Monday, June 27, 2011

Hair Of The Dog Brewery

Attention homebrewers: one of the most important elements for a successful relationship between you and your significant other is the ability to communicate that they come first over your brewing hobby.

This seems at first glance a simple and obvious statement,  (or maybe just crazy talk) but how often do we ignore what is seemingly common sense? As passionate homebrewers we often move through the world with a maniacal focus on all things beer related, occasionally coming up for air now and again to see what the rest of the world is doing. Only then do we realize how we've completely ignored those that are important in our lives.

 This is the moment when the questions arise 'what can I do to make this right?'
Initially you might make the authoritative declaration, 'I'm not going to talk exclusively about brewing tools, techniques, equipment, the latest hop, the next beer festival, why my beer didn't attenuate, and on and on and on' Naturally, you both know this is a non-starter. When was the last time you went a whole day without some kind of beer talk? Setting goals that are too impossibly high to achieve is setting yourself up for failure. Better to aim for something reasonable.

 Well, I personally have not come up with the answer to this dilemma with the exception of one possible solution. How about putting a beer on tap with her name on it? A real private reserve so to speak, that she can call her own and claim you brewed it specifically for her because you love her! Maybe give it a cute label like, My Honey's Honey Ale, or I Only Have Ales For You. Now, I'm not suggesting that you deceive her or that this is in any way manipulative but that this gesture is done with the utmost sincerity and loving intention.

For this very reason, I found myself sitting down with fellow Zymurgeek homebrewer Mark C. to taste and evaluate Hair of the Dog's 'Ruth' pale ale. Mark is interested in brewing this beer at his wife's request. She took to liking this beer enough to make a request of ten gallons to be available on tap exclusively for her enjoyment.
Having a beer on tap that is specifically brewed for your partner, provides you with not only the opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude towards her, (proving that you do think of her and see her as more important than brewing), but also has the added benefit of paving the way towards opportunities (that is, agreements and cooperation) to expand on your brewing operations. Of course this would be a secondary consideration.

In any case we opened a bottle to enjoy and to see if we could recreate this great pale ale on a homebrewer scale.


This beer is golden copper in color and had very low carbonation and so was poured from about a foot above the glass to get a head on it. It is malt forward with some subtle fruitiness and little hop flavor. The bitterness is low but lingers long after the swallow. This is an easy drinking beer with low alcohol (4.5%), low carbonation and low bitterness, although the bitterness does well to balance the malt.

I sent off an email to the brewer asking for the recipe but haven't heard back yet and I'm not holding my breath. From what Mark and I could find on the label and through our observation and taste analysis of this beer, we're guessing it is mostly Pilsner malt with a small percentage of crystal #20 and or crystal #40. There may very well be a small amount of Victory malt too. The original gravity is approximately 1.042 with a final gravity of 1.010 and a bittering hop on the harsher end of the scale like Chinook at about 25 ibu's.

I'm sure there are many other ways of telling the ones you love that they are more important than your obsession with beer but during the writing of this post I couldn't come up with more. Please leave your suggestions in the comment section below so that all of us can benefit from the ideas.

National Homebrewers Conference Re-Cap

Please click on this link Brewed For Thought where, as a guest blogger I summarize my complete coverage of the National Homebrewers Conference. It gives all the sordid details of my sun up to sun down beer tasting exploits in San Diego.
I'm not sure what was happening here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

National Homebrewers Conference Beer Related Crafts

On day three of the National Homebrewers Conference I was able to video Peter Zien of Alesmith as he talked about brewing outside the box and not being afraid to develop your own recipes. Along with this encouraging speech he talked about his new venture into craft cheese making.

Again, sorry about the aggressive photographer that needed an excessive amount of time to get that perfect shot of Mr. Zien right in front of my camera. He eventually goes away.








Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Hope you've enjoyed these uploads and were able to get a little out of this conference. I will be posting some of my notes from some of the other lectures and other beer related stuff. I just need to get back home, rest, sober up and get creative with it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

National Homebrewers Conference Historical Beers

Stone Brewing's Mitch Steele give an interesting and informative presentation on historical extreme beers. Locating and deciphering early brewing recipes and techniques used in creating high gravity ales. This is video from Friday's conference schedule.
I really enjoyed the fact that no heads injured the quality of this production.




