Monday, April 23, 2012

I'm Back!

Well, school is finally winding down. In only a few short weeks, I will officially be a college graduate. I guess I'd better start looking for a job...

I apologize for not writing anything recently, but school and parenthood have taken up pretty much all of my time. Now that everything at school is wrapping up, I'm hoping to have more time to write...and there's so much to write about.

I sent my Irish Red Ale to the National Homebrew Competition, and it received a 35 out of 50. This is much more than I could have expected from my first attempt at a competition. Not only that, but I also received some very helpful advice from the judges. Look out world, there's a chance I know what I'm doing now...

The brewing hasn't stopped. In one of my last posts, I mentioned that my next brew was a Newcastle Brown Ale clone. I'm not exactly sure what went wrong, but it certainly doesn't taste like Newcastle. It's not necessarily bad, but there are some off flavors that can't be ignored. I think it's mostly due to poor temperature management during fermentation.

Since my last post, I've also brewed an IPA that is most definitely my best brew yet. This is the first recipe I have ever formulated from scratch (thanks to, and it turned out better than I expected. I utilized Chinook, Citra, and Cascade hops to achieve a strong citrus flavor without being overly bitter. A few tweaks and this one will land on the regular brewing list. Click here for the recipe.

I'm hoping to get a kegging setup as a graduation present (hint), so my next and final step is the move to all-grain brewing. However, extract brewing is working just fine for now.

Hops are in the ground! I had originally decided not to grow hops this year, but a local greenhouse had a few varieties available (Ace really is the place). The selection was pretty limited, so I went with Cascade, a fairly multipurpose hop. Later that same day, I got a free hop rhizome from my local homebrew store. This one is a Galena, which I've never used before. We'll see what happens this fall when I have a ton of fresh hops to use...

Stay tuned! I've got a Pale Ale in the secondary (about to add some brandy-soaked oak chips - yum!), and a Cream Ale that I'll be brewing by the end of the week. I promise I'll start writing more often, and I'll post some pictures as soon as I can!

Monday, March 5, 2012

My other addiction...

It may not be the manliest hobby in the world, but I love it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The First Irish Red

I've never been able to wait an entire 14 days after bottling without sampling one of my homebrews. I did make it until day 8 this time, which might actually be a record.

I honestly think this is my best brew yet. It's got a nice and sweet malty flavor, and finishes with mild hop flavor. I'm really glad I modified the recipe, increasing the finishing hops from .5 oz. of East Kent Goldings to a full ounce. Gives a nice little kick at the end while still maintaining the characteristics of a traditional Irish Red.

I'm going to submit this one to the National Homebrew Competition this year. This is the first time I've entered the NHC, and I'm not expecting much...other than maybe some professional opinions and advice!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bottling Day

Many homebrewers tend to complain when bottling day rolls around. Personally, I love it. Of course, having a utility sink that I can fill with five gallons of Star San helps a ton.

I must say, I'm pretty pleased with the results of this brew. Original gravity was 1.045 and final gravity came in at 1.014, giving us an ABV of just over 4%. The color is a little lighter than I expected, but still has a nice red tint to it. With three weeks until St. Patrick's Day, this beer should be hitting its prime just in time.

My next brew will be a Newcastle Brown Ale clone. I've never used brown sugar in a homebrew before, so I'm eager to see how it turns out. This recipe is entirely DME and specialty grains, which I've also never done before. Hopefully I'll be able to brew this one within the next couple of weeks. But for now...

...54 bottles of Irish Red

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Fridge!

If my fridge were capable of emotion, it would be crying tears of joy...


Sunday, February 19, 2012

More pictures from brew day

As I said yesterday, my wife took a ton of pictures during the brew process. She posted some on her blog, but I've decided to include a few more here.


Action Shot!

Worty Goodness!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brewing an Irish Red Ale

I recently ordered a couple of Recipe of the Month kits from Beer & Wine Hobby, and today I brewed my first one. It's a pretty standard recipe for an Irish Red Ale, using roasted barley to achieve a deep red color. Minimal amounts of hops are used.

Since I have this blog now, my wife-to-be graciously volunteered to document the entire brew process in photographs. During the "boring parts," she got a little artsy, hence the great pics like the one above. Start to finish, the process took about two hours, and at the end she handed me a flash drive with 512 pictures on it. She's nuts and I love her.

Q: How do you keep a three year old out of the kitchen on brew day?
A: Put him in a dark room and give him your wife's iPad.

With the kid out of the way, I started brewing and my wife started taking pictures and asking questions. She had never been around for the whole process before, and I think she kind of enjoyed it (other than the fact that she doesn't really like beer). The best moment of the entire day was when she looked at me and asked:

"So, when it looks like the Bog of Eternal Stench, that means you're doing it right?"


I'm pretty pleased with the results of this brew so far. I hit the specific gravity I was shooting for, and I'm liking the color. I'll let you know in a week or so how it looks at bottling time, after it's had time to clear a little.