Joining a homebrew club is another of those things I highly recommend.
- More objective opinions on your beer than those provided by friends
- Sharing knowledge
- Club projects (like a 60 gallon barrel we’re going to fill up in the next couple months)
- People to talk beer with when your significant other is fed up with hearing about beer.
But all those aside, really handy to be able to say “I ran out of this and the LHBS isn’t open. Does anyone have some extra?”
Grains, hops, sanitizer, ingredients, equipment, whatever it may be.
Long story short, I got the extra caps I need for the Tafelbier. Will go in bottles today.
This is why, regardless of the cost, I will continue sticking with PBW. A simple overnight, not even 12 hour soak, and a THICK, HEAVY layer of krausen falls right off with absolutely ZERO scrubbing required. This thing was krausen coated from around the top of the tape line to the mouth of the carboy.
Could have gone a little smaller with the batch size on the Smoked Porter, but only a tiny bit. It worked out just about perfect. With a 5.5 gallon batch size, assuming about a half gallon of lost to the use (as is usually the case), I was able to all 5 of of my 1 gallon carboys almost to the brim- just enough room for the stopper and airlock. Peppers added a little volume, but miniscule. And after all 5 to the brim, I still had enough to pull a full uncarbonated pint for me to drink, and was just barely above the layer of the cake. Probably could have pulled a bottle or two.
The problem is that I didn’t prep adequately. Got bottles all sanitized to bottle the Tafelbier. Went to sanitize my caps. Realized I had a small fraction of what I thought I did. Enough to do 26 bottles. If I had a full 2 cases of 22oz I could manage that. But I don’t. I only have one case of 22oz that’s available.
So Tafelbier won’t get bottled until Wednesday. A little longer than I wanted it to sit on the cake, but not a big deal.
First batch ever put into a keg. Brown Ale is kegged. Recleaned and sanitized the cane and siphon and about to keg the Cream Ale.
I wish I could do this every time. SO much easier than bottling.
Edit: Stupid Tumblr deleted all my text here. Hah. Here’s more or less what I originally wrote that it deleted:
For those of you also going to the National Homebrewer’s Conference, the seminar schedule is posted. Some really good stuff on there.
I’m looking at the following. Out of all of those available, this lineup seems to cover everything I’d want to attend. Some seem interesting. Some more than others. Bolded are the ones I’m REALLY excited about.
- 2-3: Alternative Wood Aging
- 3:15-4:15: Beer Recipe Design
- 4:30-5:30 Stepping Up Your Sensory Game: How to Be a Better Taster
- 9-10: Either Yeast Culturing 101 or Stone Enjoy By IPA: Preserving Hop Aroma
- 10:15-11:15: Biochemistry and the Mash
- 11:30-12:30 Any of them sound interesting, but might just go get loaded instead.
- 2-3: Brewing Better Beer: Practical Applications
- 9-10: Historic Water
- 10:15-11:15: Brewing With Induction
- 11:30-12:30: Serving With Style
- 2-3: Methods of Creating and Maintaining a Wild House Culture
- 3:15-4:15 Blame the Maltster: An Overview of Malting Operations and How They Influence Your Beer
Well what do you know…
Unfortunately they’re not mine. On loan from a club member and ready to be filled up. Cleaned and full of sanitizer. Just need shake, empty, rack and seal. He couldn’t find his charger canister, so I won’t be able to purge with CO2, so I’ll have to be especially careful taking them back over so any little bit of remaining headspace doesn’t get all shaken up into the beer.
Meant to get the Tafelbier bottled last night. Didn’t happen, and won’t happen tonight either. But I’ll get that bottled tomorrow night. I’ll also get the Smoked Porter into secondaries tomorrow night.
The Cream Ale and Northern Brown both get kegged Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Then Sunday AM I’ll run them back over to the owner who’ll carb them up for me and have them ready to go for the NHC. I’ll see if he can’t keep the Cream Ale on cold storage for a “lagering” period until then.