Part 2


Part 3


Part 4

Thursday, June 16, 2011

National Homebrewers Conference Brewing With Brett

As promised, here is the video of the day at the National Homebrewers Conference for Thursday June 16th. Warning: this is the most beer geeky video you will ever watch but is extremely informative if you are brewing or planning on brewing with brettanomyces.This lecture is presented by Chad Yakobson and is a total of one hour long.

Also, there is a short segment in which the guy in front of me eased his larger than normal sized head into the frame. Please click on the additional links for parts 2, 3 and 4.




Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

AHA Trip Day 1

Threading highway 101 through the ag lands that blanket the space between California's Southern coastal mountain ranges and the Pacific ocean, Christina, Mauricio and I stopped in Beulton to Visit the Firestone Walker tap room for lunch and a pint but decided to make a quick detour to Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. A short distance down the road, and located in a commercial section of town, Figueroa is the new kid on a block that could use a few more new kids.  
I know I just uploaded a guest post regarding Figueroa Mountain but since head brewer AJ Stoll is a personal friend from Santa Cruz, it didn't feel right not stopping to say hello myself. Lucky for us, AJ was in the process of loading a truck for a beer delivery and was gracious enough to take time out and give us a quick tour of the facility where he's brewing award winning beers. AJ recently moved down from Ukiah where he turned around Ukiah Brewing, transforming the mediocre and often times contaminated beers into stellar examples of classic styles.
 Now he seems proud to be heading up this fledgling venture, working with new equipment and already preparing the brewery for expansions to support the growing demand for the excellent beers he's producing. He showed us the  grain mill room that is specifically designed to be explosion proof and the construction going on, in preparation for a couple more larger fermentors. The brewing system appears physically demanding', the mash tun requires mashing in using large paddles (oars) but AJ says he enjoys this 'hands-on' approach, as he flexes his muscles smiling.
 We settled into the tap room and sampled a spectrum of delicious beers. Including the gold metal winning pilsner and American brown. Not to mention well made wheat, pale, Hoppy Poppy IPA and a red lager.
He surprised me when he explained a hopping technique that he uses effectively. AJ says he applies just two charges of hops in his beers including his IPA. A bittering hop at the beginning of the boil and then one other addition at the very end of the boil at the whirlpool. Incredibly, the hop aroma and flavor are pronounced and I plan to try this on my next homebrew.
Fortunately for the locals, they now have a choice besides Firestone Walker. So, stop by and say hello to AJ and thank him for bringing his considerable talents to Buelton.
 As we got back on the road I was already thirsty for more, and I know just the spot to stop. Goleta, a city just North of Santa Barbara is home to Hollister Brewing Company  Not only a great line up of superb beers but delicious food. Although a bit on the pricey side, there food hit the spot for these weary travelers and with a pint of The Pope IPA we were almost ready to run the gauntlet of the rush hour L.A. traffic. I said almost. Six lanes of stop and go, bumper to bumper insanity for several hours makes me question the whole idea of massively sprawling communities. Who are all these people and where are they all going at the same time? More importantly, why are they all in front of us? I need to get to San Diego, and get into some serious beer drinking. Soon!


 
Arriving in S.D. we felt the relief of finally reaching our destination and were eager to sooth our parched throats with sweet, sweet beer. Where can we find such a beverage? How about a section of town call Southpark.
We heard that Stone Brewing was having a 'soft opening' for their new retail store . We joined the neighborhood locals who crowded the narrow side walk outside the already filled to capacity room, waiting for their turn to have their growlers filled. Initially armed with high hopes of getting a chance to compare samples that were being served in a 'keep it' taster glass and getting our own growlers filled I felt my patience starting to wain.

Succumbing to my low tolerance for lining up to drink (even for the best of beers) and especially when I'm at the end of the line, I made my apologizes and abandoned my colleagues. I slipped into a fancy wine bar next door that just happened to have Stone's IPA on tap. I ordered a pint, took a comfortable seat with some strangers and enjoyed my beer sin linea.

At the end of our long journey, we made it to our destination that will be home for the duration of the National Homebrewers Conference experience. We broke into the homebrew and talked about the day. Now, it's time to plan our strategies for getting the most out of this geekiest of homebrew events.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cream Ale Recipe

If this recipe looks familiar, it is. Just check out the recipe for my Classic American Pilsner to compare. This is basically the same with the exception of the yeast. In this case I prefer the clean hard working yeast from Safale US05 fermented at temperatures between 60f. and 65f.

