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

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Art of Beer Labels


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mash_Sparge Method Survey Results

Here are some results from our club survey of all grain brewers on mash and sparge methods and results. There were 6 responses to the survey.

1.) Most people are getting about 65 – 70 % efficiency. We had one report of as low as 50% and one as high as 80%. Consistency may be more important than the actual number here.
2.) We had 4 people using single infusion mash, one using step infusion, and one using various methods.
3.) We had 2 responses using fly sparge, 3 using batch, and one with no method listed.
4.) Most people are doing a mash out, one not, one I couldn’t tell, and one no response.
5.) Grain beds about 10” deep seemed normal though some people did not answer this.
6.) Sparge water temperatures of about 170 seemed typical although some batch sparge folks infuse with hotter water for mashout though the temperatures seemed to range from 174 to 179 degrees for this infusion.
7.) Most people do not treat sparge water for PH or monitor ph during the sparge though one reported using 5.2 stabilizer in the sparge water and one response indicated sparge water sometimes treated to ph of 5.7 .
8.) Most people sparge until they have sufficient wort volume or use up all sparge water.
9.) The fly sparge people reported that the sparge takes about 30 min for 5 gal batches. The batch sparge people reported shorter sparge times generally around 30 min for 10 gal batches.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Brew Day at the Tin Whisker

Brew day at the Tin Whisker starts out with the careful measuring of the grains to make up the mash.  They are weighed out and put into the hopper of the grain mill where they are ground before adding to the mash tun. 

I use a 10 gallon cooler with a 2 piece filter for my mash tun.
First a mash pad made from a floor scrubbing pad that is cut to fit goes on the bottom of the cooler and covers the outlet of the mash tun.  Next (and this is a very important step!) the false bottom goes in.  In this case it is an old bucket (that has seen a lot of mashes and is showing its age) that has many holes drilled into the bottom.  It is a very tight fit inside the cooler and keeps the grain from clogging up the mash pad and creating the dreaded stuck mash.  Read my last account of brewing a maibock to find out about that.  After the water & grain are mixed well in the tun, the lid is put on & temperature checked.

When its time to sparge and begin run off, I heat the sparge water and add it to the top pot of my rudimentary 3 tier system.  It drains onto the grain bed through a "sprayer" made of pvc.  The tun is draining into the brew kettle at the bottom and flow is controled by adjusting the taps on the tun & pot.

In the case of this brew, and in response to Jeff's question at the last meeting, it took about 26 minutes to collect the 6 1/2 gallons for the boil.  As it became time to add the homegrown cascade hops, I borrowed an idea from Andrew who showed off his hop bag at a meeting earlier last year.  It is a great way to keep the hops from clogging any racking equipment come time to transfer it to the carboy.  It is a 5 gallon paint straining bag held in place through more pvc and suspended over the kettle by, you guessed it, more pvc.

Cool down time for the boiling wort happens in my kitchen sink.  A double sided sink that has cold water in one side that is the bath for the kettle.  A copper coil wort chiller put into the wort with 10 mintes left in the boil is hooked up to the faucet by the tubing of the right of the picture.  The tube on the left is the out-flow, and it runs back into the bath around the kettle.  As the water drains over the divider in the sink I can monitor when the bath water begins to cool down and adjust the amount of flow through the chiller.  Stirring the wort as the cold water flows through the chiller and the cool water circulating on the outside of the kettle brings the temperature down pretty quickly.  It takes about 17 minutes to bring the wort down to about 70 degrees.  Ice can be added to the bath to bring it down even more.

When transfering the cooled wort to the carboy, I run it through a 3 stage filter.  Another 5 gallon paint straining bag is slipped over a large, fine meshed strainer.  That is set an a 1 gallon glass funnel that sets in the neck of the carboy.
Siphoning the wort out of the kettle, you have to keep the tube moving to wash the trub to the bottom of the bag.  I also try to keep the siphon just below the top of the wort in the kettle to keep the runnings as clean as possible for as long as possible  The majority of the trub is caught in the top layer of the bag, but there is always some that makes its way through to the sieve and bottom layer of bag.

