10 Awards In One Night & French Saison Wine!

Yep. Saturday was obviously a good night. To celebrate I brewed an Amber with Chinook & Motueka hops and drank beer with friends. Although I would’ve done the same with no awards. It’s always a celebration when you’re a homebrewer!

Oh, I also sent my good buddy Weston Barkley a big thank you because he helped shape me into an award-winning homebrewer and not just a talented yet wayward smoke particle.

Anyway, here were all my winners:

Helles Too Good For You took 1st in both the Nevada State Homebrew Championship and Novembeerfest 2013 in WA. I knew I’d drank enough Weihenstephaner Original Premium to know a good Helles when I made one. The bottles I sent to Reno were a little flat from the beer gun, while the bottles that went to Washington should’ve been pretty dead on.

Dortmund! Borussia Dortmund! Dortmunder Export took 2nd in Novembeerfest for light lager. If you’ve been following along, that was the over-sized Helles 2 on WLP 830 from Big Dog’s. It was my only entry to fall short at the NV Championship and those bottles were also a little flat.

Wag The Dog Northern English Brown won the English Brown category at Novembeerfest. I would like to give it a little more chocolately, biscuity, malt backbone if I make it again, but it turned out nicely.

Mr. Bubbles Russian Imperial Stout (despite its smaller stature and weird minty hopping) got 3rd in Stouts at the NV competition. Sadly I only have one bottle left.

U Bottle It’s U Hop It IPA got 2nd in IPAs in Reno and the winner of the IPA category took Best In Show, so I feel really good about that result!

Breakfast In Antwerp Oatmeal Saison got 2nd in Belgian & French and my buddy Clyde got 3rd for his Belgian Pale in Reno! I’m drinking the re-brewed version of that beer right now in fact! Nelson & Mosaic are a wonderful combo!

It’s A Celebration Bitches! Smoked Dubbel took 1st in Wood-aged & Other smoked beers in Reno! I was waiting for the Best Of Show results and really hoping against all hope that a smoked beer had a shot. I was correct in thinking it didn’t.

Purring Kitten Session IPA (on WLP 006) & Unwanted Kitten (on WLP 002) both took 2nd in category 23 Specialty in Reno & WA. It is kind of a cool feeling to win the same award with a batch split on 2 different yeasts. As you can tell from the naming, I much prefer the beer on WLP 006 British Bedford. It adds a malty less hollow dimension that California Ale & English Ale have trouble providing.

I’ll try to get more of the recipes up on the Homebrewtalk forums, but anyone is free to leave a comment or email me and ask.

In other news, I’ve now brewed a Pale on WLP 041 Pacific Ale with Nelson & Citra, an Amber on a blend of WLP 041 & WLP 007 Dry English, & a Brown with Nugget, Chinook, & Galaxy hops on WLP 039 East Midlands (which apparently used to be called Nottingham). All of those beers fall in Category 10 American Ale, so if I can’t win something in 10 I’ll really have to go back to the drawing board.

My next 2 ‘brews’ will be a Kolsch with Calypso hops and a Petit Sirah red wine on Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. My plan is to age this weird wine on French oak chips and then age beers on those used chips. Who knows how it will turn out. All I have right now is a can & 3 smacked packs of glory (the can mentions mixing in an acid blend at the start so I’ll get that tomorrow):

wine adventure

I’m sure I’m doing something horribly ill-advised, but I can always sour it and/or add Brett right? Or maybe I can find a competition for wines done with ale yeast. Sky is the limit!

I’m tired. Time to go to bed. Brew on brewing brothers and sisters. Because you know I will!

2 More Awards + Many Beer Updates

Hello again everybody!

Version 2 of my Purring Kitten Session IPA has won awards in Redmond, Washington and here in Vegas over the last two weekends!

XBrew 2013 in Redmond, WA had a separate category for Session IPAs and then it somehow ended up lumped in with 35 other entries in category 14 India Pale Ale. I still haven’t gotten the score sheets back, but Purring Kitten got 2nd to some lucky bastard’s IPA. Presumably that means it won their made up category 56A Session IPA.

