Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New arrivals...

I tapped 2 new kegs recently, the new Garden Ho' and the Phat Tyre. Here's the low down:

Phat Tyre - Still a bit young, but better than expected. I had overshot my Mash Temp on this one by quite a bit. In a panic I turned to my comrades at The Brewing Network for advice. I got the temp down and decided not to toss the batch, hoping for the best.
Now, for those who don't know, when you make beer you have to convert the sugars in the grain into "smaller" sugars that the yeast can break down into alcohol and CO2. There are enzymes in the grain that do this, but they need the right environment to work in. If it's too hot these enzymes will go to pieces (denature) and then the sugars are not broken down. I made it too hot and the concern was that if it was too hot for too long there would not be enough enzymes to do the job.
Long story a little longer, it worked out OK. The beer is a nice Amber color, malty with a slight hop aroma and flavor, and just the right bitterness. The White Labs Belgian Ale Yeast adds a different flavor from the Wyeast I used in the past. The result is a little more of that tell-tale Belgian fruitiness. Still a little cloudy but hopefully will clear up nice.

Garden Ho' - Now THIS one... I LOVE THIS BEER! This time I added zest from 6 oranges and 1 grapefruit at the end of the boil. Zest is the peel of the fruit without the white part (too bitter.) I also used a little more Cascade hops than is usually called for. If you've tasted Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (and many other American Ales) you know Cascade hops. Citrus through and through, the Cascade adds another layer of citrus flavor and "forces" conditioned beer drinkers to recognize it. It makes the brain say "ooh, citrussy!"
I used more oats than my award winner to lighten up the color and get as close to White as possible. I also added the corriander to the end of the boil and crushed it up real good in my Mortar and Pestle (imported from Thailand!)
The Result? VERY pale, golden hazy beer with a nice, lasting white foamy head. Citrus smell with a hint of corriander. The flavor starts in with citrus and goes right into wheat and malt. A slight citrussy bitterness follows taking you to... the end. I need another sip of that......

I'm also modifying the schedule a bit. The Wife and I were at the General Lafayette Tavern in Lafayette Hill, PA. I got a taster and one of the beers I picked was a Chocolate Porter. Lisa tasted it, and she actually liked it! It could be the baby (it's OK to taste Beer when you're pregnant), or maybe the Chocolate, but in any event the 1447 has been replaced with a Chocolate Porter. I pick my battles....

On Tap:
Garden Ho'
Phat Tyre

On Deck in kegs:
Nutty Brown Ale

In Bottles:

Oatmeal Stout
Funky Monk - Dubbel
Schmupay Grande Reserve
Garden Ho'
Witberry - 8 22oz bottles of Garden Ho' w/ Raspberry extract added - almost ready to taste
Nutty Brown Ale - not quite ready yet

In Secondary:
Patriot Pale Ale - American Pale Ale
Phat Tyre - 10gal
Schmoopyfest Oktoberfest - a few more weeks til bottling... no tasting 'til September!

Off this week, but the following weekend is... The Stuttering Ho'! A Double Wit aptly named by Lisa! It'll be based on the Garden Ho', but about 7.5% ABV, more aggressively hopped to offset the higher gravity, and with Orange Marmalade.... mmmmmm.....

'Til then!

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Gusher Commeth!!

It finally happened, as they all said it would. Infection. It happens to all brewers sooner or later (if you say it never happened to you, then it will happen later!) I had brewed a Special Bitter and it came in really low on gravity. For you non-brewers, that means there were much fewer fermentable sugars than there should have been and so the yeast didn't have much to work with. The beer was thin and flavorless. Instead of chucking 5gal of beer though I decided to try and save it. I made another beer, higher in gravity and then once it fermented out I blended the two and had two batches of beer. I also dry-hopped both batches, which in this case meant adding fresh hops to the keg. I consumed the first batch a while ago and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.
The second batch sat in the keg for a while. I finally got to it this week when my Poor Ricky expired (rest in peace friend) and I had an opening. Lisa, in her infinite wisdom, suggested I tap the SSB (Schmoopy's Special Bitter) and get it over with. Of course I did, because she does indeed know best about these things. To my surprise the first glass was all foam. So was the second. And the third... "What is going on here...." I relieved the pressure in the keg, and still foam..... "Gusher", I thought. I had seen this once before, though it was one bottle and it was not my beer (dirty brewer... I've NEVER had an infection!)
I brought the keg up to the kitchen and put it in the sink. I relieved the pressure AGAIN and then popped the top. The foam just started coming out like a child's Volcano experiment for the science fair! It just kept foaming and foaming....
In the end I emptied the keg and cleaned it out real good. The culprit, I believe, was the hop bag I used. Probably not sanitized enough, which is a hazard with dry-hopping unless you throw them into the keg, in which case they get in the beer glass. Anyway, I'm just glad it was a marginal beer...

On Tap:
1 - Schmoopy Dark - Amber Lager - m..m.. good!
2 - Nothing (waiting on the Wit)

On Deck - Kegs:
Garden 'Ho - Witbier
Fat Tyre - Belgian Pale Ale
Schmoopy's Nutty Brown Ale

In Bottles:
Schmoopy's Oatmeal Stout - Yummy!
Schmoopy's Funky Monk - Belgian Dubbel aging nicely
Garden 'Ho - Witbier
Schmoopy's Nutty Brown Ale

In Secondary Fermenters:
Schmoopyfest Oktoberfest - yes, still.
Schmoopy's Patriot Pale Ale - American Pale Ale

We're still on schedule and this weekend I'll be brewing up 10 more gallons of Phat Tyre!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

System Upgrade!!

