Monday, November 30, 2009

An Update!

Took the week off, so this place died down to nothing. You know, other Beer can post too!

Anyway, quiet here doesn't mean quiet in the fermenter. Here's a brief summary of what has gone on, with more details to come:

- The Pumpkin Porter has been bottled, and is carbonating away.
- The Saison has been racked, though it tastes funky...hopefully a spice bag/dry hop will fix us up.
- We have brewed batch #6, a Rye Ale. It's about done with fermentation, and could be bottled soon.
- We have brewed batch #7, an Ommegang clone, and that is fermenting nicely.
- The Hibernation Clone and the Winter Belgian have both been enjoyed. More on these later.

Obviously, that's a lot to talk about. Hopefully I can do so, today through Wednesday...then it's back underground for a few days, as I prepare to cook for 100+ people on Saturday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

As The Gall Bladder Turns

With a vital member of the Beer Brothers recovering from a trip to the opium den, we opted against brewing the Rye, and instead transferred the Saison to it's secondary.

A taste left us scratching out heads. It was certainly flavorful, and interesting, and maybe good...but it had a smokiness that was a little weird on the palate. Some more aging + carbonation will hopefully tone that down some. Not sure where a smoky flavor profile would come from. Peppery, maybe, but smoky?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I want a full review

I missed the big event at Barley's last night. I want you to make me feel like I was there, down to how the bathroom smelled, and whether 'Machine Gun' was played on the Jukebox.

Also, how many bottles did we get?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Feedback - Batch #1 AKA Easy Plateau Pale Ale

Batch #1!

OK, here's where we need to get some feedback from our loyal readers & friends...

Those who have sampled the first brew...what did you think? And those who want to try it...let us know! We've still got a fair amount left - perhaps we can hook you up.

I'd like to make this blog a place where we can get some interaction going between brewer and consumer of brew. Help provide us a more unbiased opinion about what we've been up to the last few weeks & let us know what you think. Leave feedback in the comments...

Brew Day?

So, when is it going to be, fellas? We also need to rack the two batches we have in the carboys right now...

We could just bottle age the porter, but we do NOT have enough bottles at the moment. That Saison needs to come off the trub for a bit, I think.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bottling Over the Weekend!

Seems like a good time for an an update.

We bottled on Saturday night, managing to get a case of the Hibernation clone (recipe #3) and about forty-eight 12 oz servings of the Winter Belgian into their own drinking vessels.

Things generally went smoothly during the process. Oxyclean was a big help in de-labeling the empty bottles, and I went through a soak and scrape process Friday and Saturday to prep enough bottles. We are already ahead of the game for the next bottling; I'd say there are about 20-30 bottles ready to go.

We tasted the Hibernation the other day, and thought it was a nice compliment, if maybe lighter bodied, to it's cousin. I'll be very curious to see them side by side, but we need to wait for carbonation.

The Winter Belgian was very pungent on the nose, but was surprised that the spice smell didn't really hit the flavor of the beer. It's a meaty style, I'd say, and probably not session-able, but I think it's going to be a big winner. Very impressed with how that one is going.

We need to get some things on the calendar...the Saison and the Pumpkin porter deserve to be racked this week, and we have all the ingredients to brew the small batch rye. That needs to happen this week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Week In Beer...

Thought I'd start a little weekly posting here about new and interesting beer I've spotted in the area, especially since I have a little insider knowledge working on the beer retail side. Here's the new stuff seen on the streets this week...

