Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saison Updates

Rêve de Wallonia
  • Having some fermentation issues
  • Despite high temps the fermentation was stuck at 1.035 (Wyeast #3724 is notorious for getting stuck)
  • Sample pulled was murky (lots of yeast still in suspension) and very sweet
  • On August 14th a second yeast starter was dumped into the carboy containing a different saison yeast, Wyeast #3711 French Saison
  • As of August 27th is is down now to 1.027 - still quite a bit high
  • Sample pulled was still murky and overly sweet
  • Still need to wait, but getting to be a long time now sitting on the trub and yeast cake; keeping it too long like this could start to produce off flavors

Saison de Deux Médecine
  • Transfered to secondary on August 2nd
  • No more yarrow was added
  • Split into 2 carboys - 2.5 gallons in each
  • Brett has not been added yet; waiting for Wallonia to be ready b/c I'm splitting the package of yeast between the two
  • Crystal clear and had interesting vegi/asparagus flavors
  • Planning to bottle the first half this weekend (8/29) - can't wait to drink!!

Batch No. 19 - The Curtain Wit

The Curtain Wit

Brewed - August 2, 2009

Style - Belgian Witbier
Source - various recipes / Bob's HBS

  • 3.0 lbs. Wheat DME
  • 3.0 lbs. Golden Light DME
  • 2.0 lbs. Belgian Pilsner (partial mash)
  • 1.0 lbs. Flaked Wheat (partial mash)
  • 1.0 oz. Saaz (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Linden (0)
  • 1.0 oz. Lemon Zest (0)
  • 2.5 oz. Orange Zest (0)
  • 1.5 tbsp. Powdered Ginger (0)
  • 1.0 tbsp. Coriander Powder (0)
  • Yeast slurry from Colin's Pro-Am Witbier
OG - 1.064
Primary - 14 days
Secondary - 14 days

Bottled - August 20, 2009

FG - 1.016
Attenuation - 75.0%
ABV - 6.29%

- Spur of the moment brew as I had some extra ingredients around and was able to use the fresh yeast slurry from Colin's Pro-Am Witbier brewed at Rock Bottom Bellevue; unsure at the moment what the actual yeast was, but probably the standard witbier yeast
- More generous with orange zest and ginger than previous saison
- Partial mash a little easier second time around; need some equipment upgrades though

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saison Experiment

A few notes on my saison experiement:

1. Saisons
  • In the words of K. Florian Klemp, "The French word for season, saison, has become a stylistic designation to distinguish a group of beers from Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium. Today, these historically seasonal ales are brewed year-round. Saisons present a complex character that is both aggressive and subtle. Unmistakably Belgian and unequivocally rustic, they beckon exploration. "
  • BCJP style description
  • Ever since I first tried beer on my 21st birthday, porters have always been my favorite style. But over the last year or so, saisons have been giving it a run for the money.
  • My idea was to do two different saisons: the first would be more traditional and get its spicy characteristics directly from a specific saison-style yeast; the second would use a more neutral belgian yeast and get flavor from the additions of spices and wildflowers
  • Notable commercial examples: Boulevard Saison w/ Brett, Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux, Fantôme Saison, Moinette Biologique, Saison Dupont Vieille Provision, Southampton Cuvee des Fleurs and The Bruery Saison de Lente

2. Fermentation Temps

  • While the general rule of thumb ale yeasts seems to be fermentation around 70 degrees on the high end, saison yeasts are recommended at 80 degrees or even higher
  • That makes them perfect for summer and the higher temps should bring out the spice and fruity esters that saisons are known for
  • I'm 4 days into Rêve de Wallonia and 3 days into Saison de Deux Médecine and have been keeping them in the kitchen for the most part to maximize the heat
  • Ambient temps have been mostly in the 80's, reaching as high as 92 (!!)
  • Fermentation has been strong and I will be taking samples in the next 3-4 days

3. Spices / Wildflowers

  • Previously I've used a few spices (corriander, grains of paradise) in an Imperial Wit, but here I used several new to me.
  • In the tradition of using local ingredients, I wanted to use wildflowers picked while on a backpacking trip. I picked a bunch, but many turned out to be inedible. Yarrow however worked. The dried yarrow I got was from Eastern Washington and the wildflower honey from Western Washington.
  • I like the general idea of using wild ingredients and plan on doing a spruce tip IPA soon

4. Brettanomyces
  • Another layer to this experiment was to use Brettanomyces wild yeast for the first time
  • Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing: Brettanomyces (also known as Brett) is feared by most brewers and winemakers alike. In fact, there are some local winemakers who will not set foot in our brewpub in Downtown Santa Rosa due to our use of Brettanomyces. Brettanomyces is actually yeast, it ferments and acts the same as every other "conventional" yeast, it just has the propensity to continue fermenting through almost any type of sugar, including those natural sugars found in the wood in an oak barrel. Brett is very invasive and if not handled properly can become out of control in a winery or brewery, but, if used properly with care, it can add rich aromas and flavors of earthiness, leather, smoke, barnyard, & our favorite descriptor-wet dog in a phone booth.
  • While used for many years in classic beers such as Orval, brett has become quite popular in recent years and has been showing up in saisons as a secondary yeast
  • My choice: Wyeast 5151-PC Brettanomyces claussenii - Isolated from English stock ale, this wild yeast produces a mild Brett character with overtones of tropical fruit and pineapple. It ferments best in worts with a reduced pH after primary fermentation has begun. May form a pellicle in bottles or casks. Typically used in conjunction with other yeast and lactic acid bacteria.
  • Brett will certainly change the flavor of my beers and should also help them attenuate and dry out - something you want in a saison
  • Using brett will requiring purchasing some new equipment, hoses, etc. b/c you can't rid the critters from anything that is porous; glass carboys will be fine

5. Batch Splitting
  • I'm doing several new things with these two beers with the big one definitely being the brettanomyces
  • In order to fully understand its impacts on each recipe, I will be only using it in part of each beer
  • I will take each beer, split in half and only put brett in half; thus ending up with essentially four different beers
  • The results should go along way in understanding not only brett, but also the high fermenation temps, use of spices, etc.
  • This is something I plan on continuing in the future in regards to using oak again, adding fruit, etc.

