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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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


Mark your calendar for these upcoming #KnoxBeer events

June 15, 2012

Hey y’all. Life has been pretty hectic for me since I got back from Asheville Beer Week. Between my day job, beertending at Suttree’s, and chores I am just now getting caught up. Figured it was time to write another quick update.

There are  Knoxville beer events coming up that I hope everyone already knows about. Just in case, I’ll tell you about them. Everyone knows that I beertend part time at Suttree’s. On Wednesday, June 20th at 7 pm we will be having a beer trivia night sponsored by Sweetwater Brewing Company. Brush up on your beer facts, do a lil’ research about SweetWater and thier beers and come on down to Suttree’s to win some great swag courtesy of SweetWater.

Then on Saturday June 23rd, is the Knoxville Brew Fest going on at the Southern Railway Terminal on the edge of downtown. I did this event last year, and it was great. The early admission VIP tickets are well worth the price. I will be set up there pouring samples of my beer, so make sure to come say hi. I will have about 25 gallons, and I’m sure it will go fast.

The Brewer’s Summit is coming up on Friday July 13th. This event is a fund raiser for the TN Craft Brewer’s Guild. Brewers from around the state will talk about the laws and tax issues affecting your craft beer choices in Tennessee. Beers will be paired with cheese, and more food provided by Nama and Pizza Kitchen. I will be serving a tasty mulberry stout on nitrogen. There are less then 50 tickets still available for this event, and we anticipate it selling out soon. You can buy them, and find out more about this event at the Brewers Summit Website.

I know it’s still awhile away, but I have October on my mind. Brewer’s Jam tickets are already on sale at the Casual Pint. This year I am going to be skipping one of my favorite beer festivals, the Asheville Oktoberfest. I am skipping it because I AM FLYING OUT TO DENVER FOR THE GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL!!! WOOO-HOOO! I’ve been talking about this for a year now with Knox Beer Crew founder, Matt Crowell. He has a friend, Kevin LA, who has graciously invited Matt to bring along a few other members of the crew to stay at his place in Denver. I am stoked! The GABF is the biggest and best of all the beer festivals in America. I’ve heard countless stories over the years and have been dying to go. Thanks to Kevin I can afford it because I’m not paying an arm and a leg for a hotel room. I bought my plane ticket yesterday, and the AHA member tickets to the event go on sale on July 31. General public tickets go on sale August 2nd. According to Matt, Kevin is going to take us brewery hopping in Fort Collins and around Denver. We are flying out the morning of Thursday October 11th and returning on Sunday evening. I am attending 2 of the festival’s tasting sessions, one of them being an AHA members only session. I can not wait!

On another note I finally got the 30 gallons of beer I had fermenting into kegs. Now I have empty carboys, so it’s time to brew again. I really want to have a stout on tap at home. The 10 gallons I have is going to be given away at the Knox Brew Fest and at the Brewer’s Summit. Therefor, this Sunday I plan on brewing it again. I think after this batch, I’ll brew some more Rauchbier.

One last note to end this post. I want to give a big shout out to all the craft beer drinkers in Knoxville that have been showing Suttree’s some love. On the limited days I beertend, I’ve gotten to know some regulars. I have met some great people who share my love and enthusiasm for craft beer. I am also always surprised when someone I haven’t met tells me that they read my blog. Thank you! That means a lot to me, and if you come in while I’m working, please introduce yourself.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Infusion Night at @TheCasualPint and a report about our last #KnoxBeerCrew meeting

March 26, 2012

Appreciation of craft beer is growing at an incredible rate. It seems like every week a new brewery pops up on the otherside of the mountains in NC (where the laws make it easier then here in TN). It also seems that every week I learn about a new beer festival as well. Just today I found out about Asheville Brews Cruise’s new “The Best Firkin Beer Festival” taking place April 28th. So many festivals, so little time. I understand that beer festivals taking place almost every weekend is just a part of craft beer becoming so popular.  As I think about it though, even if had unlimited money and zero responsibility I would still pick and choose which beer fest I go to. If I went to one every weekend, I’m sure I’d find myself getting burnt out. A “festival fatigue” if you will.

