Esteem of the Beer World

Beer appreciation can be described as an empathy that exists
between the ever growing numbers of craft brew enthusiasts.  Picture
this as a sudsy world of serendipity where we hold an apparent
aptitude for making accidental fortunate discoveries with strangers
all in the pursuit of a satisfying goblet or pint.

With that in mind, daily excursions and even planned vacations
become centered around the hub of unbeknownst locales offering
what we hope will be the finest nectar of the gods accompanied
by the quaint ambiance we seek to satiate the mind and palate.

The chase is on as people head out all over the place.  We go
upstate, downstate, across the state, to the tri-state, by the river,
over the river, to town, through the woods, everywhere all in a
challenge to be rewarded with the best experience of imbibing
and colloquy.

We search as we stroll through the forest of tap handles,
sometimes with more than 40 species containing a few previously
unknown.  The salient ones catch our early attention, but are they
worthy?  Decision time is near and sometimes the person sitting
next to you has a tip on the best pour.  Say Hi and a random
conversation will follow about where we live, what beers are
there or what’s great around here.  Inquire as to what they like and
why?  The sense of discovery driven by knowledge and experience
will catapult you on a mission unlike any other.  A respect for
beer and the people that create it will develop.

We have to boldly go where we haven’t gone before.
Somehow through the years our society has lost the desire to
explore.  When I was a child I wanted to be a scientist probably
because in the 1950′s and 60′s we were looking at the sky and
in awe of how people will be visiting space and someday living
there.  It helped create a vision of limitless expanse where each one
of us could grab a bit and mold it into our lives.  Things changed.
The wars and economy distracted us and reversed our direction,
suddenly there was no future, just now.  Recently, talk of the end of
the world further eroded any hope that we could instill in our
youth a sense that there is more to life.

Felicity is within our reach.

Approach every day like you are building a bridge over a huge
frontier.  Piece by piece the project gets done.  And when
it’s complete we have more of the universe to navigate through by
using our new route.

Time is precious and short and that’s why a little inspiration
can go a long way.  Get out there and explore the vast array of
breweries and the different styles they offer.

Better yet, get some people together and try some
homebrewing so when you find a style you like you could make
your own.  Think of it as “the sky’s the limit.”

It’s been said “Beer can change the world, I’m not sure how but it will.”

Northdown Blond Beer (all grain) 5 gal. yield

We used a single malt/ single hop recipe to make it easier to identify the flavors associated with the individual ingredients.  Our goal with these blond beers is to highlight a different hop using the same malt, thereby showcasing the hops contribution.  Past blond beers using  Sterling, Magnum, and Aurora hops all showed to have a profound affect on the beer ranging from a fine subtle to a sharp crisp bite.  Hop schedules were calculated to yield similar or higher  IBU’s.  This is fun brewing since the beers are unlike anything available commercially.

10 #    Maris Otter malt
2 oz.   Northdown Hops pellets   5 % AA

Additives  1 Tbs. pH stabilizer – 1 tsp. Gypsum to mash
1  tsp. Yeast nutrient – 1 tsp. Irish Moss to boil
Mash  3 Gal. 42 oz.  water @ 164F in tun add grains to153 F
stir @ 5 min.       @  30 min.       @  50 min.
75 min. rest to  149F             Iodine test
2 Gal.  water boiling to mash out  166 F 5 min.
Sparge continuous 3.5Gal.  water collected ~7.25 Gal. wort
Boil  time 60 min.
Hops     1 oz. @ 15 min.
1 oz  @  end
O.G.   1.054        F.G.  1.012           13.5/3 Plato           22 IBU’s
Rest  20 min. chill to fermenter-oxygenate-pitch @   70F
Yeast    two XL 1084 Irish Ale
Fermentation
Blow-off pops by
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________

Rack Secondary  7-10 days when ready___________________
Put in fridge   7-10 days later as beer clears_________________
Keg  after 3 weeks_________________________________% ABV
Notes  ______________________________________________
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________

 

Extra Stout (all grain) 5 gal. yield


12.5 #  Maris Otter malt
.5 #   Victory malt
.5 #   Crystal 80  malt
1.0 #   Crystal – Dark – Durst  90 L
.5 #   Black Patent malt
9 oz.  Roast Barley
.5 #   Flaked Barley
2  oz.  Glacier pellets   5 %  AA