Batch No. 18 - Saison de Deux Médecine

Saison de Deux Médecine

Brewed - July 26, 2009

Style - Saison
Source - Saison du Mont variation / Northern Brewer

  • 6.0 lbs. Pilsner LME
  • 2.0 lbs. Vienna Malt (partial mash)
  • 1.0 lbs. Flaked Oats (partial mash)
  • 1.0 oz. Hallertauer (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Hallertauer (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Hallertauer (0)
  • 1.0 lbs. Rainier Fireweed Honey (0)
  • 4.0 oz. Dried Yarrow (0)
  • 1.0 oz. Fresh Yarrow (0)
  • 1.0 oz. Valencia Zest (0)
  • 1.0 tbsp. Powdered Ginger (0)
  • Wyeast #3522 Belgian Ardennes
  • 750 ml starter w/ 1/2 cup DME
OG - 1.056
Primary - 7 days
Secondary - 28 days

Bottled - August 30, 2009

FG - 1.014
Attenuation - 75.0%
ABV - 5.5%


2.5 gallons spiked with Brettanomyces Claussenii

Date - September 27, 2009
Secondary - 245 days

Bottled - May 19, 2010

FG - 1.006
Attenuation - 89.3%
ABV - 6.55%


  • first time doing a partial-mash, which was a little tricky b/c I don't have a good strainer, second large pot or effective ways to maintain specific temperatures; it was good to finally try and with a few small improvements , should be an effective change in my brewing process and helping bring more flavor and body to my brews
  • Yarrow is a white flowering plant that is found in Eastern Washington and many other areas; it is edible and is used in several herbal remedies
  • some of the yarrow used was picked while backpacking in the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park
  • first time using a bunch of spices as well and i was nervous about quantities, esp. adding too much ginger and yarrow
  • a small scale would be a good item to pick up so I can better measure the weights of the spices
  • a hectic brewing day, including smashing my hydrometer and rushing to my buddy's place in the middle of the boil to borrow, fun
  • fermentation not quite as vigorous as the first saison, but still going well - wort ended up being quite muddy brown and the krausen was dark green from the yarrow

My one shot during the mini-sparge

After yarrow was added

Batch No. 17 - Rêve de Wallonia

Rêve de Wallonia (Dreams of Wallonia)

Brewed - July 25, 2009

Style - Saison
Source - Tasty Brew / Northern Brewer

  • 6.0 lbs. Light DME
  • 1.0 lbs. Wheat DME
  • 1.0 lbs. Dextrose
  • 2.0 lbs. American Crystal 10L
  • 1.0 lbs. Belgian Carapils
  • 1.0 oz. Styrian Goldings (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Styrian Goldings (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Styrian Goldings (0)
  • Wyeast #3724 Belgian Saison
  • 750 ml starter w/ 1/2 cup DME
OG - 1.074
Primary -64 days!!
Secondary - 28 days

Bottled - October 25, 2009

FG - 1.010
Attenuation - 86.5%
ABV - 8.4%


2.5 gallons spiked with Brettanomyces Claussenii

Date - September 27, 2009
Secondary - 189 days

Bottled - May 19, 2010

FG - 1.008
Attenuation - 89.2%
ABV - 8.65%


  • my first saison!!!
  • Wallonia is the region in southern Belgium where the saison style originated
  • starter was very active prior to pitching
  • slight extension of boil time b/c I missed the 15 min. hop addition
  • used 5 gal carboy and blow off tube
  • airlock activity w/in 6 hours; I will always use a yeast starter!!
  • forgot to add the dextrose at the end of the boil, so the next day I dissolved it in water, boiled to sanitized, cooled and dumped into the carboy (this was about 18 hours after the yeast was pitched; it was already going strong, but went wild when the sugar was added
  • keeping track of fermentation temps, but have mostly been in the low 80's so far

Fermenting away in the kitchen to keep warm

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Brewing

So last summer I basically closed shop for the warm weather months and decided not to even toy with the higher temps and slow cooling condo. Yet I've come to learn that there are several yeasts that can handle the higher temps and in a few cases, are recommended to ferment at 80 degrees or higher. Saison yeasts are good examples and I will be brewing two different types in the next few weeks.

But the wee heavy I brewed last weekend needed to stay near 70 degrees during primary fermentation. By late Sunday morning it was pushing 80 degrees, so I covered it with a wet towel, made an ice bath and tried to keep my pantry cool by covering the windows. It worked well and was just a tad below 70 degrees for several days.

Batch No. 16 - Heavy Things

Heavy Things

Brewed - July 18, 2009

Style - Scotch Ale
Source - Northern Brewer kit

Best Commercial Example (IMO): Alesmith Wee Heavy

  • 12.0 lbs. Gold LME
  • 0.5 lbs. Simpsons Crystal
  • 0.375 lbs. Dingemans Biscuit
  • 0.125 lbs. Simpsons Roasted Barley
  • 1.0 oz. Brewer's Gold (60)
  • Wyeast #1728 Scottish Ale
OG - 1.086
Primary - 7 days
Secondary - 91 days

Bottled - October 24, 2009

FG - 1.028
Attenuation - 67.5%
ABV - 7.6%

- extract was almost 4 months old: better to brew than throw away!!
- used yeast starter for the first time; activity w/in 5 hours and full blow krausen w/in 12
- I was a little rusty w/ some big spills near the end
- so hot!! ran out of ice and cooling the last 10 degrees took a while

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Yeast Starter

July 17, 2009

Over six months ago I purchased a simple yeast starter kit from Northern Brewer, but it had been sitting on my shelve collecting dust. In short, a yeast starter is a method of prepping your yeast to dramatically expand the yeast cell count. A healthier yeast count should speed the fermentation process and hopefully better attenuation. For stronger beers, say OG of 1.080+, a yeast starter is strongly suggested. I was planning on finally brewing my Wee Heavy on July 18th and with an projected OG of 1.083, this was finally the time to make one.

