Mosaic Session Pale Ale
Hoppy Brett Saison
Half Acre Daisy Cutter
Anything Hill Farmstead
Fat Head's Headhunter
Brew Kettle's White Rajah
Bruery's Black Tuesday
This may be TL;DR so skip if you don’t want to hear about my beer centric trip to Portland, OR.
I flew in Tuesday afternoon and left Saturday morning and the main goal was to hit breweries, see the city and just relax. I’ll do a highlight reel of the best beers/breweries/bars I visited.
APEX beer bar was awesome. Pliny the Elder on tap next to Boneyard’s Hop Venom and RPM IPA. Honestly, although it was a different take, Hop Venom gave Pliny a run for its money. RPM was one of the best IPAs ive had in a while also. Wish I could have gotten a few bottles to go.
Wednesday was our hardcore brewery tour day. Started at noon with Hair of the Dog.
Moved on to and spent the most time at Cascade Barrel house. Had Luckie Charms, a sour that tasted exactly like the cereal, absolutely wild. Chocolate Bourbonic Plague, Vine, Vlad the Imp Aler, Noyeaux and tastes from my GFs Blueberry, Manhattan NW and more. We spent a long time here, it was my favorite brewery.
Went from there to Base Camp, which had mediocre beers, but the space was badass and they had a smore stout where they put a marshmallow on the glass and took a little propane flame and roasted it for you. Pretty gimmicky, but still neat as I had never seen that before.
Before I go on, for some reason Wednesday is the greatest day ever to drink because every brewery we went to had $2.50 pints or $4 imperial pints (20 oz). All the beer the entire weekend was really reasonable.
We got a flight at Burnside brewing, nothing special but they did have a pepper beer that I hated. Why people put pepper in an IPA is beyond me.
Coalition was a really tiny space with some solid beers.
Migration had an awesome outside space and a ridiculous taste flight for like $8.
Last stop of the (very hazy, drunken) night was Deschutes for a flight and Elk burger.
The next day didn’t have much beer tasting but instead we went to the Willamette wine country to visit 3 wineries. First stop, Voodoo Doughnuts.
I know nothing about wine but it was a gorgeous day and the views were great. We did hit up this ridiculous bottle shop on the way out. The best selection I’ve ever seen.
On Friday we did a brewcycle tour where you pedal yourselves in a cart thing to three breweries then have a pint.
We hit Lucky Lab (beer hall with not good beer), Caps & Corks (beer bar/bottle shop) and Deschutes again (remembered more this time). Then it ended right next to Rogue where we had a flight and I got to try the Beard Beer where they brewed a beer using some yeast that had been in their brewers massive beard. Not too bad!
Last few stops were Upright for some really tasty saisons (Four, Five, Six and Seven), and Tugboat brewing, a tiny, not-so-good brewery.
Overall it was an awesome trip, and I might still be a little hungover. Favorite beers were Boneyard Hop Venom and RPM, everything from Cascade, HoTD Fred, and many I can’t remember.
Part 2 of my widely viewed (read: never read) Common Beginner Problems
“What should I make for my first beer”
I know what you want to make, a 12% bourbon barrel aged imperial double stout with fruit, maple and hops. Most beginners want to make the craziest thing for their first beer when the real answer is to do something simple so you can fine tune your system and pick out any flaws. An ideal first brew in my opinion is a pale ale. Something not too hoppy so you can pick out fermentation issues, process problems, etc. A perfect pale ale is the holy grail of many seasoned homebrewers because there’s not much to hide behind and finding a balance in the beer is very hard to do. If you really wanted to learn about your system and brewing, you’d brew the same recipe three times, tweaking each time until you’re familiar with everything. I know this impossible because I went through it and as soon as I finished my first brew I was already on to something else.
“Where can I get information about brewing/equipment”
You can learn anything by doing a quick search on homebrewtalk.com and I’ll just about guarantee somebody has had a similar problem to you, if not the same one. A good overall text source is How To Brew by John Palmer. I’ve flipped through this a few times and it’s technical enough for a seasoned brewer yet simple enough for a beginner. Many brewers consider it the Bible of homebrewing.
If you want to get more technical, the Brewers Association has released a few technical books about brewing or ingredients including Yeast, Hops and the soon to be released Water. These are for advanced brewers who want to get into the science and technical side of brewing. You’ll still make beer without them.
As far as equipment, search around for a local homebrew shop (LHBS), but if you can’t find one there are plenty of online retailers, just do a little price shopping and you can get everything you would ever want. I like northernbrewer.com, midwestsupplies.com, and morebeer.com.
“Has anybody ever gone pro/do you think about it”
Welcome, you’re officially a homebrewer. Can’t stop thinking about recipes? Do you sit and watch the airlock bubble? Do you think your fermenting beer is like a child? Welcome to the hobby, follow down the rabbit hole.
