Posts Tagged ‘homebrew’

Well, we haven’t been completely on the brewing schedule, but, here’s what I plan to have for GABF:

  • Black something. I have no idea what style or ingredients or whatever are in it. Roulette beer! Bet on black!
  • Pam, the “natural” blonde
  • Bitch Creek ESB clone
  • Scotch Ale w/ oak chips
  • IPA
  • Rye Dry Stout w/ Carraway seeds
  • Maybe even more of the blonde. I’ve been drinking a lot of it..

Not too shabby.

I’ve been meeting a bunch of awesome beer geeks, future beer geeks, other awesome people, and it’s been wonderful. I love having beer on hand to share. Makes the world go round.

In other news, I just wrote a big article on my other blog about other things around town during GABF. For those coming to town, or contemplating it, I hope it’s a good resource. I’m copying and pasting it. Enjoy!

When in Rome, err, Denver

According to the GABF countdown clock at Falling Rock, there’s about 22 days until the start of the Great American Beer Festival. Could be a little more or a little less. Counting is hard.

The festival is sold out, but there are always tickets for sale on Craigslist and other such sites. But whether you got tickets or not, Denver has a lot of beer to offer outside the hallowed – scratch that – beer-drenched hall that is the Festival. Why, just within a few miles of the Convention Center, there are more than a dozen beer-centric establishments.

Before I get into what those are, I want to impress upon you that Denver does in fact have more to offer than just great beer. We have whiskey too!

This town is wonderful, and I implore you to explore it, should you find the time and the sobriety. Our local Yelpers are fantastic, so trust that site if you need a quick lookup. Grab a reindeer  or wild boar hot dog, see a show or a show or a showgrab a book, or maybe even take a hike. And if you like dive bars – and I love dive bars – we have a few of those too.

But, in the end, you’re here for the beer. So let’s get to that.

I made a map on Google maps of about 15 beer places within 2-3 miles of the Convention Center. There are hundreds, if not thousands of them within 100 miles of downtown, so I decided to stick to walk-able and bike-ride-able from downtown. If you want a more complete map of the region, check outbeermapping.com. Oh, and speaking of bicycles, we have an awesome bike rental program too.

In no particular order, here are the establishments I’ve pinned on the map. If you know of another I should add, please let me know. Click on the map for addresses, directions, etc.

Falling Rock
75 taps, 120 bottles, events every day, this is generally a good place to be. Full writeup.

Great Divide
It’s no secret I love this place. I think I mention them in every single article I write. Do yourself a favor and go there.

Euclid Hall
Brand new spot in town, tons of awesome beer and food. My friend Ryan is pimping out their tap list.

Mellow Mushroom
New location right downtown. 36 beers on tap, from the cold yellow fizzy to the crazy Belgians nom noms.

Strange Brewing
They just got started a few months ago and are rocking out. Go try their brews and support new micros.

Star Bar
Old dive turned into new dive with craft beer and liquors. You didn’t have a good time if you didn’t stop here.

Breckenridge Brewpub
One of the biggest production breweries around here, and right next to Coors Field to boot!

Cheeky Monk
Tons of Belgian awesomeness on tap and in bottles, plus great food. Try the mussels! Full writeup.

Vine Street Pub
Part of the Mountain Sun family, this place is one of the coolest spots in Denver. Great beer and guest taps too.

Thin Man
Funky little bar with a coffee shop attached. Right next to Vine Street.

Rackhouse Pub
I go here a bit too often. Amazing beer, liquor, food, and people. Full writeup.

Colt & Gray
I told the bartender I liked scotch, whiskey, and new things, and he made me a pre-prohibition style Old Fashioned. Amazing.

Started by our current mayor in 1988 and still rocking right downtown.

Uptown Brothers Brewing
Yet another new beer place in Denver. Tons of good stuff now, brewing their own soon.

Pints Pub
Largest single malt scotch collection in.. America? At least this side of the Mississippi. They brew there as well. Full writeup.

