Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mid Year Ramblings.....

19 Batches so far this year

Normally at the end of the year I take a look back and see where my brewing is taking for the year ahead, this year I wanted to do a mid year look back review to see any trends that I need to address.  The biggest challenge right now are my ongoing attempts at mastering the "Re-Brew".  It has sort of become a passion of mine.  Understanding the changes your homebrew goes through from batch to batch has made me look at myself differently has a brewer.  The hot side recipe changes are really only effective if you have a controlled, stable cold side process.  Having a better understanding of temp controlled fermentation has let me focus on simple recipe adaptations needed to finalize a recipe.  Getting to know my fermentation chamber has also dramatically improved the quality of homebrew being produced at my house.  The normal internal carboy temp of one of my ales during the first 3 days of active fermentation is 4 degrees over the ambient temp in the chamber and what shown on the side of the carboy.  The days of 67 degree ambient fermentation are over in my house.

The ongoing project of creating a great session-able Pale Ale is coming to an end.  It started as the Justice Pale Ale Experiment last year and adapted into a mission of creating an Aroma/Whirlpool Hopped Pale Ale.  Low on the bittering hops to let the true "Flavor" of the hops shine through but still session-able so that you can have 4 or 5 pints.  The latest attempts have been dubbed "Old Glory"(2 Attempts) and before that "Fargo Lane Pale" (4 Attempts)  On the 4th of July I will be brewing my 3rd attempt of "Old Glory".  This will be the first time I'm not changing the recipe, only shooting for a complete clone of the 2nd batch. Once I get the clone perfected I will write a complete review on the experience.  I also have a vertical tasting planned for all three "Old Glory" batches.  I have one 22oz of each batch bottled by my Blichmann Bottle Filler for a tasting.

The sour side is getting a lot of love also, just the time needed to brew these types of beer make them far less glamorous for blogging about.  The one gallon side projects are still accumulating in my chamber.  (They are not reflected above in the pie chart because they are mostly little one gallon batches.)  Although slow, they are much more exciting for me to write about do to the minimized risk of letting one go if it is not up to par.  One gallon poured out is much more understandable than tossing a five gallon batch.

Primary fermentation with Brett is also going good, although slower than expected.  The viability of the Brett-C vial I used from White Lab is coming into question.  On my Pioneer Series of Brett only beer(s), it stalled out at 1.020 for the last 6 weeks or so.  Then last weekend while I was cleaning the closet it started to ferment again.  In the last 2 days it has dropped 4 points and is still fermenting down.  While I hoped to brew a 3 gallon batch every 6 weeks it looks like that timeline is way off. 

This is also the 1st year I have ever entered any sort of homebrew competition.  While the results were positive my 3 beers did not advance at the 2012 NHC.  I currently have 2 beers entered in the Sam Adams Long Shot competition.  I don't think we get the results until September.  This side of brewing has never interested me at all until this year.  I really didn't understand the draw people had towards competitions until I received the results email from the National's.  It opened my my eyes to the draw they have.  Reading the score sheets can be a humbling experience, never-less the words written are truthful and unbiased.  I want to enter at least 2 more competitions this year.  I would love some competition feed back on my Old Glory and 4C's Rye IPA now that the recipe is getting close to finalized.

With my Old Glory recipe relatively finalized I will continue to brew it for a "Always On" house favorite beer.  But honestly brewing up to 8 hoppy pale ales in a row is tremendous work on a homebrewer.  The great advantages of homebrewing are lost when it becomes repetitive. I am slowly perfecting my Black American Ale/IPA recipe.  This was brewed once and a huge hit.  It is also next to go through the ringer concerning final tweaking of the recipe.

For the next half of the year I want to focus on more Belgian styles ales.  I am working on a Sorachi Ace Recipe I call "21, Sorachi Ace'd Saison".  I will be on my second brewing of this beer as of tomorrow morning.  The 1st batch is going into 750ml bottles with a 29mm cap.  It is currently cold crashing in a keg at the moment.  It has been filtered and conditioned and will be bottled with the Blichmann Beer Gun this Saturday.

I also have a new lagering toy being delivered Friday.  It is a 7cf GE chest freezer.  This will allow more dedication to lagers and storing conditioned beer/homebrew.  I plan to also use it as a cellaring vessel.  Mostly keeping the bottles around 50 degrees.  With 4 fridges in my condo I'm sure my power bill will climb rapidly over the next couple months. 

Overall it's been a great brew year so far. Simple process changes and repetition have made a big impact in my overall homebrewing.  I hope this trend continues for the rest of the year.

Cheers and have a happy 4th of July


  1. You've made some really interesting and quaffable beers so far this year. I think I've tried pretty much everything that's been ready to drink (and a few that haven't been). Your beers are consistently better and more complex than ever before. Am I wrong, or didn't you also brew a mild?

    As possibly your most ardent outside consumer (and a future minority shareholder), I feel inclined to offer my unsolicited suggestions for your homebrewery based solely on my own selfish desires.

    I'd like to see some blending of sour beers, especially the Flanders batches that have been made. I'd also like to do more ten gallon collaborative split batches together-I know that the results of that first split batch will be incredibly interesting when it's all said and done. I'm super excited to try beers that you will have lagered or cold-conditioned. I think it's going to add a new element and really help with the mastery of fermentation variables.

    On the equipment side it would be cool if you were able to convert your old filter into a permanent randall for your kegerator, and complete your plans to mount the hop rocket/pump on a new stand.

    Regardless, I have no doubt that you're going to push the envelope (and me) as you continue to progress. Prost!

    1. Looking back I think I missed about 4 beers now. Changing computers killed my brewing records on Beersmith.

      The filter needs to be changed into a randall, that is for sure. The Blichmann is just not good enough to switch back and forth. The new brewing cart is in the works as we speak. I have a lot of requirements. It needs to hold my pump, counterflow chiller, hopback and copper tubing for wort/water recirculation. I made up the stands but the little details are still being worked out.

  2. Great write-up. You made me super jealous of your setup, especially your kegerator (and I like the brewing pics). When I finally move into a place with a garage I'm stealing a bunch of your ideas.

    I agree with Daniel, lets get to some blending and maybe even a joint brew day. I'll email you guys to find a date, I'm pretty available all month.

  3. Jeff,

    A brewing day would be sweet. I've done a couple with Danny before. It is really cool to see how the same wort changes with his vs my fermentation styles.

    Blending is all new to me. I have 10 gallons of flanders that really needs a fresh base to blend with. They both have a harsher acidity level than I wanted.

    I am pretty spoiled on my set-up, for a condo I have a lot of room dedicated to brewing equipment and storage. But it is nice to have a place for all the carboys. (10 of them) and the kegs. I don' really have a place for my sour stuff yet besides the closet.


Thanks for Commenting, Prost!