Because of the amount of festivals taking place, it really takes something different and special to pique my interest. The upcoming Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza is one of those. This inaugural festival has been in the planning for over a year. It’s brought to you by the same crew that puts on the Kingsport Oktoberfest. I’m in constant communication with the main organizer, Aaron Carson, who gives me updates. Everytime a new brewery is added and everytime a special cask conditioned ale is made for this festival, I get a call from Aaron. I can hear the excitement in his voice as he lays out the new details. Him and his crew have worked really hard to bring a one of a kind experience to the often overlooked Johnson City, TN.  There is a lot more I could say about this festival, but honestly my man Don of the Knox Beer Snobs has already said it better than I could at his post here.

That being said, here is a list of festivals that I plan on attending this year, with a quick note about each.

Thirsty Orange April 14th, Johnson City.  I’ll be serving my Orange Ginger Pale Ale, A Chocolate Ale, my Hop Boom! IPA and a homemade cream soda. The Orange Ginger Pale Ale will be infused with shredded fresh ginger, mandarin orange slices and whole leaf Citra hops.

Beer City Festival, June 2nd in Downtown Asheville. The wrap up to Asheville’s first annual beer week. I’m actually planning on staying in Asheville for the last 4 days of beer week. There are many events planned and even a smartphone app being developed. Tickets are almost sold out, so if you plan on going, you better get one quick.

Knoxville Brew Fest, Saturday June 23rd at Southern Railway Terminal in Knoxville. I’ll be serving here as well. I plan on having a wild flower wheat beer, a stout on nitro, a Maibock and my Rauchbier. I should have my merchandise for sale as well.

Kingsport Oktoberfest, September 21st and 22nd, the streets in front of the Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport, TN. Last year’s event is still one of my favorites. This year it’s going to be bigger and better. I plan on serving my beer at this event, same as I did last year.

Great American Beer Festival, October 11-13th, Denver Colorado. This is the Grand daddy of all of the American Beer Festivals. 3 days, 450+ breweries. I’m saving now for this. The only drawback is that I’ll miss the Asheville Oktoberfest which is scheduled on the same Saturday this year.

Knoxville Brewer’s Jam, October 6th at World’s Fair Park. Knoxville’s first and premier beer festival. I always serve beer at this event as part of the Tennessee Valley Homebrewers club. There is an idea kicking around to team up with a few other Knox Beer Crew homebrewers and getting our own tent this year. We’ll have to see. Either way I’ll have some tasty beers to share.

These are all the beer events I plan on attending as of now, but it’s subject to change.

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Report on the Knox Beer Crew meeting last weekend.

Thanks to Jason and Beverley Anderson for hosting the tasting at their house. We had many new members show up and there was a great selection of beers shared. I brought a 2012 bottle of Sexual Chocolate that I traded for. We also got to try Brooklyn Black OpsFounders Curmudgeans Better Half 2012,  Dogfish Sah’tea, Mikkeller 1000 IBU, Avery Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale, Nantahala Trail Magic Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Southern Tier  2X Stout, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Ommegang Adoration Ale, Great Divide 17th Anniversary, Founders Imperial Stout, Cigar City Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale and a giant 3 liter bottle of Stone 10th Anniversary Ale opened as seen in the below video:

Also some really cool pictures as well (click to make big).

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Well I took my ABC course and should have my card soon. This means I’ll legally be able to pour high gravity beer at events. This is something that Johnson City’s attorney is requiring in order to serve beer at the Thirsty Orange. If you are going to work in a restaurant or bar in TN serving alcohol, this is required by the state. I learned quite a bit in that class including how sophisticated fake ids are now.

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Large corporate macrobrew has long been known for it’s rampant sexism.  Because of this, women haven’t always been treated equally in the beer industry when it comes to pay and respect. Thankfully this is changing. Craft beer is for everyone (of age), and there is a new group in town of kick ass women who want to spread knowledge, love and understanding of craft beer. They are the Barley’s Angels and they their first meeting coming up soon. For more information about how you can join and/or support this righteous group of sisters, and what they are about, check out Knox Hop’nings.

