Posts Tagged ‘Beer’

While not directly related to this post, I did have some bacon steak at Oceanaire a while back...

So my first attempt at bacon bourbon (for a maple bacon bourbon stout) wasn’t so great. I left the bacon in the bourbon for over a week, filtered it, froze it, filtered it, and tried it.

And almost passed out from dehydration on the spot. It was so salty! Ever take a big gulp of water in the ocean? Add salt.

However, after the Dead Sea-esque salinity dissipated, I did feel great. I felt like I’d just had some bacon. So there’s that.

Here are some pictures from the first attempt:

The tin foil apparatus - keeps the bacon somewhat vertical, and the oil drips through holes in the foil

Baked the bacon at 350˚ until the oil starting foaming. That was the signal.

The bacon is almost oil free. And crispy! Hard not to eat it.

The bacon is in 16 oz of bourbon.

Bacon Drip - filtered through a coffee filter

My next attempt will be different. This was fun, and made the condo smell awesome, but the result wasn’t great. I asked my buddy James, who’s getting his PhD in Chemistry, how to dilute the salt flavor. He said lots of water (probably more than the 5 gallons of wort) or to use dialysis. Not gonna do that.

I then came across a video (sorry – forget who sent this to me) about a bartender who makes a bacon-infused old-fashioned. I like this method, and might try it.

Whatever method I try next, I’m thinking uncured bacon is the way to go.

I’m also thinking about where the bacon flavor we all love comes from. Is it from the meat itself, or from the grease? I might, rather than soaking bacon in bourbon, just dump grease in, and fat wash it after a few hours. Meaning, freeze it, skim off the grease, filter, repeat as necessary.

As has been the trend for the past year or so, Brew Your Own and Zymurgy magazines come out with issues directly related to what I’m working on. Seriously, this happens every issue. When I’m thinking about reusing yeast, they come out with articles about it. Building my own equipment? Article. Bacon beer, and breakfast in beer in general? Article.

I’m relatively sure they’re bugging my condo, and I’m totally cool with that. It does feel good to know that Kell and I are thinking of things that the industry is interested in, before it is written in the publications.

That’s it for now. I still have a pint of the bourbon if you want to try it…

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Stuff. Things.

I’m in the mood to ramble on about what’s in my head. So, if you’re not ready to peek into my brain…

You’ve been forewarned. Also, it’s Monday, and I had a bachelor party in Vail this weekend, plus the Super Bowl last night, so I don’t think I’m operating at 100%. Or even a passing grade.

Advised music for this post: Garden State Soundtrack.

Anyway, how’s it going?

Things are great here. Kell and I are moving this month. We’re leaving the house and moving to a condo closer to downtown. This is going to alter the brewing process considerably. It’s a smaller place, there’s no backyard (it’s a 3rd floor condo. There is an alley though…), and rent is about double what I’m paying now.

On the upside there, we have to learn to brew a lot more efficiently. Which is good. But ya, I have no idea where we’re going to store all the equipment just yet. It should be interesting.

Right now there’s one batch fermenting in the basement. I hope to bottle it before the move. I feel that moving boxes of beer is easier than moving carboys of beer. We bottled the stout recently, added coffee. Tasted good at the time. We shall see.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Breakfast and Brewing yet. I really enjoyed the first one we did, so I’ll figure it out. But for those excited about the prospect of bacon, eggs, and brewing, it’s not happening in February. Hopefully March.

The next few batches are all probably going to be dark beers. I honestly can’t find the desire to brew something light. Granted, it’s snowing today, so maybe that’s having an effect. But I just have this overwhelming desire to brew really dark, overpowered beers that rock your face off before you even pop the cap.

A solution to my lack of space and mind-blowing desire to brew dark beers is to open the brewery. So, I’m actually writing the business plan finally. Like, I have words. Written. And Excel files!