Total Wine:
*Bell's Expedition Stout - one of the most sought-after seasonal offerings from Bell's & one of the highest rated stouts in the world.
*Highland Cold Mountain Ale - The Asheville brewery's annual spiced ale offering for winter. Available in 22oz bottles.
*Rogue Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale
*Rogue Yellow Snow IPA
*Founders Backwoods Bastard - bourbon barrel aged scotch ale.
*Founders Harvest Ale - wet hopped ale showcasing this year's finest hops.
*Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout - released this year in 4 packs instead of 6 packs.
*Great Divide Hibernation - awesome seasonal old ale.
* New Belgium Biere de Mars - interesting fruity ale bolstered with the addition of wild belgian yeast. Available in 22oz bottles.
*Stone Cali-Belgique IPA / Sublimely Self Righteous Ale / Vertical Epic 09.09.09 / Double Bastard

Seen at Whole Foods:
*COAST 32/50 Kolsch & Hopart IPA - renowned brews from Charleston, SC finally make it to Greenville.
*Bell's Third Coast Old Ale & Christmas Ale

We Bottling This Weekend?

If so, we are probably 10-20 bottles short of being able to rock the Winter and the Hibernation clone, which both need to go into the bottle.


Let me know if Saturday or Sunday works better...I'm going to give the new bottles an Oxyclean bath tomorrow (taking the day off).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quick Update

Our weekend double batch is still chugging along, as far as I saw last night. The Saison is roiling, and pumping the airlock, but has definitely peaked it's fermentation. The Porter is slowing, slowing, slowing, and will probably stop bubbling in the airlock today or tomorrow, I'd guess. In both cases, I think we're getting solid fermentation, and I believe both will turn out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recipe #6 - Ryan's 'Baby'?

Ol Ryan was discussing his 'Baby' yesterday. He's leaning towards an Imp Stout. I think that would be pretty awesome. Sample recipe we looked at in his book (extract) had an OG of 1.090. It'd be pretty impressive if we could get that kind of sugar out of an All Grain recipe.

Monday, November 9, 2009

As The Trub Turns

Came home to the Saison fermenting like crazy mad (technical term). What was most surprising was that the trub, which had been at least 5 inches thick, is now basically all swirling through the beer. It's a violent fermentation. There is also about 3/4th of an inch on the top. All signs point towards a strong fermentation for this beer. So much for a delayed start!

Proposed American Rye Ale

I think this would be a great batch for the 3 gallon carboy once the hibernation is bottled. This batch is also very economical. It should come out under 20 bux!!

6.14lb Pale Malt
1.36lb Rye Malt
.34lb Cara Pils
.34lb Crystal Malt 40L
.75oz Sterling @ 60 min
.5oz Sterling @ 15 min
.25oz Willamette @ 0 min
British Ale Yeast


Current Status - Recipes #2-5

It's a damn beautiful sight, seeing four carboys going at the same time.

Recipe #2 - Belgian Winter - This guy will be ready to bottle come the weekend. It's in the plastic secondary.

Recipe #3 - Hibernation Clone - I noticed some slight roiling in the carboy, so there could still be some fermentation going. The krausen is all but gone, and the airlock activity seems to have slowed to a stop. I believe we are leaning towards bottle conditioning, instead of racking into a secondary. We need that small carboy for the Rye Ale!

Recipe #4 - Saison - No activity noticeable in the carboy yet. LOTS of trub, though. Aerated a second time yesterday, so hopefully it'll jumpstart. This is our second batch that is out of the gates slow, and both times it was a Belgian yeast strain. Might want to double that up, or use a starter process.

Recipe #5 - Pumpin Porter - Heavy activity in the airlock. Big foam head, that seems to have peaked already, and is starting to retract. Looks like a black hole, it's so dark. Heavy, almost fruity, aromas out of the airlock.

Recipe #5 - Pumpkin Porter with Brown Sugar and Molasses

1 can Amber Liquid Extract (12.5 SRM)
2 pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)
1/4 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)
1 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
1/2 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)
2 lbs Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)
1/2 lb Molasses (80.0 SRM)
1 can Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)
1.5 quarts Cold Coffee
8 lbs pumpkin
3 oz Northern Brewer (4.30 %) (or the equivalent, in fresh hops) (60 minutes(
1 oz Cascade (5.50 %) (or the equivalent, in fresh hops) (0 minutes)
1/4 tsp Irish Moss
1/2 lb Light Sugar, Dark (8.0 SRM)

Roasted 8 lbs of pumpkin for 2 hours at 350 degrees. Roasted with pumpkin pie spice and a spray of olive oil over the pumpkin.