After some literature review and searching a few websites, I found that some of the water-to-wort ratios seemed quite different, but I stuck with something relatively close to my directions and used 750 ml of water with 3/4 cup of Golden Light DME.

Yeast Starter:
  1. Smack yeast at least 6-8 hours before starting
  2. Start at least 12 hours before pitching
  3. Mix 3/4 cup of DME with 750 ml of water
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and slow boil for 15 mins.
  5. Sanitize flask, stopper, etc.
  6. Remove from boil and dump into flask
  7. Cover top w/ tin foil and insert thermometer
  8. Chill flask in ice bath to ~ 70 degrees
  9. Once chilled, dump in yeast & insert airlock
  10. Shake periodically & store at expected pitching temp

The whole process is quite simple and took just over 30 mins. A small stir plate would work wonders for a yeast starter, but minus one I did try to shake periodically. After 14.5 hours there was no noticeable activity (krausen or airlock activity), yet the starter was muddy brown with suspended yeast. Also the airlock bubbled pretty good after shaking, so some gas was built up. My flask is quite big (2 liter) compared to the actual starter (750 ml).

Covered with foil

Ice bath

All finished

2009 Pro-Am - Results

June 26, 2009

So, today the results were released. None of my scores placed, but they all received very good scores. For reference, my one entry last year score a lowly 21.
  1. Liquid Karma v2 - Specialty Ale (23) - 31
  2. Russian Lullaby - Belgian Strong Golden Ale (18D) - 33.5
  3. Bamboozled - Smoke Ale (22B) - 33.5
  4. Kinza Imperial Wit - Belgian Specialty (16E) - 30.3
  5. Hop 99 - Old Ale (19A) - 30

My goal was to at least place in the top 4 of the style category, but I just missed out with the Russian Lullaby place just out of honorable mention in the Belgian Strong category (I was most satisfied with this b/c of the effort put into that one and it involved some new techniques). Overall those are some great scores though and validates what I think of those beers and my overall brewing skills. The judges' feedback received was very valuable and I can't wait until next year!!

The overall buddy Colin's brew "From Belgium, Wit Love" was selected to be brewed by Rock Bottom (Bellevue) and that was actually the brew I helped him back in May...Congrats Colin!!

Competition Summary:

300 Beers

10 States

13 beers selected to be professionally brewed!


1st Place: Steve Milnes's "Kolsch"

2nd Place: Mark Trent's "Valle de Oro" (Belgian Specialty Ale)

3rd Place: Mike & Steve Brown's "Caber Toss" (Strong Scotch Ale)

Honorable Mention: Jeff O'Neal's "The Kind" (Classic Rauchbier)

Pro-Am Qualified Selections:

Baron Brewing Company - Joel Pratt's "Goat Roper Scotch Ale", Strong Scotch Ale

Big Al Brewing - Mike & Steve Brown's "Caber Toss", Strong Scotch Ale, BREWED

Big Time Brewery and Alehouse - Ryan Hilliard's "Pale Ale", American Pale Ale

Diamond Knot Brewery - Eric Surface's "Vader-Ade", Schwartzbier

Elliott Bay Brewery - James Golovich's "American Barleywine 2007", American Barleywine, BREWED (selection made in 2008 PSPA)

Elysian Brewing Company - Mark Joy's "Pucker Puss", Wood Aged Beer, BREWED

Flyers Restaurant and Brewery - Mark Emiley's "Formico", Foreign Extra Sout

Issaquah Brewhouse - Nathan Zorich's "Rochefontaine's 9", Belgian Dark Strong

Ram Restaurant and Brewery (Lakewood) - Steve Milnes's "Golden Strong", Belgian Golden Strong, BREWED, Photos

Rock Bottom Brewery - Bellevue - Colin Lenfesty's "From Belgium, Wit Love", Witbier, BREWED

Rock Bottom Brewery - Seattle - Tim Hayner's "No Spit Wit", Witbier, release celebration August 6th

Snipes Mountain Brewing Company - Karl Vanevenhoven & Derry Jefferis's "American Pale Ale", American Pale Ale

"Recreational" Selections

Baron Brewing Company - Alison Sheafor-Joy's "Tangy Mole Brew", Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer

Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery - Jim Brischke's "Fairly Common", California Common

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2009 Pro-Am - Judging

May 30, 2009

Not only did I enter 5 beers into the 2009 Pro-Am, but I also participated as an apprentice judge. My buddy Colin is also chair of the WAHA Education Committee and for a while he had suggested taking part. We've had tastings before and I've rated beers and all that, so my palate has developed for certain styles and beer in general. Right now I have no desire to go through the whole Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), but also realize the value that judging has for my own beers, but also homebrewing in general.

I was a little nervous going in and whether I should be judging other people's beer, so I tried to read up on the BJCP style guidelines. Now I love beer, but trying to read a 50+ page style guide was a little much!! I never realized though what a great source the guidelines are though for the homebrewer as you progress in brewing different styles and styles you've never heard of.

