So much fun! Live blogging of my #homebrew day again today

October 27, 2011

I had such a great response to my live blogging of my last brew day, that I thought I’d do it again. I took the day off work. It’s been a slow work week and I am caught up. Thought I’d brew a batch of American Style Dark India Ale aka Dark IPA aka Cascadian Ale. It’s a style I’ve been wanting to brew for awhile. I’ve had many homebrewer’s interpretations of it recently, along with a few commercial examples. I really like it. I formulated this recipe and ordered my hops last week. Of course, after I weighed out my grains and ground them I revisited my worn copy of Brew Your Own magazine that has an article about this style of beer. It’s seems like my recipe has more chocolate malt then others do. So it might turn out to be a “chocolate IPA”, but pale chocolate malt isn’t as roasty as normal chocolate malt. Either way, I’m sure it will be good. I will let you know when I eventually get to drink it. Here’s my recipe for 10 gallons:

20 lbs Pale Ale Malt
1 lb, 6 ounces of Vienna Malt
2 lbs pale chocolate
1 lb midnight wheat
1 lb dark crystal 80
1 lb flaked oats
2 Whirfloc tablets (last 5 minutes)

4 oz Amarillo Hops (2 oz 60 minutes, 1 oz 30 minutes, 1 oz 5 minutes)
4 oz Centennial hops (2 oz 60 minutes, 1 oz 30 minutes, 1 oz 5 minutes)
2 oz Crystal hops (1 oz 45 minutes, 1 oz 5 minutes)

Safale US-05 American Ale Yeast

Mash w/ 9 gallons of water (hold at 152-154 for 60 minutes)

Sparge with 8 gallons of water at 168 degrees
Boil and follow hop schedule

Yesterday I went and filled my water jugs at Love’s Creek Spring. I also set everything up on my porch so I could get the water going as soon as I woke up. My whole plan is to get done as soon as possible so I can take my son to “Scare in the Square” this evening.

5:40 am: Woke up before my alarm. I should get out of bed & get going.
6:00 am: Started water going, hoping to mash in by 7.
6:10 am: Coffee!
6:54 am: Mashed in. Hit my temperature with no issues.
7:00 am: Started Sparge water going. It’s on low since I have an hour to get it to 168 degrees.
7:08 am: Making breakfast.
7:28 am: Just stirred the mash, 30 minutes left to go until Sparge.
7:34 I’m now measuring my hops. This is my first true all whole hops brew.

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7:58 am: Starting my Vorluaf
8:23 am: Sparging
9:03 am: finished Sparging, waiting to achieve boil. Only 20 more degrees to go.
9:10 am: it’s at boil! Adding 1st hop addition
9:25 am: added next hop addition
9:40 am: yet another hop addition. Also working on cleaning out my mash run and sanitizing my carboys & cool down equipment.
10:05 am: last 5 minutes of the boil & last hop addition. Also adding Whirfloc tablets
10:10 am: boil is done. Turned off propane. Took out mesh bags full of hops & let then drain in a strainer. Going to start my whirlpool in a few minutes.
10:20 am: started my whirlpool. Going to do this for 20 minutes so all the trub goes to the center of the brew pot.
10:40 am: on to the cool down. It’s a lot easier to do on a cold rainy day.

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11:02 am: cool down done & carboys are full!
11:24 am: starting gravity of the wort is 1.062. Tasty very hoppy, but it balances with maltyness & a hint of chocolate malt. No roast character which is good & within the style for this type of beer. Of course the flavor will change with fermentation. I’ve pitched the yeast & am awaiting the magic of fermentation. It’ll be awhile until I post again, there is a lot of clean up to do.
11:54 am: not even close to being done with brew day clean up, but must take a break. Hard work.
1:00 pm: Guess what? Still not done with clean up. I’m tired.


A Great Weekend for #KnoxBeer

October 25, 2011

The liver is evil and must be punished. Saw this on a shirt the other day, and it (almost) sums up my weekend. I don’t think I’ll make this post really long. The Knox Beer Snobs have posted a great review of all the Knoxville Beer events this weekend, so I’ll refer you to them. I will tell you that I had a great and memorable weekend.