I’m also working on two other ideas. I don’t want to get into them too much on here just yet. They’re not revolutionary ideas, but they are good ideas, and I don’t want someone with money and no heart coming along and opening one of them in Denver, just because. Paranoia? Sure. Whatever. My ideas.

Unrelated. But I would totally make beer in this.

Anyway, one idea involves making beer. But it’s not the brewery. The other idea involves selling beer. But it’s not the brewery. Either one, or both, would hopefully be a faster startup with more immediate returns than the brewery, and would become supplementary income to float Mad Haven until it can hold itself up. You know, like the food part of a brew pub. But not food.

If you want to know more on that, buy me a beer. I’ll talk your ear off for many hours. I just don’t feel like posting the plan here, at least not today.

Oh, I think I’m going to try to make cheese soon.

What else.. Life is good right now. Really good. It’s stout month at Mountain Sun / Vine Street, so I’ll be there a bunch this month, hopefully. Moving is never fun, but I’m excited for the new place. I’m looking for freelance work right now, since my rent is doubling. So, if you know anyone looking for an awesome guy to write awesome code, let me know. (I write PHP / JavaScript / MySQL / etc. pjhoberman.com is my site. It’s not awesome. Yet.)

That’s about it.

And beer. Well, I still love it.

End ramble.

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My friend Taylor (@tbeseda) and I started a new site called BrewAdvice.com.
BrewAdvice is a knowledge sharing experiment. The focus is definitely on brewing, but questions of all beer-related nature are welcome. For example, I asked about pairing beer with mussels.

Check out the site. Ask questions. Answer questions. Participate.

You can follow the site on Twitter at @brewadvice, where questions are posted every two hours.

Here are some example questions, and the selected answer. Each question can have many answers.

Alternatives for priming sugar

Q: If you happen to be out of priming sugar, but really want to bottle your beer, what are the alternatives? Let’s assume a 5 gallon batch that’s fully fermented – call it 1.010-1.014.


  • Corn syrup
  • Regular olde sucrose
  • Malt extract
  • Brown sugar if you’re desperate

See A Primer on Priming and How to Brew.

Pairing with mussels

Q: What’s a good style or specific beer that would pair with mussels?


First off, mussels steamed in beer is FREAKING amazing.

Second off, the perfect pairing for mussels depends on the sauce in which they are prepared.

Mussels in white wine or wit beer sauce — Flavor of mussels is light and delicate and need not be overpowered with extreme beer. This style goes best with a Wit Bier, Hefeweizen or a Saison.

Mussel marinara — Tomato sauce is highly acidic and needs a beer with a higher hop content. I would go with a Pale Ale. If the marinara is spicy, I would go with an IPA.

Mussels in curry sauce — Usually prepared with a cream (coconut) base. The heaviness of the cream and the spice of the curry makes this an excellent pairing with lighter styles — such as a Czech Pilsners — as well as maltier styles — such as a Belgian Dubbel or Dobbelbach.

When in doubt, the saison style is my favorite pair with mussels.

How do you choose a yeast?

Q: What characteristics do you look for in a yeast to pair with your recipe? Is there a common reference?


For me some styles showcase yeast like Belgians, Hefes, some English styles, etc. Others showcase malts or hops and yeast shouldn’t play much of a role. For me I generally stick with some clean ale yeast like 1056 or Pacman for IPA’s, Blondes, etc. And then obviously for something like a hefe I choose 3068.

As I reference, if you car about style guidelines, look at the BJCP style guidelines for whatever your making. They will usually mention what role yeast character should or should not play.

Why are you still here? Go to BrewAdvice.com and play!

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My very first tap handle

My very first tap handle

I’m serving beer tonight at a college friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner. It’s sort of huge. I’m a wee bit nervous. Considering it’s the first “contract”, and the first time Mad Haven will be on the label, it’s a pretty momentous occasion.

So first, thanks, and Congratulations to Elizabeth and Raffaello.

