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Friday, July 20, 2012

One Year Anniversary!

My inspiration to brew better
Today marks the One Year Anniversary of SNBBrewing.com. I almost completely missed it and if it wasn't for the Brewluminati also turning a year I wouldn't have even remembered.

Technically I acquired the SNBBrewing.com on April 1 of 2011, shortly after winning the Karl Strauss Homebrew Competition at the urging of one of my employees. I didn't really do much will it at first and had no idea what I really wanted the site to be about.  The biggest notion I had was for it to be a modeled after the Surly Brewing Website (shocking I know) and a place where I would display labels linked to my beers brands.  Eventually I started to want it to also include the recipe.

I already been reading a lot of really good brewing blogs (such as The Mad Fermentationist) and didn't think that I needed or wanted to do a blog.  That changed midway through 2011 when I decided that I wanted to control the content of the work I was already putting forth into the web on various forums already.  I decided that I would keep track of my various beer related hobbies (Brewing, Tasting, Trading and Exploring) though these days it contains far more Brewing related posts than anything else.  I'm going to try and chance that moving forward, especially on the Tasting and Exploring side. 

To decide on the overall look of the site I went to all my favorite blogs and took note of what I liked about them and what I didn't like.  I spent a lot of time getting the background and the page to work the way I saw it in my mind.  While it could be better I've been pleased with the current layout I changed to a couple of months in.

With everything decided I wrote my first post  for publication one year ago today welcoming readers to SNB Brewing.  Over the last year my writing style has changed and I've definitely become more verbose when writing posts.  The one thing that hasn't changed has been my unfortunate tendency for typos.  I've often received texts and emails from friends pointing them out and have then gone in and corrected them. To this day I still go back and find one or two that were missed that make me groan. So to everyone who has pointed out my mistakes I say thank you.

The hardest part has been keeping the tabs up to date, which I've done for the One Year Anniversary!  Actually that's not true, the hardest part of trying to blog is stay to a schedule.  When I launch I pushed myself with a hard 3 days a week update schedule.  I figured with four ares of my hobby to cover I'd have plenty of content.  While it's true I had plenty of content but with a busy/consuming job, a supportive/understanding wife and a young daughter the thing I lacked was time.  I do not now how other bloggers can do it.  I felt bad the first time I had a two post week and even worse when I was only update once a week.  Than things got really busy and I started missing weeks altogether. Today with everything I have going on I've committed myself to at least one post a week.

What it means to me
I'd like to say thank you to everyone that takes the time to read my blog.  I hope you have found it informative, honest and funny. I've had a good time writing it and appreciate all the comments you've given me over the last year.  I've got a bunch of fun stuff planned in the coming year (barrels, blending, a new brewhouse and more exploration of beer) so hopefully you'll stick around and spend some more time with me.

In closing I'd like to give specific thanks to the following for their support: Bonnie B, SydnieNB, DG, Marshall T, Daniel F, Shawn O, Brad D, Eric A, Scott M, Steve C, Ryan O, Chad L, Chris C, Todd H and probably a dozen more.  Your friendship and support mean the world to me.



A Year in Stats
  • 84 Posts
  • 21 Documented Brews (60 Total ATP)
  • 8 Specials
  • 5 Events
  • 5 Brewery Reviews
  • 2 Projects
Top 10 Posts
  1. Temperature Control - 250
  2. Cold Coffee Extraction - 179 
  3. Stone Ruination IPA Double Dry Hopped with Centennial and Citra - 159
  4. Building the Indiana Jones Crate Keezer - 154
  5. Brewing Beers with Big Hop Aroma - 149
  6. My Funky Brother Brett - 136
  7. The Bruery Batch 50 GFAR aka Grand Funk Ale Road - 124
  8. Scott's BIG IPL w/Citra - 118
  9. Creating Labels and the Imperial Rhino Stout 2011 - 118
  10. Scott's BIG IPL - Alchemy Guild - 110

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stir Plate Build

MiniScribe 6085 Hard Drive
In college I was an Art/Business Double Major.  While my primary artist medium was ceramics (both thrown and formed) as part of the requirements of my degree I had to take ART 102 3-D Foundations. One of the assignments in the class was to do a found art project.  The premise of this is simple, take an interesting object and present it in a new and interesting way.  I did a couple but the one that has stuck with me was I found an old slide projector from the 50s.  I loved the design of it it really had a classic almost art deco feel to it.  I presented it by tipping it on it's side and lighting it up.  It looked like an old space ship taking off.  Shame I couldn't have kept it.  In the end the class gave me a new appreciation for the potential of existing objects.