Judging was held at Larry's Homebrew Supply in Kent and I ended up judging Stouts (American Stout, Dry Stout, Foreign Extra Stout and Sweet Stout) and American Barleywines - 12 beers in the first flight and 8 in the second. Seems like a lot of beer, but you don't drink too much and each flight took well over 2 hours to complete. I was teamed up with experienced judges and the general procedure was to sample 2-3 oz. of the beer and review via the score sheet and guidelines as references. After scoring, we would discuss and revise scores as needed (generally want the scores to be within 8 points I think).

I think i did pretty well as a judge and made effort with all my comments b/c getting those on my beers is what I take most out the competition. It was an eye opening experience in terms of how competitions are run, how to win, how much of a crapshoot it is, etc. (I can go into that later), but a perfect way to learn about beer while meeting many other local homebrewers. Anyway, it was a great day and I tried many killer beers!! Pretty cool to know that there are so many good homebrewers out there.

A few photos.....

2009 Pro-Am - My beers

May 23, 2009

My entries into the 2009 Puget Sound Pro-Am
  1. Liquid Karma v2 - Specialty Ale (23)
  2. Russian Lullaby - Belgian Strong Golden Ale (18D)
  3. Bamboozled - Smoke Ale (22B)
  4. Kinza Imperial Wit - Belgian Specialty (16E)
  5. Hop 99 - Old Ale (19A)

Style guidelines from the BCJP

The Pro-Am is a homebrew contest where the winners go on to recreate their beers with a professional brewer and then have that beer entered into the national Pro-Am at GABF - how cool would that be!!!

Misc. Tasting Notes #2

More tasting notes from May:

May 3, 2009

Russian Lullaby - plenty of carbonation and fluffy white head to the edges; clear and much more so than yesterday with Colin; a little darker too with mid-level gold now; bananas, mild cloves, plenty of bubblegum; soft, yeasty sweet texture; drinks smooth and thin; quite dry with plenty of sweetness (more than I remember); fruit and mild syrup quality to it; seems quite different from the bottle yesterday and I'm not as happy with this one

May 22, 2009

Hop 99 - Today I needed to decide on what style to submit this into the Pro-Am as an IPA/Imperial IPA just wouldn't fly; pours dark amber with foamy white head; stale hops, lemons and grass; drinks crisp and sweet with sticky hops and candy malts; fruity esters and very sweet; there is no American Strong Ale category, so I put this one in Old Ale

May 24, 2009

Russian Lullaby - solid pop and pours a fluffy white head; pale gold against the light with faint bubbles; aromas of stale malt, hay, dry flowers and spicy yeast; a little syrupy, dry and sweet; flavors of stale grains, lemons and very mild spice; quite sweet (more than expected) and a little thin, but I think it's drinking very well

Liquid Karma #2 - dark brown with minimal tan head; aromas of coffee, cookies, toffee; drinks dry with chocolate, coffee and mild bitterness; this is the best it has tasted so far; fizzy body and lots of smooth coffee; I'm thinking a smoked coffee porter would be a good combo

Bamboozled - jet black with nice tan head; chocolate, roast, mild smoke; dry, rich and sharp; body is lacking as usual and this finished super dry; perhaps my fav homebrew yet and drinking these three great brews together was very gratifying

National Homebrew Day @ Beacon Hill Brewing

May 2, 2009

On National Homebrew Day I had the pleasure of joining Colin at Beacon Hill Brewing to assist on two all-grain batches that would ultimately be sent to the National Homebrewers Conference (HBC) in San Francisco. Colin is a kick ass homebrewer and all around great guy who was eager to let me join in and show me the ropes.

I've been on brewery tours, but this was really my chance to see first hand the all-grain brewing process. Colin has quite the set up, which today was up on his porch to shield from some springtime rain. Not a bad spot with occasional views of the Cascades to the east. He has a tiered set up to allow gravity to feed the hot water to sparge the mash and then the wort drain into the kettle. The system may look a little rough around the edges, but every feature has been customized by Colin and it is a constant work in progress for improvements.

It was a great day and Colin always welcomed my questions as I tried to soak it all in. In between the technical chats, there was plenty of time to enjoy multiples of his homebrews that were pouring from his tap system (me so jealous!! haha). The goodies imbibed: Russian Imperial Stout, Robust Porter, Belgain Pale, Dopplebock, Cedar IPA, Still Nacht clone (11%!!) and a Belgian Golden. Also enjoyed my own Russian Lullaby with praises from both Colin and Rodney.

The brews of the day: Belgian Wit and Cedar IPA (IPA with whirlpool hop addition and aged on cedar chips)

Thanks Colin for a great day!! It gave me a lot to think about in terms of what homebrewing can be and what I want to accomplish as a homebrewer.


Dry-hopping w/ Leaf Hops

Just a friendly PSA about dry hopping - using leaf hops sure looks pretty, but they are a royal pain when it comes time to siphon and bottle!!

Bottle Conditioning - Russian Lullaby

April 13, 2009

So this was the day I finally got around to bottling Russian Lullaby, my first Belgian Strong Golden Ale. With this beer I tried to do several things to improve and bring out the traditional BSGA character. The final step would be in my bottling and conditioning where I would add yeast along with sugar directly into the bottling process (the same yeast used during fermentation).

Here's a little rundown on bottling condition Belgian ales:

With some help from my buddy Colin, I was able to target my between 3.5 and 4.0 volumes of carb. This would mean that in addition to the yeast, I would also be using quite a bit more sugar than my normal bottling process. I would end up with about 16 oz. of sugar (1 cup).

  1. Boil sugar for 5 mins. as normal
  2. Let cool to approx. 75 degrees
  3. You want to mix yeast and sugar solution at same temp)
  4. Mix yeast and sugar into the bottling bucket
  5. Continue bottling as normal
Another key here was to try and store the bottles around 70 degrees (or more) for at least 3 weeks to allow the yeast to do its thing. I did this next to a heater with a cardboard barrier.

