Getting ready for a big brew day on Sunday 8/12

August 7, 2012

I haven’t been able to brew in awhile. Not that I haven’t wanted to, just that my schedule (and finances) haven’t allowed it. I’ve been working weekends at The Casual Pint downtown, which is a second job that I love dearly. I know that the fall beer festival season is coming up, and I have to get ready. I asked for and got a Sunday off work to brew beer. I know I needed to maximize my brew time, so I borrowed the big equipment that is owned by the Tennessee Valley Homebrewers club and has been in the use and care of my friend Tyrone “Chris” Harris of Secret City Brews.  I’ll be brewing 20 gallons of my beloved Rauchbier and 15 gallons of an Oktoberfest Marzen. It’s going to be so good to see all my carboys full again.

I’m inviting friends to come hang out and help if they are so inclined. I forsee this brew day being a combination workshop, tasting, cookout and party. I already have a few people confirmed that they’re coming.  If you ever wanted to see what it’s like from start to finish to brew a batch using all grains, this is your chance. I’ll be starting at the ridiculously early time of 6 am. The brewing schedule (if according to plan) goes a little something like this:

6 am: Get up, stumble downstairs to start the water going.
7 am: Strike grains with water, mash for an hour.
8 am: Start vorlauf.
8:30 Start sparge.
9:30 Finish sparge.
10 Hopefully at boil at this point, 1st hop addition.
11 End of boil and whirlpool.
11:30 End whirlpool, begin cool down.
12:45-1pm Hopefully carboys are full and cool down to yeast pitching temperature.
1:30 Brew pot is cleaned and refilled with water, mash tun cleaned and restocked with grains.
2:15-2:30 Strike 2nd batch of grains with water, mash for an hour.
3:30 Start vorlauf.
4pm Start sparge.
5 Finish sparge.
5:30 Hopefully to boil.
6:30 End boil, whirlpool.
7 End Whirlpool, begin cool down.
8 Hopefully carboys are full, yeast is pitched and equipment cleaned.
8-9ish Rest, drink heavily.
9 ish Thank remaining guest for coming, then pass out from exhaustion.

This is hard work but you don’t have to lift a finger if you just want to come chill. I may (hopefully) fire up the grill (depends on how much help I have). There will be beer to sample, but it’s limited so BYOB is encouraged. For those who do help, I will be breaking out some rarities from my secret stash to share. I’ll also make sure to give you some of the finished product (it’s a lager, so you’ll have to wait 2 months). I also plan on live blogging with picture this brewday on my website for those of you who can’t make it. If you do plan on coming, please email me at jasoncarpenter1974@gmail.com for directions and to let me know what time you think you’ll arrive. You’re welcome to coffee & breakfast if you plan on helping at the start. Everyone is welcome to come whenever and stay until 9ish, when I anticipate being so tired I involuntarily pass out.

Cheers,

Ratchet


#KnoxBeer Brewers Summit round up and @TheCasualPint opens new location

July 16, 2012

It keeps getting better and better to be a craft beer lover here in Knoxville. Yes, we’re no Asheville, Denver, Grand Rapids or even Atlanta when it comes to what we have available, but things are changing in our “scruffy little city“. Helping to lead this change are the local brewers, bloggers, shops, bars, and craft beer lovers. It is also changing because consumers are becoming more and more savy about craft beer. The turn out and support of the recent Brewers Summit is proof positive of this. This event sold out with over 150 people in attendance enjoying great beer, an excellent presentation and world class cheese. I served 5 gallons of my Mulberry Stout on Nitrogen, and got some great feedback. Many members of both the Knox Beer Crew and the TN Valley Homebrewers were in attendance. Panel members included Aaron Carson of Kingsport Oktoberfest who emceed the event, Linus Hall from Yazoo Brewing Company, Chris Hunt from Moccasin Bend Brewing, Erich Allen from Studio Brew, Marty Vellas from Smoky Mountain Brewery, Dave Ohmer from Saw Works Brewing and Danielle Elks, Executive Director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The panel was very informative and Danielle spoke at some length about the laws and tax issues surround beer in this state. The good news is that according to her, the state legislature is open to changing the laws. During the panel, we were treated to some great food by both Nama Sushi and The Pizza Kitchen. After the panel we were treated to amazing beer and cheese pairing by Michael Landis, cheese master for ANCO fine cheese.

