Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Brew Year

It's been a pretty tough week or so down here in Florida. Fishing, drinking beer, eating, drinking beer, lounging, drinking beer. I've had some time to think over the past year as far as brewing goes and I have to admit, as incredibly awesome as it was, I can't wait until what happens in 2008.I learned so much in the past year and met so many incredible people, and that will only carry over to the next chapter.Here's a few things I'm really looking forward to in the next year, in no particular order.

1.A series of crisp clean German lagers
2.A 3 part Bock brewing series via triple decoction (are you ready Timmy and Rodney??)--especially an Eisbock (Ice Bock)
3. Playing around with Brettanomyces and other bugs and microbiota
4. Continuing to hone BJCP judging skills
5.Yeast propogation and storage (slants etc)
6. The formation of WAHA and getting to meet other awesome beer people from around the state.
7. Making an awesome flavorful Berliner Weisse (recipe in the works!)
8.Using and understanding water chemistry and calculations.
10. More Belgian styles of course!

The list could go on and on, but that's the stuff that has been on my mind lately anyways. Last but not least, thanks to all of my awesome friends, brewing and non, for the continued support over the past year on our little operation. There will always be a pint waiting for you! Hope everyone has had a great holiday and has an awesome New Year's! I'll be at Uber on Monday checking out the new "Aurora Veranda". I'll be the guy sitting at the table with a cigar and Maharaja, trying to re-climate from this awesome Florida weather. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


That's me, but been pretty busy lately. Thanks to all who came out last Friday night and helped drain some kegs crammed into the basement like a can of festive Xmas sardines. I hope everyone enjoyed the beers we made. A shout out to Mark Emily for sharing his bottles and getting more people hooked on New Glarus Belgian Red and Rasberry Tart.Wisconssin rules! Thanks to James and Mike for sharing their recent batch of Belgian Golden Strong, keep it up, you guys are making some tasty stuff.Last but not least thanks Chad for bringing the tasty coconut rice balls over and keeping the "balls" jokes going the entire evening. I know everyone has been dreaming of your balls and can't wait for the next time they get to put them in their mouth. More to come later. Cheers!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Free Beer!

We decided to pull the beer from the company Xmas party. It's a long story, but it will give us a chance to bottle and condition some stuff we wouldn't have been able to before. So we're going to have a little shin dig. Here's the invitation I sent out earlier today via MySpace...

Due to circumstances out of our control, the beer that was made for our company Xmas party will not be served there. INSTEAD: Will will be having a holiday keg draining bash at Beacon Hill Brewery next Friday the 14th. We will be providing five delicious hand crafted ales on tap and a mix of music that will guarantee to make you ass shake. We need people to bring food, so bring some stuff to soak up all that beer.

The first three were originally named for the company party but now remain nameless. Try them and give us some suggestions!

1. Belgian Blonde--light , fruity,citrusy and refreshing!
2.German Weizenbock--candy for grown ups! Cloves, dark fruit, rich and so smooth!
3.India Pale Ale-- a slap in your mouth of huge hop flavor!
4. Stairway to Heaven Belgian Golden Strong---yup, the last keg from The Ram!
5. The Farmer's Daughter--Belgian Farmhouse ale

RSVP to me if you're interested so we can figure out the logistics of getting everything set up, or if you need directions. Or just show up if you already know about it. Please be responsible about driving and plan accordingly. Cheers all!

The results are in and...

It's a tie! Tim Hayner and yours truly decided to share the title. After some very precise measuring, we all agreed on the decision. Tim and I were both pretty even, but after pulling actual hairs to compare, we decided that even though Tim's whiskers were a little bit longer, mine were thicker. And yes, we're still talking about beards.Next year there will be a better structure of rules and judging, and hopefully some more participants! We decided that instead of exchanging cash, the losers will just have to buy Tim and I a round. Here's some pictures of the judging process.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Beerded Ones

The final decision will be made tongight at Casa Brown for the 1st Anuual Beard Growing Contest. I woke up early this morning and gave my precious whiskers a soak in a special concoction of special Zimbabwe cucumber juice and Himalayan honey harvested from a Sherpa who died from being stung 1000 times after harvesting it.It's very rare stuff...Anyways thanks to all of the wives and girlfriends who stood behind their men during this trying time.Pictures will be posted this weekend of the contestants, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Winter Beer Fest

