Written By Timperial Stout
As of yesterday, DSR and I have completed 5 collaborative batches of beer on the 10 gallon gravity-fed homebrew system that we built together. Some, great success. Others, massive failure.
It goes without saying that, in these early days of experimentation, we have learned a great deal about brewing beer at home. I’d like to share some of those things with you, just in case you are thinking that it’s about time to stop only drinking other people’s beer, and start making your own.
Also, I recently started working at Homebrew Heaven up in Everett, and am learning massive amounts with each passing day, so listen to me people!
The number one rule, when getting into homebrewing, at least from my experience, is to be prepared to spend a lot more money than you initially calculate. Honestly, I’m not complaining when I say that. For people like DSR and I, who absolutely live and breath beer and will pretty much do anything to make good beer, money is about as close to no object as possible. But if you are feeling a little bit on the fence about it because of the initial investment required, your worries are legit. Take a couple of extra months to save up.
Here’s a few things to think about when determining your budget.
Your kettle/brew pot is your baby. Though the “magic” mostly happens in the fermentor, most of your labor will revolve around the kettle. Make sure you get one that is much bigger than you think you need. Boiling over is a lot easier than you may imagine, and it sucks something fierce. I’d go with a 9 gallon pot for a 5 gallon batch. We have a 15 gallon converted keg for our 10 gallon batches and it’s not big enough. Also, get a spigot and thermometer installed. Mash temps are crutial, and the Blichmann Brewmometers really makes life easy.
While on the topic of suping up your brewpot, I’d highly recommend getting a kettle screen. Whole leaf hops just feel more official, but they can seriously be a pain in the ass to infuse into the wort. Reusable steeping bags are really hard to clean, and chances are good that you’ll end up having to re-buy. With the screen, you can just toss the whole leaf hops into the boil and you won’t have to worry about jamming up your spigot. You’ll also get a better infusion of the lupilin. The best part is, it’s a “buy once and done” item. That, I think you’ll find, is a bit rare in homebrewing.
This leads me to my next point – you must factor in the reality that a lot of the items used in brewing are extremely fragile. At the very least, expect to break your hydrometer, test jar, and airlocks at some point along the way. Also, if you get at all lazy about cleaning and drying your hosing, racking cane, cleaning brushes, etc., expect to have to replace them at some point. Our carboy brush got rusty somehow, and our raking cane hose got all moldy on the inside. Quite obviously, these items were swiftly replaced. After all, like I’m sure you have heard a million times before, cleanliness is everything with brewing.
The last subject I’d like to breach at this time is the dilemma of bottles vs. kegs. Like with almost everything in homebrewing, the better option is more expensive at first, but much easier and cheaper in the long run. Bottling sucks ass. What do you think sounds easier, cleaning and sanitizing and filling and capping 54 12 oz bottles/30 22 oz bottles or cleaning 1 corney keg (5 gallon batch)? You’ll have to refill your co2 tank every couple of months, but believe me, it’s totally worth it. Yes, this may require a large refrigerator or kegerator, I know, but make it happen. It’s almost ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah right? Wish wisely.
After Big Wood Fest this past Thursday, we dedicated this weekend to laying low (aside from the Friday night trip to a casino). We did however indulge in Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co. (Akron, OH) B.O.R.I.S. Imperial Stout, Great Divide Chocolate Yeti and Russian River Pliny the Elder.
I sit here writing events and sipping on this delicious Cranberry Saison homebrew. Thanks guys! But now for your week in beer.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Smuttynose Short Release Party: Peoria, Illinois
5:00PM-10:00PM @ Kelleher’s Irish Pub
Several beers from their everyday lineup, plus a few from Smuttynose‘s “Short Batch Series” will be available. What is this “Short Batch Series”? See below for a description from their website:
The Smuttynose Short Batch Series- brewed in volumes anywhere between 20 and 30 barrels, these limited-release, experimental beers are available on draft only and found at select beer bars up and down the East Coast. We normally release a few batches in a year, so they go quickly.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Jolly Pumpkin Rare Beer Auction: Ann Arbor, Michigan
7:00PM-9:00PM @ Jolly Pumpkin Brewing
This is epic, for a good cause and a great way to spice up your beer collection with rare and aged Jolly Pumpkin beers. Here are some of the beers that will be auctioned:
Biere de Mars Grand Reserve (16 months on Oak)
Oro de Calabaza (from 2004, 2006, 2006)
La Roja (2005 and 2006)
Fuego del Otono (2005)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Christmas Beer Dinner: Lake Zurich, Illinois
6:30PM-8:30PM @ Binny’s Beverage Depot
Binny’s has something to say:
Join us for our biggest tasting of the year! Sample over 30 different brews from 7 different countries. This is rare opportunity to try some of the most sought after and highly rated beers from around the world.
