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We brewed a Kölsch again. Original recipe was used.  We missed our mash temp by 4 degrees and struggled to bring it up.  Otherwise our brew day was busy but non eventful.


We cleaned a bunch of kegs and the white freezer. One of our kegs had a leak on the liquid side and left an inch of beer in the freezer.


We bought an Oetiker crimp and are going to replace when clamps on our hoses.

We decided to invest a little time and attention to our serving system.

We created a serving “wedge” instead of a “collar” for our larger freezer.  The collar is a common way to raise the lid of a freezer to allow kegs to fit inside, and mount faucets to the collar, converting it to a “keezer”.  Our freezer is plenty deep enough for kegs so converting it would only add the serving function to what we already have.

We have been serving our beer at a benefit for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.  We developed a “wedge” to allow us to have the serving function of a collar without permanent modification of the freezer.   A simple U shaped wooden structure with a flat face and wedge shaped sides did the trick.  A post here describes the old unit.

We simply re-drilled the six holes (to one inch) and installed 3 1/8 inch shanks, faucets that we had laying around, and thirty feet of hose (5 feet each).  We finished each hose with a  1/4 MFL fitting, as is our custom.  This allows us to attach ball, pin or sanke taps.

Still need to get one more faucet handle.






One trick to get the MFL fittings on the hose is to mount the fitting on a tap and use it to get the grip and leverage required to insert the barbed end into the hose.


We brewed a double IPA with $85 worth of hops. 

Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe to the tune of 28 ounces and 215 IBU.  Two row, a tiny amount of dextrine and Crystal 40 make up the grain bill.


We added 2 pounds of candi sugar to bring it up to 1.069 OG. 
We will pitch WLP001 and WLP090 in the two fermenters.  We also added Fermencap and Clarityferm as well. 

We hit all our numbers and, with a 90 minute mash and a 90 minute boil, it was a very mellow brew day. Only one problem, when carrying one of the fermenters it slipped out of the carrying handle and crashed onto the floor. Fortunately, it was a plastic “Better Bottle” and we righted it with a loss of only a quart of wort.

Two doses of dry hopping lay ahead. Then glorious hop heaven!

We finally got around to brewing an Oktoberfest.   Given our modern yeasts and highly modified malts, we should be okay with the timing (but probably should have done this at least a month ago).

We used 23 lbs of malt including a bunch of Vienna as base two other malts that I can’t remember, some caramel 80, a pound of wheat and two pounds of candi sugar (one light and one dark).

The mash was thinner than our usual at 1.7 quarts per pound and we got complicated again with the schedule.  Originally designed to infuse at 143, decoct to 155 and then sparge at 168, we ended up with a double infusion and double decoction,  We ended up with an intermediate rest at 149 (our decoction calculator failed us).

We hit our original gravity (1.055) exactly.  Our ground water was 76 degrees and our Blichmann therminator brought our wort to 78 degrees with a very fast pump.

oktoberfest 2013

Pretty good brew day (except for our mash miss).

One bummer, however.  One of our California Lager fermenters got infected with Chlorophenols.  Bad-aid flavor was painful to taste.   It was the Kolsch yeast fermenter that went bad.  Perhaps we failed somewhere in washing the yeast, cleaning the fermenter or blow-off valve, or some other task.  This is the second beer in the past couple of months, and third all time, that has been infected in this way.   Time to focus on these issues.

Cal Lager Fail

Today we brewed 12 gallons of a California Lager, inspired by Anchor’s version. Ingredients are 23 lbs of two row and 3.5 ounces of Cluster hops. This old school approach is gaining a serious foothold these days. Homebrewers are finding out that simple recipes help you evaluate ingredients and yeasts unlike a more complex recipe. In simple terms, this is a classic SMASH brew, (single malt single hop).  We are using a WLP 810 California Lager for 6 gallons and WLP 029 Kolsch yeast for the other 6. We are hoping that a cooler fermentation will help the style and get us to where we would like to be.

cal lager

It was a simple brew and almost everything went right. However, we were shooting for a 151 degree mash temp and missed low by 2 degrees. Only time will tell whether this will be a bad thing. The beer might be super dry, but who knows, this might be good.

