In case you are wondering, I.M. Hammered Brewing is:
Mark -- Head brewer and drinker (brewer of over 65 batches of extract and all grain brews, drinker of many thousands of bottles and pints of beer), CEO and President of the finest Nano-brewery I know of, head bottle washer, and sanitation engineer
Liz -- Vice President in charge of bar decorating, keeping me from becoming too fanatical in my brewing habits, and is also known as "she who must be obeyed"
Michael -- Brewhouse assistant, equipment consultant, Chief IT Geek and self-appointed Official Beer Taster (great work if you can get it)
Schpankie -- Newest convert from fizzy yellow water to finely crafted beers and ales, adds little value to the brewhouse, but we like him anyway
Scooter -- The gas man (and I mean that in the kindest of ways) bringing propane and co2 when needed, also has keen interest in the brewing process
Knuckle Jefe -- Newest convert to brewing (has four batches under his belt), has began a start up nano-brewery in Kentucky known as "Double-Wide Brewing" with the catchy slogan of "double wide beers at single wide prices". Boy has a brilliant future in marketing. IMH is helping with equipment in the start up. We all work for beer, then again, why wouldn't we.
Parrot Pete, aka, Pappa Draft -- Bar designer, humidor raider, label celebrity, and Just because he should have been on the list the whole time.
We hope to make this site fun and informative and look for outside input, or inside output, whatever works.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
 
AAARRRRGGGHHHH...St Nick's...I Swear I'm Brewing..

AAARRGGHHH:

Brew day cancelled again. Yes I had a good holiday and I hope all of you
out there in suds land did too. But, in the process, there was no brew day.
Not on Friday, Saturday, nor Sunday. The equipment continues to lie in
state, so to speak, with no life or activity about it. There is no ESB
gurgling in fermenters to talk about. There is no anticipation of brewing
oatmeal stout this weekend. There is no residual odor of boiling hops in
the brewery room. What's a poor homebrewer with the itch to brew to do.
Oh, woe is me that I can't get a brew day in.....

St Nick's:

Well, I couldn't stand it. I was at the brewery getting another keg of
Octoberfest (my third of the season, is life good or what?), and yes, they
had St Nick's in bottles for sale. Yea, I got a case. I mean, how can you
say no. Now, I'm not going to write the review on the beer yet. I want to
drink a couple of more of them before I go crazy on reviewing it. I will
say this, the beer is better than last year's version was. I want to taste
this brew in a keg first before I wax poetic on the beer and the style.
Bear with me on this one. We have the ability to judge this beer on tap
first and that is what I want to do. I will say that I am impressed with
the bottled version so far. If there is the expected lift in the draft
version that is usually the case between draft and bottled brew, then I will
be giving a, how shall we say, a very positive review if this year's Santa's
brew......

I Swear:

Now I've got the need to ferment something. That said, I have been shut
down the past couple of weeks and the brewing schedule (as usual) is well
behind the curve. Time to catch up!! I will be brewing this weekend.
Right now is looks like on Saturday. ESB will be the beer I'm brewing (can
never have enough ESB). I have just about settled on my oatmeal stout
recipe, so the N.R.A. Stout (Nitro Rangers Association) should be in
production about 7 days after the ESB is brewed. That would put the brew
date at about the 11th for that one. It might be real hard to have that
beer ready to drink by the 25th (Christmas). Sorry Rangers, I tried. I
guess I'll just have to make it the best darn oatmeal stout you've ever had.
Wish me luck out there as I think they drink Samuel Smith's regularly. That
might be a hard act to follow......

Work off that turkey and ham now. Opening bottles is a good way to get some
work in as well as curling the bottle up to your mouth in a repeating
manner. There, you'll be back in shape sooner than you think......

Mark, The Brewer, and if I don't brew something soon, my head might just
explode.........

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
 
It's A Celebration...Talking Turkey...I'll Brew Again...

Celebration:

Ale that is. I wrote a quick review of it on tap just the other day. Well,
I just had the bottled version over this past weekend. As Butthead once
said, I have been to the mountain, and it was good!! Well, the beer was
good. It had the same hop explosion that was evident in the draft example,
loaded with centennial hops and possibly some cascade in the dry hop or hop
back. Big malt on the backside with hops, hops, and more hops. It's all
good as they say. I like it. It is one of the best beers made in America
today. Go get some for the holidays. Oh, and it's cheaper this year than
it was last year for some odd reason. Even better!!!!....

Turkey:

Let's talk turkey here. What's that mean. It means that the site will be
on a little vacation for a few days. I am going to be unavailable for the
holiday weekend and my weekend starts tomorrow (well, with a little luck of
course). I know you will all miss me, but I wanted to take the opportunity
to thank the thousands of you who have visited this site this year and keep
coming back for more. I appreciate and am thankful for your patronage, and
I don't even really sell you anything, nor make any money off of this site
in any way. Amazing to me that you all keep coming back, but you do.
Thanks and may you and yours have a great Thanksgiving weekend!!!...

Brew:

Yes, I'll brew again. I was very disappointed last weekend, but these
things happen. Not to fear, the grain is here!! I have plenty of it and I
am looking forward to brewing on Friday or Saturday of this weekend. No
reasons are appearing that will make that not possible. That means that I
should have something bubbling and gurgling in the fermenter by Steeler
kickoff anyway. Yes it will be the ESB recipe, all grain version, that I
posted on these pages last week. Hey, give it a try, all grain or extract,
you might just make something that tastes like beer!! That's what I
do!!!...

Happy Thanksgiving, and may your turkey be filled with the happiness of the
season, and may your fridge be filled with fine regional, craft, pub made,
or homebrew to overflowing. Open, pour, smell, sip, smile, repeat!!!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and knowing that I'll brew again soon, ...no really I
will....I'm not kidding here.....hey, I mean it, really......

