Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Logos

It's been a while since I last posted, please forgive me.  I have been spending most of my down time on getting things ramped up for the brewery and spending time with the family.  One of the things I have been working on is a new logo for the brewery as well as a secondary logo.  The barn and EOS just didn't do it for me.  It seemed like a cool logo when we were originally thinking of brewing in a barn.  When that idea was jettisoned the barn logo just became confusing.  After all we are not a Farmhouse Brewery, we are decidedly Pacific Northwest Brewery with a heavy influence from the Farmhouse tradition.  I really wanted to get something that tied the brand together.  The End Of Silence name, the boisterous personality, the naming of the beers after songs, the flamboyant color schemes,  and implications of our vision, it all has a theme that needed expression in a logo - something that conveyed noise.  Thus I present the new logo of End Of Silence Brewing.

The sound wave itself is my oldest son saying "End Of Silence Brewing".  We also have a secondary logo that we are using as well, less of a logo, more of a mascot.  It is the same oldest son screaming.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Brewery Trial Review - Breaking the Habit - Coffee Porter

I'm literally sitting here thinking... "Is it really October already?" I mean, really? Feels like my wife and son just got out for Summer vacation. I'm not even sure I ate much of the wonderful Summer bounty from our area and now it is gone and pumpkins are everywhere. It used to be too hot to fall asleep, and now the night is crisp and brisk, and the darkness overshadows the day sooner and sooner with each passing moment. The days of crisp and light beers are passing and the dawn of a new season of dark and roasty beers is upon us. Just in time for the switch is this Coffee Porter.

Appearance: This beer pours very dark, yet super clear, under a rich and sticky head that last for a few minutes before dropping to a thin cap. Sticky lace clings to the walls of the glass all the way through. Clear, dark brown highlights hug the edges.

Aroma: Big bursts coffee leap off the nose. Roast coffee leads the way with caramel and dark chocolate notes, hints of esspresso, which gives way to fruity pineapple esters and a wiff of alcohol. Below the coffee is a rich biscuity malt with a touch of hops.

Flavor: The flavor doesn't mimic the nose at all. Biscuity malt leads the way with hints of chocolate and burnt sugar. A mild spicy hop note peaks through leading to a balanced and dry finish. The final note to wash over the tongue is a return of the espresso notes and a mild acidity.

Mouthfeel: The light, yet creamy body, gives way to a dry and mildly roasty finish. Though the body is light it isn't thin or watery, and could use a little boost. No acrid flavors from the coffee.

Overall: The blend of coffee and beer is complex and balanced with neither overcome by the other. Each take a turn coming forward in waves, cofee, beer, coffee, beer, coffee beer. The blend of coffee adds depth, but the beer never gets lost to it. Could use a higher FG for more body, but other than that, this beer is ready to go.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Brewery Trial Recipe - Tragic Magic: Session Saison 3.0

Yes it is Fall.  Yes I just brewed a beer that fits perfectly in Summer.  Yes, I did this on purpose.  The recipe is starting to dial in for my Session Saison, but it isn't there quite yet.  I really enjoy this beer, but it needs a little more work, so I brewed it again even though we are headed into times of darker nights and darker beers.  I want to have a fresh memory of where the last batch was while comparing this batch.  And, I am also bringing the team (thus far) for the brewery over for a tasting and cheese pairing and needed all of my Flagships ready for sampling.  I also need to ensure that this a beer I will want to drink in the dead of Winter, because if I won't drink it, not many others will, and if no one wants to drink it year round, it shouldn't really be a Flagship.  I am still trying to dial in the spicing, for this version I added some peppercorns to get some peppery bite and left out one of the original spices which really needs to remain from initial tastings of this batch (it is missing something great compared to previous batches).   I am also playing with the hops as one of them throws this herbal tea bag astringency thing that I am not too fond of (I think it is the Crystal since it doesn't show up in the IPA).  I also took a shot at adding Lacto a day before the yeast strains on half this go round to see how it works out with a touch of tartness and lower pH.  We'll see how these adjustments do and then go from there on the next iteration, but for now, it still drinks nice when doing yard work.  As an added bonus, I have a culture of a Brett strain growing up at the moment that I plan on adding to a case of bottles to see what a little aging will do to this one.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Brewery Trial Recipes - Breaking the Habit: Coffee Porter 3.0; Break My Fall: Brett Cacao Bourbon Porter 2.0

