Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brewing with the Guild

We had our third official guild brew party on the 28th.  Nick H. and I got a little experimental with an India Cream Ale.  Nick K. chose a Scotch Ale recipe and Aaron decided to do a Hefeweizen.  By the end of the day we had eight or nine brewers hanging out, drinking beer, and snacking on some homemade hummus.

Nick K.  - Maybe mashing in or possibly sparging...
Couple of boiling brew kettles and Nick H. trying to prevent a boil-over.

Must be near the end of our boil as my ghetto
wort chiller is in the pot.

I had fully intended to photodocument the entire event, but my camera battery was dead and I got sick of asking to take pictures with Nick K's phone. (His has a better camera than mine) I also forgot to get everyone's recipes to post... so pretty sparse post from what I had planned, but I wanted to get something up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Forgot to include this in the last post and I didn't think anyone would read it if I just added it to the end of that long-ass update.  Anyway, I brewed a batch of beer for a friend who is auctioning off goods to raise funds for adoption.  Here is a link to her adoption site "David thinks adoption is cool".  Check it out.


Brew News

Sooooo, I have been steadily brewing for about two years now.  I'd say I've averaged two brews per month over that time and I have learned a ton.  This blog clearly has not kept up, but hopefully I will be able to stay on top of it in the future.

Couple of news updates to start:

Since I last posted almost exactly a year ago, I entered my first homebrew contest in March 2011 with Aaron.  The Siciliano's competition is a local annual contest, now in its ninth year.  We gold medaled, advancing to the mini best in show round and scoring a 46 out of a possible 50 points.  Our entry was a Belgian Rye.P.A. using some sweet orange, and honey malt.  The funny thing is, I didn't really care for the beer all that much.  It was true to style, but just not really my cup of tea (or mug of beer as it were).  Anyway, doing well in the contest was a huge encouragement and I think I will be entering more contests in the future.

A new homebrew store opened up near me, O'Connor's.  They are fantastic!  Super helpful and friendly.   If you email them your order they will grind it and have it ready for you to pick up within the hour.  Awesome!  I highly recommend them for anyone near downtown or NE/SE Grand Rapids.

I brewed a number of cream ales over the summer and found that I quite like the style.  I plan on continuing this as a summer staple.  Between March and the end of the year I spent a fair amount of time brewing with a number of different people which brings me to my next update...

We (Aaron, Nick, Nick, (that is two Nicks, not a typo) Josh, Calvin, Kelly, Dylan, and I) started a brewer's guild.  Starting in November we decided to get together once a month to brew a minimum of three batches and generally have a nice relaxing day.  Our guild is, as of now, still nameless, but this coming Saturday, Jan 28th, may produce a name... if we get around to discussing it.  I'm set to brew an India Cream Ale with Nick (a brew buddy who has featured in previous posts).

A couple of technique changes over the past year include using a starter with all of my beers (when I remember) and this has significantly improved them.  My fermentation starts much more quickly and duration of fermentation has decreased while increasing attenuation.  I've also started to use less priming sugar when I bottle.  I used to use around 4 oz. of corn sugar for a 5 gallon batch, but found that after more than a couple weeks over carbonation became a problem.  Not necessarily gushing bottles, but just a higher level of carbonation than I desired.  Now, depending on style, I have gone to between 2 and 3 ounces.  Full carbonation usually takes a little longer, two to three weeks, but the end result is a much more balanced beer.  Plus the extra time in the bottle gives the beer a little more maturity and improved flavor.

I almost forgot.  When I first started brewing in January of 2010 I brewed a couple of partial mash batches.  An oatmeal stout and a dark belgian style.  They both turned out pretty terrible and so I dumped it all except about a six-pack of each.  They sat in my basement for a year and half until curiosity got the better of me, and a cracked one of each open sometime in July.  To my great surprise they both tasted pretty fantastic.  This was both exciting and disheartening as I only had a very limited amount leftover, and now realized that I had poured ten gallons of perfectly good beer down the drain.  Next time I will exercise and remember that I have more than enough bottles to let some beer sit for an extended period of time.

Guess that is all for today.