Thursday, November 26, 2009

Homebrew Links

Put up some homebrew links to both online suppliers and a very helpful layout by John Palmer that hits all the main points of his "how-to" book.  Hope this helps

Willy Blanks

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NEWBIES Curiosity

alright, i have read a few reasons why you would have a primary and a secondary fermentation, but what does everyone on here think? Is there a true benefit in the secondary, other than for those batches which you add extra ingredients for aging (i.e. vanilla beans, oak chips etc.)? Does it improve taste? what does everyone think, i have not been able to get a straight answer on this.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Time to spread some holiday beer!

Up on the roof top a reindeer groans, down the the chimney slips Santy Bones. Do not fear the Santy Bones he will soon be delivering his precious cargo to all the good little boys and girls. Smelling of pine and spice he is checking his list and checking it twice trying to find who is naughty and nice! So be on your best behavior or you may get a lump of coal, or even worse a Schmidt Ice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Blonde Porn Star

So the Journey Begins, Story of my life, pleasing the women of my life. Creating a beer to your own likings is easy, but to figure out what SHE wants may become much more problematic. So it begins, The Blonde Porn Star, Light, Fluffy, yet with a hint of bitterness, and a lack of floral aromas.
Ahhhhh the ingredients, only the best from Larry's Brewing Supply, Pilsner Malt, German Yeast, Fuggle Hop Pellets ( Larry's Recommendation-never used pellets so this will be a first) and some Crystal 10L Grains.

Before I begin we thought we might start the season early with a few new brews which caught our eyes as we walked the beer selection in the local QFC.

This time around i opted to go with filtered water, our apartment water lends an aftertaste similar to licking a hop flavored water hose with a bite of Bothell Washington added in for extra flavor.... Rachel and i both can live without!

This Blonde Porn Star needs a man with a large sack (no pun intended) to sow the seeds which i just happen to have one on hand to prepared my grains.

Ready to go, got the water fired up and ready to seep my grains, approximately 20 minutes, as the grains sat the blonde's juice begain to gain character. While the grains added the needed character to this sassy blonde, i took this time to weight out my hops and warm this blondes sweet spot for when we really turn the heat up, to get this baby boiling.

We'll cut to the chase, and forget the foreplay lets see some porn!

Unfortunately my Blonde Porn Star doesn't like to get hot while i watch Sunday night football and gave me that sassy attitudes she is known for, all it took was a touch down and a lap around the apartment and, yes, of course the boil over.

But a little attitude wont stop me, while i wait for my ice bath to cool my girl down, i took the time to clean up the mess and do my due diligence in sanitization to prepare my carboy and other pornstar handling equipment.

Like with most women, the time and effort is always worth the final taste, but right now this Blonde needs some rest, and so do I...........more to come.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Coors Light-A Redneck Love Story

Upon walking through my local redneck supermarket I was drawn to the sound of a flowing river through the Rockies.  Slowly I walked with dreams of Nascar, mullets, double wides, lifted trucks and the confederate flag.  What could this force of brewing nature be?  I took off my Stihl hat and scratched my flowing mullet topped head that would make Billy Ray ask me for an autograph.  This shining bastion of redneckdom, this "silver bullet" was able to slay any man's knowledge and love of what beer really is.  I reached out to grab this can that is the holy grail of the hillbilly nation and wrapped my Copenhagen smelling hands around it.  It burned with icy cool power of the Rockies, I pulled out my skinnin knife to help balance this beast into my Carhart pocket.

At home I took a drink, not some girly man sip but a chug that any frat boy would shy from.  The first taste that mixed in with the Redman in my mouth was a watered down cereal taste that bubbled in my mouth-virtually tasteless. The aftertaste was slightly horse pissey with a hint of dog piss at the back of the tongue, and if you don't know what those taste like-you ain't a redneck.  Some of this nectar of the Rockies spilled on my bib overalls and flannel shirt which brought a tear to my eye at such a waste.  I give this beer a 4 of 10 cuz that is as high as I can count and is the same amount of daddy's I got.  Welp talk to ya later-YYEEEHHHAAAAWWWW

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mocha Death-Iron Horse Brewery

I have been a fan of Iron Horse Brewery since I first had the luck of finding Quilter's Irish Death in a bottle.  It's name being a smack in the face to the Irish Ale's out there, being that it is a Scottish style ale, grabs you from the first glance.  This seasonal adaptation of an already great brew spawned a jig out of me when I noticed it in the isle.  I had to try it as soon as I could.

It pours a clear dark brown with a small khaki head, and some lacing.  The smell is of coffee grounds, and cocoa bean, but the malty goodness of its unmolested big brother is still present.  The taste is smooth, with a strong coffee mouth feel, a little chocolate in the back of the throat, and a mildly sour malt at the end that ends a little on the bitter side.