Fall is officially here, even though breweries have been putting out Pumpkin beers for nearly a month now.  With the dropping temps, cool nights, gentle breeze, dark evenings, and changing artists palates in the trees comes an innate hankering for something darker and rounder than the crisp and light beers for Summer.  The Good Lord gave us Porters and Stouts for a reason, and He also gave us an internal timer that almost instantaneously switches to them from Saisons as the season changes.  Like a junkie looking his next fix we yearn for that dark and roasty beverage to sooth our troubled souls.  This is part of the reason I just rebrewed my Coffee Porter recipe (the other is because I need to have my flagship beers to give to potential investors).  I swapped out the Crystal hops for Chinook on this round to avoid the herbal tea notes that Crystal can throw, and to get a little resin and pine in the mix.  The last iteration had issues with the coffee additions as the coffee from the original recipe was no longer available.  For this one I actually went with a blend of 2 different coffees from a local artisan and the complexity really makes the beer pop.  This recipe was done on my first double brewday in nearly a year.  Gotta say it was actually fairly smooth except trying to get all the beer into the fermentors in the fermentation fridge.  This was also my first time doing an entire 11+ gallons together in one vessel, which works really well and ensures that I don't have any differences from 2 different pitches into 2 different Better Bottles.  After primary fermentation was done this batch was split into 2 different beers.  The fresh keg got the Coffee blend, and the 5 gallon carboy received 2 Hungarian oak cubes soaked for 2 months in Woodford Reserve Bourbon.  It also received a pitch of Brett, and will get cacao nibs in a couple months.  The first version of this beer is drinking quite nicely right now.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What's Up With All The Recipe Silence?

For those of you who have been watching the blog for some time now, you may have noticed a large shift in the way I post my recipes.  Specifically from detailed information like Malster, Lovibond, Pounds/Ounces and percentages of malts used, detailed hop schedules, and yeast information to a generic format, X malts, Y hops, and vague yeast info.  And you might be asking yourself why is all the silence from End of Silence?  I want to assure you that it is not that I think my recipes are somehow so awesome that I would never want to share them.  It is also not a punk move to keep homebrewers in the dark to my recipe information like Stone with Arrogant Bastard.  It is for one honest reason... I am opening a brewery, but I am still a ways out with fundraising and such.  I would hate to broadcast my recipes and yeasts and temps and information for everyone to see and have someone locally start making my beers and selling them before I can launch.  It would suck to put all of the effort and thought into my beers and the brewery and have someone snatch it out from under me before we were able to see our dreams come to fruition.  This is the only reason why I am keeping my recipes generic and also why my website doesn't have any information about the vision we have for the brewery.  I feel like we will be bringing something amazing and unique in terms of beers and vision to the area, and I would hate to see it end up being done half-hearted by another brewer who has money to launch before us or an existing brewer who wants to take out the competition before it even starts competing.  Craft Beer has existed from the beginning with an ethos of camaraderie, but it is also a business, and as we have seen with recent buy outs, "partnerships", and petty lawsuits, the business of beer is becoming more and more cut throat.

If you happen to have questions about timings, amounts, yeasts, etc., feel free to shoot me an email and we might be able to discuss a little more details out of view of the entire web.

Let the Yeast Speak!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Brewery Trial Recipe - Release The Panic: IPA 3.0

As I continue to move forward with test batches for the brewery it is becoming more and more evident how difficult it can be to fully dial in a homebrew system.  Humidity, temperature, wind, all play a role in the temperature of the grains, the mash, the runnings, and impact boil off rates.  My efficiency is fairly dialed in, but sometimes it drops a few percent which impacts the beer.  The last time I brewed this recipe I got 7.5% ABV instead of the intended 7.0% For this batch my numbers were much closer to where I wanted them.  11.5 gallons of wort, 2 full corny kegs, 80 IBUs, and 7.2 ABV (even though I was still shooting for 7.0%).  For this iteration of the flagship IPA, Release the Panic, I upped each of the hops, especially the Columbus to get a little more resin in there to play with the tropical notes.  I also upped the IBUs a little more to try to get some bitterness past the yeast as it down plays the IBUs a lot.  I am also keeping this keg at a little higher temp than the previous as it helps to make the aromas pop to serve it a little warmer, and it helps keep the haze in the beer a bit instead of dropping it crystal clear taking precious hop oils to the bottom with the yeast and protein particles.

