Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Perfect Brew Day

With yesterday not only being a day off for me but also an amazingly sunny paid holiday I couldn't think of anything better to do than brew a beer! So I got out to Bob's and got the fixins for a second batch of Liberation Pale Ale on Sunday and also dropped off the Wit Bier, Stout and Sunset Wheat for the Pudget Sound Pro Am Competition. And speaking of competitions I got my score sheets back from the Oregon Competition. It made me really realize how valuable entering competitions really is. There was actually 4 score sheets for each beer and each judge had different words of advice and different perspectives of each of the beers. I find it as a great opportunity to see what a refined pallet can have to say in terms of how to improve the beer for better future enjoyment. This really boosted my desire to enter competitions, even with beers that I don't think are good (the reason I entered Tiger's Blood). Because I guess I just used to brew and drink whatever and if it was good I'd try to snatch a ribbon out of it. But using judges as guinea pigs works too, hahaha

Here's the new note taking white board I got too! I think it'll help me keep everything straight. I also got the ribbons with the score sheets from the Oregon comp! That's a second and third that I'll add to the wall tomorrow!!! WHHOOOOO!

Back to brew day though, it went great! I had planned on getting down to the space at around 9 or 9:30 but of course stayed out too late the night before and didn't even wake up until noon. Crap. BUT I got down there and started at 12:30 and was actually done by quarter after 5! Everything went exactly like it was supposed too, with the exception of actually getting a better efficiency than usual! In this pale I added some munich for some malty goodness and upped the cara pils in hopes of getting a nice big white head in the beer. I also, instead of 3 big additions of hops at 60 minutes, 20 minutes and flame out, added small amounts of hops in several additions through out the boil. In the first liberation I noticed there was a huge space in flavor and aroma between hops and malt, so I'm hoping this will balance and even everything out alright :)

As far as other beers go I gave a glass of the Saison to a friend the other day and her face instantly went a skew. "what's that taste?" she said and continued to smell and taste it. "Coriander? Seeds of paradise? Esters? Pepper?" I asked. "No....It's something really familiar...." she replied. "Well, I used a hose to take the water to the pot which is somewhen detectable" I tried to say, but as soon as the word 'hose' left my mouth she said "THAT'S IT! HOSE WATER!" Which made me seriously hopelessly glad that Bob's jaw nearly fell off when I mentioned I was using a hose to get water to my pot. Now I get it straight from the faucet inside so as not to track that hose water into the beer. Yuck. I kegged the stout though finally. I caved and got the expensive wrench and got the keg all cleaned out.

So that's all for now! I'm hoping to keg the oatmeal stout later this week and maybe try and bottle twelve of them too. I tasted it today when I checked that gravity and it is Very good. I'm thinking I might take this keg down to the NHC since it's the same recipe as the normal stout just with oatmeal. It'd be GREAT on nitro.


Friday, May 22, 2009


I got down to the space today to drop off a few new additions, rack the oatmeal stout and keg Black Hole. Included in the drop off was a portable electric grill and two small pots for boiling bottle caps and priming sugar for when I bottle beer at the space. That'll be nice. I also dropped off some random tools and magazines and a new radio. The new ribbons went on the wall too to keep me encouraged to make clean balanced beer and continue my great ribbon collecting quest!

Unfortunately, I for some reason don't have a 7/8 inch wrench with the star like end for disassembling and cleaning the new kegs. So, I went to a hardware store where they didn't have a used one and new ones were 16 dollars. The cheap guy from Poor Man Brewing Company decided to settle for the dollar fifty socket instead. Of course though, the socket wasn't deep enough and I didn't get the intake or dip tube out to clean. I guess I'll be hitting the hardware store again tomorrow then and I'll be able to keg Black Hole in the afternoon before work.

