Saturday, November 29, 2008

More Gear

All the new gear is coming together in preparation for the first All Grain batch on Sunday. You can tell by looking around my basement that we crossed the line from hobby to obsession at some point. Hooray Beer!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Secret Recipe Is...

British East India Trading CompanyUncle Tyler's
Reddy's I.P.A.

This recipe belongs to my Uncle Ty who, years ago, gave a copy to my mother in a letter (yes - a snail mail letter). She held on to the letter for a long time and recently passed it on to me.

This is a true India Pale Ale that is both hoppy and malty. In the early 1800s, I.P.A.s were 'amped up' pale ales that contained more alcohol and hops (both natural preservatives) so that the beer could survive the long trips by ship from England to the colonies in India.

Highlights of this recipe include over 4 ounces of hops (in a 5 gallon batch) and Oak wood chips in the primary and secondary to impart that barrel-aged taste.

Ty's letter to my mother states that this recipe was originally brewed on March 3, 1989 - almost 20 years ago! It was brewed for a friend named Reddy who was from India and missed the strong beers from home. These were the days before the microbrewery explosion in the U.S. and finding anything other than Bud/Miller/Coors was nearly impossible, so Ty created this beer to fill the gap.

I will see my Uncle Ty over Thanksgiving weekend and I hope this batch of beer will be a nice surprise for him.

Mother of All Chillers

Built by Shawn, our Immersion Chiller is 50 feet of 1/2" copper constructed in two nesting coils that can be used separately or together in series or in parallel. Shawn designed it to work specifically with our huge (and wide) boil kettle but still be useful in other situations.

Like everything else the scale of it makes me smile every time I see it. Bring on the hot wort!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hop Harvest Update

Ralph Olsen of Hopunion left an encouraging post over on ProBrewer regarding this year's hop harvest. I'm not getting the feeling that prices are going to come down, but maybe we'll be able to find the hops we need in the coming year. This is good because out of the 17 batches I have brewed so far, I've had to substitute hop varieties in about half of them due to the shortages.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don't Panic!

Yes, we are running out of beer. The last of the extract brews will be making their way in to our glasses over the next few weeks.

But the All Grain brews are coming and once we do a 5 gallon test batch this Sunday, we'll be doing several 10-15 gallon batches in fairly quick succession to build the supply back up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

LIFO - Clone War Results

As in Last In First Out. The Alt recipe wins the Clone Wars hands down. Crisp and clean and clear - we can't stop drinking it. The keg is almost gone and we are sad to see it go.

It could be that the season has influenced our results, but here they are:

1. Alt
2. Strawberry Blonde
3. UFO Hefe Clone

The rest we could take or leave.

These will be the recipes that Shawn and I start with when we begin all grain brewing, which may be as soon as this weekend! We'll probably start with the Hefe since a wheat beer will be ready to drink sooner than the others.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hi, I'm a Mash Tun

Shawn built me. I will also be used as a hot liqueur tank sometimes, depending on what kind and the quanity of beer being brewed. I am super awesome, but I'm going to have a big brother that is even awesomer. He is not this super cool yellow color though.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Hello, I'm a 6.5 Gallon Carboy

I was bought on Craig's List for $10. I'm worth four times that. I may be sold for a profit in the near future as I am not expressly needed for this operation, but was to good a deal to pass up. I have two 5 gallon little brothers that were also bought for $10 each which will NOT be going anywhere.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Epic Pot is Epic

We've been looking for a big boil pot for a while now. We were looking for a keg to convert and when that didn't pan out, we started looking at large brew or cooking kettles. The problem was that they are extremely expensive (hundreds of dollars) and we never budgeted for that.

Then we found The Pot on Craig's List. The woman we bought it from said it was her father's who has passed on, but used to be a cook in the service - Navy I believe. It is stainless steel and the bottom has been replaced. All of these facts point to the pot being quite old and I like to imagine it might have served time on a battleship at some point - possibly during WWII.

She was selling it as a keg tub, or huge ice bin for parties. When she found out we were actually going to by using it for its intended purpose (kinda) she seemed quite pleased. I'm going to send her a picture from our first all grain brew day so she can see the pot in action.

How big is my pot you ask? THIRTY GALLONS. That is a huge amount of pot. A lot of pot. Way more pot than anyone else I know has. It is probably the best pot for miles around. I have a large volume of pot in my basement. Ha ha ha, drug jokes.

We can easily do 20 gallon batches in this bad boy and I'm sure we will eventually.

The kicker: we bought it for $20.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Moving Towards All Grain

Not much action here as we are still collecting the equipment needed to brew All Grain batches.

The SECRET RECIPE batch has been kegged and will be ready to sample around Thanksgiving.

I finally actually dumped the bad batch of Kolsch. It was sad, but it still tasted very bad and I needed the keg.

I'll have some equipment updates and pics soon.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not A Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I entered my Old Ale in the FOAM Cup tonight and came in fourth place (no, not "out of four" you vicious person) which is pretty good considering that first through third were taken by some of the club's well known top brewers.

The better news is that I found out later that I came very close to placing in the top 3 and might have if different people had been judging the contest.

The resident BJCP judge (quite prominent in the area) suggested that I enter the beer in other contests because, in his words, "this is very good and I wouldn't change much." I'm not sure if I'll bother doing that, but it was nice to hear.