Friday, July 31, 2015

End Of Silence Has A Tasting Room In My Garage...

It has been a few years in the making, some paint here, some glasses there, updating the keezer, etc, etc, but the bar is pretty much done.  I really enjoy the look and feel of it, and so does my wife.  The wood on the wall, light gray paint, bright purple accents, and white trim really pops.  The way that it turned out really makes me hopeful to translate it over to the brewery tasting room as well.  Just a few things that we want to do to finish it up, but those will have to wait until we have the funds for them.  We want to swap out the ugly carpet for vinyl flooring.  It will make it much easier to clean up spills, and finish off the look nicely.  We also want to knock out the wall that leads to the deck and put in a slider door.  We need some better lighting which we are working on at the moment.  We also want to make the window bigger so we can look out at the hops against the fence and watch the kids play in their area just outside that wall.  The chairs I have in there are super comfortable, but extremely ugly, so we want to get some fabric to cover them with.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Brewery Trial Recipe - IPA 2.0

The beauty and difficulty of working with yeast is that some of the strains out there have the ability to transform the aromatics of the hops into something different than what you were expecting.  This can create amazing new flavors and aromas from the hops than what you were expecting, but it also makes it difficult to put together a hop bill when looking for a specific flavor or aroma.  I tried shifting up my Columbus to try to get some resin in the profile compared to the last batch, and the Chinook and Columbus are just putting out more fruit.  It makes for a wonderful beer, very aromatic and juicy, but it is lacking a little bit of that PNW oomph I want in there.  I don't want much, just a little pine and dankness to take me out of the fruit juice arena a little more.  It is also difficult to get any bitterness to shine through.  The yeast is really impacting the bitterness and making it hard to get a snap on the finish.  Again, it tastes great, but it just needs a touch more bitterness to clarify, yes, this is indeed an IPA.  I really don't want this beer to be a traditional PNW IPA with lots of cattiness and citrus with a walloping bitterness.  I want it to be bold and aromatic with a restrained bitterness, lots of juicy fruits, with a subtle resin and pine.  A marriage of the new juicy East Coast IPAs and the traditional PNW IPA.  Still need to adjust up the Columbus and Chinook with a higher IBU and see how it goes.  Also need to get the ABV back down to 7.0%.  Other than that, this IPA is pretty much spot on.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Brewery Trial Recipe: Saison 2.0

For the first iteration of the Session Saison for the brewery, I got pretty close to what I wanted.  It needed to dry out a little more to hit that 4.5% ABV I wanted.  I upped the Vienna and Sugar and backed off a touch on the Flaked Oats and Base Malt.  The dry hopped version and spiced version were both good beers, but a blend of the two really took it up a notch, so on this rendition I spiced the whole thing in the kettle, and then dry hopped the entire batch.  I got a little too much herbal from the first rendition, so I leaned a little more on the Meridian in this batch than the last one.  I also upped the IBUs a bit as well since the yeast seams to down play the bitterness quite a bit.  For fermentation on this batch I did a side by side with the yeast strain that is quickly standing out as the forerunner as the house yeast, and that same strain blended with another less attenuative and earthy strain.  This is the same blend that the first batch got, but instead of staggered pitches they were co-pitched.  I also cranked up the temp a few degrees to really push the esters.  So far the first pours from the kegs are very promising.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Better Than Nothing, Right...