We also kegged our Kolsch and Blond from previous brews. We tasted our aging Berliner weisse (not ready) and our barrel aged barley wine (maybe ready for kegging).

Lastly, we popped open a few bottles from our collection and did a little “quality control.”  This was fun…

Most of the beer tasted great and it was great to taste what the judges had commented on all spring and summer.

We even tried some of our Barleywine.

bottle caps

We also received ribbons for three beers we entered into the California State Fair:
cal state fair 2013

We brewed A Kolsch and a blonde on father’s day. The experience could not be more different between the two brews.

We actually measured our grains twice when putting together the mash. We missed our mash temp by a few degrees and had to infuse and decoct to bring it up to target.

The end result was an “Imperial Kolsch” with an original gravity of 15 brix (1.060 vs a hoped for 1.042)


The blond was a bit too hot into the mash tun but a little extra cold water fixed it immediately. It sat in the mash tun for longer than our 60 minute recipe as it waited for the Kolsch to finish it’s 90 minute boil.

The blond hit our OG target perfectly. Odd that we would have 88% efficiency in our first beer and a normal 73% on the second.


We also added another wrinkle to our operation: automated hot side aerator recirculation manifold. This addition is hoped to help in extraction of sugars and setting a good grain bed.


We also used FermCap-S in the boil kettle and in the plastic fermenters. We had two vigorous boils and no foam over. This stuff works. We are hoping it will reduce cleaning effort with the better bottle product as well.

Our 20 gallon output was split 4 ways into the fermenters with one each getting some brewer’s Clarex enzyme. This is supposed to reduce chill haze and is known to reduce gluten too.   We are hoping to have some gluten intolerant friends test this for us. We will send samples to White Labs to measure the gluten levels first.

Double batch days are about 50% longer than a single day, which seems like a very good payback. We were a little tired after the 11 hour day, but not as tired as our propane tank. It got a bit frosty before we depleted it.


Our new barrel begins what we hope to be a many year journey. We filled it today with some barley wine that was aged on oak cubes and some without oak.

We plan to remove some beer every year and top off with some freshly made new product. It should be fun.


We brewed a batch of Berliner Weisse. It was a fairly straightforward affair with the only glitch being an OG miss of for points. 1.031 vs.  target of 1.035.



We also took delivery of a 5 gallon whisky barrel. Some of our barleywine will find a home here.


Theme for the brew day: short.

We brewed an imperial IPA based loosely on Russian River’s Pliny the Younger and Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust. Lots of malt, lots of wheat and lots of hops.

We used 32 lbs of grain and just short of 2 lbs of candy sugar.  Home brew shop missed 2lbs by an ounce or so.


We used a lot of hops.  Cascade and Citra from an unused 5 gallon kit we won in the NHC contest last summer plus a mystery hop from Golden Road Brewing’s contest of the same name.   We expected to get a pound of the hop but we received only 10 ounces. Being short 6 ounces was the reason for the poaching of our hop inventory.

We did our best to Burtonize our water but the additions required to bring LA water to Burton on Trent hardness was silly.  We added salts to meet in the middle (coming up a bit short of goal).

Our mash temperature was right on. We had only a 67% efficiency, however, coming 12 points short of our OG goal. Clearly our mash tun is not letting us hit reasonable efficiency on high gravity beers.   Maybe we need a bigger tun?

The 4lbs of wheat added a lot of protein to the wort.


We did, as we always do, use two yeasts. image


As we did for our Creme Brulee, we took some second runnings for a small beer but had to add some DME and were short of 5 gallons. We used the last of our home grown hops.

While short was the theme,  the day progessed rather smoothly and our hope is that the beer should be pretty good. We plan on entering it into the NHC in addition to the intended Golden Road Brewing’s contest.

We bought a second stirplate on ebay. Our homemade one did not perform as well as we had hoped. A bit of tuning and adjustments would make it work but the effort was too great and the loss of yeast would be too much if it threw the bar in the middle of the night.


We sanded the pretty ragged body a bunch and then hit it with a good shot of Rustolium. The paint is the double coat version. This, allegedly, puts two coats on each time. It just sagged. While not super pretty, the new coat of paint will keep it from getting more corroded and keep the brewery clean. Plus it is orange. Orange rocks.

Stirplate Sereal Number

stirplate orange 1

stirplate orange 2