Every year the Homebrew Club does a lot of the beer related grunt work and preparation for Brewers Jam. My weekend pretty much kicked off on Thursday night. The homebrew club does what we call  “Pretzel Jam” where we drink beer and make pretzel necklaces to sell at the event. I had a ride, so I was able to partake in the “leftover” entries from the TN Valley Fair’s Homebrew competition.

Friday I worked a short half day and then headed down to World’s Fair Park to help load the cold truck. The brewers show up, unload the kegs from their vehicles and we move the kegs to cold storage. It was mostly sitting around drinking beer with the occasional heavy lifting. I took a break from that for a few hours and headed over to the grand opening of Marble City Brewing Company’s tasting room, The Quarry. Knoxville really came out to show support for the hometown brewery. The place was packed! The owners even had authentic deep dish pizza flown in for the event. After a few beers, a slice of pizza and some great conversation with fellow craft beer enthusiast, I headed back to World’s Fair Park.  When that was over, it was time for the brewer’s reception in a top secret location. Most of the brewers both local and out of area were treated to beer, cigars, food, and a live bluegrass jam. There was even free jars of locally produced salsa, courtesy of Big S Farms. Pretty much every one of my beer friends were there. I remember looking around at the crowd and thinking if a bomb went off in that room, there wouldn’t be anyone left in the Knoxville craft beer scene. That reception went on long into the night. I left around 11 pm since I was hosting out of town guests and we all had to be up early to work the morning shift.

Saturday morning I made coffee and my guest (fellow homebrewers Shanezilla and Pam) and I headed out. We stopped by Just Ripe on Union Avenue in downtown for a quick breakfast. Then it was on to Brewers’ Jam. There was a whole heck of a lot of work to do before the gates opened at 1pm. We had to deliver the kegs to the brewers, along with Ice. There was also our booth to set up and a few other details to attend to. About 30 minutes or so before kick off, we were pretty much done. This is my favorite time of of the Knoxville Brewer Jam. All the brewers are set up, and everyone has a chance to socialize and try one another’s beers before it gets hectic. Before they opened the gates, we had our customary speech given by Knoxville Police Department, as seen in the following video:

Then the fun begins. It is amazing to see a wave of people pour in when they open the gates. The lines were as far as the eye could see. My 1st keg of Butternut Squash Ale was on tap, and I happily doled out samples to thirsty drinkers. It made me feel like I really know what I’m doing as a beer brewer when people would tell me how much they enjoyed it. I even had some of the most critical members of the homebrew club come back for seconds and thirds. Whenever my 1st keg blew out, I let someone else take a turn pouring while I happily went in search of other tasty beverages to imbide. I saw many of my fellow Knox Craft beer friends and walked around drinking and enjoying their company. Later on in the afternoon, I came back and put on my second keg of Butternut Squash Ale and poured that as well. Near the end of the event, I went and filled several growlers of beer to take home for later. I ran into Mike from Asheville Brewing Company who gave me a really cool Moog filtered Ale shirt.

Well, I went and caught the rest of Cutthroat Shamrock’s show at the end. The jam closed down, the beer stopped flowing, and I started packing out. I finally got my vehicle packed with everything I brought, along with a cooler full of growlers, bottles of beer, merchandise and other stuff I scored at the Jam. I walked over to my office where I spent a few hours drinking water and listening to the Vols football game on the radio. I ended the night eating pizza and thinking how I am already looking forward to next year’s Brewers Jam.

Enjoy the pictures below, click to make big.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Experiment: Live blog updating today as I brew

October 16, 2011

Well hey there my 1 or 2 blog readers. I got this nice new iPhone and thought I’d try something. I’m going to live blog while I brew my Hot Chocolate Imperial Stout today. Should be entertaining. Anyway, here is my final recipe after many changes, tweaks and advice from fellow homebrewers and pro-brewers. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Recipe: Ratchet’s Hot Chocolate Imperial Stout

All Grain, 10 gallons.

