Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Brew Day: Pyrite Pistol (Specialty Wood-Aged Beer)

In 2014 Innis & Gunn announced that they would let fans of the brewery vote on the recipe for an upcoming brew. Fans voted on the style of beer, specialty malt, hop, type of cask the beer would be aged in, and the name of the beer. One fan who voted for each winning ingredient and beer name received an Innis & Gunn prize pack and would have their name appear on the bottle.

Pyrite Pistol
One of the best labels I have ever designed.

I was one of the lucky four winners when I voted for Northern Brewer hops to be used in the beer. Innis & Gunn sent me a prize pack from their headquarters in Scotland. I emailed an image of my signature to appear on the bottle, and eagerly anticipated seeing the beer hit store shelves. The beer is to be called "Golden Gunn": a Scotch Ale, brewed with Caramalt like I used in my Geary's Summer Ale clone, Northern Brewer hops, and aged in Islay (Pronounced eye-lay) Scotch whiskey barrels.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Enjoy the best homebrew in Boston

This past November I judged at the Best of Boston Homebrew competition. I wrote a post about the inaugural competition as I crammed for my Beer Judge Certification Program tasting exam. This years' winner will have his beer served on tap at Framingham Beer Works.


The second annual competition was held at the future home of the Down the Road Brewery in Everett. I was able to sneak a peek at renderings of what the finished brewery will look like, and it looks like it will be another great spot for beer lovers in the area.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Brew Day: BeerSmith's Dry Irish Stout

I have a couple big, high gravity beers in my pipeline. These beers are going to need a lot of yeast to ensure a healthy and thorough fermentation. If yeast is under-pitched, fermentation can lag which increases the risk of infection. There also may not be enough yeast to ensure a complete fermentation, and/or enough healthy yeast to clean up the chemical byproducts from fermentation. None of this is good.

Beautiful black color.

Typically I would use my stir plate, and prepare a yeast starter to build up enough yeast cells to pitch into the beer. My upcoming high-gravity beers are going to use the same yeast, 1084 Irish Ale. To make yeast starters for both of the beers I would have to make a starter, probably step it up again to have enough cells, and repeat for the second batch. That means I would have to spend four different weeknights boiling extract and cooling it down in an ice bath. Not exactly what I want to do after getting home from work or the gym.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Don't tell me how to live or drink

A friend of mine stopped by a recently opened brewery on New Years Day. This establishment has several large televisions, none of which were on as the puck was about to drop for the Winter Classic. He asked his waitress if she could put the game on. Initially she said the TVs were for Patriots games only. When he explained what a huge event the Winter Classic is, the server said she would talk to a manager.
Please don't tell me how to "live"

The waitress gave my friend the good news, that her manager said that they would put the game on. When the game still wasn't on around ten to 15 minutes later, he asked his server again. She said they had to "fire up" the TVs. He had to ask a third time after which they game was finally on. At that time his server made a remark about how other patrons were having "great conversations", intimating that my friend should be doing the same.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Brew Day: Dawson's Kriek (Fruit Lambic)

"I don't want to wait... For our lives to be ooverrrr ...."

I'm sorry, every time I think about this beer that bit of 90s nostalgia pops into my head. The sad thing is, I never watched the show. My girlfriend, on the other hand, would drop me like a bad habit for Pacey if she could.

The beer is named after Michael Dawson who formulated the recipe. He used to work for Northern Brewer, and was one of the original co-hosts of the popular web video series, Brewing TV.

My lambic will not be this elaborate.

Having brewed as many different beers as I have I think I can design a recipe for almost any style. Belgian sours are uncharted waters for me. There are several strains of lactobacillus and pediocaccas that are available for purchase. I have no familiarity at all with any of them. For my first foray into sour beers a kit seemed like a good idea.

Like some of the bigger beers I am planning to brew, a lambic like this will need months to age. It probably won't be ready to drink for over a year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Brew Day: Misplaced Bitterness (Best Bitter)

On a commercial scale, brewing is sometimes called "yeast farming". Commercial brewers are continually monitoring their yeast, brewing batches to keep their yeast samples viable, and refresh their yeast bank. On a homebrew scale it is easy enough to buy new yeast, but it is possible to manage your inventory to save that expense. That was the genesis of this brew.

The 1272 American Ale II yeast in my yeast bank was harvested last March. At best ten percent of the cells in the jar are viable. I loved what the yeast contributed to Camp Randall Red IPA and the Blueberry Wheat kit that I brewed. I want to re-brew Camp Randall Red and potentially use 1272 in another batch, but it will take some work to step up the number of yeast cells to even brew a two or three gallon batch.

Practicing getting the stir bar to spin.

A stir plate spins liquid via a spinning magnet, which causes another magnet inside of the flask called a stir bar to also spin, causing the liquid in the flask to stir. The stir bar is roughly the size of a pill. They are small and very easy to lose. I have managed to lose three of them already. The next time I buy ingredients I will buy a new one and a backup, but in the meantime I have to do without.