Beer Quotes & Wisdom

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline-it

helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear

weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. -- Frank Zappa

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Firkin Much Is That?

If you've ever heard the term firkin, hogshead, butt or tun and wondered what the heck it meant.  Wonder no more.  They are terms used in the UK to describe diferent volumes of liquid.  The descriptions below are in UK gallons.  A UK gallon is 1.2 US gallons.

Pin = 4 1/2 gallons
Firkin = 2 Pins = 9 gallons
Kilderkin = 2 Firkins = 18 gallons
Barrel = 2 Kilderkins = 36 gallons
Hogshead = 1 1/2 Barrels = 54 gallons
Puncheon = 2 Barrels = 72 gallons
Butt = 2 Hogsheads = 108 gallons
Tun = 2 Butts = 216 gallons

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who Says You Use a Freezer to Keep Things COLD?

I keep my chest freezer in the garage. This is less than ideal in the summer when the garage is hot and the freezer has to work extra hard to maintain ale temperatures. But it pays off in the winter. When I brew lagers.
Since the surrounding are in the 30s most of the winter, by adding a small ceramic heater, switching the temp controller from cool to heat, and dialing in my fermentation temperature (48 F) I can use a very small amount of electricity to hold a nice steady temp.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How Many Members to Fill a Whiskey Barrel?

A unique opportunity has presented itself. Anita at Great Fermentations has worked out a deal where our club can get a free Woodruff Reserve whiskey barrel (used only once) for us to age a beer in. This beer can then be entered into a special category at the state fair this coming summer.

The main question we need to ask ourselves (comment here or on the online forum) is can we fill this barrel. How many members are willing to commit to either a big brew or a fermented beer exchange? We can decide on the details later, but we need to decide if we want the barrel by January 1st.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dec. '09 Club Meeting

WOW!  What a meeting!  Of the 12 attendees this month, 33% were new or mostly new to the club.  We got to meet a couple redneck brewers from Galtucky...I mean Galveston who have put the rest of us to shame with the amount of brewing they have been doing.
Cary has done 44 batches this year, and has just moved to all-grain.  He brought 7 beers to offer, all with interesting and very descriptive names.  Not necessarilly describing the beer, but often how he felt when he brewed them.  Bad Thursday, Achen'back Ale, Wild Child, Outlaw Ale ( made with bread yeast!), Big Bang II, Cary3 Cream Ale and (my personal favorite name) Gargleblaster.
Other beers for the evening were;
Tom F. - Brown Ale & Oatmeal Stout
Eric T. - Double Chocolate Porter
Trent (from Swazee, but hasn't connected with the Radimakers)- Hopscotch Ale
Jon S. - Pilsner
Larry B. - Possibly Putrid Pumpkin & RIP Stout
Mike/Jason - Honey Doppelbock, Green Tea II & Holiday Spiced Ale (now 4 years old).
With all the beers to keep moving. it took a while to get to any real club discussions.
Tom F. will still get a prize for the IPA competition coming in March.
We discussed making a portable bar to serve our beer at events like the ones in Broadripple & Great Fermentations.  It would also look good at the Indiana Brewer's Cup dinner.  Brent drew up a quick design and it was decided that it would be best to have our name & logo mounted high over & probably behind the bar so that it would be more visible when people are standing in front of it.  Details still have to be hashed out.
Larry had some stats about this blog.  In the last month there had been 207 visits from 64 different individuals, including 2 from Great Britain.
Eric brought up that the club is represented in a new arts council that is in the process of being formed in Kokomo.
Cary ended up the night with an invitation to Jeff's barn just west of Young America to make a Goat Scrotum Ale.  You can read more about it at;
Larry then brought up the Kokomo Tribune's Best of Kokomo contest that you can vote for your favorite places, people & such.  The Half Moon has been nominated for several catagories and everyone should help out with getting them the Best of Kokomo awards for the year.  You can get to the page by clicking here;
There is still time to make nominations on-line & one category is for Best Teacher, we could have an intramural club competition amongst all the teachers in this club.
January's meeting will be the 18th at 6:00PM at the Half Moon.  Hopefully, we'll get to go over the "Possibly Usefull List of Common Homebrew Terms" Mike had made for this meeting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Brewing Firsts

Brew Saturday 12/19/09

After a morning of running errands a quick lunch with the kids it was off to the garage to brew my IPA. This is my second attempt at extract brewing without a kit. While the grains were steeping I racked my Honey Pilsner to the secondary. I then poured 2 cups of the sludge from the bottom of the fermentor to an awaiting vessel. I covered it and set it aside. This is also my first attempt at re-pitching yeast from a previous brew.