Monday, November 22, 2004
 
No Brew...Fat Dog Review...On Tap Update...

No Brew:

Yes, you heard me right. I had a bad feeling going into Friday that I would
get squeeked. I did. She who must be obeyed put the kybosh on brewing. Oh
well, I had the feeling that would happen. What can I say. The good news
is, I have everything I need and can brew at the drop of a hat. How about
that!!! There might be some opportunity later this week after the holiday.
I will keep my eyes peeled for the chance to get it all done......

Fat Dog:

Soudt's Brewing in Adamstown, Pa just undertook a large expansion. Part of
that expansion was to get a new bottling line set up. They did and it has
increased their bottled offerings tremendously. One of the new offerings in
bottles that was only available on draft and cask previously is a brew they
call Fat Dog Stout. It is touted as an imperial oatmeal stout. Sounds
interesting enough to me. Well, I've had this brew on cask, but that
example may not have been the best. The bottled version was quite good. It
is a big beer, with a lot of silky sweet character from the oats in the
grist. It is hoppy, then sweet and clean on the finish. So drinkable that
it is really dangerous. The aroma is all malt and beer is really a dark
brown rather than black in the glass. I will say to you, be careful. It
will taste really good and the flavors mask the overall strength of the
beer. Too many of these and walking becomes optional. Overall, its a great
beer, really different from some of the bigger bottled stouts on the market,
and its just got too many flavors in it to describe it correctly. I will
say that you should drink this brew at cellar temperature, around 50 degrees
maybe. That way you get the full monty of the aromas and flavors this beer
puts off. Good luck finding this brew, but if you do, you'll love it.....

On Tap:

Penn O''fest is done. Don't know what I'm getting yet. Time will tell on
that. I 'll let you know. Also, the IPA blew out on me too. Told you it
was a WLL!!! In it's place is the last rendition of the Angry Dog Amber and
it is simply delicious. Cool!! Gotta make more ESB now for sure. I don't
expect Phil's to pull much longer either. Look for Parrot Pete's to make
it's Holiday debut here in the very near future. There is still IPA,
Dunkelweiss, and more porter in reserve along with bottled Weissbock. Lots
of brewing is on the horizon as well. I'll let you know what ends up in the
cooler....

Wouldn't it be cool if the old slogan was: Taste's Great....Taste's
Great....Yea, It would be....

Have a great big ole imperial will ya!!!

Mark, the Brewer, and still looking for something to ferment......

Friday, November 19, 2004
 
Got Hops?...Starters Tonight...Winter Brew Shopping...

Hops:

Yea, I got hops. No, I'm too old to play basketball anymore. I'm talking
about those beautiful little cone shaped dudes that house the lupulin and
alpha acids needed to bitter and flavor beer!! They are your friends giving
you all kinds of medicinal benefit, and making beer that wonderful elixir of
life that it is!! So the gist of this bit is yes, I got hops. I got them
last night. Fuggles and East Kent Goldings. I also got some vienna malt,
flaked barley, cleaning stuff, and everything else I'm going to need to make
a great beer on Sunday morning. It's kind of like a religious experience.
The church of beer. Hey, I might be on to something here. Anyway, I got
good fresh classic English hops so I am hoping to make a classic english
beer with them.....

Starters:

No, I'm not talking about the appetizers at Applebee's, I'm talking about
yeast starters. The WLP002, English Ale from White Labs is in my fridge,
and I'm going to kick those guys up a notch before Sunday. I know I
probably sound like a broken record, but making starters is easy, only takes
about an hour or so to do, and will make your beer start so much faster that
your chances of infection become very small. It is the smart thing to do.
How do you do this miraculous important thing. Easy! 1/2 to 2/3 cup of
extra light dry malt extract in about a quart of water. Bring to a boil for
15 minutes. Cool. Add to a half gallon wine jug (sanitized of course) and
add your yeast vial. Put an airlock on it and pitch the whole thing into
your beer 24 to 48 hours later. You will have juiced up your yeast
population at least 1 time and therefore will pitch about twice the active
cells. Active is the key word here because they will already be active and
ready to eat. They will have had their, well, appetizer and are ready for
the main course, your freshly made wort. One word of caution. Be sure
everything is very sanitary, including funnels, etc. If you do that, you
will make a great starter, and eventually will make a great beer. You can't
pitch too much healthy active yeast!!! So for starters, I'll have a wort
cocktail please......

Shopping:

Women have the shopping gene. I'm not trying to be chauvenistic here, it's
true. I believe it is the hunter/gatherer mentality. Men are basically
hunters, we get on the phone, call around to see who has what we want, go to
the happy hunting ground that does, find our prey, kill it and bring it
home. Takes about 2 hours max. Women are gatherers. Women prefer to look
around for their prey. They like to touch and see as many examples of their
prey as possible in order to chose the one they feel is best suited for
them. They will try many "hunting" locations in order to find the bigger
better (more expensive) version of their prey. They will even gather other
items that weren't originally on their list of prey to be found. Sometimes,
they don't even gather their original prey, but still come home with a bevy
of other prey that they gathered during the search. This process can take
days, even weeks to complete. It is a genetic fact I think (though I don't
have any scientific proof and well, don't quote me on this one). Anyway,
It's my turn to do some shopping. I hope to get to my favorite hunting
ground, Save On Beer, and to "hunt" for my favorite thing, craft beer. And
not just any craft beer, it is my trek to find the newest and greatest
winter warmers available. It is that time of the year when I select some of
the best seasonal brews available for consumption over the holiday season.
It could 2, 3, or even up to 5 cases of beer for the occasions. Yea, I
know, I got Penn Brewing products on tap and two home brew taps flowing at
all times and I need to get another 4 or 5 cases of beer??? Well, yea.
It's not just any beer, but it's the beer that appears only once a year. It
is stronger, hoppier, and even more flavorful than the typical craft brew,
and it's only here in November and December. Come on, you know you like a
little taste of something special over the holidays. And besides, my guests
expect to be wowed when they come calling. I am the Beer Man you know. So,
if you get the chance, go hunting this weekend or early next week and "kill"
a great brew to bring home and to serve your family at Thanksgiving. Be
sure to kill a good craft or regional beer near you!!!!

