One hot brew day

Today I brewed with a friend who has been interested in brewing for a while. Beth took some notes, and I tried not to drop random tips and trivia when it wasn’t important. Overall, we kept it fairly simple with a single infusion mash, which is good because there were two toddlers tooling around the “brewery.” She seemed surprised at how simple the process was, and as the same with all-grain, once you understand the process, it’s really a cinch.

We happened to pick the most unpleasant day to brew though. It started out as just hot and sunny. We ended up yanking a patio umbrella from my parents to shade us while we mashed, but then the breeze died down and the humidity crept up. By the end of the boil, it was really muggy and I felt a great deal of awe for the commitment all my fellow homebrewers in the midwest, east coast and south, who cope with this stuff all the time.

Setup to tear down took about 5 hours, something that almost make me miss partial-mash brewing. The final numbers? Roughly 5.5 gallons (short by 1/2g) with an initial gravity of 1.058 (short by .003), so maybe I do need to consider looking at my efficiency. The wort tastes nice, and we kept pretty close to the original hop bill. Thanks to the chomp-happy Safale yeast, fermentation was going within 2 to 3 hours.

North American Organic Brewers Fest 2008

Joe, Linds and I headed down to this years North American Organic Brewers Festival on Friday night to sip some brews, enjoy the summer, and meet up with some of my coworkers. We tried several beers among the masses until Erin and Jade arrived, and helped locate Alan and his neighbors. Alan had been hanging out by the food at the Brewers festival, and I was a little incredulous until I realized that the reason was for shade.

I’ve probably said it before, but I think this festival is my favorite simply for the atmosphere. OBF is incredible, but size, mood, and venue for the organic festival is more to my taste.

Standout beers? There were a few. Maybe it was the weather, but here’s what I liked best:

  • Elliot Bay – Old Burien 600 Malt Liquor. I love a good malt liquor, and this was nearly as good as Walking Man’s Street Walker.
  • Crannog – Hell’s Kitchen Potato Ale. I’d be scared to brew with messy, messy potato startch, but this was a rather nice ale that seemed like a brown. Maybe not the best for 90F, but good.
  • Laurelwood’s Green Mammoth. Had it before, but really liked it again. The other IPAs I had (most were already gone) didn’t have the right body/bitter ratio. To be honest, the only other IPAs I had were Nelson’s and the Yerba Mate one.

I really didn’t have that many different beers this time around. I think I had 8 tickets, and ended up getting the malt liquor 3 times (It was really good). The only one I didn’t really like was the Yerba Mate IPA. Many of the beers I’d had before (at Sasquatch, etc) or the lines were just absurdly long (Hub, Hair of the Dog). Luckily, Joe and I found Hub’s IPA on cask at Pause afterward.

Linds and Joe at NAOBF 2008

Linoleic Acid alternatives

After sampling some good beers (and one bad beer) at the North American Organic Brew Festival last night, Joe, Linds and I stopped at Pause because we couldn’t resist the wonderful summer evening. We grabbed some food and a pint and chatted for a while longer, and Joe mentioned an article he’d read in BYO about New Belgium using olive oil instead of aerating the wort with oxygen. He explained that what the yeast really want is a fatty acid that olive oil has in abundance, so using a miniscule amount negates the need for pumping in oxygen. I was still perplexed, so he told me to go read some more on myfairly complete rundown on who, what, where, and why. The main things to take away are:

  • This is somewhat impractical at the homebrew level because the desired amount is much smaller than a single drop
  • The benefit is that the wort and yeast get the linoleic acid they crave without introducing oxygen, something you normally want to keep out of beer.
  • Given how quickly this information spread, it’s likely that we’ll see some option for homebrewers soon, like yeast nutrient with linoleic acid capsules. What’ll they think of next?

Fermentation Friday, CNYBrew style

As part of Fermentation Friday, I’ll be answering the following question: “”What is the craziest concoction you ever came up with, on the fly or prepped, to brew with?

