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2017 NHC Recap, Or, My Friends Are More Awesome Than Yours

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/23/2017 at 08:21:48 AM

 
I'm a wordy SOB, but this is the longest post I've ever made. Ye be warned. It is chock full of fun photos (and more); here's to hoping you enjoy it.

A few years ago, I started reaching out to various brewers I had encountered online with the idea of building the core of a great community. My criteria were pretty simple - these brewers needed to have demonstrated some good knowledge about brewing, and they needed to have shown themselves to be friendly, cool people. We put together an email list of those interested, and used that list to communicate about brewing, about the best ways to build our various blogs, about life in general. We lost a few members (largely due to them not being able to deal with the crush of emails we generated), we added a few members. Along the way, we cultivated some legit friendships.

For the past two or three years, my buddies on the BrewUnited email list have been trying to get me to attend NHC, but I'm the sort of guy who will literally wear work shoes until they have holes in them... I just could not justify the sort of financial outlay that attending would require.

Would I like to go? Sure. But I was honestly okay with living vicariously through the experiences of others. When the other guys were discussing proposals for NHC presentations and trying to talk me into submitting my own, I spoke in terms of "maybe" and "someday". And that was fine.

Lucky for me, my friends had other ideas. To start with, my good friend Greg gifted me an AHA membership back in January. Then, the day before my birthday, the guys scheduled a video chat - something we do from time to time for the purpose of discussing beers and swapping insults. My wife was insistent that I take time away from my normal evening family routine to join...
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I must agree - your friends are awesome!!

posted by Chal on 7/09/2017 at 07:31:00 AM






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Tags for this post: nhc, 2017, homebrew, con, convention, Minneapolis, karaoke

A 12-Pack of My Favorite Beers from Homebrew Con 2017

Posted by chino_brews on 6/19/2017 at 12:17:28 PM

 
What's up from the bleary-eyed land that called post-Homebrew Con! I was super excited to have Homebrew Con in my hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul (the Twin Cities), and I feel like it was a smashing success!

There will be so much written about Homebrew Con 2017 over the next couple weeks. But we were there for the beer, right? So I wanted to share some notes about my favorite beers (as far as I can remember) that I had during the five days of festivities.

  1. KC Biermeisters (Tim (?) Butler): Schwarzbier at Club Night. While I like a nice dark lager now and then, Schwarzbier is not really the style I go ga-ga over. For me this was hands-down the best beer I had during the HomebrewCon week. I got a chance to talk to Mr. Butler later about the recipe, and I almost wish I would have stopped drinking at that point so I could fully remember the small details we talked about.
  2.  Northern Brewer Fermentation Brigade (Kat or Cat): Casked Northern English Brown Ale on hand pump at Club Night. I happened to be hanging out in the classroom at Northern Brewer doing some last-minute brew scheduling and calculations on my laptop when Kat was brewing this beer. So I was sure to seek it out. Northern Brewer Fermentation Brigade's booth was solid across the whole lineup, but the two cask ales I
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Tags for this post: homebrew, HBC 2017, Homebrew Con 2017, Milk the Funk, Brulosophy, Chop n Brew, Chop n Bru Pre-Funk, Minneapolis

Wit's Happenin'? - Return of the Frozen Yeast

Posted by vinpaysdoc on 4/28/2017 at 04:32:59 AM

 
My homebrew club asked for volunteers to brew for the upcoming AHA Rally at NoDa Brewing in Charlotte, so, I accepted. I was assigned a Witbier and sent the following kit from NoDa for a 5 gallon batch (assuming 75% efficiency):

6 lbs Pilsner
3 lbs Wheat Malt
1 lbs Carafoam

Mash at 150 F with balanced Chloride and Sulfate water profile.

Boil for 60 minutes
Magnum (11% AA) @ 60 min
1.5 oz of Experimental Spice (Cinnamon Sticks for our club) @ 0'

OG: 1.046      FG: 1.008     IBUs: 24 (BeerSmith says 17.5)

Ferment on 400 yeast (wit yeast) @ 68-72 F


That last line is where the trouble comes in. When the kits were put together someone picked out WLP004 (Irish Ale) for my kit. When Charles, from NoDa Brewing, let me know of the error I suggested that I had WLP400 that I could use. The one hitch was that it had been sitting in my freezer for 16 months.