Additives:  1 TBS. pH stabilizer -  adjust water to alkaline
1 tsp. yeast nutrient  – 1 tsp. Irish Moss to boil
Mash  5 gal.  41 oz.  water at 165F in tun add grains to 154F
Stir @ 5 min.         @ 30 min.         @ 50 min.
75  min. rest to 152-150F          Iodine test
2 gal.  boiling water  mash-out at 166F 5 min.
Sparge  continuous  3.5 gal.  water collect 7.5 gal. wort
Boil   90 min.
Hops    First addition              1 oz  @ 45 min
Second                              1 oz   @ 60 min
O.G.      1.066      F.G. 1.020          Plato  16.5/5            28  IBU’s
Rest 20 min.-chill to fermenter – oxygenate  Pitch @  64F
Yeast  two XL1728 Scottish Ale smak paks
Fermentation    Blow-off pops by
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
Rack to Secondary after 10 days ___________________________
Put in fridge 7 days later _________________________________
Keg after 7 days_______________________
Notes _______________________________________________
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________
____________________________________________________

 

OUTDOOR BRR – REWING

As winter is approaching, the weather here in northwestern NJ has already turned cold. Brewing beer outdoors means we are dependent on fair weather. That means no precipitation or blustery wind gusts. We can deal with the cold. The frigid temperatures don’t have to stop the carboys from being filled, it just creates a new set of challenges that can be overcome. Don’t let the thought of winter discourage you. Just as you snowshoe, ski, and snowboard being prepared will always get you through the toughest tasks. I made a Pale Ale last week on a day the temps hovered below freezing. It worked out great and I’m happy I did it.
Watching the weather report is the first step. Pick the right day where the temps will be within reason with light to no wind. Even if the day starts out below 32 F a lot of times the sun comes out and it warms up a bit.
As in every batch, the night before gather all your equipment and measure out the water needed to have them ready for the morning. This time of year it’s a good idea the drain the garden hose and keep it in the garage so it’s not frozen when you need it. That way in the morning you hook it up when you’re ready to go. If it’s really cold you’ll have to set the nozzle to let the water run slowly to prevent it from freezing. I remember one year it read 18F on the speedometer and I had to turn up the trickle because it was making an icicle that clogged the flow.
There are ways to cheat Mother Nature and it’s called Outdoor/Indoor brewing. I don’t have a HERMES or RIMS set up so it’s “gorilla” (credit Jeff Levine) brewing here at Wildcat. Once I dough in with the mash tun cooler I bring it inside where it’s warmer so the rest temp doesn’t drop dramatically as it would do outdoors. I heat up the mash-out water on the kitchen stove, stir it in the tun then bring it back outside. Vorlauf then sparge right into the kettle for the boil. You can go inside to warm up, oh I mean to record your notes, weigh out the hops, or spoon out any additives.
It takes less time and water to chill the wort in the winter so keep an eye on the temperature. If the fermenter has been sitting outside for a while it too will be colder than usual. Make the proper adjustments.
By the time you pitch the yeast, it is later in the day and probably getting colder. Have some buckets of warm water for the cleaner and sanitizer. That will help out on the hands. You could use dishwashing gloves. A hot water hose outside would be a blessing for the cleanup.
Always remember safety is a priority. Freezing temps mean icy patios and deck stairs. Use caution and be aware! Have fun and please let me know how it worked out.

What’s in Your Water?

Brewing water chemistry has a direct effect on the quality of beer you produce. There are many articles and even books on the subject and it seems surprising that some brewers pay little attention to it. By following some guidelines your homebrews will tend to improve as you tune in on the subtle differences that electrolyte adjustment can make.
All natural waters have minerals and gases dissolved in it and these can vary by source and locale. The extent and degree of these compounds determine the overall quality and hardness of water. Beer is produced all over the world and certain styles have emerged by combining native water and the locally used malts. The classic example is Burton Ales where very hard water produces an exquisite character beer.
Using this knowledge one can duplicate a certain style by reviewing the water analysis of the region where the beer is produced, then try to duplicate it.
Most homebrewers use tap water which is most likely chlorinated. It is necessary to remove the chlorine by charcoal filtering or boiling. Boiling also serves to remove alkalinity. One could always start with distilled water and make the proper additions to boost the Calcium, carbonates and sulfates to the desired levels needed to match the style.
In my area the tap water has a Total Hardness of 182 mg/l as CaCo3 so it is perfect for all types of ales that call for the addition of darker malts. I remember a few years back when I tried a Stout at a brewpub and the beer had little to no head. I questioned the brewer if he checked out the analysis of the water he was using and suggested a higher carbonate level would balance out the acidity of the darker malts. Awhile later, I returned and the Stout had a nice lasting head.
When brewing ales that range from amber to dark I use my tap water for the mash. A carbon activated filter from a home center comes in handy to remove any sediment and chlorine. I always use a tablespoon of 5.2ph Stabilizer in the mash as a buffer. Depending on the style I might add some Gypsum or Calcium Chloride.
I found a spring well not far from my house that I tested and found it to have a low hardness level. I always use this water for the sparge or when I’m using lighter malts in the mash. Commercially sold spring waters sometimes have the electrolytes listed on the labels. The brewer would have a base water to start out with, make additions or if it is soft enough use it in the sparge.
Check with your town to see if you can get a copy of the water analysis report and again use it for a basis of additions you feel appropriate.
Read about the effects that bicarbonates etc. have on hop utilization and final flavors of beer. The late Greg Noonan wrote an excellent book on brewing water chemistry that is considered to have had a great impact on the brewing process worldwide. Your beers will improve as you make subtle adjustments, starting with the water.

