Last Minute #Christmas Gifts for the #Knoxville #BeerGeek

December 18, 2013

Christmas is next week and I know some of you are struggling to find the perfect gift for the beer geek in your life. Unless you want to pay a fortune for shipping, it’s too late to order gifts online. I thought while I sat here filling out applications and emailing resumes, I’d take a few moments to put together a list of beercentric gifts available here in Knoxville.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen our small craft beer community grow exponentially. You can find a decent selection of quality suds almost everywhere now. So let’s start with the most basic and easy thing to acquire: gift cards.

Yes giving a gift card can feel like the easy way out, but believe me, your recipient will appreciate it. Not sure what to buy? Can’t remember if they like IPAs or stouts more? Give them the gift of choice. Pretty much everyone offers gift cards now. As far as retail beer shopping, you can’t go wrong with Bearden Beer Market. They carry a wide variety of brews, shirts and other gifts. They also offer growler fills.  On cold nights they have a couple of fire pits going in the beer garden, so feel free to bring your own marshmallows.

Another popular choice is The Casual Pint. With 2 locations and more opening in 2014, they also have a great selection of beer and merchandise. Unique to CP is the create your own mix-a-six pack from the selection in the cooler. Not many other places offer this.

If you are on the North side of town, check out Vic’s. Killer selection, knowledgeable staff and you can get your high grav’s right next door. Ask for Louie and tell them Ratchet sent you.

For the best selection in Maryville, check out The Market. Growlers  are available as well.

As far as high gravity beers go, you can’t go wrong with either McScrooge’s or my favorite, Downtown Wine and Spirits. Both offer gift cards and a world class selection of big beers. Right now Downtown Wine still has some rarities available from their cellar sale. If I were you, I’d grab a couple of the 2007 JW Lee barrel aged beers before they’re all gone. I also heard they just got in the 2013 Brookyln Black-Ops.

When it comes to craft beer bars, Suttree’s is a sure shot. A gift card here will go along way. They always make sure to have the best draft beer selection in Knoxville.

One of the longest running craft beer bars in Knoxville, Barley’s is also know for their killer selection and awesome food menu selection. Take someone here for dinner and they’ll really get into the holiday spirit.

Want to give something brewed locally? Downtown Grill and Brewery offers gift cards. Great food, super friendly and knowledgeable bar staff and a fine selection of English style ales. Growlers and kegs available. You can get a 5 gallon keg for $50 (plus deposit). Think about how well this would go over at your Christmas party.

Speaking of locally brewed and Christmas parties, you can’t forget about Saw Works. Knoxville’s favorite microbrewery has a tasting room called The Mill. There you can buy a growler, a shirt or some glassware. It’s also available for private parties and they have an upcoming Holiday Bash this Friday at 7 pm. I wish I could make it, but I’ll be in Hot Springs that night.

Maryville’s upcoming Bluetick Brewery has just got a bunch of merchandise in, just in time for Christmas. Every purchase helps them get that much closer to opening their doors to the public.

Is there a home brewer in your life? Knoxville has 2 great homebrew shops. Allen Biermakens on Martin Mill in South Knoxville or Fermentation Station on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. Both have a great selection of supplies and equipment for those who brew their own.

You know what would make a great stocking stuffer? Tickets to the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival in Townsend, TN. It takes place on February 8th. You can buy tickets online now or at the Market In Maryville.

Looking for rare beer? There’s a local guy selling a few from his cellar. Check his list here. If you buy something it helps his broke ass buy Christmas presents for his kid.

Well that’s the Knoxville Beer Geek Christmas list. I hope this helps you procrastinators with some ideas. Before I sign off, I want to let you know about tomorrow’s (Thursday night’s) infusion event at Suttree’s. I’ll be taking the ever so popular seasonal from Terrapin, Wake-N-Bake, and infusing it with fresh mint, cocao nibs and mini-candy canes for a festive treat. I’ll be starting around 7 pm, and I am hoping to see everyone.

Y’all have a great and Beery Christmas and try to not let the Krampus get you. I’ll try to post again before the new year.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Reader Request: The Basics of #CraftBeer Cellaring.

