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Bière de Garde

Finally got around to brewing my Bière de Garde for the reddit competition in a couple months. I had planned to brew it a few months ago, but got busy with other things in life. As life tends to do. My intention was to lager it a bit before sending it in so that it would clear and dissipate some of the green-beer flavors. I guess the couple months of lagering will have to do.

While prepping for brewday I decided I might want a drink of a saison I made a couple months ago. Upon opening my freezer I noticed a small puddle of liquid in the bottom. I had this in my larger freezer as well and figured it was some drips from the cobra tap and condensation. I’ve also been battling a leak somewhere in my system so I always check the level of my 5# CO2 tank to make sure the leak is under control. So first things first – grab the tank and check the level. Empty! So the leak followed over to the small freezer. 

I had just replaced a poppet on this keg last week and was having issues with it as well because the bottom of the poppet is apparently designed for a different keg. The top of the poppet would angle a bit when taking the quick connect off allowing a bit of air to escape for a second or two. I thought I had alleviated this issue when I bent the tabs at the bottom of the poppet to allow it to seat better. I started cursing this damn poppet again and thought the other side might have gone bad as well.

I charged the keg with about 30 psi and began soap testing every inch of the keg. No leaks. So I checked the disconnect. No leaks there either. It was the damn cobra tap (or picnic tap) that was slowly leaking. That sucks. Had I not had other small little leaks everywhere I would have found this problem months ago and not lost about 15 gallons of decent beer. The saison was pretty good. I only got about 64 ounces out of it and drank it while finishing this batch.

So, back to this batch. Continue reading Bière de Garde

Alpha Ruby

I was getting tired of working all day to brew up 5-10 gallons at a time. I like my beer. My wife likes my beer. My neighbors enjoy some when I let them. So I got a little tired of running out of the little batches I was making. With that in mind I decided I would build a larger single-tier system using my keg kettles. This way I can incorporate some pumps to also alleviate the lifting of all this beer. It does get heavy. And I’m not getting any younger, or healing any of my chronic ailments. I began looking at all the Brutus builds and decided that is the way I wanted to head. So I began pricing out everything and it was a steep hill of money. Not overly bad, just a lot considering I would still have to provide all the labor. I enjoy my free time, and wouldn’t mind building this thing. But it would take up a LOT of my free time. Time I could use brewing beer.

So I decided to buy. Now I had to look at all the ready-made systems out there to choose a good one. I looked at the BrewMagic – way too pricey. I looked at the Blichmann’s – not single tier. I looked at Morebeer’s offerings – again way too pricey. I looked at Ruby Street Brewing’s systems – not bad. This is where I started to look at the prices of the 20 gallon systems to the price of a 1 bbl system. The extra cost wasn’t that much. But now I had to consider another company that made systems in this size range – Psycho Brew. Unfortunately their prices were so high I closed the page as soon as I saw it. The only real one left was the Ruby. The others were too small and cost more. I had seen only one real review of the Alpha system and it was positive.

Now to actually buy it. I looked at their online retailers listings and decided upon Adventures in Homebrewing. Their price was the best. They didn’t mark it up substantially to accommodate the shipping that Ruby does anyway. Some of these guys were marking it up about 50%. Not bad usually, but with something this pricey it was substantial. I pushed the button. But wait! I don’t want the red color that is the default. Let me look at what they have available. I will own this for years afterall. Most of the colors were blah. So I contacted them.

Brian got back to me quickly. I asked if he had other choices and he sent me a few links of paints they use and the colors that are available. I got purple. I’m sure this will make mine the most unique Alpha out there. But more importantly I wanted something that I could enjoy looking at. And I do enjoy looking at this beast. It is magnificent. I put it all together once it got delivered and was itching to give it a spin. But I had to wait a few days to make that happen.

I wanted to brew up a robust porter to make at least four different varieties of. I’ve been wanting to make a peanut butter porter for a good six years now. But the grain that I bought a sack of was somehow pre-ground. Wasn’t told that when I bought it so I was a bit shocked when I got home and saw that it was. Oh well, I’ll just make something else with this 50 pound sack. I have a ton of Citra, Nelson Sauvin, and Amarillo lying around, so I’ll make an IIPA/DIPA. It was weird dropping in a whole entire sack of grain. But a good weird. Below are pics of the unboxing and the first brew day. I’ll definitely be posting more of my experiences with this system. So far I love it. Not so much the cleaning of the mash tun afterwards, but it’s not too bad. Continue reading Alpha Ruby

Sauvin Noir

The best hoppy black ale to ever be!

Sauvin Noir

A few years ago I wanted to brew a Black IPA. I searched everywhere for a good recipe but just couldn’t find anything that struck me as awesome. I then remembered a beer I had at the Copenhagen Beer Celebration just shortly before I began wanting to brew this BIPA – Brodie’s Simcoe for Breakfast. This beer was spectacular. Although it was categorized as an Imperial Stout, I knew I wanted something almost spot on to this. Except I was going to use Nelson Sauvin hops. I had another beer at the aforementioned festival with these hops and knew I wanted them to be the showcase of something that would be brilliant.

So I devised a plan to make a pretty good IPA that I had made before, and just add some color to it. I also wanted a bit of the chocolate that seemed to be present in the Brodie’s as it went well with the flavor of those hops. And I knew it would go well with the Sauvin hops as well. Kind of like a chocolate colored orange slice in the former, and grapefruit and grapes in the latter. So off I went to order some hops. There was the problem. Nobody had them in stock. Nobody. So I put a call out to the good people on HBT. A day or so later I was given some intel on a site that may have some in stock. The site was Brew Brothers. Not wanting to have to scrounge for these hops again, knowing that I would love them, I ordered two pounds. Along with some Maris Otter that would give it the maltiness I was trying to achieve. Plus it is hard to get Maris Otter in Germany so I bit the bullet on shipping for that.

Everything arrived fairly quickly, about a week I would guess. The bag of grain was destroyed, but it was all in there, so no worries. I immediately opened the big bag of hops to get a whiff to see if they were everything I remembered. YEP! I made the right choice. So far. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to arrive so I could brew up my masterpiece. But it was still about four days away. I kept busy by working and sniffing the hops.

Brewday arrived and I began the arduous task of mashing in the cold. Good thing my cooler keeps temperature fairly well. But to be safe I mashed inside. Boil took longer than usual as it was freezing outside. But the aroma from that first addition of hops was magnificent. As were the next few additions. Cooling the wort was no problem on that day. Water coming out of the hose was probably about 40 degrees F or so. Or at least it felt like it. Now that I had the beer in the fermenter and the yeast pitched all I could do was wait. Wait for the day I could dry hop with these aromatic beauties.

After another seven days or so with the hops in there I decided to not bottle and to mini-keg these, with priming sugar. I had just picked up four of the 5L minikegs from Brouwland the month prior with hopes of having a fridge full of them. I let them sit there until I had one of my German friends come over. This guy really likes American style beers and I thought we could both taste it and decide what needed to be changed. I tapped one of the little cans and began pouring the first glass. Continue reading Sauvin Noir