In SNAFU’s 2013 Memorial Competition we were only competing for best beer with a starting gravity over 1.060 aka Best Big Beer or Best Use Of Hops. My Mr. Bubbles Russian Imperial Stout won its mini Best Of Show round at its table, but got 5th or 6th in the overall Best Big Beer judging. Big time congratulations to my buddies Clyde & Tom as they took 2nd & 3rd for a delicious fruit mead and a very nice Rye IPA respectively.

Best Use Of Hops aka The Sheldon Jackson Award was where Purring Kitten picked up another 2nd place showing out of 26 entries. U Bottle It‘s U Hop It IPA partial mash kit beer also took Honorable Mention, so I was proud of that effort.

Prepare for more news as I have 7 entries in this weekend’s Nevada State Championship in Reno, 4 entries in this weekend’s Novembeerfest in Washington, and 4 entries in next weekend’s Land Of The Muddy Waters Competition in the Quad Cities aka Iowa/Illinois.

Unfortunately I found my first experience with the beer gun to result in some under-carbed beers, so 3 or 4 of my entries that went to Reno will get dinged pretty heavily for that. You live you learn.

The real fun this weekend will be when the Purring Kitten run on WLP 006 Bedford British competes in Reno and the other half of the batch run on WLP 002 English Ale, aka Unwanted Kitten, competes in Washington.

In other news, we had a lot of fun doing a demonstration brew in U Bottle It’s parking lot this last Saturday. I re-brewed Purring Kitten with a few tweaks and my buddies Tom, John, & Jeff all brewed and talked to anyone interested about their processes etc. I continue to greatly enjoy working for Gary & Heather and interacting with our lovely little homebrewing community on a daily basis. Here’s a pic of some of the early crew:

ubottleitbrewday1013

Thanks to all my buddies and new friends that came out for that event. Hopefully you all went home and brewed great beer!

Otherwise I thought I’d post updates on how all of my latest brews are progressing:

7/28 Helles – I ended up dry hopping this with 1oz Falconer’s Flight and 1oz Motueka since 8/15 Helles came out so well and this bad boy was weighing in in the low 6’s. Now I have a strange dry hopped Dortmunder Export on my hands. This should be pouring at the upcoming Brew’s Best Lake Las Vegas Festival at the SNAFU booth.

8/4 Helles aka Dortmund! Borussia Dortmund! – Coming in around 6.4% so this is definitely a heavy Helles. I just entered it in a couple competitions as a Dortmunder Export and it drinks quite a bit like one. I drank some of this tonight alongside Ayinger’s Jahrhundert (a very nice beer), and while my beer is fairly different I think it might fit the BJCP style description a little better. The only thing I might get dinged on are some of the citrus notes. We shall see.

8/15 Helles aka Helles Too Good For You – This beer drank super money right out of the fermenter. Very similar to Weihenstephaner Original Premium. Carbonation has made a few notes a little sharper, but I still think it has a very good shot in the next few competitions it’s in. Regardless, I’m going to re-brew it because I thought it was amazing to put in my face hole.

8/19 Mr Bubbles Russian Imperial Stout – As I mentioned, it had a fairly good showing in the SNAFU Memorial. It’s been quite popular with my beer geek crew and it’s competing this weekend in Reno. Unfortunately I only have 1 bottle left.

8/23 Purring Kitten Session IPA – Kicking ass and taking names. I thought the split side on WLP 002 English Ale ended a little bitter and didn’t bring the same pleasant malty finish to the party as the WLP 006 Bedford. Version 3 in U Bottle It’s parking lot is on WLP 041 Pacific Ale for a little more fruit & body. I also snuck in a couple ounces of Special Roast for some light biscuit notes in the finish.

9/11 Wit IPA – I tasted both of these (it was split on WLP 400 & 410) and thought I went a little overboard on the hops. It smelled absolutely heavenly though, so I’m on the right track. I decided to blend the 2 and add WLP 644 Brett B Trois but had a small mishap during transferring:

carboy disaster

So all I ended up with was that little bit of the WLP 410 side. I went ahead and ran that on top of the Brett B & L side of Fuzzy Bunny Slippers IPA. Because why not?