August 16, 2012

I love it when I get asked questions about home brewing and beer in general. Recently I was asked questions about craft beer storage by Joel D. on my facebook page. He wrote: “Ratchet, in your next blog can you talk about vintage beers? I want to start a collection of beers to keep in my basement/cellar, but don’t know where or how to start. For example, how to know what beers are suited for such storage? What does bottle conditioned “really” mean. I got a bunch of Short’s brew from MI and was told I “must keep cold” and must drink soon. Some bottles (namely bomber’s) indicate that they are good for vintage or storage, but most do not. I tried looking on google, but most links were to buy vintage beer and that is not my goal. Thanks, Joel D.”

All excellent questions Joel. Some of my knowledge of the subject I have learned over the years, and some of that the hard way. Let me preface my response with this, I am not as egotistical to proclaim I know everything about beer or to consider myself a “beer expert”. Those type of claims reek of “beer douchery“. I consider myself simply a home brewer with dreams of going pro, a beer lover and connoisseur. What I do know, I learned through reading, experience and from picking the minds of people who have forgotten more about beer than I’ll ever know.

To get to the questions at hand. Yes some beers are meant to be drank fresh, and certain beers can be stored for years. For example, that super hoppy IPA? Those hops are going to break down and fade with time. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be bad. As the hops fade, the more malty characteristics come to the fore front. It can be really nice tasting. However, being an IPA, you must keep in mind the brewer’s intent and flavors they were shooting for when they brewed it.

How a beer is stored has a major impact on the flavor. Beers should be stored upright, and never vertical like on a wine rack. Also the ideally, any beer you store should be kept around 40 to 50 degrees. I try to keep my beers that I am “cellaring” in a spare refrigerator. I didn’t always have this option, and I know a lot of people don’t. Before I had the fridge space, I’d use extra coolers or large tupperware like storage containers and place them on or as close to an air conditioner vent or window unit as possible. More important the temperature is keeping your beer out of the light. Light struck beer takes on an unpleasant “skunky” quality. I am so paranoid about this now that I don’t purchase beer in clear or green bottles. I don’t even purchase clear growlers. These type of containers let in ultraviolet rays that react with and break down isohumulones, a molecule derived from the hops. The resulting molecule, is very similar chemically and in odour to the chemicals that are part of skunk’s natural defence. Amber or brown glass offer some protection, but if they are sitting somewhere (say for example a shelf that sunlight hits it for a few hours every day), they will go bad.

Some beer styles tend to age better. A rule of thumb is the darker and more alcoholic a beer, the better it will store. It also matters if a beer is bottle conditioned. Bottle conditioning simply means that a tiny amount of priming sugar or unfermented beer is added at bottling to allow the remaining yeast cells to eat the sugars and create carbonation. Most mass produced beer in this country are not bottle condition, with Sierra Nevada being one exception. It’s easy enough to tell if your beer is bottle conditioned or not. Simply take the bottle, give it a swirl and look at the bottom of it. Does you see sediment floating around? If so chances are that it’s bottle conditioned.

The reason bottle conditioned beers tend to age better is because the yeast protect against oxidation and contributes complex flavors as it breaks down slowly in the bottle. The alcohol content will also slightly increase. Now just because a beer is bottle conditioned doesn’t mean it will last forever. It is heavily dependent on style. A lighter pilsner or wheat beer is likely to pick up off flavors that yeast can contribute when they die.

If a bottle or can of beer says drink fresh, do what it says. I recently had a stash of Heady Topper brought back for me from Vermont. As much as I love this beer and wish I can always have it around, I know it’s meant to be drank within days or a couple of weeks of canning, max. I imagine it’s the same with most hop heavy beer. On the other hand, I also tried a can of 1982 World’s Fair Beer at the last Knox Beer Crew meeting. I was told that this beer was gross when it first came out. I was afraid, but cracked it open anyway. It wasn’t too bad. It was carbonated, with major sediment that I can only imagine what it was. It didn’t make me sick, and I can say I had the experience of drinking a 30 year old beer.

