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Thursday, January 24, 2013

OC Beer Society 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off & Bottle-share at Peace Brewing

OC Beer Society 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off & Bottle-share
Wow, that title is quite a mouthful, but clearly articulates what went down over the weekend.  For the second year in a row I attended and entered chili at OC Beer Society's 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off & Bottle Share which was held once again at my buddy Brad's house (aka Peace Brewing).  If you would like a rundown of last year go check out the post Greg at OC Beer Blog put up.

This year the turnout was pretty much double what it was last year, and the competition for top chili honors was fierce. Where as last year I helped my wife make a kick-ass turkey chili with IPA this year I was really shooting for the gold with what I thought would be hands down winner - Barrel Aged 33 Brand Chili (recipe below).  To seal the deal I even went the extra steps of topping it with bacon.  Unfortunately in the end it was to no avail and Greg ended up taking the top prize with Daniel coming in second, but enough about the chili let's talk beer!

I brought four beers this year; Cuvée Saint-Gilloise (Cantillon), Holiday Beer 2010 (SNB Brewing), Commander (Lift Bridge) and The Auroch’s Horn Aged On Rhubarb (Olvalde).  The Cuvée was excellent and was my 1,200th check in on Untappd. I was really surprised by how good the Holiday Beer 2010 had gotten, all the spices have really melded well into the beer to create something truly special. I've got two bottles left and I think I'm going to continue the tradition of opening them at this event next year and the year after.  The other beer I brought that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it was The Auroch’s Horn Aged On Rhubarb (Olvalde).  I got a slight sour/tart note on it that reminded me of chardonnay.  I asked someone who knew wine what she thought and while she didn't get chardonnay she could see where I was coming from when I described why I was tasting chardonnay.

Some of the beers I thought were highlights of the event for me were; Four and Five (Surly - shocking I know), Rooster King (Beancurdturtle Brewing - really developing nicely with the Portola coffee), Murda'd Out Stout (Three Floyds - I'd wanted to try it), Kopi-Speedway Stout (AleSmith - score), Le Bleu (Ithaca - fantastic blueberry beer) and Black Note (Bell's - once I'm back from Europe and the frenzy dies down I'm trading for a 4-pack)

Here's the complete list of beers (red highlights = what I brought / blue highlights = highlights for me)
  • Rooster King by Beancurdturtle Brewing
  • Thumbprint Cran-bic Ale (2011) by New Glarus Brewing Company
  • Totality (2012) by FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
  • Cuvée Saint-Gilloise (Champions) by Brasserie Cantillon - Untappd Check-in 1,200!
  • Trappistes Rochefort 10 by Abbey Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy
  • 120 Minute IPA (2012) by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • Five by Surly Brewing Company
  • Murda'd Out Stout by Three Floyds Brewing Company
  • Winter Ale by Kern River Brewing Company
  • Four by Surly Brewing Company
  • Holiday Beer 2010 by SNB Brewing
  • Kentucky Dark Star by Fremont Brewing
  • Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale Aged In Bourbon Barrels (2010) by Stone Brewing
  • Firestone 13 Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Earl by Hill Farmstead Brewery
  • Commander Bona Fide Barleywine (2011) by Lift Bridge Brewery
  • Speedway Stout (Kopi Luwak) by AleSmith Brewing Company
  • Bourbon Abominable by Fremont Brewing
  • Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged by Bell's Brewery, Inc.
  • Gingerbread Stout by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th (2012) by Dark Horse Brewing Co.
  • Excelsior! Le Bleu by Ithaca Beer Company
  • Rodenbach Caractère Rouge by Brouwerij Rodenbach (Palm Breweries)
  • Excelsior! White Gold by Ithaca Beer Company
  • Ola Dubh 18 Year Special Reserve by Harviestoun Brewery
  • Trappist Westvleteren 8 by Brouwerij De Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren
  • Noyaux by Cascade Brewing Company
  • The Auroch’s Horn Aged On Rhubarb by Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company
  • 50 25 Sour Belgian Style Quad Ale by Stoudts Brewing Company
  • Arthur by Hill Farmstead Brewery
  • The Count by Grimm Brothers Brewhouse
  • Eclipse - Heaven Hill Rye (2009) by FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
  • R & D Golden Ale by New Glarus Brewing Company
  • Ruination IPA with Habanero Peppers by Stone Brewing Co.
Scott and Brian (Thee Beer Book)
It was a great afternoon of beer. Brad and Ron (OC Beer Society) really put together an incredible event that was a ton of fun.  I got to try a lot of great beer but more than that I got to hang out and really get to know a lot of the OC beer scene.  For me it was really a fusion of multiple groups; OC Beer Society, SBS (Scott, Steve, Ryan with David and Marisa) Brewluminti etc.  A few people from the OC Beer Society like Chris (Orangey) I'd seen only online while others like Nick (Miklos) and Jeff I'd met before but got to know this round.
I honestly can't wait for the 3rd Annual!