By far, this holiday season, this is my favorite brew.  I plan on buying a case of this, when the wifey lets me, just on the sheer fact that I don't see it being trumped this holiday season by any offerings in its category-stouts not included it is a Scottish Ale.

Willy Blanks

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Deschutes Jubelale 2009

Me first winter season brew. 12 oz bottle poured into pint glass. Dark amber in color, looks black until you hold it up to the light. 1/4 inch off white head(but it did not last long). Smells floral and slightly boozy. Tastes piney all the way through with a mild amount of maltiness that gives good balance. That's pretty much it. Almost just like a slightly malty IPA. This year kinda disappoints. I seem to remeber the previous two years having holdiay spicyness in the hops like; clove and toffee. Not so this year, but still a decent brew. I just don't feel the jubel in this ale.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Round Two...

Well, the Vanilla Bourb...err...I mean "Vanilla Tennessee Whiskey Stout" (wow, that doesn't roll off the tongue at all) was finally ready to transfer to secondary they other day. I got myself three NICE Madagascar Vanilla Beans from Cost Plus, split them open, scraped out the insides and dumped them in a bottle of Jack Daniels to soak ahead of time (you know, bring out all those great alcohol-soluble flavors). Addressing some comments that I know I just generated:

Q: Why Crack Daniels instead of a *real* bourbon?
A: Well...cuz I like it :-) And it's my beer so :-P

Q: How did you know how much Jack Daniels to use?
A: Simple...I took a 12-ounce beer, added a teaspoon, took a sip, repeated until I liked it and scaled up to five gallons :-)

Anyway, here's me using my awesome auto-siphon. If you don't have one, get one. It's the best $8 you'll spend.

Yep...and here's me still waiting (it's not exactly a quick process)

You can see some of the vanilla beans floating around in there. I tell ya, this thing smelled AWESOME by the time it was all done mixing!

I was pretty impressed at the sediment in the bottom. Hooray Irish Moss...and Hooray Gravity!

Here it is from another angle...

Anyway, I know this wasn't as exciting as the initial brewing...what with its crazy boil-over action and whatnot, but it was pretty novel to me. Happy Brewing!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Holiday Porter

Blanks and I just put this brew into the primary fermenter. Our new keg-kettle worked pretty good, except for the fact that the filter for the siphon got clogged because of the fresh grated ginger root that was added to the boil. Oh well good thing I put handles on it allowing us to drain the hot wort into the fermenter. I will keep this post updated as the process unfolds.

Bier de Pharoa!

I was in Bethlehem PA recently for a business trip and ended up staying at Historic Hotel Bethlehem. (Aparrantly it is haunted. We did have some weird things happen, but thats another story!) Wouldn't you know it, there was a brewery right down the street. Bethlehem Brew works was the name. I decided to try some of their seasonal faire and they had a Meade called Bier de Pharoa. Here is their description of their tribute to the ancient kings of old.

"Biere De Pharaoh has an amazing 13.8% A.B.V.!The strongest beer ever at the Brew Works. Biere de Pharaoh is only available at the Bethlehem Brew Works. Brewed with 660 lbs. of locally produced orange blossom honey in homage to the ancient Egyptians, who were the first brewers. Reaching out across time to give us a beer that is sweet and thick with a deep honey color."

When I first got it, I was thinking "wow... thats not a lot of beer, and this thing cost me almost 10 bucks!" What I was not prepared for was the sucker punch to the throat that it will give you. When you first taste it, you get a really sweet orangy taste due to the orange blossom honey. It is almost a bit overpowering. The aftertaste it leaves is that of straight honey, but you can tell its the orange blossom honey because its has a little citris aura about it. One of these little gems will pretty much get your buzz going especially if you have not had anything to eat. The only downside is, it is so sweet that if you are planning on having dinner you need to choose your food wisely to compliment the brew. I had ordered a burger and once i had the burger the tastes were so offsetting that it made the meade unenjoyable. Definatly would have been worth it though with like a salmon over rice pilaf. something light like that.

Tried a couple new brews this weekend

Jeremy had an awesome idea with posting about new brews you've tried and liked/not-liked...The aren't really "seasonal" brews, but they were new to me, so I thought I'd mention them :-) The first beer I picked for two reasons: The first and foremost was that Courtney and I were doing a fondue and the cheese recipe called for a "light beer"...I decided some artistic license was required and, instead, opted for a "light-colored beer." I mean seriously...If I wanted to drink that crap I'd have bought a bottle of Mountain Dew and left it outside with no lid for a week. Anywho, I randomly selected this guy:

I gotta say, for a cheese fondue, this was AWESOME! It was just a touch more "fruity" than I've been used to (don't know if this is normal or not...but it was new to me). The best way I can describe it was being pretty "sharp." It wasn't as full bodied as a stout...which is normal since it's an IPA, but it definitely had a stronger aroma and flavor. All in all I'd recommend it. I'm still a stout kind of guy, but this was a very fun experiment.