If you are looking to collect and store, go for beers that say that say they age well on the label. Some beer styles brewed or conditioned with wild yeast strains such as Brettanomyces are meant to be aged. Beers below 7% alcohol by volume don’t age as well, so look for high gravity beer. Baltic Porters, Russian Imperial Stouts, “Farmhouse style” ales, Flanders Red, Strong belgium ales and Barley Wines.

This advice is just meant as a guideline and there are always exceptions. When I brewed last weekend, I broke out a bottle of homebrewed oaked imperial stout that I had been storing since 2010. It was bottle conditioned, and a style that should’ve lasted long. It was oxidized, and had that cardboard like taste. It could have been that I allowed too much oxygen in during the bottling phase, it could be the yeast strain I used, it could be that it was improperly stored (at room temp the 1st year of it’s life), or it could be other unknown factors. I also had my last bottle of Sweetwater’s Dank Tank 420 IPA that was bottled back in January. All assumptions were that this over the top hop bomb would have gone bad. I even had a local distributor rep tell me months ago that the beer would be undrinkable. It was really good. The hop aromas and flavors had faded slightly, but it was still enjoyable to drink. Of course, it had been stored in my fridge the whole time, and I am positive that is what made the difference.

I hope this helps answer some questions about storing beers or starting a vintage beer collection. I would advise searching google for cellaring beer, aging beer, and beer storage. Some breweries will have information about aging theirs beers on their websites. Just remember the most important thing about beer storage and drinking aged beer, regardless of what anyone else says, is whether you enjoy it or not.

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_______________One More (time sensitive) note:_______________________

If you are reading this any day but Thursday August 16th, 2012, you can ignore this.

Tonight at Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern I will be doing another infusion night. Starting at 7pm, we will be pouring Bluegrass Brewing Company’s Bourbon Barrel Stout infused with Whole Vanilla Beans, Cocao nibs and toasted oak chips. This is a great beer that will be made even greater with this infusion. I hope to see you there.

Also I am asking my readers to PLEASE vote for the Knox Beer Crew bar stool at http://BeardenBeerMarket.com . Voting ends at midnight, and the competition is close. Any beer we win will be shared with the crew at the next tasting. Please note that the next tasting is Saturday August 25th at Suttree’s starting at 2pm. New members are welcome, but please bring beer (the rarer the better) to share.

Well that’s all for now. I’ll be beertending this (and every weekend) at The Casual Pint on Union Avenue downtown. Feel free to come by, have a beer (or three) and pick my brain. I really enjoy meeting people who read my blog, and enjoy even more talking about beer (in case you haven’t noticed…)

Cheers,

Ratchet

This is what the poll looks like after you vote. Please help us stay ahead.

Update: While doing the infusion, I went next door to Downtown Wine & Spirits on Gay Street. They have a great selection of beer that would age well. They still have bottles of New Belgium’s Brett beer, some bottles of Moa imperial stout, and other tasty treats. I know where some of my next paycheck is going. Get these beers:

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Great for the #KnoxBeer scene @KnoxBeerSnobs @KnoxBeerCrew @KnoxHopnings spread the news @TheCasualPint @DtWineKnox

March 16, 2012

This…Changes…EVERYTHING!!!!

That’s how I feel about what I am going to tell you. Now, I might be getting a little over excited. It could be I’m blowing this out of proportion, but honestly I’ve been waiting for something like this for awhile. For about a month I’ve been giving a few of you hints about this. I had a meeting with the owners of a new establishment coming to downtown, and they gave me the go ahead to break the news. Knoxville is getting a new craft beer bar. Specifically, Knoxville is getting it’s first craft beer bar that is going to specialize in high gravity beer! It’s called Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern. It’s located in the space between Downtown Wine and Spirits and Morelock Music on Gay Street. It’s currently under construction with a projected opening the last weekend in April. I saw the plans and this place is going to be really nice! They are building it with craft beer fans in mind. It’s purely a bar (no kitchen) but they do plan to provide snacks for the thirsty and also to have something to help clear your palate between rounds. There are some details still being worked out such as the number of taps they’ll have (I’ve heard anywhere between 16 and 40 being discussed) but I was assured a majority would be high grav. There will also be a display cooler of rare and exotic beers as well. I was shown the design and can describe the decor as simple yet elegant. The back wall will have a little stage for music. This will not be a tv bar, but they do plan to have a 100 inch screen in the back. However, I was told it will only really be turned on for big sports games and the occasional movie night. I can’t wait for this place to open, and really hope it does well. If you are a craft beer fan, you’ll love this place.