Sorry for not posting on here in a while now.  I have been spending my time building the website for the brewery.  Feel free to check it out by clicking on the new logo below:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Brewery Trial Recipe: Saison 1.0

Saisons were designed to be light, crisp, dry, refreshing beers that you could crush during yard work.  They were truly the original lawn-mower beer.  When doing my research for what beers to have in rotation for the brewery, I saw that a lot of brewers have a beer that is designed for this purpose.  Most are Blonde Ales or Wheat Ales, others are a Pils or Helles of some sort, still a few more run with a Kolsch or Cream Ale.  The thing that all of these beers have in common is not only color and sessionability, but the lower flavor punch factor.  But of course I am not aiming for low flavor punch, their is a reason why the name is End of Silence and the Tag-Line is Let The Yeast Speak!  I want it loud.  So I went for loud with this little beer.  I wanted a depth to the malt so the Vienna is a little higher than other beers in the rotation, and the hopping is high enough to get a nice burst under the complexity of the yeast esters and phenols.  A light hand of spicing adds a nice layer in there too, just enough to help the yeast sing, but not overpower it.  Next iteration will get a little more sugar to drive the FG down a few more points, dry it out some more, and boost the ABV up to the desired 4.5% ABV.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Audacity

For a blog called End of Silence, it has been a little too silent, especially since I was on a role of posting at least once a week.  I do apologize, but trying to get a brewery off the ground sucks up the bulk of any downtime I have, and I'm not even into the hard stuff yet.  For now, I'll drop a little hint at the stuff that is going on: 
  • We have our first investors in the wings and ready to jump on once we have an official agreement to sign. 
  • We are working on agreements with securing legal counsel. 
  • We are running some specs on an amazing location that would be everything we want in a brewery site if we can just fit the brewery into the building.  
  • The owner of the property and farm is actually considering doing a substantial amount of the updates on his dime and becoming an investor as opposed to leasing the property monthly.
  • I have revamped my logo through numerous iterations, finally hitting the perfect design for a Farmhouse Brewery. 
  • I am very close to launching the official Web Site for the brewery.

Until things are secured and I am able to divulge more information, sit tight, and thanks for your patience. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Brewery Trial Recipe: IPA 1.0: Release the Panic

Lots of Hop Debris Left Over
I'm really getting excited to see how my recipes evolve and the yeasts do on these test batches for the brewery.  On the last IPA recipes I did, the Cal Ale version had a huge cantaloupe flavor which made it hard to drink.  The Trois version was much better, with big burst of tropical esters.  Then we all found out that Trois is not actually a  Brett strain.  I wanted to test out a new strain on the market that is said to be a big pineapple bomb, and wasn't sure it would attenuate fast enough for what I need.  79.5% apparent attenuation in 1 week seems fairly fast.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Homemade Belgian Dark Candi Syrup

Belgian Dark Candi Syrup is super expensive, at roughly $8/# after homebrew shop mark up, making any beer with it a big investment.  As a homebrewer, I tend to like to do things myself instead of paying for someone else to make it for me.  I decided to try my hand at making my own Dark Candi Syrup.  I used information from Nate O's Brew Log to make my syrup.  I looked at quite a few sources and how-tos online, and found his to not be as intensive as others, as well as easy to follow, and he claimed to have good results after making 100+ test batches.  Of course I added a couple of twists to mine, like blending 4 different sugars to try to get an extra layer of complexity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#80 Homemade Candi Syrup Belgian Dubbel Tasting

This entire concept for this beer was born out of a desire to make a Belgian Quad.  Of course, I am not paying $8 for a pound of sugar that I can spend around $2 on and an entire day of work.  Before I invested 2.5# of my first attempt and making Belgian Candi Syrup on a massive Quad, I wanted to give it a test run.  Thus this Belgian Dubbel.  I kept it simple, Pils malt, Vienna malt, and the sugar.  What started as a "better make this beer to test my sugar experiment" turned into a wonderful beer.  This could easily work itself into a normal rotation with an addition of Special B and a different yeast.

Rich aroma of caramelized raisins and toasty malts.  There is a moderate sweet Pils malt and crackery notes as well.  Mild banana esters give way to perfumy alcohol and a touch of funk (not a pure yeast pitch).  There is a hint of clove in the background, subtle.  Fruitiness dominates the nose and burnt sugar, some cherry and plum.

Pours a deep clear copper with a billowy off white head that persists to the end leaving trails of sticky lace down the glass.

Sweet and toasty malts wash over the tongue first giving way to caramelized raisins, plum skins, and dried cherries.  Almost candy like.  There is a moderate rosey alcohol note, clean, but evident.  Mild phenols spice it up at the end of the swallow.  Light banana and pear esters step aside to expose a low spicy and herbal hop note.  Low bitterness balances the finish and cleanses the palate.  Alcohol warmth lingers after the drink is swallowed.

