Thursday, April 30, 2009

More things happening!

I got my score sheet back from the National Homebrew Competition yesterday! I only entered that stout (it's such a damn fine beer!) into the 13a category in the northwest region and I got a 36 from one judge and 38 from another giving me a 37! To qualify for second place you needed a score between 30-37 so I was just on the cusp to qualify for first! That's pretty damn good if I do say so myself :) They announce the winners who are qualifying for the second round by next week, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Man, I'm excited about that!

In other beer news I finally got the barley wine bottled. It tasted much different from when I last tasted it. The hops are all but gone, it seems to taste a little oxidized and it has an almost... soury aged taste to it that could be called pleasing.. but I think that now it just needs to get a little carbonation and mellow out in the bottle and it'll be a tasty brew

I also bottled the Imperial American Honey Orange Wheat beer! (that really needs a better name) about a week ago. I threw one in the fridge to try it cold with a little carbonation and it actually tastes awesome! It's exactly what I wanted. It's REDICULOUSLY hazing (nice job Wyeast 1010!) and the color of orange juice, smells of sweet orange with a VERY slight hop and malt nose, it's got a really pronounced wheat back bone (I was scared that wouldn't come through) and tastes, for lack of a better description, similar to a memosa! I think this is going to be a great summer beer. I'm not sure how I feel about how big I made it though. It went from 1.065 to 1.012 which puts it in the ballpark of 7%. I'm think with how easy it goes down this might be a little bit of an issue. hahaha

I also brewed up my Wit Bier a while back. Bob's didn't have any of the Wyeast Wit yeast though so I used Trappist High Gravity and holy crap! It was fermenting like crazy in 10 hours and at 24 blowing out of the bubbler! I put a blow off tube on it and the next day when I came home from work my apartment stunk like yeast! I'm thinking that'll be a delicious summer brew too :)

Well, it's time to go make some beer money.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Successful Test Batch!

Well, the test batch at the new place was scheduled for Sunday, but with exceptional weather and a day that Alli wasn't all that busy we decided to enjoy the weather and get some basketball playing done instead! So, the brew day was pushed back to yesterday. I worked in the morning so I didn't get to the place until around 4 and didn't get things set up and running until about quarter after. Then, after going through giant checklists of what all I needed to have to get the beer made, came to the realization that propane burners need fire to start. Duh. So in a pinch was able to go to the Ivar's (a specialty salmon restaurant that smells of smoked salmon 24/7 which makes that space that much more awesome) and steal a very large handful of match books. Finally then got the sparge water heating up at around 4:45. Everything seemed to be going fine until we realized that the 100 foot hose we have to run from the inside of the studio was backing up and spraying water all over the floor and leaking into one of the studios! We discovered it was from the nozzle we had on the end of the hose, so to solve that I now just have to run back and forth into the studio to turn the water on and off as I need it. After that things seemed to go great! I made the Saison from the Big Brew recipes ( since I couldn't get out of work for the day of big brew. I did get most of the morning off though, so I'll still be at Larry's to check out everybody else :) So the mash went great. I got the strike water up to around 160 and got the mash going at about 151, which was about where I wanted it as I'm hoping for a very dry beer and lose about 3 degrees during my mash, but I was just happy that the brew day was outside in the sun! AND I was finally making a Saison. While the mash was going I started heating up my sparge water. I usually use about 28 quarts or so at around 180F. So, I filled my boil kettle with 28 quarts of water and when I put it on the burner with the thermometer in it it was at 35 degrees!! Fortunately, I realized later that since the hose is actually hooked up to a sink faucet it has a hot and cold setting and the hot is decently warm, next time hopefully this will shave some time off of heating water up. I didn't however realize this until after heating up the sparge water for this batch.... Which meant that when the mash was over the sparge water was at about 120F. At first this stressed me out, then I reached for the new issues of Zymurgy and thought "Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew" and just waited for the water to heat up while enjoying some fine reading in the sun. Unfortunately, at 165F I gave in and sparged with that. I also have a thing about not drinking until the chiller goes in, so I didn't have a homebrew. By this time it was getting somewhat late so usually when I drain my tun while fly-sparging I take it slow to try and extract as much as I can but with the sun going down I went a little bit faster. Once I got it in the boil pot I decided on a 60 minute boil instead of a 90 minutes boil as well. I was getting really nervous of cleaning all this stuff up in the dark in a place I had only been to twice before. When the boil finished I had actually cleaned up most everything and I tossed the chiller in. As I mentioned earlier the water there was near freezing so chilling the beer only took 25 minutes! I was verrry pleased with that. So I racked the beer into the carboy and carried it (I need one of those carboy handle things!) the very long distance into the space and pitched 2 packs of wyeast belgain saison yeast :) And now that I knew there are two different temperature settings I was able to clean everything in the near dead of night with warm (awesome) hose water. It made things a little quicker and easier.

