Monday, December 27, 2010

Converting SS Vats to Boil/Mash/HLTs (#homebrew)

Sittin' here sippin' another Espresso Stout (Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious!) and considerin' whether or not the 40 gallon SS vats D and I obtained for a song (99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall) need thicker bottoms. (These are destined for our 1 BBL brew system.)

These vats are being re-purposed from who-knows-what to Boil/Mash/HLTs. Bottoms seem a might thin to me. Definitely not as thick as say, the steel used in constructing a half beer barrel (keg).

Consider: TIG welding another plate of SS to the bottom lip and optionally sandwiching a couple sheets of copper in between. Or, cut out the bottom and TIG weld in a new replacement bottom. Will need to talk to a welder to get their input on this--maybe this week.

Sides seem to be heavier gauge than the bottom. (!)

Also, need to install nipples for well thermometers and drain valves.

Don't have lids but they are available commercially and need not be fabricated.

These vats are dandy (very minimal investment so far) and even with some fabrication cost, would still be less than buying new.


Best part of every day.™

Rainwater Wort Cooling (#homebrew)

Sittin' here nursin' an Espresso Stout and considering the viability of collecting rainwater into underground storage tanks for the purpose of cooling wort.

Imagine the brew-house structure's rain downspouts directing rainwater into a large storage tank or tanks, with overflow optionally to a second tank or tanks. Another or other tanks are always empty, but need not be.

On brew day, to cool the wort, pump rain water from a source tank containing cold water, through the heat exchanger (chilling the wort) and into a destination tank which is initially empty or nearly so and slowly fills with the now warm water.

After a suitable time when the warm water has had a chance to cool, use that tank as the source for the cold cooling water for the next batch, pumping it through the heat exchanger to a destination empty tank. Repeat, swapping tanks.

Switching source and destination tanks could be a manual operation using valves.

There is no harm in filling all available tanks with rainwater and simply directing the downstream warm water into a pond or using it to irrigate, say, the hop yard. It could also be used for animal drinking water.

Of course, tank sizing is important and depends on the temperature of the stored cold water and the batch sizes.

Underground tanks should be buried based on the local climate, to ensure cool water for summertime brewing, although storing the water higher than the brew-house and using gravity to feed the heat exchanger should be investigated.

Underground tanks in freezing climates must be buried under the frost line to ensure liquidity.

Fiberglass or plastic tanks would be preferable so that they last a long time. The tanks don't store potable water but simply cooling water--hence clean-outs would be nice but not absolutely necessary.

There is a brewery in Georgia, 5 Seasons Brewing Company, that has a rainwater catchment system.

It would be beneficial to investigate their system for other ideas.

Best part of every day.™

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oh, was I ever a good boy this year...#homebrew

L thoughtfully considered my passion and gifted me a copy of the Homebrewer's Companion by Charlie Papazian--this completes my set of the trilogy.

But that's not all.

L also presented me a gift certificate to Simply Homebrew. With which I will endeavour to produce a Winter seasonal, superb in all ways and heretofore unseen, to brew, age and have ready for next year. Thank you!

But wait, there's more.

S, got me a set of beer-themed tee shirts--pithy and surely to spur guffaws. I'll cherish them, and wearing one, think of her every time I brew. For at least two minutes.

Boy am I lucky.

Here's to everyone having a very Merry Christmas and hoping you all realize your wishes too.

Best part of every day™

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Five Pale Ales Do Not a Beer Menu Make (or: Hey Tazio, What's in the Beer Meister?)

We've been lookin' at comin' up with a beer menu that isn't overwhelmed with pale ales. (This ain't balmy `ol England: This is America and we're Americans seared in the fires of Exceptionalism! We think we can do a bit better than that.)

So we're searchin' for a beer menu that even the wimpiest women (no offense meant) and stoutest men (again, no offense) could enjoy. With the parameters that there be a maximum of five beers and that all the beers be homebrewed. A menu of beers that a real beer drinker could take with them to a deserted island to live out their days with.

So to those ends we've spent many hours contemplating the problem of constructing this perfect beer menu.

And what a problem to have.

Brewing. Tasting. Tinkering.




Brewing. Tasting.

Let there be no mistake: Considerable thought, energy, and effort has and continues to be expended on this task.

So, as we open the door into the nether reaches of the Beer Meister today (aka the malt vault), we find, a little beauty with nary a fancy name but Espresso Stout.

She is as smooth as 16 shots of 100% Columbian brewed espresso can be--with a middling coffee flavor, hardly any hop aroma and just a wee bit of hop flavor. Slightly creamy, but she's young yet. Even S declared upon sipping (and sipping): “Smooth!”

Pssst: “Wit's up next, Tazio?” In good time all will be revealed.

Best part of every day.™

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pennsylvania Breweries 4th Edition by Lew Bryson

Chances are if you like good beer you've heard of Lew Bryson.

But what you may not have heard, especially if you're not a beer buff, is that he has a new book entitled Pennsylvania Breweries, 4th Edition.

Lew is a Pennsylvanian hailing from the southeast (Newtown) who really knows his beer. His blog Seen Through a Glass is widely read in beer and spirit circles around the world.

He has brought his knowledge of beer along with a love for travel and takes the reader on a tour of the 73 regional breweries, microbreweries, nanobreweries, and brewpubs that call Pennsylvania home.