All in all the process was quite easy and I am just pumped for this beer. Attenuation was fantastic and it came out to 7.5% ABV.

First taste from sample: Color was crystal clear gold (my lightest brew) with aromas of grass and apples; mildly sweet with lemons, flowers and yeasty notes; almost cidery in the uncarbed form; yeah!!!!

Photo of the sample:

Misc. Tasting Notes #1

Well, keeping this current hasn't worked out like I thought, so here are some various tasting notes from back in March and April:

March 11, 2009

Bamboozled - beautiful pour with foamy tan head and perfect carbonation; body is thin and jet black; aromas of smoke, roast and mild meaty-ness; drink very dry; flavors of chocolate malt and smoke; could have a little more smoke as well as some sweetness too; this is becoming one of my favs yet though

Kinza Imperial Wit - minor carbonation; pours clear and amber; obviously quite dark for the style (wheat malt?); lots of coriander, slight spice and yeasty character; fruity and fresh finish; the body is a little syrupy and i think too much dominated by the coriander; decent though and well liked by others

March 20, 2009

Liquid Karma No. 2 - slight pop and pours thin, clear cola brown; only been bottled for 12 days; faint white head around the dges; crisp, smooth fresh coffee aromas and flavors; slight roast and sweetness; super thin though and hope that improves over time in the bottle; lots of potential, but wish there was more body, sweetness and texture

April 8, 2009

Liquid Karma No. 2 - been bottled about 30 days now; dark brown and foamy tan head emerges; nose is killer with rich coffee, vanilla and cookies; seems that flavors still need time to meld together (i hope!!)

April 25, 2009

Hop 99 - quite curious how this one would turn out; pours clear, light amber with faomy off white head; sugary, super sweet and quite bitter; mild butterscotch; certainly the most body i've had yet in a beer; sweet, hoppy and sticky; seems to be moving towards a butter bomb, so will have to get the opinion of others soon

Liquid Karma No. 2 - foamy thick tan head up to 1/2"; sweet coffee, oats and chocolate; becoming more creamy than before with mild richness and chocolate flavors; thinness is a little disappointing and coffee not quite as strong, but certainly improving as it sits

Monday, May 25, 2009

Batch No. 15 - Hop 99

Hop 99

Brewed - March 7, 2009

Style - IPA (originally)
Source - misguided variation of Batch No. 10

  • 9.15 lbs. Gold LME
  • 2.0 lbs. Golden Light DME - why, why???
  • 2.0 lbs. Briess Caramel 40L
  • 2.0 lbs. Simpson's Golden Promise
  • 1.0 oz. Amarillo (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Amarillo (15)
  • 1.5 oz. Amarillo (5)
  • 1.0 oz. Amarillo (0)
  • 1.0 oz. Amarillo (dry)
  • Wyeast #1084 Irish Ale
OG - 1.094 (!!)
Primary - 13 days
Secondary - 20 days

Bottled - April 8, 2009

FG - 1.030
Attenuation - 68.1%
ABV - 8.4%

- added the 2.0 lbs. of DME in a momentary lapse of reason
- OG is super high
- no yeast starter and only one pack of yeast on hand
- quite worried about attenuation, resulting sweetness or general mess
- originally intended to be a semi-imperial IPA, but not really sure how it will turn out

Batch No. 14 - Russian Lullaby

Russian Lullaby

Brewed - February 1, 2009

Style - Belgian Strong Golden Ale
Source - Variation from Vinnie's recipe in Brew Like a Monk

  • 6.0 lbs. Pilsen LME (Northern Brewer)
  • 1.0 lbs. Pilsen Light DME (Briess)
  • 0.75 lbs. Dextrose
  • 1.0 lbs. Aromatic Malt
  • 1.0 lbs. Munich Malt
  • 1.0 lbs. Wheat Malt
  • 1.0 oz. Sterling 6% AA (90)
  • 1.0 oz. Sterling 6% AA (30)
  • 1.0 oz. Czech Saaz (0)
  • 1.0 tsp. Irish Moss (10)
  • Wyeast #1214 Belgian Ale
OG - 1.073
Primary - 10 days
Secondary - 61 days

Bottled - April 13, 2009

FG - 1.016
Attenuation - 78.1%
ABV - 7.5%

- 90 min. boil
- recipe called for Styrian Goldings
- decided not to use 1.0 lbs. of clear Belgian Candi Sugar
- best attenuation yet; stored carboy next to heater during primary to keep the temp close to 75
- very excited about this beer!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Batch No. 13 - Liquid Karma v2

Liquid Karma v2

I loved my first batch of Liquid Karma so much that I brewed another w/ some small changes. Tried to time this so that with a few months in the bottle, it would be ready for submitting to the 2009 Pro-Am in June.

Brewed - January 18, 2009

Style - Coffee Porter
Source - variation / Northern Brewer / Bob's HBS

  • 7.0 lbs. Light LME
  • 0.75 lbs. Dextrose
  • 6.0 oz. Sugar in the Raw (new)
  • 1.0 lbs. American Crystal 80
  • 1.0 lbs. American Munich Light
  • 1.5 lbs. Chocolate Grain (inc. by 0.5 lbs.)
  • 1.5 lbs. Flaked Oats (inc. by 0.5 lbs.)
  • 0.5 lbs. American Black Patent (inc. by 0.25 lbs.)
  • 1.5 oz. Fuggles (75)
  • 1.5 oz. Fuggles (15)
  • 5 cups strong coffee (DH)
  • Wyeast #1025 London Ale
OG - 1.072
Primary - 9 days
Secondary - 40 days

Bottled - March 8, 2009

FG - 1.022
Attenuation - 69.4%
ABV - 6.6%

- 75 minute boil (didn't do that first time)
- Ryan Brother's Coffee Broadway Blues
- 13 days longer in secondary