I have to say I don’t have much that really qualifies as crazy. I once used a tea towel as a grain sack, a chip clip for a racking cane holder, and the usual assortment of Pyrex and other kitchen gear or garden hoses in a pinch. Nothing too elaborate though.

I think one of the worst mid-process “hacks” I made was during one of my first bottlings. I misread the instructions on adding priming sugar, so instead of adding sterilized water with sugar in solution to the bottling bucket, I added sugar in individual measurements to each bottle. As if this wasn’t inexact enough, I didn’t have a funnel at the time (college) so I used a sheet of paper from the middle of the ream (seemed the cleanest). The beer turned out awful and in some cases insanely carbonated. I didn’t have a single explosion though.

No Shortage IPA

I’m finally brewing again. I’ve invited a friend who has wanted to give brewing a try, so we’ll be brewing a batch of IPA on Sunday. It’s a relatively simple IPA recipe, and I should probably save the name for a more significant beer, but its timely, and I’ll be happy to throw some serious ounce-age in for aroma. This recipe is for a 6 gallon batch.

Malt bill

  • 15 lbs domestic 2-row
  • 2 lbs domestic Munich
  • 1 lbs Crystal 40L
  • 1/2 lbs Carapils


subject to change, though all whole hops

  • 1 oz Amarillo @ 60 min (10% alpha)
  • 1 oz Amarillo @ 10 min (10% alpha)
  • 1 oz Amarillo @ 5 min (10% alpha)
  • 1 oz Amarillo @ 0 min (10% alpha)

The rest of the stuff is pretty standard (for me). Safale dry American ale yeast (with a starter), irish moss, bring to boil, etc.

Not that wide an audience

I just got a call from a market research company looking for beer drinkers to participate in a survey. I passed the first few set of questions, and I had hoped to pass muster. Then the question came up about whether or not I’ve purchased any of the following brands/beers in the last month. It was a laundry list of macro-swill. Most of the beer was from what I still wrongly think of as the big three (AB, Coors, Miller) but I need to start thinking of them as the big two, or eventually, the big one.

The list included all sorts of one-offs, like Hamms, Heilman, Pabst, Killians, Blue Moon, and all the lights, ultras and such. It also had a few imports like Guinness, Heineken and lastly Sam Adams. In all honestly, I had to reply that I hadn’t had any of those in the last month, and that I hadn’t even bought any of them in the last several months, though If I had to buy one of them, I’d probably buy Sam Adams.

The woman asking the question was a little shocked after my initial excitement regarding the quiz and the number of beers I drink per week. Out of her own curiosity, she asked what I drank. I pointed out that I’m from Portland and try my best to drink Oregon beers, like the Full Sail IPA in front of me.

I guess they were interested in a narrower range of beer drinkers. I kind of wish I’d passed. I was hoping it was about the InterBev-Anheuser thing.

Sasquatch 2008

I too love beer fests, but I’ve never been south to Eugene for the Sasquatch Brew Fest. Thanks to an invite and ride from Joe & Lindsay, I was able to visit for the first time. They are moving to Eugene in the late summer/fall, so were there are business, but it was a short bit of business, so we were able to spend some time at the farmer’s market then at the festival.

The Sasquatch festival was small and comfortable until around 5pm when it started to get a little thick with people. It was reminiscent of the first Organic Brewer’s Festival in size and atmosphere. Very laid back, very friendly, and the only time people went all crazy was when someone dropped one of the souvenier glasses. Two were dropped before 5pm, but in such quick succession that it signaled some change. We moved with the change and got Indian food before heading back north.

There were a lot of IPAs on tap – my favorite style by far – but there were also a number of really nice other beers that I did my best to sample before killing my palate. The Palo Santo Maron from Dogfish Head was probably the nicest of the non-IPAs, though not a single beer I tasted was offensive.

If you’ve got the time and a place to crash in Eugene, I recommend this festival for next year. As a lucky coincidence, I will have such a place.

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