Monday, June 29, 2009

Farewell Jim

I received some surprising and upsetting news today about the untimely death of Brewer Jim Quilter. I was fortunate enough to brew with him for the 2007 Pugest Sound Pro Am, and pick his brain about opening a brewery on many other occasions. He was an extremely kind, generous and funny guy. A true individual who's advice and talks I will greatly miss.

Here's to you my friend, I'm raising a pint and hoping whatever there is in store for us when it's over, you and your Iron Horse will have endless miles of open road to ride, and a pint glass that is never empty. Thanks for the laughs, advice, and let's not forget the beer that has made so many people happy!

Raise a pint for Jim if you have a chance. Slainte!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pro Am attempt #3

Our Wit beer was chosen by Rock Bottom of Bellevue from the Pro Am to be brewed for the GABF this year. Just goes to show you what an awesome competition the Pro Am is because we didn't even place with that beer. I wasn't going to go to GABF this year, but now it will be the 4th year in a row, and the 3rd that we have a beer in the Pro Am. Brian Young is an awesome dude and luckily RB Bellevue is only a mile away from my work, and luckily Brian likes to get started late, so it will be a late afternoon, early evening brew. I'm pretty happy with the Wit. It's a refreshing summer time beer, good chugability factor, low alcohol, hanging out on the porch passing time sorta beer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Puget Sound Pro Am

2nd Place for the Fantome inspired Saison and 2nd for an English Style Barleywine called Ol' Teabagger, which is actually a Belgian Dark Strong that is two years old. No firsts or making it to BOS this year, but I'm pretty happy. Selection from the professional breweries is next Saturday for the recipes they want to brew. A great event with 300 entries that ran very smoothly. Nicely done everyone. It gives me the warm fuzzies to know awesome brewers/judges like you guys are out there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SB 5060 signed today!

This has been a long time coming, but as of today SB 5060 has finally been signed into a law. I got a phone call from Tim "Dr. Decoctor" Hayner while the sweat was still damp on his palm from Gregoire's hand shake. Check out this NPR audio snippet if you're not up to snuff.

Mark Emiley, you are an amazing guy. I look up to you and am proud to call you a friend. Tom Schmidlin, Alejandro Brown, Tim Hayner, mad props guys. Cheers to all the people who called in and hounded their legislators, I'm raising a pint to you guys tonight. Let the celebrations begin! Now if we can just start putting the rush on SB 5615....

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cascade Brewing

Not really sure where to start...It's been a while since my last post. The period key on my lap top is completely FUBAR, and there is no fixing it. It's kind of put in dent in my willingness to post using a ballpoint pen to press down on the spot where the period key once was. Luckily, the lovely Bekky has let me use her awesome laptop while she is away in Europe.

I finally made it down to Art Larrance's Racoon Lodge and Cascade Brewing. Art is legendary in the craft beer scene and is the creator of the Oregon Brewers Festival. Ron Gansberg is the head brewer and along with his assistant Curtis( who unfortunately was not there), conjure up some of the best Belgian Style and Belgian Style Sour ales I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. Correction : Belgian inspired beers. These are Northwest Sour beers. I have been hearing about Cascade since I had my first sip of the Apricot a couple years back at Uber. It was the very essence of apricot caught in an 8 percent beer. Awesome.

The brewery is beautiful, racks and rows of barrels giving off a patina like quality. Oregon red, white, and even port barrels with some bourbon barrels thrown in for good measure. It's hard to describe, and not to sound completely dramatic, although some of you will understand and hope you will chime in if you've been there, (and maybe I was just getting really, really drunk) the creativity is thick in there. I was trying to break down the samples I was having..smell, taste, what is that spice, how did he get that sweetness that finishes dry... I dunno. I've been to Russian River, I've been to Lost Abbey, which were all great places in their own right, but I felt like I was in...California? Ron's brewery was a comfortable place and I knew we were about to experiencing something very special. And boy-0 was it special.

We started off with a taste of the Blackberry that was clearing in the bright tank (freaking incredible) and from then on, we were treated to barrel taste after barrel taste. We played bucket brigade with the stemmed glasses as Ron slid between racks, pouring us tastes of his blends and creations. I can't tell you everything I got to try, but just let me say, there is going to be some pretty amazing stuff coming out of there in the future. I could get into lactic fermentation, the barrel characteristics, blending, carbonation, types of fruit, Ron's brewing Kung Fu...they are all a factor in an awesome product.

More stemmed glasses, bottles started popping, a side by side of The Vine and Cuvee de Castleton was set up. Poor Cuvee didn't have a chance . Small 1/6 barrel kegs were tapped, more bottles popped. Back down to the barrels to try some more stuff. The party was moved outside to enjoy the beautiful afternoon.

Thank you Art. Thank you Ron for your kind words and generosity. It was an afternoon I won't soon forget. Try these beers if you haven't already. Finer establishments will have them on tap and bottles. If you have, share it with someone who hasn't and spread the word.

