Day off of work? It’s a GOOD FRIDAY to #homebrew (live blog)

March 29, 2013

Good Friday morning blog readers. I am lucky enough to have the day off work because it’s a holiday or something. I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with the Easter Bunny going into cave to prepare the eggs and stuff to deliver on Easter. Anyway I’ve known since Tuesday that I’d have this day off. My 1st thoughts? Brew some more beer! So that’s what I’m doing today. Just a simple 10 gallon batch of an American IPA. I am brewing solo today. I love my friends and assistant brewers but sometimes I got to go back to my roots and brew alone. It’s a Zen type of thing. Just me, the mash tun, the brew pot, my backyard and my stereo cranked up to eleventy.

Today’s recipe is simple enough. I am brewing with ingredients I already have on hand. Here’s what I threw together:

ABCC (Amarillo, Belma, Columbus & Cascade) IPA – 10 Gallon Batch

Estimated OG 1.074 Estimated FG 1.018 Estimated ABV 7.34% Estimated IBUs: 53.30

20 pounds 2 row brewers malt

5 pounds Vienna Malt

5 pounds Light Munich

2 pounds light crisp malt

1 pound Carahell

1 ounce Amarillo Pellets at beginning of boil (60 minutes)

3 ounces of Columbus leaf at 30 minutes left in boil

3 ounces of Cascade leaf at flame out

3 ounces of Belma leaf after 30 minutes of whirlpool

3 ounces of Amarillo pellets dry hopped after 3 days of fermentation.

Safale US-05 4000 ml starter.

60 minute boil, 45 minute whirlpool, cool down and pitch yeast at 65 degrees.

So I am up early and am going to live blog and video the whole brew day, or as much as I can. Like I said, I’m brewing solo. All the cleaning is on me. I hope I can take care of everything and still update this blog on my temperamental WordPress iPhone app. My goal is to get done as early as possible. I want to get cleaned up, maybe hit the YMCA for a quick session on the torture bot 10000 and be ready to pick up my son to take him to the Regal Riviera to see the new G.I. Joe movie at 4. Can I do it? Follow along and find out. Tweets, comments and text of encouragement are most welcome.

7:25 am. I’m so glad I set everything up yesterday after work. I just started the strike water in my bathrobe. Wiping the sleep out of my eyes, making coffee and brushing my teeth are next on the agenda.

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My “small batch” brew pot, a 20 gallon Blichmann

8:05 am: That was quick. I just mashed in. Now to periodically keep an eye on the temperature while the starches convert to sugars.

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8:45 am: A little over 15 minutes left mashing. Getting my sparge water heated up. Being productive & sanitizing carboys, hoses, etc.
9:20 am: Almost ready to sparge.

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9:26 am: Spaaaaarrrrrge!

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9:53 am: Well I’m done with the sparge. Unfortunately, I need to make a quick run to my LHBS, Allen Biermakens, because I’m out of hop bags. I realized this last night, but had to wait until 10 am for him to open. There’s a whole lot of leaf hops going into this & I can’t just throw them in the brew pot. I might as well stop by the store & get more propane just in case.
10:54 am: I’m back from my errands. I left the burner on low when I was gone. Just cranked it up and it’s almost to boil.

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10:56 am: Did I say almost? It’s at a full rolling boil. Adding in the 1st addition of hops.

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1st hop addition, Amarillo

11:30 am: 30 minutes left in the boil. I just threw some Columbus Hops in there.

11:45 am: I ran out of propane with 15 minutes left in the boil. I’m glad I picked up a spare. Also, it has started sprinkling, so I’m glad I’m brewing inside today.
11:56 am: 5 minutes left in the boil. Time to add the Whirfloc & the yeast nutrients.
12:10 pm: Started the whirlpool, added more hops. In 15 minutes, I’ll add some more. Time to go on a cleaning rampage.

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12:35 pm: I just added the last addition of hops to the whirlpool. 15 minutes until I start the cool down. Time to get the chiller hooked up. Still tons of stuff to clean. Hoping to be done by 2.

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1 pm: Pitched the yeast and cooling down wort.

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Always make a massive yeast starter, your homebrew will be happier for it.

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Yeast starter in the carboys awaiting chilled wort.

1:08 pm: just like that, the cool down is done! Thank goodness for cold ground water. Now to my least favorite part: clean up.

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1:40 pm: Still cleaning. I’m starting to think I won’t be done by 2, but that’s alright. Just took my original gravity reading. It’s at 1.064.
Stuff still to do: clean mash tun, brew pot, put everything back where it goes, vacuum seal the hops, rinse the hop bags, relax & have a homebrew.

2:34 pm: Final done cleaning & the ABCC IPA is happily fermenting. I’m going to eat something, hit the Y for a quick torture bot session & then go see a movie. Thanks for tuning into my solo brew day. I hope you were entertained.

