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I Welcome Baby Number Seven, and I Plan a Special Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/24/2015 at 01:42:30 AM

First off, I'd like to deviate from my typical ramblings about beer and brewing to celebrate the fact that my family has grown yet again. Since my blog is, in fact, titled "Homebrew Dad", I feel like it's okay for me to brag about that family just a bit.

At 11:17 AM on June the 22nd, 2015, Elowyn Fae - our seventh child - was born. She weighed six pounds, eleven ounces, and was nineteen and a half inches long. I like to say that she was an expedited* C-section, due to the fact that my wife was fairly sick, and the baby was showing some classic signs of distress (elevated fetal heart rate, decreased movement). She wasn't yet thirty-eight weeks of gestational age, and ended up with some minor complications; she had some breathing issues (namely, breathing way too fast), and had to go to the transition nursery for a few hours. In fact, she was a half hour from getting admitted to the NICU, but she finally settled down, and since then, has done quite well.

* - expedited C-section: not a full "emergency" section, as they did the normal prep, gave my wife an epidural, etc. However, they did bump the scheduled C-sections back, and went ahead and took my daughter first, as they were worried that she needed to be born sooner rather than later.

Once we got settled into a normal room, my wife presented me with an absolutely killer gift... check it out.

Home Brewed Baby
Yes, this is that awesome.

If you are having trouble reading it, the onesie reads "Home Brewed". I'd ask if my wife was awesome or what, but the answer is pretty obvious.

If you are curious what seven kids looks like, here you go.

My entire brood
Left to right: Wynter (17 months), Caleb (17 years), Jonah (5 years), Elowyn (newborn), Noah (7
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I like the amber lager idea

posted by lizzard on 6/24/2015 at 02:03:31 AM

Congrats Olan!! so glad to hear that she is healthy

posted by blur_yo_face on 6/24/2015 at 12:43:04 PM

You are correct - you are a blessed man for having that many kids. I am 3rd oldest of 8 and can say that it's a blessing having that many siblings as well. Congratulations & cheers!

posted by lucashennessey on 6/25/2015 at 10:01:40 AM

Congratulations, you truly are blessed! I love the "promoted to big sister shirt" :)

posted by MrDustpan on 7/10/2015 at 12:27:52 PM

Thanks, all!

posted by homebrewdad on 7/10/2015 at 01:05:44 PM

Tags for this post: baby, seven, children, born, princesses, beer, noble, hops

It's Dumping time - I Have my First Infected Batch of Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/22/2015 at 01:28:10 AM

Today marks a sad day for me in my brewing career - today is that day that I have decided to dump a full batch of beer without packaging a single drop of it. This is a first for me in better than three and a half years of brewing; while I had had my well-documented challenges with bottle infections, I've never experienced a traditional "infected" beer of the type where one has visible bacterial growth in a fermentor. As of June 21st, 2015 (better known in the US as Father's Day), this has officially changed.

Way back at the end of November, I brewed a beer that I had really high hopes for. Sure, I tend to have high hopes for all of my beers, but this one had a special place in my heart - it was an attempt to replicate a truly world class beer (namely, Hofbrau's Oktoberfest).

This brewday involved a simple wort - nothing but pilsner and Munich malts with Hallertaur hops - but also featured a complex, tradition-driven process. I did a full triple decoction for this beer in an effort to extract the full range of melanoiden-powered flavors that the grains were capable of providing. I then performed a traditional "low and slow" lager, dropping the beer to 33 degrees F once fermentation and the diacetyl rest had been completed, where I then would leave it for months.

However, my brewday was set against the backdrop of...
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Tags for this post: dump, dumper, batch, beer, brewing, ruined, infection, infected

Let There Be Hops: Brewing a Beer With Continuous Hop Additions

Posted by Buxman14 on 6/19/2015 at 12:48:21 AM

When it comes to the world of home brewing, hop selection and use tends to rank among the biggest decisions for any batch of beer. Questions such as: "Am I using enough?" or the even more rare "Am I using too much?" seem to run through our minds while we formulate our perfect recipes.

When I got into homebrewing two years ago, I was the typical new brewer. I wanted to make beer that tasted like my favorite beer off the shelf. Terms like hop utilization, mash efficiencies, and wort were all a foreign language to me. I also tended to shy away from the more hop loaded IPAs which have become a lot more popular and available to the general consumer. In those first few tenuous batches, I was trying my hardest not to screw anything up and make drinkable beer.

Two years and several paychecks later, I am brewing with an all-grain system. I have read and enjoyed many brewing books (John Palmer's How to Brew, Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer, and The Brew Masters Bible by Stephen Synder). I have spent hours deconstructing my process to fine-tune every aspect to ensure quality outcomes.

