nathanjw: (beer)
Attention brewers - the Boston Homebrew Competition is approaching, and the entry deadline is Saturday. Get your beers in there! You can drop them off at Modern Brewer if you're in the city. This is the competition that got me my first ribbon, and it's always educational and entertaining to get judge's feedback on your product.
nathanjw: (Default)
Last week I brewed my first batch since moving to the new apartment. It was a pretty straightforward English bitter, and the brew day went well - having a shaded yard with a picnic table, hose faucet, and an electrical outlet was very nice. That batch was part of a grander plan, however, which took place today. I brewed my biggest beer yet, stretching the limits of my system, and made a barleywine. 22 pounds of grain for about six gallons of beer at 1.100 gravity, and it just about filled my mash tun. When it was cooled and ready for pitching, I racked it directly onto the yeast cake from last week's batch (having decanted that beer into a smaller carboy), and sure enough, it took of fermenting in under two hours. The mash also produced some second runnings, so I made a small beer with the remainder, and got a 3-gallon batch of about 1.040 as a result. So now I have 13-14 gallons of beer, in various versions of English styles, happily fermenting away.

Aside from taking up nine hours and making my back hurt a bit, it was a fine way to spend a day.

UPDATE: Overnight, the barleywine fermented so vigorously that it lost about a gallon of liquid out the blow-off tube. Maybe I would have been better off to make a slightly smaller barleywine batch and then a full-size beer from the second runnings.
nathanjw: (beer)
Today I brewed my 31st batch of beer (at least since I started taking notes), which was also my tenth all-grain batch and my second all-outdoor batch.

It's the blonde ale from Brewing Classic Styles. Very simple - 11.5lb of base malt and half a pound of crystal 20L, an ounce of Willamette hops for bittering, and Chico yeast. It was a nice contrast to the previous batch - a wit from the same book - which is still fermenting madly away (Madly, but slowly - 1.050 to 1.015 in two weeks, and still actively fermenting. But it tastes pretty good so far). I do seem to be stuck at about six hours start to finish, but I managed to work in some racking and bottle cleaning in there as well. Good mash and boil, but summertime chilling is a problem; it may be time to invest in a chest freezer and some temperature controllers.
nathanjw: (outdrink)
Tonight at club night: club - beer - score out of 5

Hop Barly and the Alers - Orange ale - 5
Salacious Homebrewers in Toledo (SHiT) - Junebug IPA - 3
KGB - Vladimir's Vienna Lager - 3
Brew Free or Die (BFD) - Funky French Saison - 5
Greater Huntington Homebrewers - ESB - 3
Georgia Beer Militia - "Hawkeye" mild - 3
Motor City Mashers - Kolsch - 3
Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP) - Orange juice Gueze - 5
Cary-Apex-Raleigh Brewers Of Yore (CARBOY) - Gotlandsdrika - 4
Louisville Area Grain and Extract Research Society (LAGERS) - Pale ale - 1
Red Ledge Brewers - Mild Mannered Mild - 3
Cincinnati Malt Infusers (CMI) - Blonde - 1
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI) - Heather Ale - 2
Rocket City Brewers - Saison - 3
Scioto, Olentangy and Darby Zymurgists (SODZ) - Fireball Cider - 5
Hop Barley and the Alers - CinnCinn Mead - 3
Hop Barley and the Alwrs - Irish Red - 2
Frederick's Original Ale Makers (FOAM) - Summer Bitter - 2
CASK - Northern English Brown - 3
KGB - Smoky Politburo Porter - 2
Tippecanoe Homebrewer's Circle (THC) - Oat Malt Stout - 3
Georgia Beer Militia - "Painless" Popcorn cream ale - 4
Brewers United for Real Potables (BURP) - Helles-Rauchbier - 1
Antioch Suds Suckers - Green Apple Jolly Rancher Wit - 2
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI) - Smoked Porter - 3
Chesapeake Real Ale Brewers Society (CRABS) - German Pilsner - 3
Clinton River Association of Fermenting Trendsetters - HopFix APA - 3 - Molasses Brown Ale - 2
Brewers of Ohio Zymurgist Enclave (BOOZE) - Breakfast Stout - 4
Ann Arbor Brewer's Guild - Rauchbier - 5
Ann Arbor Brewer's Guild - Sage Rye - 3
Ann Arbor Brewer's Guild - Wit with Rosemary - 3
Midnight Brewer's League - Spruce Beer - 3
nathanjw: (beer)
Today's the day! Celebrate the proto-repeal of Prohibition on April 7, 1933.
nathanjw: (outdrink)
Happy Repeal Day! Have a drink.
nathanjw: (cider)
It's been a busy evening in booze-land. Tonight I:

