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)....so 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).