As I go on homebrewtalk.com or BeerAdvocate’s Homebrewing forum or anywhere really that has people posting about brewing, I tend to see the same problems and questions being posted over and over. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even respond because I’m fed up answering the identical question for the 50th time. People need to realize that their problem isn’t unique and it has been asked multiple times before and a quick google search will find them their answer. I’m going to post the questions and my answers here so in the future I can just copy and past these responses (because I know nobody is reading this).
“My airlock isn’t bubbling/I don’t see krausen/am I done fermenting”
Airlock activity isn’t an indicator of fermentation aka bubbles don’t directly correlate to fermentation efficiency. Due to head space, faulty seals, etc, you might not see any airlock bubbles for the entire fermentation and have a perfectly attenuated beer. Also, just because you don’t have a huge krausen doesn’t mean your beer isn’t fermenting. Sometimes the krausen is quick to fall and you miss it or the yeast strain itself doesn’t produce a huge krausen. The only way to determine fermentation is to take a gravity reading. I repeat, the best way to determine fermentation is via a gravity reading.
“Should I make a starter/dry yeast vs liquid yeast”
First off, I don’t use dry yeast and I understand it is cheaper and you can still make good beer with it. If you’re going to use dry yeast, make sure you rehydrate it with 1 cup of sanitized (read: boiled and cooled) water at 95-105F. Any hotter and you’ll kill the yeast, cooler and it’s not properly rehydrating.
Now, if you use liquid yeast, most vials/smack packs say they’re designed to include enough yeast cells to ferment a 5 gallon batch of beer, and while this is certainly true (you’ll make beer), you may need to make a starter to make the ‘best’ beer possible. Yeast is fickle and I won’t get into all of the specifics, but to produce the optimal beer product yeast needs the correct fermentation temperature, pitching rate, dissolved oxygen content and many other factors which affect the finished product. A starter’s main goal is to activate the yeast and build up cells to an appropriate pitch count. There are a few yeast starter calculators out there but Mr Malty is probably the best and will give you an accurate way to estimate cell counts.
“Critique my recipe”
This is a common post and one I actually don’t mind answering because it is a somewhat unique question. The problem with this post is most people post incomplete information. The number one thing that needs to be posted in a recipe critique question is “what do YOU want the beer to taste like”. What hop flavor do you want, if any? Malt back bone? Do you want it to finish dry/sweet? ABV? A good example would be “I’m looking for an IPA with a bright, citrusy hop flavor, a little malt backbone, and I want it finish nice and dry and about 6% ABV”. This is something people who are going to help you with need in order to give you good advice.
Also needed to be included:
Recipe (grains with amount, hops with amount and time used, anything else going into boil/mash)
Mash Temp and length
More to come in other parts but remember RDWHAHB
This beer is a clone of Swamp Head’s Big Nose and is being brewed for Nicole’s dad’s bday. He loves Big Nose and IPAs in general so we thought we would surprise him with something similar to the original.
3 gallon batch
7.25 lb 2-row
1.25 lb Munich
0.5 lb C-40
0.25 oz Columbus (60 min)
0.25 oz Centennial (30 min)
0.25 oz Amarillo (20 min)
0.25 oz Centennial (20 min)
0.25 oz Amarillo (5 min)
0.25 oz Centennial (5 min)
0.25 oz Zythos (5 min)
0.25 oz Amarillo (Flameout)
0.25 oz Centennial (Flameout
0.25 oz Columbus (Dry Hop)
0.25 oz Zythos (Dry Hop)
0.25 oz Amarillo (Dry Hop)
Mash at 151F for 60 minutes with 11.25 qt 162.5F water. Sparge/mash out with 2.14 gal at 168F.
Ferment with WLP001 at 65F.
The berliner wasn’t salvagable after an infection hit one of my Mr. Beer buckets. I’m not sure how it happened but it was gnarly. I think it was left over from the previous peanut butter brown infection, and as a result I don’t be using that bucket anymore.
I brewed up a nice hefeweizen for my friend’s wedding present. It’s fermenting away and should be bottled soon. We’ll design a label and wax the caps and give it as a gift (assuming it’s drinkable).
After that Nicole and I will be brewing again for a present, this time for her dad. He loves Swamp Head’s Big Nose, so I got the recipe from the brewery and will try to clone it. It’s a big IPA with columbus, centennial and amarillo so it should be tasty. I’ll post the recipe and process when I brew it this week.
After those beers, I really want to brew a beer with mosaic, maybe a SMaSH low gravity pale, or a sour brown with cherries, a saison or a big hoppy red ala Tocabaga.
Busy happenings at the Scrappy Hound Brewhouse. Whether it was done or not, my Berliner Weisse was taken out of the fermenter and treated three ways: toasted coconut, juiced water melon and dry hopped with Columbus hops. This batch may be totally ruined because it looks like there was an infection when I racked it but I just rolled with it and did the treatments anyways.
The reason it had to be moved was because I had to make room for a hefeweizen I’m brewing with Nicole for a friends wedding present. There’s a long story behind it but he got hooked on craft beer with hefeweizens and now it’s a running joke. But the wedding is in a month, so we had to get this baby rolling so we could bottle it, label it and wax it to make it look nice as a wedding gift. After that we are brewing another gift beer, probably an IPA for Nicole’s dad’s bday. After that I’m wrapping my head around a saison, mosaic pale ale, hoppy red or something else I’ve been thinking about. (Last Snow clone anyone?)