Brought 6 gallons of water to 155 degrees. Specialty malts steeped for 60 minutes.

Wort brought to a boil. Fresh Northern Brewer hops added, in a mesh bag, at 60 minutes.

Extracts added over the course of the boil. I believe the first went in around 30 minutes (Can of light extract). The DME went in around 20 minutes. The can of Amber went in around 15 minutes. The molasses and brown sugar went in around 10 minutes.

Irish Moss in at 5 minutes.

Fresh Cascade hops, in a mesh bag, added at 0 minutes, and steeped for approx 10 minutes.

Wort chilled to < 80 degrees. Coffee added directly to sanitized carboy, before wort added. Specific Gravity was 1.073. Wort aerated, and 2 packages of yeast pitched at approx 75 degrees. Capped with airlock.

Recipe #4 - Saison

7 4 American Two-row Pale
2 0 Vienna Malt
0 8 Flaked Oats
0 8 Flaked Wheat
0 8 Honey
Boil 60 mins
1.5 Goldings, East Kent info pellet 4.2 Boil 15 mins
0.75 Hallertau pellet Boil 1 min
0.75 Hallertau pellet
boil 0 min 0.5 ounces Coriander
boil 0 min 0.07 ounces Grains of Paradise
boil 5 min 1 ounces Irish Moss
boil 0 min 0.25 ounces Orange Peel, Bitter
boil 0 min 0.25 ounces Orange Peel, Sweet
1 package of Belgian Ale Yeast

This was our first attempt at a full batch All Grain recipe.

Brought 4 gallons of water to 165 degrees outside on a propane burner. Grains mashed at approx 155 for 60 minutes.

Honey added at 10 minutes.

Brought 2.5 gallons of water to 175 degrees. Grains sparged for 15 minutes.

Wort brought to a boil. Hop schedule: Goldings at 15 minutes, Hallertau at 1 minute.

Spices added at 0 minutes.

Ice bath prepared. Wort chilled down to < 80 degrees, and poured into sterilized carboy. Filter issues resulted in significant trub in the carboy. Pitched yeast at approx 75 degrees. Original Specific Gravity was 1.063.

Overall, I feel like this batch went smoothly. The outdoor burner worked much better at bringing boil times down, and made a full batch possible, even if the entire recipe took 5 hours to get into the carboy. Wort chiller and a lauter tun are still very high on the list of needs, if we want to go All Grain in a serious way. This beer will need to be racked off of the trub.

Updates coming!

Gotta settle into my Monday morning, but I should have some updates from the two Saturday batches in just a little bit.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cold Brewed Coffee Extract

The cold brewing extraction method is under way. This process will allow us to have all of the sexy coffee taste without any of the bitterness. I used a super tasty blend of Sumatra and El Salvador from Whole Foods. Should be just what we need to take Ronzonie's recipe to the next level!!

Batch #3 - Photos

Here's a bit of documentation of Wednesday night's first foray into the hot, sticky world of all-grain brewing. Enjoy!

tools of the trade.

adding the grains.

getting all that sweet goodness outta the bag.

is this heaven?

wort chillin'

and a bonus shot for you...

siphoning batch #2 (spiced belgian) into the 2nd fermentation.

Recipe #3 - Update

Our little carboy that could was just bubbling away, when I checked on it. The krausen has dropped, maybe a little bit. Not sure what we did to that first batch, to make it foam so much, but these other two have not climbed the side of the vessel that much.

There is a pungent, citrus hop aroma coming out of the top of this guy. I will be very curious to see how close to Hibernation this will turn out. Maybe we should sample some Hibernation this weekend, in anticipation?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Almost Forgot...

It's Beer Brother Shawn's birthday! Hope you get everything you wanted, and bring that turkey fryer over so that we can double batch on Saturday!

We should enter competitions...