A friend came over who is not a home brewer so it was fun to share a bit while utilizing his extra hands. The brew went great and I can hardly wait to taste the fruits of my labor.
I have been pretty busy for the past few weeks:
1. Brewed Double Chocolate Porter
2. Brewed Honey Pilsner – no kit – first time with liquid yeast pitch
3. Fermenting first batch of mead.
4. Bottled Chocolate Porter
5. Moved Honey Pilsner to secondary
6. Brewed IPA – no Kit, re-pitched yeast from Pilsner
7. Re-pitched yeast is very active in IPA – I just fashioned my first blow off tube and it is gurgling like mad. (Sunday Night 12/20/09)

Looking forward to the brew club meeting on Monday night!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Making the Lager Leap Part II

Have you ever found yourself with nothing to do during the mash?  I didn't think so.  But if you ever want to really fill out your brew day, try a decoction mash. 
I figured that since I am jumping into making lagers with both feet, I may as well jump into the deep end as well.
This is my first attempt at a decoction mash.  After the 3 gallon "starter" lager I did a week & a half ago, this is my first 5 gallon lager.  A doppelbock that required the yeast from the smaller batch to get it started.  In good German fashion, I thought I would do the decoction method instead of just a step mash.

As a quick explanation of the difference between the two.  A single step mash is where you add a specific amount of water at a set temperature to bring the grain to a target temperature.  Then add some more water heated to a higher temp to raise the mash up to mash out temperature (168 degrees).
A decoction mash is where you start out with the total volume of water heated to bring the grain to the target temp.  Then pull off (decoct) a measured amount of the wort and heat it to boiling and add back to the mash to raise the temp.

I did two decoctions.  I heated 7 gallons to 128 deg. to do a protien rest at 122 deg.   
First decoc, I then pulled off 3 gallons and boiled it to add back in to raise the temp to 155 deg. for the saccharification rest. 
Second decoc, another 3 gallons pulled off, boiled and added back for the mash out at 168 deg.
From this point on its business as usual, sparge and boil.
You never have to be bored waiting for the mash again.

During the boil, I transfered the mini-batch "starter" lager from phase I to a chilled carboy to take up residence in the chill box of the Tin Whisker's bar to age at a comfortable 38 degrees for a few weeks. 

I've been carefully monitoring Susie's doctoring of her clear beers, and it appears as though I will be adding 3/4 cup of both lime and (ugh!) olive juice to the respective 1 gallon of lager for each.
Stay tuned for the next phase.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Making a Starter

I am planning on brewing a lager in the next week or so, so I needed to make a starter. Being that I brew 12 gallon batches, and lagers require a big pitch of yeast I started with 2 vials of White Labs Southern German Lager yeast.
I wanted to make as large a starter as possible. My limitting ingredient was my malt extract.

I determined that I had .95 kg of DME.

Using a water to DME ration of 10 ml to 1 gram, I had 950 grams of DME so I needed 9500 ml of water. 9500 ml is the equivelent to 9.5 Liters are about 2.5 gallons of water.

I am lucky enough to have a 3.5 gallon PYREX carboy. Being PYREX I can put it straight on the stove.
I like to heat the water up to boiling, then add the DME to the water in a mixing bowl. A little work with a wisk and it is good to go. A funnel is handy when getting everything back into the carboy.

Everything goes back on the stove for 20 mins or so and once cooled the yeast goes in. Nothing to sanitize other than the airlock.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Now that we have a web presence and are receiving visits from all over the country and even a couple of hits from the UK. I thought that maybe we should explain the club logo as it's the first thing any visitor sees when they open this page.