  • Racked the pale ale from a few weeks ago out of primary. Realize that it's close to drinkable, but that I have no keg space for it - I still have last year's cider and some BBC porter on tap.
  • Bought ingredients for Saturday's session brewing a repeat of last winter's vanilla porter, and made a yeast starter. Go go gadget eBay lab equipment!
  • Cleaned my primary fermenter. It's kind of gross. I had to break out the B-Brite, which had gone from powder form to brick form.
  • Pitched yeast into the juice for this year's cider. After doing this, I noticed that I failed to get a hydrometer reading first, and also that my "6 gallons" is closer to 7 and is very nearly filling up the bucket. Now there is a gallon of sweet cider in my fridge that hopefully will not ferment before I drink it.
  • Cleaned the now-empty keg that had held the amber ale. I keep not buying the deep socket I need to remove the dip tubes; this is going to bite me some day.

Now it is time to eat something and RDWHAH.


Aug. 5th, 2007 07:58 pm
nathanjw: (beer)
Today I finally processed and bottled the cider I've been fermenting since Cider Days 2006. It's a mixture of 50% Northern Spy and 50% Jonathan, and it's been quietly aging in the basement since November. The final gravity was 0.996, which I'm not used to from my beer work - totally dry. I bottled two gallons of it, using some fresh apple juice to sweeten it for possible carbonation. The remaining four gallons were kegged, also with fresh apple juice, but more for sweetness than for carbonation - the tank pressure will take care of that. The cider from the keg will be drinkable in a couple of weeks; the bottles should be good in a couple of months.

Next year, I need to remember to get a couple of extra gallons of cider to sulfite and store for priming and sweetening (can you call it krausening if it's not beer?).
nathanjw: (outdrink)
[I could swear I had hit post on this last night, but apparently not]

I just got back to my hotel room from Club Night at the 2007 American Homebrewers Association National Conference. This is arguably the height of the event, where a lot of clubs (local clubs, mostly, in this case Colorado clubs) bring beer and food and try to wow us with beer and food and costumes and themes. This year's was pretty good; the space was a good size, many clubs put on a great show and ridiculous amounts of beer (the "Pissoir d'Or" award (a urinal painted and converted into a beer tap) will go to a club that brought 62 5-gallon kegs). Pictures later when I have a chance to pick out some good ones.

Here's what I tasted, with a few notes and quick good/bad indicators (+/-):

Liquid Poets - Belgian Pale Ale
ESB (East Sacremento Brewers) - Saison DuPontiac
High Plains Drafters - Heather Ale (-1, sour)
CMI (Cincinnati Malt Infusers) - Bourbon Barrel Brown
SNAFU (Southern Nevada Ale Fermenters Union) "Belgian Kolsch"
Brewnion Coffee Porter - +1, lots of coffee flavor
Urban Knaves of Grain - Mile High IPA - +1, tasty
Midnight Homebrewers League - Biere de Garde
Minnesota Homebrewrs - Rasberry Muscat Mead - I don't like meads much, but this was decent
BFD (Brew Free or Die) - Hopicidal Maniac - +1 fresh hop blast
ESB - Mandrake - +1 super-unusual, weird flavors
Black Canyon Brewers - PIA IPA
Foam On The Range - Vanilla Porter - -1 very astringent
Hop Barley and the Alers - Ginger Mon - -1 ginger, but not good
Arizona Society of Homebrewers - Double Wit
Randy Mosher (Urban Knaves of Grain) - Saison
Austin Zealots - Fred (barleywine) through a Randall
ESB - Old Hag - -1, not so tasty
Hop Barley and the Alers - double IPA - -1 too strong for this late
nathanjw: (beer)
I just got my score sheets from my entry of the vanilla porter into the National Homebrew Competition, Northeast region. It scored a 32 out of 50. That's officially in the "very good" range, but it wasn't enough to be in the top three of its category and proceed to the second round (there were 23 entries in the category, with score min/average/max of 26/35/43). The judges generally thought it was tasty but too heavy on the vanilla, and could possibly use a bit more malt flavor. Touches of astringency were noted (possibly from the vanilla), and one judge thought there was a bit of a solvent flavor.

