Monday, August 22, 2011

A little green

Suz and I sampled the pumpkin spiced ale this past weekend with a friend but it seemed very "green". I'm hoping more time in the bottle mellows it out a bit and the flavors meld and compliment each other. You can definitely taste the spice part, the pumpkin part... not so much. It's drinkable, just not what I was hoping for.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another week

It's only been one week since I bottled up my pumpkin and amber ales and I am dying to give 'em a try. Brewing has been kind of on the back burner for me lately as money has been tight and free hours to do so kind of short. But have no fear, this brewer is going nowhere...... as the saying goes:

relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Forever and a day

Been far too long since I've posted on this here bloggy. I've done all kinds of stuff and drank all kinds of amazing beer since the last time we spoke.

I put the Scary Cherry Ale into secondary on top of the cherry puree and added the Bret Lambicus on top.

I bottled the Blueberry Blonde for Kyle and RP

I had a buddy of mine who has been homebrewing for 25 years on and off tell me that my Scotch Wee Heavy was one of the best beers that he has ever had the pleasure to taste.

I picked up two bottles of this years Firestone-Walker Parabola stout. It says on the label that careful aging will be rewarded so I plan on testing that theory.

I will be putting my Ron's Amber and Pumpkin Ales into bottle tonight and might dry hop my second try at the Decimation.......

so much beer and so little time on this earth.....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Devil of a beer!

I've had a few of my Devil's Nightmare Duvel clone and it's rapidly getting better with age. At first tasting it was pretty hot and solventy from the higher alcohol level, but now after just a few more weeks in bottle it is drinking much differently. It's showing lots of clove and banana from the higher fermeting temps and it's getting that nice crisp and dry finish to it. Last week it seemed more like a Hennepin clone than a Duvel one, not like that's a bad thing though, lol. I have a feeling this one will improve with some age behind it. The brewmaster himself at Duvel Moortgat prefers his own product at the three year old mark, so who knows.

Checking on a berry

I will be sampling my blueberry blonde tonight when I get home to see if it's ready for RP's party this weekend. I'm hoping with the warmer temps we've been seeing this week have hastened the yeast's output of CO2 just a bit. I'm sure it would have been better to let it rest for a bit, but the beer was on a tight time crunch so whatever it is, it is.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cooling the swamp

I went out Saturday with a plan of building some sort of controlled temperature devise/area/box
to ferment my wort in, instead of just letting the tempurature of the condo (first floor cool, second floor warmer, third floor Hades-esqe) determine my fermeting temps. I had read about a couple of designs online and even saw a few pics of various sizes and builds.

My first stop was the local Target to get some bins to use as the chamber itself. How big would I need? I had done some rough measuring with a fermenting bucket complete with airlock and a carboy also with airlock both height and a working diameter as well. I get to the store and have more choices than you can shake a stick at( and I can do a lot of shaking). Large bins, small bins, pink bins but nothing that screamed "buy me". I pulled one of the medium sized ones down and immediately knew it would be both too small and too narrow to house my brewing gear. I tried the next biggest one and this size still wasn't what I was looking for. I skipped two sizes and went to a vastly larger one, a 30 gallon behemoth. Perfect. In fact it was appropriately sized to do two fermenters at once if I got the itch to do that again.

Next stop on my magical tour was Lowe's. I couldn't remeber which was closer to me on the highway on the drive North, them or Home Depot and I don't really have a preference between the 2. I had talked to one of the guys at the LBS and he mentioned something about finding insulation to wrap around my "box" to keep the temp down. But not just any insulation. Who has the space for their fermenting chamber to have a 15 inch ring of fiberglass wrapped snuggly around it? Not I good sir. He told me of a foil and air insulator that is less than a half inch thick but still works wonders. I inquired about it with three of four different Lowe's employees before I talked to someone in lumber who told me that all of their insulations were together in aisle 18.
So I wandered over to said aisle and lo and behold........ Reflectix. A beautiful shiny roll some 25 feet long of the stuff. Just to be on the safe side I bought two and then headed over to the hardware department to find hinges and screws for my project.

