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.