Rodney and I headed down to Hale's Paladium for the Washington Winter Beer Festival last Saturday night. We met up with Tim and had a couple tastes before heading over to Brouwer's to grab a bite and to check out what was still on tap from the Big Wood Festival (all wood aged beers). A nice chilly walk back to Hales on the Burke Gillman trail and we met up with the Kevin, Shannah, Adrian and Laura. A good time was had by all. A nice intimate little beer festival all in all with some great people. Nothing spectacular was being poured, but the fact that after a while the tokens weren't being collected made it all the more fun. The newly acquired Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg won the peoples choice award with a Black Saison. It was pretty good, definitely one of the most interesting beers there. I talked with Jim Quilter for a while who was the previous owner of Iron Horse and said he sold it to some pretty young guys, so it should be interesting to see what new things they come up with. After the fest, we headed across the street to Ballard Bar and Grill for a couple pitchers and I schooled Shannah in the finer points of Big Buck Hunter. Chad soon showed up and as usual, had a party for us to go and crash in Wallingford. It was only a couple of blocks from Adrian's house so we went. Super nice people at the gathering, not really enough for a party, but the host went all out making traditional English deserts and wine punches, all extremely top notch! He is also an amateur distiller and beginning homebrewer and we shared some tips on brewing while taking sips of his home made shine from a mason jar. Very random end to a good night, but those are always the most fun.

Beacon Hill Brewery/Swimming Pool

I'm really glad I decided to go down to the basement on Monday morning to check on the Stout we brewed the night before. As soon as I set my foot down on the floor I knew we were in for a long day. It ends up the foundation below the door has a crack in it and was letting water in.It had been raining for 24 hours straight and it wasn't looking good. Half of the basement had a couple of inches of standing water. Luckily most of our stuff is put away up out of the way and nothing was damaged. Unfortunatley, my landlords have three other properties with similar problems and they can't get anyone out here until Wednesday. Rodney and I played bucket brigade all day, filling up our 16 gallon shop vac and emptying it countless times, digging drain reliefs in the yard, going down to Lowe's to get sandbags, and finnaly some quick-krete. Rodney slowly built up a layer of the concrete and was able to stop the leak temporarily.Beers were in order ofter that and man did I have a couple. Let's hop it holds until tomorrow. Let the cleaning begin.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beer de Blank, King Ben's Smoked Porter, IPA

Saturday Rodney and I did a little busy work around the cellar, cleaning and controlling some of the chaos. I owe him some beers for doing the heavy lifting until I have back surgery in January. Three beers were transfered into their respectful secondary conditioning vessels. The Biere de Blank (not Blanc, but Blank) dropped from an original gravity of 1.072 to a final of 1.010. It is spicy,malty and warming and pretty damn tasty and a warming 8.1% ABV. It will get two months of cold conditioning before it is corked and bottle conditioned. Ben's smoked porter is still kind of young, but attenuated down to about a 1.022. A good couple of weeks in the secondary and I think this beer will come into its own. The IPA was transfered as well and I can't speak for Rodney, but this was my favorite, and I think the best IPA we have made so far. We kept the grain recipe the same as we always have, but Rodney played around with the hopping schedule using the idea of adding alsmost all of the hops in the last 20 minutes of the boil. This beer has huge hop flavor while not being overly bitter.I can't wait to try this with our new whirlpool chiller.Even more so, I can't wait until this baby is carbonated and sitting in my pint glass. I was excited and gave Adrian (the newest authority of hoppy beers on the scene) a barrel sample. I think it may have surpassed her standards, and she is my toughest critic.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Beard Related

But still kind of beer related, since we were sitting in The Bull and Bush in Denver, and we were drinking a lot of their awesome strong beer, when we decided that having a beard growing contest was in order. The rules were a little fuzzy, I know that we were to all put in 20 bucks, and I know we were supposed to go until Christmas time. That's about it. Chris, Jano, Tim and I are all sporting some pretty impressive beards right now. Tim and Jano are looking pretty lumberjack, and I haven't seen Chris in about a month, but I have a feeling he is definitely not going to be easy to beat.

So the question is how do we determine the winner? Shaving it all off and weighing the beard? Dipping our face in a bowl of water to find out the absorption rate? Points for grooming and maintenance? Any suggestions would be more than welcome.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend Update

We took the weekend off from brewing, unless you count dropping in on Big Al and King Ben Friday night while they were brewing Al's famous Winter Warmer.