The medium body gives way quickly to a dry finish that pulls a little at the sides of the mouth.  Bitterness is low but balances the candy sweetness well.  Medium-high carbonation gives way to alcohol warmth.

Stunning beer to look at, especially now that it has cleared (the Biere de Garde strain stays in suspension forever).  The interplay of candy, toast, alcohol, dried fruits, esters, and phenols is very balanced and complex.  Could benefit from a touch more dried fruit character, maybe some Special B.  Also needs a better yeast, the old repitch of 3725 made beer, but it isn't totally clean and doesn't produce as many phenols as this beer could have used.  The Belgian Candi Syrup was spot on.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tasting: Trios Coffee Porter vs West Yorkshire Coffee Porter

The first batch of Coffee Porter was a fluke, a challenge from my wife to not add Brett to a beer for once.  I accepted that challenge, kind of, and added coffee per her suggestion.  It was so amazing that I had to rebrew it, and bring it on as one of my year round offerings for the brewery in planning.  For this version, I fermented one half the same as before, using West Yorkshire, but the other half got "Brett" Trios (not actually Brett, just a super tropicaly Sacc strain).  The purpose was to see if Brett could actually work as a house yeast for more than an IPA and Saison.  Below is a side-by-side tasting of both versions.  A real Brett fermented version will take the lessons learned from this side-by-side into account on the next re-brew.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Trois vs Cal Ale IPA Tasting

One of the flagship beers for the brewery will be a 7% ABV IPA.  I'm looking for loads of hop expression and a firm, but not overpowering bitterness.  This batch of IPA was split between White Labs Cal Ale and "Brett" Trios.  Of course, there is a lot of stir around the inter-webs about the fact that it is indeed not Brett.  But it still acts like Brett and throws flavors like Brett primary with big tropical fruit esters.  I did this to begin the process of not only getting house recipes, but also getting a house yeast strain.  The difference between these two beers is almost night and day.  The Trios continued to act on the dry hops morphing them around in the keg (producing CO2 as well).  I am not sure where the huge melon component in the Cal Ale version came from since there are no melony hops in the mix, but it is a huge turn off to me, even though judges really liked it and it got an Honorable Mention.  The Trios through some phenols as well that detracted from the overall flavor.  Good start to recipe and yeast formulation, but definitely not there yet.

Release the Panic (Trios IPA):

Tropics burst off the nose, pineapple and mango.  Behind the big esters are citrus rinds and hints of resin.  Mild alcohol peeks out behind the powerful aroma.  There is a touch of phenols, some peach, with mild grassy and melon notes.  No where near as much grass and melon as the Cal Ale.

Pours a super clear golden orange under a dense off-white head with tiny bubbles.  Fades to a thick cap and leaves lots of spotty lace all the way down the glass.

Hop oils coat the tongue, heavy notes of citrus and pine.  Spicy notes could be peppery phenols or from the hops.  Pineapple esters and sweet malt notes make it almost candy like.  Bitter finish, less so than the Cal Ale version.

Body is a quite thin and watery, especially for the level of cara-pils in this recipe.  Semi-dry finish.  Bitter and oily.  Medium carbonation.

Feed the Machine (Cal Ale IPA):

Huge melon and vegetal note leaps from the glass.  It is odd, this is the same exact aroma, just sometimes it is a lot of vegetable and the next it is melon.  Hints of sweetness, candy like, followed by mild herbal notes and citrus rinds.

Pours a super clear golden orange under a dense off-white head... sound familiar?  The head on this beer stays around longer and thicker than the Trios version.  Head is moussey.  Leaves lots of lace.

Tastes like hop candy and cantaloupe (I hate cantaloupe), resin, and pine.  Vegetative notes and medium citrus pith.  Honey like malts.  Medium high bitterness.

Medium body with a fairly dry and bitter finish.  Crisp.  Body is much more in line with an IPA than the Trios version.