I pulled samples of both today to make sure they were ready to go prior to kegging (don’t wanna dump an infected batch in someone else’s keg, not that I was worried they’d be infected).
Forgot to snap photos, but they’re looking good, and both have dropped brilliantly clear (any chill haze remains to be seen). The Cream Ale tastes almost like an American Lager, including a slight sulfery note. It’s amazing how similar they are. The only difference is the slight presence of Cascade hops. I initially smelled skunk, which was alarming, but it faded and I don’t know where it came from. Perhaps the mind associating the sulfery pils malt corn character with skunked hops? It was gone as soon as I detected it. And I’ve never once had a problem with a beer getting skunked through a plastic bucket.
Anyway, Sunday is another club brew (doing a big batch to put into a 15 gallon keg). We’ll be brewing an ESB to round out our contributions for Club Night.
And Sunday night I’ll get starters going for the Tripel and Saison I’ll brew over the coming long weekend.
Took about 10 minutes to set up (and I was taking my time). Tap water goes in (left), with left coil in ice water bucket. Flows into right coil in wort, and then back out.
I’ll look around for a good cylindrical item I can use to shape the left coil properly. It’s soft copper, and very malleable, so shaping by hand is not a problem, just have to be careful not to kink it.
I don’t expect a night and day difference between using only my old immersion chiller and the addition of a prechiller, but it will definitely help, especially when it comes to those last few degrees that I can never get down to in the summer.
Knocked an item off of my “to buy/build” upgrade list. $30 or so bucks thrown down between 20 feet of copper coil, some vinyl tubing, and some screw hose clamps. Will take no more than a minute or two to assemble, and I’ll have a small immersion pre-chiller. From tap through prechiller in a bucket of ice water then through wort chiller then out means my ~78F summer ground water will now be ~40F water running through the immersion chiller. Actually able to cool as far as I want, and should be substantially faster to boot.
Also replaced the Erlenmeyer I broke with my laziness.
Then ingredients for my next two batches (Saison and Tripel).
- 1 lb Aromatic malt
- 1 lb Munich Malt
- 2 oz Styrian Goldings
- 2 oz Strisselspalt
- 2 oz Tettenang
- 1 oz Saaz
- 2 lbs of “Simplicity” blonde Belgian candi syrup (each gets a pound, the Tripel will also get some much cheaper corn sugar which I have in abundance)
- Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity (Tripel)
- Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison (primary Saison strain)
- Wyeast 3711 French Saison (secondary Saison strain for when the primary strain inevitably acts like a brat and quits on me)
And then I finally decided to start doing what I should have been doing a long time ago, and buying base malt in bulk. The LHBS was out of the regular Weyermann Pilsner, so he instead gave me the substantially more expensive floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner at the same price. So now between leftovers from the Cream Ale and this, I have 60 lbs of Pilsner malt to burn though. 18 lbs between the Tripel and the Saison, another 10 lbs going in next month’s Quad. So that’s already about half of it.
Next month when I grab Barleywine ingredients, I’m gonna also grab a 55lber of Crisp Maris Otter.
Currently in the fermenters:
- ~5.25 gallons “Lambic”. It’s somewhere between 5 and 5.5 depending on how much volume I’ve used up with a small sample every few months. Planning to bottle without any additional sugars in April of next year (making 2 years in primary) so it either remains still, or any remaining attenuation will provide any carbonation.
- 5 gallons Tafelbier. I’ll be putting this in bottles Wednesday night.
- 5.5 gallons Smoked Porter. After losses to yeast should be almost exactly 5 gallons of various Chili Pepper Smoked Porters.