This one is in Columbia.

What was that homebrewing association Ryan was saying we should join?

I can't remember...what was it called?

Shopping List for Thomas Creek

Andrew, add these 'Grain' items to the order you put in today for the Saisson.

1/4 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)
1 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
1/2 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)

Not Grain:
1 can Amber Liquid Extract (12.5 SRM)
2 pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)
1 tsp Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
2 lbs Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)
1 can Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)

Grocery Store Items:
8 lbs pumpkin
1/2 lb Molasses (80.0 SRM)

Asking for Some All Grain Help at Homebrewtalk

Follow the discussion here. Hoping to get an idea of why we missed our Specific Gravity so much.

Recipe #3 - Hibernation Ale Clone

Recipe #3 - Hibernation Ale Clone - 11/4/09

8.4 lbs Vienna Malt
0.9 lb Flaked Oats
0.45 lb Caramunich Malt
0.30 Biscuit Malt
0.30 Special Roast
0.23 Chocolate Malt
1 oz Centennial Hops (75 minutes)
1 oz Northern Brewer (15 minutes) (fresh hops)
0.5 oz Magnum Hops (15 minutes)
0.5 oz Magnum Hops (5 minutes)
1 oz Northern Brewer (5 minutes)(fresh hops)
British Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1098)

Recipe yields 3 Gallons!

This was our first All Grain attempt. We brought 3 gallons of water to the mid 160's, and mashed the grain in a large pot. Boil in a bag method. We had to top up with just a little boiling water to get back to temperature. This steeped for an hour, and held it's temperature upon completion. We collected roughly 1.67 gallons of wort from the mash. That wort was stored in a sanitized carboy, until we could add it back to the boil pot.

We then sparged, by bringing another 3 gallons of water just over 170 degrees into the grain, and steeped that for 15 minutes. We collected roughly 2.5 gallons of wort from the sparge, yielding us a total of just over 4 gallons of wort in the pot.

That was then brought to a boil, with hops added. Initial plan was 65 minute boil, but we added the hops before boiling was reached, and ended up adding 10 minutes to the overall boil. That means the Centennial spent 75 minutes in the boil.

At 15 minutes, we hopped with the Norther Brewer (fresh) and Magnum (pellet) hops.

At 5 minutes hopped the remaining Norther Brewer and Magnum hops, for aroma.

We had very little boil off in the pot, resulting in approximately 4 gallons of wort in the pot. Since we were planning a 'half batch', in the smaller carboy, we poured off approximately 2.5 gallons into a smaller pot, and chilled it in an ice bath. Chilling to < 80 degrees took approximately 35 minutes (stirring helped). That was then transferred to the carboy, at approximately 75 degrees. We were a little short of our desired volume, so we quickly chilled another half gallon or so (took 5 minutes), and topped up to right around 2.5-2.75 gallons in the carboy.

Hydrometer reading at 75 degrees was 1.060. Adjusting for temperature, that puts us right at 1.062 for the batch.

We pitched the yeast, aerated, and capped the airlock.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beer Lunacy

The belgian is racked with some extra spices in the secondary fermenter. Even with the hibernation clone we are currently brewing, we are left with 2 empty carboys. Which leads me to a very important question: what are we doing with out lives gentleman? We need to get busy. If Shawn can make it over Saturday we are going to do 2 batches. An all grain saison outside and extract pumpkin porter inside. What follows is the recipe for the all grain saison.

7 4 American Two-row Pale
2 0 Vienna Malt
0 8 Flaked Oats
0 8 Flaked Wheat
0 8 Honey info
Boil 60 mins

1.5 Goldings, East Kent info pellet 4.2 Boil 15 mins
0.75 Hallertau info pellet 3.1 Boil 1 min
0.75 Hallertau info pellet 3.1

boil 0 min 0.5 ounces Coriander
boil 0 min 0.07 ounces Grains of Paradise
boil 5 min 1 ounces Irish Moss
boil 0 min 0.25 ounces Orange Peel, Bitter
boil 0 min 0.25 ounces Orange Peel, Sweet

Batch size: 4.9 gallons

Brew Night!

