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All posts for the month November, 2012

I have been a fan of DuClawcraft beer ever since my move to Maryland in 2007.  A few years back, they designed a fantastic Toffee Nut Brown Ale called Eu4oria

Euphoria by DuClaw

This is the original label for Euphoria by DuClaw. http://www.duclaw.com

as a seasonal beer.  It is very sweet with a nice dry finish with very low biterness.  Needless to say, this became one of my favorite beers.

This beer was so popular that it was changed to one of the staple beers at the restaurant.  I usually take two growlers with me and Eu4oria is always in one of them with a random beer in the other.

I was searching around Maryland Homebrew pricing some malt and I came across the website’s recipe page.  Low and behold, there was a section for every DuClaw beer in production.  Was this a gift from beer-heaven?  This solved the problem I was facing in about a year when we are potentially moving far from this area.

So now the beer has been brewed, and from what I could tell as I was racking the beer into a keg, it’s going to be close, but just not the same.  Of course there is still a two week conditioning phase and carbonation to change the flavor profile.  The only change I made was a 1/2 pound of Crystal 80 malt as opposed to 1/2 pound of Rye malt.  Not sure how much that will actually change the overall profile, but time will tell.

Blumpkin Pumpkin Ale

Not my best graphics work, but it works on a beer fridge in the basement.

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone bringing with it all the warm family memories and great food.  Up to this point in my home brewing hobby, I haven’t been one to hold myself to a brewing schedule that accompanies any specific holidays or events.  This year I decided to try something a little different and brew my first ever pumpkin ale and have it ready for Thanksgiving.  I thought this would be the perfect beer to pair with all the flavors and smells of a Thanksgiving feast.

Since this was my first attempt at a pumpkin ale, I decided to take a conservative approach when adding the spice to the beer.  I am usually not a fan of flavored beers, especially pumpkin ales.  Most commercial beers tend to be higher in alcohol and place emphasis on the pumpkin pie spice instead of the beer.  I used 2 teaspoons of spice in a 5 gallon batch, which turned out to be perfect for me.  I also added it in the last 10 minutes of the boil in an effort to boil off most of the volatile smell and tastes.

The beer turned out to be a very well balanced beer with just a hint of pumpkin pie spice layered in a nice malty 5.5% ale.  The hops came through just enough to keep the sweetness in line.

I will post the recipe when I get that section up and running.  Until then, email me if you want the recipe.

 

I can recall my very first batch of homebrew ever made.  It was a Honey Wheat extract kit from William’s Brewing.  I knew very little about brewing or any details of the steps involved.  One of my very first lessons was to keep everything as clean as humanly possible.  Of course, me being paranoid that I would ruin my first batch of beer, I had that kitchen cleaner than a hospital surgery ward from start to finish.  Even during the boil, every time the stirring spoon came out of the wort, it was cleaned with bleach-water, rinsed, and dried for it’s next use in the boiling wort.

Fast forward 8 years later and some of those same principles still hold true.  Of course, I’m not nearly has aggressive in my sanitation habits as I was when I began, but I have a tendency to maybe clean a little too much.  The extra time I spend in the basement soaking, scraping, filtering, spraying, wiping, drying, and mixing pay dividends for my peace of mind on brew day.

Anyone who happens to land on this page looking for insight into making their own beer before they dive in, I will give this valuable piece of information.  “YOU WILL CLEAN OFTEN!”

I spend over 75% of my time in the brew process cleaning my equipment.  Like I said earlier, I may spend more time than needed, but my assurance that I will not contaminate my precious beer is something I can live with.  My wife frequently gets on my case at the amount of patience and attention I devote to my beer making gear while neglecting the rest of the house.  I spent over an hour tonight cleaning my 4 beer lines as preventative maintenance to ensure I do not have any bio-gunk build up in my lines.  Most informed bars do this, but they are 1) professionally cleaned, and 2) dependant on clean lines to stay in business. I did it just to make sure the lines were clean.

The bottom line is that you should learn from your very first batch the utmost respect for cleanliness and sanitation.  Although at times it may seem that you are devoting most of your precious brew time to cleaning, you will hopefully never have a bad batch of beer due to preventable infections.

My list of favorite clearning aids:

  •  Bleach (1tsp/1 gallon of water)
  • Star San (1oz/5 gallons of water)
  • Liquid Line Cleaner (.5oz/1 gallon of water)
  • Oxy Clean Powder (varying strength
  • Hot Water (can I say anymore)
  • Sponges w/green scrubby back (invaluable)

After 8 years of brewing, the inevitable happened.  I woke up this morning and checked on my newest batch of young malted goodness to make sure the room temperature was adequate and discovered the airlock was filled with krausen.  I quickly changed out the airlocks and went off to work.

Sometime around lunch, I get a phone call from my wife and she told me she was sitting in the adjacent room to where my beer ferments and heard a strange hissing sound.  Shortly after the hissing started, there was a loud bang.

I came home after work and promptly checked on what I had anticipated to be a recreation of a Mount Vesuvius eruption.  I approached the room and noticed the lid to the 6 gallon bucket was half blown off.  To my surprise, there was not a ton of fallout from what had to have been a massive explosion.

Since the yeast was still in a very active fermentation, and the ambient temperature was around 62F, I felt safe replacing the lid to the bucket and changing the airlock for the second time.

Only time will tell if the beer really survived through that ordeal.

 

Since the Summer of 2004, I have kept some pretty decent logs from my brew sessions.  These logs really weren’t that important until I started creating recipes and refining them.  Over the past two months, I have been busy re-digitizing all of my logs due to a data server loss.  For some reason, I never backed up my BeerSmith files.  So when Windows crashed, which it WILL do, I lost all of my data.  Luckily I had all of my notes and recipes in hard copy format.  That is where I am at now.

With all of this going on, my wife gave me the brilliant idea to create a blog.  She sees all of the craziness that I go through on both the brewing end and the DIY brew system building, and thought it would be a pretty cool idea to share it with the digital world.

So with all of that, welcome to the blog.  I will try and update as much as possible, but like everything else, time is that critical factor that nobody seems to have enough of.

 

Brew on!

Tony