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The first ever Breakfast & Brewing is planned for this Sunday (12/20).

baconAround 11am, we’ll have omelets, bacon, coffee, and more, and maybe even some Fraggle Rock or Pinky and the Brain.

Around 12 or so, we’ll kick off the brew. I’m not sure what style we’re going to make yet, but it will be a partial-mash of deliciousness.

If you really want to see a certain style, leave a comment or ping me on Twitter. And make sure you sign up for the newsletter to get these notices ASAP.

Whether you want to be a part of every step of the process, or just hang out with like-minded beer people, this should be a fun day.

If you want to join, reply to this email. I need a head count for bacon purchasing, and I’ll give you directions and whatnot.

See you Sunday!

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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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I have a lot of brewing gear. Relative to other brewers, I have no idea how it compares. But for my laundry room – aka beer gear storage room – it’s a lot. And I just bought another bucket today. I figured I’d regale you all with pictures and numbers. Figure out exactly what it is I have in stock right now. This also helps me when I have 5 batches going at once, and I need to do resource management graphs to figure out how to maneuver them properly for maximum efficiency. Yes, I have done that before. Yes, it was awesome.


ayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit

Bayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit

We start out the day by boiling a lot of water. I used to do this on my electric stove, but that took too long. So, I present to you the Bayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit. This thing is sweet. It can boil 8 gallons of water in about 20 minutes. Huge fan. Definitely a keeper.

Mash Tun

Mash Tun

Next is my mash tun. This is a recent creation. I took a 70qt cooler, put a spigot on it, and grabbed a braided washing machine hose as the filter. Simple, cheap, and amazingly effective.

Mash Paddle

Mash Paddle

A piece of equipment that is used from this point through the boil is the mash paddle. It’s essentially a big ass slotted spoon. I used to use a smaller, normal 12″ plastic spoon. Turns out that sticking your hand into boiling wort really hurts. So I bought the paddle. I thought about using my paddle from college, but.. never mind.



Lastly, we have a pitcher. It took me a lot of batches before I bought this. Which is stupid. I should have bought a pitcher from the start. Live and learn. Anyway, this is pitcher 2.0, because my old roommate put it on a red-hot burner. Old roommate. Not current roommate.




Once the mash is all done, we move on to the boil. I technically have 4 kettles. I use 3 of them. Wort goes in 1. One kettle is my 15 gallon aluminum big boy. I bought it off craigslist last year. I left PBW soaking in it for too long. It’s all pitted now. I’m nervous to use to. So, I don’t use it. Next is this little 5 gallon kettle. My wort chiller lives in there. Then we have the big ol’ fryer that came with the Bayou Classic® Single Burner Turkey Fryer Kit. I use that one for water. Finally, we have my BFP. Big. Something. Pot. She’s my favorite. And is the one pictured here, bringing an American Pale Ale to boil. Weighing in at 32 quarts, she has been a part of my system for a long while, and has helped in pretty much every batch over the past year and a half.

Thermometer and Hydrometer

Thermometer and Hydrometer. What a happy couple!

Cylindrical Testing Tube

Cylindrical Testing Tube, chilling in the freezer

At some point in this process, we have to see how much sugar there is in the wort. That’s where super fancy scientific devices come in to play. Like a thermometer. Or a hydrometer. Or another late purchase that should have been made earlier, a cylindrical testing jar. I know, big fancy words. It’s ok, they ensure the beer tastes great! Actually, if I never tested anything, the beer would probably still be just as good. I rarely actually change anything based on these measurements. I only wait longer or don’t wait longer to do certain things.


Wort Chiller

Wort Chiller - My picture wasn't as pretty as this one.

After the boil is done, um, boiling, I have an awesome wort chiller to chill the, um, wort. This thing saves hours in the process. Rather than letting 5 gallons of boiling wort come down to 72˚, a wort chiller uses heat transfer and running water to chill the wort in 20-30 minutes, on a slow day.