When are we kicking things off? I'll be home around 5, feeding the baby and prepping the kitchen.

All Grain Linkage

This guy has a great set of instructions, with pictures, on the mash/sparge process (in a cooler). This is where we need to be.

Equipment Wish List

X-mas is almost here, and we need to be telling our women what we want! Fuck an Ipod, a new pair of black skinny jeans, or that new portable record player (unless it's got a wort chiller attachment). I can keep this as a running list, and update it frequently, when we find links to exactly what we want.

The basics:
Wort Chiller - Do we make one ourselves? Buy one retail?
Mash tun - I like the Coleman cooler varieties.
Wine thief - We really need this to take good samples of our beer, without having to tip the carboy.
More bottles! - Goes without saying.

Three tiered burner system
Stainless Steel Fermenter
Kegging system/converted fridge system

What else?

The All Grain Versus Extract Debate - Part 1

I can tell, this is going to be a debatable issue for the Greenville Beer Brothers. There is certainly a drive to move towards the All Grain methods, which allow better control over the ingredients, and by extension the final product. It might be nice to have an open dialogue, so that we are all on the same page, and moving towards our ultimate goal: A homebrew that would make Baby Jesus tear up with joy.

I'd like to present the case that we should ease into the All Grain territory. This is an awkward case for me, in some ways, since I tend to want to crank things to '11' right off the bat. Still, I feel some prudence is required, as we cut our homebrewing teeth.

There are four main reasons I think we should engage the All Grain process incrementally. Those reasons relate to equipment, time, refining our process, and learning flavor components.

We are ramping up our equipment, slowly but surely, but the All Grain brewing process puts strains on what we currently have at our disposal. We have done a good job of increasing our overall fermentation capacity (we could primary four batches, plus a half batch, right now). Our issue is getting a 5 gallon batch in the pot. Adding a large (30+ quart) pot is going to be critical, and is something we have on tap, just to push our half batch Hibernation clone through the process. But we do not really know, more than anectodally, about how well we're going to be able to do the Mash/Sparge boil in a bag method, on the stove.

What I feel our push should be, in terms of equipment, is a cooler system that will let us take the Mash/Sparge off the stove. I think this is the real impetus between us and going All Grain in a big way. I will admit, I could be wrong about this, and we will put this whole theory to a hard test tonight, assuming we are still brewing the Hibernation half batch.

All Grain takes more time. It does. There's additional processes that have to be followed, which bring with it even more processes (cleaning, prepping, learning, etc). Extract brewing is nice, because an entire batch can be in the carboy in 2-3 hours, once we get things down to a science. I think there will be moments, even after we have a nice three tiered burner system, a 15 gallon stainless steel fermenter, and a 5 tap converted fridge, that we will still brew extract recipes. I don't think we should lose sight of the mantra 'It's not the technique, it's the beer'. Good beer, no matter how we make it, is the ultimate goal. There may be times we will have to strike a balance between time and process, and end up going extract.

Refining Our Process
We have two batches done. Only one of those is in bottles. We are still Noobs, in a big way. We have yet to face a hard challenge to our process, that either results in us having to rescue the batch in some way, or that ruins the batch. We, being the ultimate geniuses that we are, are probably already better than some more seasoned brewers, but repetition of the basic processes is going to net us our greatest incremental gains in skill. Maneuvering as a team, as well, is a key component of what we're doing here. Trading out roles, so that each of us is gaining experience in each of the aspects of the batch. This is why I'm such a fan of our robust appetite for brewing, that has resulted in probably 4 batches in the carboy within 2 weeks time. That's borderline insane, and we're lucky we can still get laid, having put our women through this. It shouldn't be overlooked that we can get loads of experience, right now, through extract brewing. The All Grain process is going to take us away from the basic principles, as we ramp up that skillset. We need to have confidence that there are no gaps in our basic process.

