Tag Archives: Homebrewing

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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4 Mistakes New Homebrewers Should Avoid

Hey guys! I’m spending the day homebrewing with my bro so I invited Blake Daniels, an avid homebrewer, to do a write-up on his insight and experience. Have a great Friday and follow me on Twitter for brew day updates!

Take it away, Blake!

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4 Mistakes New Homebrewers Should Avoid

 

Who isn’t brewing these days? It seems like every time I turn around, another friend has picked up (or unwrapped) a shiny new starter kit.Their interest and enthusiasm is a beautiful thing. The first beer they brew probably won’t be – but that’s to be expected! I’ve met quite a few accomplished homebrewers in my day and not a single one of them has accrued their mass of awards with raw talent alone.

 

It’s no secret that the more you brew, the better you get. When something goes right, you figure out why. When something goes wrong, you know what needs to be improved for the next batch. You realize when to follow instructions and when to disregard them. You gain the confidence to try new things. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail, but you always learn.

 

Unfortunately, when it comes to brewing, that learning curve can cost a lot in lost time, money, and beer. That being said, the more we can learn from the mistakes of the brewers who have come before us, the better off we’ll be.  

If you’re just getting started, make sure to read the rest of this post carefully – unless you’d rather learn on brew day, the hard way.

 

Mistake 1: Not Doing Your Homework

If there’s one thing I’m adamant about when giving a new brewer advice, it’s this: buy yourself a copy of John Palmer’sHow to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time and don’t brew until you’ve read it. All of it.

Sure, there are plenty of free downloads out there but trust me; not reading the real thing will cost you. Don’t think of it as another paperback to add to your library, think of it as an essential guidebook that’s been specially crafted to help new brewers develop a comprehensive understanding of brewing ingredients, beer styles, recipes, and processes.

 

Mistake 2: Not Taking Sanitation Seriously

If you don’t like cleaning, homebrewing may not be the best recreational activity for you. In fact, my experience has taught me that the two most crucial parts to brewing a good beer are sanitation, and strictly controlled temperature. The temperature rule comes with a little bit of wiggle room but the sanitation thing – not so much.

Star San and a healthy amount of elbow grease are your friends, contamination and infection are not.

 

On brew days, I personally prefer to keep a bottle of sanitizer handy and spray everything before it’s used – and when I say everything, I mean everything – including the thermometer, hydrometer, and even my hands. When it comes to something as important as beer, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

 

Mistake 3: Going Too Big – Too Soon

I’m talking about batches here, and it’s always wise to start small. A lot of brewers want to dive right into making five gallon batches but there’s much to be said for brewing one gallon at a time. If you pick up a one-gallon starter kit, there’s more room for experimenting and consequently more room for errors. Having something go wrong with a one gallon batch is approximately five times less devastating than having that same issue with a five gallon batch. Once you master a one gallon recipe, go ahead and go big – but in the meantime, know that there’s absolutely no shame in making less.

 

Mistake 4: Not Focusing on the Task at Hand

Brewing buddies are nice to have and while it’s incredibly tempting to drink beer with them while you work, it’s not entirely advisable. Opening one or two bottles isn’t the end of the world but I’ve heard too many sad stories about homebrewers who have ruined their own beer by being too focused on someone else’s.

 

Now, don’t let these warnings scare you. Homebrewing is an incredibly fun, incredibly rewarding hobby. It’s also one of the friendliest! Join a homebrewing organization, read more blogs, connect with other brewers online, and make sure to ask questions. There are countless home and professional brewers out there who were once in your shoes. When it’s done in the name of beer, people love to share!

 

Happy brewing and welcome to the club.

Blake Daniels is a stay at home(brewing) dad with a passion for the simple things in life. On any given day, you’d most likely find him wrestling with his boys, cooking a gourmet meal for his wife or brewing a batch of beer in the garage.

