End of the Year Wrap Up

Welcome to another installment of My Life as a Home Brewer – 12/23/14. Make sure to like, reblog, follow, share and comment on the blog. This post will deviate slightly from the normal layout, but let’s get started.

What’s Happening Now

We wiped out the remaining stout to make Christmas presents. We have a case of IPA, brown ale, and hefeweizen left. However, the hefeweizen won’t be ready to drink for another week. I doubt we are going to do another batch this year.

The Christmas Six Packs were a success -at least I think they were. My grandpa, uncles and cousins seemed pleased about getting beer for Christmas, but only time will tell if they liked it. The six packs had two brown ales, two IPA’s and two hefeweizens. We told them that we had just bottled the hefeweizen and to give it two weeks to carbonate.

The trick we learned about putting the heating pad around the fermenting bucket from Jeff at Paradise Brewing Supplies seemed to be a success. We are yet to taste the finished beer, but when I opened the fermenter there was a pungent smell of bananas. This is characteristic of brewer’s yeast when I talked about it in my Thanksgiving Beer post and I anticipate another successful fermentation. We await the final product.

More from My Life As A Home Brewer

Thanksgiving Beer

Tour of Rivertown Brewery

How Well do You Know Your IPA?

My Unadulterated Opinion

This week’s flavor comes from Diesel Punk Brewing and is their stout. Let me deviate for a minute from the normal review and talk about the ascetics of the packaging. I love the look and marketing of this brewery. The Steampunk idea of meshing Victorian technology and futuristic sci-fi, ie: spaceships powered by steam engines, combines perfectly with the DieselPunk Stout. Remember in my Six Packs for Christmas post I talked about how the first stouts were made during the Victorian era. Here Diesel Punk combines a victorian classic with a futuristic concept to symbolize the progression of the beer industry and humanity itself. A subtle, but nice touch.

I have to be honest, I was not impressed with my first beer from the six pack. It tasted like a classic stout, but that’s all it was, a classic stout. There was nothing to set it apart. It had all the right flavors, but I didn’t have that, “wow moment” on the first drink. However, as I progressed through the six pack over the next several days I found myself liking the beer more and more.

It had an aromatic, light brown head and a dark brown color that is almost black, but not quite. Roasted malts of coffee, espresso and chocolate abound in this beer. The aroma matches these flavors and the bitterness of the hops was just right. There was a nice balance between the bitter and sweet. The drinking experience was smooth and pungent. This is not a beer for Christmas dinner, because it will over power anything on the table. Regardless of my initial thoughts, I liked it. Drink this beer.

The Year End Wrap Up

This has been an amazing experience for me to home brew with my father. I just returned home from being gone during four years of college. Home brewing with dad has been so much fun and has brought us together on a different level (not that we had relationship issues before). I want to thank him for footing most of the cost and having these experiences with me. We learned so much and had more fun.

Brewing beer is awesome. Neither one of us had ever done anything like it, but had talked about it for years. We made eight beer batches since July 4th and only had one bad batch, which I think is fantastic for two new guys. We hope to keep up the pace for next year and try something, “outside our comfort zone” to quote my dad from this evening. I don’t know what that means, yet.

This was also my first blog launch. I had dabbled with WordPress before, but never created a full site that I solely managed. I learned a ton about web writing and can’t wait to bring you better content with the new year. Let’s briefly recap the site statistics as of writing this post.

The site since my first post, What Home Brewing Is Not, that went live on 10/21/14 has had 353 site views with 325 of them coming from Facebook alone. I wrote ten posts with Kegs, Growlers, Bombers, Bottles and Cans being my most read post at 35 views. I had readers from five countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark and Austria. I didn’t make any financial income from the blog or contributions to it.

Thank you for reading My Life as a Home Brewer – 12/24/14. Please like, reblog, follow, comment and share on your favorite social media sites. Thank you to all who read and shared during these last ten weeks. It’s because of you that I will step up my game for next year with a new WordPress theme, proper web hosting and much, much more. I have so many ideas to turn loose in the new year and I can’t wait to show you.