The next one I tried was admittedly selected because 1) it was sort of a "stout" and 2) it was dirt cheap. I wasn't really interested in it for it's good qualities, but rather because I was looking to calibrate how much bourbon to add to my vanilla bourbon stout :-)

I poured exactly 12 ounces, added a teaspoon of Jack Daniels, took a sip, added another teaspoon, took another sip, etc, and then just scaled up to my 5-gallon batch. For THAT purpose, it was pretty good. I have to say, though, for a stand-alone beer, the only word I can think to describe it is "meh." It was dark, alcoholic, and somewhat drinkable (I guess) but pretty earthy and not really one of those that made me thing "dang, I gotta get this again!" Sadly, I didn't even make it though the whole thing. It wasn't that it was "bad" per just wasn't that great. I suppose this is one of those cases where price reflected quality. I know that's not always true (sometimes the opposite), but in this case it was.

So that was that. I can't WAIT until my own batch is done :-D


Today was especially hard to get up... scrapbooking all weekend -Jerm seemed to like what I created... even geeked out and showed Justin right when he walked in the door last night! Can't wait to scrapbook our beer pics- YES! Those will be fun to do, especially after I get pics of those enjoying our scrumptious drinkage! (FYI, that's your only warning! Reading this gives me all access to embarrass you!) Anyways, back to work- someone's gotta bring home the bacon... :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Keggle Project

That's right I said Keggle! Please do not confuse this with Kegel. This ain't that blog.

A Keggle is a converted beer keg/brew kettle hence the name Keggle, I guess. Basically its just an old beer keg with the top cut out and a spigot added to the bottom. So being a DIY guy, when I saw an old beer keg on craigslist I just couldn't pass it up. I called the number and was over to the guys house the same day.

Cutting out the top was pretty easy. My Dad has a pneumatic die grinder that made quick work of the stainless which is pretty tough metal.

I got most all of my ideas for this project online. Most of the Keggles I saw were made with the newer style snake keg. The keg I procured would take a little more effort to convert to big a** brew kettle. Reason being it has a bung hole in the middle that must be welded. Lucky for me my Stepfather has a nice TIG welder! So I moved the project there.

After the bung was welded air tight with some scrap from the top that I cut out. We took some more pieces of scrap stainless to build up the bottom of the keg. The original plan was to just drill and tap a hole in the bottom for the spigot but there just wasn't enough material to get a good thread. So once Tim (my Stepdad) welded enough material on, I drilled and tapped out some thread that would accept a 3/8" brass pipe & ball valve spigot.

I made a siphon out of a piece of brass coat rack. Then I built a filter for the siphon out of brass mesh. Don't want no freaking trub in my brew! The last thing I did was bolt some steel gate handles on either side with stainless hardware. I also bought a barb fitting for the spigot to accept a tube for racking.

All in all it went pretty well. $35.00 for the keg and and another $30.00 for the spigot pieces and handles. Not too shabby. All ready to roll Spo-compton this weekend to do work.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


That's apples in espanol for all you gringos out there! We are bottling the cider tonight, so of course we had to "taste test" it.... *drool* Wow... It's one of the best ciders (besides that organic one that J bought us and I can't seem to find ...) it's a dry cider that is tart (which I LOVE) has a hint of cloves and cinnamon in the aftertaste... Jerm says the abv is 6.2%. Exciting! Gotta get back to bottling! :)

Open Review Forum

Due to the influx of new seasonal brews that I seem to see whenever I am browsing my local beverage supplier I thought it would be a good idea to start a new thread. Just add as an original post and we can go from there. Any brew you find that you find worthy, or unworthy, of consumption will work.  Pass a hint or save a trip for your partners in crime.

Willy Blanks

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vanilla Bourbon Stout...I hope

Ok, here it first post AND my first "serious" beer. Join me on this magical wondrous process I like to call "a lot of freakin' work."

After having the Vanilla Bourbon Stout at Steamplant Grill, I knew I had to make my own. So I donned my finest (pronounced "only") chef jacket and got ready!

I gathered up all of my ingredients, mostly courtesy of Rebel Brewer, although the liquid malt extract came from Midwest Supplies, and got to work cleaning everything.

With that trivial formality out of the way, it was time for some real fun...putting grain in socks! Ok...they weren't socks, they were muslin bags, but you gotta admit they kinda LOOK like socks :-) I put the grains into a bag because in my unique case I don't really have a way to strain them out once I start this whole process, so this worked pretty handy.