Moving on to something else I’m a little more involved in. I’m teaming up with The Casual Pint to bring Knoxville it’s first ever beer infusion night. This is going to take place on Wednesday March 28 from 6-9pm. For those not familar with beer infusing, let me explain. We will be taking a keg of Woodruff’s Porter and running it through a randal packed with cocoa nibs and shredded coconut. The beer takes on those flavor characteristics. I did this at home months back when I first got my infuser and it was amazing. The beer seriously tasted just like a mounds candy bar. Other cities have been doing infusions for awhile. Asheville Brewing Company is famous for their once a week infusion night, where they blend unique flavors. One of the infusions became so popular, customers demanded they add it to their regular line up. This is how the beer called Fire Escape came into being. They infused peppers with their escape artist pale ale, and people could not get enough. Beer infusing has not been done before in Knoxville. For a unique taste and experience, I hope you come out and try it. We plan on doing this once a month if it’s successful. Every month will be something different. Some ideas we are kicking around for the future are infusing a blonde ale with fresh cut strawberries, running an IPA through fresh whole leaf hops or trying vanilla bean pods and cinnamon sticks with a stout.

One last thing I wanted to mention for this update is that Downtown Wine and Spirits has just gotten a new shipment of rare and hard to find beer. New to the store is Fantome Noel. They told me that they have asked for this beer for 5 years and got 6 of the 8 cases that came to East TN.  Achel Trappist Blonde, Shipyard Smashed BlueberryWeissenohe Bonator Doppel Bock have also arrived. If you know about these beers, you know how hard they are to find. Much like the shipment of Sweetwater 420 IPA, these won’t be around long, so I suggest you get down there. Tell the guys Ratchet sent you and sign up for their email list. They just might hook you up with a discount.

Well that’s my exciting news.  Please repost and let’s help the Knoxville beer scene grow. The more we support things, the more beers the distributors will see fit to bring to this area. That translates into more variety available to us craft beer lovers.

Cheers,

Ratchet

Update: This news has been making the rounds since I announced it. Check out this great write up and one of my new favorite blogs, Stuck Inside of Knoxville: Click Here . Also Mero Pulse has mentioned it, and WATE had this video about it: WATE Story about Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern


Yeast, you can’t make beer without it.