This system not only really helps to clarify the wort, but does an excellent job of aeration as well.  From this point I add the yeast, take an OG reading, put in the arilock and wait.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

 Some more labels for your entertainment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January HCHB Meeting

January’s meeting was quite the success. Not only did we have 17 people in attendance (including a new face in Greg Brown), but there were 20 beers brought in to be sampled. Even with all the beer, some business actually got taken care of.

Tom F. kicked things off with his weisenbock and got the business underway. He made the announcement about the preliminary round of the National Homebrew Competition will be in Indianapolis this year for the first time. Usually held in Chicago, this will give local brewers a chance to enter their beers without having to figure out the problems of shipping. Any beers you would like to enter can be brought to the March meeting to be taken down to the Sun City brewery where the judging will be done in April.

Cary K. (aka Tin Man) showed off his beautiful stainless steel bottle carriers he has for sale and opened his Moto GP, a honey pilsner and we decided to use the March IPA competition to pick a winner and pay for an entry in the NHC.

Jeff K. passed around a holiday ale and Brent G. gave us an update on the club bar he is building to be used at big events like the beer festival held at Great Fermentations and the Indiana Brewer’s Cup dinner.

Jeff G. opened his spiced ale that we all first got to try at the Halloween party last Oct. and the talk turned to the bourbon barrel competition. Eric M. went to a Woodford bourbon tasting in Indy. He got a chance to ask some questions about the care & feeding of an oak barrel, and it turns out it may be simpler that some of us may have been thinking. He was told to leave the char alone and there should be no need to re-char it.

Jeff G. passed a pale ale around. There are still some logistics that need to be worked out on the barrel project though. Mike R. is going to pick the barrel up at Winterfest at the end of the month. But where and how the beer will be made to fill it came into question. It was generally decided that it should be fermented and transfered as few times as possible to minimize contamination risks. We also don’t know much about the barrel itself. It’s actual size, how it’ll be stored and what size bung hole does it have. We do know that empty it weighs 125lbs!

Mike & Jason opened their first kegged brown ale. They surprised everyone when they said it was dispensed it into the bottle at 30PSI! What type of beer to go into the barrel was the next question. Stouts & porters are the most common types of ales to be aged in barrels, but do we want to be like everyone else or should we try something that will make us stand out. Tom F. has posted a recipe he got online for a barley wine that should be big enough do well in the barrel. The thing we have to remember is, we only enter 5 gallons of this beer in the competition. That leaves a lot of beer for us to finish off, so it should be something we would like.

We take a break from discussion, and the bottles start popping. Trent M. had 2 versions of the same beer. One primed with corn sugar, the other with DME. There was a noticeable difference and the DME got the popular vote of the two. Tom R. passed his apricot beer and Tom F. had an American Amber. Cary K. opened his Obama Black Cream ale & Eric T. had a honey pilsner. Dan B. had a nice porter and Cary K. had the last of his Big Bang series called Sheldon.

Jeff G. tried to get the meeting back on track by talking about mash efficiency and sparge techniques with an assist from Tom F. Jeff gathered the mash technique questioneers he handed out and will compile a club overview. Then he passed around his IPA. Tom R. sent his vintage porter from our porter competition 2 years ago around. That was followed by Jeff K.'s brown sugar ale and Mike & Jason's American pale ale.

Larry then brought up the status of Ron Smith's MBA class. Ron has agreed to come to Kokomo to do his class if there is enough interest to make a full class. Jon & Chris of the Half Moon are willing to host the class, that will be on 3 consecutive Sundays at a time that has yet to be determined. Information on the class can be found at Larry will continue to make arrangements and keep the club updated on the message board.

Eric T. brought the meeting to an end with his electric lemonade. Fermented Country Time Lemonade. That's it, Country Time & Yeast.

Jon T. then held an impromptu show and tell in the brew house of the Half Moon where several homebrewers could be found looking longingly at all the stainless steel tanks, valves, piping, and dreaming the big dream.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Art of Beer Labels

With a shelf full of folders of beer labels from all over the world.  I thought I would share some of them with everyone.    Maybe we can get some inspiration for our own brews.

Warm Beer, Cold Women

Beer Is Good