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Showing posts from June, 2017

Is it worth it?

Today, home brewing felt a lot more like work than a hobby.  All told, my wife and I sanitized, filled, and capped 12 bombers and 73 standard 11-12 ounce bottles.  I labeled 129 bottles, and did the basic layout for six different labels. I cleaned six fermenters, a bottling bucket, a couple of lengths of tubing, several airlocks, and miscellaneous other items.  It took most of the day.  I have to ask myself "Is it worth it?"

What will come out of all this labor?

Good Beer: The large batch we bottled today promises to be a really good beer, which clones one of my favorites from BJ's Brewhouse. Assuming that beer turns out well, and taste tests to date have all been positive, I'll have this high gravity Belgian beer to enjoy for months to come. I'll also be able to share it with friends and family who enjoy less-hoppy beers like it.
Brewing Experience:  Any batch you brew gives you practice and often teaches you something. Depending on how you slice it, today I bott…

Starting Gun Ale - A Yeast Revival and Brewing Experiment

While taking an inventory of my brewing supplies this week, I noticed that I had five packages of yeast that were older than I realized. One had no date on it at all. Another was past its "best by" date, and the last was over two years old (and I decided to throw it out).

Rather than let these yeasts go to waste, I decided I should probably grow them so they'd be usable when I am ready for them.

I could do that by mixing up a batch of "Fast Pitch" wort starter from cans and using my stir plate.  That would mean spending at least $10 on the cans of starter. I'd have nothing to show for it but the yeast, which would be OK but kind of a waste of time and materials.

A good yeast starter wort is typically said to have an Original Gravity (OG) of 1.036 to 1.040.  I decided to build a wort recipe with a gravity of 1.040 SG (10.0 Brix) to use as a yeast starter. Rather than make a disposable wort that served as a starter and was then tossed out, I decided to use …

What I learned from my first homebrewing competitions

Although I've been brewing beer for several years now, I never entered any homebrewing competitions. At first, I didn't think my beer was that great. Then when it got better, I felt like I knew enough about what the flaws were that I didn't really need the feedback. This year, I decided to give it a shot.  I entered The Ohio State Fair Homebrewing Competition and Barley's 22nd Annual Homebrewing Competition, both held in May 2017.

Entering the competition at the Ohio State Fair was relatively painless.  You complete an entry form for each beer you intend to submit (up to eight total), pay a $6 entry fee, and then arrange for two bottles of each entry to be delivered to the fairgrounds.  I dropped them off on a vacation day since I live in Columbus not too far from the fairgrounds.

Entering Barley's competition was also relatively easy.  Fill out a BJCP recipe form for each beer and bring three bottles of each entry to their brewpub near the Greater Columbus Convent…

Rhinegeist Truth IPA Clone 1.0

Some time ago I came across a post online where someone set out to clone the Rhinegeist Truth beer. They got feedback from a brewmaster at Rhinegeist about how they formulate the beer and hops additions.  Using their feedback, I created the recipe below.  Although I'm not an IPA fan, several people I know are, and it's nice to have something to offer them when they visit.  It's also appropriate to say that on those rare occasions where I do order an IPA in a bar or restaurant (often because it's all they offer, sadly), Rhinegeist Truth is one of the few I'll intentionally order.

The Ingredients
9 pounds, 3 ounces Pale Ale Malt
2 pounds, 11 ounces Golden Promise Malt
11 ounces Vienna Malt
9 ounces Flaked Rye
5 ounces Carared Malt
0.65 ounces of Bravo hops @ 16.2% AA - 60 minutes
0.35 ounces of Simcoe hops @ 13.6% AA - 20 minutes
0.70 ounces of Centennial hops @ 10.4% AA - 20 minutes
0.45 oz. Simcoe hops @ 13.6% AA - 10 minutes
0.90 oz. Centennial hops @ 10.4% AA - 1…

BJ's Millennium Ale Clone 1.0

BYO Magazine posted a clone recipe for BJ's Brewhouse's Millennium Ale. This is a Belgian Tripel brewed with bitter orange peel, orange blossom honey, ginger root, and coriander.  They created it to celebrate Y2K and ended up brewing it for several years afterward.  I've always tried to make it a point to get to our local BJ's when they have this, but I've missed it the last year or two, so I decided to brew my own.

At right, you see a photo with the actual BJ's brew on the left, purchased in a growler from them the day before the photo was taken, and a glass of the clone on the right.

The Ingredients
11 pounds, 12 ounces Dingeman's Pale Ale Malt
2 pounds orange blossom honey
1 pound Simplicity Candi Syrup
1 ounce dried ginger root
1 ounce bitter orange peel
0.5 ounces crushed coriander seed
3 ounces Hallertau Hersbrucker @ 2.0% AA
0.5 ounces Hallertau Mittlefrueh @ 4.0% AA (added because I had no more Hersbrucker)
1 tablet whirlfloc
1/4 tsp. yeast nutrient