The Kokomo gas tower had long been the most prominent visual image of Kokomo. It was always the the first thing you would see as you drove into town. Built in 1954, it stood about 370 feet high. It could be seen from beyond the county lines to the north and south.
As a life-long Kokomoan, it was always a sign that I was back home. As a bike rider, it meant you could never get lost on a ride. Just find the tower on the horizon and ride toward it.
New technology made the tower obsolete and due to the high maintenance cost to keep the tower as a landmark, it was decided to bring it down. In 2003 Controlled Demolition, INC. was contracted to do the job. After making some strategic cuts in the structure and the placing of several sets of explosives, the tower was ready to make its final bow.

On Sept. 7th, 2003 at approximately 7:30AM, the charges were set off. A couple of puffs of smoke and several booms were heard and the tower began to lean over and the top began to lift off. In just a couple of seconds, it was gone.

As exciting as it was to see, it was a real heart breaker. Kokomo would never look the same. So in honor of the Kokomo Gas Tower (and the fact that it is shaped like a beer mug), the Howard County Home Brew Club has incorporated it into their logo.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Making The Lager Leap. Part 1

I think almost all home brewers start out making ales. Ales are easy. Ales are forgiving, ales can be made sitting on the counter, or in a closet. Ales must be the males of beer.

Lagers on the other hand must be female. They're mysterious. They're finicky, they have to be at just the right temperature. But not always the same temperature. They have to be kept cool, then warm, then cold. Come on, just make up your mind!

Brewing lagers requires a commitment and they like you to buy lots of things for them. A freezer or refrigerator, a temperature controller, a heated jacket, stir plates, Erlenmeyer flasks...

So getting ready to brew lagers takes some time as a home brewer matures to the point where he is ready to have a relationship with lagers.

But it occurred to me that if the Czechs and Germans could brew lagers before electricity and all the fancy gadgetry, then I should be able to do it too. I started taking the temperature of different parts of my house to find "just the right spots" to keep my lager happy. The garage, the basement, upstairs, a back bedroom closet. There's enough variation that I think I am ready to make the lager leap.

So I'm jumping into the deep end with both feet. The first attempt is two-fold. I am making a 3 gallon Lite American Lager to build up the yeast for the next two beers, a doppelbock and maibock.

Lager #1 is also an experiment to satisfy my wife's penchant to adding things to her clear beers. She likes to add either lime juice, or olives to her glass. The lime is already being done by the mega-breweries so I guess it isn't all that odd.

But the olives is just not right. I must admit, it does create an interesting effect though. Add some basic cocktail olives to a glass of lite beer and they will bob from the bottom of the glass to the top and back again. Its kind of a beer lava lamp.

So batch #1 will be divided into three 1 gallon batches after fermentation. One will remain unadulterated as a control. One will have lime juice added to it at bottling, the last will receive an injection of olive juice as it gets bottled.

I'm monitoring the amount of the flavorings she adds to a single glass of beer so that I can scale it up to the one gallon volume. I also tell her that if she drank real beers that already had flavor, she wouldn't have to add anything like juices or olives.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ultimate Pedal Powered Vehicle

Here is something every homebrew club needs.

Brewing the Best of Show at BRBP

In response to popular demand (one request), I will now recount my brew day at the Broadripple Brewpub and the brewing of 2009's Indiana Brewer's Cup BoS, Susie's Sweet Stout.


The day started early and I had no idea what to expect as I pulled into the parking lot of the BRBP. Having been told that one of the perks of winning Best of Show was that your beer would be brewed at the brewpub. I kind of figured it meant that I would basically get to be present as it was done.

The door to the brewery was open and stuck my head in to see nobody around, so I went into the bar area where I was introduced to Kevin Matalucci the head brewer. I had the final bottle of Susie's Sweet Stout with me for him and in order to see what it was like, he opened it and we had a taste. Considering it is basically an oatmeal stout with lactose (milk sugar), it made a great way to start the day. Beer, its not just for breakfast anymore.

Kevin led me back into the brew room and gave me a tour of all the cool stuff then asked if I was ready. I said "sure", and he handed me a 55lbs. bag of grain and told me to put it up on a platform about 5' high next to the mash tun. Not necessarily an easy task for a 5'6" person to do. You can't really push a limp sack of grain. He then had me climb up onto the platform and told my the knife to cut open the bag was on top of the tun next to the port.

I was beginning to suspect that I wasn't just going to be an innocent bystander. He told me to take the knife, cut open the bag and put the grain into tun. This process was a bit easier as the opening in the tun was only about 4' off the platform.