December 8, 2011

As part of my never ending obsession to become the best possible beer brewer I can be, I’ve taken the next step. In the past I have always bought a fresh package of yeast whenever I planned on brewing. Yeast is expensive as far a beer ingredients go. I can get a good powdered yeast such as Safale US-05 or 04 for $3.99 a package at the local hombrew shop. Since it is never good to under pitch the amount needed, I end up buy 3 or 4 packs. The other type of yeast I use is liquid yeast from Wyeast. These are really expensive, around $8 for a “smack pack“. My local homebrew supply shop only keeps three different strains in stock, so when I want a different one, I have to factor in the cost of a cold pack and shipping as well. I usually pitch 2 or 3 packs for my 10 gallon batches. Like I said, can be a bit pricey. My other option for yeast is great, I can always ask the brewmaster, Jennifer for some yeast from Marble City Brewing Company. She dumps more yeast in 1 batch then most homebrewers use in a year. It’s a great strain (California Ale Yeast), however working out the timing to meet her at the brewery can be tricky. So I’ve added another peice of equipment to my collection.
  For a long time, I’ve wanted an Erlenmeyer Flask and a stir plate. Every once in awhile, I pull up my wish list at Rebel Brewer.com and daydream about various ingredients and equipment I want (yes, I know I’m a dork). With the stir plate and flask, I would think how nice it would be to make a large yeast starter so I would only need 1 package of yeast. I knew I’d need the largest started kit they offer, since I brew more then the average 5 gallons at once. Well, my mom recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I sent her a link to the Rebel Brewer page. The next thing I know, a box from them shows up on my door step. I have the best mom ever! Not only did she get me this, but she also got me a membership to the American Homebrewer Association. That is something I have wanted for as long as I’ve been brewing! Now that I have my flask and stir plate, I went ahead and ordered 1 package of Rogue’s Pacman yeast strain. I will brew with it, and when I move the beer to the secondary, I will harvest and store the yeast. This part is new to me. It’s something I have never done before, and I’m a little bit nervous about it. I found a ton of information online and plan on using this webpage as my guide. I would like nothing more then to build up a great yeast library, and never have to buy it again.
So yes, I plan on making a batch again this weekend. I haven’t brewed for about a month. That last post where I said I was going to brew this weekend? It didn’t happen. I figured I had more beer then places to store it, I should drink down my stash a little bit first. A few weekend bon-fire parties later and I have space again. I plan on making another Cocoa Stout because my last batch (the one with peppers) is freakin’ amazing.

Alright topic switch. Here is what I currently have on tap and bottled at my house,with my tasting notes.
On tap:

Butternut Squash Ale. This is the 1st batch I made this year, when I was still getting use to my equipment. It is more thick, heavier, spicier and alcoholic then my next 2 batches. I like this the least. My friends who try it says it’s awesome, but I consider this my “learning batch” and I don’t feel like it lives up to my standards. I’ll be glad when this keg is empty. My subsequent batches of this beer however, are incredibly good and have earned me props from some of the most grizzled, cynical and critical beer snob members of the homebrew club.

Cream Soda. Yes I know it’s not a beer, but I included it because I do have it on tap in the fridge. My kid made this. It’s good, he is proud of his creation, and I’m proud of him. He is going to be one hell of a brewer when he grows up.

Woodruff’s New World Porter. NOT a homebrew. The Brewers filled up one of my 5 gallon kegs for me for $40. At that price, how could I NOT have this on tap? When I got my infuser, I ran this thorugh shaved coconut and raw cocao nibs. It was just like drinking an almond joy. Because it was so good, we drank around half the keg over Thanksgiving weekend. I plan on keeping one of Woodruff’s tasty creations in my fridge at all times. When this is empty, I’ll get their IPA next.

It All Went Black, Cascadian Dark Ale. This is the beer I ran a contest to name in my last post. Mark Baggett, one of our local #KnoxBeer tweeps named it. I still got to get him is six pack (Holla Mark!). I like this beer. It does taste more chocolatey then I expected, but then again, I did use 2 pounds of pale chocolate malt in the recipe. I do like it however. Nice and hoppy, very drinkable. If I make this again, I will dial back on the chocolate malts. Homebrewing is nothing if it ain’t a learning experience.

Spicy Cocoa Stout. Saved the best for last. This beer is great! It’s better then great! It’s freakin’ fantastic! This is definitely one of the best beers I have ever brewed. On tap it’s nice and smooth, big cocoa taste at first, then you get the spicy pepper heat on the finish. Pepper and chocolate are perfectly balanced. It warms me up when I drink it, just as I intended with this recipe. This will be my winter seasonal from now on.

Bottle conditioned beers:

Spicy Cocoa Stout, Butternut Squash Ale and Cascadian Dark. The Butternut Squash ale I save to give out for Christmas presents.

Alright, I still want to hear from you if you read my blog. Leave a post below. Maybe we can meet up sometime and you can sample one of my brews.

Cheers,

Ratchet


The curse of the serious home brewer – upgrade fever.