If you have any suggestions, comments, or anything else about the new format for next year, please feel free to email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

I will not post next week on 12/30/14 since as it is the last Tuesday of the year and I look forward to posting on 1/6/15. See you next year!

Prost!

Thanksgiving Beer

What’s Happening Now

 

This week we will be bottling the brown ale that we brewed last weekend. This beer only has a fermentation period of a week and we will bottle condition it for two weeks. When it’s done it will have a dark amber color, malty sweetness, and toasted nut notes. We are still drinking on the IPA and Stout. Well, I’m drinking the IPA.

 

Have you ever had an issue with flies congregating around your CO2 blow off tube or valve? We did. They are there because the brewer’s yeast emits a fruity aroma during the fermentation process. These aromas attract the tiny, impossible to kill fruit flies.

 

Scientists have discovered the particular gene that causes the yeast to produce a fruity aroma, reports Wired Magazine. Experts can enhance the gene, where the yeast create more of the aroma or limit the gene, where the yeast makes very little of the aroma. They are working to produce a strain of brewer’s yeast that does not produce the aroma at all. Researchers believe that this aroma is produced to attract the flies on purpose. The yeast uses the flies as a transport to spread the organism’s population range since a yeast culture cannot move far on its own.

I know this is something that would normally be placed in the Hey, Did You Know? section, but I have a good post for that and this pertains to What’s Happening Now. We have had fruit flies everywhere and have for some time regardless of the falling temperatures outside. They congregate around the blow off valve or tube depending on the set up for different types of beer.

 

Here is how to kill those little buggers from my friends at Wiki How.

Hey, Did You Know?

 

Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is coming up and I felt it necessary to do a seasonal post about the holiday. I was curious about beer at the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims would have brought barrels of beer on their ships across the Atlantic because beer lasts longer than potable water. Researchers at the Smithsonian Magazine believe there would be very little beer, if any, at the first Thanksgiving, which makes me sad. Fear not my readers. Your Thanksgiving has potential to keep the beer flowing throughout the gorging day.

 

You want look for brown ale style beers or if you have Marzens left over from Oktoberfest. Concentrate on brews that have a high level of sweet malts and toasted nut flavors, low levels of bitterness, and lower levels of alcohol – because no one wants to be the one who ruined Thanksgiving due to drunkenness. These types of beers are going to pair well with the multitude of flavors, textures, temperatures, and weights of Thanksgiving meals. You want to make sure that you are not drinking a heavy beer that will fill you up as you enjoy the turkey. Brown ales or a Marzens will be a perfect blend to avoid flavor dominance over your meal.

 

May you have many things to be thankful for. I know I am.

RAR_HB_11_25_Review

 

My Unadulterated Opinion-

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t like brown ales. I don’t care for the sweet malts and lack of hop flavor. I want some bitter hops, but I just upsold you on toasted malt beer to go with your turkey so I put my pallet on the line. I’m glad that I went against what I normally drink. Boffo Brown ale by Dark Horse Brewery is a fantastic beer.

 

The dark color and the smooth head make the beer look aesthetically great. It pours out as a muddy color with about 80% clarity. The flavor is robust and exquisite. The sweet, toasted malts flavors meld well with bitterness dark chocolate notes. I think I like it because it does have some bitterness in the flavor, but it’s not from hops. I was able to overlook it though.

 

I enjoyed drinking this beer. This beer will be at my Thanksgiving dinner table. I got a six pack for $11.99. Enjoy my friends.

 

PROST!

 

 

Discussion-

  • What beer will you drink over Thanksgiving?

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com. Make sure you go and read the backlist posts.

Featured Image Credit: Boulevard Brewing

 

How Well Do You Know Your IPA?

Carbonating the Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs

Pliny If you have read more than just this post to the blog you will know that I love IPAs. We have had the opportunity to brew a few of them. Gaivs Plinivs Secvndvs (Guy-us Plinius Secendus) was the first and my favorite.

We followed the directions step-by-step. The boil went by perfectly and we transferred to the fermenting bucket like we were supposed to. I was surprised how much hops were in the bottom of the bucket. There was a gallon equivalent in the bottom. This was far more than any other beer we had made up to that point. We dry hopped the fermentation for two weeks before bottling. The whole bottom was green.