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Brew Thursday 3rd Anniversary - Woo!

Me hanging out with Stephen (New Brew Thursday)
and Greg (OC Beer Blog) who let me use the picture
On a nice January evening the SBS crew (Scott, Steve, Ryan and Scott), Scott's wife Jennifer and I headed North to Beachwood BBQ and Brewing to celebrate the third anniversary of my favorite online show - New Brew Thursday

We got there just before the 7:00 pm start time to find the place already pretty packed with fellow beer geeks anxiously anticipating the bottle share and revelry that was to come. We were told the wait for a table would be about a hour, so we figured we would stash our beer filled bags and grab a drink.  I headed straight back to congratulate host Stephen Johnson on 3 growing years of NBT and was fortunate enough to score one of the last commemorative glasses.  

3rd Anniversary Glass - woo!
After grabbing a beer at the bar we hung out socializing with other party goers while we waited for our table.  As with most cultural communities you tend to run into a lot of the same people over time at various gathering.  This is actually how I got to know the SBS crew.  The first time I met the guys was at the 2011 Bruery initiation party then a few months later at another event.  Phone numbers were exchanged and we started hanging out a couple of times a month. 

It wasn't long after we got a beer that my buddies Brad (from Peace Brewing) and Greg (from OC Beer Blog) arrived with their ever lovely wives. While I was talking with them Matt Becker came up to say hi to Brad and Greg allowing me the opportunity to congratulation him on the success of the show.

About a half a hour in, just about the time we were starting to get really hungry, we scored one of the best tables in the restaurant, a big U shaped table about midway in the which also happened to be right across from the bottle share.  To make things even better within minutes of getting seated the bottle share started! We quickly ordered dinner and started to hit up the share.  I bumped into another acquaintance Chris (beachstrength49) who hooked us up with some of the best beers of the night.

He's a rundown of the fantastic beers I got to try that night
  • Alpha Supreme by Beachwood Brewing <Brewed For NBT>
  • Fantôme Saison D'Erezée - Printemps by Brasserie Fantôme
  • DBA Unfiltered 100% Barrel Aged Cask by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Ode to a Russian Shipwright by Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company
  • 23rd Anniversary Old Ale by Karl Strauss Brewing Company
  • Melange A Trois (Reserve Series, Chardonnay Barrel Aged) by Nebraska Brewing Company
  • Eclipse - Elijah Craig 12 (2012) by FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
  • Eclipse - Elijah Craig 18 Year (2011) by FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
  • Victory At Sea (2008) by Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
  • Bolt Cutter (15th Anniversary Barley Wine) by Founders Brewing Company
  • Spring 2012 Biere De Mars by Almanac Beer Co.
  • Firestone 13 Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Papier (2009) by The Bruery
  • B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout by Hoppin' Frog Brewery
  • Genealogy of Morals by Hill Farmstead Brewery
  • Lambic by Rivertown Brewing Company
  • Barrel Aged Alpha Klaus with Plum by Three Floyds Brewing Company
  • Angel's Share (2009) by The Lost Abbey
  • The Full Pint 5th Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Batch #1 by Crooked Stave Brewing Company
  • Bourbon County Cherry Rye by Goose Island Beer Co. (AB-InBev)
  • 2011 Rum Barrel Oil of Aphrodite by Jackie O's Pub & Brewery
  • Mother of all Storms (2012) by The Pelican Pub & Brewery
  • Diesel #2 by Cascade Brewing Company
Best shot I had of the party - thanks crappy phone
As luck turned out Stephen spent a good portion of the evening hanging out at our table, which given its location had also become a satellite to the main share. Just like when I hung up with him at the Stone Epic Festival: The Final Chapter I had a great time and learned a lot about various subjects.

Overall it was one of the best anniversary parties I'd been to and we ended up staying deep into the evening hours (technically when we left it was the next day!) enjoying great beer, hanging out with quality people and having a fantastic time.