I’m going to head out to Suttree’s this evening for a few beers if anyone wants to join me. I’ll be bringing a sample of my Smoking Hops ale to share.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Live Blogging today: Road trip to @Nantahalabrew bottle release. #AVLBeer

March 23, 2013

TrailMagicFBsized13Road Trip! Today Richard, his wife Sandy, and myself are hitting the road. We are leaving this morning to go to Bryson City, NC for Nantahala Brewing Company‘s Trail Magic #4 bottle release! It’s no secret that Greg at Nantahala brews some of the finest beer in the area. The last time I went for the bottle release, I drove up on Friday and spent the night in Bryson City. Well, Richard had planned on going Saturday and offered to drive. I agreed to go with him on Saturday and save the money on the hotel. Of course this frees up more money to buy beer!

So I will be live blogging in real time the fun of our trip there and back. Any funny things said, beer drank, videos taken will all be uploaded from my iPhone. Subsequently, this is will also be my first guest post for the newly launched Asheville Beer Week website.

9:26 am: My ride just arrived. We’re taking I-40 to 74 from Knoxville to Bryson City. I usually take the scenic route through 441, but that’s not a possibility since the landslide.
10:18 am: You know that really curvy part on I-40 in the Smokies? It makes it really hard to type on an iPhone. On the plus side, I’m now officially in North Carolina. Woot!
11:50 am: Here at Nantahala Brewing Company & hanging out. 10 minutes until the bottles go on sale. Hanging with Richard, Todd and head brewer Greg.

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Todd, Richard with head brew greg (in orange) in the background.

Brew Mob Video! Click to see my interview with head brewer Greg.

12 pm. Go time! 4th in line waiting my turn.

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Bottles on sale

12:25 I got my bottles and am enjoying the company of friends at the bar.

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My lovely selection of bottles: Trail Magic #1, 3, 4 and Chocolate Cherry Stout.

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I got bottle numbers 25 through 28 of Trail Magic #4, Russian Imperial Stout aged in Maker’s Mark Barrels.


1 pm: Just explained the concept of vertical tastings to really cool Natahala beertender Harrison (as pictured below).

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Everyone at Nantahala Brewing Company is super cool. Harrison is no exception.

2:17 pm: Well after a few rounds of sample size beers, a tour if the brewery and a look at the barrel room courtesy of Greg, we’re back on the road. Next stop, Sylva, NC.

2:35 pm. Heading towards world famous, yet semi-secret craft beer store, PJ’s BP gas station in Sylva, NC

2:55 pm. Oh. My. Goddess! This is the BEST gas station beer selection EVER!

Click here for a Brew Mob exclusive video of P. J.’s.

After P.J.’s, it was time for a quick visit to Dieter and Heinzelmannchen Brewery.


4:45 pm: What a day! After Sylva we headed in to Asheville for a quick stop by Bruisin’ Ales.


5:30 pm: What a great day of beer based adventuring! I tried many great beers, saw some good friends, and purchased a great selection of craft beer. We are currently heading home to Knoxville. I meant to be back sooner since I’m providing a tap box and CO2 set up for a friend’s surprise birthday party tonight. I want to sincerely thank Richard for driving today. I was great seeing all my NC friends and I look forward to my next trip across the mountains.
Thanks for everyone reading along online. I’d love to here from you in the comment section below.
Cheers!
Ratchet


Great Impromptu St. Patrick’s Day Brewing Party w/ Friends @RichardGroves @ZMachine85 @DeafGoat

March 17, 2013

Originally this post was going to be another live blogging of brew day. I actually started it that way, but brew day was incredibly busy and fun as you’ll read below. There is no way I could have blogged everything in real time. Instead, this post is my recollection of  what could possibly be the best weekend I’ve had in months. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. I started off Friday evening by heading to my 4 favorite watering holes downtown. Of course I’m talking about Downtown Grill and Brewery, Suttree’s, The Casual Pint and The Peter Kern Library. I wanted to be out enjoying the weather and the company of friends after a long work week.