Carboy, looking like the champ he is.

The wort gets turned into beer now. It goes through a few stages. First, it’s in the primary. This is called a carboy. I have 3 or 4 of them. I’ve owned probably 7 or 8, but I lend them out or they break or something else happens. Anyway, the wort sits in these for about 7-10 days. Or a month, if I forget it’s in there. Oops.

Ale Pail

Ale Pail, with ale inside.

Next we transfer to a secondary fermenter. I like the Ale Pails, with a spigot toward the bottom. Some are nervous about the spigot, as it’s potentially a breeding ground for contamination. However, I like them. They allow me to test the gravity of a beer really really easily, which is a huge bonus. I have 4 with a spigot, and 2 without. They also have lids with airlocks, like the one seen in the carboy shot.


As of a few months ago, I can now serve beer via bottle or keg. Kegging is one of the best things to happen to me in my life. It’s amazing. I love it. Except for the fact that the beer goes so damn fast. So I still bottle the beers I want to save.


Capper. Again, Northern Brewer takes prettier pictures.

A capper is the only permanent device used in the bottling process. There are also bottles, caps, etc., but those go with the beer out the door, so no pictures of those. Just the capper.

The Kegerator

The Kegerator

CO2 tank, regular, splitter, and a keg of Great Divide Hibernation

CO2 tank, regular, splitter, and a keg of Great Divide Hibernation


A few of the kegs

For kegging, I have a bunch of stuff. Four kegs, 3 pin lock and 1 ball lock. I feel like I’m missing one in that count, so let’s call it 5 kegs. Also, CO2, a kegerator, and other fun stuff.


There are a ton of other random stuff that ends up being super important. Turkey Baster? Ya, super important. Tubing? I have 4 or 5 different lengths and diameters. Chemicals? Ya, Oxy Clean, PBW, and Sani. All ensure a tasty beer. I use Duct Tape for every batch. Mostly to keep information on the vessel, but sometimes for other stuff. It’s keeping the cardboard in the kegerator on the door. Why is there cardboard on the door? To hold the insulation in, obviously. I also have about 6 ways to get beer out of a keg, one of which is a rubber mallet and a screwdriver. This can all be seen in my sweet sweet toolbox:


Sweet sweet toolbox

Of course, the most important things in the brewing process aren’t the gear, but the people who use it. As I write this, Kell is cleaning out a carboy. That sort of help is so important to the whole process, and I’m going to wrap this up so I can go help him.

A good brewer can make a good beer with much less than this. And a bad brewer can make bad beer with much more than this. See my post on books for some good information, or just ask your local homebrewer.

That’s about it. I’m sure I have other stuff that I’m not even thinking of. If you want to know about something here, or something that should be here, or something that shouldn’t be here, leave me a note.

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My handwriting is way worse than this..

My handwriting is way worse than this..

  • Brew! (http://twtpoll.com/fqcrrt to input)
  • Maybe bottle the stout, keg the wit
  • Email DU Business profs about having some MBA students help with the B. Plan
  • Talk so some engineers (Like Mike!)
  • Talk to my landlord about brewing in the garage
  • Find a new place to live if ^ goes poorly
  • Maybe call up the TTB about ^
  • Look into small commercial real estate properties if ^ goes really poorly
  • Talk to the guys at the homebrew shop about ordering in bulk
  • Join a homebrew club (I know, I know, why haven’t I done this yet)
  • Enjoy a beer.

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The other day, I was eating a delicious sandwich. It was  peppered turkey, pepper jack cheese, and spicy mustard, on a nice Jewish rye. At some point, I was nibbling on a rye seed, and BAM, it opened up. Utterly delicious. So much flavor in that one little seed. And I thought, “hmm, this is utterly delicious! I should make beer out of this.” And thus, a recipe has been developed.

[Note: My office just closed due to the snow, so if this seems rushed, it’s because I want to get out of here]

I decided to make a Dry Stout, but a Wheat was also in the works. Let me know what you think of the following recipe, any tips you might have, etc.