The Beer

Kegging the Blonde

Kegging the Blonde

I’m bringing three cornelius kegs with me tonight. I’ve got a batch of the blonde (Pam, for those who know her), a batch of the IPA, and a batch of a ginger saison. A little about each.

The blonde is tasty, as usual. I wanted to make a few batches and blend them, but I ran out of equipment and time. She’s good though. I think she weighs in around 6% today. Clean, crisp, slightly malty, a little on the darker side. Pam is ready to show her stuff.

The IPA is really fun this round. It didn’t quite finish fermenting. Again, time issue. It got down to about 1.022, from 1.086. I believe that’s an 8.6% beer. If I had time, it would have weighed in at a super hot 10%. It was also dry hopping until last night. So we have a super fresh, refreshingly malty, delicious double IPA. I think I’m going to call this one Ice Tray IPA. When I hop it 8 times during the boil, I separate the hops out in an ice tray. Simple story for a good beer.

Lastly is the ginger saison. It’s a recipe out of that Extreme Brewing book (My Library). It’s slightly sour, which wasn’t exactly intentional, but it tastes pretty good. It’s a backup beer. Not my own recipe, and made with extract. Gotta love the quick brews!

The Kegs

My Wrench is too big

Typical problem this week

Typical problem this week

I have never had so much trouble with kegs as I did this week. Makes sense. I’m all nervous and rushing, and things get stuck. It started early in the week. I bought a new ball-lock cornelius keg, and couldn’t get the fittings off. You could smell the soda from the o-rings inside the posts. My wrench was just too big. Nothing was working. So I went to Ace and bought some tools. The fittings fell off on their own when I walked in with the big 7/8″ closed wrench.

Of course, in this process, I mixed up the posts. Last night, I put the gas disconnect on the liquid post, and the liquid disconnect on the gas post. Needless to say, that’s not how they’re supposed to work. Things got jammed, I sprayed myself with various chemicals, and started to freak out. Then I remembered my nice big 7/8″ closed wrench. Leverage is a super cool phenomenon. Popped those disconnects right off with some properly applied pressure.

Finally everything was in the right spot, and the liquids and gasses were flowing properly. I force carbonated the kegs, cleaned up, and went to bed. Added some more CO2 this morning, just to be safe. We’ll see what happens!

The Equipment

Serving cold beer at a park comes with a few challenges. I can’t bring my kegerator. I’d rather not rely on buckets of ice. The best option is the one breweries use at festivals: The Jockey Box (aka the Draft Box). I asked a few pros if I could borrow theirs, not expecting much. They’re expensive, and this is festival season. I found some great plans for building one, but with only a few days before the event, certain supplies would be hard to come by. My local homebrew shop came through on this one. I went in to gather supplies to build my own, and they offered theirs. Collateral? The promise that I bring it back. I love local.

Draft Box

Draft Box

It needed some cleaning. It needed some lovin. But it’s amazing. It has two lines, and uses a two-line plate chiller for the cooling element. I ran PBW through both lines for about 20 minutes, and then ran sani through as well. Worked beautifully. I didn’t have time to run beer through it, so fingers crossed!

The Tool Box

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of it. But I put together an “oh shit everything broke” tool box. It’s got various sizes and types of wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. It’s got gas and liquid disconnects for ball- and pin-lock kegs. It’s got random fittings, an extra tap handle, direct taps, and a CO2 canister, just in case. It’s pretty sweet. There’s an extra CO2 tank there too. I hope I don’t have to touch any of it.

That’s it. I’m showing up tonight around 5:45. Hopefully everything goes well, the beer is perfect, and someone signs a blank check to open the brewery. Congrats again to Elizabeth and Raffaello, and thank you so much for giving me this opportunity!

(in other news, have you seen http://steakhouseorgaybar.com?)

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Do I need to brew an amber? I am a fan of New Belgium – 1554 is a crazy good beer, Biere de Mars is awesome, and La Folie is a different experience altogether – but do I need to have a Mad Haven version of Fat Tire to please the masses?

