Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beer #4

Aroma: Roasty, chocolate sweet maple aromas with no hop aroma
Appearance: Opaque black with thick tan head that persist
Flavor: Roasty/chocolate flavors upfront followed by creaminess from the oatmeal and possibly some maple syrup/vanilla flavors.
Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy.
Overall: A sipper beer that is full of flavor and attitude! The bottle states "a big beer done the Green Flash way", it certainly is!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beer #3

Beer #3
(from World Beer Cup)
Fernie Brewing Co.
First Trax Brown Ale

(English Brown Ale)
British Colombia, CA

Aroma: Fruity, caramel malt aroma
Appearance: Very clear brown color with a lasting small white head
Flavor: Malty caramel/chocolaty balanced with bitterness
Mouthfeel: Light to medium mouthfeel and carbonation
Overall Impression: Very drinkable and an absolute english ale. There are some chocolate tones with balanced bitterness, very smooth but on the sweet side. This ale may be too light in flavor and body and marketed towards the mainstream guy and not the craft beer geek.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Brew Crew - Denimbrauhaus

In this week's Brew Crew edition we will be visiting with DenimGlen, marking our first international crew member. We cross the pond and hand the mash paddle to DenimGlen and his DenimBrauhaus in New Zealand. Cheers and welcome to the Brew Crew!

1) When/why did you start brewing? Where did the name Denimbrauhaus come from?

I started brewing about two and a half years ago. A friend of mine gave me a recipe to brew hard cider in a coke bottle with bread yeast. I made a few bottles and and was hooked on the process of fermentation. The stuff tasted pretty terrible - like bread soaked in apple juice. I ended up buying a brewing set-up from my LHBS with the intent to make cider but it came with a beer kit so I made that first. I wasn't a beer drinker at the time but ended up liking the batch and kept making beer and forgot about cider.

The name Denimbrauhaus came from a nickname I was given when I was younger. I loved my ripped pair of jeans and denim jacket and people kept referring to me as "Denimglen". The name stuck and I just threw it together as a name for my homebrewery.

I'm still really new to brewing and beer but I've go the bug and can't stop!

2) When/Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging about my brewery not too long ago; first post ever was 29/09/07.
I thought it would be interesting to document my progress on equipment and batches for myself more than anything. I didn't expect my blog to be to interesting to anyone else. I do find it handy to link to when someone asks about my equipment or hop plants etc.

3) What/Why is your favorite recipe/style to brew?
That's a hard one. As the ingredient selection here in New Zealand isn't as great as in the US/UK it's hard to piece together recipes for some styles.

I'm quite fond of US Pale/Ambers. Great flavorful beers that one can still drink a couple of without being overwhelmed with flavor or alcohol. Second to that it would be English style bitters.

4) How did you piece together your brewery set-up?
Too Slowly!
I did three extract with grain/hop recipes (after about 10 failed kit and kilo beers) and decided I needed to go all-grain.

I started off by getting a decent sized pot for heating liquor on an old two-ring burner we had around the house.

The common Rubbermaid beverage coolers are extremely overpriced here in NZ so I opted for the rectangular cooler instead, then converted it in the same way most HB'ers do to use an MLT. I originally had the stainless braid setup but changed to a copper manifold because of the deadspace I had with the braid and it always floated around in the mash. Luckily there was some 0.5" copper pipe lying around so all I needed to purchase were the copper joiners to assemble it.

My biggest problem for an AG brew set up was finding a suitable kettle. I originally was using a stainless steel distilling unit boiler with an immersed element of 1380w. One element took forever to boil so I added a 2400w to run with the smaller unit. This set-up was ok but it was very small capacity so boiling over 23L was a problem, so the kettle had to be watched very closely for a 20L batch. I then was told from another homebrewer about the stainless steel electric urns available that hold up 40L, and also come with a tap and sight glass installed all for a reasonable price about 200NZD (around 150USD). With another element installed and a copper pick up tube they make for a quite a good kettle.

The reason I went with electricity instead of gas is the cost of burners and pots here are quite high. The selection of burners is also not large, there is pretty much only one set of ring burners available and they're not very powerful. And being a big bulky item they're not cheap to import.

I've put together about three copper immersion chillers so far. The latest one fits around the fixed immersed elements in my kettle. The immersed elements were a problem as there was a lot of space around the elements that wouldn't be cooled and the chiller wasn't stable sitting on top of the elements.

I'm also in the process of putting together a single-tier rig at the moment. Nothing too fancy - single pump, direct fire MLT with converted kegs for all vessels.