Fast forward many years to 2009 which found me closing down a company that my work had recently acquired. While sorting trash/scrap/salvage I came across a very old MiniScribe 6085 Hard Drive (Brace yourselves, we're talking a whopping Capacity form/unform 71/ 85 MB !) I absolutely loved the design and form of it and decided it needed to come home with me.

It sat in my office on display for the next two and a half years until I came across the following YouTube video.

I'd been wanting a stir plate to help with my yeast production for a while but couldn't justify the costs given everything else I needed first,but I could do $15. As I was assembling the components I started to search out a box to put it in.  Like the Crate I wanted something that was interesting to look at.  One day I happen to glace over to where the MiniScribe had been sitting and realized right away that I had found my box.

Complete and running
When it came time to build it I started to search out wiring diagrams and other build descriptions to find the details I needed that weren't present in the video. In addition to the video I studied the following builds: Building a Stir Plate, Building a Stir Plate for Brewing, My Stirplate... Cheap and Easy Build and Mad Zymurgists Stir Plate Project. I put together a quick print out with all of the details I needed.

While the build was fairly easy to complete it was far from issue free; the original magnet was too strong and bound everything together, the 5v power supply wasn't strong enough to spin the fan with the magnet on it and the 24v was too powerful and burnt out the fan.

It took a couple of hours over two weekends but in the end I was able to get everything wired up and working.  I'll be breaking it in soon when I make a starter for Project S.C.O.T.T.

Check out the complete build after the break.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bottling Westbennetteren 12

The Unique bottle collection
Six long months after brewing up my tribute to Westvleteren 12 (Commonly known as Westy 12), which I called Westbennetteren 12, I finally got around to bottling it up.

The process started a few weeks back when I transferred the Westbennetteren 12 out of its long secondary and into a keg to make room in my fermenting cube for Coast of the Sun.  I flushed the keg CO2 and just kept a blanket on top to keep it Oxygen free.  I did nip on it a little while it was on tap and shared it with some friends.  I also did a small side by side with a Westvleteren 12 when I popped Eric Addison's Westy 12 cherry (something I've been known to do more than once).

As you may know when I brew a beer with the intent to bottle I always design a label, this time however a label would not have been appropriate for the tribute I was doing.  Currently Westvleteren does not label their beer. The only differentiation that separates the three beers they produce is a colored bottle cap.  So to do this right I needed to create a bottle cap for it.  Fortunately for me, these days there is a solution for that.

Tribute cap to a Tribute beer
A while back I read an article about a company called BottleMark.  BottleMark is this cool company in Houston that was started by a homebrewer who had too many different batches in the fridge at once. He realize that if he could do a low run bottle cap he could tell them apart so he came up with a way to print artwork on a white bottle cap. A bunch of my friends had given them a try and were very pleased with the results.  With a low 11¢ per cap price (now 12¢) I figured this would be the prefect opportunity to try them out. So while the Westbennetteren 12 was chillin in secondary I designed some artwork for a run of bottle caps. The shipping was extremely fast and I was very pleased with results.  I also created a couple of other caps using this order as the prefect test opportunity for other bottle cap ideas I had.

Homebrewed Quad in a Westy 12 Bottle
Gotta love it
I picked up a couple of new cases of 12 oz tall bottles (the Sierra Nevada short stubbies won't have worked) and found 6 special unique bottles for friends. The prefect bottle to have found would have been a couple of cases of New Belgium 12s.  My preferred method for prepping bottles for beer is to sterilize them (several notches above sanitizing imo) via dry heat.  Following Palmer's chapter on the subject I rinsed them and loaded my oven. As Palmer states I loaded the bottles with the oven cold and brought it up to 350, I held that for 60 minutes then killed the oven and let the bottles cool overnight.  I topped all the bottles with foil to keep them sterilized indefinitely until needed.

When it came to bottling day I primed the beer with Simplicity as recommended by the recipe (not recommend was added 3 more oz then I needed) and a fresh vial of WLP530.  I stirred with a sanitized spoon as well as shook and rocked the keg to make sure it was properly combined.  I filled the bottles using my BeerGun at very low pressure.  There was no need to chill the bottles as the beer as still. I then capped them with a sanitized bottle cap.