Now get out there and be sure to be armed and dangerous (don't forget your
wallet)!!!! Oh, and have a great weekend!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and about to see the bubbles of the starters and to feel
the "crush" of the grains........

Thursday, November 18, 2004
 
Tasted Good...Brew Day Coming...Extract Version Requested...

Taste:

I got home and finished my honey-do list last night, then messed with the
little drafts for a while, and then it was time. Time to unveil the
Weizenbock and hoping that it had enough gas on it. Well, it did. This
brew is amazing. Jim, if you read this today, you outdid yourself on this
recipe. Unbelievably good. If you live in the Pittsburgh area and want to
start homebrewing, you gotta go see this guy at Country Wines to get
started. He's professionally trained and really knows the deal. Oh, sorry,
back to the beer. This brew poured into the glass with a golden color that
was amazing. It had just a slight bit of haze. Very pretty to look at.
The aroma had a slight hint of banana and green apple and a grassy hop note.
The head was a low rider, but that is probably because I poured the beer
into a brandy glass rather than a more conventional beer glass. It is a
bock!! Tightly beaded white foam hugged the edges all the way down. The
beer is smooth as silk at first sip, has a bit of what I call wheat
character, some tartness with malt undertones. There is a balancing hop
bitterness and then a smooth malt and wheat flavor takes you to a clean
finish with just a hint of hop flavor and that refreshing wheat crispness.
You can hardly wait to tilt the glass up again. The beer also has a hint of
alcohol warming even though the ABV was not off of the charts. The beer
also exhibits a belgian like quality that I generally associate with a
tripel. In fact, I believe we could brew the same recipe, add about 1.5 lbs
of Belgian candi sugar to the kettle, and use a Trappiste ale yeast and get
a darn good tripel. Hey Jim, did you hear that one??? We might just have
to actually do this and see what happens!!! At any rate, this beer turned
out real nice. The Parrot and the rest of the Nitro Rangers are gonna like
this one too......

Brew Day:

As of today, I will brew the ESB on Sunday. All indications are pointing in
that direction. As everyone knows, that could change at a moments notice
depending upon what She Who Must Be Obeyed may have in store for me. My
plan, which is always subject to change, is to make English Ale starters on
Friday night for Sunday pitching. If all goes well, I will have all of my
favorite English style ales around to get me through the winter months.
Porter, ESB, IPA, Oatmeal Stout, and probably a Bells or Rogue clone thrown
in for good measure. It's about time to make another batch of Deceased Dude
Ale too. I love this hobby!!

Extract Version:

I was immediately asked to provide an extract version of the ESB recipe.
This is simpler than you think. Here you go!!

ESB extract recipe for 5 US Gallons:
1lb British Crystal Malt 60 LOV
.25 lbs Flaked Barley
3 lbs of Munton's or John Bull Extra Light Dry Malt Extract
3 lbs of Munton's or John Bull Amber Dry Malt Extract
(Liquid extracts may be subsituted at 4 lbs of each)
1.5 oz fuggles 60 minutes bittering
1oz fuggles 30 minutes flavor
1oz East Kent Goldings knockout aroma
WLP002 English Ale Yeast
Use standard extract with steeping grains technique
Steep grains for 30 minutes at 155 degrees in a muslin bag in 1.5 gallons of
water
Rinse thoroughly and discard the grains
Put this wort into brewpot add extracts, bring to brewpot capacity and bring
to a boil
Continue wort preparation with hop additions as decribed above.
Fermentation is the same as the all grain recipe.
Most of all, have a couple of homebrews, and have a lot of fun.

There you go. Really a simple beer to make with extracts!! Go for it!!

It's going to be a beautiful day for brewing and football on Sunday!!! I
hope you enjoy both activities too!!

Mark, The Brewer, and still marveling over how good the Weizenbock is, and
how good a recipe designer Jim from Country Wines is...........and hoping
that he likes the converting that recipe into a tripel idea.......

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
 
ESB All Grain Recipe...A Cold WeizenBock Ready To Go....

ESB:

Well, I've talked about it a lot the past few weeks. Here is the recipe for
my ESB. I hope to brew it on Sunday morning. My recipe calculator tells me
that it is fine on bitterness and color, but that the ABV might be a little
higher than the style guidelines. I say, why's that a problem?? It will
just give this brew the malty background it deserves. Here we go!!

My Un-named ESB (10 US Gallons)

16 lbs pale 2-row
4 lbs vienna malt
2 lbs British Crystal 60 LOV
0.25 lbs flaked barley
2.5 oz's Fuggles, 60 minutes bittering
2 oz's Fuggles 30 minutes flavor
2oz's East Kent Goldings knockout aroma
White Labs WLP002, English Ale (reputedly an ESB strain)
Mash in grains with 5.75 gallons water stabilized at 152 - 154 degrees for 1
hour.
Sparge with 168 degree water to collect 11.5 gallons of wort
boil for 70 minutes hopping as scheduled above
Chill and pitch WLP002, English Ale yeast
Ferment for 7 days at 68 degrees
Rack and rest for 7 days at 68 degrees
prime and package, condition and enjoy.....