I stopped at my morning job to pick up some specialty adhesive to keep the insulator firmly planted to the sides of my "box" and then headed home. It got messy quickly, well anytime there is spray adhesive involved, that sort of thing tends to happen. Luckily for me I was prepared with gloves and a half roll of paper towels. After some more measuring and spraying and cutting and more spraying I managed to get the Reflectix attached and in decent working order. The hinges were a breeze, although I should have stuck to my gut and gotten the 3/4" self tappers I had picked out before I opted for the full 1" version. Oh well. Pics to follow.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Labels and a happy 4th

My buddy Alec was down this past weekend for a bit and we started on the laborious task of finding custom labels/selecting the artwork for said labels. I had wanted to go with a font that was readable from afar but had some life or spunk to it. After searching for a couple hours we settled on one that fit both bills nicely. Not only that but it was on sale to boot! Suzi ended up buying it for me for being such an awesome fiance (blush).

As far as the art style I wanted I hemmed and hawed in my head for a few days and decided on staying local. By consensus we decided that my old hometown just didn't offer enough compelling sights, but Monmouth County (where I've spent most of my life) offered up some varied and beautiful locales. Also in my head I saw the art direction itself being in the Monet inspired impressionist theme. So it would be local sights and scenes but through the impressionist eye.

The sample shots were taken by Alec while visting on his wonderful Canon G10 digital. Many thanks go out to him for his help with all things artitistic.

And a very Happy Independence Day to the U.S.A.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blonde in a bottle

Blueberry blonde that is. I will be throwing Kyle and RP's blueberry request in their proper bottles on Friday hopefully with a little help. It will be 10 days in secondary but it was pretty clean and clear when I racked it, so hopefully she is a ready. I might brew if my buddy Alec comes down just so he can see the whole "process".

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brewing up a monster

So I've decided I will do some brewing tomorrow and it will be the very first sample/test batch of one of the beers I would like to make as an actual brewery. Starting off as a big bold American barleywine and then taking things from there. To get this one where I want it will take several batches and probably several years in the making, but for a delicious beer...... it's worth every day spent. The brewmaster at the LBS said he hadn't heard of what I was attempting so he was pretty intrigued and he will be my speed dial in case I need some obscure brew knowledge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bottle for sure

I will be bottling up the Devil's Duvel clone this weekend and I might brew up a mystery beer given the chance but I'm not sure yet. I forgot to bring home the 18" paper the Cap' gave me to cover my carboys to help prevent UV light damage to my bubbling brews. With them being made of clear glass or plastic it's a wonder that more brews don't get damaged.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our roadtrip

Somewhere along the line I forgot to post about the beer vacation that Suzi and I took 2 weeks ago. It was fun it was delicious but I didn't pick up as much beer making knowledge as I had hoped. I could have sworn that I learned more at the Ommegang tour and I wasn't even brewing then but oh well.

We started off in Rehobath Beach, DE at the Dogfish Head brewpub on the main drag. The food was great but the beer was even better. The brewpub is where DFH distills their liquors that are also sold under the DFH brand. Onto the beers, we ended up doing 2 dinners at the pub Tuesday and Wednesday nights. We had the Sah'Tee, 60 minute IPA, 90 minute IPA, a World Wide Stout from '07, Raison D'Etre, and a couple samples of things like the Lawnmower and Shelter Pale Ale.

The one beer that really stood out at the brewpub was the Worldwide Stout from 2007. At 18% ABV it can and will age much longer but when I had mine is was almost like a tawny port in the glass. So much malt flavor it makes your head spin, lol. My runner up for great beer at the pub was the Sah'Tee on tap. It was a recipe from 9th century Finland that DFH brewed for the first time in '08. They use hot river rocks to warm the wort instead of boiling it. True story.

We made our way over to the DFH brewery in Milton, DE on Wednesday afternoon and was shocked at how many people were there. Some were going on the tour like us but most were just people going and coming to work. They do a quicky tour of the brewery and then do a five sample presentation afterwards. Our five were the Festina Peche, 60 minute, Theobroma and the Sah'Tee with a very small sample of the Palo Santo Marron thrown onto the end. The Palo Santo was my favorite of the offerings at the brewery. My sample was only about an ounce so I didn't get all of the flavor down before I finished but it was heavenly. My sample impressed me enough to buy a case and bring it home with us. I also bought two bottles of the Squall 90 minute IPA which is bottle conditioned and two bottles of the Sah'Tee.