9/12 – Fuzzy Bunny Slippers IPA – Burtonizing one’s water is ever so slightly insane for an IPA with little malt base. The mineral/salt flavors linger on your tongue minutes after you’ve taken a sip. Just way over the top. Good cautionary tale for new water builders. 🙂

9/15 Smoked Dubbel – I’ve sent the side on WLP 575 to a couple competitions now and it hasn’t done well in terms of ribbons. I’ll have to get together with Kyle from Joseph James soon and talk to him about tweaking it. It turned out almost exactly how I wanted it, but it may need more smoke to win any hardware.

9/16 Kohatu Pale – The sweaty pineapple is strong in this hop. Not impressed. Base recipe with WLP 006 Bedford works though. I used the cake today for a new IPA.

9/17 Wag The Dog Northern English Brown – Just sent this off to a couple competitions. The flavors are really starting to come together. Nice notes of toffee, caramel, a little butterscotch & chocolate. Drinking this while looking at the BJCP guidelines makes me optimistic about its chances.

9/17 U Bottle It U Hop It IPA – The kit is selling well at the store and just got Honorable Mention for Best Use Of Hops! I’ll be doing a few tweaks on it for the new kits I make, but for the first partial mash beer I’ve made in years, I’m calling it a success.

9/19 Berliner Weiss – I just bottled this the other day. The lacto was starting to kick in but not yet quite where I want it. Unfortunately I only took a gravity towards the end of bottling, so I bottled a bunch of Berliner at 1.013. Easily 4 or 5 points high. I figured 5 weeks was plenty, but I guess not. I added a little strawberry extract to a couple gallons and I find that quite pleasant. Have to watch for bottle bombs. Lesson learned.

9/22 Hoppy Oatmeal Saison – Was trying to make an Oatmeal Blond, but the spicy citrus notes from the French Saison 3711 and the Mosaic & Nelson made it much more of a strange and wonderful Saison-ish beer. I re-brewed this on 10/21 with only tiny tweaks. It’s entered in the Reno competition but that bottling run was on the low side for carbonation.

10/2 Best By Yesterday Double IPA – I split the batch on WLP 001 Cal Ale & WLP 500 Trappist. It’s got some experimental hops, rice, & a pile of Simcoe & Citra. I’ll probably have the Belgian side pouring at the Brew’s Best fest.

10/7 Grant’s Golden Gumball – I get a ton of hits with people looking for 3 Floyd’s Gumballhead clone recipes so I thought I’d finally take another crack at my spin on it. I hopped it with German Brewer’s Gold, Galaxy, & Citra and ran it on WLP 051 Cal V yeast. I dry hopped it a week ago, so a post with tasting notes shouldn’t be too far off.

10/8 Lacto Wit/Belgian Shenanigans – I took the Oatmeal Saison recipe, hopped it to 9 IBUs, and gave a single vial of WLP 677 Lacto a crack at it warm for 2 days. Then I pitched Wyeast Forbidden Fruit. Still haven’t sampled it. Should be weird.

10/13 Black Wit – I brewed this because more dark beers were requested for the upcoming Brew’s Best fest. I’ll be zesting oranges, lemons, limes, & a grapefruit in the next few days to add to the keg. I used de-husked Carafa II for color.

10/21 Hoppy Oatmeal Saison re-brew – Going to dry hop this bad boy tomorrow! Can’t wait to have it back on tap!

10/23 Ordinary Bitter – I was inspired to brew this by one of the new Brewing With Style Shows on The Brewing Network. I used Liberty & Aussie Pride of Ringwood hops and split the batch on Wyeast Ringwood & WLP 013 London Ale. I’ll probably dry hop the least competition-worthy of the two.

10/26 Purring Kitten re-brew – Went down fairly well considering it’s hard to field 20 questions and brew a beer. I tweaked the water, put some Special Roast in, simplified the hop bill, and ended up letting the hops steep after the boil for over an hour (while waiting for a chiller). It seemed to come out a little dark. Should be interesting.