English ingredients to get more of an English ESB flavor. ESB should be
amber in color and have a snow white head of foam on it. The beer should be
clear, but a little haze is acceptable. It is an ale you know. The aroma
should be of malty sweetness with hop presence medium to strong. The beer
should have a good malt base and have the sweet toffeeish quality of a good
dose of crystal malt. Hop bitterness can be medium to high and hop flavor
is generally expected. The beer can be well balanced, or can lean more
toward the malt side of the equation. I have tasted some ESB's that
highlight the hops somewhat as well. The bitterness should be assertive up
front with the malt really being more dominant on the back end. That is why
I am using the more subtle English Classic hops. This is one of my most
favorite styles of beer because I get the best of both worlds. Nice hop
character with malt still considered the driver of the bus. I love it. The
benchmark commercial brand is Fullers from England, but there are others
that are interesting. Many also use some adjunct or sugars in the kettle
these days. This version will be an all barley grist. Go try some!! Wish
me luck and feel free to try to brew it yourself......

Weizenbock:

Yes, I have sediment in the bottom of the bottles and I have one chilling
since last night. Time for a taste of this beer with gas on it. Will it be
a little young, yes. Will it improve in the bottle, it should. Then why
taste it now? Because I can't wait any longer. It is one of the problems
with being a homebrewer. Waiting to taste your beers seems to take
forever!!! I should have a full report tomorrow for those of you scoring at
home....

Be sure to have what you need to have a craft beer'in good time!!!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and fixing to make some starters on Friday night.....

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
 
Rogue News...Mash Techniques...Waiting For St Nick....

Rogue:

If you've been under a rock for the past 10 years you might not know who
this is, but if you're reading this site, I'm guessing you do. Rogue
Brewing under the watchful eye of their master brewer, John Maier, has been
making some of the best darn beer you've ever popped a top on. I am partial
to the Shakespeare Stout myself, especially if you can get it on tap. The
list of brews they have turned out is almost endless and it isn't unusual
for them to have as many as 30 beers available. They brew two shifts a day
at all of their locations and still can't make enough beer to satisfy the
demand. The think about Rogue beers is that they are pretty unconventional.
They often don't fit to any style, but rather they are a hybrid of several,
or they create their own style. Maier was one of the first to brew an
Imperial Pale Ale, or an IPA with double the ABV and triple the IBU level of
hop additions. This concoction was well, strong and bitter. The current
product line up includes a Soba Ale, a Buckwheat Ale, a Chocolate Mocha
Stout, a brew called Yellow Snow that features juniper berries, well, I
think you are getting the idea. Well apparently they have opened a
distillery and have a contract cheese making facility. There is now, and
you gotta love this, a Rogue Rum. Too bad Captain Morgan already has one of
the best tag lines I've ever seen with "do you have a little Captain in
ya!!", because that would fit Rogue to a tee. It looks like it must be a
small batch rum and it has already won a couple of medals in competitions.
The cheese also looks very good as it is hand worked at a small cheese
factory in Oregon. They currently have cheese made with Shakespeare Stout,
and the Mocha Porter, along with the St. Reds Amber ale. If you've never
tried a Rogue beer you should. Warning, it won't be much like anything else
you've drank. It will be bolder, stronger, and hoppier. It will also be
balanced, tasty, warming, and very good.

Mash Techniques:

I've gotten a couple of questions about mashing lately. Cool!! That means
more of you are looking at taking the plunge. One of the questions concerns
something I've always talked about. A lot of the literature out there makes
it sound way too complicated. The gist of the question is when to use a
step mash and will it make my beer maltier, and how do I do a step mash?
Based upon the framing of the question, this person read a very technical
dissertation on step mashing and didn't understand half of it. Here is my
simple answer, today you should never have to use a step mash unless you are
a very advanced brewer making a very highly specialized beer. Here is the
quick history. It starts with today's malts. The malts we use in brewing
today, and you will use the same malts as professional brewers which is one
of the really cool things about mashing, are very highly modified. What
does that mean? Modified malts are malts that were alowed to germinate on
the malting floor during the malting process and to begin to open. The
endosperm of the malt actually begins to come out of the kernel. At that
point the malts are dried and made ready for use in brewing. This
modification increases the amount of active enzymes in the malt and actually
begins the conversion process ever so slightly. All you do when you mash is
bring the temperature up to make the enzymes active again to finish the
conversion, then rinse away the sugars. Because of this process, the reason
to do the first steps in a step mash don't exist anymore. In essence they
were done on the malting room floor for you. All you really need to do is a
single temperature infusion mash to bring the crushed malt to your target
conversion temperature (known as the sachrification rest and pardon my
horrible spelling) to complete conversion and then rinse (sparge) the grain
to get all of the sugars into your wort. Your beer will be just as malty,
trust me on that one. In my humble opinion, step mashing is wasting time on
brew day. There are of course exceptions. The German's will tell you that
you can't make a good Bavarian Lager without either a step regimen or a
decoction mash. There are also undermodified malts and 6-row barley malts
that require more advanced step mashing. As a beginner, don't even go
there. Start with simple beers like a brown ale or porter (they are also
very forgiving if you make any errors) and do a simple infusion mash. The
room temperature grain will make the water temperature drop 10 to 12 degrees
when added. To achieve a 154 degree mash temp, heat your water to 166
degrees. Your grain to water ratio should be 1lb of grain to 1 quart of
water. Be sure to notice that I said 1 quart of water. Mix crushed grain
in your mash tun with the water, stabilize the temperature and close it up.
Wait 45 to 60 minutes and sparge with 165 degree water to collect your wort.
It really is that simple. If you miss your temperature by a point or two,
so what. A brown ale mashed at 156 degrees doesn't taste that much
different than a brown ale mashed at 152 degrees. Both will be very good!!
The important thing is to have fun and enjoy making good beer. I'm not
kidding when I say it really is this simple. It is. You do have to learn
some technique in terms of recirculation and sparging timing, but in
essence, mashing is as easy as mixing crushed grain with the proper ratio
and temperature of water. Have fun, and get mashing!!!!