Anyway, it's good feedback. Next year I'll use one vanilla bean instead of two, and maybe throw some more toasty/biscuity malts in the mash. A lot of people I've served it to have liked the vanilla flavor, but I think it could be toned down without losing that appeal.
nathanjw: (Default)

  • - Total mall-ville. Local directions are relative to Ikea, Starbucks, and TGI Fridays.
  • - Most roads don't have sidewalks.
  • +/- Hotel provides "trolley" bus service to go 0.4 miles from here to the major mall.
  • - Local indoor mall is 100% predictable.
  • + Local outdoor mall is only 80% predictable.
  • + + Brewpub in local outdoor mall has both good food and good beer.
  • - - - Maryland still permits smoking in bars.
  • - Wayfinding from mall to strip mall to hotel is nearly impossible. Especially after the brewpub.
nathanjw: (Default)
Tonight [ profile] alphacygni and I went to our first beer festival since moving back here, the Beer Advocate Belgian Beer Fest. It was OK, but definitely not as exciting as I had hoped for. Tonight's session was the "Connoisseur Tasting". That meant a much smaller selection of beer, supposedly stranger and rarer stuff, and a smaller crowd. As it turned out, it also meant a lack of entertainment, or information, or anything to do but wander around the Cyclorama while drinking [1]. We didn't feel much like connoisseurs in that environment. It wasn't crowded generally, but all of the spaces near the serving tables were crowded - arguably worse than a normal beer festival, because there were relatively few of them compared to the number of guests.

The beer itself was decent, but hard to enjoy and evaluate properly. Unfortunately, while it makes sense to serve small portions of high-alcohol beers, the combination of the 2oz pour size and the small, narrow glasses made it difficult to get a good sniff and taste of the stuff. Many of the beers tasted extremely similar, more so than I think they would have in better circumstances. For an event focusing on just a few categories - straight-up doubles and triples, saison and biere de garde, and various fruity pseudo-lambics - this was more of a problem, since it's the subtle differences among examples of the style that should be the focus.

The food was excellent - perhaps the best I've had yet at a beer festival: Flemish carbonade, several good cheeses, crackets and crisp breads, sausages, pressed sandwiches, and amazing, crispy-sweet yeast-raised waffles.

Looking at the program, we felt slightly cheated: all of the speakers, including beer-world celebreties like Garrett Oliver, and the much broader (categorically) selection of beers are during the Saturday session. It seems likely that any useful information or material - and, say, any brewery schwag - will only show up then. Tonight's servers were all Beer Advocate volunteers without particular knowledge of the stuff they were (busily) serving. A couple of industry folks were around, like the local representative for Stone brewing, but I wasn't sure if he was a regular guest or if his presence as someone to schmooze with was supposed to be part of the appeal of the evening.

So, next time: regular session, not this "connoisseur" thing - it just takes away too much from what makes beer festivals fun, and didn't add enough to make up for it.

(In small world news, however, I was recognized.... by someone who had been a substitute teacher at TJ, 12 years ago. That's one heck of a memory.)

[1] Well, the cover model for the program was there signing her picture - a nice photo which was clearly trying to replicate the image from Rapscallion Premier
nathanjw: (beer)
Today [ profile] alphacygni and I spent a nice afternoon at the Bookmill. I picked up a paperback copy of The Brewmaster's Table, which is a book that I've been saying for at least a year that I'm surprised I don't already own. After I got home, though, I thought the book looked odd, and indeed, they've changed the cover from the hardback to the paperback.