After two weeks in the bottles we opened one bottle and it was flat. The flavor was great. It had the classic burnt copper color and had an incredible bitter taste of Centennial and Columbus hops. We were baffled why it was so flat. We waited another two weeks.

On the second try the beer was still flat. We asked the guys at the brewing store and they said to swirl the bottles to agitate the yeast. Ales have a top feeding warm yeast. I looked at the bottles and all the yeast had fallen to the bottom. I swirled the bottles and the yeast spun all around.

Two weeks later the carbonation was perfect. The beer had a perfect white head when poured into a glass. I loved drinking it. The sweet citrus mixed with the bitter hops was delightful. I want to make the beer again.

Bottle conditioning can fix almost any problem you are having with a batch. Making beer is an active chemical process with real organisms. Give them what they need, a little time, and you will have excellent beer.

 

The Flagship of Craft BrewingColumbia Hops

IPAs are the fastest growing type of beer in the United States for drinking and for brewing. It ‘s inevitable that you will run into an IPA somewhere along in your journey; therefore, you might as well know a little bit about them.

There are three main types of IPAs: English-style India pale ale, American-style India pale ale, and Imperial (double) India pale ale along with countless subcategories.

English-style India pale ale are quite balanced in overall malt and hop character. Notable floral, earthy, grassy hop character resides alongside a caramel, bready malt backbone. American craft-brewed versions of the English-style IPA, which outnumber available English-brewed examples, may show a little more hop personality than English-brewed IPAs; however, they remain more restrained in overall hop character than American-style IPAs.

American-style India pale ale- golden-to-copper appearance as English Pale Ale and delivers a medium malt profile, but it then diverges toward a hop-forward personality and often imparts a crisp mouth-feel. Pronounced fruit, citrus, pine and/or floral aromas and flavors from Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and other American hop varietals are often the mark of American Pale Ale. Brewers use techniques such as adding hops late in the boil phase as well as dry hopping to ensure the hop aromas and flavors are harnessed along with bitterness. The American Pale Ale style can perhaps be credited with starting America’s love affair with hoppy beers.

Imperial (double) India pale ale- are all about copious amounts of hops—typically of American variety—with plenty of malts and higher alcohol levels to offer balance to the hop bitterness. Variations exist within the style, with some examples offering a unilateral “tongue ripping” hop experience (to the joy of many hop enthusiasts as of which I am one). Others are balanced overall in hop bitterness and malt sweetness, and still others are complex, with multiple layers of fruity, hoppy, malty character that evolve as the beer passes over the palate and as it warms in the glass.

IPA’s have been the flagship of craft brewing for years now, but there is a challenger to the world of beer. Check out my post next week for more details. My latest experience was fun.

Community Brewing Competitions

For the community news section I will attach the American Homebrewers Association list for the up and coming brewing competitions. Find a competition in your area and try to make it. I look Northern Libertiesforward to the Annual Brewsters Cup Mead Competition near Cincinnati and maybe I will see some of you there.

“For Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Hoppiness”

This week I am reviewing one of my favorite beers Christian Moerlein Northern Liberties IPA. I have been an IPA man for about a year now and this is the IPA that got me into IPAs. It is a smooth beer that is not too over powering. I have had beers with more hops and more bitterness, but this one is just right.

The color is a burnt copper with a perfectly white and aromatic head. Thlife libery hoppinessis is one of the few beers that are an exception to my father’s see through the beer rule (see previous post for the rule). In my Brewing Over an Open Fire post I talked about ales and lagers. Lagers are known for their crisp taste. IPAs are considered ales, but this beer is very crisp. There is plenty of bitterness in the taste and citrus notes abound.

I love this beer. Finish this post and go buy some. You can find it at most retailers with a beer license. I bought my six-pack at Kroger for $8.99.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. Be sure to check the backlist of posts for more content. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

I’ve noticed that the highest day for traffic to the blog has consistently been Wednesday. I’m not sure why, but I welcome it. I will be changing my post day from Thursday to Tuesday to compliment the Wednesday high traffic day.