By the time I had dumped the bag in, there was another bag behind me. About 400lbs. of grain later, Kevin said it was time to measure out the specialty grain. Up another set of steps to the scale & milling room and it was time to stir the mash. He handed me a hoe and what seemed about a day & a half later, I had sufficiently mixed up the 550lbs. of the once dry grain that was now wet and much heavier.

During the mash, Kevin showed me some more cool stuff and let me try to use the tri-clamps. Here's the sign of a pro. He could whip those things on with one hand, I could of used three.

He showed me where the secret button is to turn on the pump to fill the kettle (its about ten feet off the ground and you reach it with a pole). And after a couple of practice pokes, I was ready for the next step.

After attaching the sparge ball to the top of the mash tun and sparging, the transferring from the mash tun to the boil kettle was a 2 step process. The trick was balancing the flow out of the tun with a valve into a collection tank and running the pump with the 10' pole to send the wort to the kettle. Taking an OG reading and with a full kettle at boil with the first hop addition, there was not much to do but eat lunch. A braunschweiger & bacon sandwich was fantastic!

More hops, then it was time for Kevin to do some work. Due to insurance legalese and stuff, I wasn't allowed to handle the industrial strength sanitizers. So Kevin did some more one handed tri-clamp tricks and started the severe cleansing process of the fermentation tank. He transferred the yeast from it's tank to the newly cleaned primary. He also handled all the connections for the boiling hot wort as it was sent from the kettle, through the chiller & into the fermentation tank.

I made the mistake of asking him what he did with all the spent grain. He had me follow him around to the other side of the building, where there were many big trash cans. He told me to grab 4 empty ones and take them into the brew room. He handed me the rake again and said the spent grain goes into these trash cans where its picked up for cattle feed. Opening up the door on the side of the mash tun revealed a very thick bed of wet grain. I started to rake it into a trash can until it was full and d-r-u-g it off to one side.

As I was filling the 3rd can, I realized that I could get all that was left in the tun into it. There was a perfectly good empty can that Kevin apparently thought I would need sitting there, and I began to wonder just how full I was supposed to make them.

Apparently about 33% less than I did . I don't know what the percentage gain 550lbs. of dry grain increases by when it has been soaked for an hour, but if you divide that by three, its a lot! Its a good thing they had a hand cart to move the cans back around to the other side of the building.

But the day wasn't done yet. Next was time to clean out the mash tun. Lots of spraying, moving the false bottom out, more spraying and putting the false bottom back in and there was nothing to do but wait for the tapping party.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable and exciting experience. Kevin is a great guy to spend the day with, and I sure have a greater appreciation for brewpub brewers, doing this day after day to allow us to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Blessed is she who gives birth to a brewer.

You can read my account of the tapping party at the blog for the Barnhart Barista & Group Therapy, in the October archive.

Stay tuned for the upcoming adventures of my 1 year of fame and the brewing of Susie's Sweet Stout at the Half Moon in January.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's Brewing

Two weeks ago I decided to brew a chocolate porter with a lot of chocolate. I decided to look a recipe up online this time so that I didn't have a repeat of the "Uber Clover Fiasco". I used a chocolate porter and added brown sugar and a pound of chocolate, ground into fine pieces so that it would melt quickly and not burn on the bottom.

It took a few days for the yeast to kick in but it was bubbling fiercely and I am looking to bottle it all in time for Christmas.

I am planning on brewing one of my first non-kits tomorrow. I am again "loosely" utilizing a recipe from the internet and after some great advice from my brew club peers have purchased some specialty grains to add into my Honey Pilsner. I received my shipment from Northern Brewer yesterday. I figured while I was shopping and utilizing Honey I will attempt to make a gallon of mead as well. Looking forward to a day of brewing.
Happy Brewing to All!!
Eric T.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beer Gem

Let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Erik Markov, and my first club meeting was in September. I've talked to some of you but probably haven't met everyone yet. Larry invited me to attend because I enjoy good beer, despite the fact that I don't actually brew beer. -1 for not brewing, but I'm a photojournalist for the Kokomo Tribune and know how to take creative photos of beer, so I figure that's a plus +2.

