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

drew's picture

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!

We've Been Remiss!

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I feel like we've been remiss here. We totally forgot to mention that homebrewing will finally be legal in all 50 states! It's taken a few years, but once Mississippi's law goes into effect in July, you can no longer consider yourself a wanton criminal in these here states. So congratulations to Mississippi (signed in March) and Alabama (signed last week) and to the fleet of homebrewers who've worked for multiple years to finally get the hobby fully legalized.

Preconception and Perception

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One of my biggest points in evaluating your experiments is knowing how to not fool yourself by letting what you think you know interfere with what you're trying to find out. Listening to an old podcast of America's Test Kitchen on my drive home last night, I learned about wine tastings conducted by Frederic Brochet. In a nutshell, in one tasting he served 2 glasses of the same white wine, only one was dyed red. Tasters proceeded to describe definite differences between the wines.

Southern California Homebrewer's Festival

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This year's edition of the Southern California Homebrewer's Festival featured 39 home brew clubs and a massive ton of beer. I saw everything I think you can make there from American Light Lagers to rip roaring super stupefying meads. Had some great beers like a brilliant Watermelon Sour where you could taste the rind. I never could find it again, so if you know who was pouring a watermelon sour beer at the SCHF, please let me know! (drew@experimentalbrew.com).

Thanks!

denny's picture

Rather than thank everyone individually for every post in the forums, I wanted to just give everybody an overall thanks for your contributions. We're off to a great start and we've got a long way to go, but every post is valuable to us and hopefully it will be to other homebrewers.

Big Brew

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Well, I hosted a Big Brew for the 14th time yesterday. 5 brewers, about a dozen drinkers. No strange ingredients used, unless you count all the crap that blew into kettles due to the high wind. every year, on the day after Big Brew as I clean up, I always seem to feel more than a year older since the last one!

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