I got the oatmeal stout racked over though. It actually tastes crazy different from the normal Black Hole. To my surprise, even though I used only one pound of oatmeal as opposed to the two pounds of flaked barley I usually use, the gravity of this beer was higher by about 7 points! When I racked it today it was insanely sweet with a very pronounced roasted character. It's completely obvious to me now how flaked barley adds the creaminess. I think it will be quiet delicious! That's what I truly love about beer, you change one small thing and you can get a completely different but equally delicious concoction! Here's to experimenting and exploring!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Well, over a month after the competition I finally got my ribbons from the Vegas Winterfest! I got a blue first place ribbon for the stout, and red second place ribbon for the IPA, and a big yellow third place best in show ribbon for the stout as well! I also heard back from the competition in Albany, OR and got third for my stout and second in the fruit beer category for that delicious Sunset Wheat! (results are here:
http://www.hotv.org/pdfs/2009_OHF_Results.pdf) Unfortunately, when I went to Oregon this past weekend I couldn't get a train or bus back from Albany to Portland if I would have gone to the comp, so I wasn't able to actually go down and hang out. Portland was a blast though! I went to Rogue and got the beer bread and a Chipotle Ale, then hit Laurelwood for a delicious sampler (the workhorse IPA was a delight!). I also hit up lucky lab where I was please to see they were doing a beer called "Malt Bomb" I believe, which was a malty beer that they were making every new batch with a different yeast. I had the one with Scottish ale and it was great! The best place I went though was Amnesia. It was up in north Portland and had the most back yard comfortable feel. It was a very modest little building with about 5 or 6 beers and a small BBQ menu. The seating was all outside under canopies and the food was all made on a small back yard grill near the seating. I was told they do this all year round! The food looked delicious and the beer was great! Their pale ale, Dusty Trail, was 100% Maris Otter and Cascade and was quite a delight.

I did end up brewing black hole again on Wednesday, and in true new space fashion I made an interesting flub. When I went to Bob's I got to talking as usual and after I had crushed my grains I completely forgot to get my flaked barley. So, naturally I realized this about 5 minutes into the mash (It looked a lot thinner than usual) and I didn't have anyway of getting to Bob's with in a reasonable time. So! With a little advise from Bob and the luck of having a breakfast joint in the little industrial area where the space is, I was able to buy 2 pounds of Quacker Oats and add about a pound 20 minutes into the mash! hahaha, which is making this my "oatmeal" black hole!

The second batch of black hole (the one that wouldn't boil, which still makes me mad) went into the secondary tasting about right. I had the same boiling issue with the oatmeal black hole, but was able to get a boil, after like 2 and half hours grrrrr, thanks to a suggestion from Matt. I was able to get a piece of aluminum used for roofing and wrap it around the burner as a wind breaker.

So, tomorrow I'm going back to the space to clean out the new kegs really well and put black hole into one of them. I'm hoping it will turn out alright and I can use this to take down to the National Homebrew Conference. If it doesn't taste right I might be able to brew it again on monday and still have time to have it ready.

I also got my tickets to the Great American Beer Festival yesterday! I went last year and had an absolute blast. I met up with 2 of my best friends from high school there, and we decided to make it a yearly get together and have talked 4 more of our best friends from around the country to meet us there too! I'm super excited.

I suppose that's all for now! I'll be brewing again on monday. Hopefully a Hef or the Pale Ale as long as black hole comes out alright. I'm also hoping my ribbons from the Oregon fest and the NHC will be in soon so I can continue my never ending mission to make beer that myself, my friends, and my family can enjoy while collecting as many ribbons as possible!~


Sunday, May 10, 2009


They posted the results from the first round of the NHC and Black Hole took second place in the northwest region! I'm completely overwhelmed and pretty severally surprised! I'm more excited then the first time I saw Jurassic Park! Wow. Here's the link to the results: http://www.beertown.org/events/nhc/first_round_northwest.html I check it almost everyday as a way of pinching myself to make sure it really happened! So that's out outrageously exciting.

