Hoptoberfest 2011

This is an amalgam of beer styles. Malt profile should be similar to a Märzen/Oktoberfest style beer, yeast is an ale yeast, and the hops are mostly from my neighbor’s and my hop plants. It’s an homage to our harvest season. This is for a 10 gallon batch.

Grains

  • 9 lbs. 2-row
  • 8 lbs. German pilsner
  • 2 lbs. Munich
  • 1 lbs. CaraPils
  • 1 lbs. Vienna

Hops

  • 2 oz Glacier @ 60
  • unknown addition of unknown hop @ 45
  • unknown addition of unknown hop @ 20
  • unknown addition of unknown hop @ 15
  • unknown addition of unknown hop @ 10
  • unknown addition of wet centennials @ 5

I used Fermentis Safale S-05 yeast again, one per carboy. Someone recently told me that they were bored with this strain. I’m not yet. I plan to cold-crash the carboys right before bottling to clear it up a little more like a true Oktoberfest.

Brewing Hoptoberfest 2011

After some delays, I managed to work in a brew session yesterday to use both some recently dried and some vine-fresh hops. My mom and the two girls picked hops from the neighbors plant and dried them out so I could use them (I didn’t have any set time to brew yet). Then, Michelle suggested that I brew this past weekend, which was slightly delayed due to Michelle’s canning, visitors, and a trip out of town. But we got back late Sunday night and after helping Michelle get some tomatoes in to jars, I started setting up the tower of terror and heating the liquor tank. The brewing process was same as usual, but due to the volume of fresh and dried hops, I actually ran out of kettle-space for more and ended up not using some. So if you want about 1/4oz of dried Centennials…

One of the things I do while brewing is take stock of what’s missing from the setup and what needs replaced. I’ve been putting off making a counterflow wort chiller, but may have put it off too long. Just as I was starting up the immersion chiller, I heard a pop, then the sound of cold, unboiled water running in to my hot wort. NOOOOO! The heat weakened a connector on the chiller and a kink down-line caused the pressure to build up until that connecting hose failed. Better fix that.


Oh, and dry yeast sure has gone up in price. Best get another starter flask.

Adventures in Denver, part 2

Beer adventures were out for Monday night due to conference activities. I’m not complaining though; I got to drink free Fat Tire in Mile High Stadium.

Tuesday was my big night. I’d mapped out a number of places that I wanted to hit up, so I didn’t dilly dally. I pulled a bit of a jerk move by ditching my coworkers, who were having dinner together, but Denver wasn’t going to see itself. The first place I was headed to was Great Divide’s tap room. It was about a mile from the hotel, and after some detours, I arrived at the tap room right as a storm broke. I sidled up to the bar with other business-travel types and ordered some samples. Sadly, there’s no food, and there was no taco tent like I’d seen on the bus in. Undeterred, I sampled the Hoss, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, Belgian Style Yeti, Rumble, and Hades. They were all great, though Hades and Espresso Oak Aged Yeti were my two favorites. The Hades had such a perfectly crisp bite to it. and the Espresso Yeti was just layers of delicious. After all those samples, I needed some food.

3 for $3

I had planned on heading to Flying Dog, but their tap room was closed on Tuesdays, so I had to venture on. I decided on Breckenridge’s place adjacent to Coors Field, and again sat at the bar. I ordered their 471 IPA and was kind of shocked to learn it was in excess of 9% ABV. That wasn’t listed on the board, and I don’t think I’d have started with it. However, both it and the Lucky U IPA were good, as was the bartender and the conversation. A growing birthday party pushed me on to the next destination though. A few blocks west was Falling Rock Tap Room.