Overall Comparison of Both:
The Trios version is very enjoyable in the nose and flavor, lots of tropics and hop notes lends an enjoyable complexity.  The phenols and thin body detract from the overall wonder of this beer.  For the Cal Ale version the body is spot on as is the cleanness of the fermentation, but the super melon notes are too much.  The odd thing is that there are no melony hops in the mix, and it only came in on the dry hops.  Speaking of dry hops, part of the reason the melons don't come through on the Trios version might be due to the fact that this yeast was still active in the keg during the warm dry-hopping (it started carbonating on its own).  It was exciting to do this little experiment.  I need to work on the body and fermentation parameters, but definitely going with Brett (yes I know that Trios is not Brett, which is why the next batch will have actual Brett as the sole yeast).  Neither of these beers will become the Flagship IPA for the brewery, but it gets me one step closer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

RECIPE #82 & 83: Breaking the Habit (Coffee Porter)

When I first brewed my Coffee Porter it was because my wife told me to stop adding Brett to everything.  I was going to make 10 gallons of Porter, and then add Brett to half of it for secondary.  She told me to add coffee instead.  So I did... to the plain version.  The beer that ensued was a wonderful marriage of roast and cocoa.  It was difficult to tell where the coffee started and the beer stopped.  When Becca told me to do it, I did, assuming it would be a fun beer to make once, she would be happy, and I would still get to make the Brett finished version I really wanted.  Little did I know that this would be one awesome beer and is now being refined to house a spot in my Flagship beers for the brewery.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RECIPE: #80 Dubblespeak (Belgian Dubbel)

We are homebrewers.  This means we don't simply go buy something in the store that we can make at home.   We don't buy beer, we make it.  We don't buy fully fabricated kettles and mash tuns (well, I don't at least), we make em.  We don't pay for yeast, we culture em.  We don't buy overpriced Candi sugars, we make it ourselves.  Okay, those last few are me, many brewers do pay for those things, I would just rather put my money elsewhere.  In preperation for a Quad I would like to make (Westy 12/St Bernardus abt 12 rift) I had to test the homemade Belgian Candi Syrup I made.  That is where this recipe comes into play.  I had a fair amount of syrup left over after the 2.5# needed for the Quad, so I worked up a simple Dubbel recipe to test it out.  I didn't bring in any Special B since I only wanted what the syrup brings.  This batch was split with a Blonde by adding the 2 different sugars to the fermentor at the time I racked from the kettle.  The Vienna malt should add some toasty depth.  I had originally planned to use the St Bernardus yeast but I had 3 failed attempts to culture it from bottles (old beers and higher gravities).  I finally got a good pitch built up, but it smelled off so I plated the yeast and isolated a single colony.  I didn't have time to grow it up for this beer so I woke up the Fantome strain which won't flocc for anything.  I am still waiting for the beer to clear up some so I can judge color and get a cleaner flavor profile.  Once I get that I will review it and post the Candi Syrup recipe and process too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

RECIPE: #79 Blonde Jokes (Belgian Blonde)

Every so often you get that wild hare and go for it.  This is one of those beers.  I had made Belgian Dark Candi syrup to use in a quad but needed to try it out first.  Thus I decided to make a Dubbel, but I didn't have enough to make 10 gallons, so I needed to add something else to the mix.  I went with a single mash, single boil, split ferments with 2 different sugars.  For this beer I went with straight Demera sugar for a Belgian Blonde ale.  The color difference is quite noticeable right after adding the sugars.  I wanted something in the higher alcohol range, but still light, refreshing, and crisp.  I also wanted to see what my house wild yeast would do in a fresh beer, so it became the primary yeast strain.  It simply refuses to drop clear, so this one might be awhile before it is reviewed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2014 Year In Review; part 2: What I Didn't Plan to Do, But Did

Last year (2014) was a big year for me, not only in accomplishing many of the goals I had set out, but also in terms of other things I never set out to do.  Of course, not everything could fit into one post, so this is the follow up to the first one.

