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Conan Yeast Giveaway Winners

Posted by homebrewdad on 8/05/2014 at 03:01:20 PM

After much adieu, I am happy to announce the winners of the Homebrew Dad ECY29 (Conan) yeast giveaway.

First off, please do allow me to thank everyone who entered. I said this before, but there were quite a few entries that legitimately deserved to win. Pruning the seventy-six entries down to the seven finalists was extremely difficult; further pruning those down to three winners was even harder.   If you'd like to see, there is a map representing all of the entries

Thank you to everyone who voted. All told, we ended up with a truly impressive total of one hundred and seventy-six votes cast, which is about twice what I was expecting given the number of participants.

To recap, my plan was to select one winner on my own, to allow the votes to select one winner, and to then compare the two lists to come up with a third winner. As it so happens, one winner not only jumped out as the most deserving to my way of thinking, but also happend to win the largest percentage of the votes - by quite a fair margin. That winner is Bret of Warsaw, Poland.

Bret did not submit a recipe idea; instead, his submission was that he would like to pick up the yeast when he returns to the US in a couple of weeks. He will then take the yeast back with him to Poland, where he will share it with other homebrewers there. According to Bret, they do not have access to Conan yeast in Poland, so this would be a real boon to them.

So, I decided to count the person with the second most votes as the community's choice of a winner. That person would be Ryan of Yardley, PA. I got several comments about the quality of Ryan's beer; I suspect that his local homebrew club organized to help him with the voting, but regardless,...
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Tags for this post: yeast, giveaway, winners, contest, conan

Conan Yeast Giveaway Finalists

Posted by homebrewdad on 8/01/2014 at 02:53:13 PM

After a week, we have received a whopping seventy-six entries to the ECY29 (Conan yeast) contest! If you'd like to see, there is a map representing all of the entries. I've done a lot of deliberating, and let me tell you - there were a *ton* of great ideas.

I pared down the list once, then pared it down again, and am now down to seven finalists.

If you did not make the list, please don't take it personally - I had a really difficult time narrowing down the finalists, and I had to leave out several entries that I feel that would have been worthy winners. It might sound cheesy or fake, but it's absolutely true that I would like to have given away even more vials. However, I had to draw a line somewhere; I simply can't afford to ship tons of yeast all around the continent.

Homebrewers, here is where you come in. Please cast your vote for your favorite idea of the finalists from the table below. Click the button next to their name, then click the "Process Vote" button at the bottom of the entry. No stuffing the ballot box, folks - one vote per person, please!  Also, please do note that comments to this blog post will not count as official votes - you must use the voting mechanism below.

I will personally select one winner from these finalists, and a second winner will come from the top vote getter. A combined method will...
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Tags for this post: finalists, homebrew, contest, yeast, Conan, ecy29, recipes, ideas

Review: Ruddles County Clone (Best Bitter)

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/30/2014 at 04:00:03 AM


Today's beer review is one I have been looking forward to; it comes to us from my good friend Greg, of High Point, North Carolina.  Greg is an active member of the /r/homebrewing community, and goes by the screen name of /u/vinpaysdoc - give him a shout sometime!  Greg drove through Birmingham recently on the way to visit one of his kids at the University of Alabama, and was kind enough to swap beers with me (as well as hook me up with several vials of yeast).

Greg's beer is a best bitter - specifically, a Ruddles County Clone.  I haven't had the pleasure of trying this beer myself, though it's a real favorite of Greg's. 

This particular bottle spent a good week in my fridge prior to me taking it out for this review.  Since this is an English style, I did let it warm a good bit before I did the review (though it was probably still cooler than it would be served in a UK pub). 

You'll notice that this video is noticeably shorter than my first effort; I decided to do my actual sipping and note taking off camera in an effort to spare the viewer from my strange faces and long pauses.  The "uhs" and "ahs" are drastically reduced, for which I am proud.  I also feel like the sound quality is improved, thanks to my use of a directional mike - but beware, you will still hear my kids in a couple of spots.  Sadly,

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Tags for this post: best, bitter, review, video, beer, homebrew, ruddles county, clone

The Winds of Change are Blowing at Homebrew Dad

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/28/2014 at 08:10:29 PM


When I first created the Homebrew Dad website, the idea was pretty simple - I wanted a place to chronicle my own growth as a brewer.  I had this idea of sharing the steps that I took from complete and utter beginner to... well, to wherever I might take this hobby.