5) How are your hop plants doing? What variety are they?
It's autumn here so I harvested late summer and cut down the vine afterwards. I had a reasonable first year harvest of about 100gm. After cutting down the vine I buried it in hopes of harvesting some rhizomes for next season. At the moment there are a few sprouts coming up from the original rhizomes and the buried vine.

The variety is a Cascade-unknown cross. I was given a rhizome from another brewer that had found a seed in with some cascade clones. It does smell very cascade-like but I have no idea what it's crossed with.

I've just used them in an APA recipe so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

I'm looking into getting another variety or two for the upcoming season. One's a Cluster cross called Smoothcone and the other is an unknown German variety. Apparently there are hops growing in the wild in some parts but I haven't been able to venture out for them yet.

6) What brewing technique do you want to learn next?
There's nothing that springs to mind. Currently, I'm working on acquiring parts for and assembling my single tier set-up. After that I will mainly just be focusing on refining my techniques.

7) Do you brew self-sustainably and/or organically?
Although NZ has a few varieties of organic hops grown here I've never made an all-grain organic brew - I don't believe ogranic malt is readily available here. I'd find it interesting to do a side-by-side batch with similar malts and hops to see how they compare.

8) What is your favorite blog(s) to read?
Not exactly a blog but I think the recently started is great. is also a good laugh and has a great name. I do find myself browsing brewing blogs from time to time but nothing in particular. I also lurk around a sort of blog/social-network site for NZ brewers.

9) Are you a member of a homebrewing club or AHA?
Currently no. I am thinking to see if there are any homebrew clubs in my area and I may look into joining Society of Beer Advocates

10) What is your favorite brewery(s) or beers to patronize?
I'm happy to support any small brewery or even large breweries that put out a decent drop. For New Zealand brews I've really enjoyed the Limburg, Epic and Emersons breweries.

11) Is it hard to find brewing ingredients in New Zealand?
Kit and Kilos aren't to hard to find, most supermarkets carry them. Better quality K&K's can be found at homebrew stores who usually carry a large selection of cans.

Extract with added hops and all-grain doesn't seem to be very popular in New Zealand but there are a few staunch followers off these methods. Luckily, a great LHBS, Brwers Coop, is 5' from my house and carries a good selection of grain and hops. Unfortunately, because of supply and demand rules the selection of grain and hops isn't huge in NZ but one can usually make do with what's available for the most popular styles. Yeast is another thing that's hard to get. The common dry strains are easy to find but no stores carry liquid yeast, again because of supply demand.

12) How has the hop and barley shortage affected your brewing?
So far not too bad, I assume because the NZ stocks haven't needed to be resupplied yet. There has been a small price increase of both but nothing too bad so far. I love the process of brewing and fermentation and as long as it's affordable I'll still be brewing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Beer #2

Beer #2
(from the World Beer Cup loot)
BJ's restaurant and brewery Pride of Calcutta IPA- Oxnard, CA

There is not much on this beer on the website and nowhere to contact the brewer. This is supposed to be an American IPA version. Here is my take below:

Aroma: fruity, hoppy, slightly toasty
Apperance: golden amber, slight head that dissapates quickly to a ring and sticks to glass, cloudy (this was an unfiltered ale)
Flavor: Medium-high bitterness, malt flavor is biscuity, spicy, bready, toffee. Hop flavor similar to aroma.
Mouthfeel: Medium
Overall Impression: Has english characteristics in malt flavor, aroma and appearance. Lacks american hop character to be considered a solid american IPA. Althouth, it may not be exotic it was tasty.

UP NEXT: The Brew Crew - Denimbrauhaus

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beer #1

Beer #1
(from World Beer Cup Loot)

Propeller Brewery, Nova Scotia, BC CANADA
Propeller IPA
ABV: 6.5%

Propeller Brewery History
Appearance: Pours with thin white foam layer which dissapates into a ring. Very clear dark golden color.
Aroma: Earthy, spicy slight grapefruit/orange citrus hop aroma with faint malt aroma. Weak hop aroma for an IPA.
Taste: Slight caramel quickly dissapates, dry followed by harsh bitterness and alcohol, which become the dominate flavors. Piney, spicy hop flavors
Mouthfeel: Very thin, light.
Overall: An interesting mix of an english & american IPA flavors , but lacking the aggressive american IPA floral character. The bitterness and alcohol are overpowering the biscuty malt character. Has a hint of caramel malt, but not enough. Flavors and aroma are more of an english IPA, where the IBU's and abv are more american. A solid english IPA, but not an american IPA.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day #3