Suz and I got home late on Wednesday night and headed out Thursday afternoon to Brooklyn and their brewery in Williamsburg. It was insanely hot that day and the trek was not fun but we made it there in one piece about twenty minutes before the scheduled start of their "small batch Brewery tour". They call it the small batch because the number of people is limited to about 20 whereas the weekend tours are unlimited and can have as many as a few hundred in the group.
I was delighted by the wonderful use of an old warehouse in the design and build of the brewery and I thought it did wonders to the ambiance. We were shepperded around by Tim and Erin for about 50 minutes and then were given a four beer sample and the glasses we used could be kept by us when we left..... double score. Our samples were of the brown ale, summer ale, number 1 and The Concoction. They used the name concoction because their original name "the Tonic" was not allowed to be used as per the government. The govt. says that 'the Tonic" sounded like it might offer health benefits. Drinking beer is beneficial enough for me, lol.

I was able to score a couple 750ml bottles of my favorite Brooklyn Beer while I was there, the Sorachi Ace. And while it's not quite as good in the bottle as it is on tap, it's still a thing of wonder. YUM! Actually I found out while up in Brooklyn that the Sorachi Ace was being turned into a yearlong offering instead of the six week window it was offered in last year. How scrumptious.

After the tour we headed over to Gold St. where my buddy Alec lives and had dinner there with him. Splendid times had by all. The food was great, the drinks were better and the company was as good as it gets. So all in all it was just a great beer-cation.

Lots of racking

I racked 4 brews into secondaries this morning before work and it was almost more than I bargained for. I moved the pumpkin, blonde, and amber ales into plastic carboys and the decimation IPA into a glass one. I'm going to need a caption on my brew day pics " no auto-siphons were harmed during the making of this wort".

None of the four smelled bad so that's a good sign and the pumpkin ale smelled glorious with it's nutmeg and cinnamon notes. That will be a delicious beer. I was going to attempt to bottle today too, but I realized that my bottling buckets are at Kurt's.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Taking a lil trip

Suzi and I are headed to Rehobath beach today to visit the Dogfish Head brewpub and brewery. Don't be surprised if we don't come back, lol. We're doing dinner at the pub today and touring the brewery tomorrow afternoon. So much incredible beer just sitting there waiting for us to sip it, yum!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Still bubbling away

The two new worts from this weekend are still bubbling like made into my blowoff bucket making quite the racket in the process. I now have 4 count 'em 4 setups with blowoff hoses in case things get a little wacky. Sooo much beer making equipment and so little time!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Long day of brewing, but well worth it

I knew going into it that it was going to be a long brew day, but I undershot exactly how long the day would be, lol. Kurt and I got everything setup and running by about 3P.M. and it was pretty much non-stop action until 11:30P.M. Granted we could have done a few things quicker like not boiling the water to get the chlorine out but I figure just relax and whatever it takes it takes.

My idea of doing two different blonde ales didn't get off the ground since the LBS didn't have enough rye to make the second batch so I chose an amber ale to make instead. It seemed to have a lot of character in the kettle. Both are busy bubbling away as we speak in my new 5 gallon better bottle plastic carboys. I'll be using the better bottles for my quicker beers with short turn around times and leave the glass ones for the big project beers.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Loading up the car

That Toyota of mine is gonna get some use today as I pack him full of beer making goodness. I also need to make a run out to get some ice for the wort chilling process. Guys at work told me to go right to the source for local ice and see how that goes. It will be a lil bit different doing it someplace other than home sweet home, but I'm sure we'll make it work just fine. Stay tuned for all the details

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On tap for the weekend

I will be trying my first double batch this weekend at an offsite location for the very first time. I'll be doing a double of the Haystack Blonde ale with one getting blueberry added at bottling time. The blueberry was a request from my brother Kyle so I will try not to disappoint. He will be home visiting in July so if I don't make it by this weekend it won't be ready and he will punch me in the jejunum.

Sooo many ideas

So I spent a good part of tonight talking with a buddy about my brewing operation. He agrees wholeheartedly that I should aspire to be more and actually turn it into a job that I enjoy. The details don't matter and will get hashed out later on, but I'm jumping into it with more vigor starting today. I'm soo pumped about our little brain cramming session that I won't be able to get to sleep in a timely fashion tonight. I even went so far as to secure the domain(s) that were deemed relevant to my success. Stay tuned for the latest info on Schweers' Beers.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A bunch of books

I picked up a couple more brewing books this week and have not been disappointed. I ordered three of of Amazon and they were delivered 2 day express. I wanted to get a bunch but settled on three that were not "recipe" books but more about brewing itself.