I attended the Aler's November meeting before dropping by. Tim and Micah handed out some pretty cool prizes for the winners of Novembeerfest. Rodney and I scored a way cool blue ribbon for our Russian Imperial Stout and a gift certificate to Islands restaurant down at Pike on 1st Ave. I brought some beer with me to share with some of the guys as I was told Larry was out of beer except for some kegs of the now defunct Pacific Crest Widow Maker barley wine. It was in vain as this meeting was the annual Winter Warmer tasting. I'm going to guess about 15 different winter strong ales from around the world. I held out as I had tried most of them,and saved myself till the end until a magnum of 2002 Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws was popped. Incredible!

Saturday night was spent at good old Uber Tavern, the whole gang was there and got to split some pretty awesome stuff including 2007 Doggie Claws on tap.

Our new immersion chiller for our boil pot was finished today, and I headed over to Bob's to pick it up and drop off a couple of beers for him to try. A little more welding and we'll be ready for some serious whirlpool action. I'm really looking forward to making some nice crisp lagers(drinking them too!)

We took some gravity readings of some of the stuff we have fermenting. Everything is doing well. Rodney's late hop addition IPA is awesome. The Biere De Noel has a few points to go, but is developing some really great esters and fruit notes. New batches of stuff on the way soon!

Washington Home Brewers Association

I'm not sure Tim Hayner and Mark Emily ever take a rest from tackling amazing feats when it comes to promoting and getting people involved in home brewing, and organizing some prety great competitions.Along with the help of many other Washington beer making do gooders, we are about to see the Washington Home Brewers Association take flight. Here's what Tim had to say in an Email that I got today:


Thanks to all for a great first meeting to discuss WAHA. I’ve put together a few notes here to recap what was discussed and what is happening for the benefit of all, especially those who wanted to but could not attend. I also attached the agenda points and Mark Emiley’s first cut at a calculator for the Homebrewer of the Year.

First off, Tom will send an invite to all of you to join the Yahoo Groups “WAHA”. For now, we’ll use that as a central email list/forum.

Tom started out recapping his thoughts for this association which include promoting Washington Homebrewers and clubs, providing centralized information, providing a means to draw clubs and homebrewers together to share resources and generally help one another out. Something like what the AHA does on a national level, but at a local, Washington State Specific level.

Some other points discussed as purposes of WAHA include promoting beer education, providing a repository of information for new homebrewers, “Proselytizing & Evangelizing” that is promoting homebrewing in the community.

We talked about some of the functions of WAHA which will include forming a Washington Homebrewer & Club of the Year competition based on performance and participation in Washington competitions. It would also include some means of evaluating an individual or club’s involvement in the homebrewing community including holding competitions, workshops, working on other club’s events, educational events, etc.

Some things that WAHA can & should do include, putting up a website immediately including & .org, & .org., provide a central calendar that all club websites can access and link to, be the central figure in the Pyramid “Wild World of Wheats” event beginning next February.

It was decided that since the BEWBMC is the most formalized in terms of club tax status (401c)?, these guys should be the keepers of the coin, that is, they would keep any funds coming and going for WAHA in their club account.

Some things that the Website should include in addition to the calendar, are contacts and links to the homebrewing clubs in the state and an easy way for a new homebrewer to search for a club in his area, current listing of beer-geek bars, pubs, breweries, brew-pubs, bottle shops and homebrew supply shops.

Some other things that WAHA should promote and be involved with include the bringing of the AHA National Conference to Seattle in 2009 or 2011 and flexing whatever political muscle available to help modify the onerous state laws as they relate to homebrewing, and specifically, beer.

Also sponsoring and hosting a table at certain events where beneficial. (ie, Homebrew Fair, WBG Events)

One thing that all WAHA members should be doing is compiling a list of Homebrew clubs and contacts. The clubs represented at the meeting are obvious, but there are quite a number in the Central, Easter, Southern and Northern part of the state. Please compile this information for future posting on the website.

We discussed the first event details, “The Wild World of Wheats” and concluded that 2-29-08 is the date to have all beer entries ready for selection by Pyramid. Each Washington homebrewer should enter his/her/it’s entry(ies) to their respective local homebrew club for initial evaluation; perhaps 1 week prior to the 29th deadline. This evaluation would pare down the total entries to a maximum of (3) per club. Each club can charge what it likes, but suggested is $10 per entry. The clubs each put up $10 per entry which is payable to BEWBMC/WAHA. This will be one form of fund raising for WAHA. Because of the most excellent walk-in that Larry has, it is suggested that the clubs get their (3) max entries to Larry’s Brewing Supply for storage prior to the 2-29-08 deadline. Mark put together a hand out of his first cut at rules and advertising for the Pyramid event. (Mark, please pdf this to everyone).