Cheers to another year NBT crew - woo!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Putting the "Yin" in the Barrel

Barreling Filling Fun
Shortly after putting together the post for the Red Wine Barrel Aged Baltic Porter I posted up a link to it on the Tao of Fermentation with the statement - "The Tao barrel project - really needs a code name". It wasn't long before Daniel pointed out that "Yin is shadow, represented by the black side of the Yin/Yang symbol. We can call this one Yin. Then if we ever make a Witbier or something in a Chardonnay barrel like Chris brought up, that would be Yang." Not only did this statement seem to name the beer it also has the added effect of getting the ball roll on the next group brew, a Golden Strong, and the search for a Chardonnay barrel to put it in.

After a little over a month in primary it soon became time to transfer the beer to the barrel. As a child of the 80s I decided to take advantage of the date and aim for the 13th minute of 13th hour of the 13th day of the 13th month of the 13th year aka 13/13/13 13:13 aka Smarch 13th 2013 and damn if the Smarch weather wasn't ever in full effect later that night.

To prep for the transfer I had a number of things to do.  First and foremost I had to construct a movable wine barrel rack. If you take a look at the barrel pictured in the Sour Seven posts you can see the rack Shawn built following directions he found on Vinesugar. For my barrel rack I decided to utilize a flat dolly I already had (which I was using for a TV so that I could roll it outside over hot summer days).  Bonnie helped me test out whether or not the dolly would support the barrel.  To convert it into something that could further support a full barrel, I devised a system of cut wood boards of various sizes.  I made sure to align some of the main supports underneath the metal straps holding the barrel together.  On top of this I put two flexible wood boards that would cradle barrel.

CO2 to push beer into the barrel
After I had built the rack it was time to prep the barrel for the beer.  To do this I made up a 15 gallon batch of HOT star-san and put it in the barrel.  I then went out to my front yard, set my phone for 15 minutes and rolled the barrel back and forth the length of my front yard.  This included flipping the barrel end over end for a couple of laps.  The goal was to make sure that the barrel was both water tight and that the sanitizer had the ability to get into every part of the barrel.

Once Shawn arrived we went over everything we had and started to formulate a plan of attack which we somewhat had when Daniel arrived a little bit later. The first order of business was to sanitize the tubes, the problem was that I had literally used every-last drop of star-san I had on barrel prep.   It wasn't a big deal as we just emptied the barrel into a tub which we then emptied into my mashtun.

Once we had everything ready we moved the pump and tubes over to the Beast to start the transfer.  It seemed to go a lot faster than it did for the sour seven and in no time we we're prepping to rack the beer from Chris' keg.  It was actually a pretty easy setup requiring only some CO2 to push the beer into the barrel.  Daniel had brewed up another 5 gallons to help top off however a miscalculation on my part over the size of the barrel meant that we were still short so I filled the head space with a blanket of CO2. 

Very interesting beverage
The current gravity is around 1.033, higher than we want it but not bad attenuation considering we started around 1.100.  I'll give it a couple of months to really soak up the intense red wine from the barrel before I start a monthly tasting on it.  I don't think I'll top it off more than once (if that) and just let the angels have their share.

One final note, speaking of Shawn he recently started back up his blog Brewnundrum.  If  you are interested in the scientific side of brewing I highly recommend checking it out.  The current topic is Aeration Revisited in which he splits a single wort into 4 fermenters and then oxygenated them via 4 different methods. Once done he compared the results and actually changed his own preferred method based on the results. Very cool. 

Lots of photos after the jump.



Monday, January 14, 2013

Bitter Sweet Symphony

I created a Bitter Sweet Symphony
iTunes Genius playlist to listen to
It needed A LOT of editing
Every couple is suppose to have a "song" and I assume most of the time it's probably some happy-sappy love song.  That's not the case for Bonnie and I.  We first started dating in December of '97 while going to University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington. This happened to be right around the time when a little song called Bitter Sweet Symphony started getting airtime on the main alternative station I listened to. There was something about that song that we both really identified with which lead to it getting some pretty heavy playtime on my computers playlist.  It soon became apparent that it was our song, which was fortunate as given the time and young love it was something that could have gone very wrong.    Bonnie notes: "I have a lot of memories associated with that song and time in our lives; eating your special sandwich from the sub (the student union building), snuggling in the worlds smallest bed, hanging out in your dorm room etc."

So what does any of that have to do with beer?  Here's the story, I'd been thinking of retooling the BIG IPL recipe for a while, really spinning the concept of a Single/Double IPL into a new beer, but had not really been inspired by anything. Well, one day I was in the car listening to an old CD and rockin out to Bitter Sweet Symphony (which I often do) when it hit to me.  Bitter Sweet Symphony would be an incredible name for a beer, especially a hop heavy one like an IPL.

