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.

Warm Beer, Cold Women

Beer Is Good