Falling Rock Tap Room

Falling Rock is damn impressive, but might be a dangerous place to be in an earthquake – not that you’d care. I ran in to my first ever “too drunk to be served” Pirates fan who was over-celebrating the NL defeat of the AL (finally). As you can see, I was seated right by the bear engines, so I had to order a cask. I had the Dry Dock Double IPA, which was fantastic in that medium. A rich roiling of malt and hops in a smooth body. Highly recommend. I was joined by a marketing guy from Subaru (based in Portland) and another LMS admin type from PSU and we talked Beer, Higher Ed, Portland, Hillsboro, and then got to take a break to watch a fantastic thunderstorm and downpour. I finished my night with Odell’s IPA after catching a waft of it from JD’s glass. Hot damn did it smell fantastic. The whole package was an IPA lover’s dream. Slightly hazy golden body with a boiling white head of foam. The aroma was so shockingly fresh and bold I was immediately smitten. The first sip more than met my expectations after the aroma – bright, bold and hoppy but still had a solid body on which to scaffold the whole IPA experience. Thank you Fort Collins.

I apologize for drinking predominantly IPAs. That’s sort of my thing. And Colorado has clearly figured out the style and is doing it justice. As an addendum, on Monday I also tried the Funkworks Saison which was on guest tap at Wynkoop at Josh’s recommendation. It was very good – a very nice fit for the style without any surprises. Great aroma, great flavor, and really satisfying. Plus, what a great homage for a brewery name?

Adventures in Denver, part 1

I recently went to Denver for a conference. The conference info billed Denver as the Napa Valley of beers, and as a person who lives in Portland, I felt that it was probably worth doing my due diligence to see if any of it was founded. The short answer is yes. The longer answer follows. However, before I start, I want to pose a question of Colorado brewers. People went out of their way to warn me about the affect of altitude on the body’s ability to process alcohol, and that I should drink more water than usual. Yet beers in Colorado seem to have a higher average gravity than what I’m used to. The bartender at FreshCraft even referred to several 5%-6% ABV beers as “session beers.” Maybe it’s not the altitude, Colorado…

I arrived in Denver on a Sunday afternoon, and after a bizarre encounter on public transit, checked in to the hotel. I had some time to kill before the conference kicked off, so I wandered around LoDo, or Lower Downtown. I accidentally came across Freshcraft, so I stopped in. It was rather quiet, being a Sunday evening, so I scanned the chalkboards for Colorado beers and set on a pint of Bristol’s Compass IPA (on Nitro). It was bright, delicious, and dangerously smooth. An early indication that these folks know what they’re doing with beer. Next I had a half-pint of Odell’s St. Lupalin, billed as an XPA on the board. It was fresh, fine, though not what I’d expected from a beer with this name. Last I had a half-pint of Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout (also on nitro). It was fantastic and went eerily well with the Bruschetta.

A shorty of Avery Milk Stout @ Freshcraft

Out of pure awesome luck, the conference kick-off was at the Wynkoop Brewery. After checking out the raging South Platte river and Confluence Park, I headed over to Wynkoop. My first beer was their Schwarzbier, a lovely black lager. It was a great beer to have after walking some distance, and as a compliment to the dinner. Then, after ogling the various oak casks aging in the basement, I tried the London Calling IPA on cask. It was very authentic and reminded me why I love cask ales. One of the activities that the conference arranged was a “meet the brewer” event where two brewers were on hand for questions and samples. I chatted with Josh for over 45 minutes and got to sample their chili beer (very nice – bite in the right place) and a sip of the pilsner (it kind of tasted like pepper, which was my fault). Josh was an almanac of beer and brewing knowledge and shared some recommendations on where to visit in the area. I’m pretty sure my coworker Rebecca was bored silly by us, but I was getting a lot of great info – both on their process, and on some behind the scenes info on the various breweries in the area. Sadly, I had neither the time nor inclination to leave Denver proper to see some of the neighboring beer clusters.

That wraps it up for Sunday. What a great start.

Old World Ales, no lagers

On a recent trip to Whidbey Island with the Dunlaps, we stumbled upon Olde World Ales & Lagers – but only just barely. Michelle noticed the sign pointing us back an alleyway to the brewery otherwise we might have walked right past. We joked that maybe it was just a trap set for us, but sure enough, the front roll-up door was open and people were sipping beer. They don’t have any food, but were happy to let us bring some from elsewhere. We grabbed some mixed items from the nearby market and sat in the sun on an old cable spool and sampled the beers. The wit was perfect for the occasion – sitting in the sun and enjoying lunch. The IPA was true to the brewery’s name – a more subdued English-style ale with a solid bitter and nice hoppiness. The porter was, despite being a warm, sunny day, perfect for the ocassion as well. It had a lighter body (and thankfully a lower gravity) and still covered all the dark malt and chocolate notes.

