Long Long Overdue Update

Hello again friends!

Big time apologies to everybody that was following along and has been left hanging for forever and a day. Time flies when you’re working in a brewery, doing festivals, attending local beer events, and trying to keep your sanity.

Beyond feeling bad about not updating at all, I feel especially bad that my award-winning goals have been hampered by my guilt with regards to entering homebrewing contests. Assuming I could continue racking up awards (an iffy assumption at best), I don’t like the idea of knocking a budding homebrewer’s entry down to 2nd, 3rd, Honorable Mention, etc. I’ve got my foot in the door and plenty of confidence (according to our Head Brewer Dave), so what do I have to prove in the homebrewing realm?

With that said, I do want to start homebrewing more regularly again. I’ve got my chest freezer back in action at the house and I’m itching to make a Helles, whether professionally or at the homebrew level. Well, it will be back in action once I bottle the 4 funky homebrews I have cold crashing in it.

Before I give updates on all the sour & Brett adventures I have going in my homebrewing, I do want to update everyone on Dog Gone Saison. The last couple kegs are just getting finished off (if they haven’t been already) at Velveteen Rabbit & Public House. Although we do have one 5 gallon keg of Limoncello-soaked soft maple wood aged Dog Gone. Who knows when that strange animal will make an appearance. While I am a big fan of a lot of the honeycomb products I’ve been playing around with from Black Swan Cooperage, the Limoncello may have been a bit ambitious.

Anyway, I’m excited to unveil the new Dog Gone Saison label! That’s right! Expect that bad boy in 22oz bombers sometime in the future! Don’t panic. It’s still going to be around 6.6% and not 9.1% as the sample label indicates.

Here are some unpaid celebrities who are also excited about Dog Gone:

Dave Otto – Big Dog’s Head Brewer

dave modeling

Sergio – Big Dog’s Director of Ops & Killer Chef:

sergio saison

Serg gets bonus points for wearing the Dog Gone shirt while presenting his Dog Gone goblet! Even if that was the one-off Citra dry hopped keg.

Mike Fischer – Brewery Volunteer, Beer Enthusiast, & General Good Guy:

mike modeling

In all seriousness though, I am contemplating some changes to Dog Gone for Version 2. If I have my way we’ll still use WLP560 Classic Saison Blend, reduce the flavor/15 minute addition of Liberty, filter/fine/long cold crash the beer this time, maintain the 6lb Citra whirlpool addition (or change it to a mix of Liberty, Citra, & Nelson), and possibly dry hop part if not all of the batch. I’m also thinking I may cut the 5.6% wheat and reduce the 2.6% honey malt in the grain bill. I know, I know. The beer was fairly successful, but I want it to be perfect. And perfect is it being the best Brett-free Saison I’ve ever had. Brett is still not yet welcome in the Big Dog’s brewery by the way. If we can’t get Liberty I may use NZ Motueka. Hell, this may be quite a different (but delicious) beer. 🙂

In other news, I did want to make sure to update all the open-ended homebrew donking around I have going on.

– The 9/15 Wit with WLP410 got hit with Brett B. It smells great but still has a pellice. That was the beer that blew the lid off its bucket and open-fermented in my living room for a night. I’m letting it continue to do its thing.

– The 6/28 Rufus Saison that was hit with a Brett B & Brett L mix is a touch thin with a good amount of horse blanket to it. I dry hopped it with 2oz Citra and plan to bottle it soon.

– The Galaxy Belgian IPA I brewed with a buddy from Australia and then later hit with Brett B was tasting and looking quite dark and oxidized. I added a vial of Flemish Ale Blend I had in the fridge just to amuse myself.

– The 6/14 Dubbel that I added all those sour & Brett dregs to over a year ago has a wonderful Jolly Pumpkin-esque nose to it. Flavor is a touch more subdued and has a hint of acetone. It’s currently cold crashing.

– The Lime Saison with limes still floating in it and Lambic Blend added 3/26 still tastes like Pinesol’s new lime flavor. I might hit it with some cherry puree just for the hell of it.

– The 3/30 13 Rye IPA (brewing pictured here with recipe borrowed & altered from my buddy Tom) with one vial Cal Ale & 2 vials Brett B Trois has some sweet maltyness, good tangy rotten pineapple & mango characteristics and recently got hit with a 6oz dry hop. Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, & Galaxy. It’s crashing and should at least smell great.

– The 1/1 Ahtanum Saison wasn’t too bad. I just left it for too long. I dumped in a vial of Brett B.

– The 8/24 Hef that I dry hopped with Nelson and then soured on 12/3 smells great. The taste has some sweaty/meaty notes. I dry hopped it with 2oz of Citra and now it’s cold crashing.

– The 6/23 Brett C Tripel that tasted like Tijuana bathroom has been soured and has an interesting sour & burnt toast nose. The flavor is sickly sweet with a sour finish. I’ve been thinking plums might be a fun addition.

12/25 Dank Dog Saison was rather underwhelming. I don’t know if it was the quality of the Liberty & Columbus hops I had or the combo but it just wasn’t even close to what I wanted it to be. I had a few people say they liked it but there were just being nice.