I don't remember much of day #2, but I do remember it was as great as day #1. So much has happened I don't know where to start! This has easily been the best beer experience ever!!! Above all the experience, meeting a bunch of fun people and working with a bunch of beer fanatic volunteers we (the volunteers) got to take home some beer that was left over from the competition.
The Loot:
(It's NOT Coors)
I will be drinking and sharing pics with you guys of whats in the box!
After the competition was over,
I got to taste:
Utopias 2007
Utopias 2005
Utopias 2003
I won this EMPTY :( bottle in the raffle!
In the previous days I also won:
Rogue Imperial Red
Howe Sound Brewing Rail Ale

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Today was the first day of the World Beer Cup and the best word to describe it was...Cornucopia! There were so many beers it was amazing. There were 6 rounds with many beers in each round. The amazing thing was the beers that did not get passed on got sent to the sample table...THE SAMPLE TABLE! So Amazing!I got to sample so many beers I can not remember all of them but here is a sample:
Terrapin Rye Pale aAle
Il Vicino Baltic Porter
Rouge Old Crustecean
Ommegang Chocolate Del...
Ommegang Rare Vos
Ommegang Wit
Moylans Double IPA
Moylans Hopsickle
Dogfish head 60' IPA
Many Pizza Port
Pizza Port Imperial Red
Pizza Port Shark Attack
Lost Abbey 10 Commandments
Odells Red Ale
Odells Pils
(Japanese) coconut porter
Maui Coconut Porter
Many fruit beers
Unibroue apple
Unibroue strong ale
New Belgium La Folie
Many Flanders Reds
Rogue Chiptole Ale
Rogue Chocolate Stout
Rogue Hazel Nut Brown Nectar
Rogue Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale
Rogue Moritmoto Soba AleYes, Yes, Yes I at some point had palet fatigue, but I can not tell you when that was. Most beers were very delicious and would purchase many of them down the road.I got to steward the table that had: other Belgian beers, strong ales, english esb's

I got to take home: Le Proef Boruweru La Grande Blanche, Howesound Brewing Nut Brown Ale, Rogue Old Crustacean 2006, Rogue Imperial Red Ale

What does tomorrow bring???

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Brew Crew - HomebrewandChemistry

What is the Brew Crew?
The Brew Crew is a celebration of the 1st and 21st Amendments of the United States. The right to "free speech" and to "homebrew". The Brew Crew is a legion of extract, partial mash and all-grain brewers who blog funny witty and serious posts on a daily basis and not so daily basis. I will be asking them questions and posting their answers on a weekly basis.

We now go to the upper midwest and visit with The Scientist Eric @ HomebrewandChemistry. He loves science, teaching and combining homebrew and chemistry and Cascades in his pale ale. Visit his site HomebrewandChemistry and learn to learn more about chemistry and brewing. A Cascade cheers to Eric and welcome to the Brew Crew!

1) When/Why did you start brewing?
I started when I was a graduate student in 1996. At this time I had developed a taste for good beer thanks to Summit Extra Pale Ale (from a Summit Brewing in St. Paul, MN). I wanted to make good beer. I wanted to make good beer. I took a hiatus from brewing for about 4 years during a second stint in grad school (time was too valuable since I was now married). I started again with renewed vigor in 2006.

2) When/Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging because, like many bloggers, I felt like the world needed to hear what I know and think. When this delusion faded, i decided to blog because it amuses me. My blog is a rather eclectic mix of beer brewing, chemistry education and brewing science. By doing this blog, i have forced myself to learn a lot more about the science of brewing and brewing in general. On the chemistry education side of things, since I teach in a very small department (2 total chem. Profs) my blog helps me expand my network of colleagues to the world. Oh, and I'm a nerd.

3) What/Why is your favorite recipe/style to brew?
I LOVE American Pale Ales. That is the first style of beer I ever fell in love with. My favorite recipe is called Metathesis Pale Ale. The name is derived from a class of Organic chemical reactions (see I'm a nerd). This is simple beer, but the excessive Cascade hops makes it great.

4) What is your favorite brewing technique to use?
I've recently adopted the Brew Your Own Magazine method for partial mashing. I've not tasted the results of this yet, but it seems to have worked.

5) Does your scientific background give you an advantage to brew better beer?
I don't think it gives me an advantage. Brewing techniques have been worked out for centuries. In general, there's not much a home brewer can improve on. However, I think i appreciate what is happening on a totally different level. One does not need to know what is happening chemically during the brewing process to make good beer, but for me as a chemist it makes it a lot more fun.