Once my grains were all socked...err..."bagged", it was time to go out to the garage and get the boiler fired up.

That's heard me...that's 240 volts I'm pumping through this thing baby. No sense doing something halfway, right? So with the power on and the dial turned to the highly descriptive and helpful "8", I waited...

Anywho, it didn't take long (or maybe it didn't SEEM like long since the wife and I were alone in the garage together...anyway) and my water was up to temperature.

In goes the grain soc..."bag." These grains are going to steep for about 35 minutes.

As soon as I threw it in, I was pretty amazed at how remarkably similar this thing was to a huge freakin' tea bag. A beautiful amber color almost immediately started leeching out into the water, and it even smelled vaguely reminiscent of freshly brewed tea mixed with a good cup of coffee. It was neat.

Anyway, with that going, it was time to get my liquid malt extract softening up. I threw it in a large pot of water and turned it on "Low." I probably could have gone higher, but I was going more for "liquid malt extract" and not "liquid melted plastic jug."

"BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP." Oop! That sound meant it was time to fish my grain bag out.

My freaking huge, now-swollen, heavy, ohpleasegoddon'tletthistearopen grain bag.

And then we crank things up to 11! Well...10 in this case...but if there HAD been an 11 on the dial I would have turned to that. I mean unless 11 was only, like, halfway or something, in which case I would have turned it up all the way. But then I still would have called it "turning it to 11" even though 11 was half way and...oh forget it...

Yay! It boiled! That meant it was time to through in ye olde malt extracts.

Both of them, if you please...

Then I threw the lid on (don't need garage junk floating in to my brew!), set the timer for 70 minutes for the whole boil and went in to get my hops ready. Some of you may have caught my little faux pas in the previous sentence. Being as it was already starting to push 11 o'clock at night, and I had spent all day working, then all evening mudding my bathroom that we're re-doing, I was exhausted and didn't figure it out...let me say it again. "Then I threw the lid on..." can see where this is going.

Well sh(post garbled...some text may be missing)

Ok, well...I still had 3 gallons in there and I had only filled it up to 3 before adding my malt extracts, so that means I should have only lost a bit. I can either give up now (and I've just blown $50) or forge ahead and hope for the best...quitters drink Keystone, so I forged ahead. There was 60 minutes left so it was time to add my first batch of hops, the "Cluster" hops.

After sitting in the corner and rocking back and forth for a little while, nursing my wounded pride (everything had been going so well!) I gathered my wits about me, stuffed them back in my pockets (...where do you keep your wits?) and got my Irish moss soaking. The Internet is divided precisely in half on whether this is actually necessary, but I figured 1/2 cup of water costs me approximately $0.0000200234 so I threw caution to the wind and went for it.

When I had just 20 minutes left on my timer (not pictured, but trust me, it was still there) I threw in my East Kent Goldings hops.

Five minutes after that, my Irish moss was looking oh-so awake and happy, so I celebrated by dumping it in boiling beer.

The last 15 minutes went by and it was time to top off my wort with cold water and bring it down to pitching temperature!

Hmm...after consulting my chemistry books it seems that nature was not, in fact, just "giving me the finger"...3 gallons of boiling water doesn't seem to want to cool to 70 degrees simply by adding 2 more gallons of 50 degree water, no matter WHO you are. No problem, I just dumped a bunch of ice in the sink with it along with some water. Hey, it works for ice cream machines, it ought to work here! By my calculation, if an ice cream machine takes about an hour to FREEZE crap, this ought to chill to a paltry "room temperature" in about 10 minutes.

Good Lord...what do you mean it's 4 o'clock in the morning! Where am I? Crap, did I fall asleep in my clothes again? Gaa!! Why does my back hurt? Oh, seems I've been sleeping on the floor...hmm, well, time to check the beer again.'s 85 freakin' degrees. The house is 60 degrees, the stupid boiling-over bucket is surrounded by ice water that I've changed twice and the best I can do is a public swimming pool...time to consult the internet and see the maximum temperature these beer bugs can survive at. Seems that they can live in 85 degree environment, and I know it will cool someday (probably about the same time the universe ends in a heat-death whimper) so I transfer to my carboy, pitch the little buggers, throw in the air lock and stumble to bed.

(Note, there is no hose there. Gravity is weird in my kitchen and beer actually flows out of the bucket that way.)

So at the end of the day, between a boiled-over wort, a slightly too-warm yeast pitch and goodness knows what ever else I did or didn't do while delirious with sleep deprivation...I'm REALLY hoping this batch turns out good :-) I'll let you all know as time goes by. Happy brewing n' stuff!