Friday, June 9, 2017

I have played along for too long now. Enough is enough.

{June 9th, 2017}

The craft beer boom has been a real thorn in the side of crap beer producing mega-conglomerates for a while now and none of them are taking action more aggressively than AB-InBev. Through brewery acquisitions, supply chain disruption, and control of beer related press AB-InBev is waging a war against small independent breweries across the world. For many of us, craft beer is a large part of out lives and we must decide how involved we are in the realm of craft beer.

"If the beer is good, I'll drink it." -my old view

I tried to stay out of the politics of my hobby for a long time. But recent moves by AB-InBev have forced me to re-think my position. At first, AB-InBev started getting into the distribution of craft beer; at some point, they realized that the trend was here to stay. I was ok with that. Soon after, they released some "craft beers" of their own. Some of them were actually really good if we're being honest. Many of the great beer lovers wouldn't buy it and crap beer drinkers wouldn't try the new offerings. The AB-InBev "craft" brands failed with a few exceptions. AB-InBev then started buying up small craft breweries. I was ok with that at first. Breweries are businesses after all. When Elysian sold I started to be a little concerned but it wasn't that big of a deal. AB-InBev purchased Northern Brewer, a homebrew supply shop, and the alarms started sounding for me. That is when I realized how far the conglomerate was willing to go to disrupt the craft beer movement.

Craft beer nerds went into full meltdown mode when AB-InBev purchased Wicked Weed Brewing out of Asheville, NC. Frankly, the reaction was ridiculous and over the top. Soon after AB-InBev purchased the hop yards of South Africa and immediately cut off the South African hops hop supply to any company that was not affiliated with them. This was and is a direct disruption of the supply chain. Northern Brewer touted the South African hops in their latest catalog with an over priced grab bag of hops and expensive homebrew kits. I wasn't much of a fan of Northern Brewer to begin with. I always found their shipping times to be too slow compared to their competitors such as MoreBeer, Adventures In Homebrew, Label Peelers, Great Fermentations, and others. Now Northern Brewer is dead to me.

The latest AB-InBev news is about their purchase of part of popular beer rating website In fact, the purchase was made months ago but only recently announced. Many of the craft brewing industries leaders are voicing their concerns about AB-InBev owning RateBeer. Not only does AB-InBev have their foot in the door in the ownership, supply chain, and distribution of craft beer, now they are in on craft beer related journalism. Sam Calagione,
the well known President of Dogfish Head Brewery, is leading the charge against this latest acquisition. Citing conflict of interest and issues with journalistic integrity. Dogfish Head has asked RateBeer to remove all of their beer reviews and mentions from the site. Many other breweries are following suit. You can read Sam's letter be clicking HERE. PASTE Magazine posted a good article about this that you can read by clicking HERE. RateBeer is reportedly ignoring breweries requests to remove them from the site. Personally, I have always preferred Beer Advocate and Untappd. Ratebeer is a meeting place for trolls and fanboys and those who thought they were a cicerone but can't tell the difference in a hoppy pale ale and a double IPA.

I'm ok with playing hardball business. What I am not ok with is using power and slimy tactics to snuff out small businesses just to appease stockholders. In a perfect world, AB-InBev would realize the potential of small craft breweries and instead of trying to squash them AB-InBev would capitalize by helping with distribution. I have drawn my line now. I will no longer knowingly purchase AB-InBev affiliated or owned products whenever possible. No more purchases from Northern Brewer, or Goose Island, or Elysian, or Wicked Weed, or Devil's Backbone, or any of their other affiliates. I'm not arguing that everyone should boycott AB-InBev products or even care. I am saying that everyone should draw a line in the sand and stick with it. If you're are against AB-InBev be sure not to line up for Bourbon County.

I could cite more to back-up some of these facts but a quick Google search will lead you to good sources.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

NEIPA, Wait.....What?

Original photo courtesy of Bearded Iris Brewing.
The New England India Pale Ale has certainly taken the craft beer world by storm. The juicy, delightfully hazy, soft characters of the style send us beer nerds into a frenzy. To beer purists, the style is an abomination but very few of them would denounce its appeal. Personally, I love most examples of the style that I have had the pleasure of drinking. I hate the name though.

New England India Pale Ale, or NEIPA, doesn't make much sense. If you have found this post you probably already know the history of the India Pale Ale. If you aren't in the know read up HERE. NEIPA suggests a variation of a variation of pale ale; don't we already have enough of those without adding two regional descriptors to a style name? If the IPA is a variation of a pale ale wouldn't the New England India Pale Ale just be a New England Pale Ale, or NEPA? Drop the 'India;' these beers aren't brewed for a long trip. The Brewer's Association recently released it's 2017 style guidelines. The NEIPA isn't in there yet.