I ended up with:

Brew Like a Monk- Hieronymus
Yeast- White & Zainasheff
Beer School- Hindy & Porter

I've read through most of Beer School and Yeast and just started on "monk" yesterday. All three are terrific reads so far. I wasn't paying attention but I seem to have acquired a stack of brewing books and beer books. Yay for me!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The carboy runneth over

So I woke up late today and wandered downstairs to take a peek at my two news brews. The pumpkin ale in the living room was just starting to bubble a bit in the airlock but when I went downstairs and looked in the beer closet my mouth dropped to the floor. There was yeast and foam and kreuzen everywhere. The top/airlock on the carboy had been shot to the other side of the closet. So I hurriedly cleaned and sanitized what I could and then stuck some hose on the airlock and buried the other end in a bucket of starsan water. What a mess! Put the cap on a brewing weekend gone awry that's for sure.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I got the itch

Brewing again tonight if you are in the area and want to stop by and see the magic happen, lol. I guess I was really inspired by my trip to the CBC on Thursday. It felt great to talk beer and then talk more beer with Jesse. I'm hoping to get down there and watch him brew from scratch so I can see for myself what all grain brewing is about and learn more than a thing or two. On tonight's agenda is a pumpkin ale for the fall since that will be one of the styles BWO will be making for an in house competition. It was either that or an Octoberfest beer and since I can't make lagers yet I'm stuck with the ale. More to follow......

Friday, May 13, 2011

A weekend of brewing

I will be brewing tonight and probably tomorrow night as well after really getting inspired yesterday. I stopped by the new Carton Brewing building in the next town over after work and talked to their brewmaster Jesse. They unfortunately will not have their first beer ready for the start of the summer but it won't be long after that. Best of luck to those guys!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hoping to brew

I'm going to try my damndest to brew again this weekend. I'd love to try the Decimation IPA again or maybe another batch of the blonde ale or Devil's. I don't think I can make the blonde ale fast enough as it seems to be the fave of the brews I have handed out.

I'm also giving serious thought to starting a kegging operation. It just seems like it would be so much simpler than cleaning 80 bottles at a clip, lol. I just need to figure out where to put it.... where indeed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Good ole time at the Ale and Tap house

Today's inaugural BWO brew club meeting went off swimmingly. A nice turn out for the first club event that was visited by one of the guys from Beach Haus Pils. I had 7 different beers before I had to excuse myself from the festivities ranging from a light ESB to a AIPA and a cappucino stout.
Wonderful stuff. Can't wait for get together number two!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Racking and more racking

This weekend I will be racking the Devil's and the Decimation into secondary and tertiaries respectfully. I gave the Devil's an extra week in the primary just to see how it goes from there and the Decimation has been in secondary for God knows how long now. Jr has a tattoo appointment in the PM and I will be at the BWO get together so it will have to be done later in the day.

A delicious blonde

So I batted .500 with the two new brews. The blonde ale is stunningly good while the Scotch ale....
not so much. I mean it tastes good and smells like heaven but is not carbonated one iota. Dunno if I left it in the primary too long on the trub or what could have happened. I wonder if I can fix it?

Onto the Blonde. It turned out waaay smoother than the first batch I attempted. Much less of the rye flavor up front and in your face but just enough to know it's there. Much better job on my and Jr's part. It will be accompanying me to the BWO meeting this weekend. Hope it makes me proud.

edit 7/12/11
The Scotch ale is now a wonder itself. It is a spitting image of the SA Imperial Series Wee Heavy almost so similar it's uncanny. I guess age can do wonders to a beer. Unfortunately for me I only have about six bottles or so left. I guess there's always next years batch.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

BWO in the future?

So I'll be attending the initial gathering of a new local area homebrew club called BWO. Brew World Order in case you might have been wondering. Suz thinks it's a great idea to go to their meet and greet on the seventh of May. They want you to bring homebrew so I'll be packing up the Scotch/Haystack Blonde and bringing them with me. Here's to making new beer friends!

