So I have been brewing since the summer of 2006. Its passed being a hobby, I love the time I spend brewing. In the last few years brewing has become part of what I am.

Now on top of my love of homebrewing, I am beginning my move into the professional brewing scene with an expanding local craft brewery.

Mostly this blog will be talking about my brew days, any experiments that I work on and the process of getting into the professional world.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Learn to Homebrew Day 2014

Short and sweet post

Learn to Homebrew Day
Hosting learn to homebrew day, again, at the house.  Link to the AHA Site for RSVP.
That's about all to say there.

Kennett Square Brew Fest
So, my first brew fest behind the taps.  This was extremely fun, such a large festival with over one hundred breweries and several thousand people attending.  To top it all off, I got to pour one of my own beers(yeah it was a little foamy).  The feedback was great and it made me proud to be pouring to such good reviews.

Location, Location, Location
It is starting to sound like we are getting a new location lined up.  That means expansion should be starting to get planned.
Time to talk funding and investors, so that's going to be fun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Still Brewing....

First Pro Batch 

With a major beer fest coming up, I wanted to take something of my own for the VIP tasting that opens the event, the theme of the VIP portion is 'wild beers'.  I took the Saison that I had brewed earlier in the summer, scaled it down a few points, then fermented it 100% with brettanomyces bruxellensis trois.  For hops, I stuck with Styrian Goldings, to keep traditional, but focused on late hop additions.  
I wish that I could share the smell of the starter, but the internet hasn't gotten there yet, it was like fresh pears and melon.  The beer chugged away pretty nicely.  I was worried that there may be some bad lag because of using all Brett., but with a healthy starter the yeast got going pretty easily. 
I brewed the batch at home, because we were just going to do this as a one-off for the event.  If the beer works out, this might have a chance to be rebrewed.
I'm waiting, with some excitement, to pour my first recipe under the brewery.  I have been sharing some in the tasting room, with very good response.  

As for progress on the expansion, we're still shopping for locations.  The aim is to stay close to the area, as we've got some very loyal supporters.  Shopping for locations sucks.  We've found a  few places that look good, but would have issues or someone beat us to the punch.  That's our big limiting factor now, and there is no point in ordering a bigger system for the current space only to have to move it in a few months.  

Home Brewing

Had some empty fermenters and kegs, so I wanted to knock out some beer to fill that up, so I brewed 12 gallons of Ordinary Bitter. 
With my weekends being eaten up, I've brewed my last few beers late into the evening.  With some iffy weather, and limited time to brew, I took a shot at brewing inside.
Indoor Brewing
 It took some maneuvering, but I was able to make a nice spot.  It worked out, because half way through the brew it started to rain.  This is a three season room, but might serve as a place to brew when we get crushed with snow this winter, still cold but at least dry.  The biggest complaint that I had was not being able to dump on the floor and just spray it down, like I would in the driveway.  If i keep this up I might want to get some protection for the window sills, from the heat, and maybe the ceiling as well.
The final count was 5.
 The number of times
I hit my head.

                                      Oh and this sucks...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Harvest time!

Harvest Time!

The pile after cleaning up the stems and leaves
Let the picking begin.  Just cleared off most of the Cascades, until it got too dark to pick, and ended up with 5lbs of wet hops.  This represents about 3/4 of what is on the plants.  We still have to finish picking Cascades, there are still new burrs popping up too, and get the Nugget cleared.  The third plant did nothing this year, I tried planting a new rhizome, but that doesn't look like it took and the remnants of the old plant were still growing(at least what grew looked as bas as the old plant did).  The beetles really torn up the plants this year, I'm going to have to look into how to prevent that in the future. 

Harvest season means wet hop beer, so continuing the tradition, used those fresh hops in a Black Rye IPA, inspired by both Wookie Jack and crazy Wookie pilots, 'Pryyshaak got a Star Destroyer'.  When you have a 5lb pile of hops for a homebrew batch, you tend to do silly things like mash hopping and sparge hopping.  The final tally of hops used was 44oz of wet hops. 

Mash Hops

On the professional front.

They say when it rains it pours...
After issues with zoning and then the landlord changing his mind in allowing a brew pub in our current location, we're looking to move locations. So we're starting that hunt, but this could be all the better, since we're trying for a location with specific requirements. 
Of course we're still working on the not fun parts, hashing out the basics of the operators' agreement between the partners.  Each member has their own concerns about their roll in the company while trying to protect the company and ourselves.  
But there is beer at the end of the rainbow. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The cat's out of the bag...

So now that we've started really talking, and the owner is also openly discussing it... I am now in talks to become a partner in a local brewery, Armstrong Ales.
So eight years in, my old homebrew partner is off in Indiana openning a brewery and I'm here getting ready to start brewing professional.
This blog will start having some professional content in it as well, as we move from a 1 US barrel system to a 15 US barrel system.  We still have some money to raise, and the lawyery things to get done but we are starting on the way now.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saison Brew Day

Saison Brew Day:

Back from NHC 2014, I find myself with 7 packs of dry Belle Saison yeast from Dan Star.

I did some research on the yeast, found that it attenuates like a man mad, getting down to 1.002 without a lot of effort.  This works just as mom starts to bug me for beer.

A slightly hop forward take on a Saison.  I have a small pile of Southern Hemisphere hops, so I decided to make Motueka and Wataku the stars of the this beer. 

I'm still playing with the new mash tun.   It looks like about 8 gallons of strike water will be the key to hitting the probe and have enough water over the false bottom to get the grain all wet.  I may have to swap the false bottom out in a smaller beer in order to get the grain submerged, luckily my old braid from the cooler will fit into the ball valve in this one.  Of course you should change as many variables as you can, so I also switched brewing software, started to use BeerSmith and that is still taking some tweaking(any tips would be awesome). 