November 16, 2011

I’ve had a serious case of blogger’s block lately. This is the 3rd post that I’ve drafted since my last update. I deleted the other ones because they just kind of fizzled out. I’m sitting here and sipping on a New World Porter from Woodruff Brewing Company and I have finally figured out what to write about.
I consider myself to be a serious home brewer. Everybody knows home brewing is my hobby, but I know very few other home brewers that invest themselfs in it like I do. Hell, outside of my family and my job, home brewing beer defines me. Where other people I know dream of saving for a vacation to the beach or buying new records or clothes, I dream of visiting breweries and buying better beer making equipment. Which is exactly what I have done this week.
I’ve been lucky enough to make a little extra money on the side doing game day parking at my office. With it I figured I could buy some gear that will improve the quality of my brews. I’ve been looking at counter-flow bottling systems for several years now. Just like any purchase I make, it takes me an incredibly long time to make up my mind on exactly which brand I want to get. Each one has it’s own pros and cons to consider. I’ve been leaning towards buying the Blichmann Beer Gun for awhile. However, after further research and a conversation that I had with a pro brewer, I went with the deluxe version bottle filler offered by More Beer. I like that it fills from the bottom of the bottle up, and that it flushes out the oxygen with CO2 first. Up until now, I’ve been naturally carbonating my beer. This is done by adding priming sugar when I bottle. The remaining yeast cells eat the sugar and create the carbonation. I’ve made great beer this way, and have so for year. So how will using a counter-pressure system improve my beer? Well, hopefully in several ways. As great as bottle conditioning is, things can go wrong. Yeast can autolyze, creating off flavors. Too much carbonation and your beer can foam really bad when you pour it, or even worse, bottles can explode. Luckily, that hasn’t happened to me in over 10 years, but I still am careful to store my beers in coolers to minimize mess if it does. Oxidation is a big concern of mine as well. There nothing like going to pour a beer and realizing a whole batch has gone stale due to extra oxygen that was picked up during the bottling process. With counter pressure filling, I won’t have to worry about this so much.
It’s pretty simple how this works. I’ll flush out the oxygen out of the empty keg with carbon dioxide and then keg my beer. Then I’ll force carbonate it. Whenever I want to bring bottles somewhere, I’ll simply sanitize however many I want, then fill them directly from the keg using the bottle filler. This should cut down significantly on the amount of storage space I need.
Not to say I won’t ever bottle condition beer. In fact I plan on doing just that with a few from every batch. Some higher gravity beers, and styles like Imperial Stouts and Barley Wines benefit from extended bottle conditioning. Instead of going through the trouble of measuring out tiny amounts of bottling sugar, I’ll just use tabs. I don’t plan on bottle conditioning more then 10 beers out of every batch anyway.
Another major reason I purchased the counter pressure filler is for non alcoholic drinks. My 7 year old son makes his own sodas (with my help & guidance, of course). We always keg his creations. The reason being is that to bottle conditioned soda, you have to use yeast which creates yucky off flavors. If we fill the bottles under pressure with already carbonated soda, he can bring them to a friends house, birthday party or whatever. Just like me and my beers, he takes great joy in sharing something yummy that he made with his friends. I can also give him all the clear bottles I keep, since you don’t have to worry about soda getting “light struck” like you do with beer.

My new bottle filler

The other piece of equipment I purchased this week was a filtering system. I’ve been looking and researching these for awhile as well, but not to the extent that I have with counter-pressure fillers. Filtering will also improve my beer, mostly the look of it. Pretty much every home brewer has issues with chill haze. This is caused by proteins in the beer that make it cloudy when it’s cold. This doesn’t effect the flavor in any way. It’s really just an issue of presentation more then anything. My brewing techniques have improved significantly over the years, but I still get chill haze from time to time. Filtering may also help improve the flavor by taking out tiny particles of yeast, proteins and polyphenols. I purchased my filter from Home Brew Stuff. The one I bought I can also use as a infuser, which is what I think it will get the most use as. I can run my IPAs and Pale Ales through extra hops, and my Stouts and Porters through coffee beans or cacao nibs. Hell if I’m feeling adventurous, I can run my beer through fruit if I want. Which is what I may do if I’m serving it at a festival.
Both of these upgrades are dependent on my kegging system. I currently have 6 five gallon corny kegs, 3 gallon and a 2.5 gallon. I’ll need to use 4 kegs to filter 10 gallons. I also have 2 Carbon Dioxide tanks, a 10 and a 5 pound. I have 2 regulators, one of which I need to get replacement gauges for. My beer fridge is a chest freezer with thermostat control. It has the capacity to fit all of my full kegs at once. The beer has to be kept cold in order for the C02 to absorb. I got the feeling that once I’m up and running at full capacity, I’ll be looking for more kegs and another chest freezer to add to my set up. I’ll cross that bridge if and when I ever get there.

