Monday, November 24, 2008

Duvel clone

The Duvel clone is in the fermenter and should be ready to be racked to kegs in a couple more days. I used 17lbs. of am. 2-row and 6lbs. of beet sugar for this 10 gal. batch of beer. Again, no Pilsner malt, which is what is called for and instead the 2-row because I want to use it up before my hiatus for three months. In the mean time, I am going to adapt the light socket in the storage unit where I will be stowing all my crap, to accept a 110v. outlet so that I can plug in my kegerator to lager the Chimay and Duvel clones. On another note, I received my Dry Malt Extract, bottle caps and dry yeast from the homebrew supply place and have gathered together some essential miscellaneous brewing materials that I can't purchase in Mexico (bottle capper, refractometer, etc.). The larger items like the boil pot, buckets and burner I will purchase down there at the Tuesday flea market. I will be using some local ingredients like 'meil de agave', honey, and chiclets (just kidding), to suppliment the original gravity of these beers.
Did You Know? The Ancient Mayans chewed a sapota tree resin called chicle, which is the basis for modern chewing gum.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beers on oak

As zymurgeeks, we meet once a month to share and discuss the fruits of our brewing efforts and enjoy the company of people passionate about the hobby we enjoy the most in our lives. This month we met at member Brad's house for his homemade porter infused chili and and to partake in an assortment of oak aged beers presented by Dave Bossie. I can appreciate oak flavor in beer just like I appreciate the history from which those flavors are derived. The flavors of a time before the advent of stainless steel when the typical fermenting vessels were necessarily made of hardwood. But I have to say that I have a problem when the dominant flavor in a beer is of the vessel in which it is matured. Fortunately, all of the beers we tasted had supportive flavors of oak, adding to the character and complexity of the beer rather than overpowering. I was impressed with the Stone Brewing's 'Arrogant Bastard Oak' as having a balance of malt and oak flavors with good hop bitterness. The other beers I tasted, the oak was subdued. Those beers include Petrus Oud Bruin which is a very nice Flanders sour and the J. W Lees 'Harvest Ale' that had a bourbon/malt character and hints of a subtle oak flavor.

Recently returned from
Octoberfest in Munich,
Steve pours a beer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Chimay Tripel

I'll be heading back to Mexico at the end of the Month and I thought that I would brew a couple beers that I can put in storage for the three months that I will be gone. Additionally, I don't want to waste the grain I have by leaving in storage to get stale. I decided on two high gravity beers that would benefit from several months of winter storage. One, a Chimay Cinq Cent, Trappist trippel clone and the other, a Duvel, Belgian Golden Ale clone. Both are in the area of 8% abv. I would normally use Pilsner malt for both of these beers but the grain I want to use up is American 2-row, so I will substitute and accept that the beer will not be as light in color as I would prefer.
Both beers are simply Pilsner malt (in this case 2-row) and light Candi sugar (in this case beet sugar). The Chimay will be fermented with a Trappist ale yeast WhiteLabs WLP500 and the Duvel Whitelabs WLP 570 Belgian Golden ale yeast. I've got the Chimay clone in the fermenter now and the original gravity was 1.076 which is a tad lower than my target gravity but if it ferments down to the final gravity that I want, it will be at the alcohol percentage that I want. The aroma coming from Trappist ale yeast wafting from the fermenter is wonderful and spicy and is giving me ideas about using it in a wheat beer, maybe a Dunkelweizen in the spring when I return. Both recipes include noble hops with the IBU's in the 30's.
In the mean time I will be placing an order from More Beer for some dry malt extract to take with me to Mexico. I will be taking enough to make three 5 gal. batches of ale. Two will be pale ales supplemented with some local agave and/or honey and one 5 gal. batch of hefeweizen. Once in Mexico I will keep you posted regarding my ongoing efforts to procure brewing ingredients locally.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Monterey Coast Brewing

Salinas has a brew pub!
I took the time today to head over to Salinas for a sampling of beers at Monterey Coast Brewing. I entered the historic brick building on Main Street in the 'Old Town' part of Salinas and immediately approached the copper mash tun and boil kettle that are situated near the entrance. The warm atmosphere of the pub was enhanced by the rising steam coming off the kettle.

I sat down at the redwood plank bar and set into tasting the nine different beers on tap beginning with an American wheat that was true to style and very refreshing. I tasted my way through the lighter beers, a Pilsner, Hefeweizen, and an Octoberfest style of lager. Each very drinkable and a little low on the bitterness scale for my taste. I continued my samplings with a nicely balanced 'Scottish Red Ale', a toasty Nut Brown, a Porter and finally a Stout that had a distinctive caramel assertiveness and a sweet finish. The food is your standard pub fare with the added element of the deep fried artichoke hearts that are grown locally on the enormous farms that stretch out across the Salinas valley.
After careful consideration I elected to enjoy a full pint of the Scottish Red while I watched the owner and brewmaster Charles Lloyd go about prepping a bright tank in order to transfer a fresh batch of pale ale. Charles Lloyd, a modest man, opened his doors for business six years ago and said Salinas was the perfect location for his brewpub. Doing business in Salinas is relatively inexpensive compared to other cities in the Monterey Bay area and Salinas didn't have a brewery. To this day, MCB is the only brewery in Salinas. The next closest is in nearby Marina So, the clientele are loyal locals thirsty for fresh made beer. Lloyd confided that the new cineplex that opened next door didn't hurt his business either as there is nothing better than a pint before the show. Also, just half a block away is the Steinbeck museum that usually draws a crowd. I can only assume that those literary types are thirsty for beer along with Steinbeck's rich legacy.
Previous to starting his brewery in Salinas Lloyd brewed in the Pacific Northwest after having a past in English brewing.
I asked about the mash tun. I noticed that there was no grain auger. He smiled and pointed out that that equipment will come when the funds are available so in the mean time the grain is hoisted up and in by hand, an average of a thousand pounds per batch.
Oh, and the steam rising from the boil kettle that I noticed coming in, that will be a Belgian Double.
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