What a great event! Gallons of beer were drank, tons of food consumed, cheese savored, new friendships formed and money raised for the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild. Thank you everyone who came and supported this event, here’s hoping that we do it again next year. I took some video of this and will post it here for your viewing pleasure. I didn’t get the whole panel or any of Danielle’s talk, but I did get a few highlights. Sorry the video is so grainy.

Hopefully everyone is already aware that The Casual Pint is opening a new location, downtown. As I speak with friends, they are all pleasantly surprized to find out that it opens THIS FRIDAY!!! Yes, that’s right, Friday the 20th will see the newest edition to Downtown’s beer scene open it’s doors. Guess who will be beertending there? That’s right, ME. I am  honored to join The Casual Pint team. I have been a customer, friend and supporter for awhile and couldn’t be happier to be behind the bar. The new location is on Union Avenue which is the street between Market Square and Krutch Park. It’s right around the corner right next to the new Tree and Vine. For the opening event, there will be a cask of Saw Work’s Brown Ale with vanilla bean pods soaking in it. Should be quite tasty and I hope to see you all there. Also a note for the Knox Beer Crew, our monthly meeting will be at this new location, same date and time. I hope everyone can make it.
A few friends have asked me why I am leaving Suttree’s, like there is some expectation of drama. Sorry to disappoint, but there simply isn’t any. I still have much love, respect and admiration for Suttree’s. Everything about the High Gravity Tavern is great. The owners, employees and customers are and will continue to be some of my favorite people. I am doing an event this Wednesday at 6 pm there. The rep from New Belgium is coming in and we are going to infuse the Ranger IPA with hops and the Trippel with mystery ingredients. I am also told that there will be free NB swag and glasses given away during the event. This is something I sincerely hope you do not miss.
My last regular shift there will be on Saturday during the day. My hope is that they will let me continue doing mid-week special events. I will miss working there and am glad I could help them get going. As far as beertending, the crew there is fantastic and will have no problems going along without me. I plan on still being there quite a bit, but this time on the customer side of the bar. I will no doubt be supporting them while tasting delicious high gravity beers every chance I get.
Ok, so here is a sneak peak of the new Casual Pint location. Keep in mind that these photos are from an unfinished store. I was there yesterday helping to stock shelves. When viewing these photos keep in mind that there is still a lot of installation, cleaning, detailing and rearranging that will occur before Friday.

The Casual Pint downtown preopening

The new Casual Pint location, looking towards the bar

Shelving at Casual Pint

Damian stocking the shelves

another view of the bar

from behind the bar

seating

Looking out towards Union Ave.

One last thing before I sign off. I just got word that tickets to the Kingsport Oktoberfest went on sale today. This was arguably my favorite event I attended last year. This year promises to be bigger and better. Don’t get left out and wait until last minute, get your tickets now. The event is anticipated to sell out a lot sooner then last year’s did.

As always your comments are welcome. If we met at the Brewers Summit, I’d like to hear from you.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Last chance to get tickets to http://brewerssummit.com

July 6, 2012

Friday July 13th is the Brewer’s Summit. This is your last week to get tickets to what is surely going to be a great event. We want you to get tickets, we need you to get tickets. This is a fund raiser for the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild. A group from all over the state that plans on working for change when it comes to beer laws and taxes in our fine state.
This is not a big event. Only a 150 tickets are being sold, and most of those are already gone. Click this link, buy your tickets, then come back and read the rest of this post.