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Ok, Random recipe, here’s a pale ale I plan on brewing Thanksgiving weekend.

C & C American Pale Ale -10 gallon recipe

20 pounds 2 row Pale Ale Malt
1 pound Dark Crystal malt (75L)
2 ounces Citra hops.
2 ounces Cascade hops.
2 whirlfloc tablets
Strike crushed grains with 8 gallons of 163 degree water
hold grains at 152 degrees for 60 minutes.
Sparge with 7.2 gallons of 179 degree water
bring to boil, add 1 ounce of Cascade hops.
30 minutes, add 1 ounce of Citra.
Last 10 minutes add another ounce of Cascade.
Last 5 minutes of the boil, add the whirfloc tablets.
Add last ounce of hops at end of boil.
Rapidly cool and pitch with 3 packages of Safale- US-05 dry yeast or Wyeast or White Labs California Ale Yeast.

If you read this blog, I’d love to hear from you. I have more then a few beer and brewery stickers I have collected at festivals. The next 6 people to post a comment, I’ll mail you a beer sticker from my collection.

Cheers,

Ratchet.


A note about #StoutDay and the #KnoxBeer @Woodruffbrewing cask of it.

November 3, 2011

Today (November 3rd) is Stout Day which is described in this way: “International Stout Day is a worldwide celebration of the iconic beer style, Stout. Taking place in homes, pubs, breweries and restaurants; it’s all about celebrating the craft beer revolution, relishing in this beloved beer style, sharing your photos, tasting notes and events with the world.” This takes place nearly 3 months after IPA Day. These events are to raise awareness of these certains styles of beer, and are mostly a social media led phenomenon. I slightly conflicted about these “days”. On one hand, I personally don’t need an excuse to drink a good quality craft beer. These special days were mostly created by certain well know beer bloggers and seem to first and foremost be a way for them to extend their brand. On the other hand, it does go a ways to create awareness of different styles of beer. It does give people an excuse to “drink outside of their comfort zones” and try a style that they might normally avoid. If someone who normally drinks Light American Lagers gets turned on to craft beer because of one of these specialty days, then it’s worth it. At the same time it makes me wonder how far naming these special days will go. Do we really need a day for every style of beer? What about Schwarzbier Day or Belgian Tripel Day? One things is for certain, it’s only a matter of time before someone announces another one of these days and the rest of the internet & social media spheres jump on board. Chances are, so will I.

I do want to add that my first craft beer experience was with a stout. I was a young adult (aka a Dumbass) who had just dropped out of college to go traveling with some friends (aka other dumbasses aka dirty hippies). We did shows and gatherings. On the “lots”, other more experiences dumbasses would sell beer. One of the most popular brands at these events (or whatever you want to call them) was “Sammy Oaties”, our nickname for Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. From my first taste, I was in love. For years afterwards I would only drink dark beers. It wasn’t until I became a homebrewer that I expanded my appreciation of other styles. A good oatmeal stout takes me back, and I still buy myself a “Sammy Oatie” every once in awhile as a treat.

Speaking of Stout Day, my good Friend Dave Ohmer will be tapping a cask of Woodruff’s State Street Stout this eveing at 6pm at Dead End BBQ. This is another addition in his cask conditioned series. I will be there to support my local brewery, and if you are here in Knoxville, why don’t you make an appearance as well?


Update: I took this picture around 6:15 pm. It’s my buddy Dave (the brewer) giving me a fresh pint of cask conditioned stout. Damn it was good!

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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.