I thought I would let everyone know about the little beer gem I found today, in Rossville of all places. Rossville is located about 15 miles east of Lafayette on State Road 26. I was on my way back from spending Thanksgiving in Chicago (after already buying more beer than I need right now) and saw a sign outside the small liquor store in Rossville, stating the store had 50 beers available and the beer sale was still going on. Whaaa? After making a quick U-turn I pulled into the lot.

The store is on the west side of Rossville in a little strip mall with an IGA grocery store and a hardware store. There was a nice display of 12 packs of Christmas/winter beers near the cash register. Saranac, Brooklyn, Harpoon, fairly impressive for a small store. Towards the back there are two coolers that hold single bottles for sale. Singles. Amazing.

Don't know what the prices were exactly, probably $1.75-$2 I would guess. They might have had 50 beers total I guess, I think that might be an overestimate some. And some of those beers were Bud, Bud Light, Shock Top etc. So after eliminating those of course, they still had a nice selection. Three Floyd's Gumballhead, Upland's Rad Red, Bell's Christmas Ale, a couple from Barley Island, some Magic Hat.

The beer on sale was a cooler with bottles on ice. Some Shock Top, Pacifico, Bud, Sam Adams Octoberfest. Nothing too exciting there, but that could change with time, who knows?

I ended up buying a Bell's Christmas Ale and a Barley Island Brass Knuckles Oatmeal Stout. It's been a while since I had the Christmas Ale and the Brass Knuckles was a new one for me.

Anyway, just thought I would let everyone about this little diamond in the rough. Not the selection of Indy stores, and if you were in Lafayette I think there are a couple stores that have decent selections of singles. But for anyone who remembers at the last minute they need a couple singles of some interesting beers for dinner maybe, this is a convenient spot to check out. And I don't think the beers will sit very long. Many of the offerings are the breweries typical beers they make, but there are several seasonal selections, such as the Christmas Ale. Should turn over fairly regularly I think.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alpha Acid Test - A Hoppy Event

My Daughter, her husband (coolcliff), and I attended a beer tasting event at Lafayette Brewing Company yesterday. The format was an interesting one. Ten beers were on hand, all identical with one small exception. All ten beers used in the tasting event were brewed in a single batch using a single 60 minute addition of Chinook hops. The resulting beer had 60 IBU's, and I would have classified it as an IPA. That single batch was then split into ten separate batches. All ten batches were fermented under the same conditions using the same yeast, same temperatures, same time. Every effort was made to make all ten batches of beer identical. Sound like an interesting tasting event? Ah, but it was!

The only difference between the 10 batches of beer was what hops were used in a dry hop. The amount (by weight) of hops used in the dry hop was equal in all cases (3 oz. per firkin or if the beer would be served from a half keg, 4 oz. - roughly equivalent.) One of the beers had no dry hop at all, but instead served as the "control". Six of the ten beers were served from firkins, the remaining four from kegs. The hops used in the dry hopping which were served from kegs included Centennial, Chinook, Warrior, and Amarillo. The "base" beer was also served from keg. Served from firkins were a couple of hops I wasn't at all familiar with, along with a few old favorites. The unfamiliar hops in the firkins included Saphir, First Gold, and Ceria. The more familiar hops included Czech Saaz, Styrian Golding, and U.S. Fuggle.

Now for the tasting. The beers were set up so samples would be drawn first from the base beer, and then progressing toward beer with more intense hop notes. The last three beers in the sampling line were in order Warrior, Chinook, and finally Centennial. As I am a fan of citrusy, intense hop flavors I preferred the "end of the line" hops. The Chinook hopped beer was my favorites. The hops used in the firkins imparted much more subtle aromas, good, just not what I expect in an IPA. I have to admit I was unimpressed with the First Gold, Ceria, and Saphir hopped beers, perhaps because I was expecting, or perhaps hoping for, more intense citrusy notes.

I was somewhat surprised the event was not more well attended. Perhaps 40 beer fans participated, and I suspect most of those were THC members. The event might have been better suited to homebrewers hoping to gain an appreciation for the subtleties of various hop varieties rather than those who are simply beer consumers. That might have limited the participation somewhat. The servers were absolutely awesome, knowledgeable and friendly. Serving was quick with only short waits. Pizza and a couple of other snacks were served and were tasty as well. The room was spacious and comfortable with LBC's typically worn decor.