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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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Kegging/Bottling Vanilla Porter

I had my first kegging session up in Santa Barbara yesterday! My completely awesome friend Grayson helped me rack off my beer into a three gallon keg (kindly provided by Enegren Brewing) and we bottled the other two gallons.
Grayson decided to be a manly man and do the difficult tasks of removing tubing from racking canes. Thanks, Gray!
This carboy smelled DELICIOUS! You can see the remains of the vanilla bean in the bottom there, and a good pumpkin homebrew that we had to sip whilst bottling. Seriously, it’s a requirement: Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.
Carboy, keg, capper: joy on a table.
Grayson’s cat attempted to eat my priming sugar.
Cats + priming sugar = hyper! In case you didn’t know…
My beautiful, BEAUTIFUL beer! We had to try some, of course. ROCKED my world! Now I just need to name it! Suggestions, anyone? It’ll be hard to top Dos Beckis
Afterwards we hit our old stomping grounds of IV (Isla Vista) and got some Indian slop at Naan Stop. New tradition: any time I’m up there for Cicerone studying/kegging/any reason at all, we’ll be visiting Naan Stop. Delicious memories!

Today I drove out to Fountain Hills, Arizona for the fine art and wine festival. After setting up the booth, feeling exhausted and ready to drop, we had our priorities straight. Bed, you ask? Um, no.
SANGRIA! Sofrita in Fountain Hills is my absolute FAVORITE place for anything edible in Fountain Hills. There was fruit in my sangria: therefore edible, therefore dinner. Win.

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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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My 7 Links

Amanda a la Two Boos Who Eat tagged me in the “My 7 Links” project that’s going around the blog community. Basically, it’s a chance for me to go through my dear, sweet blog (whose one year anniversary I missed way back on May 27th) and pull up some of my favorite posts, which most of my new readers haven’t seen.

THE GOAL
To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

THE RULES
1) Blogger is nominated to take part
2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.
4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers
5) And so it goes on!
6) We’ll be sharing the best posts from participating bloggers on our blog and everyday on Facebook and Twitter at #My7Links

TOO MANY WORDS! TIME FOR MY LINKS AND PICTURES!

Most Beautiful Post:
This one is recent, but possibly one of my favorites: Rock-a-Hoola Waterpark. I absolutely adore abandoned places, and trespassing just lights up my life. Others may not find this beautiful, but I think it’s the devastation and emptiness that makes this place so gorgeous.

Most Popular:
By far, LazyChiveFace! The days I was featured on The Chive, my viewership shot up to ridiculous heights, and I’ve been graced with mass amounts of regular readers since then. Thank you all for sticking around!
Here’s an outtake that wasn’t shown on my blog, or The Chive. Buddy gets his drink on!

Most Controversial:
Surf Brewery. I visited, I tasted, I was not impressed. Perhaps I was too harsh and outspoken with my judging, but I was incredibly disappointed and unimpressed. Quite a few people (I’m guessing employees or friends of the owners) left comments on how wonderful the beers are, and while I’m not willing to spend my money, if someone wants to demonstrate to me how good the beers are and I don’t have to waste my hard-earned cash, I’m willing to go back and give it one more shot! Perhaps they’ve improved the quality? Maybe?

Most Helpful:
Welcome to Indio. I like to think that I spared possibly DOZENS of people from contracting deadly diseases, or getting stabbed to death by posting and warning them all to avoid this “hotel”.
Blood splatter from the previous occupant.

Post Whose Success Surprised You:
My Pet Hanger, Stan, and How I Lost My Brain. This was back when the only people reading were my mom, dad, and a few friends, but they seemed to appreciate it! I even gained a few new readers who thought I was actually losing it and wanted to enjoy the show as I slowly descended into madness.
Don’t even ask. You HAVE to read this one!

Post You Feel Didn’t Get the Attention It Deserved:
Magical Bread Pudding. I really think that anyone who doesn’t make this recipe is missing out! ANY of my bread pudding recipes, or pancake recipes (except for the Green Monsta Pancakes, those sucked) deserve to be discovered and adored by others!

Post You Are Most Proud Of:
I’m proudest of Brewing My First Beer. Prior to this post, I really had no idea what the process of making beer involved. Looking back to only six and a half months ago, when I had no idea what wort was, how enzymes turned fermentable sugars into alcohol, how to read original gravity and compare it to the final gravity to calculate the alcohol… I can’t believe how far I’ve come, and how much I’ve fallen in love with every aspect of beer: the science, the taste, the community, EVERYTHING. I honestly can’t believe that standing next to that stove with my brother would open up an entire new world and career for me. I’m completely blown away!
Chris and Janna, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Now I have to find bloggers who haven’t been nominated, but almost everyone I follow has! AUGH! Okey, here we go…

1. Mimi of Gingersnaps. I love her eloquence and beautiful style of writing!
2. Sophia of Burp and Slurp. Beautiful photography, perfect grammar. She loves Spam, but I’ll forgive her for that.
3. Danielle of All Things Yummy. She makes insane amounts of recipes a la Food Network stars, and tortures me with pictures of layer cakes and pastas!