The trend of making soft, hazy, hop forward beers isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Bearded Iris out of Nashville, TN recently released Light Beam. It is a hoppy pilsner but it drinks like a big juicy pale ale. It's absolutely delicious. The trend has taken the nation by storm. The haze is being brewed all around the country now and as a lover of hops, I'm thrilled.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Big Brew 2017 Fail

Enjoying a Bearded Iris Homestyle IPA from a plastic cup during the boil.
Our local club, The Barley Mob Brewers of Chattanooga, had a nice Big Brew 2017 event behind Sigler's Craft Beer and Cigars. I brewed one of the six (maybe seven) batches that we did that day. We all brewed extract kits. I opted for the AIH "Polish" Ale kit which is essentially a Kölsch with Polish hops. I was thinking that the beer would be ready for the hot summer days that are just around the corner.

Yep, I managed to mess up an extract batch. I chose to do a full volume boil instead up just boiling half up the volume and topping up in the fermenter. It just looks cooler and my burner/keggle combo has a very high boil off rate. While collecting water I realized that I shorted myself by one gallon so I added it. I then got distracted and added the forgotten gallon again. OOPS! I didn't realize what I had done until after my final hop addition. I chilled and collected 6 gallons of wort and I collected an additional gallon into growlers to use as starter wort for the WLP090 that I'm going to build-up.

Now I have a fermenter full of 1.034 wort that should have been 1.054. OUCH! I put the fermenter in the 37 degrees Farenheight in the walk-in cooler at the store that hosted the event while I contemplated what to do. I can either boil up more extract and add to the batch or just "let it ride." It's a session beer but I'm going to just "let it ride." The plan is to pitch the S-23 yeast and let it do its thing at 65 degrees. The 20 IBU beer should have been 5.4% abv but I'm probably going to get something more like 3.8-4% abv. I'm chocking this up to a learned lesson. I still expect a tasty and refreshing beer. I will sample before bottling and will dry hop to add some flavor if needed.

Because I failed I will have to attempt this batch again. AIH has an all-grain version of the kit so I will be brewing that soon. I will update this post when the beer is ready to be sampled. Until then....Cheers!

Update 5/23/2017: After fermentation, a diacetyl rest, and some cooling to 66.5°F I took a gravity reading. It came in at 1.006 after adjusting for the sample temperature, or 3.7% abv. I'm OK with that considering the issues laid out above. The flavor is very light and reminds me of an American Lager with an ever so a light citrus finish. The body is very thin and I'm hoping it improves some with carbonation. This beer will sit in the fermenter for a few more days before cold crashing and bottling. I wasn't sure about the S-23 but after the sample I tasted I might be a fan. We will see after this batch is conditioned.

Update 5/24/2017: I'm still thinking about dry-hopping this batch to add a little flavor to this very light beer. If I proceed I will use Idaho 7 Hop Hash. Unsure, of how much to use I turned to r/homebrewing. You can read that conversation HERE.

Update 5/29/2017: I decided to proceed with dry hopping. One ounce of the Idaho 7 Hop Hash was dissolved into 4 oz of vodka and heated to 160 F. The warm hop slurry was pitched into the fermenter immediately. If the hop aroma and flavor is lacking on bottling day I will make a hop tea and priming sugar solution with Mandarina Bavaria and add it to the bottling bucket.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017

Recipe:Huntress IPA version 1.0

I set out on a mission to develop a personal favorite IPA the is strictly something that I want to drink, a "house" IPA if you will. I wanted the beer fairly simple and fast with a low cost to brew. Bell's Two Hearted is an IPA that I love. It is a go-to for me. A clone recipe was the base and I added body and more hops.

Est Original Gravity: 1.069 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.1 %
Bitterness: 54.4 IBUs
Est Color: 5.4 SRM
Measured Original Gravity: 1.068 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.012 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 7.4 %

Without further adieu, Huntress IPA from No Ragrets Brewatorium:

Amt Name Type %/IBU
1 lbs Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 6.70%
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 6.70%
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 6.70%
12 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 80.00%
1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 32.1 IBUs
1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 15.9 IBUs
2.20 g Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins) Other -
1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 6.4 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [50.28 ml] Yeast -
2.00 oz Amarillo [9.20 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs

The mash profile is for Single Infusion, Medium Body, No Mash Out which is a mash temperature of 152F. 

I held fermentation at 64F until the krausen dropped and then raised it to 72F to speed up the yeast.

Carbonation was set for 2.4 volumes of CO2.

Huntress is very tasty with the body of an oatmeal stout thanks to the oats and flaked barley. The head retention lasts until the end and leaves a nice lacing on the glass. I can count the gulps on the side of the glass. The hops give off a nice orange and cantaloupe flavor but not too much bitterness. I have a few tweaks in mind but I highly recommend this recipe.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Brew Day Video: 51.6895% Peach Cobbler Ale

We had a bunch of peaches and decided to brew a beer with them. What a fun brew day!