As soon as I had the name recipe ideas started flying through my head; would it be a IPA or IPL? Double of Single? What about an American Double Stout? For a while I had narrowed it down as a single IPL with the hop schedule of Sydnie IPA with the grist of BIG IPL scaled down.  That idea pretty much hit a brick wall one evening while I was enjoying a pint of Surly Abrasive.  The massive Citra flavor and aroma hit me like a freight train - Bitter Sweet Symphony needed to be a Citra forward IPL.  I knew that I had tons of Citra stockpiled so I hit the internet to see if I could any reasonable Abrasive clone recipes to use as a foundation to build Bitter Sweet Symphony from.

Cracked my last on hand can of
Abrasive to drink during cool-down
I found what looked like a pretty successful attempt on the Northern Brewer forum and with the notes on Abrasive on Surly's website I started to nail down what I wanted to do. I also reviewed the Surly Furious Pro Series Recipe to gain insight on Surly beers.  For base grain I would use the 2-Row I had on hand with a generous helping of Golden Promise.  I'd also included a couple pounds of oat to give it a smooths mouthfeel. To pull a little of my personality and brewing style into the beer I decided that instead of including Crystal malts, which would have been in the form of Crystal 20L, I would use a dash of Carared and in place of the brewers sugar I would use Rice to bump the ABV while keeping it light.  

Days before brewing I came across an interesting discussion on late hopping and the concept behind whirlpooling. The basic premise is to add hops at flame-out whirlpool and let sit for 80 minutes.  I wasn't fully on board with adding 80 minutes to my brewday but figured I would give it a shot with 30 and slowly creep up from there depending on if I'm pleased with the results.

If you saw the horrible chill plate setup that I jerry-rigged together for the 34 brewday you'll be pleased to know that I have gone back and made a few adjustments.  I'm still not fully where I want to be and will soon be picking up a router speed control to slow the flow of fluid through the pumps.  Shawn uses one on his chill plate setup.  Once in place I should be able to have more control over the temperature of the wort. 

I will now leave you with a little entertainment that helped inspire this post.  Recipe and pictures after the break as always.



Thursday, January 10, 2013


Happy Birthday to me
For the second year in a row I spent my birthday leisurely brewing a big imperial stout. You may recall that a year ago I mentioned that I always try to take my birthday and spending it doing things I love, which for the past two years has meant brewing a beer.

The beer this year was a slight retool of the Kate the Great clone that I brewed last year. I had started to tool-up a monster of a beer in BeerSmith about 6 months ago but decided I wanted to give the recipe another shot after the fate that had befallen 33.  As you may recall from the "Barrel" Aged 33 post due to it's close vicinity to Halvtreds it caught a brett infection that somewhat diminished the final flavor of the beer.  This really bugged me as my in process tasting was reveling an incredible beer was developing.

Brewing of the beer went really well and considering that last year I had to sub in some DME to meet my targeted gravity I was quite pleased to have hit it without any this year.  The biggest cause of this was my focus on the efficiency of the system and the process I've been using for sparging. I've spent some time studying other brewer's processes and the flow rate while sparging does appear to be a big contributor to the system's efficiency.  The rule of thumb that Shawn has advised be to follow four oz in a quarter minute. (Note: I texted Shawn to confirm this and he replied - "Yes.  One pint per minute, but measuring 4oz in 15 second allows for quick adjustment and dialing in." He cautions - "Don't exceed 90 min total (per Noonan)")

The 521 Blend of "Barrel" Aged 33
Another big deal for the day was the birthday present from my wife and daughter of a Duda Diesel plate chiller.  I've had A LOT of issues with my immersion chiller leaking while cooling, which resulted in some severely missed gravities and no loss of frustration, and really wanted to follow Shawn in getting a plate chiller.  I'd been eying Duda Diesel as the cost effective solution after first hearing about them over at Chism Brewing Voyage.  I had originally planned on buying one direct however between first coming across them and my birthday I mentioned them to Eric at Addison Homebrew Provisions who then went on to start carrying them (which is where Bonnie bought mine).  I still have some set up work to do it get the temperature efficiencies to where I want it.  So far I've been able to drop the wort from boiling to 80 in about 5-6 minutes.  From there it give it an ice bath to reach pitching temp in the mid 60s.  Pretty damn good considering it was taking 30-45 minutes to get to 90 using the immersion chiller.

I'd made a big starter using WLP007 and my stir plate which resulted in active fermentation in about 3 hours.  In fact the fermentation was so strong that dispite keeping the temp in the 60s I experienced on of the worst blow off I'd seen in years!  oops



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