I discovered Brülosophy's yeast harvesting method and started a small yeast collection about 2 years ago. As time went on, the collection grew. The active yeast in the collection needs to be refreshed about every two months and it was becoming quite a chore. It was then that I decided to start freezing the yeast based on an article I found on HomeBrew Talk. I began taking a vial of the yeast cultures I rarely used and adding 20% Glycerol to them before freezing. Every
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Pushing the Limits: a 90% Crystal Malt Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/21/2017 at 10:55:37 AM

 
Crystal malt. These two simple words seem to elicit a fair amount of emotion in many homebrewers. Even though these malts have their place - few British beer styles, for instance, would be possible without them - it seems that, for whatever reason, many brewers view them with derision, as little better than a necessary evil - as an ingredient that should be minimized wherever possible.

Crystal malts are produced through a unique process; barley is steeped and germinated, then heated in a closed system that does not allow moisture to escape. The malt is held at temperatures where the amylase enzymes are activated, which converts the starches of the malt to simpler sugars - you may recognize this as the exact same reactions that take place during your mash. After this process, the grain is then kilned; the high heat caramelizes some of the sugars in the grain, which is why crystal malts are often referred to as "caramel" malts. The higher the kilning temperature, the darker the crystal malt; differences in kilning temperatures result in different flavor profiles from the caramelization that range from simple sweetness, to caramel, to toffee, to burnt sugar, to raisin and stone fruit. Crystal malts also contribute color - which is often varying in levels of red - to a beer.

While most homebrewing literature allows that crystal malts can be used at up to twenty percent of the grist, I have found that it is far more common for homebrewers to...
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Tags for this post: crystal, malt, 90 percent, pushing, limits, homebrew

Making a DIY 12000 BTU/hr Glycol Chiller

Posted by trenon on 2/15/2017 at 01:21:39 AM

 
DISCLAIMERS:
AC UNITS HAVE REFRIGERNANT IN THEM. REFRIGERANT IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND CAN BE BAD FOR YOU IF INHALED. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD YOU VENT THE REFRIGERANT. DO THESE MODIFICATIONS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

IF YOU AREN'T COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH LIVE ELECTRONICS THIS PROJECT IS PROBABLY NOT FOR YOU. YOU NEED TO OPEN AN AC UNIT AND MESS WITH ITS INTERNAL WIRING WHICH IS ENOUGH TO KILL YOU IF DONE IMPROPERLY. DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK.

THIS ARTICLE TALKS ABOUT USING GLYCOL. DO NOT USE ANY GLYCOL THAT IS NOT RATED FOR FOOD CONTACT. AUTOMOTIVE ANTI-FREEZE IS EXTRMELY TOXIC AND WILL KILL YOU. FOOD GRADE ANTI-FREEZE IS SIGNIFIGANTLY MORE EXPENSIVE BUT CHEAPER THAN A FUNERAL. READ THE LABELING AND MAKE SURE WHAT YOU ARE USING IS FOOD GRADE. FOOD GRADE ANTI-FREEZE DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN DRINK IT, IT MEANS IT WILL NOT KILL YOU SHOULD YOU HAPPEN TO DRINK IT.

DIY Glycol Chiller

Items required
Commercially available glycol chillers are expensive. There is no way around it. They start around $1000 US and go up from there based on capacity. Then you need to buy your glycol...
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Tags for this post: glycol, chiller, diy, project

How the Red X Malt Performed in My Irish Red

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/09/2017 at 01:36:45 AM

 
As you may recall, I have for some time been chasing that perfect ruby red color in my big Irish red ale. A couple of weeks ago, I started over completely from the ground up for recipe version number five, and put together a fresh concept that heavily featured Red X - a malt that was completely new to me.

When I dumped this into the carboy, I thought that it had red tones... but truth be told, it's really tough to tell. Likewise, the fermentation process itself really didn't give me many clues. When I brought the carboy upstairs to keg this beer, I was telling myself that the edges had a red hue I hadn't gotten before, that surely this was going to work out - though of course, the carboy contents themselves appeared a rather dark brown.

While I had hoped to get this from grain to glass in ten days, that proved to be a little bit of wishful thinking on my part; I got tied up in some other tasks and ended up kegging on the sixteenth day post brew. Then, when I fired up the auto siphon, I was rewarded with the most beautiful, light golden brown beer you'd ever want to see flowing through the tube.

Son of a nutcracker!

FG reading in my keg
This is how a heathen takes FG. Come at me.

My final gravity was 1.014, exactly one point above my target of 1.013....
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Tags for this post: red x, Irish red, ale, brewing, beer, red, color

On Brewing and Art, Or What Sort of Brewer I Am

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/02/2017 at 02:20:38 AM

 
This past December marked my fifth anniversary as a homebrewer (likely the most popular month for brewing anniversaries, for obvious reasons), and last week, I had a conversation with an editor regarding a possible book idea, who I was as a brewer, and some related subjects. As a result, I have found myself growing a little reflective on my own identity as a brewer.