Specialty Fruit Beer
Type: All Grain Date: 11 Feb 2017
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal Brewer: Jimmy
Boil Size: 6.99 gal Asst Brewer: Jusitn/TJLevi/Matt/Jason/Ricky
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: 01 Jimmy's Keggle and 10 gal Tun
End of Boil Volume 5.86 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal Est Mash Efficiency 71.6 %
Fermentation: Ale, Single Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0
Taste Notes:
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
8.75 gal Water Water 1 -
1.00 Items Campden Tablets (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 2 -
10 lbs Pale Malt, 2-Row (Rahr) (1.8 SRM) Grain 3 41.7 %
1 lbs Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.2 %
1 lbs Crisp Black Roasted Malt (580.0 SRM) Grain 5 4.2 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 6 4.2 %
1 lbs Brown Sugar, Dark (50.0 SRM) Sugar 7 4.2 %
1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 37.1 IBUs
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 9 -
1.00 tsp Vanilla Extract (Boil 10.0 mins) Flavor 10 -
2.20 g Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins) Other 11 -
10 lbs Fruit - Peach [Boil for 10 min](0.0 SRM) Sugar 12 41.7 %
1.00 Items Cinnamon Stick (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 13 -
2.0 pkg Nottingham (Danstar #-) [23.66 ml] Yeast 14 -
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.079 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.074 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG Measured Final Gravity: 
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 9.2 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 8.6 %
Bitterness: 37.1 IBUs Calories: 253.0 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 39.7 SRM
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body Total Grain Weight: 24 lbs
Sparge Water: 2.21 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 0.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 17.05 qt of water at 167.1 F 152.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Add 9.10 qt of water at 204.3 F 168.0 F 10 min
Sparge Step: Fly sparge with 2.21 gal water at 0.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Bottle Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 3.57 oz Carbonation Used: Bottle with 3.57 oz Table Sugar
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 70.0 F Age for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Single Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F
-According to data from 2015, South Carolina produced 51.6895% more peaches than "The Peach State" of Georgia. California is the king of peach production in the United States This ale is reminiscent of

-roast 14lb of Pitted and diced peaches at 400 for 2 hours or until browned and reduced to a syrup. Add with 10 min left to boil.

-Use Blow-off tube!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Not So Fast, Don't Pitch Your Growler Yet

I recently read an article on DRAFT Magazine's website about giving up on growlers. The article almost made a viable argument against using growlers, but there were issues with the author's evaluation. It is no secret that growlers can damage fine beer by exposing it to oxygen and releasing carbonation from the solution. Every time a glass is poured the beer inside of a growler is jostled, no matter how careful one is. This releases some carbonation. The volume also drops and leaves room for oxygen and a void for CO2 to escape to. This eventually leads to flat oxidized beer. None of us want that. As bad as the degradation sounds it doesn't really happen very fast.

Most growlers are 64oz; if we pour into a pint glass we are generally pouring about 12oz if we account for the beers head. So, a standard 64oz growler holds 5.3 pours worth of beer. That is quite a bit of jostling of the beverage. Now it is time to be honest with ourselves. How often does a 64oz growler fill last more than a day after being open? Most of us empty our growlers before they have a chance to go flat., especially if we are drinking with other people. Decarbonization does not happen instantly; it takes hours in a sealed container. Once a growler has been recapped the pressure inside quickly approaches equilibrium with the remaining liquid and then slows as pressure is close to equal. The carbonation loss is minimal.

Sometimes a beer has a high ABV or we only want to have a pint or two. In this case, a 64oz growler is not a good solution. Enter the 32oz growler, it holds two pints of beer. That is half of the amount of beer being risked. The DRAFT Magazine article fails to mention the quarter-gallon option.

Some breweries invest a lot of money in packaging equipment and want to keep the packaging lines running. Idle equipment is not making money and breweries are businesses after all. A brewery with packaging equipment does not want to fill your growler; they want to you to buy their packaged beer off of their expensive equipment. Many breweries a very small business that cannot afford bottling or canning lines, case packers, box erectors, etc. Draft beer in a sealed container is the only option if a brewery wants to move their beer outside of their establishment.

Crowlers are an answer but are not the answer. I recently got back from vacation. The place where we stayed had a nice craft beer bar just down the road that filled Crowlers. That big can of delicious beer was perfect for sitting by the pool and I went through a few of them. They don't have lids though so one the can was opened it had to be finished. Crowlers certainly have a place in the realm of beer packaging but they cannot be resealed. For me, this is a problem. An unsealed can will degas quickly. A growler can be resealed.

We all have personal preferences. I like 32oz growlers. If I go to my local growler filling station I will opt for two 32oz growler fills even if I am getting the same beer in both. Anyone that is filling a growler and is worth their salt will purge you growler with CO2 and make sure the lid is placed on nice and tight. Laws and good practice tell them so shrink wrap the lid too. A growler can hold for weeks or longer if they are left unopened. The countdown to spoiled beer isn't really that fast and it doesn't start until the cap is turned.