- 5 gallons Cream Ale (awaiting keg to go to NHC Club Night)
- 5 gallons Northern English Brown (see above)
- Just shy of 2 cases Oatmeal Stout
- Just shy of 2 cases ESB
- Just shy of 2 cases Extract APA
- About 1 case Cal Common
- About 1 case of Dubbel
- About 1 case Black IPA/India Brown Ale
- About .5 case Robust Porter
- About .75 case Kolsch
- About .5 case Chinook Vienna SMaSH
- .75 case Brett Tripel
- 6 bottles Imperial Red
- 4 bottles Islay Scotch Ale
- 2 bottles Wee Heavy
My massively full pipeline has shrunk dramatically. I was at nearly 20 cases full for a while there. Of course, shipping off more than a case between various comps the last couple months has expedited that. But I’ve been drinking more, too. Having sessionable beers certainly helps that.
I killed off the Hefeweizen about a week ago. I’m drinking the last bottle of my Mild right now. I’m going to go ahead and put the Islay Scotch Ale, Wee Heavy, and Imperial Red to rest over the course of the week. The Wee Heavy has run its course. I’ll make a point to rebrew it early next year once I’ve worked through the current lineup. The Islay Scotch Ale wasn’t a failure, but wasn’t a resounding success. Will try again eventually. And the Imperial Red is just failing to carbonate after more than 6 months despite tasting good otherwise. I see no point in providing extended aging to a beer that won’t carb. Should have used champagne yeast to carb it.
The Brett Tripel is going to sit there. September will mark its second birthday. I’m on track to have some left for its 5th birthday.
Wednesday I’m planning on making a LHBS run. In addition to replacing the Erlenmeyer I destroyed, I’m gonna grab a 55lb sack of Pils malt (between the Saison, Tripel, and Quad, I’m gonna need it). I’ll probably grab a 55lb sack of Maris Otter the following month. Don’t think either will last through the remainder of the year, but should get me close. But I’ll grab the specialty malts, sugars and yeasts for the Saison and Tripel while I’m there too.
Then if all goes according to plan, I’ll have the Tafelbier in bottles midweek, the Smoked Porter in secondaries with the peppers over the weekend, and the Brown and Cream Ale in kegs over the weekend (clubmate supplying the kegs, gonna give me a charger to purge and seal them, then he’ll store em cold and actually carbonate them for me).
I may get starters going Wednesday night for a double header Sunday. Alternatively, I might just get starters going over the weekend giving me plenty of time to ferment out to completion and then cold crash for brewing the following weekend.
We’ll see what happens.
There are good judges and there are bad judges
So I’m not happy with the scoring from the Spirit of Free Beer.
The scores weren’t terrible. But they should have been higher. Like, 4-6 points higher each.
My Kolsch got a 28. It scored 32 at NHC. The notes were the same I’ve received in the past. The scores just were lower. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s just age (although it’s only a 3-4 week difference).
My Cal Common scored 27. It scored 33.5 at NHC and advanced to mini-BOS. This one REALLY pissed me off. The two judges seemed inexperienced. It’s another “I don’t think they were tasting my beer” scenario. One said I was using out of place hops (it was EXCLUSIVELY Northern Brewer which is THE hop for the style, and much higher ranking judges at NHC said the hopping was spot on). The other claimed it was infected (lactic).
My Wee Heavy scored a 32. That’s the lowest it’s ever scored. 36.5 at NHC. The notes pissed me off, but it’s scored as low as 33 before, so I can’t hate on the score too much.
My Oatmeal Stout scored a 33. First run in competition. I guess I can’t complain when I have no other notes to compare it to.
Here’s the thing. The judge’s comments were either nearly identical (including the praises) to previous comments I’d received, but scored lower (than scores given by higher ranking judges). Or they pulled things out of thin air (lactic sourness in the Cal Common is a big one) that no one, including other judges on the same damned flight noted. Given that they would have all be tasting from the same bottle, I doubt it was contamination. One judge noted a strong boozy note on my Wee Heavy and beaned me for it. Again, NO ONE HAS NOTED THAT EVEN ON THE SAME FLIGHT. In fact, it’s been ROUTINELY praised for the LACK of booziness.
