Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brew Day: Ground Rule Double (Belgian-style dubbel)

Out of all the iconic Belgian beer styles, the dubbel might be my favorite. Witbier may be more common, while tripels and quads get more fanfare, but the plum and burnt sugar flavors found in a dubbel set it apart from other Belgian styles where the beer is soured or the yeast flavor more prominent. Technically, this is not a Belgian dubbel because it was not brewed in Belgium. Instead of calling it an American dubbel, I further Anglicized the name to come up with another baseball-themed beer name.
3 gallon batch going into the primary fermenter.

I hastily bought the ingredients for this beer at the same time I picked up ingredients for the Pinch Hit Belgian Pale Ale. I grabbed six pounds of Belgian 2-row barley, Special B malt, dark candi sugar, and Styrian Goldings hops. These were ingredients I had never used for the most part, but knew were common in Belgian beers.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fighting Seasonal Creep - The Definitive Guide for Seasonal Beer

Seasonal creep is the phenomenon of seasonal beers coming out earlier and earlier. This past year we saw Samuel Adams' and Harpoon's new spring offerings on store shelves Jan 2! Ironic that it was one of the coldest winters in memory.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Beer Inspiration in our Backyard: AHA Rally at Samuel Adams

This past Thursday, we attended an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) rally at the Samuel Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain. Every serious homebrewer should join the AHA. The subscription to Zymurgy alone is worth the membership fee. Additionally, AHA members have first dibs on tickets for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), other member discounts and rallies such as this one.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Brew Day: Pinch Hit Belgian Pale Ale

With the Summer of '18 fermenting in my cousin's cool basement, I've decided that brewing Belgian-style beers is the way to go for brewing at home. I picked up a package of Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes yeast at Beer and Wine Hobby when I decided on a whim I wanted to brew Belgian beers this summer. According to reviews on Northern Brewer this yeast can ferment well into the 80s which will be perfect for my apartment which is usually in the 70s.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beer inspiration in our backyard: Riverwalk Brewing & Newburyport Brewing Co.

As craft beer continues to grow, we in Massachusetts are lucky to have great beer made right here. Like a musician or an artist is influenced by other artists, so too should the homebrewer be influenced by other beers.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and Massachusetts Brewers Guild came up with the Craft Brewers Passport. You can pick one up at a local brewery or print it at home. As you visit the Commonwealth's amazing local breweries, your passport gets stamped. When you complete a region you get a T-shirt; and, if you hit every brewery in the state, you get a "prize pack." As nice as it is to get swag, it really is about the journey of visiting the breweries and supporting the local scene. This week, we went up to Newburyport to visit Riverwalk Brewing and Newburyport Brewing Co.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grain mill and wort chiller, investments for a lifetime

While watching Episode #77 of the BeerSmith Podcast on BIAB brewing, guest Jake Keeler rattled off three items that are a lifetime investment for a homebrewer: propane burner, wort chiller, and a grain mill. In other words these are things I had to have.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brew Day: Subway Series Stout (American Stout)

At the risk of losing craft beer street cred, I will admit I am a Leinenkugel's fan. I'll suck down Summer Shandy on a hot summer day, but some of my favorite beers by Leinie's are some of their beers that aren't as well known in these parts. Lienenkugel's Original, for my money, is as good as any American-style lager. Their Canoe Paddler Kölsch won gold at the Great American Beer Festival and the Red Lager is excellent, but my favorite by Leinie's is the Creamy Dark.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Brew Day: Ruthian Summer of '18 Ale (Fruit and Spice Beer)

Two of my cousins have been brewers for longer than I have. When I decided I wanted to try homebrewing it was likely inevitable that we would brew together at some point. During our first collaboration my cousin Greg proclaimed that, "they didn't brew light or session beers!" at their brewery. That spring day in 2013 we brewed an imperial stout. As summer approached that proclamation got my wheels spinning.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What the Salem and Beverly Water Quality Report means to your beer

Every year the Salem and Beverly Water Supply Board sends out a water quality report. I imagine it's a legal requirement and that 99% of residents throw it in the trash like it's junk mail. I always figured that if there was something truly bad in the water supply it would make the news or somebody smarter than me would understand what the jargon in the water report actually means. As a brewer this is actually relevant information.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Beating the summer heat at the brew house

Most ale yeasts need to ferment no higher than 70°F-75°F at the absolute high end. When our yeasty friends are hard at work turning the wort into beer, the temperature inside the fermenter raises several degrees. We live in a third floor apartment where if it's in the 90s outside it doesn't get cooler than the mid 70°s with two window air conditioners on full blast. That might be comfortable enough for us, especially when enjoying a nice cold homebrew, but not so much for brewing at the peak of summer.