Discussion-

 

  • Think about your favorite type of beer. For me that is an IPA. What beer introduced you to the style and what about it converted you? Remember to hit comment at the top of the page.

PROST!

Brewing Over an Open Fire

Brewing Update:

My girlfriend Jackie at her uncle's bonfire.

My girlfriend Jackie at her uncle’s bonfire.

As promised in my What Home Brewing Is Not post I will tell the story of when we had to brew over an open fire.

It was our first brew that we had ever attempted. The day was July 4th 2014 and we decided to brew for America. A week earlier we went to the local brewing supply store and bought: a 6-gallon brewing pot, a 6-gallon food grade fermenting bucket, the CO2 bleeder, no rinse sanitizer, a large spoon, thermometer, and the kit of ingredients needed to make the batch.

12, noon hit, we cracked open beers, cheered for God’s America, and got ready to brew. The water began to boil with the bag of grains and we took it off the heat to steep for thirty minutes. After the steep we brought it up to nearly a boil and then the power went out in the house. We had an electric stove. It was a perfect day outside of Cincinnati on the 4th. The sun was shining, there was a little breeze, birds were chirping, everything was perfect outside; but sure enough the power was out inside the house.

We were scrambling around the kitchen trying to figure out what to do. We were committed. It was time for the one-hour boil or we would have to throw out the whole batch and start over. This was our first one, our first attempt, our first shot. We had talked about brewing for years and we were not going to give up now as our forefathers did not give up on that heroic day.

He looked at me and said, “Smoker.” A few weeks earlier my father built a hog smoker made of concrete blocks and metal roofing for my sister’s high school graduation party. The fire was lit in a matter of minutes and the brewing pot was on the spit outside.

The batch started to boil again and we breathed an uneasy sigh of relief. The hour went by and we cooled it to 68 degrees, placed the beer into the fermenting keg, poured the yeast, and waited.

Four weeks later it tasted great. It was a brown ale style, which I am not keen on, but for what it was I enjoyed it. I found that it had a burnt, smoky taste and it was a hit at our summer parties. Our pot still has the burn marks from the fire and every time we pull the pot for another boil I think of the first time.

Factoid- The Classic Misconception: Ale or Lager?

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/beersci-what-difference-between-lager-and-ale

Diagram of Ales vs. Lagers

After about ten minutes in the craft-brewing scene I’m sure that you have heard the terms ale and lager. Unfortunately, they are all too often used interchangeably. I will put this misconception to rest with the help of Popular Science Magazine. The difference is as fundamental as both use different types of yeast: ales have top feeding, warm activated yeast; while lagers use bottom feeing, cold activated yeast.

Ale yeast usually ferments more quickly than lagers and they are often sweeter, fuller-bodied, and fruiter in taste. Classic ales are: IPA’s (my favorite), Pale Ales, Porters, Stouts, Wheats, and Browns.

Lagers are the most widely consumed and available style of beer in the world. They ferment slower than ales and are known for a “crisp” taste. Classic lagers are: Bocks, Pilsners, and Marzens.

You are now smarter. Read the article. It’s neat.

 

Community News- Pacific Flavor Coming to the Midwest

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2014/10/13/hawaiian-craft-brewer-chooses-cincinnati-to-make.html

Kona Brewing

Kona Brewing Company will be releasing three beers in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. They will be having tastings at Jungle Jims in Eastgate, Ohio on 10/31 and 11/02. They plan on serving their Kua Bay IPA, Lavaman Red, and Black Lava Lager to be sampled at the tastings. I doubt I can make it, but I am excited for the Kua Bay IPA to go on sale.

 

 

 

Review- Coors Brewery Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager

Batch 19 and Glass

Batch 19 and Glass

This week’s flavor comes from Coors Brewery and their Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Style Lager. I had never heard of the beer until over the weekend while I was talking to one of my girlfriend’s uncles at a bon fire (see picture of her above in front of the flames). I should have avoided the beer pallet of a man with a Miller Lite in his hand. “Situational awareness,” says my dad. Her uncle is a nice guy, but this is not a good beer.