From here is another five to six months of bottle conditioning.  The first bottle will be cracked when Shawn, Daniel and I do our Quad night sometime in November/December.



Friday, July 6, 2012

The NEW Bruery Tasting Room

On the night before the Grand Opening a few dozen (more like 100) Reserve Society members got a chance to check out the Bruery's new tasting room. I have to say it was quite impressive and a big upgrade to the old one.

One of the key features is the 40 taps plus one cask on hand pump of Bruery Beer.  They also pulled out all stops for the sneak preview and grand opening filling all 40 taps with some of their best and most famous beers.  This included several of my favorite Bruery beers.

Partial list of beers they had on tap for the preview:
Saison Rue
Not actually a chalkboard but a
projection onto a chalkboard
pretty cool

Loakal Red
Trade Winds
Go Team!
Batch 300
Burly Gourd
Chocosaurus Rye
Old Richland
Salt of the Earth
Tart of Darkness
Oude Tart
5 different Carmens
Sans Pagaie
Mélange #3
Bourbon Barrel aged Coton - Yes Please!
Bourbon Barrel aged Cuir
Bourbon Barrel aged Fruet
Marrón Acidifié
Black Tuesday (2011)
Chocolate Rain (2012) - Yes Please!

I had four beers that night as they were not yet doing flights (which will be very nice)
  • Barrel Aged Coton - One of my favorite of their Anniversary Beers. It was holding up really well and the mouthfeel was the same thickness I fell in love with.  It seemed to have a weird alcoholic burn that hadn't been there before and the raisininess that I loved was gone.
  • Chocolate Rain (2012) - Very Chocolatey still but not as good as it's been in the past.  I might be starting to fall off.
  • Kevin's Fuzzy Peaches - Wonderful beer that was way too quaff-able for its own good!
  • Washington OC - An enjoyable domestic quad that when it warmed opened up wonderfully.
It was nice getting a preview of the new facility. I ran into Tyler and got to congratulate him on the success of the new space.

I will say that despite reports of poofy ceiling to dampen the noise level it got very noisy with 50-60 people having a great time. By the end of my the night it was hard to hear my buddy Scott.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

SNB Brewing: HopFarms

Rhizome in the pot
One of the things I regretted not doing last year was planting hops so I could do some wet hop beers in the fall.  It was fun watching everybody who did grow them post up pictures as they grew. While I never got to try any of their creations I knew next year I would make growing them a priority.

The thing about growing hops is that for the first two years they are really trying to establish their root system.  This generally leads to lower yields for the first couple of years.  I've heard tails from people saying that they were lucky to get 2-8oz total from multiple plants.

When it came time to plant I sourced from two locations.  The first was Northwest Hops which I had learned about via thread on BA talking about the success and the pricing people had had from them  I ended up ordering two Hop Rhizome Starter Kits, one cascade and one centennial.  The nice thing about the start kit was that each came with 5 Rhizomes, 60 feet of coir hop twine and free shipping.  I gave one of each to Daniel to plant as I didn't think I needed 5 of each.  To round out my hop varieties I also order 3 from Addison Homebrew Provisions; a nugget, a glacier and apparently another centennial (I'd thought I'd ordered cascade and columbus from Northwest Hops when I placed my order)

some of the cascades and centennials
After doing some research online I decide for the first year or so to plant in containers.  I split it up with 2 in 3 containers and 1 in another 3 containers in the back with one planted up front.  I'm pretty sure I also planted a centennial in the garden but can't remember.

Two of my centennials were the first to take off and required building the rope system to the back of the house within a month of planting. The rest have taken much longer with very little growth from the nugget or glacier.

Over the last weekend I got around to building the rope system for that rest of the growing ones. To anchor the rope to the ground I made some stakes by taking some 1.5" x 0.5" wood I had lying around and cut it up at a 60 degree angle, then I took a half inch boring bit and drilled a hole in the top for the rope.  I attached the rope to the house using eye hooks.  I'll build more if and when the remaining rhizomes warrant it.  

Currently they are on a drip system that had been on a timer until it died.  Now I just water them while I water the back yard.  The next step will be to provide them with some nutrients and more time.

Hopefully this will allow me enough wet hops this fall to do the most insane wet hop IPA I can think of...

Till then, cheers


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