The bottom line was that the event was educational for me and I drank a lot of good beer. If another event like this were held I would be likely to attend.

Beer Tasting at Soupleys

What an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so. Friday afternoon Soupleys on Dixon had a FREE beer & wine tasting. Susie and I went immediately to the beer section and were met by Blake Montgomery who said we needed to start with the 4 beers from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. Starting with their IPA (which is wonderful), then moving through the Saison, Belgian Triple and Quad. All are excellent, Blake knows beer.
While working through this flight, Eric T. showed up and got involved. Matt D. and Shannon both were seen there as well. Matt, being there to apparently start at the bottom and work his way to the top, was actually spotted trying a Bud Select 55. I guess he was just thirsty.
I talked to two new prospective club members. Alan Girton does actually brew now and he put the next meeting date in his phone. Soupleys beer man, Jimmy Land, also expressed interest in giving brewing a try at some point. He's got an open invitation to my next brew day.
But I digress. New Belgium Brewery and Goose Island had some very fine beers to offer as well. 2 Below and Mothership Wit from New Belgium and a very nice IPA from Goose Island were a couple of personal favorites.
On a completely different note, the biggest surprise of the event for me was in the wine department. A chocolate wine, served warm was outstanding! On the other hand, the bubblegum gin should be left alone.
A very enjoyable event all in all, and its good to know that some very fine beers are now available in Kokomo.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Technical Enough For Yha!

I know we have some members that like to get very technical in their brewing process.
Recent shows include a talk on beer clarity and beer color. If you like geeking out on beer you will get your fill here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Theoretical Malt Yields

Here is some information on typical barley malt theoretical yields that I found at John Palmer's web site. He had listed these as maximum yields. In this case maximum = theoretical.

Typical Malt Yields in Points/Pound/Gallon

Malt Type Theoretical Yield

2 Row Lager Malt 37
6 Row Base Malt 35
2 Row Pale Ale Malt 38
Biscuit/Victory Malt 35
Vienna Malt 35
Munich Malt 35
Brown Malt 32
Dextrin Malt 32
Light Crystal (10 - 15L)35
Pale Crystal (25 - 40L) 34
Medium Crystal (60 - 75L)34
Dark Crystal (120L) 33
Special B 31
Chocolate Malt 28
Roast Barley 25
Black Patent Malt 25
Wheat Malt 37
Rye Malt 29


Mashing and Sparging Techniques

At our upcoming December club meeting we will be discussing mashing and sparging techniques and how they might affect yield or brewhouse efficiency. As part of this discussion for the all grain brewers please come prepared to report on the following for your brewhouse:

1.) For a "normal" gravity beer (let's say less than 1.070 or so) what is your typical efficiency? See my earlier post for information on how to calculate this.

2.) What mashing method do you use? Single infusion, multi-step, decoction, more than one method, none of these (describe)?

3.) What method do you use for mashout? Add heat, add hot water, recirculate wort through a heat exchanger, other (describe), don't do a mash out?

4.) What is your sparge method? Batch (how many rinses, do you stir?), fly, other(describe)?

5.) How deep is your typical grain bed during sparge? 5", 10", 20", etc.?

6.) Do you acid treat your sparge water or moitor runoff ph?

7.) What sparge water temperature do you use?

8.) How do you decide when to stop sparging? Run out of sparge water, collected enough wort, Runoff gravity, Runoff ph, other (describe)?

9.) How long does a typical 5 gal sparge take in your brewhouse? 10 gal?


Mash Efficiency Calculation

So how is mash efficiency calculated? Well, each grain has a theoretical yield that is specified by the malt house. Actually there are more than one yield specified and these yields differ by the coarseness of the grind and moisture content. But the one most often used by homebrewers is the fine crush dry yield. This yield is specified in gravity points per lb per gallon of wort. If you have purchased malt in 50 or 55# bags you will find this yield on a label usually attached to the bag. If you don't have the specific theoretical yield for the grains in your brewhouse you can just use the typical values that are widely published for each type of brewing grain. Your brewhouse efficiency is then calculated as a percent of the theoretical yield. Most brewing software can do this calculation for you. Following is an example of how this calculation is done.