Learning Flavor Components
This one could be the most important. We've barely tasted the fruit of the process. We have read about what Cascade hops do, and we've sampled many commercial brews that have them as a main component, but can we say, with any real conviction, what a Cascade hop tastes like in our process? Ramping up to All Grain will bring us more control over the ingredients, but right now we are still lacking in a fundamental understanding of what those ingredients are supposed to be, in the first place. There is so much to know, so much to learn, so much to do, it's easy to start taking three steps at a time. A good chef knows his ingredients inside and out, and the same would go with a good brewer. We've got to get to this level.

This wasn't an effort to reel us in, as much as it is to begin the discussion of how we will transition to All Grain (we certainly will, in a big way, at some point). There are some serious Pros that will outweigh all the Cons, over time. Our best beers will likely come from All Grain, and will have personality that only that process can impart. We'll get there.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recipe #4 - Pumpkin Porter Shopping List

What we need to buy:
1 can Amber Liquid Extract (12.5 SRM)
2 pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)
1/4 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)
1 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
1/2 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)
1 tsp Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
2 lbs Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)
1/2 lb Molasses (80.0 SRM)
1 can Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)
(quantity?) Cold Coffee
8 lbs pumpkin

What we have:
2 oz Northern Brewer (4.30 %) (or the equivalent, in fresh hops)
1/2 oz Cascade (5.50 %) (or the equivalent, in fresh hops)
1/4 tsp Irish Moss
1/2 lb Brown Sugar, Dark (50.0 SRM)

Where My Brewers At?

We doing this thing tomorrow PM, or not?  Andrew said he had a pot in we have the math down for the conversion? 

We still on for the Porter this Saturday?  The lady of the house will be out doing wedding shower/bachelorette party stuff, so it's a perfect opportunity.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Originally uploaded by branimal9

Now we have to wait. Again.


Originally uploaded by branimal9

Morgie's got 'em all dressed up and ready to go...


Originally uploaded by branimal9

Like putting an egg on it, but with caps!


Originally uploaded by branimal9

Putting the good stuff closer to your fingertips!


Originally uploaded by branimal9

Just like you used to do with gas back in your juvenile delinquent past!


Originally uploaded by branimal9

Getting those pesky labels off is quite a task, isn't it Andre?

Favorite place to grab a beer in Greenville

I really like Barleys, can't beat the beer selection. Addy's is another favorite, quiet chill place with decent beer.

New Blog Design

What do we think of the colors?  Of the readability?  I like it, stylistically, but I'm finding it hard to see where one post ends and another begins.  Might also be because we didn't put Titles in for some of those posts over the weekend.  Perhaps changing the color of the text?  It's obviously a work in progress.  Our logo design, pending creation, could go where the closeup picture of the hops are now, or perhaps in the little gray box right underneath that. 

Wednesday Night Session?

Looks like the Wednesday Night's brew session (the Hibernation clone, all grain attempt) is going to hinge on the procurement of a large cooking vessel.  It is a significant investment...if we were to go 32 quarts (8 gallons), we're probably looking at a 50+ dollar investment.  Probably high of that estimate, unless we find a great deal. 

Obviously, we need high quality materials, which means stainless steel, at the minimum.  Aluminum imparts bad flavors to the batch, and is substandard.  Copper is a good option, but I'm sure those are very expensive...I can't even find one quickly online that is below a couple hundred bucks.  Time to scour the discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, or maybe hit the restaurant supply stores. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Welcome to the bottle, brew

We bottle Recipe #1, the well hopped Pale Ale.  It was a task getting all the bottles sanitized.  I count a good 2 hours prep work on that, and plenty of water used.  From there, things worked fairly well.  The siphon went alright, and after a few minutes of head scratching, even the bottling setup wasn't too much for our monkey brains. 

The end result?  A beautiful arrangement of bottles in my kitchen, ready to age, and eventually enjoy.  Dreams of the next batch(es) has already begun...