On the Megatouch Machine at the upstairs bar, Downtown Grill and Brewery

On the Megatouch Machine at the upstairs bar, Downtown Grill and Brewery

I spent the 1st half of Saturday doing, chores, cleaning my house while enjoying the spring  breeze blowing through my open windows and screen doors. Later I spent some time with my son, then headed downtown to see Cutthroat Shamrock play a free show at Market Square. I planned on getting a lil’ swilly, so I left the car at home and walked the less then a mile from my house to downtown (never drink and drive y’all- it’s a horrible idea). I pre-gamed with a beer at home, some blackberry moonshine (thanks Nijoli!) mixed with coca-cola and ice in a to go cup for the walk. Once downtown I stopped by The Casual Pint where I met with a few friends. I slowly sipped on a beer until it was time for Cutthroat to take the stage. Once the band started, I realized I was sobering up and should do something about it. I didn’t want to pay $2 for a wrist band to buy $5 crappy beers on the square, so I walked over to Downtown Wine and Spirits and grabbed a bottle of Bourbon. I was able to sneak it in my pocket, went to Subway and bought a large coke. Mixed it up and took my cup to the front of the stage where I met up with more friends. I got to say, I love this band.  Now I don’t like to talk about it on my blog, but my close friends know my personal life. Let’s just say it was a rough week. As the bourbon worked it’s magic I cut loose. Dancing to Cutthroat Shamrock’s celtic/punk/bluegrass/ piratey tunes was absolutely cathartic. I was in motion for the whole time. I shared my drink and others did the same. Flask were passed about, beers were shared, complete strangers danced with arms around each other. The show came to an end around 10:30 but I was so amped there’s no way I wanted to go home. I knew Suttree’s was packed, so I headed back over to see my friends at The Casual Pint. There was only 2 people working and they were super busy. Nena was worried about underage people coming in, or people stealing beer off the shelves. I offered to play doorman for a while for a couple of beers. I sat at the door and checked IDs. People I knew walked past and stopped to talk. I remember more beer being shared, a snort or 2 of someone’s homemade white lightning and a  few swigs of wine. 11:30 and I knew it was time to walk home. I had planned on going to The Casual Pint’s Bearden location the next morning for their kegs and eggs event before brewing beer. It was a long, rough walk home with many stops to rest on the way. I got home, past out, woke up in the middle of the night, drank some vitamin water and took some ibuprofen. 7:30 am alarm Sunday morning and I got up, made coffee and headed to breakfast.

Well I enjoyed my omelet with Richard and his wife Sandy, and headed home to start brewing. I had success cultivating Heady Topper‘s yeast strain, Conan, from a couple of cans I saved for just that. I took my direction from this wonderful blog past and was able to step up to a 4500 ml starter between Wednesday and Saturday. Honestly, I was very worried it wouldn’t work. I made the starter on Wednesday, pitched the yeast dregs from the cans into the flask on the stir plate and waited. Two days went by with no activity. I thought my experiment was a failure and was already planning to use my old standby, Safale US-05. However by Saturday morning the starter was rapidly fermenting. YES! This yeast strain was a big part of the batch of beer I planned, and I knew it wouldn’t be the same without it.

Sunday my friends Jerry and Millie were the 1st to arrive. Jerry was very helpful when it came to getting everything set up. Usually I start brewing at the crack of dawn, and starting at 10 am instead is a lot later than usual. Having an extra set of hands, along with Millie documenting everything, was awesome. Next to arrive was assistant brewer Richard, followed by Todd. Millie ran to Earth Fare and picked up an incredible variety of sushi.

Once we got going, I started texting friends to come over. Beer and buddies on a perfect spring like day, what could be better? My friend Chris is hosting a group of law students from Kansas who are interning for his environmental law center on their spring break. I told him he was more than welcome to bring them over to learn to brew beer and enjoy a few. I was expecting maybe 3 or 4 people, and the next thing I know, there is a dozen or so people gathering in my basement brewery. Awesome! The more the merrier! The spring breakers were absolutely thrilled to lend a hand and learn about the brewing process.  Terri and Aimee from the Knox Beer Crew came over. More and more friends arrived.  At one point there were 24 people there laughing, talking, drinking, and dancing to good Irish/celtic punk  like Flogging Molly, The Pogues, The Tossers, Cutthroat Shamrock and Dropkick Murphys on my Pandora feed. This was a proper St. Patrick’s day party! The beer was really flowing and I was on top of the world! We drank down my stash and I can honestly say I now have room for food in my upstairs refrigerator again.

Well brew day eventually came to an end. With all the people there, cleaning was a breeze. People started taking off a few at a time. The law students wanted to go check out Ijams Nature park while it was still light out. The crowd got smaller and smaller. Eventually I was by myself, exhausted but incredibly happy and a little bit buzzed. I laid back on my couch in my brew basement for a few minutes and enjoyed the silence with a big old grin on my face. I knew I should eat dinner. I didn’t want the weekend to come to a close so I got up and walked back downtown for food. I ordered a half Dan’s pasta at the Brewery and went and visited Suttree’s for a sample size beer while my food cooked. After a few minutes I picked up my order to go and brought it over to The Casual Pint and washed it down with 2 more sample size beers.  As I walked back across the Gay Street bridge while the sun set, I thought about how no matter what’s gone on recently in my life, I am truly blessed. I have good friends, I brew beer people enjoy, I have food, clothing, shelter and a good job. All that and I had one hell of a weekend.

Here’s to many more.

Good Friends, good beer, good times.

Ratchet

PS. Every brew day should be a party. I plan on brewing again on Sunday, April 21st. If you’d like to come over, send me an email or text me. Also Nantahala Brewing Company’s next Trail Magic bottle release is this Saturday the 23rd at Noon. Richard and I are going if you’d like to join us. We plan on getting there by noon and being back in Knoxville by 4 pm or so.