Dutch process fat free cocoa powder (added to mash tun, last 2 gallons of Sparge)
22 pounds Marris Otter
2 pound pale chocolate malt
1 pound wheat malt
1 ½ pound of lactose (last 15 minutes of boil)
2 pounds of dark crystal malt
2 pounds cara pils
3/4th pound roasted barley
½ pound black patent malt
2 pounds flaked oats (in mesh bag in Mash tun)
3 ounces fresh Williamette hops (60 minutes)
1 ounce goldings hops (last 15 minutes)
1 ounce golding ( last 5 minutes)
3 TN cherry peppers in each carboy (also in last 5 minutes of boil)
1 cinnamon stick in each carboy (also in last 5 minutes of boil)
2 roasted jalapenos in each carboy (Last 5 minutes in boil)
California Ale Yeast from Marble City Brewing Company (thanks Jen!)

9 am: Ok, slept in after a night on the town. Rolled out of bed & got the water going. While this 10 gallons gets to strike temp, I need to make coffee & breakfast.

10 am: Made coffee, ate something. I still haven’t mashed in. I was replacing a hose to my false bottom in my mashtun. Wasn’t paying attention to the water and I went over my temperature range. Now I have to wait for the temperature to go down by 10° before I can mash. Dammit.

11 am: Finally! After many trials and tribulations, a lot of adjustments and some spilled water, I have finally hit my mash temperature. Now I have an hour to get everything else ready while the starches convert to sugars.

12 pm: A a friend of mine stop by to show me his hops. Very nice, smelly sticky & green. So distracted by the smelly goodness I forgot to get my Sparge water going in time. Right now I’m doing my vorlauf while my sparge water gets to 168°. I tasted the wort, definitely has conversion. Very sweet.

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12:32 pm I’m sparging my grains. I need a homebrew. What should I drink?

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12:59 pm almost up to boil. Then I’ll add first hop addition. Finally able to have a beer.

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1:13 pm. I feel like I should be cleaning or prepping something. Got my hops ready, should hit boil soon.
1:26 pm: Ladies & gentlemen, we have boil! Added 3 ounces of locally grown, organic Williamette hops.
1:56 pm: I’m so hungry, but too busy to make lunch. I’ll pay you in beer if you bring me something to eat. 30 minutes left in the boil. I have to get all the cool down stuff rinsed & ready.
2:14 pm: Added another edition of hops. 15 minutes left in the boil.
2:45 pm: I ran out of propane the last 10 minutes of the boil! Luckily I live right next door to the gas station so I went to re-up on the propane, I got some ice for the cool down. Now I’m going to boil the bejesus out this wort for the next 10 minutes.

3:15 pm: My friend (who also happens to be my ex-wife) brought me lunch! Yay for food and friends!
3:45 pm: I haven’t updated for a while because I’ve been too busy. Right now I’m cooling down the wort. It’s coming out the chiller at a perfect 70°. I split it up between 3 six gallon carboys. I’m using the California ale yeast from Marble City Brewery, and I’m using a lot of it.

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4:15 pm: I’m done brewing. The wort is awaiting the magic of fermentation… I’m going to take a break before I start my clean up.
5:15 pm: half way through my cleanup. Cleaning is my least favorite part of homebrewing. Almost done though and then I’ll go over to the comic book shop next door for little while for some quality reading. On the plus side though I did hit my gravity target with a OG 1.070. I am excited that the wort taste exactly like I want it to. Big flavorful chocolate smoothness balanced with hop bitterness. Then the spicy pepper taste gives you a hint of heat on the finish. I nailed this one. I can’t wait to try it after its fermented, conditioned and aged!

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5:45 pm: I’m done. Well, except for a few more things I need to still clean. The wort is happily fermenting. I’ll put on air locks in a few hours. Thanks for tuning in to my live-blog-while-I-brew experiment. Do me a favor & leave a comment. I see by my site’s stats that a lot people have checked out this blog today. It would be good to hear from y’all even if it’s just to say hi.
Cheers,
Ratchet


Ich hatte so eine tolle Zeit in Asheville Oktoberfest!