Along the way, the website has grown and evolved with me.  I learned that recipe sharing is a pretty big aspect of brewing; rather than post a recipe once, as most blogs do, I decided to set up a central repository to keep them in, which would allow me to embed the recipe again and again, and would also allow people a simple, convenient way to refer back to a given beer recipe.  I then had an idea about perhaps expanding that repository one day, so I set it up in such a way as to make the recipes fully searchable - for instance, if you had, say, Munich malt and wanted to see all of the recipes that I had posted that used it, you could do so with a simple search.

I became interested in some of the more technical aspects of brewing, and have always enjoyed programming.  I ended up creating a series of utilities - the priming sugar calculator, the ABV calculator, the beer calorie calculator, the grain and hop databases, etc.  Wherever possible, I have tried to keep an eye on scalability and flexibility for these, as well.

I set up an area of the site for

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Tags for this post: homebrew, brewing, beer, community, forum, content

Announcing the Conan Yeast Giveaway!

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/24/2014 at 03:54:33 PM


Conan yeast.  The "secret" ingredient behind Heady Topper - one of the most highly regarded beers in America.  The yeast has a unique, bready flavor profile, and is often described as having a honey-like finish.  Many homebrewers view this yeast as a Holy Grail type strain for IPAs, pale ales, and other hop forward beers.

The Conan yeast strain, commercially known as ECY29 (North East Ale), also has a deserved reputation as being difficult to obtain.  East Coast Yeast (manufacturer of the strain) does not yet have the manufacturing capabilities of the big boys (i.e. White Labs or Wyeast), and as a result, this popular yeast strain often sells out quickly. 

So, with that being said... how would you like a fresh vial of Conan yeast for the low, low price of *free*? 

Today, I'd like to announce the first ever Homebrew Dad yeast giveaway.  I have obtained a fresh container of ECY29 (special thanks to /u/GirkinFirker from reddit!), and will be spinning up a large starter for the sole purpose of sharing the love, so to speak.  Of course, odds are that there's no way I'll be able to harvest enough yeast to meet all of the potential demand from folks who'd like a free portion of a hard to find yeast. 

So, I'd like to make this interesting.  To be considered for a vial, please submit an idea for the beer that you would like to brew with the yeast.  I'll judge the ideas off of originality and general

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Tags for this post: conan, yeast, ecy29, contest, giveaway, beer, homebrew

Review: American Dream Pale Ale

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/22/2014 at 08:36:57 PM

Our very first homebrew review comes to us from Isaac of Leesburg, Florida. Isaac and his buddy Matt both brewed up American pales ales for the 4th of July, and have been kind enough to share them with me.

Isaac's beer - titled "American Dream: Ryes of a Nation" - is actully the brainchild of his wife, Amy. Amy had the idea of a recipe with the desired result of "a piece of bread soaked in rye beer, with orange or tangerine notes". Isaac has been brewing for several years, so he helped oversee which ingredients woudl help provide the intended result, but this was Amy's baby.

I chilled the bottle for about 48 hours prior to my review in the hopes of making sure that any shipping sediment had settled nicely. I took the bottle out of the fridge a good 10-15 minutes prior to filming, then shot the entire review in one take. I used one of my custom pint glasses for this beer, which I gave a thorough salt scrub and multiple rinses to prior to the review.

A few notes about the filming itself - I would call this an unever effort overall. Even though I waited until late at night, then went off alone in the kitchen, you coudl still hear my three younger boys from two rooms away. I ran the round through some noise reduction, which cut some of that out - and made the sound pretty tinny in the process - but...
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Tags for this post: hombrew, review, American, pale ale, rye

Delicious Spent Grain Bread

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/17/2014 at 03:47:43 PM

It has become a required ritual that I bake bread with the spent grains from brewing my beer.  Of course, the final flavor varies a bit due to the variances in my grain bill for the beer in question, but by and large, I end up with a dark, chewy bread that compares favorably with any nice restaurant appetizer.  Expect a nice crusty outside with a moist center.