St Nick:

You know what I mean. I'm on the St Nick watch at the brewery. Penn
Brewing of course. It is one of the highlights of the year when they
release this extra strong bock beer. I'm watching for it. When it shows up
I'll let everyone know. I'm told that this years version will be quite
special and that they have been brewing it in multiple batches this year.
The concensus on last year was that the beer was pretty thin, and that was
conveyed to those who can make changes if you know what I mean. I look for
a classic example this year. When I taste it, you'll know.......HO, HO,
HO......

Open, pour, smell, sip, smile......repeat.....

Mark, The Brewer, and getting ready to do some mashing myself......

Monday, November 15, 2004
 
Celebration Ale...New Bottle Shop...Sediment In The Bock

Celebration:

One of the best holiday brews that I have tasted in recent years is Sierra
Nevada Celebration Ale. This is big full bodied ale that has an even bigger
hop aroma, nice hop bite in bitterness, and good hop flavor on top of a big
meaty malt background. This is good beer. Centennial hops are showcased
for their piney and citrus notes for both flavor and aroma, and the malt
sweetness seems to balance everything all out. I had the pleasure of
enjoying a couple of these on draft last Friday afternoon, and I must say
that I was not disappointed. The beer was smooth and tasty and all of the
hop nuances were present. The big aroma comes from running the finished
wort through a hop back on its way to the chiller and then the fermenter.
It is a joy to drink. If you are out and about and you see this one, and
you like hops (I mean really like hops), give this beer a taste. You'll see
why it's called Celebration Ale......

Bottle Shop:

I found a new bottle shop in Pittsburgh. For those of you who live in
normal states, Pennsylvania has some very outdated and antiquated laws that
only permit beer sales from a beer distributor store, and then you must buy
beer by the case. The only other way to get beer is to buy it at full
retail at a bar or bottleshop (which is simply a bar that has a big to go
selection). This new shop is called the Pittsburgh Bottle Company and is
located heading south just off of I-79 at exit 54. Turn left and go down
the hill to the Collier Town Square shoping center. It's right in there.
They have a great selection of bottled beers plus about 12 taps. They do
dedicate about half of the taps to domestic beers, but the bottle selection
and the remaining craft selection on draft help to make up for that one
shortcoming. This is where I found Celebration Ale on tap, so it can't be
all bad. They had a wonderful selection of Belgian beers and a big
selection of craft brews as well. I also had the fish fry special and have
to tell you that it was very very good. It's nice to know anyway that there
is a place to get some good craft brew if you need to. It's worth a look if
your in that area of Pittsburgh or passing through.....

Bock:

A quick update on the Weizenbock. My bottles look as though they have
carbonated as I have noticeable sediment on the bottoms of my bottles. It
has been a week today since we bottled this beer and as wheats tend to
carbonate very quickly because of the levels of residual yeast in them, I am
guessing that this batch is carbonated and simply awaiting me to taste it.
Being the charitable and cautious person that I am, I am going to give it a
couple of more days before I pop the first top. That said, I am still
anxiously awaiting the ability to open one up and have a taste. When I get
the opportunity to do so, I'll let you know how we did!!!!!

Get some good brew in your house!!! That's an order!!!!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and hoping to smell hops in the boil in the very near
future........

Friday, November 12, 2004
 
V Is For Victory...3-Barrel Dreams...Yeast Is In The House...

V:

I had a rare day off from my "real" job yesterday due to the Veteren's Day
Holiday. I took advantage of that by cleaning up the yard and doing some
other chores. The good news was that the son and daughter draft both had
school yesterday. That meant that She Who Must Be Obeyed and I got the
chance to go out to lunch. We went to a local restaurant that used to have
a very good beer selection. Alas, the mega's have now made their presence
felt and have many of the taps today. Too bad. There are still a few
jewels to be had in here though. I was able to enjoy a couple of Victory
Hop Devils on tap. That is a treat. This beer is really good and if you
don't live where you can get it, that's really too bad. It is a hybrid type
of brew that comes off as an IPA, but the grist is more of a German styled
beer than an english, and then it uses a very neutral Ale yeast probably
similar to California Ale. It is an interesting beer for sure and is a
cross between a German Beer, and English Ale, and an American IPA. Lot's of
centennial hops is what gives this beer it's spicy, piney character followed
by a big malt backbone. The color has hints of orange and red in it.
Pleasing to look at and very pleasant to sip. She Who Must Be Obeyed is
slowly turning into a craft beer drinker and she doesn't even realize it.
SSSHHHHHH, don't say anything. She injoyed Franziskaner Wheat yesterday.
I'm so proud. At the end of the day, craft beer was enjoyed by all
yesterday, and V certainly stood for Victory....

3-Barrel Dreams:

While scanning the net recently at the Morebeer.com site (okay shameless
free plug number 438), I happened upon their new 3 barrel brewery in the
sculpture section. Wow!!! What a set up!!! I immediately emailed it to
Jim who thought it was a bit excessive for homebrewing. I thought it was
really cool. Imagine making 100 gallons of your fav brew at a time!!! You
would be the most popular guy in the neighborhood for sure. Even more so
than Bob, the enzyte guy. The possibilities are strong. You could cut out
some of the wort and hop it differently and then use different yeast strains
in it, i.e., make several different beers from the same runnings. The
possibilities are endless. Then of course there is the next idea, probably
somewhat fortified from several of the brews you have making on your mondo
system, we'll go into business, we'll sell the beer. Yea, nothing like a
little 3-barrel daydreaming to get you stoked about your next
brew........What? The price? A measly $14,500 unless you want the designer
of the system to come help set up and run the first test brew. That is a
little extra.........but negotiable......