Earlier this year I decided to try something a little different. I wanted to brew a different style of beer every brew day; not just the tried and true recipes, but also ones I formulated using BJCP guidelines, a little creativity, and what...
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Tags for this post: IPA, continuously, hopped, continuous, hops, beer, brewing

Brew in 90 Minutes - Modified Parti-gyle

Posted by TheBrewBag on 6/15/2015 at 12:26:14 AM


The parti-gyle, (the decision (parti) to split the brew (gyle) ) was/is literally used to make two or three beers of different strength from a single mash in different vessels, and was common practice until about 1725 when a new method of brewing was developed. It was called "entire" and meant that all the sugars from the mash were collected in a single vessel and boiled to create a beer of one strength. Most home brewers rely on "entire" brewing to create their beer and do not parti-gyle.

Sparge method brewers collect wort until they reach kettle / recipe / gravity volume, or the lowest accepted gravity, which is 1.010. The SOG (specific original gravity) is taken pre-boil - post-sparge and is the result of mixing what, in the days of yore, would have been the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd runnings, or the actual total sugar concentration in any given mash volume. Brew in a bag brewer's simply lift the bag and let the wort drain back into the kettle with the same result. 

Out of one mash there could be three separate strengths of wort. The 1st runnings contain the highest percentage of sugars and a resultant higher ABV. To create the

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Tags for this post: parti-gyle,brew in a bag,mash tun,first runnings,mash beer,make beer,home brewing

Traditional Lambic Using a Turbid Mash

Posted by wildscientist on 6/11/2015 at 12:40:51 AM

Most homebrewers spend a lot of time and energy keeping their beers clean and clear from what I love to put in them. Wild saccharomyces, brettanomyces, pediococcus, and/or lactobacillus can turn great beer into absolute swill, but they can also turn the simplest of worts into some of the most complex and delicious beers out there.

The perfect example of this is a traditional lambic. It starts life out as raw wheat, pilsner malt, and old hops (or fresh but extremely low alpha acid hops like hallertauer). On its own, that wort wouldn't wow the most bland taste buds in the world, but give it time - and a myriad of eclectic microorganisms - and you'll get a beer that looks unassuming but tastes and smells otherworldly.

While the initial ingredient list is simple, the traditional turbid mashing technique for lambics comes across as complicated and involved. However, if you’ve ever done a decoction mash, you'll have no trouble doing this. "But I've never done a decoction mash!" you say. "They seem complicated, involved, and a bit scary."

I hear what you're saying, and you’re in luck; I've never done a decoction mash either, and I breezed through the turbid mash process with no problem. All I did was make sure that I had a solid flow chart with easy to follow steps that I went over a few times in my head before beginning the day.

So what exactly is a turbid mash? It's a mashing technique used...
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Tags for this post: turbid, mash, lambic, sour, brett, beer

Announcing the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge!

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/09/2015 at 10:37:46 AM

If you've been paying attention, you may be aware that will have a new name (and new look) soon - as a reflection of the change from "one guy's site" to "full fledged brewing community", the site is becoming The dream is to create a unique place where brewers of all experience levels, backgrounds, and areas of interest can meet and discuss brewing in a positive, welcoming, cooperative environment.

BrewUnited Logo

Check out the new logo.

To celebrate this momentous occasion for a unique community, BrewUnited is excited to announce a unique brewing competition - the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge.

While this event will be officially sanctioned by the BJCP, it will likely be a bit different than the typical brewing competition. To succeed, you will need to brew specifically for the competition. You will be given a list of four grains (or extract equivalents, as appropriate); you MUST use each of these grains, but no others (although exact ratios are up to you). Likewise, you must choose exactly two hop varieties from six approved types. Finally, the choice of yeast will be up to you. Fining elements and water treatment are allowed, but no other ingredients or adjuncts may be used.

You will then employ your creativity (and perhaps some brewing techniques above and beyond the norm) to create the best beer that you possibly can!

The competition - to be held October 25th, 2015 - will consist...
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Tags for this post: brewing, competition, challenge, BrewUnited, bjcp, beer

Fermentation Temperature Comparison in My Irish Red Ale

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/05/2015 at 12:53:34 AM


A couple of months ago, I decided to conduct a very scientific experiment to measure the effects of fermentation temperature on a beer.  Brulosopher, eat your heart out!

Of course, I am completely lying about the "very scientific" portion of my claim above.  As I have documented before, I am not employing anything close to the level of scientific controls that Marshall uses - on the contrary, I am, in fact, a hack.

Just to recap, I decided to brew an extra large (seven gallon) batch of my Enchantress (a big Irish red ale).  Marshall's findings that kolsch yeast really didn't seem to care about fermentation temperatures just didn't feel to me like they were super applicable to a lot of homebrewing - largely since that particular yeast is so clean and versatile.  I, on the other hand, would be using WLP004 (Irish ale yeast), which - while it isn't known for being a super expressive strain - will certainly get a little fruitier than the kolsch yeast.