Batch No. 12 - Bamboozled

Bamboozled Smoked Porter

Brewed - October 26, 2008

Style - Smoked Porter
Source - Northern Brewer kit (Peat Smoked Porter)

  • 1.0 lbs. Black Malt
  • 0.25 lbs. Briess Caramel 80
  • 0.25 lbs. Peated Malt
  • 6.0 lbs. Dark LME
  • 2.0 lbs. Dark DME
  • 1.0 oz. Nugget (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Willamette (40)
  • 1.0 oz. Willamette (15)
  • Wyeast #1056 American Ale
OG - 1.070
Primary - 13 days
Secondary - 31 days

Bottled - December 10, 2008

FG - 1.028
Attenuation - 60%
ABV - 5.5%

- recipe called for 1.062 OG, but got 1.070
- attenuation was pretty low
- mild smoke and chalkiness
- turned out great and will revisit

Batch No. 11 - Kinza Imperial Wit

Kinza Imperial Wit

Brewed - October 5, 2008

Style - Imperial Wit
Source - Northern Brewer kit

  • 9.15 lbs. Wheat LME
  • 1.0 lbs. Honey
  • 0.5 oz. Summit (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Saaz (1)
  • 1.0 oz. Corriander (10)
  • 2 grams Paradise Seeds
  • Wyeast #3463 Forbidden Fruit
OG - 1.072
Primary - 10 days
Secondary - 56 days

Bottled - December 10, 2008

FG - 1.022
Attenuation - 69.4%
ABV - 6.6%

- first brew using a belgian yeast
- crush paradise / coridaner floated
- ran chiller before inserting / ice cold copper / seemed to help
- don't like using wheat LME / gives a stale taste

First Taste - Midland Pale Ale

May 2008

Side by side tasting of my Midland Pale Ale (on the left) and Mikkeller's All Others Pale.

I didn't take any notes on this and while the Midland Pale was a solid brew, it was expectedly crushed by the Mikkeller is every way besides appearance. Something to shoot for!!

Sad Sight

May 2008

I was in the middle of my floor project and snapped this photo of my empty carboys. Such a sad sight!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Batch No. 10 - Stop Making Cents

Stop Making Cents IPA

Brewed - May 3, 2008

Style - Centennial IPA
Source - Northern Brewer kit (Three Hearted IPA)

  • 1.0 lbs. Briess Caramel 40
  • 9.15 lbs. Gold LME
  • 1.0 oz. Centennial (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Centennial (20)
  • 1.0 oz. Centennial (5)
  • 1.0 oz. Centennial (DH)
  • Wyeast #1084 Irish Ale
OG - 1.064
Primary - 9 days
Secondary - 19 days

Bottled - May 31, 2008

FG - 1.018
Attenuation - 71.9%
ABV - 6.0%

- 100% centennial hops

Batch No. 9 - Moonshiner


Brewer - March 29, 2008

Style - Bourbon Porter
Source - Northern Brewer kit

  • 1.0 lbs. Simpson's Chocolate
  • 0.5 lbs. Simpson's Dark Crystal
  • 0.5 lbs. Simpson's Dark Malt
  • 2.0 lbs. Wheat DME (60)
  • 6.3 lbs. Dark LME (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Chinook (60)
  • 0.5 oz. Argentina Cascade (15)
  • 0.5 oz. Argentina Cascade (5)
  • 2.0 oz. Oak Cubes (DH)
  • 16 oz. Makers Mark (DH)
OG - 1.064
Primary - 8 days
Secondary - 54 days

Bottled - May 30, 2008

FG - 1.020
Attenuation - 68.8%
ABV - 5.8%

- 3.25 lbs. LME went in at 60 min by mistake
- Makers Mark - soak w/ chips for one week
- Dumped into secondary

Wood chips & bourbon in bottom of carboy

Batch No. 8 - Senior Moment

Senior Moment

Brewed - March 22, 2008

Style - Old Ale
Source - Northern Brewer kit

  • 2.0 lbs. Golden Light DME
  • 6.0 lbs. Gold LME (15)
  • 0.5 lbs. Simpson's Dark Crystal
  • 0.5 lbs. Golden Flaked Oats
  • 1.0 lbs. Dark Candi Sugar / rocks (0)
  • 1.0 oz. Argentina Cascade (60)
  • Wyeast #1084 Irish Ale
OG - 1.066
Primary - 7 days
Secondary - 61 days

Bottled - May 29, 2008

FG - 1.022
Attenuation - 66.7%
ABV - 5.8%

- candi sugar took a while to disolve / stuck to chiller
- 5.5 gal in primary / too watery??
- LME actually went in @ 60 instead of 15

Batch No. 7 - Shredded Wheat

Shredded Wheat

Brewed - March 8, 2008

Style - German Hefeweizen
Source - Mountain Homebrew / Siren!!

  • 6.0 lbs. wheat LME
  • 1.0 lbs. Wheat DME
  • Misc. grain from all-grain kit
  • 1.0 oz. Hallertau / Leaf (60)
  • Dry Yeast - Safale us-05
OG - 1.051
Primary - 9 days
Secondary - 19 days

Bottled - April 5, 2008

FG - 1.012
Attenuation - 76.5%
ABV - 5.1%

- first time using dry yeast
- high attenuation with dry yeast
- all grain kit / picked up LME / used most of grain
- old wheat LME?
- first time using leaf hops

This was an ok beer overall, but didn't really turn out to style. I think I've brewed two beers now with wheat LME and I don't like it. Leaves a strange texture and I think it's the quickest of LME's to turn.