  • 3 cups spent grain (finely chopped in food processor to cut down on pieces of husk in your teeth)
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 packet dry bakers yeast
  • honey to taste
  • mix yeast, water, and sugar in a bowl to activate your yeast. Use warm - not hot - water (maybe 100 degrees F). Allow 30 minutes for yeast to activate.
  • Add your yeast starter, egg, salt, spent grain, and milk in a large mixing bowl, along with the bulk of your flour.
    Mix this up well, adding flour until you reach a consistency that allows you to handle the dough with floured hands without it sticking to you like crazy. You may end up with more or less flour than called for above, depending on the humidity and such.
  • Add honey to taste. I typically add 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
  • knead
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Tags for this post: spent, grains, bread, grain, bread recipe, baking, beer, beer bread

Taking a Walk on the Hop Side - My First IPA

Posted by homebrewdad on 7/08/2014 at 10:57:01 PM


As you may have gleaned from my post history, I'm a big fan of malty beers.  By and large, I just don't seem to really enjoy beers that venture far into to the bitter side of the balance. 

I know, I know.  I must be one of a very few homebrewers who doesn't worship at the alter of the IPA.  I've tried numerous commercial IPAs, but almost every single time, I have found them to be too bitter for me to really enjoy.  As far as that goes, even most pale ales are more bitter than I like.

Go ahead, insert your girlie-man jokes here.  At a time when the craft beer industry is seemingly in a race to see which brewery can roll out a hopwater product that can melt your teeth enamel through sheer bitterness the quickest, my beer tastes seem fairly quaint.  I have continued to sample various IPAs, and while they don't always gross me out as quickly as they once did, I just have not managed to develop a taste for them.

That is, until April of this year, when I ended up meeting Greg Ellis, a brewing buddy from reddit.  We exchanged several bottles each; one of Greg's beers was a Citra DIPA.  I'll admit that it worried me, but I gave it an honest shot... and lo and behold, it was delicious!

This beer balanced to the bitter side, yes, but only mildly so.  It had plenty of hop flavor, however, and the citrusy aroma was

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Tags for this post: IPA, hop, hops, bitter, English, English IPA, homebrew, brewing

How to Determine if Your Beer Needs a Blowoff Tube

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/19/2014 at 02:11:36 PM


I've come up with a simple, foolproof method of determining this whether or not you need to use a blowoff tube when brewing, or if an airlock is sufficient.  Just answer the questions below.

Question one: are you brewing beer?

If the answer is "yes", then you should use a blowoff.

Question two: see question one.

Yeah, okay, I'm being a bit silly... but it's rock solid advice.

I had gotten a little cocky of late; once I made it to really good temperature control (mini fridge/STC-1000 combo), I noticed that my blowoff tubes weren't really doing anything - no krausen was being ejected into the water, etc.  So for the next few brews, I tried using an airlock only; sure enough, this method seemed to work just fine. 

With my last brew (Belgian blonde with WLP530), I was reminded that some yeasts care nothing for my paltry temperature control, that they WILL explode if I don't take measures to prevent it.  Fortunately, I did swap that one to a blowoff before catastrophe struck.  Clearly, I learned my lesson... right?

Of course not.  Sunday, I brewed an English IPA using WLP022 (my first time with that yeast). 

Even with a big, healthy starter (did a one liter starter, stepped it up to three liters, decanted back down to one, saved one vial out for a future brew), I was surprised at how slow things got going.  The following morning, I had an almost nonexistent krausen cap on top of the wort, as well

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Tags for this post: blowoff tube, blowoff, airlock, fermentation, beer, homebrew

Following up on my Disastrous Review: I abuse a Bottle of Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/09/2014 at 07:17:00 PM


You may recall my bitter disappointment over the horrible review  I got from a pro brewer after sending two bottles of my Royal Goblin brown ale - perhaps the best beer I have ever brewed - to the guys at the Behind the Craft podcast.

I've had several people ask me if it was possible that there had been a mix up, if perhaps the Behind the Craft guys opened someone else's bottle which led to the explosively foamy, soap flavored beer that they "enjoyed".  I doubted that was the answer, and an email with Brendan led to this response: "There is no way I'd get your beer confused with another!  Everyone talked about the great labeling." 

After a big discussion on reddit, I decided to abuse a bottle of my beer to see if I could reproduce the sad results that the Behind the Craft guys came up with.  I took one bottle of the Royal Goblin, stuck it in a cardboard box, and put it in the trunk of my car for a few days.  I then moved the box to the floorboard of the car so that it would be even hotter.  I made it a point to flip the bottle over several times, just to be sure that the yeast wasn't allowed to settle too nicely.

The two bottles that I shipped out were sent at the end of March, where they went via FedEx ground to Pennsylvania.  I

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Tags for this post: heat, beer, gushing, infection, ruined, review

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