We are proud to present the latest upgrade to the Schmoopy Brewery! It's a 10 gallon behemoth, the B3-1000 Brew Sculpture from Beer, Beer and More Beer. With three 170,000 BTU burners this thing gets moving quickly. It stands about 7.5' tall, but there is no need for a pump since at this height everything flows by gravity.

Other upgrades include a Magnetic Stir Plate and other miscellaneous equipment for yeast storage and propogation. For 10 gallons of wort, you need a lot of yeast!! Just ask Mr. Malty!

With these upgrades we can brew 10 gallons at a time; more than enough to hold me over once the Baby comes. And, we can still do 5gal if we want, which is great for experimenting with new recipes. I can drink and give away 5 gallons of iffy beer... but 10?

Update on Poor Ricky... And other news.

Poor Ricky
This one is finished and on tap at the bar (my unfinished basement keggerator that is)! It turned out very nice. A little more molasses than I wanted but a good flavor nonetheless. The neighbors like it, and the alcohol level makes for a friendly get together :)

In other news, we won some awards at two competitions since my last post:
2006 War of the Worts XI - Iron Hill Brewery in Montgomeryville, PA:
-1st place for our Classic American Pilsner - Hanging Possum Pilsner (recipe by Charlie Papzian)
-1st place for our Belgian Wit Beer - Garden 'Ho
2006 Drunk Monk Challenge - Aurora IL:
-2nd place for our Belgian Wit Beer - Garden 'Ho

We haven't entered anything recently, but the Buzz Off is coming up in June and we're still brewing!

On Deck
Schmoopy Dark - and Amber Lager
Phat Tyre - My signature Beer

Funky Monk - Belgian Dubbel
Schmoopy's Oatmeal Stout

In secondary fermentation:
Schmoopyfest - Oktoberfest lagering in the freezer
Schmoopy's Nutty Brown - Nut Brown Ale

Upcomming Brew Schedule
Lisa and I will be having a Baby in late June, so the schedule is aggressive. I need to have enough on tap while we transition to parenthood...
-April 9th - Garden 'Ho/WitBerry - 10gal, 5gal of which will have Raspberry added!
-April 23rd - Patriot Pale Ale - 5gal of An American Pale Ale, classic American Malts and Hops!
-April 30th - Phat Tyre - 10gal of my mainstay Belgian Pale Ale..mmmmmm!
-May 14th - 1447 - My approximation of New Belgium Brewery's 1554 Brussels Black. I've been working on this one for over 6 months. We've gotten close, and hopefully we'll hit it this time!
-May 21st - Garden Garden 'Ho 'Ho (AKA The Stuttering Ho') - Seeing Double? You will be! It's a Double Wit - much higher gravity version of our award wining Wit Beer!
-May 28th - Schmoopy Blond - No we didn't misspell that one. This is a Belgian Blond Ale, pale in color and a little more modest in Belgian fruittiness to let more malt come through.
-June 4th - Schmmopy's Special Bitter - An English Special Bitter that is a bit lower in Alcohol and easy to drink. A nice session beer.
-June 11th - Hanging Possum Pilsner - THE Lawn Mower Beer. This one will be ready just in time for the Dog Days of Summer.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Poor Richard's Ale

My latest brew was Poor Richard's Ale. Click the link to get detailed info, but basically this is a beer designed by brewer decendants of Ben Franklin in honor of his 300th Birthday. It is an approximation of what might be the beer that Ben Franklin himself may have preferred. Obviously non-comittal, but still quite good.
I sampled this at Iron Hill Brewery in Montgomeryville, PA and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a hint of molasses, some corn and a nice mix of malts. Really tasty, it takes you back in time so you could raise a glass to someone who quite possibly might have been Ben Franklin! It may even be their Birthday!
I Started with the recipe on the Poor Richard's Ale site and went from there. My 5 gallon recipe is below:

Target OG - 1.055

7.00 lbs. Marris Otter Pale Malt(2-row)
2.25 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)
1.50 lbs. Biscuit Malt
0.85 lbs. Special Roast Malt
0.10 lbs. Black Patent Malt
0.25 lbs. Molasses

0.50 oz. Goldings - Yakima 6.4IBU for last 60 min.
0.75 oz. Goldings - Yakima 8.8IBU for last 45 min.
0.50 oz. Goldings - Yakima 4.9IBU for last 30 min.

Yeast - White Labs WLP002 English Ale

Mash the grains for 60 minutes at 154f. Then raise the temp to 165f by adding 3.5qt of 210f water to the mash for 10 minutes. Finally, recirculate the wort until clear and sparge the grains using 175f water for at least 45 minutes.
Boil for 90 minutes. Add the first Hop addition with 60 minutes to go, the second with 45 minutes left and the third at t-minus 30 minutes. Add Irish Moss at 15 minutes to go. After the boil cool to 70f, pitch the yeast and FERMENT!
Racked to secondary when fermentation slows (last night) and will condition for 3 - 4 weeks before bottling/kegging.

Can't wait....

Founded in September 2005, and located in Harleysville, PA, the Schmoopy Brewery is the Home Brewery of Lisa and Rob Schlank.

In the coming weeks I'll be posting some of the projects that have helped make the Schmoopy Brewery what it is today, including my 5 gallon All-Grain setup and 7cuft Chest Freezer Keggerator and Lagering unit. I'll also throw in the few original recipes I've come up with so far and some of my favorites from other sources.

Finally, be sure to checkout my links to other Home Brewers sites and references for those of you interested in pursuing this great tradition.