A Curious History – Can brewing be traced to childhood ?

Each homebrewer has his reasons for homebrewing, but what he might not realize is that his hobby may have something to do with his past. No, I don’t mean reincarnation or hypnosis. I’m talking about something in the psyche that can slowly develop or be triggered by an ordinary event.
I grew up in Newark, N.J. in a section known as Ironbound, named after the surrounding railroad tracks. My school, St. Aloysius, was in a former office building of the P. Ballantine & Sons Brewery donated to the church to help give neighborhood kids an education. The brewery was in full production at the time. It is here that I feel my inner self has been guided to the art and science of homebrewing. I was almost like a barley grain getting ready to germinate.
At St. Al’s in the fifth grade, I developed a fondness for that pungent aroma wafting in the classroom through open windows on the spring air. I was ever so careful not to get caught watching the busy workers and the noisy cans go by on conveyors.
My daydreaming about all that activity prompted Sister Rita to send a note home to Mom. I also remember being chased by the workers as my friend showed me how to get the overhead doors to move using a crushed ale can and reflecting light on the electric eye sensors. The mystery of what went on there made it all the more interesting.
Well, a year later, in 1964, my family moved to the other end of the city to the area of the kinder and gentler aroma of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. It wasn’t until college, while the regular American pilsners were being consumed, that I got an education in Ballantine India Pale Ale. In comparison to what I was used to, it was absolutely amazing. A fondness was developing. I began wondering about ingredients and their effect on the taste and aroma of different beers.
Years later many hearts were saddened to hear of the closing of Ballantine’s plant. Rumor has it that 12 giant wooden tanks of IPA were destroyed as the brew in its prime washed into Newark Bay. Ouch! The new Falstaff product is good but only a faint hint of the original.
All the excitement peaked in 1986 when I brewed my first batch. It tasted great. Things have been constantly progressing as I try new techniques, although I’m still waiting for that noisy clanking sound of cans going by. I haven’t quite figured out that process yet. Progressing from extracts to all-grain is rewarding because I can actually tell the difference.
These days the beautiful aromas I create invoke faces on my children only Sister Rita could muster as she passed out our report cards. Because of that, brewing days start with the departure of the school bus. With proper ventilation of the house and kitchen, the air seems clear by the time the bus pulls up again at the end of the day.
“Dad, were you making beer again today?” I knew it was coming.
“Oh, why? Can you smell something?” I ask.
“No there’s a thermometer sticking out of your back pocket.”
Phew! Lately they admit it doesn’t smell “all that bad.” Maybe there’s a new generation of homebrewers in the making.
Sometimes I get the chance to visit the sites of my childhood memories. The packaging plant, warehouses, towers and brewing buildings are still there, although occupied by other businesses. As a firefighter, there are times I zip past the Anheuser-Busch plant in the summer to get that old scent, albeit ever slight.
Looking ahead, I’m curious to see if history will repeat itself, as my young ones get older.
These days I try to recreate that legendary IPA. I know that being close is good enough.
Some day when I read my hydrometer for the last time and the homebrew tanks run dry, I’ll sneak a peek out the window recalling the clanging and remember how the smell of malt and hops can ignite a passion that lasts a lifetime.*

*Featured in Brew Your Own magazine October 1998,Vol.4.No.10

You, too, can learn how to make beer! We love to drink quality brews and that can include the ones you make yourself. Give home brewing a try. Avoid the hassles and find out how to do it outdoors. Outdoorbrewing.com is here to guide you through the whole process. If you want to start out brewing and have no idea what it’s all about, check out the Beginner Brewing Series. It’s an easy to follow read that is written for the novice and describes the process as I tell you how it’s done. Once you start, you will get familiar with the procedures, do it your way and get experience as you chalk up the batches. Always read as much as you can and you will advance at your own pace. Check out my tips in the various articles, use them and give me some feedback. In brewing beer, we like others to try our creations. Take the criticism as being constructive and hone your skills.
Do it! Join in now! We’re waiting for the next generation to start up and take over. We’re not getting any younger and need you to step up to the brewhouse. Someone is going to have to make our beer! And it’s you!

