Saturday, October 31, 2009

dogfish head love...

Up here in NC...just picked up some 60 Min IPA & Indian Brown Ale.
When are we going to start getting Dogfish goodness in G-ville?
Getting our moneys worth of TC up the creek ipa @ 12.5 percent. It tastes like a barelywine. some great mmj and rhcp covers. This is one hell of a party!!
@ the TC bash 15 mins till the bloodthirsty belgian. 10 bux 4 all u can eat and drink. No better deal has ever been had!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Drinking an urthel tripel ale. So much honey, so good. Moving to belgium ASAP.(first post from text msg)

Recipe #1 - Day by Day - Updated!

Day 0 (approx 10 minutes in carboy)
Recipe #1, Day 0
Large amount of sediment at the bottom of the carboy. Quarter inch of foam on top of fermenting beer.

Day 1 (approx 21 hours in carboy)
Recipe #1, Day 1
Three inches of sediment at bottom of carboy, actively 'moving'. After waking up to no foam at all, foam has exploded to approximately four inches on top. Bubbling C02 can be seen in the fermentation lock. Noticeable 'hop' smell permeating. Smells like an IPA.

Day 2 (approx 45 hours in carboy)
Recipe #1, Day 2
Foam has dissipated a bit, but not before carrying sediment all the way to the top of the carboy. Airlock still very active. Major movement inside carboy.

Day 3 (approx 68 hours in carboy)
Recipe #1, Day 3
Noticeably less bubbling in the airlock. Foam has dissipated to less than an inch thick. No longer rapid movement inside the carboy. I'd say past peak fermentation, maybe?

Day 5 (approx 115 hours in carboy)
Recipe #1, Day 5
Fermentation has essentially stopped (at least in the airlock). Foam has dissipated, though you can't really see this in the picture, since there is so much sediment along the top of the carboy. We should be on tap to either rack or bottle in a couple of days time.


Recipe #2 - Day by Day - Updated!

Day 0 (approx 10 minutes in carboy)
Recipe #2, Day 0
Solid process, good tasting wort. Looks like flat cola in the carboy after a few minutes of fermentation.

Day 1 (approx 23 hours in carboy)
Recipe #2, Day 1
Basically looks the same as when it was poured. No noticeable fermentation occurring. Possible big, intermittent 'burps' through the airlock, but could have also have been vibrations in the room. I thought I saw one, and Kate thought she did, too.

Day 3 (approx 65 hours in carboy)
Recipe #2, Day 3
Finally! Some fermentation. It began on Day 2, but looked essentially like it did when it started up until AM of the third day. Started with a thin amount of krasen, but now had a nice half inch of foam, with murky brown stuff all over it. Heavy bubbling in the airlock.


Hibernation Ale

I'd like to give a shout out to these guys for making such a tasty winter beer. Shawn and I went and picked some up at lunch today. Looks like the '09 has slightly more alchohol at 8.7 versus the 8.1 from '08. Can't wait to try it.

P.S.> About to head over to Thomas Creek to pick up our first full grain recipe!! May go ahead an John Lennon this one up over the weekend.


Ping: Dry Hoppers

Check this blog post...

We will need some method of doing this. I asked him if it worked, waiting for a response.

Here's an idea...

Pumpkin moonshine!

We got some drinking to do...

Gentlemen, odds are, we're bottling something next week. Right now, we have about half as many bottles as we'd need to complete the batch. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to drink as much longneck, brown bottled, pull off top beer as you can handle this weekend. Rinse 'em, save 'em, and put 'em somewhere where the woman of the house can't recycle them.


Facebook and Twitter!

We're going all out social network...

On Facebook and Twitter! You can access our Facebook page using the badge on the right hand side. This is my first foray into Twitter, so I have no freaking clue how that works.

is our direct link. Tweet me, or something.


LME vs DME and LME vs LME

Andrew's John Lennon Belgian recipe got me thinking about LME quality, and whether liquid extracts should be converted over to dry extracts, just in general.  Obviously, the advantages of All Grain brewing are that you have total control over how the ingredients are prepared, and know what is going in your beer.

The differences between the extracts, however, should also be noted.  A quick search around on the intertubes turned up a preference for dry, versus, how much of this preference is due to quality, and how much is due to perceived quality?  I have no idea.  I do recall in Papazian's Bible a blurb about some LME's being better than others...I'd imagine that if it comes in a can, it might not be as good.  We're not talking about a can of beans you take to the mountains to eat in the wild, but instead the main fermentable in a batch of heaven juice (aka, homebrew).