As mentioned in the first half of this posting I built an incubator last year and also didn't finish the remodel on my entertainment room.  One part of the remodel that wasn't exactly planned but was added was a Yeast Lab.  Of course this isn't completely finished, but I am off to a good start.  I have a desk with a covered area that is easy enough to sanitize.  I have a couple flame sources to create up-drafts.  I have lots of 25ml and 50ml vials for culturing from plates and bottles.  I have a few test tube holders.  I made an inoculation loop using a Xacto knife handle and Stainless Steel wire from the craft store.  I have made a few rounds of plates including some with chalk added to differentiate acid producing cells in mixed cultures.  Of course sterile vials and plates can't be done without a pressure cooker which I also got earlier this year.  I also made yeast extract for growing even more cells in starters.  I scored a fair amount of lab glass including lab jars and quite a few 150-250ml Erlenmeyer and Boiling flasks at a local restore.  The incubator is in the lab area as well.  I have been able to culture quite a few yeasts this year in the lab: Sierra Nevada Kellerweisse, St Bernardus house abbey strain, a new blackberry culture, as well as yeast from Dupont, Wicked Weed, Fantome, Trinity, Ale Apothacary, Ancorage/Crooked Stave, Lost Abbey (Mo Betta), and a few others.  I even have a 20+ year old slurry from Vapuer that I am assisting another brewer from back east resurrect and so far we've got some new growth.  I have a small starter going from Oakshire's Hellshire II that was infected with Lacto, hopefully I am able to get that strain from the dregs.

As stated in my first post about the year, I won Best of Show for a Gueuze and was afforded the opportunity to brew with 2 local breweries.  First, winning the BOS came with a prize to rebrew my beer with Falling Sky Brewing.  Falling Sky is a fairly new brewer pub that grew out of our Local Home Brew Shop, the brewmaster worked their before taking this position.  Unfortunately, the way this prize works is that it is to be released later in the year for GABF as a Pro-Am entry, and sours don't turn that quickly (my beer was 2.5 years old).  Also, they don't do sours, and have no place to house a barrel.  We opted to do a mock up by sour worting the same grain bill as my beer, then doing a whirpool with bright and fruity hops to give it lots of the fruity notes from my beer.  I was talking with the brewmaster at another local brewery, Oakshire Brewing, about the issues with doing a rebrew of my beer, and he offered to do it on his system.  I built up the yeast from dregs of my bottles, pitched it into 10 gallons of my own rebrew, fermented it out, gave that to Oakshire who put it onto 1/2 a barrel of wort for 3 days.  I went in on a Friday morning and brewed a 10 barrel batch with them and that pitch of yeast had it kicking with in a matter of hours.  A few weeks later and it went into 3 wine barrels and a gin barrel to age for awhile.

I change my kegging procedures slightly this year as well.  I still rack via CO2 force, but I moved from doing this through the lid of the keg into the bottom to going to a liquid out disconnect attached to the liquid out post down through the dip tube while venting CO2 from the top of the keg.  This allows the entire system to remain closed and purged of O2.  I follow this up after a couple weeks in the fridge by racking the beer off of the sediment in the first keg into a second keg via a jumper - liquid out QD to beer line to liquid out QD - taking the beer from the bottom of one keg and filling from the bottom of the other in a closed system.  This has greatly helped to keep my beers fresher longer, and to clarify them more.

I was also afforded a chance to have my writings published.  I was contacted by a member of our brew club for recipes for his homebrewing column in NW Brewing News, a regional beer magazine.  I forwarded my IPA and Black IPA single boil, split ferment recipe to them.  I also wrote an article in BYO magazine on the full topic of single mashing with split processes - partigyle, single boil - split ferment, and split boils.  It was awesome to write the article, work with the staff at BYO on editing and information, and to have 6 recipes in print.  I am even working on another couple articles for them for this year.

Having the article in print got me an opportunity to lead our tech talk/educational topic at our brew club meeting on the same topic as the article.  I was also able to do another tech talk on building your own Temp Control unit.

I was able to get a seat for February 2015 to take the BJCP taste test, so I have been doing some study (not nearly as much as others in the club) to prep for the test, as well as partaking in an off-flavors study.  As of the writing of this post I have successfully passed the online portion of the test, and now need to bone up on the guidelines for the closed book tasting panel.

My wife purchased me two really awesome presents for Christmas too.  A mill, so now I can buy in bulk and save so much money on grains.  And also, the Brewers Association's Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery by Dick Cantwell.  More to follow on that one of course.

I also read American Sour Beers by Michael Tonsmeire, Yeast by Chris White, and reread portions of Farmhouse Ales.