Yeast:

Da yeast in finally in da house!!! Speaking of Morebeer.com, they lost my
yeast order in the black hole known as their computer ordering system. They
were however very apologetic about it and shipped my order 2day airmail
(free). I already have it less than 48 hours after dialing the phone.
Thank you Jenni for your help and attention to detail. That said, I got
yeast in the house baby, and that means we're ready to get to some brewing
here in the next several weeks. ESB is next up on the horizon, a little
tweaked from my normal west coast version (see Redhook ESB clone known as
the Angry Dog Amber). I will be making the obligatory oatmeal stout for the
nitro ranger boys. Hey, guys, if you read this, and I know you will, I got
the recipe over to Jim for his once over and it's a brew that I think you're
going to like. It's a clone of a very popular oatmeal stout from a very
popular and well known pub in Missoula, Montana called Big Sky. More on
that later. Another IPA is definately going to be in the works along with
more ales that I like. A rye stout perhaps?? How about another Bell's
clone. Porter for instance could be in the works though we have 10 gallons
of that right now. Whatever we make, I assure you that I will do my best to
make sure it is high quality beer. Of that you can be certain......

It's the weekend, football is in full swing and that means, you need some
high quality craft beer in your house. Don't forget to bring up a few
bottles of the good homebrew from he cellar either!!!!! Enjoy!!

Mark, The Brewer, and feeling warm and yeasty all over......

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
 
Bottled Bock...I Found My Yeast...Empty Fermenters

Bock:

Finally we got the Weizenbock in bottles. It is about 5 days later than we
wanted it to be, but it's finally done. The finishing gravity of this brew
was 1.020 and the estimated ABV is 6.12%. It's a little light for a bock,
but not too far off. The beer has a nice cloudy golden appearance in the
glass. There are fruity and banana notes in the nose (pre-co2) and the beer
has a nice flavor and character about it. I believe it will be a nice beer
to sip on cold nights. We actually got a very big yield out of the batch
filling 2 full 12oz cases, 7 litres, 12 - 22oz bottles, and 10 - 17.9oz
bottles. By the way, Jim knew the answer to the odd ounce level in the
17.9's. It is the equivalent of a half litre, which would be the measure of
choice in the Czech Republic. For those out there who claim to be the great
unwashed, a Weizenbock is part of the typical progression of a German beer.
There is the standard beer, a stronger version often made for holidays or
seasons, then there is a super strong version made once a year as a
seasonal. The Weizenbock is the strongest brew of the wheat beer family.
It is brewed to opening gravities from 1.065 all the way up to 1.090 and can
be very alcoholic in strength often in the 9% ABV range. Our version is on
the lighter end of the scale alcohol wise, but still hits the meter on the
taste side of the equation. These bocks can be light and golden in color as
ours is, or they can be darker. You can use a multitude of grains in here
to give this brew character though it should be at least 30% wheat. These
brews are obviously hopped more than a standard wheat, but are still
considered lightly hopped when compared to other barley based bocks. These
beers will have a fruity nose and character about them, and should be
refreshing and finish clean and dry with a bit of wheat "character" or
tartness. Some of this "character" is driven by the yeast which should be a
traditional wheat beer yeast variety that will give this brew the classic
cloudy look. I think we got there from here on this one. Stay tuned as I
will give full details of the Weizenbock at a later date when we get some
gas on it......

Yeast:

I found my yeast order, or at least my good friends at Beer, Beer, and More
Beer did. The computer ate my order and put it into one of those black hole
loops that eat data on a server. It told me that I had ordered yeast, but
it neglected to tell them. Jenni was more than nice on the phone and my
yeast is winging it's way to me even as we speak. I should have yeast in
the house by Friday. I will miss a brew date of tomorrow, but that's okay.
I got my yeast and I'll be ready to go now....

Fermenters:

Speaking of yeast, or my fermentation rooms lack thereof, all of my
fermenters are now empty. I also have empty kegs. What is wrong with that
picture??? I guess that means that I'll be brewing here real soon. I hate
empty fermenters. It either means I have been busy, or lazy, or both. Not
a good thing. I can take care of that though. ESB will be on the way very
soon. Then there will be the Christmas Oatmeal Stout specially brewed for
the Nitro Rangers. I better start digging up some recipe's for that one. I
have fresh yeast for 5 - 10 gallon batches without having to repitch. Why
take the contamination chance when I don't have to. I should have the ESB
recipe tweaked to where I want it and I'll post it up right here. Don't
worry, I'll get those fermenters full real fast......

I won't be posting tomorrow, but you all can still come back and read the
archrives. There's a whole years worth of "stuff" in there. Don't be shy.
You might even smile once or twice. Now, go get some good beer to drink,
and well, drink it. I really am going to have to start charging all of you
for all of this free advice.....

Mark, The Brewer, and looking to fill up some empty fermenters in the
fermentation room.....

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
 
I Think It's Finally Fixed...There's A New Keg In The House...Boc k Bottling Tonight (Finally)...

Fixed:

Low and behold, I believe the web site problem is finally fixed. Posting
was smooth yesterday and went with no problems. Let's hope so. The past
couple of weeks have been permeated with dead air and no posts, or double
and triple posts going up three or four days after they were written and
submitted. I apologize to all for this inconvenience (though no one was
more inconvenienced than me) and we hope it won't happen again. Thanks for
being patient and please continue to come back often....