In other beer news I did end up bottling the wit bier and it tasted great coming out of the fermenter! I could already see improvements over my last one. I noticed in my last beer I, out of habit, added some whirlfloc which causes the beer to clear up where as a traditional white beer gets that foggy like whiteness from all the proteins and haze so I didn't use any fining materials this time and also didn't use a secondary fermenter. I also cut back on the coriander because that stuff can realllllly take over. And I also decided that I'm glad that I used the Trappist High Gravity yeast because I think how dry that out of control yeast made it will really add to the crisp refreshingness (that's a word) and give the esters and spices the main stage.

I also got 2 more kegs which turned out to be a great idea. The guy I got them from apparently gets them straight through Pepsi (they are 5 gallon soda kegs) and so they're super cheap and he told me to hold onto his number and I could get more any time! Awesome, I have an empty soda keg dealer hahaha

Black Hole got brewed up on Tuesday and things didn't really go so well. First off I was going to rack the Le Saison Du Le Space over to the secondary on last Monday so that when I brewed on Tuesday I'd already have a clean primary fermenter to rack the stout into, but I ran into a good friend and we ordered pizza, played video games and drank Lagunitas IPA instead...oops. So the beginning of the day was rather hectic. I woke up early to get a good start and of course it was raining, windy and crappy out, and of course this coaxed me back to sleep. When I got back up closer to 11 Alli and I went out to lunch and I debated whether to brew or not and decided I might as well. I'm going to have to get used to brewing in the rain. I brew outside and live in Seattle, there's little I can do about it :) PLUS I totally scored at Joe's going out of business sale again and got a really nice 10 x 1o foot canopy for 40% off! So, I got all started around 1 I believe and the weather wasn't actually that bad. I was moving around a lot so it didn't seem that cold but there was a good wind and some sprinkles of rain. It was kinda stressful at first but I was able to get all set up, get the mash going, and get the saison racked with out any issues. I added the CaCO3 as well to see how that balanced everything out. Then I sparged out my 7 gallons and everything looked perfect. I began to get the wort heated up and then it just stopped. I think it was the temperature outside, or the wind blowing out the flame on my burner, or the heat escaping out of the pot with out a lid, or something but I couldn't for the life of me get the damn beer to a boil! It just hovered between 180 and 182 for nearly an hour and a half. So I finally got incredibly frustrated and impatient and found a piece of cardboard and put it on top on the pot with a rock, let it heat up to around 195-200 and just threw in the boiling hops and am hoping for the best. I'm not sure of the specifics on how not have rolling boil will affect the final beer. My guess is that it will be a more concentrated beer due to the 2 and a half hours it steamed off and I will get lower hop utilization because of that and because of the lower heat. In thinking about this I did actually upped my hop addition by about .3 ounces. I've got my fingers crossed and figure that if it doesn't come out all that great it will be a lesson learned and a perfect beer to join the saison as trial brews to enjoy exclusively at The Space. I took a few pictures, but can't seem to find my camera....

Something I think I forgot to add to the last blog also is that I made it down to Big Brew at Larry's! Well, sort of. Basically traffic was a complete disaster. Bridges were closed, construction, rallies through the street, parking lot like traffic. Everything went wrong. So I was able to be in a car for 4 hours and at Larry's for 30 minutes. I didn't see anyone I knew except for the guy who I believe brews at Georgetown who's name I can never remember. Impressive set ups though and it's ALWAYS nice to see the huge system in the back of Larry's brewing. It smelled soooo good.

So, it's bed time for this guy. I'm really excited about the competition in Corvallis and will be having a Black Hole brew day 2 on Wednesday. And if you're in the area I'm going to invite who ever to swing by and try my saison with me and maybe sample a few other beers as well.


edit: I found my camera and here's the set up getting the strike water heated with the canopy-

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I'm in the middle of a million things and getting as anxious as ever! The last kitchen brew, Summer Wit Bier, is ready to bottle and I don't have any damn bottles. Well, I've got like 14 bombers and like 13 twelve ouncers but I don't thing that'll suffice. So, I'm thinking tomorrow about getting 3 more kegs so I can keep beer moving.