Basically, some judges gave me slightly lower scores for equally positive feedback I’ve received in the past (scores I would have been happy with despite being a couple points lower), but poor judges on some beers beaned me for shit I shouldn’t have been beaned for.
So I’m gonna go ahead and assume that my scores were understated by 5 points, making my Oatmeal Stout a 38 point beer. That’s a score I’m satisfied with that I think that beer deserved.
Point is, some judges are fucking idiots.
The governor signed HB9, the homebrew legalization bill into law today!!!
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Home brewers can finally raise a legal glass and rejoice.
Gov. Robert Bentley this afternoon signed the home brewing bill into law, ending Alabama’s status the only state in the nation that bans the making of beer and wine at home.
The Senate approved the bill Tuesday on an 18-7 vote sending the bill to the governor.
The bill, by Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, would allow those 21 and older to make up to 15 gallons of beer, wine, mead or cider every three months for personal use. It would not be legal in dry counties or dry cities.
Brewing enthusiasts across the state rallied for the legislation. It was championed by two legislators from the Huntsville area who said some professionals are shocked when they move to Alabama and find out their favorite hobby is against the law.
The bill was opposed by the faith-based Alabama Citizen Action Program which generally opposes in law loosening restrictions on Alcohol.
Mississippi recently lifted a ban on home brewing.
15 gallons every three months isn’t exactly much. But it’s a start. I’m lucky enough to live in a state that follows the federal 100 gallon per person per year/200 gallons per household per year law. Without any of those stupid “you can’t take it out of the house” making club meetings or competitions impossible without breaking the law.
So yeah. Homebrewing finally legal nationwide (or at least according to Beer Pulse the MS legalization bill goes into effect 7/1 where they say the AL one goes into effect immediately).
A huge victory for sure. However, still a lot more work to be done with a number of states implementing volume limits and restrictions on where you can or can’t take your homebrew. Every single homebrewer should be an AHA member. Period.
In any event, still raising a toast to all the AL brewers who can now brew without fear.
Smoked Porter finished out at 1.013 for 5.9% ABV. Tastes great, and I’m not big a huge smoked beer guy. Smoked character is notable, not harsh but also not cloyingly sweet or super bacony (there’s a little bacony flavor, but nowhere near the Rauchbier level). And more of a chocolatey roast than a harsher roast. Gravity says Robust Porter, flavor more like a Brown Porter, or even a strong Mild. I wouldn’t enter it in competition without adjustment, but I like it the way it is.
Point being, I would probably brew the base beer again as is.
That said, I’m ready to unleash Capiscum hell.
Also, my APA-being-entered-as-Blonde is en route to CA. Judging for that (the last run of the AHA Club Only competitions). The thought dawned on me that a stronger overhopped Blonde may do better than an underhopped APA out in CA. So there may yet be some hope for it.
And the Spirit of Free Beer judging is Friday/Saturday. They say that results will be posted Saturday. That’s some efficient competition running. Really happy with the beers I entered. If they meet or exceed the NHC scores, I might take home a few medals. 504 out of 520 entries paid and received according to the website, so there’ll be some decent competition.
I’m quite satisfied with this Kolsch. As I said earlier, I think the base recipe is there, and if not it’s damned close. I’m gonna tweak it slightly next time based upon the NHC feedback (probably just water), as well as the Spirit of Free Beer feedback.
But regardless of anything else, clarity.
Your cream ale turned out even lighter than mine.
You’re talking color, right? I thought you’d posted yours finished a good 6 points lower than mine.
If I recall correctly, yours was a base of 2-row, flaked maize, and 6 row, right? Mine was Pilsner malt, flaked maize and 6 row. I also had a smaller grain bill. And with that light of color, I’m guessing that pound or two of malt and those 1-2 Lovibond make a difference. Won’t know for sure until it clears up a bit, but it looks like I’m at the very bottom of the color range for the style. One of the palest beers I’ve done.