6) What brewing technique do you want to learn next? (mashing, hopback, kegging etc. maybe one you've created)
My next major technique is going to be kegging. I plan on building a wet bar in my basement this summer and I will be installing a tap. My only problem is deciding if I should install 2 or 3 taps.

7) Do you brew self-sustainably and/or organically? Explain?
I don't I don't feel compelling reason to brew organically. I do compost all of my spent grains and hops, and I minimize unnecessary water usage (i.e for chilling).

8) What is your favorite blog(s) to read? (Doesn't have to be beer related)
This is tough to do without slighting someone. There are a lot of great blogs out there. I follow about 80 of them using an RSS reader. I regularly read about 20 of those. My top 5 are:

These cover everything from chemistry to beer to homeopathic medicine.

9) Are you a member of a homebrewing club or American Homebrew Association?
No, but I'd love to organize something, but family and work consume all of my time.

10) What is your favorite brewery(s) or beers to patronize?
Schell's brewery is #1. It's a local brewery (2nd oldest family owned brewery in the USA) and so I'm loyal to that. However, I also love almost anything from Rogue. Sadly, the cost of their beer has jumped to almost $5 for a 22oz bottle.

11) Do you find it hard to not reference brewing while teaching?
Yes, very. I've bemoaned this fact on my blog a number of times. I have to be sensitive to the fact that talking about beer and brewing will be unjustly interpreted by some as condoning something like binge drinking. Yet, I have discussed brewing in my classes when there is a legitimate and verifiable connection to what we are discussing in class.

12)In detail: What is your favorite reaction in brewing?
Easy. The isomerization of alpha acids in hops to iso-alpha acids (i.e. humulone to isohumulone) during the boil. This is one of the first reactions I came across that was related to brewing. It's been my favorite ever since.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Final Gravity is now on the New Mexico Beer page. A shameless plug to the great brewers back home. As a collective group they have won multiple medals at GABF and WBC. Good luck to them at the upcoming World Beer Cup!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Holy Moly!!!

Anybody need a 41.25 gallon mash tun?

I'm not selling it, but I saw it on craigslist.

Hot off the press:
The World Beer Cup will be here April 15-19 and thanks to QUAFF I will be attending a couple classes at the Craft Brewers Conference. They are: Developing company culture (maybe not so fun, but as a manager it will be), and Beer & Food pairing (fun). Also, I will be able to attend a private party at Karl Strauss Brewing friday night where I will be able to rub elbows with brewers who attended the World Beer Cup. Sweet! I hope to gather important info and pics to share.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Double BrewDay - Update

Coolers & Kettles
The Aftermath -

Well, there are always first and lasts. Yesterdays, brewday had alot of firsts. It was long, had many problems, and was fun.

First, my friend Steve failed to read the correct side of the thermometer. He read Celsius instead of fahrenheit, ahhhh, which lead us to miss our target temp by 12 degrees. OUCH! We also had a stuck mash, which I need to fix by adding a screen under my makeshift false bottom.

The Fix (clogged valve)

The Mash

Hot barley explodes

The Final Product
Kolsch (L), Belgian Pale Ale (R)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

BrewDay - Kolsch Recipe

Kolsch w/Honey April 08'

Grain Bill
10# German Pilsner malt
1/2# Munich malt
1/2# Wheat malt
1# Honey

Spalt 1.5oz 4.2AAU's

White Labs German Kolsch

P.S. March Music Madness @ 94.9fm, my local radio station
Currently, it is the Final Four, the 70's The Clash vs. the 80's The Cure
and the 90's Nirvana vs. 00's Radiohead

Friday, April 04, 2008

Getting Forged - II

There is a lot happening this weekend, starting with today at 4:00 is time to get forged at Alesmith Brewing. Occasionally, they have a small release party in the back of their brewery, where all of the brewers pour you the beers they made. They always do something fun like serve the same beer out of a beer engine and on a regular tap. They do taste different. They are one of the few breweries who bottle all of their beers unfiltered.

Also, tomorrow I will be helping a friend brew his first all-grain batch. We will be using my set-up and I think I will try to brew a batch for myself after we move his batch into the kettle. It will take some planning, more equipment and more time, but should be fun. If I brew I will be brewing a honey kolsh.

Pics to come of all the above

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Brew Crew - The Doghouse Brewery

What is the Brew Crew?
The Brew Crew is a celebration of the 1st and 21st Amendments of the United States. The right to "free speech" and to "homebrew". The Brew Crew is a legion of extract, partial mash and all-grain brewers who blog funny, witty and serious posts on a daily basis and not so daily basis. I will be asking these brewers a series of questions and posting their answers on a weekly basis.

