Recently in Brewing Category

pumpkin ale update

We kegged the pumpkin ale yesterday. I am pretty sure we over spiced it, since it tastes a bit like chewing on cinnamon bark. My keg is chilling in the kegerator. Hopefully after chilling and carbonating it will be drinkable, but I am not getting my hopes up. Needless to say we were rather disappointed when we tried it, especially since it tasted great on the last transfer. On a brighter note, the rye tastes great!

frost on the pumpkin v2.0

Marc and I brewed again on Saturday. We brewed a rye PA and a pumpkin ale. We brewed a pumpkin one other time back in 2005. We put a lot of pumpkin in it, 15 pounds, and it ended up tasting a bit vegetable-ly. After a aging a while (2-3 weeks) in the keg the vegetable flavor subsided and the spices become more prominent. It was an okay beer, but not quite what we had hoped.

new spouts for the ventmatics

My kegerator is equipped with Ventmatic forward seal faucets. These are great faucets for taps that are "infrequently" used. Regular beer faucets seal in the back and not all of the beer in front of the seal drains out. After a couple of days of non-use the beer in front of the seal gets sticky and faucet locks up. A stuck faucet was a fairly common occurrence with my kegerator until I got the Ventmatic faucets. They are really nice faucets with a high quality of workmanship. Unfortunately the company went out of business, so getting any sort of parts for them has been a bit problematic. Recently I discovered a small CNC machine shop that makes spouts for the Ventmatic faucets.

backyard brewing handles

Here are couple of tap handles I modified into Backyard Brewing handles. Nothing fancy, but they were also pretty easy to make. I had already created the graphic, so I just scaled it to a size that would fit each handle, printed them out on label paper, trimmed them and stuck them to the handles.

Tap Handle

bagged and vacuum sealed

I just got done bagging and vacuum sealing the Hamilton hops for 2009. They are in the freezer and ready for brewing. We ended up with 2 lbs 13oz this year, less than last year, but only by a bit.

Temporary storage

Bagged and vacuum sealed

brewing time lapse video

Here is the time lapse video of the brewing session we had a few weeks back. The images were captured once every eight seconds and played back at 25 frames per second (every 10 seconds of video represents about 30 minutes of actual time). We captured most of the brewing session, but the camera stopped taking photos before we finished. The video is missing the last 20 minutes of the brew session (which was mostly just scrubbing the pots and putting everything away). Thanks to Danika for uploading the video to youtube.

the sea of green

I spent some time over the three day weekend getting all the cones picked of the hop vines. I ended spending about six hours total pulling the vines down, loading them in my truck and then pulling all the cones off. We ended up with about one and half garbage bags full of hops. They are now hanging in my basement in a "hop hammock" drying. It looks like we will end up with close to the same amount as last year. Once they finish drying we will weigh them, vacuum seal them and put them in the freezer.

Picking the cones off the vines

Drying in the "hop hammock"

hamilton hops 2009

Hop prices still remain high. Not as high as they were last year, but still quite a bit higher than when I started brewing with Marc. We have friends that grow hops and have offered them to us, but before last year, it never seemed worth it. Picking hops isn't all the difficult, but it is a bit time consuming. Spending hours to get enough to brew a beer never seemed worth the $5 we would save. Last year, however, hops were really expensive and a number of varieties were not even available.

brewing with graham

We brewed on Saturday, which was the first time since Graham was born. We brewed our maple porter and our extra pale ale. Everything went much smoother than expected. After the four month break I thought we would for sure screw something up, but nothing to crazy happened. Someone asked if one of the beers would be named in Graham's honor. Since the maple porter already has a name, that left the extra pale ale, which seemed a bit fitting seeing as he has such pale skin, unexpectedly pale skin you may even say, so we decided on "Graham's Unexpectedly Pale Ale".

I was also able to get the Latitude C400 setup with gphoto2 and took photos at 8 second intervals so I can make a time lapse video of the brewing session. So far it appears to have worked (I haven't had a chance to create a video yet) except for some reason it stopped 20 minutes before we were done. The last 20 minutes was all clean up (washing pots, putting stuff away) so it didn't miss much, but I was a little disappointed to not have captured all of it. Oh well, I can always do it again if it ends up being interesting. I will post the video once I get it put together. In the mean time here are some photos with the newest helper monkey.

Brewing with Graham
Graham inspects the brewing stand

Brewing with Graham
Our neighbor succeeded in making Marc and I smile,
but not Graham, he takes brewing very seriously

sunrye allure

We brew hundreds of gallons of beer each year, and I still cannot refrain from buying Redhook Sunrye when I see it in the store (especially when it is on sale). It continues to be a very good beer, and a great summer time beer. I have been getting close to boycotting Redhook (because of things like their Slim Chance "Light" Ale), but I have a feeling it will never happen as long as they continue to make Sunrye... unless perhaps Marc and I brew our rye more often. I am pretty sure I have never bought Sunrye when I had our rye on tap, so at least I can feel good about that.

beer at last!

It only took me just over a week after finally cleaning the kegerator to get on of the beers tapped. I tapped the IPA tonight and I gotta say, it was worth the wait. It turned out great. We changed the hop schedule since the last time we brewed it to try to hop it up a bit, and I think it worked. Much hoppier than last time and overall a really good beer.

leaky pipe

I have had two kegs of beer (I homebrew) sitting in my basement since 05.20.2009 (before my son was born) that I have been meaning to put in the kegerator. The only problem is I need to defrost the kegerator and clean the lines that the two empty kegs that are in there were using. Danika's mom was nice enough to stay over tonight and spend time with Danika and Graham so I could finally get the kegerator cleaned out. I was nearly done with everything when I noticed that I was being splashed with water. I looked up to determine the source, thinking something was messed up with the kegerator, and instead was surprised (and quite frustrated) to find that one our our copper hot water pipes is leaking.

The pipe was covered with foam insulation and the water was dripping from the end of the foam insulation, so I pulled it back and wiped the pipe dry to try to find where the water was coming from. There were a number of "ugly" solder joints that I thought one of which would be the culprit, but upon investigation it appears that the leak is coming from a place where it is just clean looking copper pipe. What happens to copper pipe that makes it start leaking? Anyhow, yet another thing on tomorrow's to do list, call a plumber. I am pretty sure it is something I could fix myself, but Danika requested we have someone else do it and keep the house a "construction free zone" for a while longer. At first I disagreed, but now that I have thought about it, it probably is best to have someone else come in and do it even if it is going to cost a bit more. My lack of sleep and over all stress level would not bode well for a "quick" and "effective" repair. Now to find a plumber...