I also got the fixings to make a new Black Hole today and it looks like that's going to be put together on Tuesday. On my National Homebrew Competition score sheet the only real bad feedback I had on the beer was that it was a little roast forward which could be fixed with a little CaCO3. I looked into it and as it turns out highly roasted malts can add a slight acidity to the mash and the CaCO3 plays with the alkalinity of the water steadying out the Ph which could reduce the roastyness. Or at least that's what I got from it. Water chemistry is slightly over my head. A definite educational goal for the future. But the biggest anxiety that's coming out of all of this is that between tomorrow and Friday they're going to announce the winners of the first round of the National Homebrew Competition! I'm hoping with a 37 I'll have a good chance of moving on to the second round, but I'm nervous. The big things that I was worried about though are over. I actually entered (good job Kyle!) and even scored well!! (I get a sweet silver certificate for scoring between a 30 and 37!!) But wish me luck!!

I'm also getting some beers together to send to a competition in Corvallis, Or. I'm going to Portland on the 15th to see No Age and found a BJCP competition in the town of Corvallis, where conveniently enough Alli's sister lives, on the 16th. The competition looks fun though. They're having a guest speaker (TBA), raffle and equipment swap. So that should be a good weekend. I'm going to enter Black Hole again (that's why I'm making a new batch, it was so good I sent most of it off! I WANT SOME! hahahaha) Tiger's Blood (I need some feedback) and the wheat beer. (I put it in the fruit beer category, we'll see)

Le Saison de le Space is being a crazy little guy as well. I'm still nervous as all hell about it tasting like hose water. The brewing water I used came from a 100 foot hose and just reaaaked of hose coming out. So I'm thinking in the future I'll use hose water to clean and haul water out by buckets for the actual beer. But the temperature issue isn't going to be as bad as I originally thought. The dial that managed the time allowed to have the outlets on seems to stay on for at least 48 hours and I discovered a higher setting on the space heater. I went to check on the beer today and it was off the thermometer and bubbling like CRAZY :) hahaha, It's going to be quite the trial beer.

As far as finished beer goes I'm reallllly enjoying this Imperial American Honey Orange Wheat which I finally desided to call "Sunset Wheat". The beer has a great carbonation with a wonderful yeasty haze and I just can't get over how pronounced the sweet orange is but more importantly how the malty wheat backbone reaaaly shines through! It's alcohol level makes it a late evening goodnight beer, giving it the name Sunset :) I also jumped the gun pretty seriously and cracked a Penthouse Barleywine. I got home from work last night and just CRAVED a barleywine. I can honestly say that's never happened to me before. I still have a couple Bigfoots laying around, but got curious about how mine was coming along. So I tossed it in the freezer, the cheaters way of getting a homebrew ready ;) and cracked it to an episode of SNL. All I can say is whoam. Which is a combination of the words "whoa" and "hmm". The color is beautiful and the aroma is full of cherries and alcohol and raisins and malt. The taste is a thick maple syrup sweet cherries with a touch of oxidation and alcohol. The mouthfeel is great with not too high of carbonation, but pushing it, and heavy and silky with a fairly surprising dry-ish finish with a strong alcohol flavor. It definitely has numerous flaws (the hmm) but is overpowered with different tastes I wouldn't have imagined being in there (the whoa) I'm excited to watch this one mature and make another this coming December!

So, I'm off to bed now. I just opened a second Sunset (boy it's tasty) and have a big day tomorrow with chores prepping for the competition and getting the space ready for a brew on Tuesday. Plus I need to get those kegs, a plane ticket for the NHC, a canopy to put over the outdoor brew space in the rain, a train ticket to PDX, bottle the Wit (somehow) and numerous other not beer related things (BORING!) hahaha

Until Next Time!