Thanks for the nomination, Amanda! I actually wasn’t going to do this at first, but I’m so glad I did! I’m taking you out for a gluten-free beer at Yard House very, very soon!

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In Mem’ry of Bacon

I’ve been slacking on the blogging lately, I know. I’d love to say that I’ve been busy with school, but the truth is…
I got new technology, and my brain has been completely involved in it. I actually tried blogging from it the other day, but the title of my post would have been, “Clogging From Android” thanks to the text prediction. Yeah, it’s definitely not meant for blogging.

Anyways… now that I’ve torn my eyes from my Droid screen long enough, here are a few of the brews I’ve tried lately.
Autumnal Stillwater Artisinal.
Good head retention! A little bit too harsh of a pour… oops on my part! This beer was mediocre. It had a funky tart taste and after half of a glass, the flavor became almost cloying. I finished it anyways. I’m gracious like that.
Shockingly enough, I’d never had ANYTHING from Firestone prior to this DBA! Please don’t hurt me for admitting that! I always thought that Firestone wasn’t craft beer, but was edumacated very recently and gave this one a shot. LOVE! It was a little sweeter than I generally like, but very smooth and had a beautiful color! If I’m ever in a pinch, I’m willing to try more Firestone!
For the next beer, I needed to prepare. I chopped up a crapload of veggies – eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, broccoli and onion, marinated it in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garam masala and curry powder, then grilled it over low heat until everything was caramelized. I threw a couple of steaks on next to it as well, all in preparation for this:
Legit Bavarian smoked beer! This stuff is INTENSE! The smokey scent punches you in the nose, but surprisingly enough, it’s a smooth sip. Until you swallow. Then it’s like a group of smoked salmon is having a barbecue in your throat. I thought that this would be a good pairing with barbecued veggies and meat. I was wrong. It totally tipped the scales into the “excessive” zone of smokiness. This one, I couldn’t finish. I think it would make a good marinade for my next steak, though!
To rinse the smoke out of my mouth, I turned to Liefmans sour ale. I’ve tried a few sours before, and have only enjoyed one of them. This one is a keeper! It wasn’t overwhelmingly tart, but not overpoweringly sweet either. I love a unique beer, and this was just right. I’d compare it to Duchesse De Bourgogne. They are almost identical! If you’re looking for something different (especially if you’re trying to convert a wine-drinker to beer), this and the Duchesse are wonderful!
After all the veggies and red meat, I needed to round out my meal with some sugar! I received a coupon from Magnum for a box of their ice cream bars that are just now being introduced to the U.S., and picked up the first box I could find.
HOLY CRAP! I can honestly say that this was the best ice cream bar I’ve ever had! I probably wouldn’t have tried them without the coupon, but this is something I will actually go back and purchase! I loved the uber-thick layers of chocolate encasing more chocolate. I actually felt like crying – it was that good. My only complaint? The letter from Foodbuzz said I would be getting TWO coupons, and I only got one. Sadness 🙁

And all those beers bring me to today! It was BOTTLING DAY for my beer from the shop brew! This was my second beer I’ve ever brewed, and my first time using 12 ounce bottles and a capper.
Mmmm, bottle capper! Drooooool!
I plotted this all out, Hebrew-style (from right to left, in case you didn’t get that – my artist taught me that :P)
First, I boiled some corn sugar in water and added it to the sanitized bottling bucket. Then, I siphoned the beer gently from the carboy into said bottling bucket. I soaked all of the bottles in Star San, emptied them and filled them within an inch of the top with a bottle filler. Next came the capper (my favorite part!!!), drying and boxing.
I ceremoniously finished up the LAST growler of Dos Beckis whilst bottling this new beer.
Speaking of which, the new beer’s name is: In Mem’ry of Bacon.
(For those of you who are new, I made Oatmeal Stout Brownies with Caramelized Bacon for the shop brew, which were a HUGE hit! I thought this name was fitting)
I also got some awesome new gloves (thanks for those, mom!) to spare my poor skin from the acid sanitizer, which exfoliated the CRAP out of my hands last time.

28 days until I can finally taste the goodness of “In Mem’ry of Bacon!”

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