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One last thing as a reminder. This Wednesday I’m teaming up with The Casual Pint for our first beer infusion night. We’ll be running Woodruff’s Porter through my infuser packed with cocoa nibs and shredded coconut. If this event goes well, we plan on doing an infusion once a month. Please come out and support. I hope to see you all there.

More next week,

Ratchet


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 Knoxville #CraftBeer market expands with new store opening tonight & #KnoxBeer Tweet Up

November 18, 2011

When I first moved to Knoxville back in 1998 there wasn’t a whole lot of local stores with a good beer selection. In fact, as far as I remember, there were only 2. The main place that I and all my friends frequented was Sam’s Party Store in the Fort Sander’s neighborhood. They carried four packs of Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and a great selection of micro brews that we had never heard of.  The only other place with a good selection was way out in West Knoxville at Leaf and Ale. I had only been there a few times when it was also a homebrew supply store. So Sam’s was our place we went to. This was along time before grocery stores had anything but fizzy yellow American lagers or Guinness. This lasted for years. Occasionally myself or one of my friends would make a trip to Asheville where we’d stock up on their wonderful local beer from Highland Brewing Company. The person making the beer run would usually make enough to pay for their gas and beer by marking up the price of 22 ounce bombers by a dollar or 2.  I remember the first time I saw a decent craft beer at Kroger. It was Cottonwood Endo IPA. I fell in love with this beer. For awhile it’s Cascade flavored goodness was all I drank. Then a year or 2 later something else happened. Highland’s beers were suddenly available. Followed closely by beers I had only had while visiting the west coast, such as Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Flying Dog. Now Craft beer is sold everywhere. Even most gas station convience store have at least 1 decent beer available.
   In the last couple of years the Craft Beer market in Knoxville has exploded. The Bearden Beer Market opened up giving beer geeks a place to not only pick up a six pack or fill a growler, but a spot to enjoy a draft while socializing with other beer lovers. This set the tone for the type of business model to thrive. Vic’s Package Store followed and well as Westland Market and Beer Gallery and also Jackson Avenue Market. Now we have a new place opening up called The Casual Pint. I will admit, part of me is not entirely sure Knoxville can support this many craft beer stores/ bars. I honestly hope I am wrong. I know that the craft beer market will continue to expand, but there’s that little tiny sliver of me that worries this may be a bubble (like the dot.com one) that will eventually burst. Like I said I really hope I’m wrong.
   So far the only parts of town that don’t have this type of business is East Knoxville and where I live, South Knoxville. Vic’s Package Store is in North Knoxville.  Jackson Avenue Market is on the edge of the Old City (where their taps compete with local bars), Bearden Beer Market, Westland Market and Beer Gallery and now The Casual Pint are all in West Knoxville. I would love to have a beer store/ neighborhood bar within walking distance here in SoKno.
   So yeah, I’m going to check out The Casual Pint’s grand opening tonight. I should be there around 7 if you want to meet up. I wish the Casual Pint well and hope they are very successful. I plan on supporting this place but due to it’s location, I don’t see myself becoming a reqular unless the beer there is really cheap. When it comes to drinking out west, Bearden Beer Market and Brixx Pizza West Hills are my favorite spots. Sadly, I haven’t even made it to Westland Market and Beer Gallery. Maybe I’ll make it one day. The Knox Beer Snobs did a great article about it, that makes me want to check them out.

    Another thing I want to mention is that if you’re a beer lover, a twitter user and live in Knoxville, you may of seen use of the #KnoxBeer hash tag. I spread this idea at Brewer’s Jam to The Knox Beer Snobs, Dave at Woodruff and Jonathon at Marble City. From there it spread, and now a small crew of beer lovers have connected over this hash tag. We are having an unofficial “tweet-up” on Saturday 1 pm at The Downtown Grill and Brewery. Come have a pint and talk beer nerd with us. You don’t have to be a twitter user to attend. I’ll check to see if we can use the “brewer’s table” which is the big one by the copper tanks. So unless I post otherwise, let’s plan on meeting there. Hope you can make it.

-Cheers,

Ratchet


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.