Ok you’re back? I wanted to mention how this heat has effected my brewing schedule. I haven’t brewed a batch of beer in approximately 3 weeks or more. I have a batch of stout that I need to keg. I still have plenty of beer, and a few kegs left over from Brew Fest. I am also pretty broke. I have base grains, but unless my budget frees up, I don’t have the funds to purchase specialty grains, hops or yeast. The reason for this is that my last car died and I had to use my meager savings and max out my lines of credit to purchase a new one. I should be out of debt within 3 months, and I am hoping to be able to brew again sooner then that. Someone asked me if I had planned to brew a saison and take advantage of this heat for fermentation. I had not considered that, primarly because I am not really a fan of saisons. There are a few I like, but rather not brew one. Honestly, at this point I want to brew another batch of my Rauchbier, another IPA and then start brewing for fall. I want to brew an Oktoberfest Marzen Lager and then my yearly batch of Butternut Squash Ale.

One more thing I want to mention on this post. The downtown Knoxville location of The Casual Pint is tenatively set to open on July 21st. To kick this off, Saw Works Brewing is having a cask night. It looks as though I will be beertending part time at The Casual Pint. I stopped by and spoke with Nathan about becoming part of the team, and I’d like to thank him for the opportunity. Make sure to like The Casual Pint on Facebook and follow on twitter to stay up to date about the opening of the newest location. When it does open, I hope to see you there.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Some of my #homebrew recipes.

May 21, 2012

I have previously written about how I come up with my own recipes for homebrew. Since I wrote that post in September of 2011, every batch since than has been of my own formulation. Some have turned out better then others. Whenever I’ve made a mistake, (be it the incorrect fermentation temperature, the wrong malt, hops or yeast.) I always treat it as a learning experience. It’s the constant evolution of a brewer. I want to learn to be the best brewer I can be. This is one of the reasons I haven’t brewed a kit or clone beer for awhile. I want the beer to be 100% my creation. I’m not saying I make the best beer or that I won’t ever use a recipe that isn’t my own.

I recently won an award for a beer I designed. The Tennessee Valley Homebrewers competition- the Homebruin cup, was held on May 12th. The judging took place at Calhouns on Kingston Pike near Pellissippi Parkway. The stakes for this competition were high, with best of show being brewed by Smoky Mountain Brewery for it’s affiliated restaurants. The Brewmaster, Marty Velas sponsored this contest in order to find a beer to enter in the Great American Brew Fest’s Pro-Am competition in Denver.  To enter, you had to be both a member of the TN Valley Homebrews and the American Homebrewers Association. When I first learned of the contest, my mind went to work. I started thinking of a beer to brew that would go good with Smoky Mountain’s bar-b-que heavy menu. I decided to brew a Rauchbier. I have mentioned this several times in previous posts.

For this competition, homebrews were divided into 4 main catagories for ease of judging. My Rauchbier was in the “other beers” catagory. I ended up with a bronze medal for my efforts. All the homebrews I have brewed and entered over the years, and I finally placed in a contest. I am very happy with this, and hope I can continue to brew better beers and win more awards.

So this post is supposed to be about recipes. I’ll be honest, when it comes to my recipes, I haven’t been keeping very good notes. I used to hand write every recipe and add them into a notebook I had. Eventually I started typing them and saving a word file on the computer. Currently I use an iPhone app called iBrewmaster. I find it is a very reliable app, and it automatically calculates and estimates original and final gravity. I will admit, I have been leaning a little bit too hard on this app to keep track of things. I need to at least get back to saving as a word file as well. That being said, I will list of few of my recent recipes below. If you have any suggested changes, or if you brew these yourself,  I’d love to hear from you. Add a comment and let me know. All my recipes are for a 10 gallon batch, so adjust up or down accordingly for your brew size.

Rauchig Berg Rauchbier (Rauchig Berg is German for “Smoky Mountain”)

Original gravity 1.052 Final Gravity 1.007 Abv 5.9%

12 pounds Weyermann Smoked Malt (bamberg style beechwood smoked)

1 pound light Munich malt

2 pounds 12 ounces of Weyermann Melanoidin malt

1 pound Weyermann Carabohemian malt

2 pounds Weyermann Vienna Malt

1 pound Weyermann Caramunich 1

12 ounces Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner malt

3 & 1/2 ounces of Hallertauer hop pellets (2 ounces 60 minutes, 1 & 1/2 ounce last 30 minutes)

1 ounce Tettnang Hop pellets (added last 5 minutes)

2 XL “smack packs” of Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast* (see note)

1 tsp yeast nutrient added last 15 minutes of boil.