This week we go to the upper northwest into the frigid tundra of Alaska. We visit with multi talented Christopher and his Dogyard Brewery. Christopher has a very informational website and do-it-yourself sections for many hobbies.

1) When/why did you start brewing and why is it called Dogyard Brewery?
I started brewing in 1990 while a student at UC Davis. My rommate and I struggled to brew beer in our 90 degree apartment, chilling the wort overnight in the bathtub. Since then, equipment and ingredients have come a long way. My wife is a sprint musher and we've currently got five sled dogs and one house dog, so Doghouse Brewery seemed like a good name.

2) When/Why did you start your website/blogging?
My first website was built in 1998, and I started blogging in 2005. I don't tend to write much about brewing in the blog, but I probably should put more in there. Most of my brewing information (recipes, equipment, etc.) is in a subdirectory of my main site.

3) What is your favorite recipe and/or style to brew?
My favorite is Piper's Irish American Red Ale, which is based on a recipe by Jeff Renner on HBD. I prefer ales, but haven't ever brewed a lager, so that will be a new homebrewing challenge for me in the future.

4) What is your favorite brewing technique to use?
I really like the convenience of batch sparging in an insulated cooler. It really makes mashing and sparging simple and easy to control even if there is a slight loss in efficiency.

5) What is your favorite piece of brewing equipment to use?
That's a hard one. My plate chiller is probably the most entertaining; it's amazing to watch boiling hot wort enter one end and come out the other end at 60-68 degrees. But I wouldn't want to do without my yeast stirplate, batch sparging set-up, or temperature controlled fermentation temperature. I think pitching a large amount of healthy yeast, and closely controlling fermentation temperature are really important for getting a beer without defects.

6) Of, all your hobbies which one is your favorite (homebrewing, coffee roasting etc.)
I enjoy variety in my hobbies more than preferring one over the other. Right now, brewing and woodworking are on the upswing, but I'm glad to have bookbinding, bread baking, and other hobbies as options when I tire on a focus on beer and furniture.

7) Do you brew self-sustainably and/or organically? Explain?
For awhile I was culturing my own yeast, and I could theoretically run my boil on our wood-burning cook-stove, but at the moment I'm not really brewing in the manner that could be described as self-sustainable. I do grind organic grains for baking bread, and I've been tempted to try malting my own wheat to see what sort of beer I could produce, but thus far I haven't tried. I am encouraged by the availability of organic grains, but as far as I know, my favorite base malt (Maris Otter) doesn't come this way. Maybe I'll have to try a sack of Breiss organic 2-row next time I'm ordering in bulk.

8) What is your favorite blog(s) to read?
Another hard question. I'm subscribed to several dozen blogs through Google Reader, and I enjoy the variety. I haven't done much beer blog reading, so I'm eager to start reading some of the blogs on your site.

9) Are you a member of a homebrewing club or American Homebrew Association?
I've been a member of the AHA for quite some time. I haven't participated in our local homebrew club.

10) What is your favorite brewery(s) to patronize?
Silver Gulch brewery in Fox has a great restaurant, and I've enjoyed their pilsner since they started their operation. When I lived in Portland, the Blue Moon Tavern and the Mission Theater were favorites of mine, even if they didn't brew on premises. Really, any and all brewpubs are worth a visit, and I try to hit any I can find when I am traveling.

11) It is difficult brewing in Alaskan weather (too cold, getting ingredients etc.)?
Fairbanks gets quite cold in the winter (we got to -53F at our house this winter), and so it can be difficult to brew when it's really cold. I once lost a quarter of my wort when the heat from my burner melted a hole in the snow it was resting on and the burner almost tipped over. I usually try to watch the forecast and only brew when it's above zero, but there have been times when I've brewed at -10 or colder. Recently, I've had trouble getting my chilled wort *warm* enough because the water running through the plate chiller is so close to freezing that it cools the wort too much even with the water pump on the lowest setting. I added a half a gallon of warm water to my latest batch after chilling, and I think that might be an effective technique to offset any inaccuracies in chilling.

12) Is there a style of homebrew or another hobby that you would like to learn next?
Lagering is certainly on my things to try. We've got an old fridge that was there when we moved into our house, so I might adopt that for a batch to see if I like it. Last weekend, I brewed my 76th beer, and not one has been a lager. Probably time to give it a whirl!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Surprise Surprise

This past week I have been very busy with work, but I did manage enough time to make some fantastic deals.

I scored not one, but TWO kegs!!! $12 each
And, on the same day a Kegerator!!! $150

The kegerator is awesome and refrigerates very well. I now will be able to brew lagers and ales during the hot summers here in San Diego.