A Beer and a Dog

"Why should I blog about brewing?", I asked. "Nothing like a beer and a dog...", So Sayeth Virtual Wayne.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beer Meeting…. Road Trip…

Last night was the January beer meeting night at ‘Arry’s.  We had 23 members show up and 17 guests, many of whom are going to join the club. And this doesn’t even include the two people that I’d invited.  The food was plentiful as was the beer, and today I’m paying.  I’m not even going to step onto the scale for a few days in hopes that the gaining trend will reverse it’s elf.  Got to stop eating at every op.

An example was the Road Trip that many of us took the other night to Bull & Bones restaurant and brewpub in Blacksburg VA the other night.  Oh, yeah.. you gotta go there… 

But, the reason for the road trip was to celebrate one of our own ‘s “Izvinite Babushka” Russian Imperial Stout winning of the annual Brew Do in Blacksburg and having his winning beer, brewed by B&B.  He assisted the head brewer in brewing this interesting beer.  They have already sold a barrel of the stuff, it is mighty popular.  As a matter of fact, people from our club won top honors in all four categories of beers that were contested at Brew Do, but this was Justin’s day.  A good time was had by all, and much good food & beer was consumed!  Oh, I was miserable; not from drinking too much, I only had two IPAs and one snifter of the Imperial Stout (not one of my favorite styles), but from eating the Pork Barbecue Platter and a few hot wings that were offered.  And DAMN they were hot… the sneaky kind of hot.. the kind that melts the skin off of your lips a few minutes after eating the little darlin’s. 

Now, I have to plan on the next beer that I’ll brew, maybe another ESB, but one of the next will be an Oktöberfest, now that I can lager again, in my new chest freezer.  More on that as it happens!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Got it!

Finally, I have my new freezer!  There will be lagers in my future brewing once again!  Bwa-hahaha!

My pal Doug has a truck and promised to carry the thing from K-Mart to the house for me. And so he did.  We yanked the old freezer out and deposited it by the road, and the new one is plugged into the temperature controller to see if it works.  So far, so good.

Afterward, Doug & I had beers and the last of the Indian chicken dish that I made on Tuesday, and chatted about dogs & beer & such til about 7:30.  He’s on his way home now, and I’m ready to go watch some toob. Later dudes!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beer bottled. Now, wait…

I’ve bottled my ESB, Extra Special Bitters, and got (lessee….) 54 12 ounce bottles and almost one more.  ABV is 6.0% and it tasted pretty good.  I even shared the leavings from the secondary fermenter with Dog Angel… she so loves beer.

This, and the last two beers that I’ve brewed were made using Fermentis 04 yeast, an English Ale yeast.  I’ve been retaining the slurry from the Primary in an Erlenmeyer flask in the fridge with a stopper of an open-celled foam (to allow breathing).  My next beer will be an Oktöberfest using a vial of Oktöberfest yeast, and then while that is in the primary, maybe another English Ale.  After that, I dunno: Keep the English Ale yeast, or the Oktöberfest yeast?  Decisions, decisions.  (Maybe see if a fellow brewer wants to nurture the Oktöberfest yeast….)

At present I have four cases of Bitters in process and three sixpacks of Brown Ale in the fridge to last til the Oktöberfest is ready to swill.  That hopefully will be enough to last seeing as I usually give about half of the stuff to friends and co-worker.  We shall see…

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Didn’t bottle yesterday… have to do so today…

I have the bottles in the drainer now, awaiting them to dry out a little and for the primer mixture to cool down to temperature too.  I mixed up the primer, corn sugar and a liter of water, yesterday. To do so requires heating it to a boil with water, I use a liter, and letting it cool with a lid on the pot.  Since my wife was down here in the basement cleaning out her wet/dry vacuum cleaner I decided to reboil the sugar water again today just in case any airborne nasties found their way into the pot.  You cannot be TOO careful when brewing.  I’m also taking pix of the process to add here after completion of the tasks.  For now, this is all…

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Cleaning and disinfecting Bottles; Drying on rack;

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Brushing out crud; and then soaking in clorox solution.

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All dry and ready to bottle;  Racking beer to bottling bucket.

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Ambient temperature 70°F; beer at the bottom of the carboy.

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Bottling setup. Filling a bottle;

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And another… and placing the caps on the tops;

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Into the capping press; Capped;

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And another one ready to cellar; The press and half a case.

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Disinfecting the caps prior to capping.  A critical step not to be forgotten!

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Finished gravity is 1.005.  Alcohol by volume is 4.42%.  I got 54 12 oz. bottles and 1.5 half-liter flip top bottles of Standard Bitters.

