Monday, December 6, 2010

The world of things keeping me from brewing...

I haven't been making beer... at all. The last batch I made was the red ale that I got on the cheap. Since then (mid October), I have acquired more and more equipment with the purpose of making better beer and soon stepping up to all-grain batches. Really, the biggest obstacle has been of the financial variety. There are always the usual expenses in my life like food, rent, bills, etc. However, with the added cost of replacing the coolant pump, hoses, and thermostat on a suburban it doesn't leave a whole lot of spending money.

Secondly, I worked more last month than I have in a very long time. I did at least have a lot of fun doing it. I work for a photo booth company that mostly does wedding, birthdays, and the like. I recently worked a few conventions as well. These are more stressful than most as far as setting up and loading/unloading go.
The benefit of doing them is a lot of down time. Normally I just have to check on the thing every fifteen minutes or so to make sure the paper doesn't get jammed up or run out. This leaves me with a lot of time to read... something that even feels odd for me to say. I finally finished a the biggest book I have ever read, 1001 Beers to Try Before You Die. From this I learned that there are so many awesome beers of the world that I really don't care about. And yes, the United States makes some great beers, so does Germany, so does England, and so does Belgium. Surprised? No. It is rather annoying to read about these supposedly majestic brews that I am likely to never come across. For instance one of them is only served one day a week for only a couple of hours in a remote village in Germany. It was really cool to read about the brewery histories and see the dates of the recipe formulation for most of the beers though. I was happy to see that Rogue, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Goose Island, Dogfish, and numerous others from the U.S. had several that made the cut.

I also finished Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher. This is one of my favorite brewing books. Full of historic references, recipes, and outlandish ideas, it is a very motivating book. I'd have to make a beer every week for a year to do all that I have book-marked. Convention centers have some nice quiet hiding spots to make all of this brew-book reading possible.

I recently acquired a few new books as well:
The Homebrewers Companion by Charlie Papazian
Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels
Brewing with Wheat by Stan Hieronymus

The major reason I haven't made anything in a while is that I need to get a propane burner. I have a new 10 gallon kettle. I can't imagine trying to get 6 or 7 gallons of wort to boil on a stove top. It would likely take half a day while straddling two burners. I don't want to pay the gas bill after a month of that.

I will be getting a burner soon, and have mentally planned out the first batches I will make on it:
1. English Imperial IPA modeled after Stone's Emperial IPA
2. Vanilla Cream Ale (using organic grains, hops, and vanilla beans)
3. Lavender Red Rye Ale
4. American Barleywine
5. Oatmeal Stout
This isn't necessarily the order, but you get the idea.

In closing: Random Pictures!

In order: Realtor convention, Red Ale keg set-up for Halloween in costume, Exploded Pumpkin Ale, What happens to a book shelf when beer explodes?, Bottle Tree!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pumpkin Ale! (a picture story - kinda)

It took me a few days to get around to it, but not for lack of trying. I decided to make a pumpkin ale for Halloween.

So here it goes (Recipe is for an extract brewer with very little equipment):

6-10 lb Pumpkin
1 lb Vienna Malt
0.5 lb Crystal Malt 40L
0.5 lb Malted Wheat
6 lb Light Dried Malt Extract
1 cup Brown Sugar
0.5 cup Molasses
1 oz Mt. Hood Hops (boiling)
0.8 oz Hallertauer Hops (finishing)
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spices
0.25 tsp Ginger
American Ale Yeast

Cut up 6 to 10 pounds of pumpkins (like the ones for pie)

Roast the pumpkin in an oven at 350 degrees for about an hour (or until soft)

Add grains and roasted pumpkin to pot or mash-tun or kettle or whatever. Let this stew for an hour at about 150 degrees.

Bring Wort to a boil and add brown sugar, molasses, and dried malt extract. Don't let it boil over!

Add Mt. Hood Hops. This is when to start a timer. These hops will be in the boil for a total of 60 minutes. There isn't anything else to do for 45 minutes, so it is a great time to clean up what you can and have a beer... or two.

Today I used this time to siphon off two big bottles worth of the Imperial Stout that I made some time ago.

The rest of the Imperial Stout won't be ready until xmas time after it is aged in an oak barrel that I have yet to even order.