Keg:

As you know from yesterday's post, the Penn Pilsner keg blew up on Sunday
night. Well, that's okay because that means it's time to go get another
one. Penn Dark was to be the brew of choice this time. I gotta tell you,
something happened on the way to the brewery last night. Okay, nothing
really happened, but they didn't have any kegs of Dark available!! What is
a poor boy to do. Not to fear at Penn Brewing there is always an
alternative. For those of you who don't live in the Western Pennsylvania
area, you have no idea what we have here. Too bad too. You would be hard
pressed to go to Germany and find better crafted German Lagers and Wheat
Bier. I'm not kidding. This beer is as good as anything you can buy in
this country. I have tasted Hacker Pschorr wheat, pilsner, and fest. Nope,
not better. Franzikaner wheat and Penn wheat are very similar. Spaten
Helles and Fest are considered world class beers. I will put Penn Gold up
against it any time and the Octoberfest made by Penn is very similar to the
Spaten. You can't find anything better. Bitburger?? Oh please, you
obviously haven't tasted the Kaiser Pils. Yes, this is unadulterated,
totally biased free web site plug number 436 pointed at my local,
Pennsylvania Brewing Company, but you know what? It is a well deserved one.
Thank you Tom Pastorius for bringing beer this good to our area. Oh, the
alternative keg I had to buy you ask? Well, it was my lucky day as they had
just released several Oktoberfest kegs for sale at the brewery. Yea, I
know, it's all that clean living.......

Bock:

In case you had forgotten about it, we (meaning Jim and I) had brewed two
big wheat beers about 5 weeks ago. Guess what. We are finally going to
bottle the bock tonight. There will be no postponements this time either.
I have already prepped my bottles and they are sitting with sanitizing
solution in them even as we speak. No, we're bottling tonight. I am
looking forward to tasting this beer too. It has just been sitting very
quietly maturing over the course of the last 3 and a half weeks. Sounds
good to me. Bulk aging for bigger beers is actually a good thing. They
tend to mellow and develop great flavors when bulk aged. Most commercial
beers of this ilk are bulk aged too. We didn't do anything any different
than they might do. We just had planned to get them bottled a little
quicker than we did. No harm, no foul. I'm putting this up in 22oz and
some 17.9 oz bottles. I know, 17.9 oz bottles??? They were originally
Czechvar (Budvar) bottles from Czechlosavakia. Don't ask me how they get to
17.9 oz's for their bottles. I do know that they look really cool and they
are a great size because with head space they fill up a 20 oz imperial pint
rather well. In any event, look for more bock news soon!!!!.......

Get some good beer and drink it will ya!! I can't make it any simpler than
that.....

Mark, The Brewer, and setting up the bottling line tonight......

Monday, November 08, 2004
 
Penn Is Mightier...I Don't Get Out Enough...Where's My Yeast....

Penn:

The commercial keg of Penn Pils bit the dust last night. I know, a moment
of silence is warranted........There. But that means I get to go get
another one. Oh happy days. I have also been given permission to get the
Penn Dark this round, which I fully intend to do. Penn dark is this brewers
version of a Munich Dunkel, and it is a consistent award winning brew at
many of the festivals in this country. I am actually looking forward to
having it on line for the next few weeks. It will be the first time that I
have bought the dark for the house. With the cooler temps outside, it will
be a nice change of pace to the pilsner and to my stronger (and very tasty)
ales from the home brew taps. Look for a complete set of tasting notes on
the Dark in the next couple of days.....

Out:

I don't get out enough. I hear rumors that there are several winter warmers
and holiday brews out there available, and I haven't been anywhere to taste
them!! I have been spending most of my time at home and at soccer fields.
Now that soccer is over, I hope to be able to get out to taste some other
beers here in the near future. I know that some of you out there rely on me
to give the definitive tasting notes on many of the offerings during the
various seasons. I hope to not disappoint you this season. I have heard
rumor of some great brews from the likes of Victory, Stoudts, Rogue, and
others. I know it's my duty to get out there and inform you. Man, this is
great work if you can get it. If only I actually got paid for
it......Speaking of getting paid for it, Brew Your Own Magazine stole one of
my bylines. On the cover of their latest issue is says, "Anchors Aweigh",
"brew your own California Common". That was the name of my California
Common that I brewed last spring. These guys must be infiltrating my web
site for ideas. Where's my lawyer.......

Yeast:

I still don't have my yeast order. I will have to call these guys out west
about that. I was hoping to brew this week. I need to get something
fermenting in the fermentation room. I also need to get the oatmeal stout
made for the nitro rangers for Christmas. I usually get top rate service
from the gang at Morebeer.com, but for some reason, I can't seem to get my
order filled or an explanation of why. I'll be calling them this evening
from home thanks to the three hour time difference. I placed the order on
October 28th and it hasn't even been shipped yet. Lucy, you got some
'splainin' to do..........

Look for the ESB recipe I plan to brew later this week. Is this a great
hobby or what?? Now go get some good craft beer and drink
it.......BRILLIANT!!!! :]

Mark, The Brewer, and needing the fine aroma of fermenting beer in my
fermentation room.......

Saturday, November 06, 2004
 
Mr. Pete Goes To Washington...Technical Difficulties Fixed...Dunk elWeiss Kegged...

Technical Difficulties:

Well, I have now been assured that the technical difficulties in which we
have been trying to operate are now fixed. Are they?? Who knows, but the
guy who emailed to tell me they were sounded like he knew what he was
talking about. I hope that they are fixed because I miss writing on this
site everyday. The past couple of weeks have been tough. If we are back in
Bidness, then I'll be happy. But you know how it is, what can go wrong
probably will at some point. Anyway, it's good to be back and talking about
beer and beer related topics.....Well, as you may already see, this post was
never made and is in a reverse order to the other one. HHHMMMMM......

Mr. Pete:

Well, the first beer magnate turned Senator didn't happen last night. In a
very close race, Pete Coors went down in defeat in the great state of
Colorado. He just couldn't coattail himself with 'ole W. during the final
furlong of the race to get the nod. I'm actually a little disappointed
about it. I was really curious to see how he would approach some of the
alcohol related legislation and other regulations that pertain to beer and
distribution. He is an advocate of eliminating the three tier distribution
system and allowing retailers to buy direct from brewers. That can only
help the consumer with lower prices and overall better distribution and
retail channels. He also is an advocate of doing this commerce over state
lines, eliminating the hand-outs by states to distributors who are
contributors if you know what I mean. I also heard he was planning on
working toward a lower drinking age as well (probably so he doesn't get sued
anymore over their breweries advertising for targeting people underage). It
would have been interesting in deed to see how his politics laid out. Not
this time. Maybe he'll run again as he didn't lose by very much. I guess
discriminating Colorado beer drinkers don't care much for the "coldest
tasting beer" either........