So the brew went well, besides being a few points  shy, of course I have been chalking this up to working out the kinks in software and gear. 

I always have my saisons ferment hot, and I find ambient temps just fun to run them.
 Needless to say, running saisons at 80+F, the fermentation is quite active.  Now we are a week into fermentation the aroma is great, I was expecting more phenols,  but I'm not smelling them now.   I couldn't find a whole lot of information on this yeast strain as far as flavor characteristics, so I am interested to see what it does. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Coffee in beer.

Getting back to using the Blog:
So I know I planned on getting back to using this, then I stopped about 30 seconds later.
But I feel like I can put some time into writing on here.  I want to do a few different projects that I would like to write about.

So let's see how long my attention span stays on here.

Coffee Extract Test:

Left: .25oz Costa Rican Coffee, fine ground.
Right: .25oz Costa Rican Coffee, whole bean.
Both in about 2oz of 100 Proof Vodka
While working on an Imperial Stout, with the plans of adding coffee and cocoa, I started looking at methods of adding coffee.  I've done the cold steep, years back, and was fairly satisfied with the results(wasn't the best choice of coffee, but the process worked).
Being concerned about watering down the final beer and serving as an additional risk of contamination, I wanted to look for an alternate method.  Since I have had success with cocoa nibs in vodka, I figured I would try the coffee in vodka as well.

24 hours 
I took .25oz of Costa Rican single source coffee, through my grinder on the finest setting, making coffee dust, added that to about 2oz of 100 proof vodka.  Into a second glass, I added the same amount of whole beans in vodka.  Right off the bat, the grounds mixed right into solution, the beans just hung out on the top of the liquid.

I let the glasses sit for a few days to see the changes.

By the end of the first day, the beans had all sunk to the bottom and started to release some great aromas, fresh coffee beans(go figure), nutty and hid the alcohol pretty well.  The grounds, on the other hand, still smelled like vodka, cheap vodka at that, with just a slight hint of dark coffee.
48 hours, only slight color difference
When it came to tasting, the grounds stood out the most.  There was still the alcoholic burn, but with a firm bitterness from the coffee, that rounded out with the flavor of the beans.  The whole beans still came across as fresh beans and nutty, much like the aroma, but masked a lot of the alcohol.

Sampling over the next two days yielded pretty much the same results, with some evolving coffee flavor in whole beans.  The flavor was still stronger in the grounds.

I pulled a blind sample for someone, with no explanation of what he was tasting.  The flavor and aroma from the whole beans masked the alcohol, to the point that he thought that, when he sampled the grounds, he said right away, "There's alcohol in this."  I explained that both were the same solution, just one made with coffee grounds while the other is made with whole beans.

So, the conclusion?  I'm going to use both.  Probably a 70/30 or 60/40 blend by weight of beans to grounds.  I want the coffee flavor as well as the aroma, but going into a dark beer too much astringency from the coffee might make it hard to drink.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Radio Silence....

So its been a while, I've been busy just a crazy start to the year.  So I moved, made settlement on February 29th.
My last brew session at the old place was a Wee Heavy for a club project to fill a Heaven Hill bourbon barrel. It was also a chance for a lot of us to play with some Golden Promise malt.  From dry grain through fermentation that beer smelled awesome, huge bready nutty aromas, it was too hard to not eat some of the mash, it was pretty impressive.  I hated giving the beer away to have to wait for it.  I'll be waiting very patiently for that beer to be out of the barrel...VERY PATIENTLY.

New brew space(for now)
I finally unpacked the brew gear.  I threw this quick beer on on the 12th, Pete's Brown Porter, named after the guy who's recipe it was(except the hop additions that's me).  His beer placed pretty well in a local competition and tasted great, so I wanted to get something along that line into the fermenter.  The water around here is pretty loaded with chloramines, so some campden tablets cleared that up pretty well.  Of course I didn't have everything I needed to brew, no DME for a starter so a little under pitched, but fermentation went nuts even at the lower temperature.

Brown porter runnings
Finally made the call on when to bottle my 'Old Brown'(a play on Oud Bruin), Southern English Brown Ale that has been sitting with Brett. C. since 10/15/2010.  I figure 18 months should be long enough, so Sunday that beer will go into a bottle, I'm planning on priming with some apple blossom honey...we'll see if that makes any real difference.  I was talked into cracking the bung on the carboy when I was moving, the aromas coming off that beer are awesome.

My Berliner experiment, I'd call it more lambic-like at this point, is still moving along, I took a small taste tonight and its puckeringly sour and has a great Bretty aroma.  I've decided to feed it some cherries then age a bit of oak just before bottling.

And of course, with a new space comes new hop plants.  I actually got 3 plants from a club-mate.  I have cascade, nugget and sterling in the ground now.  I decided since its my space I could get a little more permanent with my hop structure.  I have two 'T' posts built from 12 foot 4x4 posts and 8 foot 2x4 cross beams.  They weight a ton.  I sunk them two feet down and still felt like they were a bit tall so I cut them down by 1 more foot, so they are 9 feet tall by 8 feet wide.  I haven't tied my lines on them yet, but the plants aren't all that big(yet).  The old plants are still in the ground at my old place and growing well, apparently they are almost 2 feet tall already(crazy weather helps).  I'll let those continue as long as I can keep them there; everyone like the vines and the smell of the cones, besides they are a hell a of a plant to kill.