Back to DME vs LME, if dry is generally better quality, then perhaps we should stick there, and cut out the liquid entirely?  There are some recipe adjustments that would have to be made (not sure if Beersmith does this, but I'm betting it probably would, since it seems to weight the sugar by composition, rather than raw weight).  I found this handy conversion formula to go from All Grain -> Liquid -> Dry:

1 lb Grain = 0.75 lb LME = 0.60 lb DME

Now, if you weren't going from straight grain, the conversion from LME to DME would be 1 lb LME = 0.80 lb of DME.

So the dry is the most concentrated of the three (which makes sense, since it has had all the liquid removed).

Something to ponder on.

Recipe #2 - Update

That, my friends, is fermentation.  That was this AM.  Last night, after giving the carboy a really good shake, the airlock burped.  I saw about five or six little collections of bubbles hit the top, and not dissipate.  I could tell they were not just air bubbles...they didn't pop right away, so my hope was they were the start of the Krausen.  I went to bed with some hope.  Woke up this morning, and it was like opening a X-mas present, except there was a chance Santa hadn't came.  Well, he came, and he brought me burgeoning alcohol!

We can stop fretting now.  I didn't take a daily pic of the two brews yesterday.  At my normal time, they both looked exactly the same.  I should update that today, though, before the weekend.


Next Recipe (Belgian Trippel)?

I came across the following recipe on (surprise, surprise. man does that place rule) Its an extract recipe of a gold medal beer from the '06 World Beer Championships. It's a very straight forward recipe with rave reviews. I know this won't increase our skill or technique, but its a tasty trippel that is ready to drink in 30 days!! Without further adieu here is the recipe:


3 x 3.3lbs Pilsner Light malt extract LME
1 x 1lbs Amber DME
1 x 1.5lbs Belgian Candy
12.4 total pounds of fermentables

Hops: (IBU came out at 23 but you can range from 20 to 25)

2 oz. German Hallertau 3.8%AA 60min
1 oz.Styrian Goldings 3.4% AA 30min
1 oz. Saaz 2.8% AA 3min

Yeast:2 x WLP500 Trappist Ale Yeast

Notice it uses 2 vials of yeast. This guy is no noob!! I was thinking of possibly brewing this up quickly over the weekend. Or we could wait until we move the pale ale to the secondary(which really shouldn't be too far off).

The only thing I would add to this is some coriander and possibly the zest of an orange or two.


Liquor in the Secondary of the Winter Belgian?

So my interweb voyages brought me to a thread on regarding liquor additions to beer. Everyone in the thread who has used this method has seen positive results. One of them went so far to say it was the best beer he'd ever made. This got my brain churning about our Winter Belgian. If we did use this method we would probably add about 10oz of a very dark rum such as Gosling's Black Seal or possibly a spiced rum like Sailor Jerrys(just personal preference, I fear i may be burnt out on Captain Morgans for the remainder of my days). 10oz is a fairly conservative amount compared to what others have used. I feel this would give the beer added dimension and just the right amount of warmth. What do you guys think?!?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some Movement!

I gave the carboy a strong jostle tonight, and now we're getting some very, very slow action in the fermenting airlock. This is big. Starter yeast, with any White Labs yeast vial, may be required, fellas.

Scaled Down Hibernation All Grain Recipe

So if we decided to do a hibernation clone of the all grain variety in our 3 gallon carboy here are the appropriate grains and measurements we'd need:

8.4 lbs Vienna Malt
.90 lbs Flaked Oats
.45 lbs Caramunich Malt
.30 lbs Biscuit Malt
.30 lbs Special Roast
.23 lbs Choclate Malt

Shawn has informed me he has another large stock pot. Thats a cool 70 bux in savings right there! Thanks Gus, you're a swell guy.

Another hop site

I was looking for hops for the hibernation ale, freshop had none of them. I found this site that had them.

Recipe #3 - Initial Thoughts

So, the small batch should be on our To-Do List, now that the hops are in. Those hops would be Northern Brewer Hops, mentioned here.

I've been trolling through some recipes around and about. I'm curious what input the rest of the crew has, though. It might be nice to ramp up the sugar, and try to make this bad boy an Imperial style Pumpkin Porter. We might, however, need to learn a little bit about starter yeast, which is recommended for higher gravity beers, so that the little animals eat their weight in sugar.

Ryan also shot me a text this morning, asking if we should brew something special for Leah's wedding (Dec 5th). I wonder if smaller batches ferment faster? We'd have to get the batch into the carboy soon, if we were going to try to do that. If that's the case, should we get hers or Jon's input on what they might like?