Beer for the masses (aka a picture of a lot of people drinking beer at Oktoberfest)

Beer for the masses (aka a picture of a lot of people drinking beer at Oktoberfest)

There are a lot of beer styles. A lot. My last post was a quick rundown of BeerAdvocate’s styles, and how many beers are listed in each one. It wasn’t very scientific. There are a lot in there that aren’t made anymore. There might even be some that are in the wrong style. And honestly, we could probably narrow it down to 10 categories rather than 90.

I did narrow it down a little. I went into this thinking that ambers would be toward the top of the popularity list. I have no reason for this hypothesis, and I was apparently wrong. Here’s a quick breakdown. Be nice, I know my categories aren’t perfect.

Pale Ale 9064
Lager 6514
Other 4552
Wheat 3841
Stout 3033
Strong 2439
Amber 2140
Porter 1806
Pilsner 1712
Brown 1566
Bock 1457
Light 1418
Scottish 1010
Barleywine 632

It’s no surprise that Pale Ale is number one. For this count, Pale Ale includes all varieties of Pale Ales and IPAs, both American and English, Imperial and regular, double, etc. IPAs are all the rage these days, so obviously there are a lot of varieties. For Lagers, I just grouped all the lagers together. I don’t know much about lagers, so I’m ok with this grouping. Other includes things like sours (which I love!), Oktoberfests, Chile beers, Fruit / Veggie, Pumpkin, and the rest of things that fit in a category named “other”. And so on down the list. If you group Light with Amber, which one might be inclined to do,  the hybrid groupology pushes it to #5.

When I originally set out to grab these numbers, I had an unfounded hypothesis that ambers would be higher. So the premise of this post being somewhat shot, let’s move on.

My blonde is heavyset and a little dirty.

My blonde is heavyset and a little dirty.

I don’t tend to get too crazy with my recipes, at least not yet. They’re generally a little off to the side of their supposed style (the judges agree on that one too, at least), but I haven’t yet delved into the “extreme” side of things. My stout has caraway seeds. My blonde is more.. dirty blonde. My IPA is heavily hopped with hints of ambrosia (the food of the gods, not the weird fruit salad stuff).

I guess my long, drawn out question is this: Do I need to make beer for the masses? Or is the craft brewing world big enough now to support whatever style I make, assuming it’s amazingly delicious. I’m not getting into this industry to sell beer to every person who walks in off the street (though that would help sales quite a bit). I’m making beer because I love to make beer, and I love to share it. So what are your thoughts? Do I need to have the “entry-level” beer? Or can I stick with the bigger, stronger, hoppier, maltier, crazier, sourer, whateverer brews?

P.S. I realize this is was a complete ramble. Congrats on your persistence in getting this far into the post / my brain.

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My Library

What my desk at home generally looks like

What my desk at home generally looks like

I like to read. I also like to buy books. I actually just bought a book on woodworking, so I could learn how to build a bookshelf to hold more books. That being said, I have a few brewing books. Some have left my house, destined for the shelves of others. A few of my basic brewing books are no longer here, as friends getting into brewing needed them more than I did. So here is a partial list of what I’ve got on my shelves. (If you click the images, they’ll take you to Amazon. I get a little kickback if you buy from that link.) The first few are brewing books, then some equipment stuff, followed by some brewing business books. There are of course magazines and websites. I subscribe to Brew Your Own, Zymurgy, and Beer Advocate. I also regularly check out byo.com, probrewer.com, beeradvocate.com, and the recipes on beertools.com. There are many more websites, one off calculators, random articles, blogs, etc. Check out the sidebar for some, or go to the google.

Designing Great Beers

Once you’ve moved past the basic “How do I brew” books, this is the Bible. It is written like a text book, which in this case is a good thing. There is very detailed information on every little step of the brewing process, from choosing your malt to water calculations. Definitely a go to book.