1 Whirlfloc tablet added last 5 minutes of boil

Mash grains with 7 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 30-45 minutes.

60 minute boil following the hopping schedule above.

Rapidly cool wort to 50 degrees and aerate. I used a small oxygen tanks and a diffusion stone to aerate. Lager yeast is difficult to get going, and could use the oxygen boost.

* Note about lager yeast. On this recipe I made a 3000ml starter. I basically brewed a mini batch of this beer on my stove top, using grain bags for the mash. I did not want to have any chance of the starter affecting the flavor of this beer. I pitched 1 package of yeast to 1000ml of the starter in a erlenmeyer flask and put on a stir plate inside of my lagering fridge at 50 degrees. The rest of the starter I canned in pint jars. Over the next couple of days I stepped the starter up to 3000 ml by adding in 1 or 2 jars of wort. When I brewed, I cooled the wort down and pitched the yeast starter, and the fresh smack pack at the same temperature of the wort to avoid yeast shock. I then fermented this beer at 50 degrees (see my post about my chest freezer/ lagering fridge dying during this fermentation).

This beer fermented for a month. After fermentation, I cold crashed it to 36 degrees then filtered and kegged it. I lagered it at 34 degrees for a month. This is the most technical beer I have ever brewed, and I love it. I still have a keg and a half left. It is incredibly delicious. Nice and balanced with subtle smooth and in now way overpowering smokiness. I know someone who swears they hate smoked beers and that they all taste like liquid smoke and are nasty. I gave them a glass of this. They tried it, looked perplexed and exclaimed that it was good. They asked what it was and could not believe my answer. So, yes I love this beer. Honestly, I will work this one back into my brewing schedule as soon as I can.

Taurus Maibock

After successfully brewing my Rauchbier, I got on a German lager kick. I bought a smaller chest freezer that can fit exactly 2 carboys to use just for fermenting lagers.I came up with a simple recipe for a Maibock, after reading a dozen or so different ones. This is the last batch I brewed before I moved. I brewed it the Friday before the Thirsty Orange Festival and moved the lagering fridge and the batch into the basement of my new place as soon as the cool down was done and the yeast pitched. The movement of the drive helped aerate it. This batch is kegged and is being carbonated and lagered. I tried it when I kegged it, and it was great.

Original Gravity 1.062 Final Gravity 1.020 abv 5.5%

20 pounds Pale Ale Malt

6 pounds Munich.

4 ounces of Mt. Hood hop pellets. (2 ounces at 60 minutes, 1 at 30 minutes and 1 at 5 minutes left in the boil.)

Wyeast 2487 Hella Bock Yeast Stepped up starter as decribed in the Rauchbier recipe, pitched 3000 ml. Fermented at 50 degrees for a month. I had some this weekend, and it was incredible smooth after only a week of Lagering.

Toasted Hemp Seed Pale Ale

This was a recent batch that is still fermenting. I made this last year and learned a valuable lesson. DON’T TOAST HEMP SEEDS IN YOUR OVEN!! I did that last year and it smoked up my place so bad that I couldn’t see across the room. I couldn’t breathe right for a month. This year I toasted the hemp seeds in a cask iron skillet on a camp stove outside. It made all the difference.

20 lbs.  2-row pale malt

2 lb. Munich malt

2 oz. black patent malt

3 lbs. toasted hemp seeds

1 & 1/2 ounce Cascade hops (90 mins)

1 & 1/2 ounce Cascade hops (45 mins)

1 oz. Cascade hops (10 mins)

1 & 1/2 oz.  Cascade hops  (0 mins)

1 Whirfloc Tablet

3000 ml starter of Wyeast Rogue Pacman Yeast

Mash grains with 9 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 30-45 minutes. 90 minute boil following hopping schedule as above. I used a combination of whole leaf and pellet hops. Currently fermenting at 70 degrees.

Last year this batch was a hit. It’s a basic Cascade pale ale, but with a slight nuttiness from the toasted hemp seeds. I can’t wait to see how this years batch turns out.

