Thursday, November 1, 2012

happy hour

at 4:07pm I strolled into Our Mutual Friend Malt and Brew and became their first ever Thursday customer.  So I got that going for me.  Any brewery located on the storied Larimer Street is a brewery for me.  I wasn't disappointed.  OMF is located at 28th and Larimer, north of Downtown in a former warehouse district turned residential neighborhood....think of what Lodo was 20 years ago, and you are there.  The fact is that the vagrants moved out a decade ago, and nobody told it is a relatively safe and quiet corner of Downtown.  River North Brewery and Black Shirt Brewery is all within walking distance.

The beer scene here in Denver is so rapidly changing that there are now at least 3 breweries that I haven't visited of them isn't Our Mutual Friend...anymore.

Sessionable.  That is the only way to describe the beers I had sampled.  I only tried two and sampled two others.  But, no big huge beers, (even though they do have an IPA), just beers you wouldn't think twice about having more than one.  New friends can be found at the bar, which is an important aspect of a brewery in bring a friend and meet a few more while you hang out.

It is my new favorite brewery....but as I said, they have competition, there are three that I haven't been to yet...I am looking forward to learning more about their own malting (did I mention that they malt their own specialty grains on premises....) from their brewer/maltster Brian.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Bridesmaid No more

Our "Award Winning" (meaning Silver Medal) Oktoberfest has upgraded its hardware.  It is now sporting Gold from the 2012 Docktoberfest Octoberfest only beer competition!  Here is me accepting award on behalf of my absent brother (he was in Vegas...boohoo) with Kevin and Michelle, owners of Dry Dock Brewing and friends.

I think I need one of those hats.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another 5 months has slipped away

It isn't for lack of things to talk about, nor a lack of desire for this topic, but I can't believe that I have let this monolog slide for nearly 1/2 year.  I heard about it from my friends...the only real people (not robots) that read or check in to this blog.

My only real excuse is that I am too busy experiencing stuff to write about it, but the real truth is that since I my little tiny Dell Mini died, I have replaced with various mobile devices that are not condusive to writing.  I now have better access to information, but at the detriment of interaction on a more detailed level....I still can't think and express in less than 140 characters.

In the last few days while I have had a few thousand experiences, realized a few important things, and took some time out of my life to ponder meaning, ultimately it was the death of a friend of a friend (someone I didn't know, and may or may not have ever met) that has chased me back to this blog.

While I am sorting them all out you all will just have to wait a little more.  Meanwhile, have another beer.

I have some interesting here's my teaser, and let me know if there is something on your mind I can pontificate about in the meantime.  I need to get back to this on a semi regular basis.

gold metal winner (mine).
drinking the last sip of a beer....ever
me and the beer industry
does broadcasting ever make a comeback in my life?
2012 Great American Beer Festival (designated beer geek).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

in love with brewing...but only because....

If the beer turns out half as good as the brew day....WATCH OUT WORLD!

For the first time in a while (perhaps since we went to multiple kettles) the brew day was as smooth as silk.  I attribute this to a few items.

1. high capacity paddle wheel in our March Pump.  My brother ordered and recieved the new innards to our March pump just before our brew date.  The new wheel is probably twice the size of the original and makes the pump finally powerful enough to force liquid thorugh our complex system of valves, tees, and heat exchangers.  This finally realizes the potential of my (overly) complex but useful brewery design.
2. Pre-planning.  Our recipe is fixed the week before, the materials are purchased, and we have plenty on hand to make on-the fly changes.  No last minute runs to the beer store....which adds an hour to any brewday.
3. My brother.  I have crafted my knowledge and expertise over the period of two decades....longer if you consider my formitive years.  But truth be told, I suffer from undiagnosed attention deficit disorder (the least benign of my self diagnosis) and sometimes while I have an excellent concept of space and sequence, my concept of time and details is lacking.  I count on my brother to keep the train on the track.  I formulate the recipe, he measures the grain and hops(because I lose focus and screw it up).  I build the brewery, he keeps track of the time and the additions.  I always know what can or has to be done next, but sometimes forget what needs to be done now.  I can make easy decisions and calculations on substitutions and on the fly changes....he lets me know we might want to think about it.

Overall, we are a pretty good team.  But, things are changing, but not for the worse.  My brother's interest in Barely Wine has me intrigued.  I am usually the guy that brings styles to his attention.  I have never been in love with Barley Wines...usually they are too big, too hoppy, too something for my tastes.  So, I have ignored them in both brewing as well as sampling.  And my brother usually has a lower threshold for bold flavors and is generally more pragmatic than I about (just about) everything.  Barley Wine is not a beer that I would have guessed would be the style that served as a catalyst for him to explore more deeply on his own.  Barley Wine is the English beer of exclamaition.  A strong/old ale on steroids, just because.

But intrigued is my brother, and he has investigated, sampled, and studied while bringing me along for the ride.  We are planning on a test batch of an extract barley wine with our next kegging session (an easy brewday).  I have not had to worry about recipe on this one at all....which is strange but nice.  We are brewing a beer that is solely of my brother's intention....and I can't wait!  It is nice to be pushed in an unexpected direction.