All in all things went really well! As far as the ability to brew there I think it'll work out fine. My only real issue now is the fermentation temperatures staying in check and the effect using hose water will have on my beers. When I put the water into the HLT it just stunk like hose :/ I'm hoping that doesn't make too much of a difference.

It's funny how the only time I ever plan on following a recipe word for word with out saying "I don't like that addition" or "I think this would be better in it" is Big Brew and this year through a little stress and hustle I still didn't follow it very closely. I didn't use any orange peel because I ran out of time, cut the boil time, cut back on the coriander, mashed at a lower temp, hahaha. So I'll be dubbing this "Le Sasion De Le Space" and have it only in a keg in the space for anyone who wants a taste :) Speaking of the space, here it is in it's beginning stages:

*Notice the unopened bottle of Saison Dupont that it got too late to drink last night, and Le Saison De Le Space all cuddled up in it's blanket*

Future "The Space" will have a giant white board for note taking, a shelf of cellering beers, a chest freezer for lagering and future kegeratering, and much much more!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Putting things together

Well, we got the keys to the place (name pending) and signed the lease giving us the OK to come and go as we please! I got to look around a little bit more and am weary of a lot of little things that I know is just me over analyzing. The room seems to be a little brisk which might be hard for those german and belgium beers that summer loves so much; the electrical outlets (except a few low watt ones in the ceiling) are all on a timer nob, like the ones you see on hot tubs so a temperature controlled fridge for lagering might be a challenge; it looks like i can probably run a hose out side from the sink on the inside and be able to brew outside but I'm worried about having it rain on my days off when I'd be brewing; I'm not sure how exactly to set up a gravity fed system since the part that under an over hang is on a pretty serious incline; and lastely I'm worried about how to transport beer around once it's bottled or kegged. I'm thinking storing them there wouldn't be the best for carbonation because of the lower temperature, but we discussed maybe just hooking up one of those kid carrier things that drags behind a bike to my future bike and running beer like it's my child hahaha. I'm sure we can make it work though. I bought a propane burner yesterday at Joe's going out of business sale. It's a 60,000 BTU burner and I realized when I went to Bob's this morning it's the same one he has for sale (he seemed bummed out when I told him I got it for 65 bucks, I guess it was quite a steal) which I didn't even realize at the time. So, that's one more step towards getting out of the kitchen brewery. But until then I'm still brewing the the little kitchen! I just put the chiller into the boil for the last 15 minutes of a boil on my Wit Bier. It was fun because I got a bag of fresh coriander from a little indian spice shop and instead of putting them through a coffee grinder like is suggested, I just put 1/4 ounce in between some paper towels and went to town with a hammer! It was fun and smelled delicious. I'm drinking a Blanche De Bruxelles while waiting on the boil (I need out of this kitchen). I'm fairly disappointed in this beer.. To me it stunk like wine and tasted watery and somewhat tart and sour. But it sure looked pretty! ha. So, I better get to MY beer and start the water through the chiller.