The other fun thing I’ve been doing at Big Dog’s is making all the casks. The real ale/firkin/cask program has been going for a couple months now and it’s been a fun playground for me. I’ve loved getting to trying different creative firkins tapped at the Draft House every Thursday. Disaronno soaked oak on Black Lab Stout for an Embers beer pairing dinner, Dirty Dog IPA dry hopped with Citra for Khourys, and Wild Turkey American Honey soaked oak on El Perro Diablo (Belgian Golden Strong) for Firkin On Paradise’s Anniversary party this Friday 7/12 have been some of the highlights so far.

I also got a chance to make a special firkin for my 31st birthday party thanks to our generous owner Kurt Wiesner. It was Dirty Dog IPA aged on Yellow Birch wood and it was delicious.

The Birthday Cask all loaded up:

bday cask in car

Putting the soft spile in:

soft spiling

My good buddy Matt (the newest bartender at Viola’s Tavern & Gaming) tapping the cask:

matt tapping cask

And here is an outtake of good ole fashioned cask fun with my buddy Sarah:

casking with sarah

One of the most frequent questions I get asked at Big Dog’s is “What are you doing next? What’s in the works?” It just so happens I have a few things in mind. As I’ve mentioned, I very much want to make a Munich Helles. It’s a very wonderfully drinkable beer style that should work with 100+ degree temperatures and Helles and I have a thing going on lately. Besides that, I’m itching to use Wyeast 3711 French Saison on the professional level. It’s easily my favorite yeast and I think it could make both a wonderful light Lime Saison and an awesome Farmhouse IPA with Chinook & Nelson. The boys from Jester King have been kind enough to give me plenty of good advice and the next crack I get at the plate will likely use French Saison yeast.

At this time I would really like to reiterate how great the Jester King guys are. They’ve been excellent hosts the 4 times I’ve hung out at their brewery, they emailed me uber-quickly when I asked for technical advice on yeast, and they make killer beer. They deserve only good things.

Speaking of wonderful funky beer breweries, Prairie Ales has made some crazy good beers lately that have me running around promoting them to death and wearing their t-shirts. Both Prairie Hop & Prairie Ale (the first a Citra & Simcoe dry hopped saison and the second a saison with Brett & wine yeast) are awesome beers. They satisfy the creative homebrewing animal in you. They are brewing what you would if you loved saisons and fruity American/New Zealand hops. And they’re in Oklahoma. And expanding like crazy. I imagine their team to be a bunch of bearded guys that you could take out drinking for a week straight and not get tired of them. That’s how cool they are. I will proudly be wearing my Prairie Merica shirt in the brewery tomorrow. I’ve never had it, but I know it has a metric ton of Nelson in the dry hop. And you best believe that’s good enough for me. We’re still sitting on 44lbs of Nelson waiting to rock the party big time with Big Dog’s Double Down Under DIPA.

The big news in the next few weeks is that Big Dog’s Summerfest is coming up on 7/20! We’ll have a bunch of fun easy drinking beers, but we’ll also have off the charts beers like BFM XV Saison (from Switzerland), Ichtegems Grand Cru Flemish Red, Stone Enjoy By 8-2 IPA, & Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA (with Mosaic & Citra).

Not to mention all the great beers we’ll have from New Belgium Brewing. If all goes to plan we’ll have Prickly Pear Saison Aged in Peach Brandy Barrels, Cascara Quad, Feijoa Tripel, Pluot, Paardebloem, & Hop Kitchen Aramis IPA pouring at the festival. I’m very excited to try the Aramis IPA as the Aramis hop is a very intriguing lemony French hop new to the market.

I must also add that the New Belgium Beer Ranger for Las Vegas (formerly with Tenaya Creek), Karl Herrera, is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. If I had to pick one man that was responsible for the success I’ve achieved to this point in this town it would be Karl. It makes it that much easier to support a good friend when the brand he represents is making so many new and interesting beers.

While I’m thanking people in this town I also want to thank Guy Bartmess as he leaves Triple 7 and heads to Temecula, CA to help start Garage Brewing Co. Guy was one of the first people I approached in this town looking for a job and he was very open, honest, & knowledgeable. It was my interactions with Guy that kept me upbeat and hanging around for that one opportunity to come out of the blue.

Chuck Croix of Pints Brewpub in Laughlin also deserves big time credit for training me for a solid month. Training a newbie in a professional brewery is not easy and Chuck was great at it. Chuck is both making good beer and he’s a good guy. I hope anybody that gets a chance can go down and see him and try his beer. We’ll proudly be pouring his Pilsner at Summerfest on 7/20.

Finally, I want to thank Dave Otto. He hired me as a lowly homebrewer and wasn’t even aware of my Laughlin experience. Dave Otto welcomed me into the best and oldest brewery in Las Vegas and took great care of me. I must say it’s a pleasure everyday to work with such an accomplished brewer and get to see behind the scenes on things like the recipe for War Dog Imperial IPA. I only hope that someday I can take care of Dave the way he has taken care of me.

The brewery crew (I’m in the Jester King Funk Metal shirt):


Well, that’s all I have for now. Be well and prosper fellow brewers!

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