I grew up with one rule about beer passed down from my father and his father before him going back to the beginning of time, “If you pour a beer into a glass and can see through it don’t drink it” (I have found a few exceptions to this rule, but do not tell them). I knew that I had made a mistake as soon as I could see my fingers on the other side of the glass through the beer.

I will try not to be cruel, but I did not enjoy this beer. It tasted like anything else from the Coors brewery. There was nothing special about the beer to mention. The six pack cost $7.99 at Walmart and the remaining beers will be used as cooking beers. Do not drink this beer.

 

Wish list:

Next week I will review a beer that I know I like and can give you a good review (probably an IPA).

I will also do SEO and other maintenance to the site in order to increase traffic to the site.

 

PROST!

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment on the discussion, follow, like, and share the blog. You can email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com.

Discussion:

 

  • Tell a story of when someone recommended a beer to you, you tried it, and you wondered how in the world he or she could like that beer. Remember to hit comment at the top.

Drinking and Politics

Update 10/23/14

10/23/14

Brewing Update:

We only brew preassembled kits that we get at a local brewing supply store outside of Cincinnati. I will refer to the beers by the names that the store uses for them.

We have not brewed anything new recently. Right now we are drinking on Wrath of the Tsar, which is an Imperial Stout. We did not take a specific gravity, but we are told by the storeowners that it is close to 9% ABV. I believe them. I can feel them hit after just two or three. This is not a get drunk beer, but one to sit and enjoy slowly. It will punch you from behind if you are not careful.

We just bottled the Area 51, which is an IPA. You will find that I am an IPA guy and I am very excited about this beer. We had it in the fermenting bucket for two weeks and dry hopped it one week. It has currently been in the bottles for almost a week by the time this post gets out. We will let it carbonate for one more week and then drink it. I foresee me drinking it more than him, because I am a hophead. I love the stuff, the stronger the IPA the better.

Factoid:

I am an information junkie. I think I have some weird disorder where I get entertainment from learning things. This week’s factoid comes from Ed Crews at Colonial Williamsburg on Drinking in Colonial America. Colonial candidates for political office attracted voters with alcohol. They would distribute pints of beer and hard cider as they gave their political speeches. Imagine how many more people would show up to the ballot box if there was a pint waiting for them. I, as a full-blooded American, do not require alcohol to get me to the ballot box, but I would love for alcohol to get me out.

If you are a candidate during this midterm-election period do what your ancestors did and you will have “one up” on the competition. I’ll vote for you.

You can find the link to the Crews article here. It’s a long read, but very worth it.

Community News:

This week’s news is two fold. First, the American Homebrewers Association is holding its National Homebrewers Conference June 11-13, 2015 in San Diego, California.

Secondly, they are also calling for submissions for presenters to speak at the conference. If you would like to present at the 2015 American Homebrewers Conference you can find the link to the site here.

Review:

For this week’s review I would like to call attention to Rivertown Brewing Company’s Dunkel Beer.Rivertown Dunkle I had another beer lined up, but when I got off of work tonight I tried this great beer and had to change the review.

It’s a Munich style dark lager with mild roasted flavor mixed with caramel. The color is that of a dark, classic dunkel you would expect from a Munich style and it has a smooth finish.

All that aside, I enjoyed drinking this beer. It was around $9 for a six pack. I recommend this beer for those you like smooth, dark lagers. Drink this beer.

Wish List:

I would like to see a brew happen here in the valley by the next post on the 30th so I can have a more interesting Brewing Update for you.

Another item for the wish list would be to have the Instagram set up so you can see all the pictures I take of us brewing and drinking the beers around here.

Thanks for reading this week. Don’t forget to follow the blog, like, share, and comment on the discussion question below. Feel free to email me at mylifeasahomebrewer@gmail.com with questions or suggestions. I am always open to new things.

Prost!

Discussion Question- Remember to hit the “Comment” button at the top and leave your answer.

  • “Would you rather pay $12 for a six-pack or $6 for a twelve-pack? Why?”