This is a quick and easy way to brew an ale that sort of mimics the light lagers that I make during the colder days of winter. With the temperatures rising now I don't have a way yet of producing lagers, so cream ale is a convenient alternative. (If you know about some type of miniture air conditioner that I could place in my fermentation chamber, leave a message in the comment section.) This style of beer is also clean, light, low alcohol and refreshing for the hot days of summer where all you want to do is sit back in the shade and quaff copious amount of cool homebrewed beer. Oh yes.

Yellow goodness


Once brewed, I try and let it sit in my kegerator for as long as possible before tapping,  allowing the beer to mature and clarify. It really just gets better with age. I age it under refrigeration for at least six to eight weeks.

This is also a good introduction beer for friends that are curious about homebrew but drink light lagers because it mimics the flavor of Bud and Coors and my personal favorite PBR.

Anyway, here's my recipe:

Cream Ale
For 11 gallons of wort going into the fermentor
efficiency of 92%
attenuation 75%
abv 5%
srm 5
ibu's 23 (next time I brew this I will reduce the IBU's to 18, at 23 it's a tad bit to bitter)
o.g. 1.048
f.g. 1.012

13 lbs 2-row
.5 lbs Munich
1.75 lbs Minute Rice (some people use corn but I prefer using minute rice because of the convenience and how little flavor and color are produced during its use)

Mash for 60 minutes in 5 gallons h2o at 154f.
Sparge with 11 gallons h2o at 180f.

Boil 60 minutes

Add .8 oz. Chinook hops (aa 11%) for last 60 mins. of boil
Add   1 oz. Centennial hops (aa 9%) for last 10 mins. of boil along with some Irish moss

Chill to 60f. and pitch 3 pkgs US05 or rack to US05 yeast cake from previous ale
Ferment until complete (in this case at on yeast cake at 68f. it took 4 days)
Rack to kegs, carbonate to 2.6v and set in kegerator to age at 47f. for 6 weeks.

I recommend you try this recipe and tell us how it turns out here.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Monterey Beer Festival

    For those interested in my take on the Monterey Beer Festival that just went down on Saturday. Please go see my guest posting here at Brewed For Thought.

    See you at the Nation Homebrewers Conference in San Diego.
    Peter B's pours through the Randall!

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    National Homebrewers Conference Schedule

    I'm heading South this week to attend the NHC from Thursday through Saturday and I've got plans to post my experiences here at least once a day if not more. Tentatively, I will try and get one video post per day that will feature a presentation that I have the most interest in. Those would be:
    1. Brewing With Brett: speaker Chad Yakobson on Thursday the 16th.
    2. Historical Extreme Beers: speaker Mitch Steele on Friday the 17th.
    3. Non-sour Barrel Aging: speaker Tomme Arthur on Saturday the 18th.



    These are suppose to be one hour lectures and so I will be breaking them down into 4 - fifteen minute segments. At least this is the plan. It's a long process loading video onto my computer, editing and then uploading to YouTube but I'm going to give it a try.

    Along with the videos I will be trying for some candid pictures, interviews and such, of the other activities I attend like the Pro-Brewer night and Club night.

    So, if you're not attending this event, check back here for what I hope will be interesting and educational posts almost live from San Diego.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    California Beer Festival - Aptos

    As the warm weather (and rain) hits the central coast it's the signal that the season for beer festivals has begun.  This year my intention is to attend all the beer related events occurring in my neck of the woods, that is the Santa Cruz, Monterey bay area.



    First up, the California Beer Festival. This event is the biggie for me because it's happening just a few short miles away from me in Aptos. For those that have been following Beer Diary... for awhile, you know that I've moved to nearby Capitola from Aptos a couple of years ago, so to attend a beer fest in Aptos would be like going home for me. Going home for beer that is.
    According to the CBF website:

    ...With over 60 craft brews on tap, four live bands, mouth watering food and bocce ball. CBF will be the event of the year for any beer enthusiast! CBF's main goal is to shine a light on the craft beer movement and celebrate great beer!
    For one low price, you will receive a souvenir tasting cup to sample some of the best craft beers from around the state, play bocce ball and listen to amazing music. This event will sell out, space is very limited. Purchase your tickets today to ensure a great time!