Leaf hops added to the boil

Batch No. 6 - Midland Pale Ale

Midland Pale Ale

Brewed - December 30, 2007

Style - American Pale Ale
Source - / Bob's HBS

  • 7.0 lbs. LME
  • 1.0 lbs. Crystal 40L
  • 1.0 lbs. Munich Light
  • 1.0 lbs. Golden Promise
  • 1.0 lbs. British Two-row Pale
  • 1.0 lbs. Flaked Barley
  • 1.0 oz. Domestic Gaiena (60)
  • 0.5 oz. Domestic Gaiena (15)
  • 0.5 oz. Domestic Gaiena (DH)
  • Wyeast #1056 American Ale

OG - 1.060
Primary - 14 days
Seconday - 14 days

Bottled - January 27, 2008

FG - 1.018
Attenuation - 70%
ABV - 5.5%

At capacity once again - BW, Coffee Porter & new Pale Ale

Batch No. 5 - Liquid Karma

Liquid Karma - Coffee Porter

Brewed - December 23, 2007

Style - Coffee Porter
Source - / Bob's HBS

  • 7.0 lbs. LME
  • 1.0 lbs. American Crystal 80L
  • 1.0 lbs. American Munich Light
  • 1.0 lbs. Chocolate Grain
  • 1.0 lbs. Flaked Oats
  • 1.0 lbs. Corn Sugar
  • o.25 lbs. American Black Patent
  • 1.5 oz. Fuggles (60)
  • 1.5 oz. Fuggles (15)
  • 4 cups strong coffee (DH)
  • Wyeast #1028 London Ale

OG - 1.068
Primary - 7 days
Secondary - 27 days

Bottled - January 26, 2008

FG - 1.020
Attenuation - 70.6%
ABV - 6.3%

- 4 cups strong coffee (Organic Sumatra)
- cooled in fridge; dumped in secondary
- named after my fav Ballard coffee shop, the now defunct Karma Coffee

I love coffee, I love porters and I love the combo, so this was a natural one to try. Found a nice looking recipe on and this was my first time following a recipe and picking up all my supplies at a homebrew shop. That process made it all more real b/c as opposed to receive a complete kit via FedEx, I had to measure out and crush all the needed grains. More expensive, but something is said for smelling all those grains and having a more organic experience.

This turned out to be one of my fav batches to date and really took off after 3 months in the bottle with flavor and texture taking some time to meld together. Brewed again in early 2009 w/ some minor changes.

After coffee dumped into secondary

Labels - Clean Sweep IPA

December 18, 2007

With my first brew a success, I was excited to share with friends and send some bottles back home to my family...and fellow Red Sox fans!! I took some copyright liberties and made a nice label using Photoshop with the team logo and comments about how it was brewed on the same day as the clinching game. The labels turned out great and went on easy (printed on regular copy paper and attached via glue stick).

Labeling is fun and makes for great presentation, but I spend time messing with irrelevant details like a brewery name and stuff like that. In 2008 I did three different brews that I bottled in green, 750 ml bottles and took some to a pre-wedding party. I have been doing them less and less these days, but will post the other ones I have later.

First Taste - Clean Sweep IPA

Date - December 8, 2007

After patiently letting my first batch carbonate it was time to taste the finished product. Sounded like a beer, looked like a beer and sure enough tasted like a beer! Crisp, clean, sweet and hoppy. Lovely nose from the dry hopping. I didn't take much notes beyond that, but for being my first beer I was very pleased. The only complaint, which would continue for most beers, was that the thin body and overall lacking texture.

From what I had read, clarity is sometimes had to come by but mine was crystal clear. That was one of the reasons I went with the glass secondary and let it rest longer so that everything drops out. Another concern during the was the possibility of bottle bombs, but that never came to be (and hasn't yet).

For research purposes, I decided it would be best to have my IPA against a lineup of commercial brews - Stone IPA, Lazy Boy IPA and Left Hand Warrior IPA. Mine stood up very well against these three.

Hey now, homebrewing rocks!!!!!



IPA lineup (mine of the far left)

Batch No. 4 - PITA Barely Wine

PITA Barley Wine

Brewed - December 2, 2007

Style - Barley Wine
Source - Northern Brewer Kit

  • 0.5 lbs. Briess Caramel 90
  • 3.0 lbs. Amber LME (60)
  • 9.0 lbs. Amber LME (15)
  • 1.0 oz. Target (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Cascade (30)
  • 1.0 oz. Fuggles (0)
  • Wyeast #1056 American Ale
OG - 1.082
Primary - 11 days
Secondary - 150 days!!

Bottled - May 11, 2008

FG - 1.025
Attenuation - 69.5%
ABV - 7.47%

- full boil
- put all LME in at 60 min - doh!
- secondary for 5 months!
- should have made a starter?
- named for a horribly messy bottling day
- submitted in 2008 Pro-Am

Finished w/ sample

My young brewery at capacity

Batch No. 3 - Breakfast Stout

Breakfast Stout

Brewed - November 24, 2007

Style - Stout
Source - Northern Brewer Kit

  • 1.5 lbs. Flaked Oats
  • 0.5 lbs. Simpson's Roasted Barley
  • 3.15 lbs. Dark LME
  • 1.0 lbs. Lactose
  • 1.0 oz. Willamette (60)
  • Wyeast #1084 Irish Ale

OG - 1.031
Primary - 8 days
Seconday - 16 days

Bottled - December 18, 2007

FG - 1.020
Attenuation - 35.5%
ABV - 1.44%

- full boil
- very low OG
- super thin, almost no flavor
- horrible attenuation
- too high pitching temp?
- lame beer overall; most was poured out

This was my first (and only so far) total failure. I think the first mistake was misreading the temp before I pitched the yeast. Attenuation was only 36%, so clearly the yeast didn't do it's job. Ended up dumping most of this as it was just like brown water. It was a really low OG to begin with and I will likely avoid recipes that low in the future (unless intended by me for a mild or something - certainly not a stout!!).

Monday, April 27, 2009

First Bottling Day - oh yea!!