I'm pretty active in the homebrewing community, and in my interactions, I've encountered quite a few different types of brewers. I suppose that this shouldn't be too surprising, as there are a multitude of reasons that draw people into this hobby.

Some are gearheads; they define themselves with their Blichmann burners, SS Brew Tech fermentors, and shiny HERMS systems.

Others are adventurers, always pressing the limits of style (some might say good taste) in incorporating any and everything into their beers. Creators of the chipotle banana raisin stout and the Belgian amber smoked lager, we salute you!

There are traditionalists, who strive to replicate specific styles with specific methods and ingredients, brewing innovations be damned.

Some are perfectionists, brewing the same recipe over and over and over again until dial every aspect of their recipe into their desired outcomes.

You have the scientists, who devour data on hop glycosides, petite mutants, and the values of polyphenolic haze precursors... while some of us struggle to spell pH.

There are the bling collectors, those who live and die by the number of competition medals...
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Tags for this post: brewing, homebrew, art, types of brewers

A Couple of Disasters, and Back to the Drawing Board on the Irish Red

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/25/2017 at 02:26:24 PM

 
My highly anticipated (at least, by me) Christmas beer - one featuring almost 20% crystal malt, plus a gallon and a half of first runnings reduced to a quart and a half of syrup, plus some dark Belgian candi sugar - turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Rather than the huge caramel flavor I was hoping for, I ended up with a horribly metallic, astringent, mouth-coating mess - indicating that I managed to contaminate this beer somewhere along the way. While I knew that aging wasn't going to fix things, I did leave it around for a few weeks, just to be sure... and it only got worse.

Fudge. Down the drain it went.

I'm part of a group of a dozen or so brewers from around the country who do a holiday beer exchange. They ship a case of beer to my house; I reassemble those cases so that everyone gets one bottle of each, then ship them back to their respective senders. This year, we decided to move our exchange back to late January (Happy New Beer, you guys!), but with my Christmas beer a failure, I still had to come up with a substitute. Fortunately, we had decided to get away from a strictly holiday/spiced/winter warmer theme this time around, and instead have each member showcase a beer that represented their style of brewing. As luck would have it, the next beer I had planned not only fit this bill perfectly, but was also a quick...
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Tags for this post: disaster, lost beer, Irish red, ale, red x, redx

Let's Talk Tap Lists of our Imaginary Breweries

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/19/2017 at 12:50:09 AM

 
It may have happened the first time you cracked open a bottle of your own beer and discovered that, in complete honestly, it really wasn't all that bad. Maybe it happened when you perfected a clone of a favorite commercial brew. Perhaps when you won that first (or fifth, or tenth) competition medal, you couldn't help but wonder. Maybe the idea arose from the praise of your buddies, or the guys from the local homebrewing club, or picky Jim from accounting. It may have occurred to you after you brewed for a company function, or even for someone's wedding, and got to revel in the satisfaction of knowing how much other people enjoyed your creations. If you brew halfway decent beer (and often, if you simply give away free beer of virtually any quality), chances are that someone will eventually suggest that you should consider brewing in a professional capacity.

Pro Brewery
The stainless steel stuff of dreams.
Photo courtesy of Surly Brewing

No matter where and when the inspiration came from, it's an idea that is nearly universal to homebrewers everywhere - that if you really were to focus on it, you could open your own brewery... and man, it would be amazing. Naturally, that amazing brewery needs a fantastic name - which might be meaningful in some personal way, or it might be clever, or it might be exceptionally punny (after all, many homebrewers have an unhealthy fascination with puns).

How many of us...
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Tags for this post: brewery, going pro, commercial, beer list, lineup

Transition to AG brewing and Recipe Design (Part 3)

Posted by xnoom on 11/04/2016 at 03:57:19 AM

 

Part 1, Part 2


Brew 9: First Recipe: Pale Ale


After doing research on recipe design (primarily by reading Designing Great Beers and Brewing Classic Styles, and following the /r/homebrewing Tuesday recipe critique threads), I was ready for my first attempt at recipe.  Following feedback from a discussion thread, I settled on this recipe.


After multiple glowing reviews of the brew bag, I decided to get one, not being a huge fan of the vorlauf step (a few husks always managed to get through).


I can highly recommend this approach, as it cuts a good deal of time from the brewday with no perceived downside (by me, at least).


Brew day went mostly smoothly, other than a slightly low mash temp (1-2 degrees).

IMG_20150926_160618.jpg



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Tags for this post: all grain, equipment, transition, brewing

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