Sampling the homebrew while we cook 70 pounds of pork butt in the cold mountain air might be the highlight of the year...

Still no activity...

The Winter Belgian may be fermenting, but it's not doing so in any obvious manner. Experts, literature, and leveler heads are telling us not to worry, so here's hoping this is just part of the process for this particular brew.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reason to panic?

We should follow this thread, guys:

I came home to a big carboy full of no activity. Far cry from the other one. Maybe it's not a cause for concern, but I was expecting to see something happening after 18 hours, or so.


Hop Surprise

What we have here is 8oz of fresh cascade hops from the guys at I placed the order first thing Monday morning and they arrived(all the way from Oregon) while I was at home during lunch today. Talk about service!! Two thumbs up freshops!
Also in the shipment were 6oz of northern brewer hops for our porter. Can't wait to use these guys in the porter.


Testing out Beersmith on the Hopped Pale Ale

Did the same Beersmith analysis, looking back at the first recipe. 

It estimates the specific gravity to be around 1.040.  Our adjusted estimated beginning was 1.039, so we are probably close.

ABV estimate, assuming final gravity is 1.010 is 3.52-3.77% ABV.

IBU's are 26.2, which it actually thinks is below the range for an American Pale Ale.  We'll see about that.  FWIW, if we'd have boiled 2 gallons in the pot, rather than 1.5, IBU's jump to 35.9. 

The color is 8.2 SRMs, whatever those are.  Looks like a burnt light brown, darker than khaki.  5 SRM's are the lightest for this style, so we're a little darker than the lightest pales can be.

I'm pretty happy with our results, on our first batch, compared to what the program thinks we should have accomplished.

Testing out Beersmith on the Winter Belgian

Ok, here's the skinny on our Belgian.

Beersmith pretty much had all of our ingredients, except for nutmeg.  I estimated the spices, in general, but it doesn't look like that does all that much to the estimated numbers.  This program is pretty damn cool.

It estimated an original specific gravity of 1.065, based on our ingredients.  We measured 1.063.  It estimates a final gravity of 1.015, which would net us out somewhere around 6.27-6.51 ABV.  If we got that down to 1.010, we'd be at 6.92%. 

We're looking at 283 calories per pint (whoa). 

IBU estimate is 18.3, which is midrange in what the program thinks this style should have (15-40 IBU's).  The boil volume (i.e., the amount in the pot) seems to drive the IBU's significantly.  We should see if we can boil more liquid in the pot, safely (or get a bigger pot!). 

The estimated color is pretty dark.  It could be my computer screen, but it looks to me like it's black.

It also estimates cost of the has default costs, and predicts 32.82 for this particular recipe.  These can be adjusted, to match local prices.  There is also a calendar, which helps you see when things need to be racked, etc. 


I'm about to launch the 21 day trial.  I just completed a spreadsheet that I thought was going to take hours, but instead took 3 minutes...and now I have some free time!  I want to mess around with this thing...pumpkin porter recipe, please!


Pictures From Recipe #2!

orange essence
Andrew skinning the oranges.

meeting of the minds
Beer minds at work.

ryan and funnel
Ryan and the funnel clog. Work the strainer!

ryan lick
Gentlemen, I found our contaminate.

funnel gunk
Are we sure we want to drink this stuff?

Recipe #2, Day 0

Pics coming...

Screw these morning conference calls, and their time wasting effects on my life. And screw Flickr, and it's 100 MB monthly limits.

I hope to have some pics up of last night's brew session shortly, and I'm hoping Ryan can do similar with his fancy camera sometime later on today.

To Whom it May Concern:

Seasonal beers are not something to be taken lightly. They bring about excitement, hope, and variety just as winter blossoming into spring. As the days darken and winter sets in, one of the things i look most forward to is settling down in the evening with a nice dark, warming brew. Like a good friend I haven't seen in 9 months, I am welcomed by a dark malty body and spicy pallet. Ahh, it sure is good to be reacquainted again.

Now that we have completed brewing our first batch of winter brew, I can't help but wait with a bit of trepedation. As far as i can tell, we have crafted the ultimate winter brew. The wort was brewed with tlc and spiced to perfection. All that's left to do is wait. And damnit it's not as easy as it sounds!! Seasonal beers are serious business to me and that why i feel that weight of winter beers past on my shoulders as i wait this one out.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hydrometer Knowledge!

I just looked at the hydrometer for the first time, in detail...noticed it has a reading for alcohol levels.