Wheat Beer

Original Gravity 1.052

I came up with this basic wheat beer recipe recently. I just brewed it this weekend. I ferment in 6 gallon carboys. With this batch I used 2 different wheat strains to make 2 different beers. One carboy I used Bavarian Wheat yeast to make a hefewezien. The other half I am fermenting with an American yeast strain. When the American yeast batch is done, I plan on adding blackberry extract at kegging time to make my yearly batch of what I can “Blackberry Bomber”. A few hours after this batch was in the carboys, I was worried because I did not see any activity. However, when I checked them in the morning, they had blown off the airlocks and were foaming out the sides. Here’s my recipe. Suggestioned changes are welcomed.

10 lbs pale ale malt

4 lbs torrified wheat

2 lbs floor roasted bohemian wheat

2 lbs Wyermann light wheat

2 pounds red wheat

2 lbs rice hulls

2 oz Cascade hops (60 minutes)

2 oz Willamette hops (5 minutes)

5 gallons fermented with Wyeast American Wheat Yeast

5 gallons with Wyeast Bavarian Wheat Yeast

Mash grains with 7 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 45 -60 minutes. It’s important to use rice hulls in a brew like this because of the filter effect. Wheat tends to gum up your mashtun if you’re not careful. Stuck sparges are no fun and can ruin a brew day.

60 minute boil following the hopping schedule above

Stop and Smell the Hops IPA

Original Gravity 1.070 Final Gravity 1.011 ABV 7.99%

This is a big imperial sweet malty hoppy beer. It came out to 8% abv.

17 pounds of Pale Ale malt

9 pounds Munich Malt

1 pound Crystal Malt 60L

2 pounds of Vienna Malt

1 ounce Zythos hops  at 60 minutes

1 ounce Simcoe hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Cascade hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Magnum hops at 60 minutes

1 ounce Zythos hops  at 5 minutes

Dry hop with:

1 ounce Cascade hops

1 ounce Zythos hops

1 ounce Simcoe hops

2 ounces Crystal hops

1 Whirfloc Tablet

3000 ml starter of Wyeast Rogue Packman Yeast

Mash grains with 9 gallons of water heated so when you strike the grains it stays between 150-154 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 8 gallons of 168 degree water for 30-45 minutes. I fermented this batch low, at around 64 degrees. I was told that the sweetness is caused by it being under attenuated from the low fermentation temperature. That may be true, but everyone I have let try this loves it and has been asking for more.

I plan on posting recipes in the future. I might even edit this one at a later time to include more. I’ve been out of stout, so I need to brew a batch again soon. I have a couple of imperial stout recipes, but I want to brew a basic irish stout. However, I can’t really bring myself to brew something that’s alcohol content is below 5%. Because of this, I will have to play around a little bit with my grain bill. I don’t currently have any beer pouring through the stout faucet on my kegerator. This is the main reason I want to brew this style. It is Mulberry season around here, and I am thinking of harvesting a couple pounds of berries. If I do, I will juice them and make half of the batch a mulberry stout. If I do, I’m sure it will turn out to be good.

A couple more things I wanted to mention before I finish this post. This Wednesday I will be working my 1st shift as a bartender at Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern on Gay Street. I’ll be behind the bar from 5-10pm. This is our soft opening this week before we announce to the rest of the world that we are open for business. This gives us a chance to get to know the sales computer system, and work out all the other little bugs before we are always busy. So if you want, come buy a beer and check us out starting on that day.

This Thursday at The Casual Pint, 6pm will see the debut of SAW WORKS BREWING (formerly Marble City). They will be pouring thier new Pale Ale brewed by Dave Ohmer. Dave made the step from assistant brewer at Woodruff to head brewer at the recently renamed and reformatted Saw Works. If you haven’t heard about this yet, check out this excellent post by the Knox Beer Snobs.

Well this is all for now. A week from this Wednesday I will be in Asheville for the last 5 days of the first Asheville Beer Week. There are a lot of really cool tastings and events planned, so make sure to check out the website and facebook page. My plan is to start each day out by posting a recap of the previous day and night’s activities that I attend. I might even live update a time or 2. So look forward to 5 days of blog updates in a row. I know I am.

Cheers,

Ratchet