Ommegang at the Taphouse on Thursday

So my favorite local watering hole is having a Brewery Ommegang night on Thursday. I believe four of 5 beers on tap including Suz's favorite Three Philosophers. I'll have to bring my Ommegang growler and fill 'er up with the good stuff.

edit. They did in fact have five different Ommegang brews on tap inlcuding the Gnomegang, Adoration ale, Chocolate Indulgence , Rare Vos and Three Philosophers. The local rep was there along with a couple of guys from the distributor as well. My "beer guy" Bob even managed to make an appearance and tell me he was transferred to another beer store. Such is life. 5/4/11

Don't judge me

So I've been reading my homebrew books this week and I'm toying with the notion of trying to take the BJCP beer judge exam. I think it would expand my horizons quite a bit and most probably make me a better brewer. I think I have 2/3 of the books on the suggested reading list.... now I just need to reread them all and actually study/pat attention to the small details.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eeeeek! Out of homebrew

So I guess I need to start scheduling my beers better because until my Blonde/Scotch ales finish bottle aging, I'm all out of the good stuff. Luckily for me I made a quick detour from the food store today and ended up in one of our local liquor stores and picked up a few items to keep me happy.

I ran into a friend of a friend yesterday who used to brew and we started chatting about good ole fashioned homebrew. He even offered to let me rummage through his gently used equipment and take what I wanted. Although when we finished our conversation I think I kind of rekindled the spark. He will most definitely be invited to our next shindig.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It was a quick one

Well it didn't take long at all for my newest brew to start a bubblin' like mad. I'd say we pitched the yeast around 11PM on Saturday night and when I woke on Sunday morning at 8ish it was already popping. It was by far the shortest of all my lag times. When I left for work today it had already slowed to a bubble about once every 10 seconds. I can't wait to give her a go!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ahh yes, good times

Brewed and bottled last night and it felt great. We made our first attempt at a Duvel-esqe clone named The Devils Nightmare. Very light in body but tons of flavor and alcohol. We used some new equipment in the process courtesy of Suzi's gift certificate that she very thoughtfully gave me the other day. Consisted of a new burner (SP-10) and a 30qt. brewkettle.

We double barreled the bottling as we tackled the Scotch and Blonde ales. The Scotch smelled soooo good, it took alot of self control to not drink it out of the carboy. I'll be giving both of them plenty of time in the bottle to condition, minimum of three weeks. That leaves just the IPA in secondary where it will be for a little while longer before either tertiary or bottle. Stay tuned

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Been far too long

So it's been far too long since I've brewed.... it's gotten so bad that even my girl had noticed. To rectify the situation she went to the LBS and picked up a gift certificate to that most fine of establishments. It will be put to good use this weekend with any luck. I'm thinking another try at the Decimation IPA (that I still have bubbling slowly in a secondary). Or perhaps the beer we had while at the Grand Opening party awhile back. Stay tuned

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Double Rack tonight

Tonight a few compatriots and I will be racking the Scotch ale and Haystack blonde into secondaries. The Scotch has been sitting for awhile, and the Haystack sat for three times as long as my first attempt at it. I'm hoping it turns out three times as delicious! I'm going to have to run to the store and get provisions.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Better late than never

So I totally spaced it and forgot to post after I brewed this past weekend. Jr. came over and we brewed another batch of the Haystack blonde, racked the second batch of the strong Belgian and bottled my Raisinette trappist. We or should I say I managed to bork up the trappist by adding berry extract into the bottling bucket thinking I was bottling the strong Belgian. Hopefully it turns out tasty, if not we have 2 cases to bury in the mud.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"A pint of the black stuff landlord..."

Black stuff indeed. The new scotch ale was ink black about 3 minutes into the brewing process. I'm thinking 6 weeks in the secondary will do it plenty of good. The raisinette trappist has been sitting in one for 6 weeks now and I will pull it out while I'm on vacation. I'll be in Brooklyn this weekend hopefully enjoy many a fine beverage.

Oh, major bonus points to any that can name the movie that the title quote was used in.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brewing with Snappy

So Snappy Joe is going to come on over and help me brew on Thursday night before he goes back to school for the semester. Hopefully neither of us will be snowed in as they are calling for eight to fourteen inches of the white stuff to bombard us yet again. We will be brewing a modified Scotch ale using Irish yeast and a pinch of luck.

Snappy is one of the fellows who accompanied me to my LBS' grand re-opening party they threw this past week. They had homebrew, they had cake and they also had the most delicious root beer that I've ever tasted. It was incredible.... oh and the homebrew wasn't shabby either.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thanks to all who were here

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who showed up for brew night last night. I think it was a gooood time had by all. Made a lil beer, drank a lil beer and introduced some people to the joy of homebrew. Gotta love it!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year brew

I'm going to be brewing tonight with some friends. We're gonna try to make another batch of the Cherry Popping Ale that I first attempted back in November. Also bought a variety of lighter bodied but full flavored beers to taste while brewing/racking/bottling. Can't wait!!!!