October 10, 2011
When I  got back from Asheville I rushed over to my buddy’s work (Comics Exchange) to use the wifi. I wanted to work on this post while everything was still fresh in my mind and my heart was still full of Asheville’s energy. I love Asheville. I freakin’ LOVE it. I haven’t fell so hard for a city since those few summers long ago that I spent tramping around Boulder, CO.   Though as much as I swoon over Asheville, I’m happy and grateful for what I have here in good ol’ Knox-Vegas.

Asheville Oktoberfest was a mostly solo affair for me. I drove up early Saturday, checked in to my room which was literally 1 block away from Wall Street, and got my wrist band. With only 6 local breweries providing approximately 3 beers each, this wasn’t a “tasting”. This was full pour, let’s get drunk and have a blast. Which I did. I used twitter as a quick way to keep tabs on how much I’ve had. After my 5th or 6 full cup, I took a break. Since my hotel was so close, I took 30 minutes to relax in an air conditioned room and drink water. Once recharged, I headed back. Oh and let me say this. Sloppy Joe’s are NOT an appropriate beer street festival food. Please, don’t do this. I knew I had to eat, and should have went with a bratwurst, but I had serious doubts I could fit one of those monster’s in my belly and continue to drink. I got the sloppy joe ’cause it was the only vegetarian choice. Seriously Laughing Seed Cafe, next time veggie brats, or something similar. You’ll sell more food, I promise.

Well, I didn’t really meet any new people at the fest, but luckily I knew some people who were there. My ex-neighbors and friends Brad and Trish and L.C. and Pod. Also Chris and Lindey from the homebrew club. Later on I met up with Aaron and his crew the organizers of the Kingsport Oktoberfest. L.C. and Pod drank fast and crashed early. I spent most of the rest of the festival drinking, wandering and drunkenly dancing to the Stratton Mountain Boys by the stage. The band is great German drinking music, they led the crowd in drunken chants. A friend of mine later remarked on my facebook page in response to a video I posted that German accents cover up slurred speech every time. I found that to be more and more true as Oktoberfest progressed. The fest went from 12-6pm. Around 6:15 I got my last beer. The band was breaking down and most everyone was wandering off. I returned to my room, drink in hand. Crossing the street in front of the hotel, a cop asked me to pour out my full beer. I did so without regret since I was feeling pretty good by then.

My friends stayed in the same hotel as I did, the Downtown Inn and Suites. I went to their room and watched the 1st quarter or so of the Vols game. Knowing that Brusin Ales closed at 9, I walked over there and stocked up on rare beers and stuff you just can’t find in Knoxville. I had a sample of what they had on tap, and talked beer with one of the shop owners for awhile. She hooked me up with a free Asheville Brewing Alliance shirt, which was nice of her. She also gave me a shout on the http://twitter.com/brusinales which was pretty cool. The owners of Brusin Ales are good people, who know their beer. The store is recognized as one of the world’s best bottle shops in several beer magazines. I made my bank account smaller, took my loot and stashed it back in the room. Then I headed to Wedge Brewery which was a short 1 mile walk down the block. I got there real close to closing time, just long enought to have a “Derailed” hemp seed ale. I’ve been wanting to go to The Wedge for awhile. It seems like a great place to spend an afternoon drinking and I look forward to going back again one day.

I ended up the night at Lexington Avenue Brewery. I sat at the bar and ordered one of their amazing local cheese plates and their American Pale Ale. After I ate it became apparent to me that I was done. Like, get-my-ass-back-to-the-hotel-before-I-pass-out done. I payed my tab and shamefully left half of a really great beer behind.

The next day I got up and met with my friends at the hotel’s dining room to enjoy the free breakfast and hang out. I showed them their pictures on the Asheville newspaper’s (the Citizen Times) website. My friend Brad is on the front cover of the physical paper in a crowd shot. It was funny seeing him search for himself like he was playing Where’s Waldo.