With summer pretty much here in FL, I wanted a lighter beer I could drink with the heat. I settled on a German Kolsch, aiming for a tasty, but crushable ~5% beer.
For a 2 gallon batch:
3.5 lb Pilsner
0.5 oz Hallertau FWH
White Labs Kolsch yeast
Added ~0.25 tsp of calcium to my bottled water.
Mashed 4.69 qt at 149F for 60 minutes and “sparged” with 2.01 gallons at 170F. Fermented colder around 64 and cold crashed before bottling.
I was aiming for OG 1.045 but I tried something new this time and squeezed my grains as they were dripping and I think that got a lot more sugars out for an OG of 1.057. Either that or my boil is too vigorous. Anyways, this is bottled up and I had one last night, but it was a little undercarbed. The taste is OK, but something is a little off. Maybe too many salts added? Hopefully it’ll clear up in time.
I just finished souring another batch of berliner for 8 days at room temp. Gravity dropped from 1.039-1.013 in that time and from what I’ve read I haven’t gotten much alcohol if any from that so this beer might weigh in around 1-2%. I have big plans for splitting this batch onto watermelon or cherry for part, toasted coconut for part and cucumber for another part. I have some new techniques for fruit that I want to try out.
A mini-TR about Hunahpu Day at Cigar City in Tampa. Mark and I went with some others for the day. We got in line around 6:15 AM (gates were supposed to open at 7:50. The first 4000 people were guaranteed 3 bottles, next 1000 were guaranteed 2) and were about ~1000 people back in line. We had gone last year and got there at about 8:30 and were ~500 back in line, so this event has gotten more popular.
The line was probably ~2000 people long and winding into the Home Depot by 7:00 and Home Depot was not happy. They called the cops and Cigar City was forced to let everyone in around 7:15.
We got in and parked in a spot with our chair and coolers (outside beer was allowed). They sell tokens for $5 which you could trade for a beer (8 or 12 oz depending on the beer). One of our group bought tokens and gsupoker and I got in line at one of the 5 pouring stations which opened at 8:30. This was good for us because this line quickly became ~2 hours long to get from the back to the front. We got our first pours and sat down for the next few hours while everything reached a critical mass of ~7000 people. At noon they let people buy bottles after which a lot of people left and it was more manageable.
Here’s the list of what Mark and I drank over the course of the day:
Cognac barrel aged imperial sweet stout
Leon Barrel aged barleywine (might have been my favorite of the day)
Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust
Jester King Funk Metal
Cigar City Right Side Up Pineapple Cake (tasted EXACTLY how it sounds, amazing)
Funky Buddha Last Snow (coconut porter)
Cigar City Bourbon Barrel Aged Cherry Cordial
Cigar City Bourbon Barrel Sea Bass
Stone Best By 4.1.13
Three Floyd’s Supa Rice Ronin of Death
Angry Chair Raspberry Berliner Weisse (new FL brewery)
Half Acre Space IPA
Cycle Brewing Bottom of the 9th Brown
Cigar City Hopped up Johnnie (CCB Marshal Zhukov aged on Johnny Walker Blue oak chips then dry hopped, this stole the show)
Cigar City Jamonera
Cigar City Peaches and Cream
Cigar City Criterium Wheat
Three Floyd’s Sand Pebbles
Cigar City/J. Wakefield Guanabana
Cigar City Dos Anos Kumquat Berliner Weisse
We stumbled out around 6PM (I think, not surprising but can’t really remember) and were some of the last to leave.
It was a ridiculous day of beer I never thought I’d get to try and we came out of there with 14 bottles due to girlfriend mules and them opening up bottle sales around 5PM between the two of us. I’ll be back every year they put this on as Hunahpu is one of my favorite beers and this event can’t be beat.
West Coast IPA V2.0 is ready to be bottled, I just have to snag a scale and weight out the priming sugar.
I just got back from Cigar City’s Hunahpu Day and managed to get 6 bottles. When I got home, I decided to lay out most of my ‘cellar’ and take a pic. Here’s what I have.
From left to right:
Deschutes 2012 Abyss
Deschutes Black Butte XXIV
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Evan WIlliams
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Rittenhouse Rye
Fifty Fifty Eclipse Elijah Craig 12 Year
Three Floyds Behemoth
Westvleteren XII (X3)
Cigar City Hunahpu (X6)
Cigar City Marshal Zhukov
Swamp Head Batch 300
Logsdon Peche N’ Brett
Green Room Quetzalcoatl
Bell’s Black Note
Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Barleywine
AleSmith Barrel Aged Speedway Stout
Founders 2012 KBS
Dogfish Head 120 Minute
Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th
Jester King RU-55
Russian River Supplication
Sierra Nevada/Russian River BRUX
Cigar City/Swamp Head Church On a Hill