After eating, Scott and I chatted with the brewer/owner who had been pouring. He’s put together a nice micro-brewery and even has a nano-brewery test setup made from an older keg. Sadly there were no lagers to be had due to some problems with the lagering system, so I’m afraid we’ll have to go back later.

As an fyi, they do fill growlers, and their beers are worth taking with you.

BrewCycle ride at NAOBF

Michelle and I took a spin on the BrewCycle at the North American Organic Brewers Festival this afternoon. It was fun, it was exciting, and it was great to see what the enterprising couple was doing with the venture. Fun stuff, and despite the bumpy lawn, I was still able to enjoy a sip of my YerbaMate IPA.

Dangerous math

So I was thinking…
Cost savings of a batch over commercial beer:
Average 8.5 drinkable gallons = 1088 ounces = 90 12oz bottles = 15 six packs.
15 six packs @ $7 = $105
Raw materials for 8.5 gallon batch: $35
My time spent brewing = $0
Savings: $70 per batch.

14 gallon stainless conical fementer: ~ $700-900
$700/ $70 = 10 batches
$900/ $70 = ~13 batches
or
$700/ $5 pints at a pub = 140 “ones”

Yeah – I know. It’s a hobby. It doesn’t need to go to 11.

Jasmine IPA kegged

The Jasmine IPA brewing hit a snag while racking the chilled wort to the carboys. The hop/jasmine cruft clogged up the outlet and I ended up using a funnel and screen and just pouring the remainder in to the second keg. Somehow, I ended up with only around 3 gallons in the second carboy (low starting volume, evaporation, and saturated hop/jasmine slop).

I broke my graduated cylinder just as I was getting ready to take gravity readings, but I’m not too upset. At least it wasn’t the hydrometer, and at least the cylinder has lasted for a decade. So I ended up using catching the siphon draw with a cup then pouring it in to the hydrometer case. The final gravity was at 1.012 – a nice place to be.

Anyway, the first carboy resulted in a beer with a really nice floral aroma and great taste. I hope the jasmine component makes it through to the final product. I opted not to dry-jasmine the keg since the jasmine flowers don’t have the same antiseptic property of the hops. After talking with Gabe, I briefly considered soaking some of the jasmine in everclear to sanitize, but opted to instead just let see what the beer did on its own.

The smaller batch got a lot more hop flavor and is also very good in it’s own right. I dry hopped the keg with some Amarillo pellets (Have I mentioned that I hate pellets?) and expect it to be quite a different beer than the “good” batch. We’ll see in what turns up in a few days.

King of beers?

"Is this the king of beers?"
Ella saw this sitting on the back steps (in the recycle pile), picked it up and asked me “Is this the king of beers?”

I said “Trademark aside, yes. Pretty much.”

Hopworks Bike Bar

We got word from my sister that Hopworks’ new Bike Bar on Williams was “open.” After a long weekend of yard and playhouse work, we were definitely happy to go have a brew and have someone make us dinner. Sure enough, the place was open and we walked in and got a seat. The place is lovely and has some nice bike decor that differ slightly from the original. The most noticeable – to me anyway – was that the bikes above the bar were all new. And awesome. I ran in to Dave from BS Brewing who said that they were there so that you could learn more about the different manufacturers. I’m most curious about the lovely bamboo framed bike that is closest to the front.

I’m glad they opened the place in NoPo. Driving to SE was an ordeal, and you’d often drive for 30+ minutes only to wait for another 30+. The good news is that even on a pre-flight opening, the food and beer was great. The service was nearly there and will improve. We’ll be seeing more of the place, I’m sure. Especially since they have toys.