10/28 Attack Of The Blends IPA – Brewed this today. Used Zythos, Falconer’s Flight, & Falconer’s 7C’s. Also had to sneak in a little Mosaic & Citra at flameout. Very stripped down grain bill and pitched part of WLP 006 cake. I was going to run it on WLP 090 San Diego Super but my starter wort tasted like I picked up some wild yeast or lacto.

If anybody would like recipes, more detailed notes on process or results, or for me to send them a bottle or two just let me know. Here’s what I’ve become very acquainted with lately: Entry forms and bubble wrap!

mailing entries

Be well my brewing brothers and sisters. Hero out!

Working @UBottleIt and Brewing Like Crazy!

Hello friends!

I’m sure some of you are aware that I just worked my first week at my favorite homebrew store in the world, U Bottle It! I can’t tell you how happy I am to work with Gary and Heather every day. Not to mention the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives me to hook you fine folks of Las Vegas up with your winemaking & homebrewing needs.

Five gallon partial mash kits (designed and assembled by yours truly) for an Oktoberfest as well as a Pumpkin Spice Ale are now available on the shelves and hopefully I’ll get our Holiday Ale & ‘Grant’s Saison’ kits finished up tomorrow.

I’ve never taken much notice of any dry yeasts, but Lallemand’s Belle Saison looks quite interesting and I’ll definitely fire it up on the ‘Grant’s Saison’ kit in the coming weeks.

Above all else though, I really want to express my gratitude towards Gary & Heather at U Bottle It for welcoming me with open arms and wish my good friend Tom Harwood the best of luck in his new position as Assistant Brewer at Big Dog’s. I look forward to drinking a Big Dog’s Rye IPA very soon. 😉

The beauty of working at a homebrew store is that I’m getting a great opportunity to live and breathe homebrewing again. In the last month I’ve brewed 3 Helles lagers, a Russian Imperial Stout, & my Purring Kitten Session IPA. You’d think a beer that did as well as Purring Kitten would’ve been on the agenda sooner, but I was waiting for the seasonal WLP006 Bedford yeast to be available again. And I’d been a little busy. Or something like that.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some info on my latest brews:

Helles 7/28

–          I used the recipe from Brewing Classic Styles.

–          Mashed around 150-151 with 75% RO & 25% Brita filtered & boiled Vegas city water. Sparge was all RO. Salts added were 7g CaCl, 4g Epsom salt, & 2mL lactic acid.

–          I used 1.3oz of German Hallertau for bittering to 19.2 IBU.

–          My gravity came in at 15 plato (1.061) and my efficiency was 88% so this bad boy could easily be  1% ABV or more above the style guidelines.

–          I also set the timer incorrectly on my phone for my first hop addition and ended up boiling considerably longer than 90 minutes. The result being that I think my color is a little too dark.

–          I brewed spur of the minute so didn’t have a starter of the WLP838 made up. Therefore (because Jamil says pitch big for lagers), I pitched 2 vials of WLP838, 1 of WLP833, & 1 of WLP830.

–          Finally, this was my first time using my freezer & Johnson controller in this temperature range so the first few days it was getting as low as 44 until I got it a little better dialed in. Now it floats at 49-54.

Helles 8/4

–          I used the same water profile, grain bill, and mash temp as the previous for comparability.

–          Of course this meant I was going to end up with another 15 plato beer if I got similar efficiency. Of course I got 88% again.

–          I bittered with 0.7oz of Motueka for 18.9 IBU because my Hallertau smelled a little passed its prime.

–          I pitched WLP830 that I took directly from the fermenter of Big Dog’s Pinscher Imperial Pilsner. I pitched a pretty healthy amount and could smell considerable hop aroma from Pinscher.

Helles 8/15

–          Knowing that I was getting pretty high efficiencies helped me to design this beer a little better. I got 85% efficiency and ended up with a 1.050 beer. This might actually be a real Helles!

–          I used 86.8% Pilsner, 7.9% Vienna, & 5.3% Munich and mashed at around 150.

–          The mash and sparge water were all RO and 8g CaCl, 7g Epsom salt, & 2mL lactic acid were added.