Of course, just like last year, I will be posting a "What I Hope to Do and Brew This Year" article soon...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2014 Year In Review; Part 1, What I Planned to Do

At the beginning of the year I posted a thread on the things that I wanted to accomplish as a brewer over the course of the coming year.  Well, the year has come and gone, and I thought it would be good to reflect on what I did accomplish, both in terms of fulfilling the desires I had for the year as well as things I didn't think about 12 months ago but have done anyways.

One of the first things I said I was going to do was make it a year of competitions, and boy did I.  I entered 3 BJCP comps in our area and placed in all of them.  The first comp of the year, KLCC, I entered 7 beers.  4 placed.  I took second place with a 1+ year old Dopplebock that had taken 1st in May of 2013.  I also got 3 1st place ribbons for an American Brown, Oak Aged Double Stout, and my first sour that was 2.5 years old at the time of judging.  This beer also happened to take Best of Show.  This lead to brewing a couple beers at local breweries (more to follow).  For the Sasquatch brewfest I had 2 beers place.  An American Stout took 2nd (recipe was a collaborative effort of lots of brewers on the Beer Advocate homebrew forum).  I also had an all Vienna malt, Amarillo and Simcoe hop bursted American Pale Ale, fermented totally with 100% Brett Brux Trois take 1st.  The judges were blown away with the explosion of hops and tropical fruits.  In the BOS round it was knocked out when one judge picked up a medicinal note in the finish.  All judges jaws dropped when I told them it was 100% Brett.  I also entered a brand new competition this year in our area.  I entered an IPA and Imperial Red IPA, both took 1st place, and the IPA got a 40/50 which is totally unheard of in the competitions held in Western Oregon.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Keezer Build

I have had quite a few issues with the kegging set up I had.  Mainly, it was due to the fridge being just big enough to squeeze 6 kegs into, but in so doing, I could barely get to the quick connects on top, and couldn't get to my dual regulator or 4 way splitter if needed.  I lost quite a bit of beer over 2 years to kicking up sludge from the bottom of the keg whenever I had to move them around.  I had a Vienna Lager that never got properly lagered due to this.  Recently I started jumping the beer from the keg in the fridge to a clean keg and getting it off the sludge.  It has worked wonders, but is not 100%, and I still face the struggle of getting my tap line off and getting the jumper on.  I really wanted to get a freezer and build a collar, installing real taps.  I waffled back and forth for quite a while.  One consideration is where I would store my hops, bottled beer, and yeast/plates (we kept the fridge and moved it to the garage).

For the end of the year (and of my time in ministry) I got a large financial gift from the church as a bonus and was able to get the freezer I wanted - on sale - as well as buy the wood and other parts for the build. I just couldn't do the fridge anymore.  After stalking the Home Brew Talk thread on Keezer builds and freezer specs for months, I set my sights on the Magic Chef 6.8 cu.ft. freezer.  With a collar it holds 6 kegs, which is exactly what I wanted.  Other models in the 7 cu.ft. range only held 4-5, even with a collar.  When Homebrew Finds put it up as on sale at Home Depot I went for it.  That model is no longer going to be sold at HD and so once my local stores had sold out, I missed my chance.  After talking to multiple people I found a very gracious young lady who located one in Southern Oregon and had it transferred for me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

RECIPES: #76 Feed The Machine (IPA) & #77 Release the Panic (100% Brett IPA)

7 oz Whirlpool Hops for 10 gallons
Thus it begins.  The process I swore I would never do.  Rebrewing a recipe with tweeks.  I have day dreamed of owning my own brewery someday, and have declared that I would never have house beers, the same recipe brewed over and over again.  But then the day dreams are seeming to become more serious.  I recently felt led to step out of ministry, that youth ministry is not where the Lord is calling me.  In the midst of this, I have been wondering where my calling may actually be.  My pastors have stated that they are excited to see where the Lord uses me in the future, and they all hope it is in brewing.  Then my wife buys me Starting Your Own Brewery, 2nd Edition for Christmas (a super expensive book), seems like she is behind the idea.  In light of all this - the possibility of actually owning a brewery - the thought of having solidified recipes, house beers, repeatable, excellent, it all comes rushing in.  Regardless of whether I actually have year round house beers or not, I need a solid recipe to give potential investors, something repeatable and unique, something I can brew on a big boy system and know if I did it right or not.  Thus it begins.  Rebrewing a recipe with tweeks.