Extreme Brewing

I bought this one because it had some clone recipes of some breweries I really like, such as Dogfish Head, Avery, Allagash, and Russian River. They are mainly partial mash recipes, but they’re pretty cool. There are some interesting recipes, like a Chamomile Honey Wheat, Blood Orange Hefeweizen, etc. And some information on what it means to brew “extreme”. It’s a fun book for sure.

The Brew Master’s Bible

I honestly haven’t read too much of this one. My roommate bought it when he was starting to get into brewing. I think it’s supposed to be a pretty good getting-started style of book, but I haven’t had time to peruse it too thoroughly.

The Home Brewer’s Answer Book

This is a great resource book. Every once in a while, something weird happens. This book either has the answer, or enough of a base of an answer to let you ask a better question. It’s got “Oh no something went wrong” answers, as well as “Why the heck do they do things this way” answers. And a few things in between.

Brew Ware

Great “How to” book on making your own equipment. It has detailed instructions on making everything from a mash tun to a wort chiller, a full brewing system to a grain mill. Definitely a good purchase.

Brewing up a Business

This is my personal brewery business bible. If you want some warm fuzzy feelings about starting a brewery, read this book a few times. Sam is the poster boy of our industry, and this book is his “How to start with nothing and be awesome” book. It has lots of blank pages at the back for note taking. Most of mine are filled up now.

Starting Your Own Brewery

This is the Brewers Association’s guide. It’s got all the goods. Floor construction, marketing plans, stories from those who have been there, and a sample business plan. Sadly, there are a huge number of proofreading errors, which can get distracting. But overall, it’s a good book. I’m almost finished with it. There are some essays by some pretty heavy hitters, like Ray Daniels, John Hickenlooper (founder of Wynkoop and current mayor of Denver), and Sam Calagione, to name a few.

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In the past few weeks, a lot of people have asked me how the brewery is coming along. Depending what day they asked, they got a very different answer. I’ve been telling people everything from “Awesome, we’ll be open by January if things go right” to “Slow and steady” to “We don’t really know what direction we’re going, so we need to figure that out before I can give you a definite answer.” They’re all true, too. Or they were when I said them.

So for those who have asked, and those who haven’t, here’s where we’re at: We’re still trying to figure out our direction, but things are going great, slow, and steady, and we’ll be open when things are ready.

Ok, that’s out of the way. Let’s get to recent events. Back in February, I posted something on Twitter and Facebook about a new goal I had. Obviously it was unrealistic and idealistic and straight up crazy, but here was said goal:

Goal tracking via social media..

Goal tracking via social media..

People scoffed. They said “Ok PJ, good luck with that..” But sometimes things happen in weird ways. Saturday was Great Divide’s 15th Anniversary Party. A month ago I helped Hilary create a beer for the party. We made a Dirty Blonde, named A Night With Pamela Anderson. And on June 7th, she made an appearance. She was a bit over carbonated, and ended up getting pulled after 10 minutes due to super foaminess, but we got to try her. She was on tap. This happened. Hello dream, thank you for coming true.

"Dirty Blonde" goes on tap

"Dirty Blonde" goes on tap

The whole party was overwhelmingly awesome. There were hundreds of people at Great Divide. The tap room, brew house, and parking lot were jam packed with beer lovers. 3 bands, 800-1000 people, a ridiculous number of different beers, food, and an amazingly gorgeous day. If you weren’t there, next time maybe you’ll listen.

There was lots of picture taking. I have a few to share, and MetroMix (titled Old Ruffians mix with dirty blondes) has another 80 or so, and the Gigbot Photobooth went a little crazy with the picture taking.

The crowd outside

The crowd outside

Anyway, not much else to tell. It was an awesome party, it was great to see my beer served to the public for the first time, and the shenanigans were delightful. To protect the innocent and not so innocent, those stories will remain off the public domain. Just call me Jafar and we’ll see what happens.

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