Consider it good luck when making a Halloween beer to have a black cat trotting about in the brewspace (kitchen in my case).

After 45 minutes of boiling, add the Hallertauer Hops. These will boil for the last 15 minutes.

Turn off the burner. Make sure everything is well-stirred. Add the pumpkin pie spice and ginger.

Stir in the spices, and cool down the wort as quickly as possible. For me, this means filling the bathtub with cold water and putting the pot into it.

After the wort is cooled to about 80 degrees, transfer it to a fermenter. Since it is an extract recipe add cold water to get to about 5 gallons (or to get the target sugar levels and specific gravity and potential alcohol and such, but lets not stress ourselves right now.

Add yeast. Make a pretty label.

After cleaning up the sticky mess strewn about the kitchen by the insane amount of pumpkin and whatnots so your girlfriend doesn't freak out about having sticky feet every time she goes through the kitchen; Have a beer and a hookah... you deserve it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beer Day!

I decided to make today beer day due to sheer boredom. I made a batch of beer that most closely resembles a black belgian or belgian porter. I think I'm going to call it "Belgian Blackout" to go with the beer I bottled a couple weeks ago that is more of a stereotypical Belgian ale named "Angry Belgian Imposter." It is "angry" because of a high alcohol content of about 14%. I also bottled an IPA I made about a week ago. It smells amazing and I can't wait to have a taste. This IPA is actually the cheapest beer I have ever made, being on a tight budget and all. I spent a total of $26 on all the ingredients. The best part is that I could have made it even cheaper, but I refuse to skimp out on hops while making an IPA. It just wouldn't be right.

The "Angry Belgian..." that I mentioned turned out really well. As you may have noticed, I'm on a belgian kick. I like them. A lot. Anyway, I really think it tastes a lot like Corsondunk (spelling?) except not quite as dry tasting. Cosondunk is a fairly popular belgian beer in the U.S. and I have found it in grocery stores most of the places I have lived (not WV).

It has been a long time since I updated this blog... I honestly forgot about it comletely for a little bit. Hopefully that won't be the case this time.

Do me a favor... have a beer.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Here are some recipes... (all for a 5 gal. batch) enjoy...

Oatmeal Stout:
6.6 lb Light unhopped malt syrup
1 lb crystal malt 80L
0.5 lb Black Patent malt
0.5 lb chocolate malt
0.5 lb flaked oats
0.5 lb roasted barley
1.5 oz kent goldings hops
1 tsp irish moss
pacific ale yeast

Honey Wheat Ale:
4 lb pale malt extract syrup
2.2 lb bavarian wheat malt extract
3/4 oz kent goldings hops (bittering)
5 lb clover honey
0.25 oz kent goldings hops (aroma)
burton ale yeast

Lavender/Juniper Gruit:
2 lb cara-pils malt
1 lb crystal malt
0.5 lb flaked oats
6.6 lb pale malt extract syrup
1 lb wheat dry malt extract
2 tsp irish moss
2 oz dried woodruff
1 oz dried lavender
1 oz dried juniper berries
0.5 oz dried rosemary

This is just to give an example of what goes into a few different beers. I try to reuse as many ingredients as possible in beers made around the same time to cut costc a little. If you are curious about any other recipes let me know and I'll post it or find out about it.

p.s.- I expect to make the gruit on Monday or Tuesday. That is actually, Mel wants to make her first beer. I will be instructing her as she makes it. I'm really excited about this one and can't wait to have a taste.

Bottling time!

So it took longer to get around to all of the bottling that was needed than I expected. Mel and I bottled a lot of alcohol yesterday. We started with her first batch of mead, and its looking great. I had a little taste when I was siphoning it into the bottling bucket, and was surprised to find it actually palatable. Normally, I can't stand the taste of mead or even any wine for that matter. It comes in at around 11% alcohol which is right where it should be. It will only be about 6 more months until it is conditioned and ready to drink. I impatiently look forward to it.

Secondly, we bottled my oatmeal stout. This fermented for a little over a month. The stout is very similar to a beer I made about a year ago and loved. This time around I added flaked oats to the mix as well. This should improve the mouth feel and accent the roasted barley a bit more. Hopefully, the oatmeal stout will be ready to drink in a couple weeks. One of the few people to try the original stout from last year was my friend Eric in Oregon. When I called him earlier he flipped out about it. Apparently that was the first beer he had that wasn't of the Bud, Coors, Miller variety. He is only 21 and already becoming a "beer snob," so I suppose I've already managed to make my own small impact in a world consumed by corporate beers.