Recipe #1, if we assume 1.039 as our adjusted reading, would have an alcohol content of around 5%, if the specific gravity drops all the way down to 1.00 (not possible, but we could realistically ferment down to 1.010, which would leave us with approx 4% alcohol).

Recipe #2, if we use our adjusted reading of 1.062, would net out a max of around 8%. so if we could ferment this batch down to around 1.010, or so, we could net out around a 7% abv.


Recipe #2 - Winter Belgian

3 lbs of Traditional Dark DME (LD Carlson Co brand) (half at 60 minutes, half at 20 minutes)
3.3 lbs Amber LME (Briess brand) (half at 60 minutes, half at 20 minutes)
1 oz Saaz hops (45 minutes)
1 oz Hallertau Tradition hops (20 minutes)
1 oz Hallertau Tradition hops (10 minutes)
1 lb orange blossom honey (10 minutes)
1 lb dark candy sugar (15 minutes)
1 lb crushed grain (Belgian blend) - 20% Crystal, 20% Belgian Aromatic, 30% Munich 20, 30% Special B
1 vial White Labs Trappist Ale
Spice mixture (2 oz fresh ginger, zest of 2 large oranges, tsp Ground Cinamon, tsp ground nutmeg, 1.5 tsp organic mulling spices (cinnamon, orange peel, allspice, ginger), sprig of rosemary) (5 minutes)

Steeped grains at 150 degrees for 45 minutes. Removed from heat.

Half of LME and DME added at minute 60. Brought to roiling boil.

Saaz hops added at 45 minute mark.

At 20 minute mark, other half of extracts added, along with Hallertau hops.

At 10 minute mark, honey, candy sugar, and more Halltertau hops added.

Boil over at approx 8 minute mark.

At approx 3 minutes, added spice mixture (going 60 + 2 minutes, to compensate for coming off burner for boil over).

Pot moved to ice bath for wort chilling. Wort chilled for 35-40 minutes. 3 Gallons of cold water added to carboy. Transferred at 68 degrees. Original Specific Gravity taken at 1.061. Adjusting for temperature, OSG is 1.062. Yeast pitched at 68 degrees.


I tasted the wort. The orange zest and cloves were very prominent. It had a bitter aftertaste. I could tell that even before the guys tested the alcohol level that it was going to be high. This is going to be a good Christmas beer! - Morgan

Favorite All-Time Brewz?

Always changing, but here are some current favorites...

Founders KBS
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Surly Furious, Bitter Brewer & Coffee Bender
Southern Tier Pumking
North Coast Old Rasputin RIS
Sweetwater IPA
Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale
Dogfish Head Festina Peche
PBR (out of a can, preferably)

How 'bout yours?


Beer Crazy

It's on...batch #2 will commence this PM, at Ron's house. Andrew's baby, a Belgian style (I think along the lines of a dubbel?) will enter the new 6.5 gallon glass carboy we picked up today at lunch (thanks goes to Santa Claus, the father of the brewmaster at Thomas Creek, for lending some advice).

Andrew has some flavorings in mind, including orange zest, coriander, and rosemary. I'll be curious how much of the essence we can squeeze out in the wort. We did not score on the 'floating thermometer' front, or the 'wine thief' front, two items we desperately need, but Thomas Creek was sold out of.

So it's on. Also on tap for tonight, a new pic of the fermenting Recipe #1 (I have no idea what style to call's a Pale Ale with an IPA's soul...). Also on tap is a heart to heart with the boys over how hard we have to work our liver to accumulate 100 bottles for these two batches.


Sediment Along Top of Carboy?

Not sure what happened overnight, but at some point the foam must have gotten all the way up to the top of the carboy, basically all the way full, because there is a lot of sediment now stuck to the glass. That will be a bitch to clean, I can tell...The foam is down around where it was when I went to bed, and we are in what has to be 'active' fermentation.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Future Ideas #1 - Coffee Process

Already on tap is a Pumpkin Porter, which we may brew as a small batch as early as later this week...but Andrew has clued us into something post worthy that we need to capture here for future use...because everyone knows we will eventually want to throw some coffee in one of our brews.

This guy looks like he's on to something. Our (admittedly quick) research into coffee flavoring didn't turn up this cold press method. I'd like to do anything possible to extract roasted coffee flavors, without any harshness/bitterness. This could be the key to ensuring a 'balanced' brew, rather than something that pushes the envelope towards the bad cup of coffee spectrum. I'm totally adding this guy's blog to our blog roll...I'm curious to know how that beer turned out.