Date - November 25, 2007

So, four weeks in and I'm one more step to finishing my first beer!!

I don't remember too much from my first bottling experience, except for being obsessed with sanitizing. This seems to be the step where if you're not careful, you can ruin a whole batch of beer in no time.

A dishwasher here is very handy and in fact, bottling beer is the only time I use mine!! In general I use 22-oz. bombers to cut down on the amount of capping, but more and more I use 12-oz. bottles to allow for easier testing during the carbonation phase.

All in all my first day of bottling was quite smooth. Took me about 1.75 hours from start to finish and no major issues to report. That won't always bee the case...haha.

So, three weeks to carbonate - can I wait that long???

My general bottling procedure:
  1. Sanitize dishwasher
  2. Sanitize bottles - soak in bath of sanitized water; drip dry in dishwasher
  3. Sanitize bottle caps and small rack for drying
  4. Sanitize siphon, tubing, sample tube, bottling bucket, filler
  5. Let everything have a little time to dry
  6. Boil 5 oz. of corn sugar in 1 pint of water for ~ 10 mins.
  7. Dump sugar in bottling bucket
  8. Siphon beer into bottling bucket
  9. Fill bottles
  10. Cap bottles
  11. Clean up and label caps

Sanitized bottles drying in my dishwasher

Getting ready to fill them up

Red Barron Capper

Two cases of beer!!!!

Sample and hydrometer

Transfer Batch No. 2

Date - November 23, 2007

The SnoPack Porter transfer was typical. Less hops resulted in less trub. Krausen never got as big, so less clean up on the primary. That might also be evidence of not enough fermentation as my attenuiation on this batach ended up quite low (55.6%).

*As time went on I took less and less photos of each brew day, but figured I share most of my earlier ones.

Second Brew Day - Full Boil

Date - November 10, 2007

The big change for batch #2 was obviously moving up to a full boil and using my new wort chiller. Not much was different from the first day and I was much more comfortable with the process, equipment, etc. This also marked my first porter, which has long been my favorite beer style.

But wow, what a long brew day compared to the first. Heating up 5+ gallons on your stove takes some serious time. On later batches I brewed with the oven on, but not sure how much that really helps.

The chiller worked pretty well; cooling the wort in about 30 minutes. Pretty good, but not that great and room for improvement. I did haven't nearly enough ice, so will stock up more next time. To sanitize the cooper, place the chiller directly into the wort during the last 10-15 minutes of the boil.

5+ gallons of boiling wort

Getting ready as the boiling nears completion

Chiller in at the end of the boil to sanitize

Chiller in and running

Finished w/ sample; nicely aerated

Batch No. 2 - SnoPack Porter

SnoPack Porter

Brewed - November 10, 2007

Style - Porter
Source - Northern Brewer Kit (St. Paul Porter)

  • 6.0 lbs. Dark LME
  • 1.0 lbs Dark DME
  • 0.5 lbs. Simpson's Chocolate
  • 0.5 lbs. Simpson's Dark Crystal
  • 1.0 oz. Chinook (60)
  • 1.0 oz. Cascade (1)
  • Wyeast #1187 Ringwood Ale
OG - 1.054
Primary - 13 days
Secondary - 16 days

Bottled - December 9, 2007

FG - 1.024
Attenuation - 55.6%
ABV - 3.9%

- first time doing a full boil (5.5 gals. at start)
- took 100 mins. to get that much water boiling
- took 30 mins. to chill via wort chiller
- need more ice next time
- took over 8 hours w/ extended boiling time!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Home-made Wort Chiller

After my first batch, I decided to go ahead and do full boils. I had originally purchased a big, 8 gallon kettle with thoughts of future needs and the more I read, the more I was convinced that if you have the capability, you should do a full boil.

The only caveat here would be that I'm what is known as a "stovetop" brewer. I life in a condo in downtown Seattle, so I don't have an outdoor area or garage where I can set up a propane burner and instead brew in my kitchen and on my stove (electric range at that). So, I was soon to learn how long it takes to heat up 5 gallons of water.

But the first issue was how to cool 5 gallons of boiling wort, which is very susceptible to infection in between the boiling stage and pitching the yeast at 70°. With my first batch, I placed the kettle in a ice water bath and that even took more than 30 minutes to cool only 1.5 gallons. The only option would be a wort chiller. I had seen many online, but felt reasonably confident that I could make my own for cheaper. Plus it would be a fun project.

  1. 50' Copper Tubing - 1/4" inner diameter (25' would have worked)
  2. Plastic Tubing
  3. 2 small clamps
  4. Beckett M250 Fountain Pump (257 gph)
Total cost was about $60 (including the pump). Copper was pretty pricey at the time and ones made with 25' of copper tubing were about $50 at the hombrew supply sites.

Some that I saw online were soldered together for added stability. After I shapped the coil around a small bucket, I brought the ends up from the bottom (along the inside). This worked out to help stabilize it and acts as a handle for lifting in and out of the wort. It may not be much to look at, but works like a charm.

For people who brew outside, you can force the water through the copper using a hose and the same can be done inside using an attachment for your sink. I live in an old building where water pressure isn't the best, so I'm not sure where I first saw the idea for a fountain pump, but it is a great idea and works perfect for me. I first picked up one with was 150 gph (gallons per hour), but it was way too weak.

One of the concerns I always have with brewing is the amount of water used throughout the process. I start with a bucket of ice water and pump it through the copper. As expected, it is very hot when it first comes out. But after about 7 minutes, the water is cool enough to recycle into the ice water bath.

In general I'm able to cool 5 gallons of boiling wort to 70° in approximately 15 minutes.

Coiled shape w/ tubing

Fits in the kettle

Practicing with the fountain pump

Chiller all hooked up; ice water bath on the right