Red Oak mash-in

This morning I mashed in at 10 am to an overcast sky at roughly 40F. Things are going smoothly so far as recycling trucks go by picking up the waste of the past few days. I’m praying that the rain will hold off for another 2 hours, and that I don’t slip on the wet birch leaves on the deck as I carry hot pots of water out to top off the hot liquor tank.

Today I’m brewing a fairly simple amber ale. It’s just 2-row and Crystal 60 and 80, with 1.5 oz of hops. I’m hoping to keep the flavor simple since I’m going to try and oak chip the beer in secondary with bourbon soaked toasted red oak chips. The bourbon is supposedly to “sanitize” the chips (blocks weren’t available) but I’m actually hoping to recreate a bourbon barrel flavor. I probably should have tried this with a bigger beer, but the amber will allow me to taste how the oak affects flavor.

Red Oak


  • 9 lbs. domestic 2-row
  • 1.5 lbs Crystal 60L
  • 0.5 lbs Crystal 80L


  • 0.75 oz Chinook (12.2 % alpha) @ 60 min
  • 0.5 oz Chinook (12.2 % alpha) @ 5 min


  • Yeast starter with Fermentis Safale S-05
  • 2.4 oz dark toasted oak chips (added in secondary, soaked in bourbon for 1 week)
  • pinch of Irish Moss near end of boil

Now I should get back to the mash. It’s probably just about time to sparge.

Happy 5th Anniversary Rooftop Brew

Today is the 5th anniversary of my first post to rooftopbrew. Some of the site (ingredients, process, etc.) is slightly old and leftovers from a class project I was doing while learning Dreamweaver, but I’d recently started using blogging software for a different site and saw the supreme usefulness for brewing. As tends to happen, the site started to include other brewerina; gear talk, exploration of techniques, comments about beer and events, and complaints about domain registrars and squatters. I lost the .com name a few years back and have been trying to get it back since. I added google ads a few months back (and have made $1.70!) from ad clicks. Not really enough to buy the domain back from the squatters. Oh well.

The name Rooftop Brew dates back to 2000 when I started brewing on my own with a kit Michelle got me for my birthday. Thanks. As mentioned in the State of the Brewnion, quality and quafability has been steadily improving since.

An apology to the site and it’s 3 readers – I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately with work, thesis writing, home repairs and child, so I’ve not brewed since October, and doubt I’ll have time to for a few weeks. I didn’t get to brew a spiced Christmas ale, so I’m now trying to figure out what to brew for a 5th anniversary special. Maybe a Belgian Pentuple?

Holiday Ale Festival 2007

I was only able to visit this year’s Holiday Ale Fest for about 2 hours, but it was enough time to try some seriously big beers and enjoy brews with some friends. I was able to eek out of work early on Thursday to meet up with a displaced Portlander who has been living in New York for some time. When his girlfriend saw him among the crowd at the festival and heard him chatting about beer with me, she realized he wasn’t a nut, he was just a Portlander.

The Holiday Ale festival is great fun if you can escape work early. Seeing the lit christmas tree and towering building facades around you while sipping custom seasonal releases of the regions best breweries is really hard to beat. However, if you overindulge or stay too long, you can wind up in a tight spot. Shortly after 3:30pm, folks started trickling in from their offices in very nice suits. All I can figure is they’re on Market time and with trading over and work wrapped up, they were ready to have a beer. It gets a little crowded, but there are still no lines and you’re only slowed down in your travel. By 4:30pm however, its starting to get a little cramped and car-heater warm. This time I left, but in years past I stayed until it was claustrophobic, sweaty, and dehydrated. Sadly, I’m left with about 8 tickets that I was unable to spend on a second visit.

There were no beers that startled me this year. I think my favorite is still Celebration, but I did enjoy the Belgian-style offering from Laurelwood, the Caldera brew, and the Bye-Bye Frost. Nothing was bad, at least that I had, so it was a good year.