of the beach? Okay, if I must!
Gray decided to grow a beard to keep his chin warm for snowboarding season!
(His actual words)
     Whilst at the brewery, Grayson surprised me with the news that our friend Sitler was in town, and that I was being kidnapped. I would not be going back home that night. I didn’t resist, although my toothbrush was missed.
Grayson, mistletoe and Sitler?
Sitler looks slightly creeped out… Just a bit…
Apparently they sell this tequila for a few bucks in Mexico. We all stared in awe and fear at the bottle, but no one had the guts to consume any.
Frank the Tank sterilizing his keg.
Got guns?
Closet beer! Frank, when do I get to try this??
     We spent the night testing out freshly tapped homebrews, eating homemade eggplant parmesan and debaucher-ing (not a real word, but accurate) to our hearts content, just like old times. Then we all ended up crashing on the couch around midnight and watching the BBC, not like old times. Sleeping before 1am? I think we’re getting old!
Becki and Grayson circa 2006
Becki and Sitler (and my lovely roommates Joelle and Christina) circa 2006.
Becki and Frank the Tank circa 2006.

I love my boyz!

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Filed under beach, beer, brewing, Carpinteria, Frank the Tank, Grayson, homebrewing, Island Brewing Company, Jubilee, mistletoe, ocean view, Sitler, UCSB