What Home Brewing Is Not

What Home Brewing Is NotMLAAHB_logo

If you have not made yourself familiar with the About page please make your way over there to find all the information of what to expect from myself and this site along with learning a bit about me. However, for my first post I will digress away from what will be the normal formatting to bring up something that has been on my mind. I wish to discuss What Home Brewing Is Not.

 

My list for What Home Brewing Isn’t:

  1. A cheaper way to get beer:
  • By the time that you factor in the cost to buy the brewing equipment, even the beginning/lowest grade equipment, you are still looking at a cost near or better than $100. Then there are upgrades. There is the cost of water and the rising cost of electricity (or gas) to heat the water to make the wort. You have to buy bottles and caps or kegs. You have the buy special sanitizer for all your equipment. Then the ingredients can cost a pretty penny. Last but not least, time. Everyone has heard the phrase, “Time is money.” It takes time to make beer and that costs you money. It could take a few hours to brew a single batch. Then the batch has to be transferred to the fermenting keg, carboy, or other large and sealable container so the yeast can do their work. Home brewing is not cheap alternative to buying a case of cold ones from the local Stab-and-Grab down the street.
  1. A way to get drunk quicker since there is more alcohol in craft beer:
  • This is a straw man argument that I run into sometimes. True, there is (usually) more alcohol in home brewed beers. True, they do taste better and go down quicker than the more common beers. However, the types of people that are involved with brewing their own beer or indulging in craft beer are not the kind of people that drink with the sole purpose to get drunk. Craft beer and home brewing are about more than just getting 16oz. of liquid with a certain alcohol by volume; it’s about the experience. Someone who has the patience to wait weeks or months for their own batch to be ready to drink is not the same type of person who will throw drinks back to get tanked on Thursday night before their kid’s little league soccer game. We do it for the experience of making something with our hands. We do it to try new things and get a sweat going while we do it. We do it for the reward that we can enjoy a cold one with the satisfaction that we made it. It’s American to make beer. It’s the true entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great.
  1. Only people with a high level of skill can home brew
  • False, there are many preassembled kits out there that have all the ingredients that you need to get started with step-by-step instructions to get it done. If you can read at the level of a third-grader then you can brew beer. Currently, my father and I only use these preassembled kits. I hope to make our own recipes soon, but for now even we are playing it safe.
  1. Only people with a lot of free time can home brew
  • False, the actual brewing part itself does not take that long. I think the longest brew we did here in the valley took three hours, but that was because we had to do it over an open fire outside where we had little control over the heat (story time in another post, it’s a good one). Most brews that we have done take an hour and a half to two hours for a five-gallon batch. Make it a Sunday afternoon tradition between the football games.
  • However, home brewing does take a lot of patience. Once the beer is brewed you have to let it do its own thing. It is best to put the beer in the fermenter and forget about it until bottling time (unless it requires dry hopping or other additives during the fermenting). After it’s bottled then there is another week or two for it carbonate. Patience, patience, patience.
  1. Home brewers are snobby people who think they know everything about beer
  • Within any community of people you are going to have a few bad apples. But I do not think that a minority should dictate the identity of the majority (and that goes far beyond just the home brewing community). I know a bunch of great home brewers. People from all walks of life, big and small, old and young, men and women, blue collar and white collar. Home brewing does not attract people who have the attitude of, “Allow me to attach my monocle whilst we discuss fermentation, my good man” (my attempt at a snobbish tone). Every home brewer I have met was very humble and could not wait to learn more about his or her hobby.
  1. It’s dangerous
  • Anything you do in life carries some risk. Driving to work everyday is more dangerous than home brewing. Human error is always a factor in everything we do. It’s what makes up people. The human experience is fun. We are going to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. The risk of an over boil, fire, CO2 exposure, bottle/keg explosions, and others are always there. If you pay attention to what you are doing and use common sense you are going to avoid a vast majority of dangerous issues.
  • If you experience any issues ask people what you did wrong. This site is for a community to share knowledge, laughs, beer, and to make memories.

That’s my list of What Home Brewing Is Not. This week’s discussion question: What do you think home brewing is or is not? Post your answers. Hit the “leave a comment” button at the top of the page.