It would be very interesting to find out how Terrapin makes their Wake n Bake stout...research for another day, I guess.

- Ron

Pictures From Recipe #1!

Brewing Attempt #1 002
This is where the magic happened!

Brewing Attempt #1 001
Beer making is 75% blogging. Or is it the other way around?

Brewing Attempt #1 022
Andrew, working the sack. Squeeze the sack!

Brewing Attempt #1 038
Good beer starts with good (Publix brand) water. Nice technique, Ryan!

Brewing Attempt #1 043
Pouring the wort is a two man job.

Brewing Attempt #1 049
Ladies and gentlemen, beer.

- Ron

Dry Hopping FTW

Greenville Beer Brother Andrew has ordered us up some fresh hops to Dry Hop our first is pretty amazing. The original recipe was only good for 13 IBU's, but our final result should be much, much hoppier, after adding the additional hops in the wort, and now dry hopping in the carboy.

Looks like we've got 8 ozs of Cascade and 6 ozs of Northern Brewer on the way. The Cascade will also contribute to our next venture, a Pumpkin Porter...I've nearly got the photos from last night up onto Flickr, and should have some online after lunch.

- Ron

Hydrometer SNAFU

The most notable event during last night's first brew session was likely the erroneous hydrometer reading, brought on by a technical error.

Things were running smoothly. The batch was ready to be strained into the carboy, after a cool off period in the ice bath. We had discussed the hydrometer reading, and had decided that we would take a (sanitized) ladle, and pour that into the hydrometer flask before pouring the wort into the carboy.

That, my friends, is where the error occurred. You see, through a haze of The Bruery's Autumn Maple and Stone Imperial Russian Stout, we forgot to recognize that a proper hydrometer reading has to be taken from the carboy, after pouring the wort in. You can't sample the super concentrated's no wonder our reading came out as 1.140 at approx 80 degrees.

So, we live and learn. For the next batch, we will have a more solid process in place for the hydrometer reading. You can count on that one.

- Ron

Recipe #1 - Modified Pale Ale

Recipe #1 - 10/25/2009 - Ron's House

6 oz Crystal Malt Grains (steeped in grain bag)
6 oz Caramel Malt Grains (steeped in grain bag)
2 lbs Light Dried Malt Extract
3.3 lbs Canned Lightly Hopped Malt Extract (1 Can)
1 oz. Chinook Hops (11.4% Alpha Acid) @ 60 min.
.5 oz. Cascade Hops (7.5% Alpha Acid) @ 15 min.
1 oz. Chinook Hops (11.4% Alpha Acid) @ 5 min.
.5 oz. Cascade Hops (7.5% Alpha Acid) @ 5 min.
1 vial liquid Ale Yeast
Publix brand spring water
Dry Hop TBD
1 tsp. Irish Moss
Recorded Original Specific Gravity 1.14

Malt grains were steeped for 50 minutes at 155 degrees, in their grain bags, then squeezed and discarded.

Wort brought back just to a boil, before removing from heat. Canned malt extract and two pounds of light dried malt extract were added, with constant stirring to prevent sticking.

Wort brought back to heat, and brought back to a boil. 1 oz Chinook Hops added at the 60 minute mark, for bittering.

.5 ounce of Cascade hops and 1 tsp of Irish Moss added at the 15 minute mark.

1 ounce of Chinook and .5 ounce of Cascade added at the 5 minute mark (aroma).

At 0 minutes (i.e., after 60 minutes of hop boil), the pot was covered, and an ice water bath was prepared in the sink to reduce wort temperature. After 35-40 minutes, wort temperature was approx 80 degrees. A hydrometer reading was taken, and the wort was poured through a strainer into 3 gallons of cold spring water. Liquid was topped off up to 5 gallons.

Liquid Ale Yeast pitched into carboy, and vigorously shaken.

Due to high specific gravity reading, an additional quart of water was added to the carboy. Carboy then affixed with fermentation cap and placed in it's resting area to ferment.

- Ron

Sunday, October 25, 2009


'In the beginning, it was a dark and stormy beer.'
- Ron

The search for the perfect beer is never over. This blog is an archive of the exploits of a small group of Greenville, SC natives who are setting out on a quest to perfect what cannot ever be perfect...the Home Brew.

With our trusty True Brew starter kit (1 6 gallon glass carboy, one plastic bucket, and a whole lot of pizazz), we are armed to tackle this beast. Our first venture is to be crafted on 10/25/09, at Ron's house. The Recipe will follow, then maybe some pics, and then some updates here and there as to how the batch is going, and what future batches will entail.

- Ron