The following grains were mashed:

* 4 lbs. Pilsner malt, theoretical yield 37 points/lb-gal
* 2.5 lbs. Munich malt, theoretical yield 33 points/lb-gal
* 14 oz (0.86 lb) Cara-Vienne, theoretical yield 34 points/lb-gal
* 2 oz (0.13 lb) Cara-Munich, theoretical yield 34 points/lb-gal

The final volume was 3.5 gallons, at a specific gravity was 1.058. So what was our efficiency?

Well, if we had perfect (100%) extraction, our total gravity points would have been:

( 4 x 37 ) + ( 2.5 x 33 ) + ( 0.86 x 34 ) + ( 0.13 x 34 ) = 264 points

Dividing by the volume of wort gives us 264 / 3.5 = 75 points; this means that -- in a perfect world -- we would have expected to get a specific gravity of 1.075. But our actual gravity was 1.058, so our efficiency is 58 / 75 = 0.77, or 77%.


November Meeting

The project for this month was spiced beer. Several examples were brought in, but before they were tapped, a little business was done.
This year's Indiana Brewer's cup winners (Matt, Jeff, Larry & Jon were all present) got a bit of an ego boost when it was pointed out that this year's competition was one of the largest in the country!
Next year's meeting formats will be divided up into 3 types of meetings.
  1. Informative - a set topic for discussion
  2. Competition - everyone brew a specific style, i.e. porter, pale ale, IPA
  3. Homebrew Evaluation - Detailed scoring & organized tastings of what we've brewed.

Jason & Mike were given the task to create a glossary of brewing terms in response to bringing up that they were a bit confused by the terminology when they got started brewing. At the December 21st meeting, they will have some info on sparging methods for a "How do you sparge" discussion. Tom will use some of the club's funds to get a bargain beer kit to use as a prize for a later club competition.

Probably in March as it was decided to be an IPA project meeting. Jon Templet gave us an interesting discourse on the history of and the brewing of IPA's. Adding gypsum to the water, using any high alpha hop early in the boil to get the IBU's up and choosing a good aromatic hop for the end boil were the high points of his talk. Tom then passed around an easier to use rating sheet for the spiced beer tasting.

Larry started off with the absolutely wrong beer he brought from home. Instead of the Possibly Putrid Pumpkin Ale, he pulled the wrong tap handle and had a bottle of Susie's Sweet Stout. It was considered a "good" mistake.

Tom then opened up a proper entry with a vanilla oatmeal stout. He added a vanilla syrup to the already conditioned stout after experimenting with an eye dropper and measured samples of beer to get the proper concentration. Very sweet, it would make a good apertif, and suggeted using vanilla extract instead of syrup to cut down the sweetness.

Jeff then passed his Holiday ale that he also had taken to the Halloween party. One month was not very kind to the beer. The spiciness had been replaced by an unidentifiable aroma and had quite a tart finish. The question of whether it was time or the bottles that brought about the change was discussed.

Jason & Mike then opened their cloved-up beer that was definitely quite clovey, but very drinkable. When it was brought up that the clove might mellow out a bit over time and it would be interesting to taste it again at a later date, we were told that it probably won't last that long.

Then came the moment we were all masochistically waiting for, the opening of Eric's uber-clove pumpkin ale. Ever since we heard about it at the Halloween party, there has been a curious sense of dread to see how this would turn out.
After hearing how Tom used a scientific method to determine the amount of concentration of syrup to add. Jeff & Larry use measured amounts of spices in their brews. Even Jason & Mike carefully measured their heavily cloved beer. It was a bit of a shock to hear how Eric just kind of started dumping whole cans of clove & cinnamon into the boil.
If anyone needs any clove extract, I know where you can get about 5 gallons of it.

We had a bit more of Jason & Mike's clove beer as a way to come down smoothly from the clove overload. Something like the decompression needed to prevent the bends in deep sea divers.