Until Next Time!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Brewery Begins!

Well, today marks a great day in my "brewery"s life with the rental of a 12 foot by 12 foot "art studio" at the Gasworks Gallery! Alli and I are going to split the studio where she's going to set up a little art studio for her screen printing and paintings and photo work, and (space permitting) I'm hoping to use this space to finally get a sort of brewery that isn't a kitchen brewery. The studio is basically under I-5 on Northlake. We can actually see Lake Union from the gallery! For those who are in the seattle area, it's RIGHT off of the Burke Gilman on 4th ave. There's actually a set of stairs from our front door up to the Gilman. The room we have has it's own lock too which as I've heard is a bonus in an art studio like this. The place is basically just a large warehouse that used to be an old saw factory? or something and a guy bought it and put up partitions, to make more little rooms. our room is in the basement with actual walls and on the north side of the building. The hope is that, being in the basement on the northside and having a cement floor, the temperature will be fairly regulated for fermenting that wonderful thing often referred to as homebrew. There's a nice big community sink that I hope will be able to have a hose hook up to it or something that I can run out to the front for brewing. I haven't had a chance to look around that much to work out the specifics, but I'm hoping things will look good so I can go out and get a propane burner and get to some serious boils!! (fiiinally!) When the current occupant is all out, which should be by wednesday I believe, we'll be able to finally start getting situated and get everything figured out. So, when that comes around I'll be back with some more, hopefully wonderful, news! In the mean time I'm enjoying my delicious IPA in some new glassware I picked up at some vintage store in Fremont. (notice the Space Needle out the window. I love my view. Chill haze, on the other side, I do not like)


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

After a really busy weekend, I got a lot accomplished! On Friday, I brewed up that American Imperial Honey Orange Wheat I was so excited about! (I used a blow off tube thinking all the wheat would go crazy, but it was rather well behaved) I'm hoping it turns out okay though. After having a few Tiger's Bloods I'm losing my faith on honey in beer. I liked the thought of using it because it adds great fermentables and a residual sweetness, but I'm starting to detect a slight copper taste from it... We'll see. Also, I was going to try a batch sparge on it to see how my efficiency held up doing something different, but using 45% wheat malt I got a little scared about a stuck sparge and decided to just fly sparge as usual (change sometimes scares me). I used a half pound of rice hulls and everything came out fine, well except for the 55% efficiency. With the Wheat all brewed and settling I took off Saturday morning for Portland to meet an old friend from Santa Rosa! And upon talking to her, realized that Russian River is in Santa Rosa! I told her I would come visit her just for that, but she INSISTED that where she works, The Third Street Aleworks Brewpub, is exceptionally better. Hahaha. We'll see. Speaking of California I also got my ticket for the National Homebrew Conference this weekend! I'm really excited! No one from my homebrew club is going though, so I sent an e-mail out to the Impailing Alers in Kent and am hoping they'll have a gang down there I can represent Seattle with. Back to Portland though. I hit the big ones mostly (Dechutes, Rogue, Bridgeport) just because they were right down town or on Burnside, because that's mostly where we were. And I refuse to go to Portland with out having Rogue's beer bread. That stuff is amazing. At Bridgeport I had their seasonal "Fallen Friar". It was actually really good. It was a Abbey Style Ale that I thought tasted like a really smooth fruity trippel. At Rogue I had a sampler and tasted what everyone else got. It was all really good as usual. And at Deschutes I had the Night Rider Nitro Stout which is their Obsidian Stout on nitro with some kind of coffee from Bend, Oregon. It was very very tasty, but absolutely filling. Like a little coffee meal in a glass. I also read through most of Randy Mosher's new book "Tasting Beer". It's reallllly good! I recommend it to anyone who has any interest in anything about beer. He goes into the history (geographically and economically) how it's made, how to use your senses to enjoy it, a guideline of the styles including examples. Just about everything you need to know, spelled out very clearly. So pick it up!