I know that there are lots of reasons to change the cover of a book. I really hope that one of the reasons was not "The book will sell better without a black man on the cover".
nathanjw: (Default)
Having missed out on the Big Brew of National Homebrew Day last week, I'm declaring tomorrow to be the Little Brew and Local Homebrew Day (here at the Little House in the Big Office Park). I'm going to be making a hefeweizen in my all-grain setup; I expect to get started at about 10am and be done by about 4pm. If it's raining - no problem, I'll put up the canopy.

Everyone's welcome to come by anytime, watch, help, kibbitz, try out the other homebrews I have on tap, and so on. It'll be fun!

Drop me a line or call if you need directions.


May. 4th, 2006 01:40 pm
nathanjw: (Default)
It's that time again. I'll be going on Saturday this year, maybe for one session, maybe for both. Who's game?
nathanjw: (Default)
This ad (quicktime) (described here) is one of the coolest bits of marketing and film I've seen in a while. I might quibble a bit with the idea that Guinness is, in fact, the endpoint of evolution, but beer generally? No argument here.

it is done

Aug. 10th, 2005 09:49 pm
nathanjw: (Default)
I've finished the mug club list. I had to substitute Samichlaus and Panil Barriquée for Dogfish Head Immort Ale and 120 Minute IPA, respectively. The last beer was Dogfish Head World Wide Stout 2003, an excellent beer to end this adventure.

I'll be making a fool of myself reading poetry in public at the bar at about 11pm this Friday. Be there.


Aug. 3rd, 2005 12:12 am
nathanjw: (Default)
Beers remaining in the Moan and Dove mug club list:

Days remaining: 19.

No problem!
nathanjw: (outdrink)
I'm in Baltimore at the 2005 American Homebrewer's Association national conference. It's a blast. Good seminars, good beer, good people. I have become known as "the guy who takes notes", though the way the badges are printed leads people to address you by first name a lot, as if they know you, so I've spent a bunch of time trying to determine if people addressing me have or haven't met me before (last year, or at Boston festivals, like the woman from Rogue who is pictured on the chocolate stout ). The venue is a lot more crowded than last year - in Vegas, a 700-person convention is in the noise (we were about 20% the size of the adjacent casino-chip collectors conference); at the Holiday Inn here, it's a real problem. As usual, the conference makes me feel very young and costal (since so many of the attendees are middle-aged and midwestern); in addition, Baltimore makes me feel very white. It's interesting. The panhandlers here in the Inner Harbor are almost, but not quite, as aggressive as the ones in San Francisco.

Yesterday and today I went to seminars on Brettanomyces, brewer/government relations, yeast flocculation, dry hopping ("Randall is Pliny's bitch"), farmhouse ales, and an 18-way vertical tasting - the same wort fermented with 18 different (Belgian-style) yeasts. Last night had the professional/craft brewer's festival, which was okay but not as over-the-top as last year. The highlight was some two-year-old World Wide Stout from Dogfish Head. After the pro night there was a bus tour to a couple of local microbreweries, includign Brewer's Art, which was an interesting blend of a brewpub, upscale restaurant, and hot basement dance club. The bus never arrived to take us back, so I ended up walking back to the hotel with the guys from Wyeast.

Tonight had the homebrew club festival. The club festival was totally insane, packed to the gills, and full of weird beer. The most exciting setup was that of the Maryland Ale and Lager Technicians (MALT), who had a pale ale on tap by itself, and then the same pale ale forced through four different kinds of hops (Amarillo, Simcoe, Fuggles, and Hallertauer). Randall the Enamel Animal has clearly left its mark on the beer scene.

The art/schwag auction was dominated by the Flying Dog memorial beer for Hunter S. Thompson signed by Ralph Steadman. I bowed out at about $200, and it eventually sold for $300. Someone could probably make a nice profit by flipping that on eBay, but I would think it's just too cool to sell.

And now, lists of too many beers but not enough pictures )


nathanjw: (Default)
Nathan Williams

May 2017

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