One chapter in the book describes the history of old established breweries spread around the state--breweries like D. G. Yuengling and Son, Straub, and the Lion Brewery. Philly and Pittsburgh, rightfully so, get their own sections. Breweries no longer with us since the last edition about five years ago, also get their own thankfully short chapter.

The remainder of the book is arranged by geographic region--a few pages or four describing each brewery.

Between chapters is a brief page or two that serve to define and explain aspects of the beer surround. Like what's the difference between an ale and a lager. Or what's all the fuss about beer festivals. Or a description of the brewing process. These short essays as well as the helpful glossary at the back, make the world of beer a bit easier to quaff for the newbie.

There are up-to-date historical descriptions of the breweries and their beers and there's always an interesting story or two that aren't very well known. (I didn't know that the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre brews tanks and tanks of the Malta soft drink!) The author clearly presents beer geek factoids like who owns the brewery, who's the brewmaster, what type of brewhouse is employed, its maximum annual capacity, and recent production numbers. Any student of the current state of brewing in the Commonwealth will surely find a treasure trove of good information here.

Following each brewery entry, the author presents a list of local area attractions that would be a boon for any visitor who wanted to set out an a beer adventure. These include places to stay, things to do, places to eat (with dishes that can't be missed), good local beer bars, and other attractions that could be dovetailed with a brewery visit. Contact information is presented for each place along with a sentence or two of description about what's here that would entice and/or make the visit special for the reader. (As an example, if you visit The Memphis Taproom in Philly, the author suggests to try the King Rarebit [Note to self: Try the King Rarebit the next time in Philly!]). Bold italic font is used for the place names, which is great for quickly finding what you're looking for.

This is not a book that intends to rate breweries or beers and the author says as much in the opening pages.

The author's language is colorful and the stories are informative, entertaining, and make reading this book fun. The partitioning of the book makes this a splendid travel companion when one is exploring afield for wider Pennsylvania beer experiences--you WILL be referring to it again and again as you wander the Pennsylvania road in search of a cool one. The in-between chapters and glossary are educational, especially for the newbie.

This book would be a super Christmas present for a beer drinking friend or loved one. Or a beer drinking love. You get the idea.

Certainly this book will be used a hundred years from now as a reference on the current renaissance period of brewing in Pennsylvania.

Highly recommended.

Title: Pennsylvania Breweries, 4th Edition
Author: Lew Bryson
Copyright 2010 by Stackpole Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304 pages
Trim Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-8117-3641-1
Photos: 42 logos
Maps: 50 maps
Available: September-10
Publisher: Stackpole Books

N.B. Amazon claims that this book IS available in the Kindle Edition (unverified or tested) and Barnes and Noble claims it's not available in NOOKBook format.

Credit for the photo of the book's cover design at the top of this article is due to Tessa J. Sweigert. The brewery labels and logos were used by permission of breweries.

The author of this book and its publisher (and the author of this article) encourage readers to visit the breweries and sample their beers and recommend that those who consume alcoholic beverages travel with a nondrinking driver.

Downtown Bloomsburg Becoming Beer Oasis

D and I were the proverbial curious kids peeping into a construction site recently at what will soon be Marley's Brewery and Grille in Bloomsburg.

It's right next to the old Hotel Magee in a narrow storefront that was formerly Harry's.

(Do I have a story about the Hotel Magee! Involving a six year old, a grandmother, and a Greyhound bus. But that's for another time.)

From what we could see from the sidewalk, the bar is straight away running down the left wall, long, cool, and perhaps 40 feet long! An open seating area/dining room looks to fill the right-side of the place. I don't know what they'll have on draught but the photo of their fermenters on their Facebook has me dreaming that there will be some wonderful amber nectar flowing soon in the only town in Pennsylvania!

Cool logo too.

And that's not all. There's another bar across the street that just opened in the old movie theater. Sadly, don't remember the name, but they had some nice beers on draught (perhaps 12) and in bottles (about a hundred). The Mad Elf from the tap had me thinkin', but I was drivin' and opted for a lager instead. `Keep said they would be adding a few more taps so stay tuned.

Will the college kids frequent these places or will they have a more diverse clientele?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Boston Beer Company Looking Good

This just in:

Brewery stocks are in focus today after Boston Beer (SAM 95.60, +10.85) raised its forecast for its 2010 profit to $3.30 to $3.60 per share after forecasting a profit of $2.85 to $3.15 per share on November 4th. Shares of Molson Coors (TAP 50.64, +0.90) are seeing a nice bounce on the news, while Anheuser-Busch Inbev (BUD 57.36, -0.53) is trading lower.

Must be all those $20 bottles of Infinium they're sellin'!

But 95 a share, SAM looks awful pricey...

I'm just wonderin': how long is it gonna be before some other craft breweries go public?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Party Interrupted? No More!

Now here's an idea that should be more widespread: YoBeerGuys keg delivery service.

For those times when you can't be bothered (or able) to run out mid-party for more beer.

Or, if you're worried about gettin' beerjacked on the way home with your $508.00 keg of Samichlaus.

Number of Beers: 273
Most expensive: 50L Nest White Ale ($559.00)

Downside: Keg delivery is only available in the Miami area.
Upside: Offering gift baskets and tasting crates which can be delivered anywhere in the US.

You lucky Miamian, you.