Thursday, November 29, 2012

Keg Cleaning

Fact: Kegs save time over bottling.
Fact: You still have to clean kegs.

I remember listening to a podcast about sour ales with Jamil Zainachef and he said something to the effect of, "I clean my kegs every time. I take them apart, clean them, and replace the seals." This led me to ask myself? do I care enough to do that? "Yes" I answered, "at least once." So bought a set of new seals for less than five dollars and got to work on an emptied keg.

(read more about keg cleaning after the break.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Travel

Something to think about when you are debating the purchasing of kegs is travelling. This weekend for Thanksgiving I went over to be with Kyle and his family. I took my kegs and we had fresh draft beer all weekend. I enjoyed my american black ale on tap. Kyle really enjoyed the tropical flavors of the brettanomyces clustersianus pale ale. It's cool enough outside here that in the garage of their house we could keep the kegs without fear of freezing or being too warm.

Anyways I am back from my Thanksgiving festivities. I hope that you and yours had safe travels as well. I will be back to my regular blogging soon.

God Bless, Don.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Batch Fifty - Old Ale w/ Molasses & Spices

Different brewing companies support different milestones in different ways. Bells brewery in Kalamazoo, MI produces a special beer for every thousandth batch. Shorts Brewery in Bellaire, MI produces their Anniversary Ale with blood oranges each year. The Bruery does both producing milestone batches and anniversary ales.

I am brewing my fiftieth batch of beer now. This number includes both large and small batches. I want to celebrate this anniversary by making a beer that is a celebration of things which I love. I am going to be making a old stock ale with a base of maris otter, black strap molasses and Sri Lankan cinnamon. This beer is similar to one of my early failures The Cinnamon Treacle Old Ale. To improve it I am going to work with ingredients I am a bit more familiar with.

(please read more about me, and my beer after the break.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: American Black Ale

American Black Ale

Appearance: Black with amazing head and lacing. the head is rock solid and sticks around for a while leaving lacing behind when it falls.

Aroma: Even in a snifter the hoppy aroma is quite apparent. The hop aroma grows as the beer warms. This is hoppy. The roast is crushed under the hops. The aroma smells like a wet pine forest (Simcoe dry hop) with just a hint of burnt chocolate.

Flavor: The hints of chocolate and subtle roast add complexity to what would otherwise have been a very good IPA. Even with a pronounced hop dominance the dark malts are a well hidden but undeniable element of the flavor. The flavor is long lasting with roast sticking after each sip fading into a lasting bitterness.

Mouth: Crisp and prickly. Medium high carbonation lifts the hops with a smooth creamy mouth feel that hides the abv of this beer well. The large quantities of hops used here increase that sticky resinous feeling that I was hoping to achieve.

Overall: A; I can give this beer no other grade. I would order this at a bar, and order another. I would like to rotate the hops used in my home brewery to find the perfect combination. Galaxy is a great hop but the high amounts of Simcoe have left it powerless to keep up. Simcoe is a very dominant hop in my opinion.

The Future: I'll try this with other hops in the future. Good combinations have included Amarillo & Simcoe, Citra & Cascade, Centennial & Cascade, Chinook & Simcoe, and many others.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Making a Handle

So I needed a handle and I had some ideas. I went shopping and then a friend suggested that he has some ideas. Those ideas looked as good as mine so I went with them. This is the handle I constructed. It works well. If you are making a handle for your MM3- 2.0 Malt Mill please consider my designs.

The pipes on the left were my idea. The piece of stainless on the right was his idea. He used his lathe to machine the key piece of steel. He drilled a half inch hole two inches down the long axis of the piece and a quarter inch hole from the other end to meet it. This allowed the handle to be made and attach to the mill.

(please read more after the break.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Equipment: Monster Mill MM3-2.0

The baddest home brew mill on the market is now in my home. The best money can buy is the Monster Mill MM3-2.0. The grand total of this baby with all parts included is 305 dollars plus shipping. That is a chunk of change for a hobby, but it gives you the flexibility to grind your own malt, and in my opinion offers the best grind on the market. I don't mean to disparage the competition at all; there are many fine products available to crush your grain.

After the break you can read about the features and specifications of the monster mill and why I think they matter. Also you can read about the competition. I will provide the comparative information where available  I am not consumer reports, I will not be doing a side by side test, and I am not unbiased.

(please read more after the break.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: Brettanomyces Pale Ale

100% Brettanomyces Galaxy Citra Pale Ale

Appearance(A/B): Brown-Golden, not as bright as I would have hoped. The active carbonation shows itself in the glass, and the cool temp creates a haze almost immediately. Impressive mousse like head and lacing remain in the glass.

Aroma(A): Tropical Fruit! This is the high point of this beer. The aroma is potent and lingering. The scents are truly remarkable. The next morning after drinking a glass my kitchen area still smelled like tropical fruit.

Flavor(C): Slightly disappointing. As you'd imagine in a pale ale, there isn't that delicious and inescapable hop flavor. The grain is more forward and the Brettanomyces Clustersianus doesn't quite bring out the same flavors as Wyeast 1056.

Mouthfeel(A/B): Carbonated, smooth, not biting.

Overall(B/C): If it had just tasted more like how it had smelled. I regret not using higher quality base malts. I believe for this brew I didn't use Briess organic. It was good, and if I can get this tropical flavored brettanomyces strain reliably I will continue to use it.

Brettanomyces Clusterianus ECY19 (East Coast Yeast):
This is a hit. The Brett adds so much to the aroma. Normally when I am making hoppy brews they smell and taste good, but they never smell this good. The aroma of this beer is strong and lingering and for a 30-40 IBU pale ale it really delivers in the nose. The beer fermented out reasonably well, perhaps a bit too dry but that's not a fault in an APA necessarily. The relatively small bittering addition comes through here, and while I like bitter, a novice wouldn't be as impressed as I am. The brettanomyces also plays up the grain in a big way leaving a husky grain flavor left after fermentation. Again it's not bad. But the little faults start to add up and show my inexperience with the strain.