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.

Jasmine IPA

Today I’m brewing a Jasmine IPA loosely based on Elysian’s Avatar. Avatar (the name greatly pre-date the movie hype) is one of my wife’s favorite beers, so I thought I’d give it a try. I picked up some jasmine via the web from a local reseller on Etsy. The bag arrived yesterday. I’m not entirely convinced by the experiment, and since this is a double batch (10 gallons), I’ll probably only do 5 gallons as the jasmine brew and the other as a dry hopped IPA using Simcoe hops. Here’s the base recipe. We’ll see if I go through with the split or just decide to do 10 gallons of Jasmine.

Malt

  • 17 lbs domestic 2-Row
  • 5 lbs Weyermann Pilsner
  • 1 lb domestic Munich
  • 1 lb Crystal 40L

Hops

  • 2 oz Simcoe @ 60 min
  • 2 oz Simcoe @ 10 min
  • 1 oz Simcoe @ 2 min
  • 1 oz Simcoe @ dryhop for 1/2 of the batch

Adjunct

  • 2 oz dried Jasmine @ 10 min
  • 2 oz @ flameout
  • 1-2 oz dryhop (is that a verb?)
  • Safale S-05 American Ale yeast x 2

Maredsous to celebrate

I successfully defended my masters thesis yesterday. My celebration beer was a small bottle of Maredsous. It tasted all kinds of good. I hope this means that more of my weekends will be free to brew again. I’ve got a Jasmine IPA recipe ready to go.

Dang, he made it.

I’m impressed that not only did J Wilson make his lent commitment to subsist on doppelbock, he did some interesting and thoughful writing along the way. This is not one of the thoughtful posts, but it’s entertaining none the less.

Doppelbock for lent

I appreciate a challenge, but my money is on this Lent beer stunt ending by end of day 4. Back in ’02 or ’03 I followed the blog of a guy trying to do the same with only Guinness. He hated his life by the 4th day.

Kegged the spruce ale

I kegged the spruce ale tonight and was very pleased with the results. I crash-cooled one of the carboys to see if that helped with the abundance of yeast still in solution when I racked to secondary. Just from a visual check, there wasn’t any noticable difference, but the flavor of the warm carboy was much more interesting. No surprise there, but both had a really nice, unique citrus sweetness. The warmer beer had much more of it, and as luck would have it, that’s the keg that I’ll be bottling from for gifts.

Now, we just need to find a name. “Just the tip” won’t work since I obviously used more than just spruce tips, and, well, it’s a little crass for something that we’ll pour at Christmas dinner. Michelle is looking for alliteration, so we’ll see soon what the name is. Current favorite? Santa’s Sprucey Sauce.

iGrill or iMash?

iGrill just released a bluetooth enabled meat thermometer that can send updated temps of grilling meat to your iPhone. Now, if my luck with electronic themometers hasn’t been so bad, I’d say that this would be an awesome remote mash thermometer.

Current cost of a batch

My cost to brew 10 gallons has been around $30 for the last 2 batches. (that’s roughly $0.30/bottle) The cost is largely the cost of malt, though the last two purchases have also included some yeast packets, and in this recent batch, $4 for spruce essence. The last two batches have also been on the “larger” side, so I could easily drop the price even further.

Hops are not a cost I consider. And I’m glad. I recently visited two brew shops for parts and ingredients and I was kind of floored by the cost. $3.50 for an ounce of Amarillos or Cascades? Jeez! My Cascadian Dark Ale used a total of 11 oz of hops (not including the home crop). That’s nearly $40 in hops alone! So… Thanks Doug!

The benefit I suppose is that with the batch only costing around $30, I save an estimated $90 on beer. Now, clearly I don’t do this to save money, but that’s satisfying. Half a dozen more batches, and I’ll have paid for a stainless steel conical fermenter.

Spruce Ale update

I racked the spruce tip ale to secondary fermentation. I’m a little surprised at all the foam – it’s been a long time since I’ve had krausen push foam out the airlock. There was a ton of trub, and lots of stringy protein, so hopefully everything is still in order. The gravity at the time of transfer was already down to 1.014, so my precious Safale US-05 is on the spot again.

The taste, while very yeasty still, has a nice, fairly big but not off-putting spruce taste. Good. I think I’ll have it in secondary through this week then crash cool it to drop some of the yeast out for the beer that will be kegged. We’ll see about the beer bound for bottles. I may actually keg both batches and bottle from the keg to have it carbonated in time for Christmas.

Spruce Tip Brew

holding some frozen blue spruce tips

Handful of spruce tips

While planning for a holiday brew, I discovered that spruce tips can only be gotten in the spring when the trees are budding. While I read of some folks experiences using old needles (and branches), the result wasn’t something I wanted to shoot for. So I started formulating for a bigger dark winter beer. Then a coworker posted a comment about completing a spruce beer, so I pinged him to see where he’d collected the spruce from. He’d harvested in the spring then frozen it, and he offered what he had left. Score! The following day he showed up with a frozen bag of adorable green buds that had a wonderful citrus aroma. He also shared some tips for brewing with them, such as the decay rate of the pleasant flavors coming from the spruce tips.

Anyway, I reformulated my beer and tried to bring the body down to much paler malt profile as to not overwhelm the spruce tips.

Grain bill

  • 14 lbs 2-row
  • 8 lbs Gambrinus pils
  • 2 lbs Munich
  • 1 lbs Crystal 10L
  • 1 lbs Victory

Hops

  • 2 oz Newport  (8% alpha) @ 60
  • 2 oz Crystal (4% alpha) @ 10
  • 1 oz Crystal @ 5 & 2 min

Other

  • Unknown quantity of spruce tips (Tim, where’s my scale?)
  • 2 packs for Safale us – 05
  • 2ish tablespoons of Spruce essence (use sparingly)

I also picked up some spruce essence to bolster the fresh tips if needed, as well as two packets of dry Safale, which Steinbarts seems to have marked up significantly from the last time I purchased any. The price increase can’t have had anything to do with a shortage (yeast, exponential growth…), so I think it was just realization that the product is great and (used to) cost $5 less per unit than the liquid yeast. But I’m rambling.

Anyway, day of the brew, I mashed in  at around 6:30 am, and Alan showed up with some treats for later. My strike temp was on pretty well for a change and we mashed for 45 min @ 156F. After sparging, the kettle had just over 10 gal of wort, and we proceeded with a normal boil until around 10 minutes, at which point we gradually added the bag of spruce tips in over the total of ten minutes until flameout. I also added between 2-3 tablespoons of spruce essence at around 30 minutes hoping that the boil my eradicate the sodium benzoate. On Scott’s advice, I used less than 1/4 what the bottle recommended.

The wort actually tastes pretty good. It’s got a nice sprucely flavor, and my samples all had needles in them, but the flavor was clean, citrusy and hopefully, that carries to the final product.

Again, thanks to Gabriel for the tips (spruce), Scott for the tips (advice), and Alan for the help and company.