  • 10 lbs 2-Row
  • 2 lbs Dark Munich
  • 3 lbs Flaked Rye
  • 1 lb Roasted Rye
  • 1 lb Black Patent
  • 1/4 lb Chocolate Wheat
  • 1 oz Perle (8.2%) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Cluster (7.0%) @ 15 minutes
  • White Labs WLP013 London Ale Yeast

I’m thinking a nice long mash and a 60 minute boil should do the trick. I’d like to get a slightly creamy, very slightly hoppy, dry stout with a tinge to slight rye flavor. According to Beer Tools (I’m at work, I can’t do all the math right now…), this should result in approximately 1.060 OG, 1.015 TG, a brown/black color (32.54 SRM), ABV of almost 6%, and a bitterness rating of 34.8. The image below is the actual output in Beer Tools.

For those who have played with rye before, let me know what you think! For anyone else who knows what those numbers mean, let me know your thoughts too. And for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, ask questions!


Recipe - click for full size

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A quick and easy explanation of how we turn a simple glass of water into a pint of smooth, balanced, golden ale.

Beer is made by a simple and natural process.  Yeast converts sugar and water into alcohol and CO2 (googlefermentation reaction).

First we convert the starches from grains into sugar with warm water and end up with sugary water.  Then we add flavor, and then we add yeast.  We wait patiently while yeast converts the sugars in the water to alcohol, then we carbonate it and have beer.

Step One:  Starches –> Sugar



We start with grains (usually barley, there are many types, prepared in many different ways for many different flavors – munich malt, golden pils, etc. ), put them in warm water (170˚ F) for a while, and let enzymes naturally convert the starches in the grains to sugars (this is called MASHING).  At this point it looks like a bucket of oatmeal.

[Note: you can also use malt extract, which is what is found in most all-inclusive homebrew kits; this is concentrated sugar water from grains, which merely needs to be mixed into a large pot of water, then skip to Step Three: Add Flavor]

Step Two: Strain

Next we strain the oatmeal, rinse it with clean water to get all the sugar out (this is called SPARGING) and we put the sugary water (called WORT) in a pot on the stove and bring it to a boil.



Step Three: Add flavor

Much of the flavor of beer comes from the different types of grains used; adding hops adds bitterness and aroma.  There are many different varieties of hops, with many different flavors.  Depending when you add the hops during the boil (the boil usually lasts an hour or so), you will get different results. For example, hops added at the beginning of the boil contribute towards bitterness; hops added at the end of the boil generally add aroma.

Step Four: Add yeast

After the boil, we cool the wort (sugary water) and add active live yeast.

Step Five: Wait.

Put the liquid in a vessel to allow the yeast to ferment the sugars.  For homebrewing, we usually use a 6-gallon glass container known as a carboy. The carboy has a one way valve on it that allows CO2 to be released (so it doesn’t explode) but doesn’t allow wild yeast and other microorganisms to get into the beer (this would spoil it or at least add off-flavors).  We leave the carboy wrapped in a blanket (this blocks the light and helps to maintain the correct temperature) in the basement for about 2 weeks, until all the sugar is converted to alcohol.

Step Six: Carbonation

At this point, we have fully ready beer, except it is flat.  There are two ways to add carbonation. First is put it in a keg, attach a CO2 tank, and force carbonate it.  The second way is more natural, which is by doing a secondary fermentation (usually in bottles). [NB: Champagne is carbonated the same way].  We take a little corn sugar, dissolve it in warm water, and add it to the beer.  Then we put the beer in sterilized bottles and put caps on.  We wait another two weeks or so for the yeast to ferment this new sugar, but this time the CO2 is not allowed to escape, and it carbonates the beer.  This secondary fermentation is also known as CONDITIONING.  After two weeks, crack open the beers and drink them with friends.


Feel free to ask anything about this process in the comments below.

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