Brewing Update

I racked the “Short Cut Brown” tonight.  So far so good.  It’s down to 1.022, should reach 1.015.  It should be anything but a “boring” brown, likely very different from the Texas Brown Ale that originally defined the style.  I’m pushing the limits of style, going as big as possible in both malt and hops, trying for a beer that while drinkable in large amounts is also enjoyable.  In other words, typical American brewing:  Go big or go home.

Sunday I intend to do another big, bold beer with a session ABV, a Duesseldorfer Altbier.  Starter’s spinning away, everything else is on hand.  I’m going for a big malt flavor and lots of hops in typical Zum Uerige style.  Interestingly enough, I’ve never tasted the example I’m following so I’ll wait for a friend to return from Germany and let him tell me how well I matched the style.  I thought about doing a Kentucky Common but I have even less an idea how that should taste once finished – best definition I have is a dark cream ale with a lot of adjuncts in the mix.  There’s not even agreement as to whether the style, a partial inversion of a sour mash whiskey mash, was sour or not.  I tend to believe it wasn’t, although I’ve tried souring it in the past.  By the time Common was being brewed in northern Kentucky, metal vessels were common.  The style mostly died in Prohibition, it’s been revived by a few craft brewers and a few homebrewers.  So we won’t know how it tastes but at least we can make a beer that tastes good.


Schwarzbier Packaged

The next version of my award-winning Schwarzbier is bottled.  Here’s the bounty:


Sorry for the darkness – it’s dark in my basement.  This version is likely my best yet – dark, malty, dry.  It’s a good beer and I’m closing in on my “perfected” recipe, the right balance of Carafa and Chocolate malt.  Next version should be just about there

90 Degree Saison Follow-Up

A follow-up on the Saison I wrote about earler (Last entry 29 July, talking about using a helper yeast).  Well, it’s partially carbed and delicious!  For all of you afraid of warm fermentation, the Wyeast Belgian Saison strain loves heat.  At times my fermentation was over 100 degrees and the beer shows no off flavors whatsoever.  It’s bone-dry but the esters give it a sweet flavor, citrusy and spicy.  The corn as well provides some sweet flavors.

On request, I’ll provide the recipe.

And one more thing:  A bronze medal in the Colorado State Fair for my Schwarzbier.  The next batch is ready to bottle.

Brew Day – Shortcut Brown Ale

Brewed a pure extract-and-steep batch today for the first time in forever, a “Shortcut” Brown Ale.  It was kind of enjoyable and in a way, I was revisiting the art of making beer from someone else’s wort.  My process was much different this time:  I have two pots so I could steep in one and dissolve extract in the other.  I did a full boil and used a chiller instead of the old fashioned three gallon boil, chilled with ice water in the sink.  And I’m going to control the fermentation temperature in my fridge, recently free of laters.  So here’s the boil:


The last extract batch I did was a kit the local homebrew shop asked me to brew as a test.  But it was a partial mash.  And it came out wonderful.  This time I really did it mostly the old-fashioned way.  Oh, and I’m breaking in the new Speidel fermenter, a 7.9 gallon HDPE jug with an oversized airlock and a valve so I can let gravity drain my wort into the secondary fermenter.

Keys to good extract brewing:  Fresh extract.  The Brew Hut goes through a lot of it so I’m reasonably sure theirs is fresh.  Good grains and a good crush to get the “good” from the steeping grains.  A full boil helps, gives you less kettle caramelization and better hop extraction than a concentrated boil.  The rest is the same as with all brews:  Sanitation, a good boil, long enough to drive off any DMS, a quick chill and pitching good, healthy yeast in the proper volume at the proper temperature.

One more thing before I go, the Chihuly-esque glass art at Sweetwater Brewing.  A local guy did it from bottles, so everything is brown.  Still, it’s a nice piece for a brewery.


Sweetwater Brewing, Atlanta, GA

Okay, this Georgia tasting room crap is simply wierd.  You show up and there’s a two hour window for tasting.  The brewery is limited to providing you no more than 32 ounces of beer and they can’t directly sell it to you.  So Sweetwater has three options:  You get a plastic cup and six tickets tradeable for a five-ounce pour each.  Or you can buy a pint glass for $10, ditto the five-ounce pours.  Or you can make a donation to keeping the Chattahoochee River clean and get a 14-ounce pilsner.  Those five ounce pours are awfully damned generous.  So here’s Sweetwater, hardly a “craft beer” brewery….


And here’s one of those tickets:


Now to the beers:


I mostly enjoyed Sweetwater’s beers, the seven pictured above (a sobriety test – the “420” Pale Ale is there twice) plus a firkin, a Centennial Peppercorn IPA.  I got to sample all seven, thanks to a “local” with an extra ticket.  The winner stylistically was the brown ale.  The brewers took some liberties with styles, something I don’t mind if it works but in many cases it didn’t.  The beers were subtly off, the malt too subdued, the hops too prevalent or incorrect to style.  But on balance, Sweetwater produces a drinkable beer.  And the bartenders, too, are put off by those strange Southern alcohol laws.  This is not a small brewery and you have a two-hour window in which to drink their beers.  But their beers are drinkable and the company is Southern.  I even got a tip for dinner!

Back in Denver tomorrow.  I’m ready to be home.

Georgia Beer

Sorry for the rant on travel.  It’s off-topic.  I just really, really hate spending my lifetime in airport security lines.  I wonder how many “lives” the TSA takes through making people wait ever longer in security lines?

Georgia beer, this blog being about things fermented and fermentable – no, TSA agents do not count, although some of what they confiscate might.  Last night I found a local, relatively new watering hole called The Pig and the Pint here in College Park.  One of their claims to fame is their rather extensive card of local beers – eight beers plus a hard cider are currently on the menu.  Located just off Atlanta Airport on Virginia Ave, they’re not far at all from my hotel.  So last night I went there to sample beers.

The beers represent several of the local breweries.  I have a copy of Atlanta Where that lists some of the breweries here in town.  One of the interesting things here are the tasting room regulations.  In Colorado, you buy a pint, a flight, a mass, whatever vessel the brewery serves their beer in.  Here you buy a glass and tickets.  Each ticket is good for a third of a pour, in other words, three tickets gets you a full pint.  So, by some twisted logic, the brewery is not selling you beer, it’s selling you a glass and tickets.  But I digress.  The breweries listed are Sweetwater Brewery, Red Brick Brewery, Monday Night Brewing, Wild Heaven Brewery, Blue Tarp Brewing and Red Hare Brewing.  I hope to make it a point to visit at least one before leaving Atlanta on Friday.

The Pig had brews from several of the above and a few more.  I liked the Strawn Brewing Wheat, the Jailhouse Brewing Amber and the Monday Night Brewing Eye Patch IPA.  Some of the others, well, a pils with American hops, a Hefeweizen IPA, a saison with too much lemon, a vegetal, roasty Brown, not quite on the mark.  Tonight I went back for dinner.  Eventide Brewing Stout is a very good beer and the Pig’s meatloaf is to die for.

Georgia’s craft beer is a mixed bag.  There are some really good beers I’ve tasted here, some a bit wide of the mark and some just plain missed.  But that’s true everywhere.  I’ve had substandard beer in Germany and Colorado and even made one or two.  But as a wise photographer once told me, the key to success is try a lot of things and only show what works.

I hope to get to a brewery Thursday night.