Anyway, the beers that are fermenting are our standard all-grain blonde (light hybrid) as well as a California Common Beer (amber hybrid) an Ale that is like a lager, and a Lager that is fermented as an Ale.  Both are nice summer beers with very different personalities.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Did I Get a Life?

It is hard to believe that I have left this alone for 4 months.  Did I finally haul off and get myself a life?  In a word: No.  My life is just as meaningless (or ful depending on your perspective).  So what have I been up to?

In my personal life, I have painted my entire basement, did all of my spring cleaning, and my wife got us a new dog (my new Brew Dog).

In my beer life, I drank (and gave away a lot) those kegs of brown and blonde, we brewed and kegged our Oktoberfest (not as good, in my opinion, as last year), and I have embarked on my quest of discovery using thermo-electric cooling.  The jury is still out on the utility of TEC and I don't have a workable solution.

I also stewarded at the American Homebrewer's Association 1st Round National Competition (held by the gracious hosts at Arvarda Beer Company (Arvada, CO)), and passed (barely) the Beer Judge Certification Program entrance exam *(that is a long story that I need to post).

My brother is still talking and researching Barley Wines (which is fun), and my keggerator looks like the City of Detroit (nearly empty).

This all changes this weekend when Dave and I get together to brew again....our summer beers this time a Steam (California Common) and a rebrew of our blonde.  Both are rather simple recipes/beers, but we need that as we have had so many equipment problems....we need a smooth brew day.

More later (sooner or later).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

fresh taps

After Dave both packaged and delivered the kegs of our latest beer to me, I have finally tapped both the brown and the blonde.  After tasting the blonde twice, I am not sure that cascade and northern brewer hops play well together in this beer.  Perhaps I don't like hops....hard to say.  The blonde has both the bitter as well as a citrus and grassy hop flavor.  The thing that bothers me more, is that lighter colored beer drawn from my kegs tends to stay cloudy until the end of the keg.  I probably could fix that with lagering closer to or slightly below freezing for a spell (my serving temp is 38 degrees).  I hate to do that because if I drop the temperature of my beer it screws up the pour (colder beer holds on to CO2 more readily) and changes the taste (colder beer flavors are subdued and the higher carbonation makes the taste more sharp so that roasted malts bring out astringent flavors)....that is why ales should be served warmer (upper 40's).  I keep my beer colder at 38 and it improves as it warms.

In my head, I have been toying with either making a new kegerator and converting my current one back to a lagering/fermentation chamber, or building a lagering vessel.  I have had the idea to use thermoelectric refrigeration.  This will allow me to build whatever I want without having to rely on refridgeration/coolant.  The problem is that thermo-electric cooling is much, much, less, these are future posts, and I will leave it alone for now.

Right now, I have the first pour from our American Brown Ale and our Robust Porter Side By Side.  The beers themselves look pretty similar, both opaque porter is black, brown is of course, very, very, dark brown.  Both have a nice head, the porter is more tan, the brown's is more off white.  both heads leave slight lacing on the glass and have remained the entire time.

The Porter has a definite roasted aroma while the younger brown is offgassing a little alcohol with more carmel/almost grainy smell (like the smell of mashing, which I like).  I expect the alcohol smell to subside in a few weeks time.

The tasting side by side is difficult, because if you taste one than the other, and then try the reverse, I think you get something different each time.  The porter, has a presence with either the hop and malt combo or just the sharpness up front from the dark malts where the brown does not have the bite.  The brown does have a definite hop bitterness but a more malty but not really sweet finish.  The porter's finish is more creamy (brown is thinner).  There is a difference in mouthfeel.

Which is better?  I will punt on that answer for about a month to let the brown mellow (and the porter is likely to be better as well) before I decide for certain.  Right now the porter wins, but I might like a mix of the two better than either.

Monday, January 9, 2012

taking brewing injuries to another level.

My brother and I laughed about the injury he sustained early in the day (before I even arrived).  He cut his finger (as is normal with our stainless steel fittings), and then promptly and accidentally cauterized this open wound with a searing from our burner.  We thought we were done with injuries with this do and do over injury.

Not to be.  This afternoon I am nursing my injury over a Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge.  I could not go to work today from my brewing injury.  On cold nights, beware the ice on my brother's 45 degree driveway.  I was carrying a bucket of waste down to the street to dump, never even thinking that it might be cold enough for the water to freeze.....sprained ankle.  A serious one with swelling and black and blue contusions.  I could barely shift gears on my car to drive home....but I survived that, and the fact that my brother opened his garage door only large enough for him to walk, being 1/2 inch taller.....well, my balding scull has some scuff marks.  Thank goodness I was wearing a hat....or the garage would have scalped me.

Oh, I bought some nifty brewing can dip your hand in boiling water with no ill effects....dumb, I know.  Pictures need to come from my brother.