Friday, January 7, 2011

08.A Brown Northern English Ale

Tasting my brown ale.  Well, I’ve been tasting it since the week of New Years when I carried beers to my co-workers, former co-workers, and to Cap’n Eddie.  But I didn’t take any pictures of it ‘til now.  Here:


Mmm…. Tastes great, less filling!  Not a bad beer, even warm.  I opened this one straight from the shelf and put the last case into the fridge for whenever and whatever.  It fits the style well.  I also took a picture or two in process when I was brewing it on Christmas:

BrownAle          Brown_Ale Here I show the end of the brewing process when I strain the hops out of the wort and drain it into the primary fermenter, a 6.5 gallon carboy.  I should have taken pictures of the fermentation process, it’s interesting to see the goop roiling up from the bottom as the yeast voraciously eats the sugars.  What a sight!  In the pic to the right you see the grain bag that I line the bucket with to capture the hops & cold break as I tap the wort into the carboy.  I dump the whole kettle of chilled beer into the bucket and suspend  the bag from my brewing spoon to drain as the level goes down in the bucket.  This is easier than racking the wort out of the kettle and having the loose crap clog the racking cane continuously. 

Tomorrow I’ll take some shots of the bottling process.  That s all for now…

Tomorrow bottle Standard Bitters, 08.A

Should be about ready to bottle judging from the time it took for the Brown Ale to be ready. I used the next generation of the same yeast and this one is also a low gravity beer, so there you go. More on this tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ESB into Secondary Fermenter tonite…

Glad that I used the blow off tube on the Primary; it looks like almost 2 liters of beer went into the bucket as foam.  This is the third generation of the Fermentis English Ale yeast that I’ve used so far and it is still a happy bunch of campers! 

Thursday I’ll make the next to last payment on the freezer and then it’s lager time again!I suppose that I’ll have to use one of the half gallon likker jugs I have on hand to store the yeast in after I use it, I have two on hand.  I think I’d like to keep the Ale yeast on hand for more ESB… I really like the style.  The first lager will be Oktöberfest.  Have to get new yeast for that.

I’m going to have to get more grain too.  I’m almost out of pale ale and pilsner and have enough Münich for about one batch of Oktöberfest.  And hops.  I’m about out of all of the stuff that you make beer with.  Except… I’m going to have to get with Jeff for our secret batch real soon too…

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Seeing the dark stream meandering across the basement floor, I sprang into action:  Take a leak (First things first!) and get a bucket of water running and begin sopping up the stain before Trish makes a surprise incursion into the basement.  Oh Shite, what happened – I know, the pressure in the carboy blew the blow off tube off of the thingy and at some point during the night spraying a fountain of fermenting beer across the ceiling and all points (and objects) about the brewing table*.

Nope, not worse case scenario after all.  The issue did involve the blow off tube, but not too awful badly: the tube exit-end had merely ejaculated from the bucked of water like a tiny flexible rocket and spewed foam out upon the table which, when coalesced, became a puddle which became a beerfall, which became the rivulet which meandered across the floor.  Not too bad.  Maybe a liter of production gone awry; still about 22 liters in the carboy.  Not as bad as the ill-fated Chocolate Vanilla Stout episode involving an airlock that was unable to process the pressure produced by the violently voracious yeast farting CO2 into the carboy.  While that one DID hit the ceiling it also blew out about 6 liters of the best smelling beer that I’ve never been able to replicate since.  Must have been the freshness of the Vanilla beans….

All cleaned up, Dog Angel helping me before I could stop her; We will see if Trish’s sensors detect any brewing sins, later… 

*BTW, for those of you that remember… My brewing table is the very same one that Nanny & Da had in their kitchen.  Remember hours of playing with the cigar boxes full of cargo from distant pasts on that table? And the modeling clay?  Ah… Good times as a you’t at granny’s…

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Brewing my CyberDave’s ESB today…

I cracked the grain last nite assuming that I would start early today… and I did, flame on at 7:55 AM.  Could have started earlier, but I read some online papers and did a little blogging before I began.  Flame on, 7:55 AM.

My mash temp goal was 150°F and I missed it by one.  I heated the water to 178°and when I dumped it into the mash tun it was a little over the 167° that it was calculated to have been required.  Once I added the grist the final temperature was 149°.

I suspect that I knocked the false bottom loose from its moorings in the mash tun, I won’t know until I begin to get runoff.  If so, I will transfer the mash to another bucked and fix the boogair, and begin running it off again.  I’d reduced the amount of water required for mashing from 16 quarts to 14 because the tun might not hold all of the water and grains if I kept it as required, and raised the water temp a couple degrees to compensate.  Of course, BeerSmith does the calcs for me.  That’s nice.  Heating the water for Mashout right now, 9:10 AM, mashout should begin at 9:14…

I use WaynarWare’s Fizz! to time my events.  When an event fires, an audible alarm goes off; if I’m not near my computer, I can set it to send me a text message that the event has fired.  Most Excellent!  The alarm for heating the water went off and then after 15 minutes, the mashout alarm sounded.  I have til 9:24 to blog, then I begin Vortlauf.

01:05 PM - Boil just began a few min. ago.  I’ll read “On The Road” once the boil settles down…

02:10 PM and Chilling now underway.

3:45 pm – Cleanup is finished and its time for a chilly brew!

8:15 PM -  Pitched the yeast.  Was too much foam to get it in at the end of the session.  Didas!

Not one of these.. these... FAUX CyberDaves... but the TRUE CyberDave!

About CyberDave

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Contract engineering, working in the field in which I truly love: Mechanical Design.


That was it, apparently

"Bonus Nachos!" as we say on my planet. "And CHEERS!"