Since I’m a complete coffee snob and don’t drink free hotel coffee, I went off in search of a cup of wake up juice. I found it at Wall Street Coffee house. With cup in hand I walked several miles through downtown taking in the sites. This is how I soak up the ambience of a place. I was also on a mission to find a place that was open that had an Oktoberfest poster in the window. I was going to ask for it to bring it back for the wall of my beer room. I didn’t have any luck, but made a mental note to come back after lunch when a printing shop that had one displayed opened. Unfortunately I did forget, so if any Asheville people see this blog, if you send me one, I’ll send you a pint glass in return. I met up with my friends for lunch at Plant, which is a vegan restaurant on Merrimon Avenue. It was a nice brunch, throughly enjoyable even though I’m not vegan. I then proceeded back to Brusin Ales to get a 4 pack of Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale since TN no longer gets Dogfish Head shipments. I also stopped at Earth Fare on my way out of town to get a few Asheville Brewing Company bombers. I got Ninja Porter and Moog Ale. Picked up a few actual brats I plan on cooking next weekend when I brew again.

I have a great time whenever I visit Asheville. I know that for the next few months I’ll be squirreling away money for a return trip. I’m already thinking of the Winter Warmer festival in January. I know for certain that next Oktoberfest, I’ll be there as well. Maybe I’ll have a travel companion for these, or maybe they will once again be solo affairs. Either way, I’m sure to enjoy tasty beers and the great vibe of Beer City USA.

-Cheers,

Ratchet

 

Quick update before the weekend.

October 5, 2011

Hey y’all. I figured I post something to keep the ol’ blog alive and to let you know about some beer related events that have happened or are happening soon. Last night I went to Woodruff’s third cask night at the Downtown Grill and Brewery. Brewer Dave Ohmer dry hopped 15 gallons of their White Mule Pale Ale and naturally carbonated it for 3 weeks. Poured with an authentic hand pumped beer engine, the brew was smooth, creamy and very hoppy. There weren’t as many people in attendance as the 1st cask night, but it was good to see my friends the Knox Beer Snobs in the house. I also got to kick it with a few of homebrew club members as well as some other great folks. I’m greatful for the Brewery’s cask night and hope that it continues to florish. 

Speaking of breweries, Marble City Brewing Company’s tap room, The Quarry, is open. They are open Wednesday through Friday from 4-8 pm, Saturday 2 to 8. If you find yourself out and about in Knoxville, I suggest you check it out. I went on opening day. It’s a nicely redone room, very comfortable.  It’s a small scene there and everyone knows almost everyone. I met a few new friends that night including a fellow homebrewer. I also went and hung out a little bit with Brewmaster Jen who has a wealth of brewing knowledge. It seems like everytime I have a beercentric conversation with her, I learn something new.  The Quarry is having it’s “official” grand opening on Friday October 21 from 4-9 pm. I have volunteered to work the brewer’s keg check in at World’s Fair Park for the Knoxville Brewers Jam that night, but I might have to push that back a bit so I can at least make an appearance.

OH, and speaking of Brewer’s Jam, LAST CHANCE TO BUY TICKETS. I hear that there are less than 100 left and they expect it to sell out by Friday evening. Get them now, or miss out entirely.

Oh Saturday, how I look forward to thee. I plan on getting up bright and early to head to Asheville for their small but fun Oktoberfest celebration downtown. Six great Asheville breweries, games, the music of  Stratton Mountain Boys, the food, the dirndls, a hotel within stumbling distance and a planned trip afterwards to The Wedge Brewery? OH HELL YES!!!! This is one of the events I planned to go to since last year. The hotel was booked months ago and I made sure to get my ticket way before any chance the event would sell out. I’ll make sure to take plenty of pictures and video and write up a nice long post afterwards. I’m still traveling solo, so if anyone wants to go, give me a shout. 

Well I’m kicking myself for not going to the homebrew shop yesterday. I meant to get a new bottling bucket so I could sanitize it with the bottles for my last 10 gallons of my Butternut Squash ale that I plan on bottling tomorrow. Wednesday is the only day that Harry closes shop, so I guess I’ll use my old worn out bottling bucket that needed to be replaced along time ago. I still need to work on my next recipe for chocolate pepper stout. Must order ingredients next week. I have to get at least one more brew day in this month.

Ok, well, I’ll be tweeting live from Oktoberfest this weekend, so for drunken hilarity, check back and read the twitter side bar on this page. Should be entertaining….

Until then,

Cheers,

Ratchet

GO TO THIS!!!

Come drink in the streets of Asheville, Beer City USA