    I'm not sure about the bocce ball, but for the rest, sign me up.

    This year has a great line up including the usual heavy hitters like Anchor Steam, Gordon Biersch and Lagunitas, but what I'm looking forward to are the Irish beers of Strangford Lough Brewing Company and Ninkasi Brewing Co. who have some beers that I haven't seen in these parts.
    The other fun thing for me is to be able to say hello and to support my local brewers like Jason at Seabright Brewing, Alec at Uncommon Brewers, Mark at Ale Works and Chad at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing.

    What about the music? How about the soulful dance beat of Santa Cruz's own Extra Large band to keep the energy up as you sample your way to beer heaven.

    The Aptos park is an excellent location for an event like this, with a pristine creek running past a large open lawn area shaded by oaks and redwoods. The perfect place to chat with friend about your latest beer sample. What could be a better way to kick off the beer festival season.

    Let us know if you'll be attending.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Beer For Food Bartering

    On a regular basis people who sample my beers will ask 'can you sell this?' and I have to concede that, no, you can't sell homebrew.  Even if I wanted to, it's against the law to commercially produce and market beer to the public without a license. Actually, several licenses from local, state and federal authorities. Authorities that make a sincere effort to prevent most people from doing as they please.
    But for me, more importantly is that I don't want a job as a brewer, it's too much work and besides, it's not about making money. I'm content to keep my brewing at the level of hobby. To brew for the enjoyment of the process and take pleasure in the results of my efforts. To share with family and friends and gain the satisfaction of seeing the delight that crosses their surprised faces when they ask 'Is this really home made?' But man does not live on beer bread alone. A certain quantity of protein is needed in his diet to keep him in the upright position and fully functioning. This brings me to my most recent endeavour, trading homebrew for food. Not just trading but trading locally. I like the idea of keeping within the local economy and doing my small part to create a common cause that brings the community together. Think sustainable.

    The question then becomes, where can I find these community minded people that produce local food and also would be willing to trade for homemade beer. Oh yeah, the farmers market a few blocks up the street.

    Local food to be had

    I figured hey, these are hard working people who can appreciate a well made and hand crafted food product. Not to mention, we share similar passions, but where I'm pulled to brew beer they venture just as enthusiastically in a different direction. They may be producing honey from their own hives in the back yard or raising grass fed beef, growing organic vegetables on a few acres near their home. How about fresh fish caught that morning from the bay that I can see from the market parking lot, talk about local. If this trading plan were to work out, the list of possibilities for food is endless, sausage, eggs, chicken, beef, veggies of all kinds, jams, nuts.

    My plan was simple, bottle up a variety of ales from my kegerator. Fill up a cooler with said beer and wander through the booths on Saturday. I'd size up the vendors and their product for a good match to trade and offer them a sample beer or two to take home to try out. Then, follow up the next week to see if they have any interest. They did.



    At this point in time I have a weekly trade going on with the producers of a selection of excellent small batch cheeses produced at a family farmstead  that has been in the dairy business for generations. These artisan cheeses are by far some of the best I've had. This family business that started as a cheese making hobby a couple of years ago now produces one to two hundred pounds of cheese a week.




    The other vendor that I trade with has fresh fish out of Santa Cruz. This is a company that only sells at farmers markets and specializes in sustainable seafood focusing mostly on line-caught local species. They also have some exotics like Ahi which I had last week which I rolled in sesame seeds and pan seared to lay over rice, yum!


    I've still got my feelers out for some red meat but it's just a matter of time. Besides the meat, I was thinking that trading for honey might be a good match. I could then use this local honey to brew a honey ale of some sort. A little icing on the cake so to speak, icing is always nice. Then I could trade the honey beer back to the honey vendor to show them how their product can be utilized in my product. Ooh, a win, win, win.

    Suffice to say that there are no limits to how far this could go to supplement my diet with needed protein, without having to sell beer to make money in order to buy food.

    If you're in the habit of producing more beer than you can consume, like me, I would recommend you form your own food connections in your area as well, I would encourage it. The only requirement is quality homebrew. Everyone likes good beer and food.

    Do you trade beer for food? Tell us about it in the comment section below. Let's help each other get back to the basics of local bartering for a healthy community.

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