Korny Keggin’

After bottling about 100 batches, I finally made the leap to kegging. Cornelius kegs ( aka korny ) offer the homebrewer a convenient and fast way of cooperage. You’ll need to get a kegerator or convert the old fridge with a wall mounted faucet or two as well as gas distribution lines. The process of kegging turns out to be easier than you think.

Korny kegs are available online and homebrew shops in new or used condition. New ones are nice if you could afford them or picking up some used ones will work just fine if you perform some minor rebuilding. I prefer the ball-lock fittings since they seem easier to use. Always replace the o-rings and also have an extra set of them and poppets on hand in case some get damaged. Keg lube is another item you will need. Have the keg and all the pieces clean and stored away so it will be ready on kegging day.

Prepare the keg for filling by first putting all the little pieces and lid in a bowl of Star San (SS) solution. Coat the small 0-rings with some keg lube and slide them onto the short and long dip tubes and place them in the respective holes of the keg with the small in the “in” port and the long tube in the “out” port. Apply a thin film of lube to the tips of the poppets and drop them in the keg fittings and loosely apply to the keg with the notched one on the gas side and the smooth one on the beer side. As you turn them to tighten be carefull to see that the poppet is centered in the fitting hole. This is important since you want it to seat right so there are no leaks later. If they don’t center right while twisting them on clockwise, then back off a little and watch as the poppet lines up dead center. Once you have them snug, tighten with an 11/16″ open end wrench or the larger fittings with a 7/8″ socket wrench. It’s tight when they seem to just stop, not like wrenching down on some lag bolts in wood. Apply a thin coat of lube to the relief valve seal and insert into the lid and tighten. Lube the large gasket, fit it on the lid and return setup the SS bowl. Fill the keg with cold water and put in 1 oz. of SS, secure with lid then give it a little shake. It’s now ready for the next step.
Attach CO2 hose and charge the korney keg that’s full of SS solution. Use a faucet attachment on the “out” side to empty contents.
Collect as much as you like of the 5 Gal. SS solution into containers as you push the SS out of the korny as it fills with CO2. The keg is now sanitized and purged of oxygen. Check for leaks that will show up as tiny bubbles on the fittings.


Assemble racking cane and tubing and transfer the beer into the korny. Fit on the lid and hook up the gas line as you prepare to carbonate the beer.
Carbonation levels differ with many styles of beer so determine how much you are aiming for. These levels are measured in volumes of CO2 dissolved in the liquid. Consult a chart with Temperature of Beer to Pounds per Square Inch Applied. After cold-conditioning my beer in the fridge for awhile and transfering it to the keg I usually end up with a Temperature of 44F in the keg. Checking the chart shows that @ 44F and a pressure of 18 psi yields 2.81 atmospheres which I find works well with most of my homebrews.

Once you have determined the carbonation level desired, set the regulator and begin shaking the keg. Sit down on a chair with the horizontal keg on a towel on your lap and while firmly holding it begin a rocking motion to facilitate the dissolving of the gas into the beer. Hold it so the “in” valve is up. You’ll hear a growling noise at first as the gas disperses into the liquid. This will quiet down as time goes on. I find rocking for 15 to 20 minutes is sufficient to reach the full carbonation level desired.
The carbonated beer is now ready, you can sample some now but it’ll be foamy. It’s best to let it settle a day or two in the fridge so it can reach an equilibrium. Before hooking up the gas line relieve some pressure so beer doesn’t back up the gas line. If it did then clean and sanitize the hose to prevent contamination.  Be sure to have a check valve installed to help prevent backups.
You are now ready to enjoy your first kegged homebrew !

Ferment and Cellaring

Here we are at the final stage of our beer in production. You boiled, cooled, aerated the wort and pitched the yeast, fermentation started and is cranking – now you wait, RIGHT?

New Hops For Your New Beer

We’ve all made tons of beers with tried and true hops that have been available throughout the years, but lately some new varieties have emerged in the U.S. markets. These newcomers are actually clones of old stock that have been developed to accent the most desirable qualities of cultivation, utilization and shelf life. Herein lies the magic often aspired by homebrewers seeking to get away from the common rut of sticking to historical styles. These new varieties offer hop oil contents uncharacteristic of the parent strains making them wildly exciting to experiment with. Think about that Pale Ale with a different nose or a spicier bitterness in the middle. The possibilities are endless when the homebrewer does a little research to match the new hops with their favorite grain bill. Now’s the time to search around for these new hops with names like Amarillo, Citra, Glacier, Palisade, Simcoe, and Sterling. I’ll get to the descriptions of these hops later as we review some hops facts.