–          I hopped with 0.8oz German Opal for 18.1 IBU and threw in the remaining 0.2oz at 5 minutes.

–          Once again I was without starter so I put together a Franken-Lager blend of WLP802, WLP820, WLP833, & WLP862.

Here’s Helles 8/15 cranking away:

promising helles

Russian Imperial Stout 8/19

–          I did this as a ‘demo brew’ for my friends Sean & Andie last Monday and this was my first stout.

–          The grain bill was 77.1% Maris Otter, 8.6% Roasted Barley, 5.7% Special B, 3% Caramunich, 2.9% Pale Chocolate, & 2.8% Chocolate Malt.

–          I bittered with German Polaris for 63.7 IBUs, flavored with Meridian for 7 IBUs, & used 1.5oz Polaris at Flameout. I got such interesting minty ice candy flavors from Polaris the last time around, so I’m hoping those turn out well in a stout.

–          I mashed around 154 and built the water to resemble Dublin’s. The mash was 25% filtered Brita, 75% RO with 1.5g Gypsum, 0.5g Cacl, & 7g Chalk added.

–          I ended up pitching 3 aging vials of WLP090 San Diego Super & 2 vials of WLP001.

Purring Kitten Session IPA 8/23

–          I made a few changes on this re-brew. I was mashing at 151 but found out 15 minutes in that my probe thermometer was reading 3-4 degrees low. I heated to actual 151.

–          I kept the salt additions similar to the last go round but did a 90 minute boil instead of 60.

–          I used all RO and added 5.5g Gypsum, 3.5g CaCl, 8g Epsom salt, & 4g Chalk.

–          My grain bill was 64.7% 2row, 14.7% Goldpils Vienna, 5.9% Flaked Wheat, 5.2% C-40, 3.6% C-60, 2.9% Aromatic, & 2.9% Carapils.

–          My starting gravity was 1.048 versus 1.044 last time. I also spilt the batch on WLP006 Bedford (which I used last time) and WLP002 English Ale.

–          I substituted Chinook for Centennial in the recipe and upped my flameout additions.

–          I also found my probe thermometer untrustworthy with lower temps as my big bucket of water and fermentation was actually running 4-5 degrees cooler than I was being told. Therefore the Session IPAs started pretty low and the Russian Imperial Stout was fermented on the cool end of its desired range instead of the high end.

Here’s my magical bucket of water, frozen water bottles, & fermenting beers:

high tech fermentation

As per usual, it’ll be interesting to see how everything turns out. I should mention that I have been drinking my year old Farmhouse Oktoberfest (on WLP670 American Farmhouse) lately and it has some really interesting funky citrusy Brett notes to it. I can barely tell it ever started as a rich malty beer because now it drinks a little thin with a chewy almost ropey Brett finish.

I should also mention that hopes of heroicness have been revived! I went through the BJCP style guidelines today and picked a style from each of the 23 categories that I would like to brew. That set a lot of wheels in motion but the first recipe resulting from that exercise was a Smoked Dubbel for category 22B Smoked Beer as well as a 16E Belgian Specialty entry (possibly with some Brett B).

My other brews in the works are: a Berliner Weiss, a Belgian IPA using WLP400 Wit yeast and Mosaic & Pacifica hops (because the cask I did of dry hopped Wit at Big Dog’s smelled so awesome), a re-brew of my Sink Spoon Brett Rye IPA (that I will send bottles of to Joseph), & my French Bulldog Rye IPA on Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. Just because I’m no longer with Big Dog’s doesn’t mean I can’t brew the beer I had on deck!

I know, I know. A lot of 16E Belgian Specialty and 23 Specialty. I’m making weird stuff as per usual. My general tastes in beer and desire to innovate will probably mean I re-punch those categories award-wise a fair amount (hopefully).

Finally, for anybody who has been doubting my assistant brewer’s work ethic and helpfulness, here’s a picture of her watering a plant while we were brewing:

watering plants

Alright, I’m off to hunt for more fermentation space on Craigslist. Be well and ferment clean my friends!