Cheers all!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Russian Imperial Stout brewed!

We got the Russian Imperial Stout brewed down at The Powerhouse over the weekend, hit a gravity of 1.106 and now it is doing it's thing. This beer will age for a few months and be put on tap around August/September (mmmm 10% beer in late summer). In the meantime, we found a wet bourbon barrel that will be filled with 50 gallons of finished stout, aged for a while and tasted periodically. It was fantastic being back in my hometown at the place I had one of my first craft beers. Tim Paddy is a top notch dude, and made a long brew day very enjoyable. Hope some of you will be able to come down and try this when it is ready, and if you can't I have a feeling there may be some on tap at Beacon Hill. Thanks Alejandro for the in on the barrel! More later.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Russian Imperial Stout

Friday nights are being scheduled as brew nights from here on out... It gives us a chance to relax and not worry about being stressed out to start late and finish up because of plans on a Saturday night or having to get to bed to wake up for work if it's a Sunday brew.

We brewed one of our most complex and high alcohol beers, a Russian Imperial Stout. This beer has done pretty well in competition and I am very happy with the way it is evolving. The only problem I really have is keeping my hands off of it so it has time to age.

This particular batch was bumped up a little gravity wise and I increased a couple of the specialty malt additions. We ended up with a 1.110 original gravity from our usual 1.105, it's our most inefficient beer as we use 26 lbs of grain and only yield 6 gallons, our mash tun can only hold about another 5-6 lbs of grain. The 3 liter starter that was made proved to be explosive and the beer took off right away, blowing the airlock off the next morning. I could smell the sweet mess from outside the basement door :)

The 6 gallons that was yielded will be split in half, one getting put on a Stranahan's barrel stave I brought back from GABF soaked in whiskey, and the other half will get an addition of Theo cocoa nibs and a yet undecided local espresso. The whole batch will be bottles and left to age and condition in the bottle.

A great guy and great brewer, Tim Paddy has asked to brew this beer for The Powerhouse in my hometown of Puyallup. Along with Tim Hayner, we have scaled the recipe up and hope to brew within the next month or so. I was lucky to have been there when Tim Hayner brewed his awesome 16 Penny Pale for the ProAm competition a few years back, and I know Tim Paddy will do our beer justice. Now I just need to figure out how to get a full size barrel delivered from Denver.....

I'm planning on making another 6, hopefully 12 very soon,if we can incorporate another mash tun, and take it down to the National Homebrew Conference for club night.

Next Friday's brew will be a big hoppy IPA from all of the extra hops we have laying around, this batch will be split as well and aged on some very special wood that I am really excited about using. Stay tuned and cheers!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Blonde ambition

Made our Belgian style Blonde yesterday. We've made a couple batches in the past that seemed to have been a crowd pleaser and also liked by some refined palates. It's a pretty simple recipe using only Pilsner and wheat malt for the grains, and a couple of spice additions at the end. I incorporated a new varietal of hops called Citra. They are a high alpha Hallertau relative, which were generously donated to some of us from Hutch of Rogue Issaquah as sort of a test run for what these hops have potential for. I'm really digging them so far.

Half of the batch of Blonde will be bottle conditioned and corked, the other half will age with a funky culture I've played around with on a previous batch of saison that was a huge success. I'm excited to see how the lemon and citrus aspects of this beer come through. The picture is what the last one looked like...I was really happy with the head retention and clarity, nice tight bubbles and very sessionable. Cheers!

For more information on new hop strain cultivation, check out this awesome article Mark Emiley wrote for WAHA after attending HopUnions hop school in the summer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jesus, is it almost February?

We have done some moving around of things in the brewery operations and cellar space, and finally disposed of all of the former dead beat roomate's shit, to make room for more...yup, brewing stuff. My dear friend (and some of yours) Kevin is headed off to brewing school and we are stashing some stuff for him for the next few months.

With the addition of two new fridges (total of FIVE now), the draftiness and inefficient build of the house, my driving a vehicle that gets 10 miles to the gallon, and Rodney's 30 mile commute, I''m pretty sure we have the least green house and inhabitants in all of Seattle.I'm just waiting for someone to call me on it. We are in the middle of trying to figure something out, I promise hippies.

In other news, we have 10 gallons of Dopplebock bubbling away in Kevin's conical that was part of a very successful WAHA decoction clinic. I'm dumping the yeast tonight and brining it up for a diacetyl rest.The strain of yeast we used puts out a lot of sulfur, so basically the basement has smelled like a big fart for the past week or so.

I have a couple beers planned to make this week, including a variation of our Russian Imperial Stout, and another I'm planning on using an incremental sugar feeding method to boost the alcohol for a very special Halloween party that is in the works of being planned.

Cheers all and please check out Geoff Kaiser's awesome new page.