With regard to action points, everyone will put together the contact information they have for clubs across the state, Steve & Nic will put together the website and post to the various brewer forums, and Tim and Mark will finalize the details for “The Wild World of Wheats” with Pyramid and try to glean any club info available off of Jerome will put together 3 or 4 potential logos for WAHA prior to the next meeting for review and adoption. Everyone else should do their part by making damn good homebrew and drinking same.

We concluded the meeting by scheduling the next meeting to be Tuesday December 11th, at Rogue Issaquah at 6:30 pm. There was no mention of the need to develop a secret handshake, but it is suggested by reference here.

Tim Hayner - President

"The Beer Engineer"

The Impaling Alers

It's very exciting, especially the thought of Seattle being the location for an American Homebrew Association Conference. There's a lot of work to be done though. Washington has some pretty ridiculous laws about transporting and consuming home brewed beverages.

It's going to be very cool to have some of the beers on tap down at Pyramid from the Wild World of Wheats competition. Especially since it's a five dollar cab ride from my house.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Night Brew

Everybody at my work is sick and I'm no exception. This shouldn't be confused with "sick of work" which I always am anyways. I've been fighting it off for the past few days, but just have to come to the realization that I've got a cold. So in keeping up with taking good care of myself, we're going to do a batch of Weizenbock tonight in the nice cold damp air, this will be the final installment of the beers being brewed for a rather large party coming up. If I should start to perish tonight I will leave instructions with whoever is over: run down to the cellar and grab an ummarked 330cl bottle with a gold cap that reads Wesvleteren 12. Force the liquid down my throat, I will then die of pneumonia content and happy. This is my last request.

***The brew went great last night, we undershot gravity by a couple of points but I blame that on me measuring the grain. We usually buy bags in bulk for our base malts, but since this brew is over 50 percent dark wheat, I had to buy and weigh all of the specialties at once which I don't like doing. The whole crew showed up to hang out and have a couple of beers on the cold and windy night. Kevin pulled up in his plumbing truck and ran a hot water bib to the front of the house like it was nothing. How's that for having friends with skills? We pitched a monster 3liter starter of Weihenstephan yeast and it is bubbling away and a nice cool 62 degrees as of this morning. Prost!***

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

If you're tired of hearing me talk about beer....

I don't really care. This is what this blog is going to be about. Maybe some music and food stuff too, but for now let's just keep the main thing the main thing. I think we may have an actual site up in the near future, but this will work for now. So here's a few things to keep you updated on what's been going on lately. Check back as I will be updating as aften as possible.

It's been a whilrlwind few months so far. Octoberfest 10 (the best party of the year, just ask anyone who was there, how much beer was there again??)The Great American Beer Festival, BJCP(beer judge) testing and study groups, Novembeerfest, and all of the sutff in between. Rodney and I took a few weeks off from brewing, but are back at it full tilt again doing some very special seasonal beers for a large party coming up, trying to fit some special beers in for us and our friends to enjoy, and a couple of collaborative projects with brewing guru Tim "the beer engineer" Hayner (Rodney and Tim are dong a series of Scottish beers with triple decoction--I've sampled the results so far and am very impressed!) That crazy Big Al is rumoured to have a smooth drinking Mexican Lager in the works, and will be brewing the famous Old Number 1 barleywine in the next couple of weeks.

In the works: a recipe inspired by De Dolle Stille Nacht. A lot of planning and preparation for an 8-10 hour brew day. The boil alone is going to be in the 4 hour range. Caremelly, fruity, and delicious. We're looking at about a year after conditioning and aging is all finished up. We will also be brewing Naughty Nikolai again, our Russian Imperial Stout. This batch will be bottle conditioned and aged, hopefully ready for consumption around this time next year. I have a couple Stout recipes I have been playing with lately and am excited to test them out. I have 2 lbs of cocoa nibs(thanks Jim!) from Theo that have been sitting around just needing to be used in something...hmmm.

We are in the middle of adding on to our system and getting set up to start putting out some awesome fresh lagers and a run of sour ales including a lambic and flemish red (or whatever else we decide to infect!) Doing these mean shuffling some things around on the fermentation side of things and getting extras of things we already have. So be ready to come on down to funky town in the next few months.

Time for a pint. Thanks for stopping by!