Matt then ended the meeting with his hard cider that he will be entering in the State Fair next year.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

AHA New Website

The American Homebrewers Association has launched their new website. The link is listed to the right. It is designed to be more interactive and very educational for all levels of homebrewers. How to's, Pimp my system, recipes, Homebrewopedia, competitions & results (including Best of Show for the 2009 IN. Brewer's Cup) and much more.
Well worth a look and adding to your favorites.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Good Homebrew Reading

I'm looking for suggestions on good sources of information for homebrewers of all abilities.
I just ran across the BeerSmith blog that has some excellent info on all aspects of brewing. From growing hops & mashing methods, to the Burton Union Blow-off.
I know, I'd never heard of it either, even though I have done a version of it. I can now amaze other homebrewers with the depth of my knowledge when I tell them I use the Burton Union Blow-off instead of telling them I stick a hose in the top of my carboy.
I've put a link to the right side of this page for the BeerSmith blog, go take a look.
If you have any web sites or blogs you follow, let me know and I can add them here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Party 2009

The 2nd annual HCHBC Halloween party was another grand success. It was a clear cool evening at Sean and Stacy's lovely home. After a questionable day of rain, the sky cleared up, the sun shone brightly before setting and the stars came out. And then the temperature began to drop. We were all quite thankful that Sean was able to get his fire going after a shaky start with some damp wood.

Costumes were back this year in response to last year's chiding by Larry & Susie about coming to a Halloween party and not wearing a costume. Interestingly enough, none of the 5 from last year wore a costume this year. This year we had Elwood Blues, Michael Vick, a barbarian and his victim, some white trash and I think I even saw a mime.

There were many interesting discussions throughout the night. We learned all about Jon's quasi-portable kegerator/workbench. And we had a lively discussion on whether or not an entire jar of whole cloves in a 5 gallon pumpkin ale might be just a tad too much. This last discussion was done while having a couple of nice spiced ales from Jeff and Mike & Jason. Jeff said he added his spices at the last minute of the boil. Mike said they put 2 tsps. of cloves in for 30 minutes and it came out very clovey. So an entire can for the full 60 minute boil might be a bit extreme. We then went into a discussion on what to do to prevent a potential clove overdose from a single glass of pumpkin flavored clove beer.

All in all, a good time was had by all. There was plenty of good food, beer and camaraderie. We will all look forward to next year's Halloween party.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Howard County Homebrew Club's next big step

This could be the next step for the club. It has been talked about getting a web presence before with little response, only one attempt with little to no support. So here's another chance to get the ball rolling. From this blog, we can report to all on the activities we have, share photos and allow responses and comments.

I have put up the post on the Broadripple Brewpub's tapping of Susie's Sweet Stout on the 17th to give an idea of what can be done.

It could become a useful tool along side the message board.

I got the idea from Bob Osterand who writes the blog for Indiana Beer who I met at the tapping. He reports on the beer events he attends around Indiana.

We can also link to other blog feeds of interest to the club, and maybe have some link back to us.

Do you think this is something we would like to keep and develope? Leave your comments.

Larry's Big Day

It was a record for the Broadripple Brewpub for the tapping of a Best of Show beer! As best as we could count, 48 people attended the event. Coming from as far as Wisconsin to help Larry & Susie celebrate the tapping of Susie's Sweet Stout, this year's Best of Show award winning beer from the Indiana's Brewers Cup.
As the first pint was pulled from one of the brewpub's two beer engines, a steady stream of people began to arrive. Kevin, the head brewer of the Broadripple Brewpub, provided a complimentary pint to everyone to kick off the festivities and then brought out a fine assortment of munchies for the growing throng.
The biggest surprise of the day was when Susie's brother Rick, his wife and two of their friends walked in after making the drive from Waterford, WI. that morning.
In addition to the Wisconsin group, 4 members of the Howard Co. Homebrew Club, 3 past co-workers (including Nick their boss), 2 Break Away Bicycle Club members, the majority of the Barnhart Barista & Group Therapy and several Indiana Beer dignitaries were in attendance.
The stout brewed by Kevin & Larry turned out fantastic, especially when served through the beer engine. It gave the beer a smooth creamy quality that can't be duplicated with the traditional method of serving with just CO2.
Thanks to all who came out to make this one of the high points of the year for me. I was surprised by the turnout and hope you enjoyed the beer and had a good time. Thanks to Kevin and the Broadripple Brewpub for providing this experience and for those of you who couldn't be there, I highly recommend you get to the Broadripple Brewpub and have a Susie's Sweet Stout before its all gone! I know quite a bit of it disappeared yesterday.

Warm Beer, Cold Women

Beer Is Good