Dunkelweiss:

I got this in the keg. Jim will be interested to hear that the ending
gravity on the beer I kegged turned out to be 1.014. That is about 4 pts
lowers than when we bottled the other carboy a week earlier. I thought that
was interesting. What?? How'd it taste? It was really good. It has a
wonderful desert like aroma and is laced with tastes of chocolate and a hint
of roastier grain followed by a nice clean tart finish. I would say that
this will be another very fine beer to drink. I look forward to drinking it
with co2 on it to make it effervescent like a wheat beer should be. The
bock is still awaiting packaging. This looks like another beer that will
very enjoyable. I'll let you know as soon as I know.....

ESB looks to be next on the brewing calendar, followed by oatmeal stout and
another IPA (just too good). If this isn't the best hobby ever, I don't
know what might be....So get out there and brew, and if you don't want to
brew, then at least drink something good....

Mark, The Brewer, and getting ready to ferment something real soon........

Friday, November 05, 2004
 
Mr. Pete Goes To Washington...Technical Difficulties Fixed...Dunk elWeiss Kegged...

Technical Difficulties:

Well, I have now been assured that the technical difficulties in which we
have been trying to operate are now fixed. Are they?? Who knows, but the
guy who emailed to tell me they were sounded like he knew what he was
talking about. I hope that they are fixed because I miss writing on this
site everyday. The past couple of weeks have been tough. If we are back in
Bidness, then I'll be happy. But you know how it is, what can go wrong
probably will at some point. Anyway, it's good to be back and talking about
beer and beer related topics.....

Mr. Pete:

Well, the first beer magnate turned Senator didn't happen last night. In a
very close race, Pete Coors went down in defeat in the great state of
Colorado. He just couldn't coattail himself with 'ole W. during the final
furlong of the race to get the nod. I'm actually a little disappointed
about it. I was really curious to see how he would approach some of the
alcohol related legislation and other regulations that pertain to beer and
distribution. He is an advocate of eliminating the three tier distribution
system and allowing retailers to buy direct from brewers. That can only
help the consumer with lower prices and overall better distribution and
retail channels. He also is an advocate of doing this commerce over state
lines, eliminating the hand-outs by states to distributors who are
contributors if you know what I mean. I also heard he was planning on
working toward a lower drinking age as well (probably so he doesn't get sued
anymore over their breweries advertising for targeting people underage). It
would have been interesting in deed to see how his politics laid out. Not
this time. Maybe he'll run again as he didn't lose by very much. I guess
discriminating Colorado beer drinkers don't care much for the "coldest
tasting beer" either........

Dunkelweiss:

I got this in the keg. Jim will be interested to hear that the ending
gravity on the beer I kegged turned out to be 1.014. That is about 4 pts
lowers than when we bottled the other carboy a week earlier. I thought that
was interesting. What?? How'd it taste? It was really good. It has a
wonderful desert like aroma and is laced with tastes of chocolate and a hint
of roastier grain followed by a nice clean tart finish. I would say that
this will be another very fine beer to drink. I look forward to drinking it
with co2 on it to make it effervescent like a wheat beer should be. The
bock is still awaiting packaging. This looks like another beer that will
very enjoyable. I'll let you know as soon as I know.....

ESB looks to be next on the brewing calendar, followed by oatmeal stout and
another IPA (just too good). If this isn't the best hobby ever, I don't
know what might be....So get out there and brew, and if you don't want to
brew, then at least drink something good....

Mark, The Brewer, and getting ready to ferment something real soon........

 
Still Having Trouble....Weizenbock...Brewing Soon...

Still:

We are still experiencing difficulties in posting to the site. By the time
you read this, it could be the weekend even though I am writing it on
Thursday. Wednesday's post still isn't up as of this writing. I don't know
what to tell you all. Be patient and we will fix whatever it is that is
aleing us........

Weizenbock:

Ready for bottling and should be ready for drinking by Thanksgiving. Beer
looks fantastic and I can't wait to sneak a little taste of this brew. It
should be bottled within the next 5 days and by the time you read this post,
it probably will already be in bottles. The beer maintains that dirty
golden color in the secondary and I like it. I am expecting 7.5% ABV plus
from this one so we'll just take care of chores so we can get to enjoying
the spoils of our labor.

Brewing Soon:

I got the itch to brew. Since the IPA turned out so good, and I know the
porter is also going to be good, I got the itch to brew. No question it
will be an ESB this time out. I can see a clearer vision of the next
several brews now. ESB could be in the kettle as early as next Thursday. A
fitting way to celebrate our countries veterens I think. The next beer will
probably be the requested oatmeal stout, and it should be ready by Christmas
if all goes well. After that, but not in this particular order will be,
another batch of IPA. Gotta have it to get through the winter months. I
also see another batch of Deceased Dude Ale in my future, the obligatory
Irish Dry Stout, a Califonia Common, and I am thinking about trying my hand
at another Alt Bier. For Whom the Bell's Tolls was another really great
brew that might be fun, and then we will be into the spring/summer cycle
again. I plan to brew more next summer, light ales, bitter, wheat, that
type of stuff. Look for lots of brewing action on the system over the next
7 months.

Get some good beer and drink it????......BRILLIANT!!!!!!!

Remember, it the ale that cures ya!!!

Mark, The Brewer, and planning on getting some miles out of the kettles this
year........


Powered by Blogger AddMe.com, free web site submission and promotion to the search engines