I find it hard to believe that so many people's taste in beer is of the watered-down, mass produced variety. I preface this by saying "If that is what you really like, than by all means enjoy it." But when there are so many other options out there why not find a local beer. They are most often just a dollar or two more than Bud or Miller or what-have-you.

For example:
I grew up in West Virginia, there wasn't much of a choice there when I was young. Now however, the grocery store has a lot of choices. My favorite being a beer from the state by a brewery called Mountaineer Brewing Company out of Martinsburg, WV. They make some really good brews including an IPA, porter, stout, and so on.

I lived in Chicago for a while and there were so many choices there. Especially if you check out a chain called Binny's. Of coarse there is Goose Island. They make an amazing oatmeal stout and the best wheat beer I've had to date, 312. In fact, a 312 box is still the wallpaper on my phone.

After Chicago I moved to Portland, Oregon. I only stayed there for a year and a half (maybe a little less actually). I still regret not making it to every brewpub in the city, but every little place I found had at least one great beer. Like the Chernobyl Stout at Tug Boat Brewpub, Bridgeport's IPA, the lavender ale from Root's Brewpub, the IPA from Amnesia, or anything at the Rogue brewpub.

I recently moved to New Orleans. I haven't been here long, but I have already found a really good local brewery. NOLA brewery. I've been pestering them for a job since before I got here. In my humble opinion, their IPA is one of the best. Its called "Hopitoulous" which is a play on the name of the street where they are located.

My point is this...
Have some pride in where you are from and what you drink. Personally, I like beer. I don't like beer that tastes like funky alcoholic water. Think of beer like you think of food. Fresher the better right? To me, most local beers are the equivalent of food from a fine dining type place, while Bud, Coors, etcetera are the same as McDonald's or Burger King. Also, If we all start drinking, eating, thinking locally it will go a long way towards many great things like improving the local economy, cutting costs due to fuel, cutting carbon emissions, and just plain improving our day to day lives as well as our earth.

Friday, April 9, 2010

a brief explanation...

There are two reasons am calling this project "greenbrewing." Which are: 1. my last name is green (I know, how creative!) and 2. It is my goal to begin brewing organically and with as little harm to the earth as possible.

The thought of starting this entered into my head-noodle very recently when my girlfriend (Mel) started a blog of her own.

You'll hear more about her later. It my goal to have a creative outlet, as well as to learn and teach. I expect to mostly learn.

With that said, I currently have a number of brews in the works. I have recently made an IPA, Mocha Porter, and Chocolate Porter. I have a Honey Wheat Ale conditioning in bottles which should be ready to drink within the week. I also have an Oatmeal Stout in the fermentor, ready to be bottled. Mel made her first batch of mead about two months ago and is about to be bottled as well. It is my plan to make my first gruit tomorrow. This is assuming that i can run out to the herb store and acquire some dried juniper berries. By the way a gruit is a very old style of beer that doesn't use any hops. I love hops as much as the next guy, but experiments tend to be the most fun for me. I will post recipes for these in the near future.

Hello and welcome!

After some careful consideration, I have decided to start a blog. This blog is meant to be about beer, brewing beer, my life as it relates to beer and brewing, as well as various rants, raves, compliments, and concerns.

I am 24, and have been a homebrewer for 3 years. I AM NO EXPERT. The majority of the beers I make are from a combination of grains and extracts. I began my journey in Chicago. At the time there was only one homebrew shop in the city. There are however a few more in the suburbs. Due to not having my car in the city (too expensive to park), I walked to the store and called a cab for the ride home with my new homebrewing kit, bottles, and ingredients. I started with one of those beginner kits with pretty much all plastic buckets. My first batch was an American Cream Ale from Brewer's Best. I was hooked. It was delicious.

In the beginning, I was only curious. Curious about beer. I had long loved craft beers and wanted to see if it would be less expensive to make them myself, rather than paying exorbitant prices and taxes. It was most definitely less expensive. As my knowlede and experience grew, so did my eagerness to try new things. This blog is another one of those new things.