So, I brewed as normal, splitting five and a half gallons of wort into my normal 6.5 gallon glass carboy, then dumping the remaining gallon and a half into a two gallon plastic bucket.  I did take great pains to continually stir my wort so as to ensure the most consistent mix of kettle trub possible, I carefully measured my yeast in an effort to hit roughly the same pitching rate, and I did

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Tags for this post: temperature, control, Irish, red, ale, experiment

Fast Ferment Testing

Posted by mchrispen on 5/23/2015 at 10:12:40 AM

Fast Ferment Tests (FFT), sometimes called Forced Ferment Tests, have lost some favor in homebrewing. FFT can be used to measure the maximum fermentability of wort giving you an idea of where your beer's FG will land, and more specific information about the yeast's attenuation.

With the availability of very fresh and viable yeast in both liquid and dry forms, FFT  has been largely replaced by the best practice of creating a starter. FFT’s still have a role in brewing, and many breweries continue to run these tests when getting a fresh pitch of yeast or brewing a new recipe. Most sources cite Prof. Dr. agr. Ludwig Narziss for documenting this test and proving its usefulness.

The Procedure

Gather a small portion of your beer’s wort after chilling and aeration. You can use your hydrometer sample plus a few additional ounces, or a separate sample collected in a clean and sanitary vessel. Note your OG. Reserve some of your starter (or prepare extra cells in your starter) and pitch the yeast into the FFT. Usually, you will be over-pitching the cell counts which is fine for this test. Place the vessel, covered with foil or with an airlock at room temperature and let it ferment out. Note the FG and determine the apparent attenuation. This is more or less the level of attenuation and FG you can expect with the larger batch of beer. Generally, the yeast will attenuate further than it will under a cooler ferment in the larger batch, but give...
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Tags for this post: yeast, attenuation, forced ferment test, fast ferment test, starter, harvest yeast

Hop Propagation Methods

Posted by vinpaysdoc on 4/18/2015 at 07:56:10 PM

It's Spring and many brewers are talking about their hops. This is a short and sweet article on how to increase your hop yard or share with friends. Me? I'm hoping to have Cascade take over my English Ivy.....

Methods to start growing:

1. Hop Plants - Available from a few merchants, notably Great Lake Hops. Be sure you pick these up from someone selling hops to brewers. If you pick plants up at the Farmer's Market they may be ornamental or male plants. Full plants will be best planted in the Spring.

2. Crowns - Crowns are 4 mo to 1 year plants that have produced cones and entered dormancy. They are usually available in the Fall and have the advantage that they have already developed a root system and will further establish themselves over the Winter. Plant them in the Fall and look forward to the Spring.

3. Rhizomes - Rhizomes are part of the root system of the plant that are pruned in late winter. They are widely available from many online retailers for pre-order and ship in the Spring. These are, perhaps, a little less reliable than using crowns.

4. Bine Cuttings - At the end of the growing season, when the leaves begin to fall off, cut the bine at it's base up to about 4-6 feet. Bury the bine about 4 inches deep in soil to over-winter. I would suggest that you put them in a planter so that the bines don't get confused with
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Tags for this post: Hops, Growing, Propagation

The 7 Hour Boil, Single Malt Barleywine

Posted by wildscientist on 4/14/2015 at 10:20:49 AM

My normal brew day goes something like this: 8am pick up RO water, mashing by 9am, draining first runnings by 10:15am, do one batch sparge, have a nice rolling boil a little after 11am, and start cooling down my wort by 12:30pm - 1pm at the latest. Fill up carboys with cooled wort, place them into the fermentation chamber and pitch yeast. Everything is cleaned up and back in its place, ready to go for next time by 2pm; a nice and tidy 5-hour brew day from water to wort to future beer.

My basic brewing setup.

So what drove me to have a boil longer than my normal brew day? Well, it started with an article called "Meeting 'Mr. Maillard' After a Nine Hour Boil". The article describes a very simple process to make a very complex thing. It talks of food science and history and making something that's unique to what brewing has become today. The article focuses on Gigantic Brewing's barleywine Massive. Massive is a simple beer that belies the tasting notes you'll find online, and that's what intrigued me to make a similar beer. Based on Gigantic's own recipe, Massive uses 100% Thomas Fawcett Halcyon malt with Magnum hops for bittering, Cascade and Willamette for aroma and flavor, and then it's dry-hopped with Mosaic. Even before I looked up the recipe (and before I finished the article) I knew I was adding this to my brewing queue.

Now that I had a...
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Tags for this post: 7 hour, boil, maillard, barleywine, color

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