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Category Archives: Brewing

Today we brewed a pale ale.  A little acidulated and wheat, plus crystal 120 on 17 lbs of two row make the body of this beer.  Hops include Colombus, Cascade, Centennial, Citra and Simcoe. 

Pretty straightforward, but we will ferment it on the 001 & 002 yeast cakes from the “right to work Jack” we brewed last week.  We had Brad as an assistant brewer and a number of guests keeping us company.  This led to a very mellow brew day.

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We decided, over many great Christmas beers, to brew a clone of Firestone Walker’s Union Jack.  We call ours Right to Work Jack.

No Citra boxed us out of an IPA like the ones I had during my visits to Russian River and Lagunitas the week before.  We both like the UJ a lot so it was a natural choice.

We did have a hard time getting Cascade so we used Ahtanum which we had in one of Boston Brewing’s single hop Latitude 48 beers.

We hit our numbers and all went well.  Looking forward to trying this hoppy beer.  I think we bought two pounds of hops for ten gallons of this one. We even decocted this one to have a two step mash.

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We made a clone of Southern Tier’s imperial milk stout named creme brulee.  We had not tried the beer but it sounded pretty good.  Famous last words…

The beer involved an impossibly huge amount of grain.  Think barley wine quantities. 

We had to do a thicker mash than we wanted as our mash tun was too small for what I remember as 38lbs of grain.  Add some caramelized sugar and you have a lot of fermentables.  We missed our target OG by more than a few points. 
We made ten gallons of this, and given our poor efficiency, we also ran 5 gallons of second runnings for a party guile.

The Creme Brulee tasted pretty good while still, but should be very good when we get out gassed.

The party guile is an excellent deceivingly dark lawnmower beer.  Light hoped and light body.  Best part: it was free.

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We tasted all twelve kegs we planed to bring to the Childrens Chain Oktoberfest Party.  All were really good. Several were excellent.  One our two were exceptional.  St. Juan Saison is awesome.

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Our good buddy John approached us again to brew a beer for yet another birthday (sucks that they keep coming so fast, but the alternative sucks worse).

He had an idea for a lemon rosemary saison. He brought lemons and rosemary sprigs from the same garden in which he hosts the party.

All went like clockwork. We were going to add a pound of candy sugar but used approximately 3/4 of a pound of bottling sugar and a half a pound of brown sugar. The wort tasted great!

This beer was pitched with a Wyeast French Saison yeast and an Abbey 2 Saison yeast that we built up with starters for two days. Just a few hours after pitching, both carboys were going strong.

The carboys are better bottles.  We picked up four when an online homebrew store had a 20% off sale.  They are light!  The opening is the same size as our larger glass carboys but the inner is big thanks to the thin walls of the bottle.  They take a huge #10 stopper.  Our first impressions are favorable but we shall see how they clean up in a few weeks.  Long term durability is still a question as well.

We will ferment in the garage in the fabulous Los Angeles heat.  We are looking for some good Belgian esters and a dry finish.

After brewing we tore apart all the stainless and brass fittings for a thorough cleaning.  We will probably replace some gaskets and all the teflon  tape before reassembly.

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Brew days can be so much fun.  We seem to pack a ton of work into each day. Yesterday was a bit insane as we went strong, not sitting at all for over 14 hours. It all started with the Hefe, then went all kinds of efficient craziness. We tasted and oaked our barleywine, we transferred our Blonde to fermentation buckets, set up our new temperature controller, cleaned a keg or two, and then moved us on to brewing a big IPA.

The day after we are a bit sore and tired but also excited.  A quick peek in the morning saw both fermentations started but the Hefeweizen seemed a bit slow. We turned up the chest freezer from 16.2 C to 19 C and we let the temperature rise on its own. A look late in the afternoon saw a great fermentation going. The IPA, which was pitched on top of a week old slurry of Belgian yeast was so violent it was making the blow off container look like a hot tub! Very quick start and great result of a technique that we don’t often use but will try to in the future.

Stacked in the back of the basement was our Berliner Weiss. We finally got going on that project yesterday as well. The kegs went into the fridge and today we added some Lactic Acid to sour up the beer.  You see, months have gone by and the hope was that the yeast would still work it’s magic inside the keg.  That did not happen. At all. A quick taste of the cold un carbonated Berliner Weiss was a disappointment. No real lactic taste at all.  I believe that the winter will find us brewing this style and leaving it on the yeast for the required time to get the real feel and taste. A quick addition of the Lactic Acid, 8 teaspoons into 3 gallons, seemed to bring the desired effects.  It’s now on CO2 and we shall see in about a week if it’s saved the beer from the drain.

Today was another double batch day.  We are brewing a heffeweisen and an IPA.

The Hef is built from our tried and true recipe but we are using mostly pilsner malt and a Weinheinstephan strain of yeast.   The yeast is really going gangbusters as a starter.

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We missed our mash temp by 10° (low) and had to scramble to get it fixed. 

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The IPA was inspired by a prize from the NHC.  Epic brewing of Utah awarded us a 5 gallon all grain IPA kit and instead of using it this weekend, we decided to use the yeast cakes from our Belgian blondes for a Belgian rye IPA. 

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3lbs of rye and 2 lbs of oats, plus some caramunich, biscuit and special B make this one of the most complex grain bills ever. 

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Lots of hops on a stupidly elaborate schedule add to the fun.

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Yesterday we brewed a blonde ale based on our Song Girl Blonde recipe.  We used 20lbs of Pilsner,  1lb of crystal 15. This was a huge departure as we normally would use 2 Row as our base malt.  We tuned our recipe for 80% efficiency and managed to hit our numbers almost perfectly. Brewhouse efficiency peaked out at over 85%!

We did a first wort hop too.  Yeast is WLP 500 and WLP 550. We did starters for both yeasts. The 550 really got up and ran in less than 20 hours, but the 500 was a lot slower.  After 48 hours there were signs of activity, but nothing like the 550. Both yeasts were pitched at 66 degrees and started very nicely.

We also kegged our Oktoberfest and Popcorn Pilsner.  Both taste great.  The Pilsner has a bit of a high alcohol level, but not quite at the Imperial level.  Both beers stayed in primary for just a few days short of a month.  The trub was fierce and it took a lot of work to get two fermenters clean and sanitized in time for the blonde.  Maybe time to get a few more fermenters. We might try the Better Bottles.

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On June 24th we brewed a single decoction Oktoberfest and a Bitburger Clone with popcorn.

The popcorn pilsner was inspired by Sun King Brewery ‘s pilsner that we tried at the Firestone Walker Invitational Brew Fest a couple of weeks ago.  It was a fantasticly easy beer to drink.

2 lbs of popcorn in the mashtun is a new experience.

We added a 14.8 cubic foot refrigerator to our brewery, adding 200% more fermentation capacity.  Woo Hoo!

German Pils with Popcorn

On June 17th, we brewed our Kolsch and pale ale.  Repeats of winner beers we have done in the past.

We failed to take photos so not much to look at.  Things went very smoothly.