Cost is $10 W/Binny’s Card / $15 non-members. Call (847)438-1437 for more information.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Harpoon Tap Takeover: New Haven, Connecticut
8:00PM-10:00PM @ Prime 16
Join Prime 16 tonight with Harpoon Co-founder Rich Doyle and experience Nine different drafts including rare and vintage releases from the Leviathan and 100 bbl Series, 2 casks, and a few year round favorites.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Christmas in Belgium: Cleveland, Ohio
11:00AM-11:00PM @ Buckeye Brewing Co.
This beer list is amazing and will provide you with a broad range of Belgium style beers (most are from Belgium).
Join us for Christmas in Belgium 2010, a pay-as-you-go celebration featuring tons of holiday beers on tap. So far, we’ve got:
-Affligem Noël (Christmas Ale)
-Gouden Carolus Noël (Christmas)
-Corsendonk Christmas Ale ’09
-Buckeye Christmas Girl
-Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux
-N’Ice Chouffe ’09
-St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
-Bush de Noël (Scaldis Noel)
-De Ranke Père Noël
-Achilles Serafijn Christmas Angel
-Mikkeller Santas Little Helper ’09
-Mikkeller Red/White Christmas
-Mikkeller Ris a la M’ale
The festivities start 12-10 at 11:00AM when we open and continue all weekend long, or until the beer is gone! Come celebrate the season with us!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Goose Island Belgium Ale Tasting: Cincinnati, Ohio
1:00PM-3:00PM @ Bigg’s Hyde Park
Today you will taste the amazing Belgium brews from Goose Island. An American brewery that focuses on bringing styles such as Belgium Blondes, Saisons and Sour Ales to our back door. Sofie, Matilda, Pere Jacques, Fleur & Demolition will all be available.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Ommegang Beer Dinner: Seattle, Washington
6:30PM-8:30PM @ The Leary Traveler
The Traveler is teaming up with Ommegang Brewing, for a very special Holiday Beer Dinner. A 5 course meal featuring local meat and produce paired with some of the breweries finest styles of local craft beer. Dinner is at 6:30 PM and seating is limited. Ticket purchase will reserve your seat and tickets will be $45.
What event around the country did you attend this week?
So sorry for the delay. I am finally recovered from Halloween weekend as a shark attack victim. As far as beers go, it was pretty low key: Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale, New Belgium Ranger IPA and some homebrew. But now for your week in beer.
Skipping Monday, old news.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Victory Brewing Co Takes Over the Taps: New York, New York
4:30PM-2:30AM @ Rattle- N- Hum
A must stop beer bar in NYC, Rattle – N- Hum’s 35 taps will be all Victory Brewing beers. We are talking the best of the best from Wild Devil to Storm King- its going to be one hell of a Tuesday night!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Tap Take Over: Worchester, Massachusettes
6:00PM-10:00PM @ Armsby Abbey
Another “Tap Takeover” and I’m loving the idea. Tonight in MA, Lost Abbey/Port Brewing are bringing out all of the stops, 22 of them which include, Mondo Double IPA (one of my favorite IPAs), Red Barn Farmhouse ale, 2008 Older Viscosity and Bourbon Santa’s Little Helper. A-m-a-z-i-n-g.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Jolly Pumpkin Multi-tap Night: Grand Rapids, Michigan
6:00PM-2:00AM @ HopCat
Join us as we celebrate Jolly Pumpkin from Dexter, MI in a rare multi-tap night. We will be featuring almost a dozen(hopefully) taps of one of our favorite breweries. We will be honored by special guest Mike Turriff, who will be on hand to fend any questions, comments, and notes of praise. Maybe even the Captain Ron “Spooky” Jeffries will be in attendance!-no promises. Party starts at 6pm and will end when the beer does…or at 2:30am Which ever comes first. Hope to see you there.
Friday, November 5, 2010
San Diego Beer Week Kick Off: San Diego, California
Starting at 6:00PM @ all over San Diego
Beer Blotter is going to San Diego next week to hit up some amazing events. If you are in the area, check out the website and pick the events that intrigue you the most! San Diego Beer Week is sponsored by the San Diego Brewers Guild, a non-profit whose mission is to promote awareness and increase the visibility of fresh, locally brewed beer through education and participation in community events.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Firestone Walker‘s 14th Anniversary Party Release: Paso Robles, California
12:00PM-3:00PM @ Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Firestone Walker is celebrating it’s 14th anniversary by having a beer release party for is anniversary beer “14” and will include free samples of all component beers, free food, brewery tours, live music as well as other cool activities.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saison Sunday School: Dallas, Texas
3:30PM- 5:30PM @ The Common Table
First of all, love the concept. Second of all, this might be the first event I have ever posted in TX. Tonight, guests will explore the often overlooked and under-appreciated spicy and refreshing Belgian farmhouse ales known as Saison. We will do it the only real way I know how… drink some. There will be 6 Saisons paired with 6 different types of food. If you didn’t know already, Saison is beautiful with food. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot!
If you go to an event, want us to mention your event or just want to discuss something beer related that is on your mind, please leave a comment or email me at email@example.com. Cheers!