Don't You Love It When a Plan Works?

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In this blog post , I wrote about the changes I'd made to my Rye IPA brewing process that I felt had made a huge improvement in the beer. I brewed a second batch exactly like the first in order to confirm that those changes were actually the reason I liked the beer so much more than before. Well, I kegged that second batch yesterday.

Time is Short!

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Since time is always tight, how about something quick that will impress your friends, neighbors and fellow brewers? Mary Izett of Fuhmentaboudit on the Heritage Radio Network gave a talk at this year’s AHA Homebrewer’s Conference on “Alternative Fermentations”. The talk was filled with different projects you can tackle when you have a few spare cycles. To demonstrate, she poured a Strawberry Peppercorn “Short” Mead.

A Shift in the Plan

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As I get ready to head out to Philly for the NHC, I thought I'd announce a shift in the book plan that we're engaged in, now. Feedback from y'all has been overwhelming and a sudden inspiration took over. You see, Denny and I are but two semi-techy-geeky guys who like to play with our beer. It's right there in the site's motto! When we announced the book originally, there was an incredible response of people looking for more experiments and ways to answer the strange questions you can only come up with while you're obsessed with a hobby.

Am I Good or Just Lucky?

denny's picture

I wrote a while ago about my experiments to increase sulfate levels in my Rye IPA. My latest batch, with a sulfate level of 300 ppm, is far and away the best of the many batches of this recipe that I've made over the years. So, now what I need to do is brew it again, exactly the same way, to find out if the changes in sulfate were the reason or if I just had Ninkasi looking over my shoulder when I made the last batch. That's what I'm doing today...brewing exactly the same recipe, with exactly the same ingredients, down to the same bags of malt and hops.

Splitsville - The Main Story

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Earlier this week we talked a bit about the value of smaller brewing to the homebrewer. Today, let's talk a few different techniques to get more variety out of your brew day. Remember the idea is say you don't want to brew 10-15 gallons of the same beer? (or 5 if you're really addicted to lots of flavors) After all, different flavors are wonderful and sometimes you just gotta fill out those taps! These days this is how much of my brew day goes. Virtually every batch has a plan like this attached to it.

My latest experiments

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A couple years ago I began using Martin Brungard's excellent Bru'nwater spreadsheet to calculate additions to my water for various types of beers. I immediately began noticing improvements so I decided to dig a little deeper. I decided I'd concentrate on improving my IPAs with water adjustments. The main area I concentrated on was increasing my sulfate levels a step at a time and see what kind of effect it had. I decided to experiment on my Rye IPA recipe since I've brewed it dozens of times and know it well.

Friday Fun Ingredient - Tea!

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Today's fun ingredient - Tea! The last time I brewed with tea was for the San Diego NHC in 2011. As part of the giant fleet of saisons that I made for the conference, I made the Jasmine Dragon Saison. It used one of my favorite teas - jasmine infused pearl green tea. Now this isn't the same stuff I used in the Dragon, but a very similar tea made it's way about 2oz (weight) of tea to a cup of vodka. That soaked and was shook for a business week and then strained.

Sanitizing mushrooms - NOT!

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I just got done writing up the recipe for my Wee Shroomy for the book. Basically a wee heavy with chanterelle mushrooms added to it. After trying various methods of dealing with the mushrooms, the one definite thing I've decided is that I hate the "soak them in vodka and then add the vodka" method. It adds an undesirable heat to the beer. I simply chop and freeze the mushrooms before adding them. Many people, though, seem to be deathly afraid of not soaking additions in vodka, to the point of not even trying anything else.

Fun Friday - Ingredient Exploration

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Alright, my fellow IGORs and followers of the blog, yesterday's post on PB2 and its uses received good traction both here and on Facebook, so I'm now going to turn the floor over to you.

What crazy things have you used in your brews? What's your favorite way to add a twist to the brew day?

There's a ton of things like: coffee, chocolate, fruit, liquor, oak, spice! Share!

Cascade Brewers Society Iron Brewer 2013

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Our club had its annual Iron Brewer competition last Saturday. In case you've never seen Iron Chef, the TV show that inspired the event, teams of brewers arrive at the brewing location, set up their equipment and are given secret ingredients to use in a batch of beer which they have 5 hours to brew. The ingredients don't have to dominate the beer, but they do have to make a noticeable contribution to the beer. We had six teams of 2 brewers this year. Each team was given a selection of crystal malts (20, 60, and Special B) and a quart of pomegranate juice to use.

True Confessions

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A few years back in Zymurgy (March/April 2011, to be precise - go, go handy Zymurgy Index), I wrote about making your brewery organized and neat and welcoming of brewery activities. (Got a lot of "Man, my wife just saw this and I have to clean up the brewery now. Thanks!" emails for that one.) Well, it's time for true confessions time - my brewery is a disaster area right now. You know how it goes. Stuff accumulates.

Brewing Again!

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My job has a very unstructured schedule. Sometimes it's a day of work here and there, sometimes it's 2 weeks straight followed by a week or 2 off. I'm heading into a 10 day stretch of no work and looking forward to getting my brew on for the first time in a while! I'm planning on getting in at least 2 batches of relatively low alcohol, but (hopefully) flavorful beers. Both will be experiments because I haven't brewed either recipe before. One will be a low alcohol Belgian style beer, made with W3787 Westmalle yeast and some beautiful Hallertauer pellets I picked up.

We Need I.G.O.R.s

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One of the things that Denny and I have been talking about behind y'alls back is some of the elements of the book. Listening to you kind folks it's definitely clear that we need some help with researching and experimenting to handle some of your thoughts. So here's our announcment - we're in need of some good I.G.O.R.s. The dots mean that it's an acronym! (Let's face it there's a shockingly large percentage of homebrewers who seem addicted to funny bacronyms. I'm looking at all the Q.U.A.F.F.s, M.A.L.T.S., S.A.A.Z, S.O.D.S., C.A.R.B.O.Y. of the brewing world.

A Day in the Life of a Writer

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think think think think write research research think think think get up walk around pet the cat play ball with the dog think think think write research go to work wish you had a beer

Sounds exotic, huh?

So, today I'm thinking about what types of suggestions for experiments to include in the book. The posts you've been making help a lot in knowing what you're interested in. That's a hint!


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